Celebrating the art of making a home
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    This is Halloween (HALLOWEEN, halloween)

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Halloween is big in our house. BIG. Z has declared it her favorite holiday ever since she was old enough to declare such things, and last year she had a record 5 costumes. Planning starts for the next year on Nov. 1, and it gets talked about all. year. long.

    Seeing as it’s October 1st, it’s about time to start celebrating. Last year I picked up this adorable count-down to Halloween …thing, calendar I guess, (it’s not an advent calendar, because it’s not advent.), and filled it with candy.

    This year I wanted to step back from the candy every day idea, and instead filled it with slips of paper containing Halloween missions. They include everything from “Go to a pumpkin patch” to “read a Halloween book”, and even “Find out what’s inside a pumpkin”. I’ve also included things that will need to be done for Z’s annual Halloween party (which will be Z and A’s party this year), like making and sending invitations, and buying things for the party.

    Hopefully this will allow us to spread out the celebration, avoid a bit of the candy, and not binge on our rather massive stack of Halloween books and movies right at the beginning of the month. And since I know (it will be a surprise for the girls) that two of the days have papers that say “Get a new Halloween book” and “Get a new Halloween movie”, hopefully that will keep me from buying new things all month long.

    It’s also inspired me to try to make a “holiday” countdown calendar that can be changed up and decorated for each holiday so that we could do the same thing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, birthdays, Easter, you name it. Having a separate calendar for each holiday is a bit much, but with just one, you’d only have to store it and the decorations that went with.  Has anyone done anything like this?

    And before I go, let’s zoom in on this darling pumpkin, shall we?

    I LOVE it. Doesn’t it look like it’s been painted? *blissful sigh*

    Halloween Door Decoration

    Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

    I have a thing for door hangings. I try to always have a wreath or other door hanging at all times. They are usually season or holiday inspired.

    I saw an idea for a Halloween inspired door hanger/wreath and I loved it.  I haven’t been able to find the original blog post so if you know whose it is please leave a comment and I’ll update this post with proper credit. I have been thinking about making it for a few weeks but couldn’t quite bring myself to do it.  Making a Halloween decoration would mean that Autumn is really here.  I don’t think I was quite ready for that.

    Well this morning I decided that I would put it off no longer.  From my kitchen window I can see the trees in the mountains of Utah beginning to change colors.  There is no denying that Fall has begun.

    Halloween Wreath

    Supplies Needed:

  • Picture frame
  • Twigs
  • Black spray paint
  • Black Ribbon
  • Glue gun
  • Directions:
    Take the twigs outside and spay paint them black. I had the help of my three year old son so we also painted a bunch of rocks, grass and other things we found in the yard.

    My frame was already black but if yours is not, give it a nice coat of paint as well.

    Grab that trusty glue gun and position the twigs in a manner that is pleasing to you.

    Glue a black ribbon onto the back of the frame.

    Voila! Now you have a new spooky Halloween decoration for your door or wall and it only took a few minutes to make.

    Halloween Wreath 2

    The Art of Homemaking

    Friday, September 10th, 2010

    I often feel like a boat set adrift without a compass when it comes to homemaking.  So many times I have not had any idea what to do next or how to manage the tasks that arise in my daily life.  My mother in law has been singing the praises of a book she read as a young mother.  I was recently as my sister in law’s house and saw the book on her shelf.  I borrowed it and can see why it made such an impact in their lives.

    The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole is a wonderful book that inspires me as a homemaker and as a mother.  It was written in 1967 by a lady who really knew her stuff!


    “By systematically keeping your home clean through daily and weekly work, coupled with extra deep cleaning periodically, you will be able to rejoice in your sparkling home all year round…”

    I can see the value of that.  Makes perfect sense…

    Here are her eight points for an orderly home:
    1.  Let each room fulfill its function.
    2.  Streamline each room.
    3.  Keep neat closets and drawers.
    4.  Have the courage to throw away.
    5.  Label all stored items.
    6.  Store some food.
    7.  Learn the fun of filing.
    8.  Take care of the children’s toys.

    The next paragraph offers hope.  She says, “It’s never too late or too early.  Form the orderly habit now.  You know, if you make the things you have to do a habit you won’t have to force yourself any longer.  Then you will enjoy a neat home, peace of mind, and you’ll be able to find things – even in the dark!”

    She has so many great suggestions and thoughts on the entire process of making a home from organizing, daily schedules and cleaning that reading this book actually makes me excited to get up and take care of my home.

    I think many of the things she says are very logical and I probably could figure it all out after maybe 50 years, but I don’t have that long.  Or what I really mean is that I don’t want to spend that much time trying to figure it all out.  I want to know it all now and get on with my life.

    The first best thing that I have learned from this book, is her schedule of cleaning; there are daily items, weekly items, quarterly and yearly items.  The second best thing is really a complete mindset change about my tasks.  I have to decide to take pleasure and joy from my job and not be bogged down by the fact that I am doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…  I have a problem with this one.  Big time!

    One of the things I love about this book is that it was written in 1967.  You can really see that by the adorable illustrations.  Also by some of the things she says.  It’s too cute.  But instead of being too old fashioned to be useful, I am finding it to be exactly the opposite.  There are some old fashioned comments but I just laugh and keep reading.


    One of the ways I have been implementing her teachings into my life is to make use of the ample garden bounty that my family and neighbors have shared with me.  I recently canned a really basic tomato sauce and tomato juice.

    To make the tomato sauce, I sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil.  Then I washed, cut off the yucky parts of the tomatoes and quartered them.  Next I put them in the blender and pureed the heck out of them; seeds, skin and all.  Then I dumped them in the pot with the onions and garlic.  I boiled the sauce until it reduced a bit and got thicker, probably a good hour.  Then I put into clean pint jars, put the lids on and turned upside down for the lids to seal.

    The juice was also very simple.  I washed the tomatoes, cut off the yuckies and put into my juicer.  The collected juice was then put in a pot on my stove and brought to a boil.  I boiled it for nearly half an hour to make sure that any little bacteria or other beasties were properly disposed of and then I ladled the hot juice into clean quart jars, put the lids on and turned upside down to seal.


    The day before I was able to process a bunch of corn to be used in the future.  I shucked it and then boiled the cobs and all for 5 minutes.  I pulled them out of the water and set aside to cool.  After cool, I cut off all the kernels.  Then laid them out on two jelly roll sheets and put in my freezer over night.  When frozen, I measured 3 cups worth into vacuum pack bags, sealed them up, labeled them and put back in the freezer.

    The only special equipment I needed for these three projects were a vacuum packer and a juicer.  All the rest were things that I think most people would readily have on hand.

    Next on the homemaking agenda is to really figure out my schedule and figure out the best way to put it in a place that I will use it.  I’m really wishing for an awesome homemaking iPhone app about now!

    I’ll get back to you with the schedule and maybe you’ll find it useful too.

    Traditional decorations

    Monday, November 16th, 2009

    As I was growing up, our Christmas tree was always an eclectic conglomeration of ornaments that my parents had collected across the years and countries they visited. Each ornament had a story; where it was purchased, why, or for whom.  There was the ornament I snagged off of the Christmas tree at the bank as a little tyke (the bank people said I could keep it), the corn husk angels to remind us our our great grandmother, the ornaments that we made as children,  the birds.

    There were two birds that sat in the Christmas tree, just regular looking birds, nothing fancy, but to this day they are my favorite ornaments. I’m not really sure why.  But I remember being so excited each year if I got to be the one to put them in the tree- always up toward the top.

    Last year I saw a bird ornament in a store, and decided that our Christmas tree needed a bird. Doesn’t it make sense that birds would have been present at Christ’s birth, raising their voices along with the angels? So I bought the bird, and then another, and another. And this year it continued.


    Some are shiny and ornate, others are kind of homely and sweet:


    (Seriously, I die over that owl. )

    I have about 16 now, and I have no intention of stopping.  My goal this year is a tree with silver ornaments,  full of visiting birds.

    And four of those silver ornaments will look like this:


    I found these little boxes years ago, before I had kids. I snatched them up instantly, in preparation for another tradition.  Growing up we had 5 little shoe ornaments that we hung on the tree. On Christmas morning we would each find the quarter that Santa’s elf left for us in the shoe ornaments. I loved that as a kid, and when I saw these little boxes, I knew they’d be perfect. Instead of a quarter, the girls get a little treat, last year it was a little toy necklace.

    A new tradition that we’ve started is that each year the girls get an ornament that reflects their interests of the year. The ornament is delivered by “Peter Pan”, our shelf elf.  This year Z is getting a Lightning McQueen ornament, A is getting a fish. (What can I say, the girl loves fish.)

    Do you have decorations that are traditions for you? Ornaments with special meaning? Do share!