Winter Time Warmth And Beauty

Now that Christmas is over, what do you do about decorations?  What do you do to make your home inviting and warm?

My friend Linda asked about that over in the CHK Facebook Group the other day.  She got lots of ideas from our members!   Here are few of those ideas and some of my own.

candle bath

I think its important to create warmth and beauty in our homes. It makes us happy to come home and happy to dwell there, especially when the weather outside is cold and dreary. The best way to do that is to declutter. Get rid of stuff and organize your belongings.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how great this will make you feel!

There are lots of articles here at CHK about decluttering every room of your house, just do a quick search of declutter and you’ll see what I mean.

It helps to give your home a change after the busy holiday season by putting away at least some of the Christmas clutter.  The newly found open space gives a clean, fresh feel to a home.

Stick with white and one other color for the winter months if you can. It will help maintain that clean, open look and feel. Winter tends to feel cluttery and crowded anyway what with everyone stuck indoors and blankets and coats and boots hanging around. Its pretty easy to use greenery this time of year and leftover green from Christmas decor works nicely.

Place an arrangement of candles on your dining table and other other clean, cleared off surfaces to bring cheer and warmth. A well-placed blanket or afghan looks nice and offers warmth too.

Consider having meals in front of the fire place if you have one. Even if you don’t, you can set the coffee table like a dining table with candles and a cloth and have a cozy family meal.

Another quick thing you can do to give new life to your home is to rearrange the furniture. You’d be surprised how fresh and new a room feels after some of the furniture is moved around.If you have lots of energy, consider painting your family room a fresh new color.

A simple bowl of greenery and pinecones is lovely on a table. And if you have silver or white ornaments from Christmas, they are very pretty in a glass bowl for the winter.

greenery

What are some ways you bring warmth and beauty to your home in the winter time?

Posted in Homekeeping | 6 Comments

A Purpose

Sylvia curls

 

Have you ever wondered what your purpose was?  Or is?  I certainly have and I think a lot of us have thought about that from time to time.

I arrived online and started CHK when the internet was young and everything online was new and amazing. I started it with the purpose of teaching and learning and blessing women who wanted to know how to do things at home with whatever I had to give which was usually hands on experience and knowledge of doing all kinds of old fashioned things.

That’s still my purpose here.  Although I have not been doing much teaching of late.  I have sort of lost my way as far as CHK goes. Life has gotten busy and sometimes complicated and I haven’t always known if I should keep on working on CHK.

But I have been praying about it and I intend to push on with teaching and sharing here.  It is where my heart lies, and where I know I have been serving God faithfully. So I want to keep on doing that. I’m sorry I haven’t been sharing or teaching here like I was at one time. I’m praying for a new breath of life and renewed purpose and joy.

I know what my purpose isn’t.  I don’t want to create some artificial need in you to do what I do. I don’t want to make you feel like you’re not doing things right or that you don’t have something that I have and you should go get it. I don’t want to make you envious of things or feed any thoughts you have that are not godly. My only desire is to please God by helping you.

My house is ordinary. My life is ordinary. And I have ordinary but interesting and important skills to share with you. And I want to share my faith with you too because its been so important to me.

So if you have read all this, thank you.  I may not be fancy and have a cool website but I will try my best to give you every ounce of what God has given me.  I love doing this and I pray every day that you’re blessed here.

Posted in Titus 2 | 17 Comments

Bay Wax Candles

Well, I couldn’t wait to burn one, so I lit two of them while we had lunch on New Year’s Day.  They smelled heavenly, bay and honey …  and like bees wax, they don’t drip they don’t smoke. Perfection! 

 

If you’ve been around my blog and CHK for very long you know that I make a lot of candles. I use beeswax and dip my candles, several hundred at a time and usually outside over a fire. I have a cast iron pot reserved just for wax.  My youngest daughter has always helped me make most of the candles we produce but this year once my oldest son found out I was making Bay Wax candles,  he decided he wanted to learn how to do that. So we started work on them not really knowing what we were doing but having read quite a bit about bay wax.

candles 1


Dipping candles outside over a fire

The Bay Wax I am using comes from a shrub/tree called Myrica pensylvanica and usually grows in zones 3-6 in the US. I am in zone 7b and while they do grow here as an ornamental, they don’t always do well in the heat of the summers. I purchased this bay wax from www.betterbee.com which is also where I buy my bees wax.

Myrica-pensylvanica

Myrica pensylvanica, the bay berry shrub

 

 

 

Here is how to extract Bay Wax from Bay Berries…….

Because the shrubs don’t grow plentifully here, I couldn’t go pick the berries and extract the wax.  I bought the wax at www.betterbee.com.  Its pretty expensive and that’s why bay berry candles are costly. Approximately 25 pounds of berries will yield only about 6 ounces of wax.  If you have access to the berries, here’s how to extract the wax:

Pick out all the twigs and leaves from the berries. Put the berries in a big heavy pot in batches, you don’t want to overcrowd the pot. Cover with water by about 2 inches. Simmer the berries in the water for about 20-30 minutes.

Line a large bowl with several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the water from the simmered berries and the berries onto the cheesecloth. Lift out the cheesecloth full of berries and plant matter and let it drain. You can boil the berries again to extract more wax.

Once you have your water with the berries drained out of it, let it sit and cool. The wax will rise to the top and harden. Allowing it to sit over night is a good idea, you can even let it sit outside overnight. After the wax hardens its easy to pick it off the top of the water.

To use Bay Wax with Bees Wax, which is what I am doing, use equal amounts of bay and beeswax. You can use up to 1.5 times as much beeswax as Bay wax and still get a good fragrance and color.

Bay Wax candles are greenish in color and have a subtle evergreen scent that most people find agreeable. Mixed with the honey scent of Beeswax, the candles make wonderfully fragrant gifts.

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I use an old olive oil can to melt wax in when I make candles indoors. I have equal amounts of Bay Wax and Bees Wax melting here.

oliveoilcan

Olive oil can for melting wax and dipping candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the slight difference in color between the filtered Beeswax and the Bay Wax in this next photo. The bay wax is pale with a whitish dusty coat. The bees wax is yellowish.

bayberry bees

Beeswax (largest piece) and Bay Wax (two smaller pieces)

This is the first time I’ve ever worked with bay wax and it was a great learning experience. I think the next time I make bay wax candles I will use a mold. The candles that I dipped wanted to twist and contract a little and they were difficult to roll and smooth out. Bay wax seems brittle so we had to be careful as we dipped and straightened them with our fingers.

This is in contrast to how easy beeswax is to work with. Bees wax is bendable even when barely warm and it is easy to make the candles straight after you’ve dipped them simply by gently rolling them on paper.

The fragrance of Bay Wax is wonderful and mixed with the beeswax it is just perfect. The candles are a soft green color. I haven’t lit one yet because they need to sit and mature a while so that they will burn longer. Once I burn one I’ll come back and tell you about it.

candle 1

 

 

Posted in Preparedness | 1 Comment

Home Canning Sausage

sausage

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a jar of my home-canned sausage. My husband’s Grandmother taught me how to can it using grease instead of broth or water. The grease, lard in this case, keeps the sausage tasting like sausage and keeps the typical sausage texture in tact. 

You will need: bulk sausage, extra lard, jars, lids, rings and a pressure canner

Omit sage from your recipe if you are mixing your own sausage as sage  will make the sausage bitter. Go easy on other herbs and spices too.

Use 2/3 lean meat to 1/3 fat to make the best canned sausage.

First, melt some lard in a heavy pot. This lard will be used to cover the meat in the jars instead of broth or water. Keep it very hot while waiting to be poured.

Put water in your pressure canner according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

Get your jars, lids and rings very hot in boiling water.

Make small patties from the sausage meat, cook in a skillet until very done.

Reserve the grease from cooking the sausage and add it to the melted lard.

Fill each quart or pint jar with cooked sausage patties. Don’t fill the jar too full, 2/3 full is enough.

Pour the hot lard in each jar and cover the sausages.

Wipe each jar opening and the whole rim of the jar with a clean cloth dipped in vinegar. The vinegar will help to cut the grease and get it off the jars. If you leave grease on the jars, they won’t seal.

Adjust lids, can in pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure.
Pints 75 minutes
Quarts 90 minutes

Let the canner cool naturally. Once cool, remove jars and allow them to continue cooling on a clean towel on the counter top.

To serve these sausages, open them up and pour the patties, grease and all into a skillet. Heat til very hot and serve.

Posted in Canning-Dehydrating-Prepping | 6 Comments

2017

peace

Posted in Titus 2 | Leave a comment

Christmas

I’ve got different ideas about Christmas than most people I know. Probably different from yours and that’s OK, your ideas are ok. But I thought I’d briefly share my thoughts about Christmas so that if you too have different ideas, you’ll know you’re not alone.

I started thinking about this when I read that our Bible study lesson mid-week would be “What If There Was No Christmas?” It was a good lesson, we discussed what God has done and how blessed we are that God came in flesh to save us. But my first thought was: “If there was no Christmas… so what?”

That sounds awful doesn’t it? But hear me out. Christmas is not a holy day, not something God has commanded us to celebrate or observe. Christmas is a celebration created by humans originally to honor God and celebrate what He has done for mankind.

If there was no Christmas, then God would have done what He was going to do anyway. Its humans who created Christmas and it is humans who have perverted the original meaning of the celebration into an orgy of materialism.

Christmas as a man-created celebration of the blessings of God is similar to the Hebrew celebration of Purim. No where in scripture is Purim commanded by God to be celebrated. However, Jesus probably celebrated it (John 9) as a minor feast day as He celebrated Chanukah (John 10:22) another minor feast day. ~*~
So, I celebrate Christmas. Not because God said to do so but because I am so happy and so overwhelmed at His kindness and mercy to me.

So, I hope you have a Happy Christmas, filled with awe and wonder at what God has done for you.

Posted in Titus 2 | Comments Off on Christmas

Unmet Expectations At Christmas

The burning candles, balls and gold ribbons it are Christmas

For years I have written about bringing traditional values and practices back to our US  holidays. This year, I want to write to you out of my own experiences with preparing for Christmas and other holidays through my adult life. Hopefully I can encourage you to take a new look at how you go about getting your home and mind ready for Christmas.

Americans seem to have lost so much through the years and people yearn for those simple, peaceful occasions. Many of us go looking for what we call old fashioned ways of celebrating Christmas so that we can recapture something we hope will fulfill us and our family. We often go to great lengths to find this fulfillment and very often our efforts end up in arguments or stressful confrontations in the family, overspending and profound sadness.

Holidays aren’t peaceful or simple if you find yourself strung out, worn out and tensed up over trying to make the occasion into something that meets unrealistic expectations. I want to encourage you to let go of your expectations for a perfect Christmas get-together this year and to redefine your ideas of Old Fashioned and Perfect.

What does an Old Fashioned Christmas look like anyway? To most of us it means food, family…. and beyond that, what? Perfectly decorated tables? An immaculate house? New furniture? Lots of going and doing? Shopping with family and friends? Just the perfect gift for everyone on your list? A quiet evening or two before the fireplace with family? I think it can, in part, mean any of those things but conspicuously missing from those descriptions is the Lord Jesus Christ and the particular peace and fullness He brings to our lives. Also missing is the true purpose of Christmas; Celebrating the Gift of Jesus and God’s salvation to mankind. It seems so easy for most of us to get busy and involved with making the perfect Christmas celebration that we forget about the reason for all our blessings.

When we set up a picture in our minds and make plans for a perfect Christmas we set up expectations. Expectations can be dangerous things to family harmony and peace.

Unmet expectations = Discouragement & Frustration

Christmas and other holidays like Thanksgiving often leave us discouraged and frustrated with the people and preparations of the seasons. We somehow believe that because we spend money, time, thought and energy on preparations for these holidays that they must turn out a certain way. We believe that our friends and family must react to our efforts in particular ways.  And then they don’t.  So we become discouraged and frustrated and we show that by the way we treat our family members and in our private thought life.


Food for thought
~ We have no rights to expect anything in this life except the promises of God. Yet our sinful nature tells us that we have rights to our expectations. We have the Gospel and we have forgiveness in Jesus. Is that Good News enough for you? Or do you insist on having your holiday expectations met?

Everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes the perfect Christmas, an Old Fashioned Christmas, but I think the main things that people think of when they think of a holiday being old fashioned are peace and simplicity. I believe we can have those beautiful attributes in our present day celebration of Christmas, if we focus our minds on what we are grateful for, remember to worship God and  enjoying the people God sends into our lives.

Certainly, go shopping, lay around the fireplace with family, play games, make and buy gifts, go for a walk…. do all those things but do them with an attitude of thankfulness and with an eye on the fact that these luxuries are gifts from God; we don’t have a right to any of them. When I think in those terms I become even more thankful for what I have.

In these upcoming weeks as you prepare for Christmas, open your heart to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to prepare it for giving thanks and worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Focus your mind on Jesus and serving others as He has done. Focus on people and being thankful for what God has given you. Then your Christmas will be simple, sweet and truly old fashioned. No matter what happens, no matter if things don’t go perfectly and according to plan, you will have thankfulness and peace in your heart….and I think that is the very best kind of old fashioned Christmas there is.

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All My Turkey Helps In One Place

All my Turkey info in one place. Plus a little more.

 

How To Thaw The Turkey

How To Brine A Turkey

How To Roast A Turkey

Tips For The Perfect Turkey

The Children’s Table – ideas!

Thanksgiving Lists – what to do and when

Dressing and Stuffing Recipes

Thanksgiving In A Hurry

Gravy Recipe   Including my fast Thanksgiving gravy!

Yeast Rolls

 

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