The Wisdom To Survive

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees on a ruined place,
Renewing it, enriching it,
If we will make our seasons welcome here,
Asking not too much of earth or heaven.
Then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live here,
Their houses strongly placed upon the valley sides,
Fields and gardens rich in the windows.
The river will run clear,
as we will never know it,
And over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be green meadows,
Stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down the old forest,
An old forest will stand,
Its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music risen out of the ground.
They will take nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting.
Memory, native to this valley,
will spread over it like a grove,
and memory will grow into legend,
legend into song, song into sacrament.
The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.
This is no paradise or dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.
Wendell Berry

Harvest Homekeeping Decorating Idea ~ Votive Holders

This is an old post but I brought it out because these little votive holders are so cute and easy to make!

All you need are some of those little gourds that look like pumpkins, a small sharp knife and a votive candle.


First cut off the top of the gourd. Hold your knife at an angle and cut into the gourd. Its a little tough so be careful.


Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.


Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.


You can use a small ice cream or dough scoop to clean the seeds and pulp out of the gourd.


Put your votive in the carved out gourd……


And light the candle. Try grouping several of these little beauties for a warm, inviting harvest table decoration.

You Can Decorate Your Home For Fall – Inexpensively







Do you decorate for Fall?  I do on a small scale. Mostly I use natural items that I find outdoors and things I have on hand. The main idea for Fall decorating is to bring warmth and comfort into your home.  Decorating doesn’t need to be expensive or trendy. The way you decorate should brighten your home and make you smile.








I remember decorating for Fall when I was a new bride. We lived in an apartment and I brought in some pine cones and evergreen twigs I picked up on the sidewalk on my way home from work one day. I placed the  cones and greenery in a wooden bowl and I had instant happiness.








Bring out the afghans!  Fall is the time to bring out fuzzy blankets, afghans and throw rugs. Use deep colors like red, orange and brown, yellow and rust. Tuck a flower arrangement under a desk or table, a small grouping or candles on a bookshelf for some unexpected color and cheer.








Put away all the objects of summer and bring in dried flowers, pine cones, drift wood, dry leaves, apples, berries, dried corn and pumpkins. I love to decorate with natural materials but it can be a beautiful idea to invest in some great looking artificial items to decorate with. Save your decor from year to year and add to your treasures as you can.








Something as simple as red apples in a wooden bowl is a beautiful addition to your holiday decor.








Dollar stores and Thrift stores are good places to look to find leaf shaped dishes, deep red and orange colored plates and candle holders for using in the Autumn.








And speaking of candles, what a wonderful way of adding warmth and beauty to your home, place candles around singly or in groups.







A lovely little candle holder can be made by hollowing out the center of one of those small pumpkin-shaped gourds. Just pop in a votive and you have a sweet little light.








Find some plastic “stained glass window” treatment at your local home store.  Then put some of it on a window that doesn’t have a great view. It will allow light in and warm up the room. Best thing about it: It can be removed and reused!









Look around your home and pull together things that remind you of Autumn. Use those things to decorate and add warmth to your home.  Be cure to check out the yard too for tall grasses, pine cones, pieces of interesting wood and rocks that you can bring in and incorporate into your decor.  An Autumn colored tablecloth can really dress up your dining areas.  To make an inexpensive table cloth, measure your table and purchase the appropriate amount of Autumn themed fabric.  Trim the edges with pinking shears or hem.

Glass containers filled with interesting items make a great decorating element.  Use nuts like walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and acorns to fill different sized containers and then group them for a beautiful Fall arrangement.







This is one of my glass chickens surrounded by a berry wreath. It’s one of my most colorful and favorite Fall decorations.


Add a vine or a base of dried leaves to a pumpkin for an instant centerpiece or consider purchasing handpainted, manufactured pumpkins like these from Piper Classics


Have fun decorating your home for Fall!

Start Planning Now For An Easy Thanksgiving

Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving. Good food, family, friends, beautiful leaves, and crisp cool weather. We created this eBook to offer you ideas for preparing your heart and home for a blessed Thanksgiving. –Sylvia   tgplanner

Our 44-page Thanksgiving Planner includes:

  • Brief History of Thanksgiving
  • Thanksgiving Games
  • 4-Week Thanksgiving Planner and Devotionals
  • Article: “The Danger of Unmet Expectations”
  • Devotional: “Renew My Strength, Lord”
  • Devotional: “Holy Living”
  • Sylvia’s Turkey Tips
  • Instructions for Brining a Turkey
  • Recipes ~ both Family Favorite Recipes and Whole Food, Allergy-Friendly Recipes
  • Harvest Crafts and Home Decor Ideas

Get my Thanksgiving Ebook here

Fast And Furious Fall Cleaning ~ Master Bedroom

Today is the last day of Fast And Furious Fall Cleaning, I hope you’ve gotten some encouragement and motivation here at CHK. Today we’ll clean the ……

Master Bedroom

These are the essentials of a thorough cleaning and de-cluttered/organized bedroom. If your Master Bedroom doesn’t need a thorough decluttering, consider using the Bedroom Cleaning System included in this post.

First – Take down curtains and wash them if you are able. If you cannot wash them, hang them outside to air. Be sure not to hang them in full sun if you think they may fade.

Second – Strip the bed linens and put them in to wash or in the laundry room.
Turn the mattress if you are able….. but don’t hurt yourself for goodness sake!

Third – Hang up and put away all clothes or laundry. If there are clothes that need to be put in someone elses room, do it. If there are clothes that need to be stored, store them. If there are clothes that need to go to Good -Will, take them!

If you just don’t have any way to store those clothes, get rid of some of them! Why do you need all those clothes?

Fourth – Get yourself three baskets, boxes or bags. Label these containers:

Throw Away
Give Away
Put Away

Walk around your room and put everything that you don’t want in the room in one of these boxes.

When this is done…

Find a fourth box…. put all your trinkets, doo-dads and nicnacs that you are going to keep in this box (think about getting rid of some of these! ). Put your alarm clock, pictures, wall decor, everything that will stay in the room. Place this box in the dining room or kitchen. You can enlist a child to dust and clean these items or save this for yourself for later.

Fifth – Pull everything out of the closet. Oh yes, the closet. Pull it all OUT. All of it. Everything. Now go through it quickly and put each item in one of your four boxes. Hang up clothes and sort them into the boxes quickly. Don’t take too much time with this. If you have not worn the item in 2 years, toss it or give it away.

If an item you pull out of your closet does not belong in the closet, if the closet is not where you really should store it, then move it to its rightful place. If you don’t have anywhere else for this item, then its rightful place is the closet. Only you know…

Dust, sweep and clean the inside of the closet. Rehang the clothes. Arrange the contents of the closet that are going back in it, correctly and neatly.

Sixth – Clean out from under the bed. Pull it all out, divide the under-bed contents into your four boxes. Sweep and mop under the bed when everything is moved out from under it. Take this opportunity to go through any storage bins you have under the bed. Throw out what you don’t need, organize and label the rest.

There are lots of good ideas for under-bed storage. Those bed risers that I talk about every year are really a handy thing to have. Using bed risers can give you up to 10 inches of space to store things. They cost about $ 8.95 – $14.95 for four of them. This is one of the best investments for the household I have ever made. I bought mine at Linen’s and Things but these at Amazon are very similar. Plastic Bed Risers – Set of 4

Flat plastic boxes are great for under the bed too.

Seventh – We’re on the home stretch! Dust the ceilings, tops of windows and door frames, and walls. If you walls are dirty and you want to wash them, go for it! Use a mild detergent or soap and warm water if you have painted walls. If you have wallpaper, you will want to use a barely damp sponge and a drying towel. Work from the top of the wall down to the floor. If you have carpet, cover it!

Now to the Nitty Gritty Cleaning of the Room:

*Wash the windows. Use my homemade window cleaner or what ever you have on hand. Use newspaper to dry them for a streak free shine!
*Clean up the window frames now and dry them well.
*Clean the baseboards with a soapy solution of mild dish soap and warm water or your natural cleaner
*Dust all furniture. Use lemon oil or orange oil on all wood. Use a mild soap and warm water on other furniture according to what its made of. Wash doilies and table covers.
*If you haven’t yet cleaned the nicnacs and needful items that go in your room go do that now. When they are cleaned, replace them where they go in the room.
*Think about adding a doilie or a table skirt to soften the room. Think about what you use to make the room a pleasant place to be with your husband or just to go to relax.
*Press and rehang your curtains.
*Sweep, vacuum and mop the floor depending on what you need to do. If your floors are hard, use which ever chemicals you have success with. I use a wood soap on my hardwood and then a wood shiner product made by Glade. Sometimes I even use orange oil on the floors and rub them to a deep shine. You must rub the wood very vigorously so that it won’t be slick!
*Dress the bed. Its getting to be cooler here in the US so dress your bed in sheets and two quilts OR with one quilt and one blanket. Think about getting a skirt to hide the under bed contents. I found a white cotton one at Good Will for $3.49 !
*Replace rugs

Light a candle and enjoy! :)

fall_cupFor each room we have worked on this week, I have a Room Cleaning system. I often type up and print out these systems and hang them where they can be seen in each room for cleaning day. Its really helpful to have a system for cleaning each room if you’re new to homemaking or if you have older children helping you who need to be reminded of what to do in each room.  Feel free to add and take away specific cleaning duties in each room until you get a System that works for you. Here is an example of my Bathroom Cleaning System.

Bedroom Cleaning System

Take up rugs, shake and launder if needed.

Pick up clothes, put away.

Pick up everything that is out of place and put it away.

Dust furniture and nicnacs.

Organize dresser tops, table tops.

Sweep or vacuum.

Mop if needed.

Make bed.

Replace rugs.


Tidy Idies For the Master Bedroom:

Try not to begin the habit of using your Master Bedroom as a storage room with boxes of stuff everywhere and clothes thrown across the bed.

*Organize as you go. Pick up and deal with clutter daily.

*Check to see if any casters or rubber floor protectors are needed under the feet of the bed, dressers, etc. Metal frame beds can be especially harsh on wood floors.

*If you store items under the bed using a bed skirt/ruffle will usually hide them.
Make a storage list for items in storage bins that you store under the bed. Put the list in each bin. That way you know what’s under there and you don’t have to go on a digging expedition for anything.

*Are their items in your dresser that should be hung instead of folded?

*Closets. Everything should have a place, even if it’s in (well labeled) storage bins/containers.
Consider a “closet makeover”. Closets don’t have to look like a dumping ground. They can be painted or papered, organized and neat. The more time you take that first time to make your closets user friendly and attractive the better you’ll do at upkeep.

*The 20 Minute Tidy is a way to keep the Master Bedroom clean. Just a few minutes a day can add up to big changes.

Here are a few more tidbits you might find useful from Deborah Tukua’s book, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home

~An upright trunk makes a great bedside table and provides an inside storage space of 3 feet deep.
~Dresser drawers stick? Rub a moist bar of soap across the runners to help it glide easier.
~Has the life gone out of your mattress? No money for a new one? Extend the life of your mattress by purchasing an egg crate foam mattress covering. It’s much cheaper than buying a new mattress, usually around $12.00, yet adds plush comfort to your bedding for at least another year.

Fast and Furious Fall Cleaning ~ The Bathroom

The bathroom is the one room in my house that has to be cleaned every day. I will give you an abbreviated list at the end of these instructions for a quick daily clean.

The first thing to do for the bathroom is to put everything away. All the bottles, lotions, hairbrushes and items that normally stay in the bathroom. As you are putting away the bottles, be sure to wipe them off with a damp cloth to get off any spills and messes.
Next, take a damp cloth, or some all-purpose cleaner and a cloth, and clean the baseboards, window sills, tops of the mirror and storage cabinets, top of the tile if you have tile and top of the door.

Now you can make up your cleaning solution in your sink. I like to use an all-purpose cleaner like a pine cleaner or bleach. A few drops of dish washing detergent also works well but doesn’t disinfect. You can add a little bleach to a dish detergent and water solution for a good disinfectant cleaner.
The idea is to clean the least dirty areas first to keep your cloth as germ free as possible and clean the really germy areas last.

Sprinkle abrasive cleaner or all-purpose cleaner in the tub and commode to soak.
Using a clean, soft cloth, wash the counter tops, fronts of the cabinets, walls, tile and front of the tub. Rinse out your cloth frequently.

Clean out the medicine cabinet and throw away all the old and expired medicines. Wipe down the inside of the cabinet.

Clean the bathtub next and the sink.
While you are cleaning the bathtub, be sure to clean the faucets and shower head. If the shower head is plugged up with hard water deposits, remove it and use some vinegar to soak the head in and then replace it on the shower.
Clean the floors now, there are instructions on this page for doing that.
Clean the outside of the commode. Raise the lid and clean all around the ring. Lift the tank lid and clean the wall behind it. Be sure to clean the base of the commode and lift off the plastic or ceramic bolt covers to clean them and clean under them. Odor causing bacteria can form there.
Now clean inside the commode using a scrubbie or scotch-brite that you have set aside for cleaning the bathroom. Wipe down with a cloth.

Finally, clean your mirror and window with some glass cleaner or vinegar. For a final touch, light a candle and put down a nice clean rug. You’re all done!

Check here for ideas on how to Deep Clean the Bathroom floor.

Fast and Furious Fall Cleaning ~ The Dining Area

Today we will be working on the eating area. This is a difficult thing to dictate what to clean because some have dining rooms and some don’t. Some use the dining room regularly and some don’t . So we are going to have differing levels of need for our eating areas today.

I moved my dining area recently. It used to be in a room by itself but now its part of the living room. I like it like that=, makes it more cozy.

Here are some general cleaning recommendations for most any room, with a few suggestions thrown in here and there for the eating area. if you have suggestions of your own, feel free to post them!

First Things first:
De-clutter. Get everything out of the eating area that doesn’t belong there on a daily basis. If you have a real clutter problem, get out your 4 boxes, baskets or bags and label them like we did for the master bedroom. You will throw away some things, store some, put away some or give away some.

Clean out hutches, cabinets, clean off shelves, tables and chairs. Get everything out of this room but the furniture.
Move things off walls and off of all surfaces.

Anything that can be wet, go ahead and make a sink of hot soapy water and immerse it. Anything else, just sit it on the kitchen counter for now.

Now Start Moving Things Out Of Your Way

Take down curtains, toss in the wash if you can or air them outside.

Take up rugs, wash or air.

Take up chair pads, wash or air.

Get the chairs out of this area for now.

Get rid of cobwebs. use a towel on the end of a broom or other tool. Don’t use polish or cleaner for this you can streak your ceilings and walls!

The Nitty Gritty Cleaning Part

Make up a pan of hot soapy water or use whatever chemical you like.

Wash ceiling and walls if needed taking care with the kind of wall coverings or paint you have.

Wash down the door frames and window frames. Wash doors and baseboards. Dry if needed.

Wash windows.

If you can touch up paint in this room today, now is the time to do it.

Clean the furniture, wash and/or polish. Clean and polish chairs. Spend time cleaning and polishing the table.

Replace anything that truly goes in the storage areas of this room such as the hutch, cabinets, shelves, etc.

Sweep,vacuum and/or mop. Polish wood floors.

Bring chairs back into the room.

Spread out your tablecloth, if you are using one.

Replace curtains and rugs.

Place a nice little arrangement on the table or a candle.

table candle

Fast And Furious Fall Cleaning ~ The Living Room

living room

Here are the step by step instructions for Deep Cleaning the Living Room. If your living room doesn’t need a deep cleaning, just be very thankful and use the Living Room Cleaning System listed later on this page!

Deep Cleaning The Living Room

The living room or den is the room where a family does most of their, well…. living. Its a busy room and takes a lot of wear and tear. So, it can usually stand a good cleaning any time you want to give it one.

Begin by picking up the room and using your 4 bags/boxes/baskets like we did in the master bedroom. Get everything out of this room that doesn’t belong. Sometimes I place personal belongings in a basket and tell the children to come get their things in the next ten minutes or the things are leaving home

Make a pan of hot soapy water or use the kitchen sink.

Once you get the room emptied of stuff that doesn’t belong, take up nicnacs and decorative items.

Clean and wash picture frames and nicnacs, set them out to dry.

Take down the curtains and take up the rugs, wash them if possible or hang them out to air.

Take up tablecloths, doilies, all fabric coverings and pillows; wash and dry if you can or air dry.

Wash down the door frames, window frames, baseboards, all woodwork, ceilings and ceiling fans.

Wash windows

Clean off shelves, rearrange books, wipe down the shelves while they are empty.

Clean up work areas. Organize work materials.

Organize movies, cds and dvds, organize the whole tv/entertainment area

Dust all furniture, polish if needed

Move out furniture if possible, if not just clean around and under as best you can.

Vacuum upholstered furniture

Vacuum floors, sweep and mop, polish wood floors

Replace rugs and curtains

Replace furniture covers if using and pillows

Arrange magazines, papers, books that don’t have a shelf. A basket might be nice, or simply stack them up neatly.

Replace nicnacs and pictures…. do you need them all in this room?

Light some candles and relax!


Tidy Idies for the Living Room:

If you allow toys in the living room, store them in an attractive basket.
Provide a basket for newspapers and magazines.
Consider getting rid of some of the usual living room nicnacs… fewer nicnacs means less dusting…
If you will go through the living room each day and straighten the rug, straighten the sofa and chairs,the whole room will look better.

Just like I showed you for the bathroom, you can make a Room Cleaning System for the Living Room. Tape it in an inconspicuous place or in a notebook and refer to it when its time to clean.


A Sample Living Room Cleaning System

Pick up everything that does not belong in the Living Room and place in a basket. Call family members to come get their things.

Pick up everything from the floor that doesn’t belong, papers, books, etc. Put those items away.

Gather supplies: clean cloths, furniture polish, cleaner solution, broom, mop, vacuum

Dust all shelves, books, nicnacs and furniture.

Vacuum upholstered furniture, fluff pillows

Sweep floors, mop or vacuum