Come On Spring


Its almost spring.

Things have been like a whirl-wind here. My husband’s mom is living with us and needs a lot of care and help.  I am very happy to do it, I have always loved her and find it very said that some people don’t get along with their in-laws.   dandelion flower

Its been rainy, wet and chilly so far this March. We had a few warm days and now we’re back to cold. No problem for me, I don’t like to really start the garden til May anyway.

Every chance I get I’m downsizing and decluttering.I went ahead and put my winter clothes up and most of the heavy blankets. If it gets down to freezing again, we might freeze along with it! So far so good though.

We’ve had all the children here and grandchildren on the weekends. I like it. Nana likes it. It sure makes for a fast and busy weekend though.

I’ll be glad when the warm returns so we can sit on the deck and enjoy the weather.

What are you doing this spring?


The Importance of Age Appropriate Chores

Do your children have regular chores to do in the home?  Ours definitely do.  My husband Mark, and I, have 5 children born in 1982, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1998.. All of our children have had specific chores to do since they were very small and we have added chores that are appropriate to their ages to their list until they have moved out and are on their own.

We have had very good results with having our children be responsible for household and yard work.  Our three oldest are now the kind of people who see something that needs to be done and do it, without being asked or directed. Our oldest child is now training his own children to work and to be helpful in the home.

The chores that children and young people are required to do will help them in many areas of life later on. Studies have shown that adults who had regular chores at home make better employees and better leaders. The Bible verse of Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” does not only apply to the spiritual life of the child. Any good way you train your child will remain with the child.  As for myself, I have some good habits now that I remember my Mother training me in. Though I didn’t actually practice them faithfully until I was in my 30′s, those good habits like hanging up my clothes immediately when I change, putting away my shoes, washing my face and brushing my hair first thing in the morning, have all remained with me.

Here are a few of the benefits of assigning chores to your children early in life:

1. Doing chores, children learn how to co-operate and work along side others. Children doing chores with siblings or other family members learn how to work as a team, which is a very important concept in business. They also learn how to get along, share and listen to the ideas of others.

2. When chores have to be done before a child can play or do other activities, the child learns time-management.  They also learn how to delay gratification which is another skill that many adults lack.

3. When children work together with others to complete a chore, they learn responsibility. If everyone doesn’t do their part, the chore is not complete and a child can learn through this that his or her contributions are important. Boys especially need this assurance that they are contributing to the welfare of the family through their chores and work in the home.

4. Children learn self-sufficiency through completing chores and tasks that are assigned to them. What seems like an easy task to an adult may take a lot of thinking and experimenting for a child to figure out. But the process of figuring it out is necessary to develop skills the child need to be self-sufficient.  Parents must develop their own skills of offering enough help to encourage but not so much as to do the whole chore themselves.

5.  One of the most important things children learn by doing chores is care for others.  Parents can teach their children to nurture and show care for siblings and family members by having them do things like; folding and putting away siblings clothing, helping with a sibling’s homework or helping to clean a sibling’s room, making beds, etc.  Human beings are naturally selfish so helping others is a skill that must be learned and fine-tuned.

Not all chores are appropriate for children of all ages.  Obviously, you would not assign dish-washing to a 12 month old. Mothers who have had a few children learn pretty quickly what a child of any age is capable of, but often we sell our children’s abilities short.  Small children can do many things that, while they may not be done perfectly, the mere act of doing them builds confidence and character in the child. Older children can often be trusted to do difficult chores well. We each know our own children and their capabilities, but sometimes we have to step out and allow them to try things that we consider hard or complicated.

Small children have a helpful and sweet nature that can be used by Mothers to begin the process of training.  Here are a few things that a 12-18 month old can do, and can continue on with these things up til about 3 years when more tasks can be added.
Go and get items as directed
Fold wash cloths and dish towels
Put items in a drawer with help
Set his own place for meals
Pick up and put away toys with help
A child this age can be encouraged to voice his own prayers

For the 3 to 5 year old, many possibilities are opened up for service to family members. This is also a good age for beginning to teach the child to take care of many of his own personal needs. Include the previous tasks for the 18 month to 3 year old also.
Dress himself
Fold up and put away more complicated clothing
Set table
Take dishes to sink after meals
Clean up small messes from floor
Feed and water pets
Take out small bags of trash
Make bed with help
Stack up books and magazines

At the ages of 5 to 7 years a child really begins to be a help to the family and begins to see that he is indispensible to the harmony and happiness of the family’s routine. This is the time when the child learns most of what it takes to run a household. Include the previous tasks listed.
Make bed by himself
Change sheets on his bed and for others
Do his own personal care routine unsupervised
Fold blankets
Sort laundry, load laundry with some supervision
Fold towels and some clothing
Sweep and mop small areas
Dust furniture
Hang shirts on hangers
Make rolls and biscuits from dough
Pick up and straighten
Set out plants in the garden
Weed garden
Water garden
Harvest from garden
Bring in wood
Labeling food for freezer or canning jars
Some sewing and embroidery

Between the ages of 8 and 12 years a child is capable of taking on many more responsibilities. This is the age when boys begin to feel protective over their Mothers and sisters, if it has been instilled into them, and when they are most likely to want to be outside instead of inside. Provide opportunity for your sons to have outside chores, however, do not neglect the inside chores.
Begin to allow a few choices to your daughters about meal planning, table settings and family games.

Sweep house and porch
Run vaccum in any room
Preparing garden for planting
Hoe and rake garden
Help prepare daily meals
Make bread with some supervision
Hang all laundry on line
Fold all clothing articles
Make a simple lunch unsupervised
Make cookies, cakes, muffins and simple desserts
Iron on low temperatures
Serve meals and pour drinks
Stack wood

By the time a child is 12 years old, he is capable of doing most anything you can do in the household. With training a 12 or 13 year old child can be depended upon to run the house in the prescence of an adult for short periods of time. For instance, when Mother has a new baby by her side, the older children should be able to be relied on to help Father with the small children to the point that he can attend to his work and have trust in the older ones to take care of and protect the younger ones. This is very alien and strange to many parents today. To leave a 13 year old child in the position of caring for his or her younger siblings, even if it is in the prescence of an adult, seems careless to them.Most 13 year olds are not capable or willing to be given this responsibility. And giving this responsibility to an untrained child is foolhardy at the least. That is why training at a young age is so important.

I will brag on my children for just a moment. I know that training children early in life works. When my oldest child, who is now 28 years old with a lovely wife and two little girls of his own, was just 12 years old, I was very ill. The Dr. said “complete bed-rest for at least a week.” I sat in bed and the little ones sat with me as we read and worked on school. My oldest son did laundry, prepared lunch for me and the children, did his own school work and straightened the house and he prepared dinner before his Dad got home. What a relief for me and for my husband that this child remembered everything he had been taught and managed the house so well.
He even sewed a button on a shirt. The other children pitched in and did their chores. The household ran very smoothly. That one week showed us that children can learn difficult things, they can be taught and they can do what is required of them.

To neglect our children’s training may seem like the easy thing to do when you are a tired mommy. It may seem like it is something we can forget about when the child becomes difficult to teach or discipline becomes an every day thing. But I think we can agree that it will not be the wise thing to do. We must train up our children and provide for them this base and foundation for living a godly and Christ-Like life. We must train our children so that they can be good employees, good employers and good mothers and fathers for their own children.

Cleaning and Decluttering 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

Be Clutter Free

Have you ever de-cluttered your home only to turn around a month (or a week) later to find it cluttered again? Yeah, me too. So here are some ways I’ve tackled the clutter bug over the last 34 years of homemaking and 5 children. Well, lets be honest… 5 children, a husband, me and a small zoo.   declutter_part2

Here are a few ways I use and you can use too to keep your house from cluttering up so quickly.

  • For every thing you buy and bring into the house, get rid of one thing. Oh boy. this is really a hard one for some people What it does is it requires you to THINK about your purchases. Do you need it? Are you willing to give up something for it? So if you buy a shirt, you need to get rid of something in your current wardrobe. If you purchase a nicnac for your house you get rid of one nicnac.


  • Don’t own more clothing than will easily fit into your closet and dresser. This one, I’d like to leave off because I have 1960′s closets. they are about 1/4 the size of most walk-in closets in new homes today. But its helped me get my eyes off owning too many clothes. And my husband and I share a dresser, so that helps.


  • Declutter small areas in your home all year around. Take an hour or a few minutes and declutter one small area of your home; a paper pile, an unorganized cabinet, a linen closet. Pretty soon it won’t take long to straighten these areas and you’ll only have to do it periodically.


  • Take the time and effort to create New Habits - That’s what your clutter is made of;habits. So instead of piling mail on the kitchen table, make an inbox and out box and get rid of junk mail as soon as it comes in the house. When we had a fire place I had a box where I kept junk mail and I used it as kindling. Another habit that is good to start is taking off your shoes when you enter the house and taking those shoes to your room or closet. Don’t try to start too many new habits at once, just one or two is enough. It takes 21 days to enforce a new habit according to the experts, so don’t give up.


  • Work to get all your family members in on your plan for a decluttered home. Hey now, stop laughing. You are the Home Keeper, you can make some home rules. If you have trouble getting your Number One on board, remember that being reasonable and matter-of-fact gets you further than whining or yelling.


  • Go ahead and invest in good storage methods – What do I mean by that – well bookshelves, cabinets, things like that. If you have books and they are all over the furniture and floor, its hard to keep things orderly. Go ahead and make yourself some shelves or find some affordable ones at flea markets or Goodwill. Have the right kind of storage will go a long way to decluttering your home. There are all kinds of storage containers and doodads available, your goal is to find what really, truly works for you.

My small, galley style kitchen










Here’s an example: I have a very small, galley kitchen. But I also have lots of pots and pans, home canned goods and herbs that I have no where to store. I bought a stainless steel baker’s rack years ago and it has served very well. It has kept my kitchen organised and given me a place to hang herbs to dry. It was a good purchase.


Migraine Tincture

Disclaimer:  The instructions I offer here in this post (and in all my posts about herbs and home remedies) are what I use personally at home. Of course the standard disclaimer goes: I am not a doctor and don’t prescribe medicines or herbs, this is just what  we have done here for generations with great results.  


I do occasionally suffer with a Migraine headache. They aren’t as bad as they used to be and I chalk that up to menopause. Yes, the “M” word actually does offer a few benefits.  But I still get them now and then and they really do hurt.  They seem to be worse in the fall and winter so I thought I’d share with you how to make a tincture that will help with these nasty headaches.feverfew tincture

I have used Feverfew for these headaches for over 20 years. I just go outside, pull a leaf off and pop it in my mouth. I bite down on the leaf and though bitter, the oils in the plant usually relieve the pain before it gets started good.

But in the winter when the plant isn’t growing outdoors and my brown thumb rears its ugly head with my indoor herbs, I was out of luck.  And since I’ve been on somewhat of a Tincture Kick lately, I figured, why not?

I don’t particularly like tincture taste, it kind of burns. I could make tinctures with glycerin, but I prefer to use more old fashioned ways so I use vodka or pure grain alcohol or even brandy.  The alcohol pulls the oils from the plants and its the oils that do the trick.

Now, Feverfew is quite bitter. I don’t like it either but I figured if I put some other herbs in the vodka with it, it might taste better. I used Feverfew, Spearmint and Lemon Balm.  Spearmint and Lemon Balm are often used for headache as well as Feverfew.

I mashed equal amounts of the herbs into a half pint jar, covered with vodka let it sit for about 4-6 weeks.  Now its winter time and I have strained the liquid off, put the used herbs in the compost bin and bottled up the liquid in a dropper bottle.

At the first sign of a migraine, which for me is the aura, I’ll start taking the liquid, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time.  I’ll increase the dosage if needed. Many herbalists recommend using 30 drops every 2 hours for an acute attack and 30 drops 2 times a day to prevent migraines.

Feverfew contains a sesquiterpene lactone called parthenolide.  Parthenolide is believed to be the primary active chemical responsible for alleviating both the severity and the frequency of migraine headaches. For more information about how Feverfew works on migraine headaches see the article at Webmd


The picture below shows the kind of dropper bottles I use. That’s elderberry tincture on the plate.

dropper bottles







You can purchase Feverfew, Spearmint and Lemon Balm at Mountain Rose Herbs. I am not an affiliate these are just links for you to use if you like.   They also carry tincture bottles and droppers.

You may be interested in these other tinctures I make:

Elderberry Tincture
Oregano Tincture
Violet Tincture


My Homemade Cough Medicine








Here is my homemade cough medicine recipe.  I make a quart jar of this every year and we go through it in about 3 months. It will keep nearly forever at room temperature.  I find that it feels good on a sore throat if it is heated up before administering.

We also take it dissolved in hot tea, its delicious!

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar ( Bragg’s is great)
2 tablespoons honey (local raw honey is best)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add 1/2 tsp if you can stand it, its good for you!)
1 teaspoon grated, fresh ginger. Peel first.
Mix well, store in a tightly covered jar at room temp. Use a teaspoon at a time, as needed, for cough and/or sore throat. It might be too hot for small children so reduce the hot pepper accordingly.

Grammies Garlic Oil

Disclaimer:  The instructions I offer here in this post (and in all my posts about herbs and home remedies) are what I use personally at home. Of course the standard disclaimer goes: I am not a Dr and don’t prescribe medicines or herbs, this is just what we have done here for generations with great results.

garlic oil




I’ve got an ear ache today and since I was out and about I thought I’d stop and get some garlic oil capsules. Then I remembered: I have HOMEMADE Garlic Oil in the frig at home! Yay!

I made it about 2 months ago. Other than someone eating a few cloves, its still there waiting for someone to need it. I sure do today.

Here’s how I made it and how I used it.

Peel enough garlic cloves to fill a half pint glass jar. If you don’t want to peel each one individually, try this:

Real Simple – How To Peel Garlic Cloves Quickly

Your Mileage May Vary.

After you get your half pint jar filled with peeled garlic, heat some olive oil. You’ll need a little less than a cup, a half pint holds one cup and the garlic will displace some of that. Don’t heat the oil to a boil, just get it hot to touch.

Pour the hot oil over the garlic. Let the jar cool to room temperature, put a lid on it and store it in the frig. If you store it at room temperature it will grow mold and junk.

It will be ready to use almost immediately but the longer you let it sit the stronger it gets.

To use it, spoon out a small amount of the now-congealed oil.  Let it melt.  Put about 3 drops in the affected ear followed by a cotton ball.

spoon of oil





I don’t recommend using this on babies or little children unless you’re sure your child won’t be bothered by it. Garlic oil tends to be very warm in the ear. Not burning but if there is inflammation in the ear, it could burn pretty badly when you put it in.

The wonderful thing about Garlic Oil is that it will kill bacteria both in your ear and in the rest of your body. When you feel yourself coming down with something, try taking garlic oil capsules or your homemade oil, about three times a day til you feel better. Or til someone asks if you’ve been eating at an Italian restaurant.





Homekeeping 101

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“Homekeeping 101″

When printed off, in color, the Homekeeping 101 eBook makes a great gift!

homekeeping 101 print







Often today, women begin homekeeping without the luxury of already having the knowledge they need. They have to learn as they go, a little here and a little there.

Thirty years ago, when I became a wife and started keeping my own home, I was already prepared and had trained for my new career. My Mother and Grandmother taught me with diligence and care all the homemaking skills that I would need for this new era in my life.

Since I can’t come and teach you in person, this eBook will teach you some basic homekeeping skills. –Sylvia

My 21-page ebook covers these topics (and more!):

  • Help with Creating Routines for Cleaning Rooms
  • Cleaning Methods for Rooms
  • Bed-Making Tips and Methods
  • Basic Household Schedules
  • Natural Cleaners
  • Essential Oils: A Primer
  • Deep Cleaning Routines
  • Laundry Primer and Tips
  • Special Laundry Needs: Wool Care & Ironing
  • Caring for Rugs
  • Household Tips
  • Washing Dishes
  • Recipes — Roasting Chicken, Making Stock, Boiling Eggs, Homemade Crackers and more!
  • Tips for Cleanliness


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