Spring Cleaning: handmade storage solutions

Spring Cleaning is awesome! It feels so good to remove clutter and bring joy back into the home. This year as we clean, we are also working on updating items to reflect the way we feel. If you have read Love the Home your in that I wrote a few months ago, then you will understand what I mean.

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For us, that means creating a home that is full of both functional and beautiful items. And also, to showcase our own talents and skills-not what is readily available at thousands of stores across America.

Today was the day to get rid of the plastic toy containers, that no matter how hard I have tried to make them work over the past couple of years, they just don’t. The things that are organized into them look great for about 5 minutes.. The shelf that used to hold them took up wall space we didn’t have, leaving rooms to feel cramped, and they just don’t bring joy.

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So as I cleaned them out and sorted the items, I decided that I should just sew up a bunch of bags to hold and hide the stuff. In the past I attempted the method of toy storage by purchasing zipper garment bags. These work great, except they can’t hang and they don’t bring me joy when I see them.

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I keep seeing all of the great things out there on Pinterest, and that is where I went again today to visualize what would work for me.

This was my criteria:

  • Fast and Easy to sew
  • To use what is on hand (dual purpose: spring clean the sewing supplies by using it up!)
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to store
  • Attractive to the eye

After taking inventory of supplies and searching tutorials, I whipped up 3 bags in about 2 1/2 hours (including interruptions from kids).

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They aren’t perfect. I didn’t take time to iron, or even make sure each piece of fabric was cut perfectly straight. But they look great, were fast and easy,  I didn’t have to make a trip to the store to complete them and most importantly they are functional! Also, I made sure to double stitch every seam so that they will hold up to the abuse they are sure to get.
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I want to make a few more, so the next article in this series will have a tutorial for you!

For now, here are some of the places I visited and found inspiration:

Toy Sack with tabs

Hanging toy storage

Lego sack

Hanging laundry bag

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

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The Treasure of Handmade

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also..” Matthew 6:21

Before I truly begin this posting I need to insert the link to this fabulous article written by Camille Curtis Anderson in a 1996 issue of a magazine that is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that I am a member of, called the Ensign. I cam across this article just now as I was researching some quotes and scripture to add words to my feelings on the topic I wanted to discuss today. This article said exactly what has been on my heart, I could literally post this link and be finished with writing for today. No doubt, I will be quoting Camille a few time throughout this posting.

The idea of this website is not just to share historical tidbits of days past, but also to teach how to implement them for ourselves in our modern society and truly  create a home that we love, and to treasure the work of our own hands. You can read the article by Camille here.

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Reading the other articles on this site you will notice that most of my learning has come from books. The internet adds to the variety and modernism of this knowledge, while the books tend to be more of historical content.

Some of the skills such as basic sewing, crochet, and even a bit of weaving were witnessed during my childhood while spending time with crafty grandmothers and aunts. My mother was also a very creative individual. She has always been very skilled at “making do”, and using the materials available to create the things needed. I know for certain that these women in my life played an important role in the development of my talents. It is clear in many of my projects how the talents of these women has influenced the way that I create.

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The above picture shows a hand/dish towel I made this past week. It has a bit of a story to it. The blue cotton yarn that makes up the edging came from a sweater I deconstructed (unraveled) to recycle yarn. It was my first fully successful frogged sweater! The body of the towel did not begin with the intent that it would be such. Actually, I had started it thinking that this weeks topic was going to be a tutorial on how to combine needle arts with sewing to make cute curtains. This cotton yarn did not balance well with the fabric I intended to use, so like-mother-like-daughter, I did  not let my efforts go to waste but transformed it into a useful item after all. Just this afternoon it was put to work sopping up spilled peach juice from my son’s lap.

In speaking about pioneer ancestors and the hard labors they endured, Camille wrote:

These domestic labors were their way of weaving discernible threads of accomplishment throughout the unrelenting elements of their world. The austere surroundings of many women moved them to create beauty with simple objects.

Creating “beauty with simple objects”, does provide a respite from the mundane. It was much more enjoyable to clean up a spill with a handmade towel. I was able to think “something I made is useful” instead of : ” <sigh> more laundry to do…”.

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My oldest daughter (15) is currently helping to bless our home with handmade items by embroidering flour sack towels. We made a goal, after our fire and the kitchen remodel, that our kitchen would be strongly influenced by the handmade arts. She has completed 3 of 13 by working on it a little here, a little there. They are beautiful and know we will treasure the completed set.

When women have something tangible to show for their labor, it reinforces feelings of worth. -Camille

I would argue that the same should be considered for men as well. All people feel accomplished when their labors count for something.

My husband helped me with this peg loom.

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I wrote about it a little last week and the rug that I made and then gave to him for his side of the bed. He is reminded daily of both of our efforts to create more and buy less. And I think it would be safe to assume that he “treasures” that rug.

This week I experimented again with the peg loom. The goal was to create something small and useful. Potholders have a high importance in the kitchen and I have wanted to begin replacing the store-bought ones we have with handmade. I remember using the little plastic looms and stretchy loops as a kid to weave potholders-in fact my girls now have one of those kits, it was time for me advance my potholder weaving skills.

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Honestly, my first attempt at a potholder was not as satisfactory as the rug. But as I set it up for photographs to share, I realized that satisfactory to my standards or not, it is still a useful tool in our kitchen.

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Just how the crocheted towel came to be and all of the other projects that have been completed to beautify our life:

There is joy that comes….to make one’s home shine. As my hands shape the environment of my family, I love even more that place in which I labor. -Camille

Creating a home we love to live in doesn’t have to be difficult. It is most often the simplest of items that tend to the feelings of satisfaction and happiness.

Add some handmade to your home. A little here, a little there. Made by you, someone you care about, a purchase from an artisan on Etsy or even a thrifted handmade item . It will make a difference in the atmosphere that influences your family daily, and make the day to day chores like dishes, cooking and laundry a little more enjoyable.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

p.s.

There are some free patterns on this site for knitted dishcloths. More patterns will be added so make sure to subscribe so the pattern announcements will make it to your inbox or Facebook feed.

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Love the Home you Live in

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Welcome in this month of love, charity, hearts, roses, glitter glue, and a few less days to get through.

Do you love your home? It may not be the castle you dreamt up when you were still missing your two front teeth, but have you taken matter into your own hands and created a space that gives you comfort and warm fuzzy feelings inside?

The only perfection happening in our home, is that it is perfectly lived in. So the best way for me to create an atmosphere that stays in harmony with my toothless-age dreams, is to make certain that what surrounds us is both useful, and makes us happy.

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I find this statement to be filled with truth. The things in our homes that don’t belong there are a “burden”, and this burden is added to :“whoever has to care for them”-that would be me, who either cares for or directs the care of the things in our home.

To make our home be in accord with the spirit of cheerfulness, it takes removing of those “superfluous articles” and replacing them with useful beautiful things.

We learn by further reading in this section of the Handbook of Domestic Science (see graphic above for full reference) that we should observe:

…those times in the world’s history when it was consciously sought to make the common things of life beautiful; when the potter, the carver, the metal worker, the weaver, the embroiderer were all artists in their way.

Interesting that May Haggenbotham should mention “the weaver”. I just so happen to be dabbling in the art of weaving-no realm in the fiber arts shall escape me! harharharhar…..

The most recent ornament I created for our home just so happens to be this cozy rug:

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It was made on a very simple loom called a “peg loom”, that we built here at home. A mix of cotton print and denim scrap fabric make up the weft. As an experiment I used some jute string for the warp. It turned out pretty good, and my husband is happy to have something warm for his feet to land on in the early morning and for his knees to have a soft place for prayer at night on his side of the bed.

What will you make to show that your home is cherished? Do you need to fill a box with “burdens” and haul it off to  your local donation center?  I find it easiest to have a box or bag handy every time I clean a room: immediate removal = instant bliss.

Love the Home you Live in. Make it full of glitter and love like your toothless-age dream castle!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

p.s. If the rug weaving and peg loom prick your curiosity, I strongly suggest that you follow this site by email. There will be more to come on those topics in the near future with a fabulous tutorial….and you will want that post to arrive in your inbox so it won’t be missed! Alternatively you can also follow us on FB or Twitter (@knittyheidi) to get all article updates as soon as they publish.

You might also like to read “5 little habits” and “Defining Domestic Science”

The Story of Wild Yeast (a.k.a Sourdough Starter)

mmmm. bread.

IMG_1844.jpgSince the air is chilly and our furnace has decided to not warm us, I decided that today would be a fine day to bake. The warmth from the oven and the calories burned from rushing around the kitchen did prove well to keep my fingers and toes with feeling.

Last week I shared the recipe for my Basic Bread (pictured above), with the promise to feed your bread cravings more this week and delve into the topic of sourdough.

Let me first start by saying that bread is the most basic of foods. It has been around for ages-literally! The very first mention of bread that has been found dates back to Biblical times, Genesis even. Of course, the first forms of bread were unleavened, meaning they were flat and dense. As man experimented with foods, the discovery was made that when a mixture of flour and water is left out for a few days it begins to create a gas. This mixture then when added to a recipe of bread dough causes the bread to rise-enter in leavened bread.

We call this change: fermentation, and it results because of what we have named yeast. Yeast is actually in the air around us all of the time. The white stuff that accumulates on the tops of apples or other fruit is wild yeast! So when the flour and water mixture is left out, yeast from the air is attracted to it. Yeast loves the wheat flour because it is sugar-and yeast thrives on sugar!

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While you can now buy yeast commercially, once-upon-a-time, the only way to make a yeast or leavened bread was by keeping a sourdough starter. This starter was so cherished that it was passed down as an heirloom! This type of yeast can be kept alive indefinitely as long as it is fed and kept in it’s preferred temperatures.

There is lots of really great information I could ramble on about sourdough starter and its benefits, but there are also many many great books on the subject. Instead, I will just list the books on my kitchen shelf at the end of this post. The same goes for the process that wheat should go through in order to become a nutritious part of our diet. Wheat has really gotten a bad reputation the past couple of years, and that is largely because we have forgotten how to be slow in our processes in order to allow our foods to fully benefit us and become digestible. My friend Esther Emery had some video time with our other friend Angela who has been teaching us all how we can come to a full appreciation of wheat through adding back in the steps that have been removed through commercially processed wheat or bread. Check out their video here.

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My sourdough starter was recently resurrected from certain death. This household has been a crazy whirlwind of all things that take all time. Which resulted in the neglect of my starter. I was doing so well at caring for it, I even took it on a two week trip this past summer! That is where it ended and was forgotten. But, thankfully I have this really great book (listed below) that walked me through what I needed to do to save my wild yeast. I will be honest, I was not a believer that it could be saved. But after following the step-by-step process over the course of a week, my stater is alive and happy in my refrigerator once again!

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This bread was made with natural wild yeast. I used my tried and true Basic Bread Recipe but omitted the commercial yeast. Instead, I used two cups of my sourdough started. When you do this it does add extra liquid not accounted for in the original recipe. You have two choices on how to combat this. A: reduce the liquid by about a cup or B: add more flour.  My chosen method is usually B. The only reason I might choose A, would because I don’t want to increase my dough yield. But with a family a 9, having more dough is never a problem-especially when it is this delicious!

The next thing that is different when baking with wild yeast vs. commercial, is that it takes longer to rise. I have read however that you can reduce the rise time of sourdough bread made with wild yeast by increasing the amount of starter-but I have not experimented with that yet. I am actually very happy to mix up our family bread before I go to bed at night, tuck it into the bread pans covering it with a clean towel, and turning off the kitchen light until the next morning. Yes, this particular method can result in the bread taking up to 12 hours to rise. I only do one rise, as soon as the dough is mixed and kneaded it goes right into the greased pans. The first time I experimented with this method I kept checking to see if it had risen yet, and I was certain that my wild yeast was not alive and happy as it should be to rise bread. But when I returned to it in the morning it had indeed turned into the perfect loaf, ready to bake. To bake, I have been following the advise in Nourishing Traditions (listed below) to bake it at 350* for 1 hour. It comes out beautiful every time! And what a wonderful thing to have the bread for the day done an hour after I have pried my eyes open.

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Not a fan of sourdough? That’s okay, this method could still work for you. If you are using your started at least every other day I have found that the bread is not very sour. Now, if you do enjoy a good sour bread-you should take out the amount of starter for your recipe and let it set for a couple of hours before you use it-or even over night. Adding that fermentation time will give you a more sour bread.

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Right now as I type, this lovely ball of dough is rising upstairs and waiting for me to turn it into  yummy dinner rolls to go with our tummy warming vegetable-beef soup that has also been simmering on the stovetop all afternoon! The rolls where made with my sourdough starter, but due to the time-frame in which I needed them to be edible, I added a wee bit of commercial yeast. My family will be glad that I did, I think they would prefer to eat dinner at 6p.m. not 1 a.m.!

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And in the morning we will get to dive into this bowl of pumpkin muffins that baked and warmed the kitchen today. If I had starter that needed used, I could have put some into this batch of muffins as I sometimes do, but today my starter was busy enough. There are 32 of them, even so, I will need to stand guard that there are some leftover after breakfast for snacking on later. We love muffins around here!

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Don’t forget to check out the titles below and to go watch the awesome video my friends put together! 

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Both of these books can be found easily on Amazon:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (she has a few other titles on my book list as well)

Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast Recipes for Whole Grain Health by Melissa Richardson (she also has another book: The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast of which she recommends reading first if you are new to sourdough. I may get it in the future. The one I ordered is because I was interested in the listed recipes-but it proved to me much more valuable since it saved my starter from being thrown out!)

Check out Esther on her other channel and also on her website as well. She is an amazing woman!

Next week: The benefits of Pig Fat and Porridge……trust me

little things are sometimes Big.

 

Yesterday I did a small thing-and then realized it was a big thing—

I cleaned the laundry room.

It was in such a state that one could not get in the door let alone to the washer and dryer. This is a bad scenario when you have to do 15o loads of laundry a day-I might be exaggerating just a little, but the concept remains the same. Who wants to go into a room that you can’t see the floor of? My 3 year old son told me he heard a monster in the bathroom sink-it could easily have traveled the water pipes and be lurking in the laundry room. The last thing I need is to encounter a sink-monster when trying to find a clean shirt after being peed on. I am very happy today that the laundry room is clean and can be used in a productive manner again-whithout fear of a sink-monster attack.

This has been the theme of my thoughts of late. We are surrounded by little things that have big impact. Even Jesus taught of small things that have large importance. From the creation of the earth beginning with the basics of things such as light, water and planting the seeds. Then of course when we think “seed” our mind goes  to the parable of the mustard seed that teaches us of faith. We can see a pattern in all of the examples in the Bible that illustrate to us that it is important to have a special reverence towards the seemingly insignificant. 

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The list of things I can make that are small yet largely important in my life is so endless that I can not pick what deserves to be in this article the most. So I will just stick with the most recent discovery of a clean laundry room and leave you to ponder the little big things in your own life.

I will however, bring this topic around a corner and point it towards these little lost skills I am being directed to learn and teach. It has started with knitting, but it doesn’t end there, and each skill is as important as the other.

This description, given in “Our Vanishing Landscape” by Eric Sloane,  makes a great illustration that can be used as a comparison to those things that have been forgotten or un-taught, in that, they can be learned again and the generations after us can indeed benefit.

Imagine a farm abandoned….The summer after cultivation ceases, the plowed fields will have become overgrown with weeds. The next year you will find grass and berry seedlings that have blown in with autumn winds. At the end of five years the fields will be a complete tangle of briars with occasional clumps of birch and juniper from seeds brought in by bird droppings. In ten years these trees will be a head high above the briars and in their shade will be hundreds of tiny oak and maple seedlings. In forty years…..the fields will look like woodlands that had never seen a plow. Fire or insects and disease may decimate this second-growth forest, or winds may blow it down, but it will miraculously build itself back again….

This little thing of teaching how to use traditional skills for our benefit today-could be a big thing.

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It could mean that our children and grandchildren know how to survive.

Without (enter large chain store name here).

 
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A little skill now, could be life-altering later. 

 

Next Month…

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The topic will be “slow food”.  This differs from my original lesson plan for 2016. It was going to be the topic for November but yesterday I started a rescue mission for my sourdough start that has been neglected and so it is perfect timing. In the past, we have successfully made all the bread our family needs from scratch-with little effort. Bread isn’t all we will learn, so make sure to follow by email (click the button on the sidebar) so you can get next weeks articles! I will be sharing recipes too!

Thanks for learning with me about what we can do to give “New Life to Old Traditions” this past month!

Heidi

Connect with me on Facebook!

You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

5 little habits

I just returned from putting my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It was a familiar shock of cold from my growing up years. The younger kids were surprised, as the only “ocean” they remembered was the the warm Gulf from when we lived in Texas.

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This cutie is now 8-she was one surprised by the temperature change!

As we traveled we drove along many different rivers and streams in varying sizes. But one constant remained. They all lead to the ocean.

John Dryden used this natural occurrence to illustrate the importance of good habits:

All habits gather by unseen degrees-As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.

What habits do we have that are seemingly insignificant, yet lead to excessive stress in our lives?

How often do we say: “If only I had time…”

When I drag my feet about the simplest household task it goes one of two ways:

  1. I tell myself :”I’ll get to it later..”
  2. I tell myself: “later never comes, now is all there is…”

If I skip out on switching the laundry as I walk by, or washing the mixing bowl while the recipe is cooking, the mess never shrinks. It becomes an overwhelming list of tasks that have to be completed before I can enjoy what really matters.

 

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Laundry is ALWAYS the issue in a family of 9!

Don’t worry. I don’t keep a magazine cover home. It just isn’t reality when you live in your house whether you are single,married, or have one to a dozen kids. Things don’t put themselves away. It takes habit training. And from my experience,it’s not vacuuming, sweeping or really even doing the dishes that makes the difference.

D.S.W. is a tool to bring others to realize the importance of handmade, to share and learn forgotten life skills and preserve past traditions. If you look at the traditional homesteader-there was work to do every day. Pleasures were spent in the evening with family and the occasional outing or church picnic. The “simpler life” was not exempt from work.

 

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My son helping to build the barn. Sometimes work is fun!

Learn with me as I try out new creative ways to live a traditional lifestyle as God inspires. Let me know if there is a skill that you are being inspired to preserve. I would love to hear about or even help you with that journey!

For now, here are 5 little habits that keep your chores from running to the ocean:

  1. If you drop it,step over it/on it- pick it up.
  2. Take the 30 seconds to walk 5ft to put things where they belong. Don’t create clutter piles.( I ask my kids: “30 seconds now, or 30 minutes later?“)
  3. Fold and put away the clothes as soon as it comes out of the dryer. (this is a new laundry rule for our house I intend to implement in the near future)
  4. Figure out your “drop zones” and place a basket so it looks more tidy. (such as for shoes,dirty laundry, and mail)
  5. While waiting for water to boil, the video to load or other small moments-clean up several things in your immediate area. It really is amazing what can be completed in the little bursts of time.

Bonus Tip: Only keep and buy the things that really matter to you and your family. You will be more likely to care for them. As we have decluttered our home and made intentional purchases, there has been an improvement in the care that is given.

Room by room we are training our habits, decluttering, and replacing with quality necessities and pleasures. My goal is to create a home where we enjoy all that is around us, and can find pleasure in our work.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi