Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

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The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

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Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

Sewing Tutorial: Pretty Little Denim Pouch

Denim is one of  my favorite fabrics to re-purpose with. It might be because we get a lot of holes in the knees of pants around here, and there is only so many times you can patch a hole. So, when the pants are beyond repair (or the mending basket is overflowing), they get tossed into the denim box to be utilized in another way.

It’s readily available, and comes in soft shades of blue-pretty much anything goes with denim. It looked great even using it for the peg-loom rug!

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To make the Pretty Little Denim Pouch, you will need:

  • any denim (preferably an old pair of jeans, any size will work)
  • a zipper that is roughly the size of the pouch you want to make
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (or super awesome hand-sewing skills-denim is tough!)

Some optional supplies:

  • scrap fabric
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • button or other notions

*Disclaimer: my sewing technique tends to be more towards the “just wing it” side than the “perfection is a must” side of things. My projects always tend to turn out best when I just allow for creativity. It just comes naturally.* (winky face)

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This is a pant leg to a small-humans pair of pants. I would guess about a 4T or 5T size.

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After cutting off the remnant of the knee hole at the top, it measured about 10 inches in length.

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The length is about 5 inches before cutting off the hemmed edge.

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I prefer to cut this off too, but you could potentially leave it on…your end seam would just have to be to the inside of this since it is too thick to sew through.

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After all of the trimming, it is now about 8 inches in length. I really like making pouches and bags from pant legs because you can utilize the existing side seams. Here is a full picture of what our pant leg looks like now:

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The next step is to decide on your zipper placement.

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The zipper I had to use was roughly 9 inches in length.

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The length ended up being just barely too short for the fabric. I thought it could possibly work, but it just wouldn’t grow…more on that later. (I warned you about my natural ability to “wing it”)

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Once, the zipper was in it’s happy place, the fabric needed to be cut to make a place to insert it. To do this, I just simply unzipped it and cut down the middle. After cutting, the pant leg now looks like this when opened up:

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If your pant leg or fabric was long enough to fit your zipper you can scroll down to where it says “Continue with Plan A“. Unless of course you decide you would like to have pretty fabric ends on your pouch, then just proceed as normal.

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This pretty piece of flannel was leftover from a blanket project long ago.

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The flannel was cut to the width of the soon-to-be pouch. Then it was cut in half:

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Next, I did a test layout to see how the measurements were. I never really decided how long to make the fabric accent on each end of the pouch since it only needed an extra inch or so, it wasn’t something I was concerned with. But if you lean more toward the “perfection is a must” style of sewing, you may prefer to decide this ahead of time. I found that mine were going to be too wide making the length of the finished pouch be longer than I wanted. So, I just folded one of the pieces in half and cut again:

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This gave me two pieces that would work much better. These ended up measuring around 9″ by 5″.

One more test to make sure the length is right for the zipper:

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Time to take it to the sewing machine.

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Putting right sides together, each accent end was sewn to the denim. There was not large seam allowance, I just ran it right along the foot.

(Continue with Plan A)

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Folding at the original pant leg seams, I arranged it and tested out the zipper placement one more time.

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Flipping the zipper directly over, lines it up for sewing the first side in place.

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My machine does have a zipper foot, but since this was just a quick little project I chose to not change it out. The zipper foot does allow for an easier made seam, so you may want to use it if you have one. Instead, I just put my needle in the far right position, with my fabric on the right side of the machine. If it were on the left, you would want the needle in the far left position.

Do the same thing to the other side:

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Line up the edges with right sides together, be sure to check your needle position before you begin sewing. Notice this time my fabric is on the left, so the needle is also positioned to the far left.

Turning it right side out, check to see if the zipper seams are secure.

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Once, it is sewn well the first time, sew each side again making it a double-stitched seam for durability. As mentioned above, my mending basket tends to be full, so fixing a zipper on this pouch would probably be low on the priority mending list. Making sure it won’t come apart from the pouch is important.

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Open the zipper and then turn the pouch inside out so that the end seams can now be sewn.

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I noted on mine that the “tails” of the zipper needed sewn before moving on the the end seams.

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Lining the edges up sew this edge closed. Be sure to check your needle position and other settings from sewing the zipper in. You may also need to change the foot if you had changed to use your zipper foot.

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After doing this, check the seams again. Mine had a hole.

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I ended up sewing the hole closed on sort of a diagonal.Because of the zipper the needle couldn’t reach to sew it shut doing a straight seam.

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It mostly fixed the issue. I could have messed with it some more but determined to fix it later with some hand sewing.

Ta Dah!

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Our Pretty Little Pouch is complete-minus embellishments.

Here is a photo of one without the accent fabric ends and with embellishment:

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It will work great for pencils or whatever pleases the user.

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I like them for holding crochet hooks, knitting needles, or other related tools. It would also  make a great cosmetic bag or for hair accessories.

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I love the embroidery and crochet button flower on this one. Decorate yours and share a photo!

 

Here is another type of bag that I have made with a denim pant leg:

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The hem of the pant is the top of the bag and all I did was sew the other end shut. For decoration on the front I hand-stitched a thrifted doily. And on the back, machine sewed some belt loops from the pants to hold a strap:

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The strap is a belt-like accent piece that was around the wrist of a jacket. The other one was missing so this one was taken off for repurposing. This bag is a favorite for small knitting or crochet projects. It hangs really nicely on my wrist and I can work on my project while walking or standing in line.

Let me know how you liked this little tutorial and post a picture on the Facebook page if you try it out!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

Life Journaling (part I)

Are you recording your life?

Will your posterity be able to one day know who you were and what life was like in your time?

You may think that keeping a journal, a diary, or a genealogical record is not necessary now in this vast world of tech. There is unlimited amount of information about this age as endless digital information and you regularly update your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social pages…

But how much of it is real. 

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Will your great-great-great-grandchildren be able to connect with you through a microchip of saved data and photos? Or, would they know you more as they see your handwriting, read your thoughts on the day to day life that you live-experiencing with you all of the ups and downs you have traversed, celebrate with you in your moment of joy expressed on an old wrinkled page smudged with messy handwriting, misspelled words and maybe a smudge of chocolate? The photo of me above is a very real moment in my life, one that did not get expressed to its deepest core on social media, but was recorded in my personal journals as this experienced changed and refined me into who I am now. No one can really know (except Jesus) the deep feelings of my soul until they someday read it in my own words. Sometimes I even go back to remind myself what this moment in my life was like.

Currently I am trying to read a book I thought looked interesting, The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. The subject of which the book is written intrigues me, however, the way some of the information has been shared thus far has been hard to digest. Until today, when the author was sharing some background on Reverend Horace Bushnell who had profound words to say on the topic of “the age of homespun” and it’s place in the past. It wasn’t his speech that appealed to my imaginations, but what was said of his mother:

“Dotha Bishop Bushnell had no more than a common school education, but according to her son she was never self-conscious about her disadvantages. She clothed her six children in linen and woolen of her own making,administered a home dairy, boarded farm laborers, and during part of the year fed the workers in “a homespun cloth-dressing shop” attached to her husband’s mill. She sent her children to the district schools-and Horace to Yale-clothed “in better, cleaner homespun than any others.” All this work she accomplished year after year, working thirteen or fourteen hours a day, without a word of complaint. “What mortal endurance could bear such a stress of burden! And yet she scarcely showed a look of damage under the wear of it, but kept the appearance rather of a woman of some condition.”

The information shared of Dotha was obviously from the point of view of a son who thought well of his mother. While his reminiscence of her, piqued my interest in this section of the book, it did not satisfy my curious appetite. According to her son, she worked thirteen or fourteen hours a day providing for her family-“without a word of complaint.” Now isn’t that a woman you want to interview? I admire her stamina-and the mother-of a large family-keeping a farmstead-homemaker in me knows it wasn’t easy. To be able to read her thoughts as she worked on steadily through hard times, and renewed her ambitions in the good times would be such an encouragement.

So I ask again, Are you recording your life? In a real pour out your heart and soul kind of way?

You may not think it to be of much interest or importance, but your great-great-great-great grandchild-niece-cousin…..will be intrigued, entertained, and perhaps even inspired by your life.

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There are unlimited ways to keep a record of your life. Pinterest and Youtube are full of inspiring ideas. In Part III of this Life Journaling series I will share how I keep mine, and the improvements it has made in my life.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Part II- Journal Your Way!

The Best Way to Eat Oats

 

th.jpegGoldilocks knew what she was doing when she searched out the best bowl of porridge on the Bear’s table.We really should pay more attention to the Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales that have been around for decades. There are many lessons to learn, and they aren’t all morals. In the case of Goldilocks, she did not turn her nose up at the meal available in the cozy Bear cottage. In fact, she tried each bowl until she found one at the perfect temperature and then gobbled it all up!

Oats are a grain that have one of the highest physic acid measurements. Meaning, it is hard for our bodies to digest it unless properly prepared. Like wheat and other grains, it simply takes a pre-soaking to prepare oats for easier digestion.

Our family of 9 uses oatmeal as a main course for breakfast most days. The biggest complaint used to be that it did not last, and tummies were growling before lunch. Now that we are prepping our oats the night before however, the hunger monsters are kept at bay a little longer.

We buy our oats in bulk and keep it in a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma lid:

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The night before oatmeal is on the menu for breakfast, we simply fill a pot with the amount needed (about a 1/2 cup per person), enough water for them to swim and then add a large dollop of plain yogurt (about a 1/2 cup to our whole pot). This is all mixed, lidded and set on the countertop or stovetop overnight. The yogurt has those fabulous live cultures that begin breaking down the the oats for us. This process can also be done with apple-cider vinegar for those that are dairy intolerant-but it is recommended to rinse the oats before cooking them to lessen any flavor of vinegar that might linger.

When the morning comes we add more water, enough for the oats to swim again, and then heat the pot on a medium-low heat or low heat for a longer time period, until the oats are soft and the porridge is thickened. To further aid our bodies in assimilating the nutrients found in oats, we add in some animal fat-usually in the form of butter and a splash of milk. Then a variety of toppings are welcomed to the bowls as desired, such as: raisins, coconut flakes, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, ground flax etcetera. Somedays we really mix things up and add some pureed pumpkin to the pot or apples and cinnamon before cooking. Porridge has become such a a favorite staple that when the toddler doesn’t like what’s on his dinner plate, he asks for porridge!

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I wanted to fill this bowl with oats for the photo prop-but the gamma lid was stuck! sigh.

It is something worth trying. Put it on rotation with eggs, yogurt and muffins, and cream of wheat, and you will never miss the boxed (or bagged) cereal.

Now for a few words on animal fats: butter and lard

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It was mentioned above that animal fats added to the oats help our bodies to absorb the nutrients available. This is also true with not only other grains but other foods such as sweet potatoes. The make-up of these fats are such that they grab on to the nutrients and carry them appropriately throughout our bodies. Butter, lard and fat in general have gotten a bad reputation for a long time. Most people now avoid them as much as possible…and look what has happened to our digestive systems and ability to assimilate foods-especially grains. Instead, we are using highly processed, chemically engineered substitutes that do nothing for us but trick our taste buds and brains into thinking it is food.

Two years ago we found out that I have a soy allergy. With the removal of soy from our home it has brought back in these healthy animal fats. We also use olive oil, and coconut oil-each have there purposes in the kitchen. Lard has been a big discovery. It replaced vegetable shortening in recipes and is what we use to grease pans. There was some concern at first that it would leave an “icky” taste, but that has not been the case. Granted, it is not something I would use in a frosting recipe or even cookies-butter and coconut oil do their jobs well in those areas. It actually creates a delicious crust on our bread and pizza’s and makes wonderfully tasty biscuits. A friend of ours has also reported that it makes the best tortillas, which we plan on trying soon.

We should also note that my husband I have not gained weight on this diet change-but actually lost weight!

So there you have it, truth found in the stories of our youth.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

 

Four-in-One Bread Recipe

In my opinion, there is nothing better than the  yeasty warm aroma of fresh homemade bread.

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My bread adventure began with a desire to make and indulge in my own yummy breads. Having no experience in baking much at all, I started with a bread maker. While it got the job done, it never really fulfilled my homemade bread craving.

During a visit, I enlisted my sister-in-law to walk me through the steps of bread baking and to share her basic recipe.After several dense loaves and doughy centers, I did succeed at making a delicious loaf of bread. Once, that happened there was no stoping me.

How could such an important staple skill be so forgotten? How quickly mother’s and grandmother’s opted for buying bread instead of making it at home, and thereby neglecting to teach their children that it could be done.

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It was not uncommon long ago before even the advent of the electric oven, that by age 10 girls were tasked with the baking of the family bread. At our house, the ten year old does indeed help, but she has not yet been released to make it on her own. Partially because, I enjoy baking the bread myself so much!

There is something about being able to say “I made that.”.

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For our family of 9 (seven kids, two adults), we need to bake two loaves of bread every other day. Two loaves is the standard recipe amount, so this translates into making bread about three to four times per week. This is also just for our standard-use bread. If we want to have french bread or rolls with a particular meal, then that is made the day of.

Every Friday is Pizza Night!

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While it does take time-it doesn’t take so much time that it isn’t worth it. In fact, when I get into the rhythm, I wonder why I ever buy bread. Of course, there are seasons in life that demand the convience of store-bought. Babies, illness, and remodeling the kitchen are just a few examples of times when we slow our bread baking and supplement with store-bought. Also there is a cost-savings when it come to the grocery budget of a large family.

Here is my most basic of bread recipes that lives in my head always: 

The recipe is a jpeg file photo so you can click and save it or print it easily! If it is difficult to read as-is double click and your device should enlarge it as a photo.

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Next time we will learn all about Sour Dough and the benefits of being patient!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

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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

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You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

Defining Domestic Science

I first came across this term as I was reading No Idle Hands by Anne MacDonald. It is an amazing book taking you through a sort of “behind the scenes” look at history and cataloging the important role that knitting played. This book is definitely in my Amazon wishlist.

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As I was pondering the goal of this site many names came to mind. Of course, a lot of the ones I first came up with were taken. But I picked the brains of my friends and family, and read through my journals. In my journal is where I found the note on Domestic Science. It had captivated me that what some might think to be mundane everyday tasks or requirements, is in fact an important subject of study. It is indeed, a science.

Until 1829 42% of schools offered plain needlework-by 1840 it had been reduced to two half days in primary school and one half day in “higher female schools”. ( Anne L. MacDonald, No Idle Hands, ch.3)

What we classify now as “household skills” is much different from what it used to be. When I was first married we ate boxed meals routinely and I cleaned messes when I noticed them. If we look back to our pioneer heritage, there was a method to keeping the home and providing for ones family. It was well thought out and planned in advance, not picked up on the way home from work.

Keeping a home really is an art and having the skills of cooking, sewing, or knitting are absolutely a necessity and while they can be enjoyable they have been disguised too long as a hobby. If your favorite grocery store and shopping mall were to close its doors today, how long would you be able to get by and keep your family comfortable?

The future of our country in these rapidly changing times awaits our mark of influence. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self)

Decide that this is important today.

Follow and share this blog. Help us to preserve these important traditional skills. Check back often to learn about the value of these lost arts, or get updates in your email by clicking the button on the side bar.

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Thanks for being a friend!
Heidi