{Day 30} Bearing Fruit

I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about deleting this entire post and composing something superficial because I worry someone I know will read this and judge me for it.  However, this is the message on my heart today.  Accordingly, I am going to stay true to that and share the ramblings of my heart today with confidence. 

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

John 15:4 (MSG)

We are reminded to dwell in Christ and be joined with Him, and without Him, we will not bear fruit.

I like the way the Amplified Bible describes branches as “vitally united” to the vine.

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.

John 15:9 (AMP)

I want to be vitally united to Christ in much the same manner that the branch is joined together with the vine as a life sustaining connection.  The connection is what breathes life into me. I want to be a woman who walks in the “fruit of the Spirit.”  I don’t think there are more wonderful words to describe a homemaker than someone full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I want to surrender myself to Christ that these fruits are developed within me.  These are the same attributes that I consider when I say that I want to make my home a haven.

I want my house to be filled with love, joy, and peace.  I want my home to be a place that reflects generosity and commitment.  I want my home to be a materialization of the commitment to walking in the Spirit.

***

Self-control isn’t something that we all like to talk about.  Personally, I like to create excuses for why I am not exhibiting self-control in several areas. And about 99.9% of the time, I’m not willing to give up those excuses.

I had to eat that big meal out because I was so tired and absolutely exhausted from work…

It costs less to just eat fast food.  I’m saving money if I buy a $5.99 pizza for dinner for my family.

I’ll just feel better if I just go shopping…

I just really want to buy another pair of shoes, even though the perfectly good pairs that I have are already spilling out of my closet…

I can just sit and goof off on the computer or in front of the t.v., because no one else is helping tidy up this house anyway…

I am hanging onto (insert random item) because I might need it some day…

I am hanging onto that because it cost me my hard-earned money…

I don’t feel well.  I’m not going to sweep the floor or do the laundry today.  I just want to lay down and rest…

I just want to give up, so why bother doing anything.

It’s too difficult…

I don’t have the time or energy to make it perfect anyway…I’ll just thumb through magazines instead…

Or, since I am being totally honest, before I quit drinking, I might say:

Well now, it isn’t bad to have a glass of wine or two every night…I can stop any time.

I had a bad day at work.  I deserve a glass of wine…

***

Those are just a few of my excuses that I tell myself for why I don’t exhibit self-control.

One of the biggest areas that I haven’t practiced self-control in the last few years was with drinking.  Thankfully, today, I have 69 days of sobriety.  That’s just over 9 weeks, or 2 months and 8 days.  Yes, I am counting.  My phone reminds me every day at 9am that I have another day sober.

I wasn’t hiding my drinking.  I wasn’t drinking until I passed out. But I really felt in my heart that I was being led to quit drinking for about a year.

I could keep living the life that I have been living, because according to society I am successful enough. I work full-time.  I own my own home.  I make sure the power stays on and the cupboards are full of food.  There is nothing in this culture that says it is wrong for me to have wine in the evening, or spike my lemonade to sit on the front porch in the sunshine.  But I was starting to use it as an escape from life, MS, stress, physical pain, and emotional pain.

I first started drinking a glass of wine before I gave myself my injection of medication in the evenings.  Then, my mama passed away after a very short battle with cancer.  I found myself skipping my injection entirely, and just having a glass of wine or a bit (aka a lot) of bourbon.  I didn’t drink every night, but I definitely looked forward to it.  I hated answering health questionnaires of how much I drank or how often I drank.  My birthday gifts were often bottles of wine (very practical) or gift cards to wine stores (very, very practical).

I once said, “If I was an alcoholic, my drink of choice would be Maker’s Mark.”

The response in the room was a chuckle and “If you were an alcoholic…”

I can’t say that I stopped drinking out of sheer determination and free will.  I quit because I started a prescription for medication that doesn’t have clinical findings on the long-term  use of alcohol when combined with the medication.

I’ve notice that in the last couple of months, I have more of a desire to see improvement in myself and my home.  I have more interest in the little things of life, and not just trying to relax and forget the day.

I see that there are areas in my life that the fruit of the Spirit is developing and attempting to become abundant.  I must have the courage to bear fruit and accept personal responsibility for my actions.  I want to live the best life that I can live.  I want to maximize my potential.  I want to follow my heart and not my excuses.  I don’t want to sabotage my goal of making my home a haven and of walking in the fruit of the Spirit.  I am not contained or limited by my circumstances.  I choose each day to follow my destiny.

{Day 29} Living a Wide-Open Life

living a wide-open life

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG)

 

Are you living a wide-open and spacious life?

 

I don’t always feel like I am living a wide-open and spacious life.

 

I often feel fenced in.
I feel fenced in by..
…multiple sclerosis
…clutter in my house
…half-finished projects
…my emotions
…my to-do list
…my responsibilities
… and, especially my past.

 

As much as a house needs renovations and decorations to make it  a home, I am in need of renovation.  My spirit continually needs renewal and I need to be reminded of my limitless potential.

 

Self-care is an essential part of making a home a haven.  To create or restore order, peace, and joy, our spirits need to be rested and rejuvenated.  Our lives need care emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

 

I am not the kind of gal to get a manicure or pedicure every week.  I’d rather find a great book and a soft snugly blanket and curl up for hours in front of a fireplace.  I made a list in my homekeeping notebook of things that I could do for self-care.  Those days (like today) when I am feeling fenced in and limited, and overwhelmed, I can pick an item on my list…even if I just spend 15 minutes…and I can do something for me.

 

When I limit myself by my feelings, I lead a small life.  I don’t want to lead a small life.  I want to use the life I have for the glory of God.  I want to be generous and hospitable, and I want to be more than the labels I place on myself, or the labels that others use to define me.

 

Life can be painful.  Life can be exhausting.  However, we are creative and unique beings made to love and care for others.  We all also have a need to care for ourselves and offer ourselves the love, generosity, and hospitality that we share with others.

 

Today, I encourage you to make a list of some things that you can do to care for yourself.

 

A snippet of my self-care list includes:

 

Make a pot of tea and drink it out of a lovely tea cup.
Go for a walk.
Thumb through a cookbook.
Diffuse some essential oils and put on soft music.
Throw a blanket in the dryer for a few minutes and then curl up with a warm blanket, hot chocolate, and a book.
Work on a quilt.
Go window shopping.
Sit at the bookstore and look at magazines.
Buy a slice of cake and a decaf mocha at the bakery.

 

What kinds of things do you do for self-care?

Style Me Pretty Fall Challenge-Week 3

I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by. It seems like this challenge is just getting started. Here is a quick recap of the past week’s outfits.

Day 11

Today’s outfit was a puffer vest, striped tee, dark wash denim, riding boots, and a leopard scarf.  This outfit was a perfect choice for a rainy day in Washington.

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Day 12

Alison’s outfit prescription for day 12 was a neutral sweater, solid tee, leggings, and leopard flats paired with stud earrings and a favorite purse.  I did wear leggings for a bit, but ultimately swapped them out for a pair of gray jeans.  I think I need to find a better fitting neutral sweater!

Fall Challenge 15017a537fa14802a14e0fa0055bcfcb9d253ff1eaf8

Day 13

Saturday’s outfit was a puffer vest, plaid shirt, gray jeans, and riding boots accessorized with a watch and favorite purse.  This outfit was comfy, but my son said the vest made me look like a fisherman wearing a life vest.

Fall Challenge 13-2Fall Challenge 13

Day 14

Alison recommended a military-style jacket, striped tee, dark wash jeans, and leopard flats. The accessories were stud earrings, over-sized watch, and favorite purse.  This is probably one of my favorite outfits.  It was a Seahawks game day, so I accessorized with a blue and green statement necklace.  It got a little twisted in the picture, so I added a close up of the necklace.

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Day 15

The outfit of the day was a dressy sweatshirt, gray jeans and ankle boots, paired with statement earrings, an over-sized watch, and favorite purse.

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Day 16

Outfit of the day was a neutral sweater over a striped tee, with boyfriend jeans, and Oxfords. I added a Stella & Dot Union Square Scarf in marine blue-rich red ikat and quietly mixed prints.

011c74f5900294389bcabd8cb98daa0e743bf420c4I am beginning to be obsessed with these mustard yellow Maggie Oxfords by Frye. I do now own a turquoise pair and a black pair. However, I got super deals on both! Neiman Marcus sent me a code for $50 off a $100 purchase (Ray says that means I have spent too much money there…) and the black woven Oxfords were on sale…so for $67 I bought a pair of shoes that retails for $278. Never in my life would I pay $278 for a pair of shoes. I wear them out quickly because of foot drop (thanks, MS!) but these shoes will be worthy of heading to the cobbler if they need repair. They are a worthwhile investment.

I’ve been asked about them a few times, so here is a link!

Frye Maggie Perf Wingtip (Yellow Veg Tan) Women's Lace Up Wing Tip Shoes

Upcoming Challenge

Alison’s next challenge is Build Your Wardrobe Basics for Women over 40.  …So technically I am 38, but I think that is closer to 40 than not, and I don’t have the body of a co-ed either, so I think I will be joining in!

Build Your Wardrobe Basics Banner

And totally not related to the style challenge, but it is the last day of my giveaway for two Thrive Express soups and there are just a few hours left to enter.

 

Thrive Express Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you had a great week.  Please stop by and check out the other Style Me Pretty Fall Challenge participants that are linking up courtesy of the lovely Carrie at A Lovely Little Wardrobe.

 

Halloween Sale

{Day 28} Dinners Done Quickly

Later today, I am going to update this post with some ideas for getting dinners on the table quickly.  I believe this is essential for balancing priorities.  However, I am having a little technical snafu with my post at the moment.  For now…here is a sneak peek of a giveaway that I am offering!

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Updated 10/28/2014 5:00pm

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So what is your big picture goal?

For me, it is having a house home that is well-organized, peaceful, and clutter-free. I want to have time for quilting and front porch sittin’. Those are two terribly important hobbies in my life.

This month, I’ve rambled on about some activities to help me achieve those goals. My goal of making my home a haven is a work in progress. I believe wholeheartedly that I can accomplish my goal, but I also have to factor in all my responsibilities as a mother, an employee, a friend, a partner, and (of course) as a quilter.

It isn’t easy. There are always a lot of tasks that demand attention. There never seems to be enough time in the day. My dreams of making a home a haven are a worthy endeavor, but I get tired at the end of a day, or long work week. I also battle a life of physical fatigue related to multiple sclerosis.

Meal time is important to me. I don’t always have the energy to prepare meals with the same gusto and enthusiasm as I used to. This week I’ve been talking about balance and priorities…well, I’ve learned some great things along the way about getting meals on the table quickly and efficiently. That said, my family still eats way too many more dinners out than I care to admit.

Without further ado, here are some great tips and tricks for getting meals on the table quickly…

The Beloved Slow Cooker

With today’s busy schedules, slow cookers are one of the greatest ways to feed your family quickly. I recently posted a list of my favorite cookbooks specifically for slow cookers. You can find that post –(Slow Cooking Comfort Food) here.

There are infinite possibilities of finding great Pinterest boards focused specifically on slow cooking.

I’m trying to convince the boss that this slow cooker would be wonderful…he isn’t liking the price tag though and found one at Costco for $29.99. It is not nearly as shiny though.

All-Clad slow cooker via Amazon

The Dreaded Pressure Cooker

Gone are the days of pressure cooker explosions and food on the ceiling! Today’s pressure cookers are safe and a fantastic way to get dinner done quickly. An electric pressure cooker is a bit of an investment; however, if you calculate the hours you save cooking after a busy day at work, you will appreciate it nonetheless.

I once made two chicken dinners in no-time flat…The first chicken was done in the pressure cooker in about 16 minutes. I then accidentally dropped it into a sink full of soapy water and dirty dishes. (There is a reason my brother always says “dos manos” when I am picking things up…thanks MS!) But thankfully, another 16 minutes (and another chicken tossed in the pressure cooker) and dinner was ready.

My kids are also fond of beef roasts in the pressure cooker and they will hover like vultures while it cooks and there has been a time or two that Ray and I had to go out for a bite to eat because the kids ate all the food within minutes and “forgot” to save us some.

Here is a great cookbook for pressure cooking:

via Amazon

The pressure cooker we use is from Cuisinart. Amazon has the same model available for about $120 less than I paid for mine!

via Amazon

Here is a short video Why Chefs Love Pressure Cookers from America’s Test Kitchen

Have you tried using a pressure cooker?

Meal Assembly

I learned the concept of Meal Assembly from Lara Dalch of Dalch Wellness.

Lara offers The Effortless Eating Program™. I went through the program last fall and absolutely loved all the great recipes that Lara shared. Side note: Lara offers a self-study version of the program that you can begin any time! I believe that this program was life changing for me, because it allowed me to see that despite all the external factors in life I can’t control, there are still easy, little things I can do to move me towards success in all areas of my life.

Here is a great post: 5 Tips for Stress-Free Meal Planning. One of Lara’s tips was never to cook just one serving of a meal. It is important to make enough for leftovers and reheat them for at least 3 meals. This is a great way to cook whole grains. It definitely makes meal preparation feel effortless when you can quickly throw together meals that you assemble from ingredients that you have already prepared. In my house, the #1 meal assembly meal is burrito bowls! If you already have the brown rice prepared, the meal goes together so quickly.

Thrive Foods

A lot of people have not heard too much about Thrive Life foods. This is one of my #1 ways to get dinner on the table quickly. The premium freeze-dried foods aren’t just for doomsday prepping, or long-term food storage. Of course, the food has a very long shelf life, but it is also practical to use every day!

As I mentioned, I am a working mom who battles a life with multiple sclerosis. There are days when my dexterity isn’t so great, and there are days when I am functioning much better…but what is absolutely wonderful is having food that is already chopped and ready to use! This is a time saver for anyone, but especially those with physical limitations that hinder the cooking process, such as MS or arthritis. It is also great because you can have your kids help you prepare meals.

When my children were really little, I loved having them help throw together a colorful salad. They were more inclined to eat what they helped prepare. I think my teenage son is often more willing to help because we are not making a huge mess, and we can eat quickly.

I can get a hot breakfast made for my kids in just a few minutes in the morning. I love that during the fall and winter. I also feel just a little bit better knowing they had something more than sugary cold cereal.

Thrive also goes hand in hand with the concept of meal assembly that I mentioned a bit earlier!

I signed up with Thrive Life as a consultant in the spring and really have only used it to be a self-consumer and work on creating a home food store for my family. However, I’ve been feeling led to share more about it, as it is totally a life-changing thing for my family and we wholeheartedly endorse the product. So today I wanted to share a giveaway with you.

Thrive Express foods are quick to prepare and we tend to keep several on hand. I typically use them more for helping my kids get a meal ready quickly when they are hungry. I still love cooking, so I like to spend a few extra minutes and make a home-cooked meal with my Thrive ingredients. Whatever your preference, Thrive Life has great options for making meal time quick and easy, as well as gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you are prepared in the event of an emergency or even a financial hiccup. I know that after my checking account was hacked, I was so glad that I had a pantry full of great food to feed my family.

My Recipe Box–here

For more information about purchasing Thrive –here

 

 

So that was a lot of information…how about a giveaway…

Thrive foods are one of the best ways I can get meals on the table quickly.  They are also excellent for long-term food storage.  Today, I am giving away two Thrive Express™ soups (Baked Potato Cheese Soup and Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup).  Both are freeze-dried and excellent for long-term storage, but also a quick and easy option for getting a hot meal on the table in 15 minutes.  My son is a big fan of Thrive Express™ because he can quickly make something to eat when he gets home from school (and during autumn and winter in WA, he is usually soaking wet and cold from his walk home).

Thrive Express Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

If you have any questions about Thrive, ask away…you can email me, comment below, or visit my Thrive Life website for more information.

 

{Day 27} Simplifying Life

I can’t believe how quickly the end of the month has arrived.  This week, I am talking about balancing priorities and how self-care is essential to success.  Today, I wanted to briefly talk about the need for being a good steward of finances and belongings.  It is hard to make a home a haven when there is clutter throughout the home, and finances are not under control.  I have faced challenges in both these areas.  I am working toward making changes in these areas so that I can provide a better environment for my family.

I’ve found a few resources that I really appreciate.  Today I wanted to share some of them with you.

If you need to focus on budgeting and planning…

Toni, who has the fantastic website A Bowl Full of Lemons, has an excellent series on creating a budget binder.  You can access this series – here.

Toni also offers an excellent planner.  She has a link for the 2015 Rainbow Planner – here.

 If your home needs some attention…

The 31 Days to a Staged Home series by Leslie Hoyt is excellent resource for information and is helpful even if you aren’t planning on staging your home for sale.

The Top Organizing Bloggers Pinterest Board is nearly an endless supply of organizing ideas.

If your closet needs some attention…

If you would like to get more out of your clothing and accessories, I highly encourage you to visit Alison at Get Your Pretty On.  She offers style advice for real women. I am excited for this next challenge that is coming up…focused on building wardrobe basics. Keep an eye out. Alison also has an upcoming winter challenge!

 

Build Your Wardrobe Basics SquareWhat are your tips and tricks for being a good steward of the finances and resources entrusted to you?

Do you have any go-to sources of information for simplifying your home life and your finances?  I’d love to hear what you have to share!

{Day 26} Consciously Deciding to Rest

Consciously deciding to rest is not the same as being lazy, or sloth-like.  Rest is an essential part of making a home a haven.  There has to be a balance between productivity and rest in order to have a positive influence on moving forward with homemaking and organization.  Balance is critical, and often rest is overlooked.  As a society, we value hard work and even people who compulsively work extra hours.  However, we don’t often hear a message about how taking time for rest and self-care is important.

I learned lessons about the need for rest quickly after beginning to live with the challenges of life with multiple sclerosis.  Having a chronic illness that is often not visible on the outside, but that results in overwhelming fatigue, made me realize how important rest and self-care are for maintenance and self-preservation.  Quite often I try to do too much, only to realize that without rest, my body turns on itself, and I can’t be as productive as I would like to be.

Here are a few things that I’ve learned about consciously deciding to rest:

  • I believe that observing a sabbath day is critical to our physical well-being, emotional well-being, and to our spiritual well-being.
  • I know that there is value in taking personal quiet time to reflect and meditate on God’s word and positive affirmations.
  • Our bodies were made to rest and it is not a sign of weakness.

Today I want to encourage you to take time to rest, recover, rejuvenate, and renew your mind, body, and spirit.  Make a conscious decision to value rest and make it a high priority.

Do you find it challenging to take time to rest and relax?  Why?

{Day 25} Balancing Priorities

The month is coming to an end, so I wanted to share a little bit about tips and tricks for maintaining a balance between responsibilities and expectations, as well as taking the time for essential self-care.  This is definitely not an area where I am an expert, but I believe that it is an essential component of making a home a haven.

As a mother and homemaker, I know how difficult it can be to keep my priorities in balance.  There are so many things competing for my attention.  I have work, household chores, my children, the dog, appointments that need to be made and kept, bills that need to be paid, books I want to read, projects I want to complete, yard work, football games and television to watch, and the list goes on and on, and on…Whatever I choose to do, I am making a choice and prioritizing one item over another.

Sometimes the choices I make are attempts to escape my responsibilities (i.e. spending time on Pinterest, or going shopping for boots, or joining a friend and heading out for coffee) instead of doing things like scrubbing the bathroom or catching up on laundry.  Some of the things that I have made “priorities” are out of whack with what I am trying to accomplish in my home and my life .

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In order to make a home a haven, commit to taking at least one action step each day to address the priorities that you’ve identified.  Make this commitment in writing.  Schedule it on your calendar and/or daily to-do list. 

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Earlier in the month, I identified the need to declutter and organize my home in order to make it a more peaceful and relaxing environment.  I made a commitment to declutter and organize my home, beginning in my home office, which is the hub of my home.  My daily action step is to spend 15 minutes daily focused specifically on reducing clutter in my home office.  I’ve mapped out my plan of action and entered items onto my daily to-do list.

As part of my 31-day series of Making My Home a Haven, I had grand dreams of having my home office decorated and organized by the end of the month.  Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed and sidetracked after my checking account was hacked.  Money was very tight, so the decorating was put on hold while things got straightened out.  You might be thinking that I could still get the room cleared of clutter and organized; however, I wasn’t sleeping well due to stress.  Stress + no sleep = not productive Joy.  Lack of sleep and stress also aren’t the greatest when trying to manage MS symptoms.

There is just something about money problems that exponentially compounds stress!  Handling finances became a more urgent, unplanned priority, and my home projects were placed on pause.  In all honesty, if there was ever a time in the last 2 months that I really wanted a glass of wine, this would have been the time. 

These past two weeks have been a lesson in balancing priorities.  Rest and self-care were lacking from my days, but it really made me think about the differences in what priorities are necessities and what priorities I am making that are just time-fillers and time-wasters.  I made a conscious effort to choose to stay home and rest, even when I would have rather gone out.

Although my office decorating and organization is behind schedule, as the month is quickly coming to a close, I did make lots of notes of what I want to see happen.  I also made design boards for inspiration and spent time browsing the Internet for home office inspiration and organizing ideas.  Now that I have rested, and seen a positive turnaround on my checking account balance, I am able to refocus my priorities on organizing and removing clutter from my home.

I’ve got a few questions for you…I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

Do you get sidetracked by stress?

Do you find yourself spending time in activities that are time-fillers and time-wasters rather than focusing on your priorities?

Have you tried making a written commitment to your self to take action each day in an effort to honor your highest priorities?

{Day 24} Simple Comforts & Aromatherapy

Simple comforts can make a home a haven.  Our homes should be a place of refuge for our family members.  This past week I’ve talked about some of my favorite ways to make a house feel more like a home.

I have a few more ideas to share about creating comfort in the home…

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I never really paid too much attention when my mama began talking about aromatherapy in the 1980s and 90s.  Now I feel very blessed to have learned something very wonderful from her.  Aromatherapy can be used to help alleviate stress and anxiety, as well as promote relaxation.  It might seem silly, but the scents that make me think of home are tea tree essential oil (melaleuca), ylang ylang, and eucalyptus.  These were scents my mama used in abundance for cleaning and family wellness, so I naturally gravitate toward items with those scents.

Currently, I love the scent of frankincense essential oil…it is a bit of a splurge, but I just can’t explain in words how wonderful it is.  My other absolute go-to essential oils are peppermint and lemon.

When people drop by, I often think that my house just smells like dust and dog.  I have wonderful candles made by my dear friend Anna.  She has an Etsy shop-CreativeEnchantment and offers wonderful candles and scented soy wax tarts.  (If you like sparkles, her creations come with a little surprise!)  I have a citrus candle that she made and love how clean and fresh it makes my house smell.  Anna’s Etsy shop currently has Pumpkin Pie scented leaf-shaped soy wax tarts that I am eying, which sound perfect for fall.

Pumpkin Pie scented Leaf shaped Soy wax  Ring Tart (ring size 7)

Pumpkin Pie Soy-Wax Tarts via CreativeEnchantment

I am not a big fan of synthetic fragrance oils.  My daughter is asthmatic, so certain chemicals trigger her attacks.  I used some tips and tricks that I learned from my mama to freshen my home naturally.  Instead of buying chemical air fresheners, my mama used essential oils.  I now keep a mixture of baking soda and peppermint essential oil near the kitchen sink to use when scrubbing my sink in the evening.  I’ve also just sprinkled some in the sink and left it there for a while when I want to freshen up my home before company arrives.  I just rinse it down the drain right before they arrive, and my home smells wonderful and I feel more refreshed, too.  I always say that scrubbing and shining my sink “smells like Christmas.”  I think that is a better option than chemical fragrances any day.

I also make a similar mixture of baking soda and essential oil for sprinkling on my carpet and sofa.  Lately, I have been using a doTERRA blend called On Guard.  On Guard has wild orange essential oil combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  It makes for a wonderful smelling carpet…and I am not worried about American Bulldog scented carpeting when guests stop by!

doTERRA On Guard

Other essential oils that would work well for a carpet refresher are rosemary, lavender, lemon, and grapefruit. 

And whether or not you have carpeting in your home, you can always use a diffuser.

doTERRA Petal Diffuser

Right now, this one is on my shopping list for my home office update!

I am also impatiently awaiting an essential oil blends from doTERRA that becomes available on November 1st.  Holiday Joy has me completely intrigued…(It has Joy right in the name, so it must be made just for me!)…which is a blend of wild orange, nutmeg, pine, cassia, cinnamon bark, and vanilla.  I’m enchanted by the thought of diffusing this throughout my house, just while typing out the essential oils in the blend!

I also have my eye on a diffuser for use in the car.  The Travair Car Diffuser is designed to fit in a car’s cup holder.  I think that might be a great Christmas present for my sister (who also has a bulldog!) and for my fella…Likely, I will need to purchase one for my car, too!

I better start pinching my pennies with all the things I am rambling off from my wishlist.  Christmas is creeping up quickly!

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So whether you are lighting candles or diffusing essential oils, it is really quite easy to use scents to make a home feel more relaxing, more inviting, and more welcoming.

Just for fun, here is an article about why people become “nose-blind” to scents in their homes.  (I just thought this short article was pretty interesting.)

Do you use essential oils in your home?  If so, share which ones are your favorite and why!

{Day 23} Sights and Sounds of Home

Sights and Sounds of Home

I have found 7 simple tips for making my house feel like a home.

1.  Create a Warm and Cozy Atmosphere

I adore the soft flickering of tea light candles and the warm heat from the flames in a fireplace.  Flames from candles, or the fireplace, bring a sense of warmth and peace that are not easily matched.  Place candles on the mantle or light candles when sitting down to supper.  Figuratively and literally, keep the home fires burning by lighting a candle on your kitchen counter.  I often use my candles as a reminder to say a prayer when I notice it, or to remember a loved one.

2.  Create a Family Library

The shelves are also filled with books, inviting people to pick them up and get lost in a good story.  When I was a child, I created a library around the walls of the attic of our home.  I felt pride and satisfaction in my collection of books.  I still enjoy having stacks or shelves of books and sharing throughout my home.  I love watching my children get swallowed up in a novel and filling their minds with knowledge and adventures.

3.  Keep Blankets and Pillows Throughout the Home

Throw pillows and blankets are placed throughout the house, within easy reach to snuggle in for watching t.v. or reading.  Throws, blankets, wraps, and quilts stacked or draped make a home feel inviting.  Extra pillows are ready to pile up and lean on, or even lean against to soothe an achy back.  They add a little touch of whimsy with a mixture of patterns, textures, colors, and designs.

4.  Be Liberal with Color in Your Space

Every room is filled with color…bright cranberry reds, and soft teals, burnt and bright oranges, and sage greens.  My shelves are filled with colorful pottery.  They are simple and decorative, and as easy on the eyes as they are utilitarian.  There are so many different ways to bring color into the home.  A beautiful bouquet of flowers is a great way to brighten any room with color!

5.  Share Memories

The hallway is filled with photographs of my children growing up.  It makes me smile to think back and remember all those special moments.  Get pictures out of the box and into view!  Memories are meant to be shared and enjoyed, not keep tucked away forgotten.

6.  Bring More Life into Every Room

Houseplants bring a little bit of life into nearly every room in the house.  They can be as small as an African Violet, or even a tall and majestic tropical plant, filling a whole corner…but adding something living into every room of the house makes the space feel welcoming and renews the spirit.

7.  Soothe the Soul with Music

Music is uplifting and creates a sense of calm and serenity that is so welcoming.  I really enjoy country music and gospel music…both remind me of my mama!  My favorite sounds fill the room with the beautiful and enchanting cello or soft melodies from a piano.

Often, though, the living room is filled with the sounds of Mickey Mouse and the Disney channel to keep our puppy Georgia entertained while I work. 

In my home, a very favorite album that we play often is Porcelain by Helen Jane Long.  It is so relaxing and the sounds wash the stress of the day away.  I could listen to this on repeat all day, every day…but then again, I am a big fan of routine and predictability…but still, I highly recommend this album if you want to hear some beautiful compositions. We even leave this on for the puppy (when she isn’t watching Disney channel) and we are not home.

Porcelain by Helen Jane Long (via Amazon)

Certainly, I have a ways to go for sprucing things up and organizing the space, but our home is a welcoming place that I love to share with our family and friends.  The sights and sounds within my home are intimate, relaxing, and inviting.  Even among the noisy dog and video games, and despite a sink with dishes from breakfast, it is a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.

What makes you feel comfortable at home?  Do you have a favorite album that is the soundtrack for your home?

 

 

{Day 22} Rainy Day Comforts

Well if you are just stopping by, I am on the tail end of a 31 day series on Making My Home a Haven.  This week I am focused on creating comfort in the home.  

All last night and throughout the day today, it rained and rained, and rained some more.  You think we’d be ready for the rain in Washington by October 22nd, but sometimes the combination of rain, wind, and gray skies, just need some brightening up.  Since fall is just getting started and winter is on the way, it is up to me to keep my family comfortable whatever the weather.

My most favorite rainy day activity is quilting!  I bet you would never have guessed that!

However, there are a few other things here and there throughout my house that make rainy days much more bearable.

Books, books, books, and more books.

I am a book junkie and I have a hard time NOT buying more books.

I have the first two Ken Follett books in this series (notice how I said have, not I’ve read…).  This fall and winter, I would like to get through the two books I have and purchase this one when it comes out in paperback.  I really like Ken Follett novels because it is fun to picture the historical settings while reading!

My son just finished reading this one…and I am just beginning it:

I am intrigued with this book and have it in my Amazon wishlist:

Crossword puzzles

…and my son likes the analytical puzzle magazines, so I grab those at the store every once and a while.  By no means am I good at crossword puzzles, but they definitely keep me occupied.

Tea

I have a seemingly endless supply of herbal teas to sip on.  Often it is nice to just sit back and have a cuppa.  My current favorites for fall:

Harney & Sons:

Peppermint; African Autumn; Pumpkin Spice; and, Chamomile Herbal

Tazo:

Wild Sweet Orange; Rest; and, Calm

(I also really love to have Tazo Refresh (not pictured) stashed away for a quick pick-me-up on a gloomy day)

Soups, Stews, Curries, and Casseroles

My fella added that a rainy day comforts list can’t be complete without including stew (but in our house, anything whipped up in a Dutch oven is perfect for a rainy day).  There are some great recipes in these cookbooks:

We joke about cooking our way through all 660 curry recipes…I don’t think that would be a bad thing, but it might take a long time!

This cookbook has some of my favorite go-to recipes…my copy is well-loved!

***And I’ve also been reminded that there is no more perfect meal on a rainy day than a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

…of course, I have a rainy day wishlist of things that I would like to buy someday.

I have a Pendleton saddle blanket that I absolutely love…but I am smitten with this one, and might buy it for a Christmas present for my fella! I think that he would love the colors in this one. This is the Pendleton Parfleche Saddle Blanket in olive.

These are the things that my family loves on a rainy day.  They all make staying inside and watching puddles form much more enjoyable.  Add in watching football or Netflix (and some of the family likes to play video games), and it rounds out our rainy season!

What are your rainy day routines?  Do you have things that make rainy days more tolerable?

P.S. My son said that the only thing missing from this list is a requirement for a bottomless stack of quilting magazines…he knows me so well!