Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Organization Obsession

 I have a dear friend whose cupboards are beautifully organized,
 much to my envy, I admit. 
 Finally, I took the plunge to organize my own cupboards and spaces. 
 The result was a quick addiction...possibly a new obsession.  
Once one space was organized, 
I felt so much satisfaction and content with it,
 I would just go open the door and stare at it, a euphoric glaze in my eye.

My first project was the miscellaneous closet in the bathroom 
containing all kinds of herbal remedies, 
a plethora of first aid supplies, 
and all kinds of other medical stuff.  

Gathering baskets I purchased at the dollar store, 
I emptied the random and chaotic mess in the closet. 
 I then began making groups, 
and eventually worked out appropriate smaller groups for the baskets.  
The effect so elated me, 
I immediately began making plans for the next area. 
Like a drug, with just one try, I was hooked.

Next I moved on to the children's bathroom,
 where multiple bottles of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, and bubble bath
 vied for position on the shower shelves, 
often ending up knocked over and used  liberally by the littles,
 to the horror of the true owners.

  My techy daughter, Rose, found this idea on Pinterest.
  It is working wonderfully.

I bought a tension rod and hung it over the wall side of the tub/shower.
  Back at the dollar store,
 I found baskets with handles and shower curtain rings to hang the baskets on.  
Now each big person has their own basket for their stuff, out of reach to smaller people.

I just had to organize something else, so down to the cellar I went.
Ahhh, (sigh) 
Oh the delight of an organized food storage area.

The 40 gallon cans in the middle of the floor are for big staples
 such as flour, sugar, rice, wheat, and salt.

My most recent little project was the most miserable cupboard in the kitchen.
  The one where everything falls out as soon as you open the door. 
 You probably guessed it,
 the storage container cupboard.
Again Rose came to the rescue with the idea of using a dish drainer for all the lids.
We put them in smallest to largest. 
 Loving this one.

Who knew the sheer joy awaiting the one who organizes!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Notes on Children's Fall/Winter Clothes

When the cold weather settles in,
 we begin to get out all the snuggly, warm clothing I have collected for the children through the year. 
 I am always on the lookout for wool articles,
 homemade sweaters,
 flannel lined pants, 
quality fleece garments and such. 
 Knowing the Littles are cozy, warm, and comfortable in chilly weather is a very satisfying thing for me.  
I guess I am just a cozy-comfy sort of gal. 
 Making up the children's beds in 
layers of loveliness
 for winter is also a joy to me. 
 I relish the puttering that comes as we prepare for the change of seasons, 
it is a kind of nesting that is soothing, relaxing and satisfying.

Some time ago, as we were thrift shopping, 
I came across two pairs of used, 
hand knit socks. 
 I thought they were charming, and brought them home.  
They have now been through two winters with us, and are still in great shape. 
 Since we live in  a cold snowy region, we usually purchase a pair of boot or ski socks
 for each of the children every winter. 
 Last year I noticed, as I put the winter clothes away, 
that the hand knit socks were in great shape but the boot socks were very worn,
 or completely worn out- needing to be thrown away. 
 Therefore, this year, I hunted around until I found hand knit socks for the children,
 made by a local lady, since I haven't acquired that skill
 (yet..I am picturing me rocking in a chair, knitting with a great white bun of hair on my head-smile-). 
I had a pair of hand knit socks made for each of the little ones, 
then, having fallen in love with the look and charm of hand knit, 
 proceeded to purchased mittens and hats as well.
The hand knit socks cost the same as the boots socks we were getting,
 but last two to three times longer.

We buy most of our clothes in thrift stores,
 but on the occasion that I really need a particular item and cannot find it there, I shop on ebay. 
 If we are still in need, or, if I find time and creativity to sew, we fill in the various wardrobe needs thus. 
 I really love to sew, but rarely do. 
 This summer, I did manage a few days to whip up a few skirts and blouses for Olivia. 
 Such little items are frugally and easily accomplished with left overs or repurposed articles. 
 My favorite garment ended up to be the little gray wool skirt with a flannel lining. 
 These skirts take about 30 minutes to make start to finish and need no pattern. 
 It is just a simple rectangle measured to the wanted length, then finished with an elastic casing. 
 I also made a flannel lined denim skirt for her that she has already been wearing quite a bit this fall.
Even if one bought fabric from a small one's skirt such as this, 
the cost would likely be less than $5.oo. 
Since I like to thrift shop, I keep my eye out for garments of good quality fabric 
that are on the tag of the day sale. 
 My last trip out I bought a large wool skirt for .99 just for the fabric,
 which can be used for two or three small skirts. 
 Sewing does not always have to be costly.
My grandma sewed this way, and first  introduced me to the idea.
There is a great satisfaction from making
out of nothing, 
and even more so if it was done in a frugal way.

For girls, dresses can be difficult to find, 
more so the older they get.
 Mothers often ask me where we find our dresses. 
Thrifting or yard sales often provide a variety of showy dresses for special events and church,
 but for everyday,
 I favor Land's End long sleeve knit print dresses.  
These dresses are comfortable, of good quality so they wear well,
 and they have that wholesome look that I really prefer to see on our girls. 
 We have done well finding ours on ebay.
I should also say that we always pray over our family's needs before we begin shopping, 
and God is so good to meet those needs time and time again.

Over the years, we have come to realize that high quality clothes last,
 and can be passed down still looking good from one child to the next.
  When Joe was a little tike, 
we bought him a new pair of Carhardt Overalls.
 Joe wore them, 
then Jim,
 then Ben, 
as well as Bethany,
 and now Gabe.
  They still look good.  
Cost more initially, but last by far longer,
 and so are really the more cost effective way to go in a big family.

I guess that why I enjoy this process so much
 is because I think that meeting our family's clothing needs 
really is of great value beyond putting fabric on their bodies.
  I see it as an avenue of life giving, 
 and an opportunity to nurture
as well as train them (while they are still young) about good clothing choices. 

Herein is a chance to take the mundane act of shopping,
 and cultivate beauty with it for the benefit of our family,
 instead of passing by without notice, or considering it just a task of drudgery. 
We can make the ordinary task special, and by doing so,
 we enrich our family life.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Last Day for John

 For the last three years, our oldest son, John, has been largely absent 
from all the family doings a good portion of the year.  
That is because he has been all over the West States fighting forest fires May to October. 

 As a wild-land firefighter, he is the hero of many. 
From Fort Collins, CO, to Billings, MT, to Boise, ID, 
and back here in North Idaho,
 he has spent many a hot exhausting day this year
 fighting the roaring flames that have threatened ranches and homes. 

But, although John has loved this seasonal work,
 relished the danger,
 the grit and determination the job demands, 
and the feeling of making a difference, 
today is his last day fire fighting.

As he moves on to a career in gunsmithing,
 his hero status will not change here at home. 
 For we recognize in him that which is harder
 than fighting raging forest fires with a 40 pound pack on your back in 100 degree weather.
  John has earned his valor by being one of the few young men 
who has stood for integrity and honor all his days,
 no matter his environment.

Now, I value firefighters,
 and I am ever so thankful for their service to our communities, 
but a man who walks steady even in the midst of great pressure, 
who holds his faith and convictions close to his heart when he is the only one,
that man is surely a true hero.

We see God's leading in John's life, 
God's protection many a time, 
and God's presence through the trials. 
 With great gratitude to the Lord for all these things, 
we thank Him also for giving us 
this man for a son.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

large family camping

One of the joys of September for all of us here at Providence Lodge
 is our annual trek south,
 to camp together in a different neck of the woods,
 forage for wild fruit, 
 and be outside in the gorgeous fall weather.

The setting is so picturesque. 
 I find the whole adventure quite romantic.

Large family camping includes a fair amount of work, since there is so many people to feed.
But, if you know me, you know I am all about food.
However, I do want to keep things simple for the most part.  
Toasting bagels for breakfast over the open campfire proved to be 
a great no mess and no clean up breakfast.
Loved that.

A not so simple breakfast, but everyone's favorite meal of the weekend,
 is Mr. Hawkin's skillet breakfast 
which includes bacon, sausage, peppers, onions, eggs, potatoes, and cheese. 
 Oh my, yum!

To keep lunches simple, 
we prepared easy favorites such as sandwiches and wraps,
 and something we call a pub platter-
salami, cheese, crackers, apples, and cheese spread, an assortment of pickles,
 and cookies, or better yet, pie. 
This is a usual picnic choice for us.

The wraps were not so simple, but truly scrumptious.  
Anna came up with these, and they have become a staple meal through the summer.
Tortillas, spread with cream cheese, and followed with cranberry sauce.
shredded pork sirloin, chicken, or turkey,
chopped peppers and onions,
topped with fresh tomatoes and shredded cheese.

Our dinner menus included Hamburgers, Chili, stew and Hobo dinners
The last is a little more time consuming. 
 I usually pre- chop all my veggies before camping, but not this year.
We threw the foil packets right on the fire to cook, making this a super easy meal to clean up.

In between all the meals, there was fun, lovin, and rest to be had in the warm autumn air.
Having a large family means there is always someone to play or snuggle with,
 and we find that a very good thing!

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...