Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of Simple Living {The Introduction}

Well, it's that time of year again...The 31 Days Challenge.  For those of you unfamiliar with The Nester and her annual blogging challenge, we're asked to pick a topic, write about it everyday for the entire month of October and then link up with other 31 Dayers who are joining in on the fun.  

Our month long series this year will be 31 Days of Simple Living...unique solutions to help you minimize the distractions of life so you can embrace what truly matters.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind 
your own business and to work with your hands."
                                                                                  ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11

For the last few years that verse has become the touchstone of how I choose order my days and it's been a great influence on our vision for The Homesteading Cottage.  As a result we've decided to reshape how we do things here and we're sharing our process.

What to Expect...

In honor of keeping it simple, this month you'll begin to notice an actual structure in the way we share information. We'll be posting a Tip of the Day and a Call to Action that will bring in the simplicity and get rid of the complicated. Each day a link will be added at the bottom of the post for easy navigating so you can go back and forth as needed. Below are the topics we'll be covering...
  • Simple tips to clear out the clutter
  • Simple tips to bring in the order
  • Simple tips to create a home haven that fits your spirit
  • Simple tips to embrace your square peg (you'll see...)
  • Simple tips to celebrate, entertain and fellowship
  • Simple tips to embrace a service mentality
  • And the simple free tools we're offering for your journey

With so much going on in our daily lives, things can easily become a jumbled mess of constant busyness.  We hope to inspire you to move toward a bigger vision, a brighter future and life you love.  We want to challenge you to think big and make better choices, but in a simple no-muss-no-fuss way that removes the chaos and embraces ease. 

That doesn't mean we think simple living means easy living, but it does afford you the opportunity to create a structure of solutions to lighten the load.  If you're ready to hone your focus, then we believe 31 Days of Simple Living can be the catalyst to make that happen.

Share Your Journey...

Accountability is everything...make it public!  Share your new project of simple living with family and friends so they can offer encouragement as you go along.  Leave a comment below so can encourage you too (;

If you have any questions or want to post your progress, you can do that in the comments section or on our Facebook page.  Gather with us on Twitter with #31SimpleDays and @thenester with #31Days as we make better choices each day.

Join Us on Pinterest...

I'm a visual gal so Pinterest was a natural fit in our simple living process.  I've created a group board specifically for the 31 Days of Simple Living series. Each day I'll be pinning our posts along with other pins that relate to the daily challenge.

If you'd like to pin your progress or helpful posts related to the daily focus, email me and I'll be happy to add you to the group.  The neat thing about this new board is that it can provide a continual supply of encouragement even after the 31 Days is over.

Follow the Blog...

Don't miss a single post because each one will be packed with tips and inspiration that can easily be incorporated into your everyday schedule.  Subscribe to our RSS Feed or enter your email below for posts to be automatically delivered to your inbox.

Before you know it, these next 31 Days will give you a jump start to the simple living journey so you can embrace a life you truly love.  Join us tomorrow as we begin clearing out the clutter to make room for what really matters.  See you tomorrow!

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Ÿ Intro              Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 17           Ÿ Day 22           Ÿ Day 27
Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 7             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Cup of Healing Broth

Chicken stock is one of those simple staples that we prefer to have on hand at all times.  It's a great add to soul warming soups and stews, but we love to incorporate it in just about everything conjured up on the stove.  Broth offers that level of richness to recipes that can't be matched, making it the magic ingredient you'll use time and time again.

Not only is broth a staple in cooking, but it's also a nutritional powerhouse as in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals and an excellent source of amino acids, gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin.

If you want to give your immune system a boost, simply add broth to your diet.  There's a reason chicken soup always comes out during the cold and flu season...this cure-all is packed with the good stuff to get you back up in running in no time!  We love to sip on a cup first thing in the morning to get us going and then in the evening to round out the day.

I use the recipe from Nourishing Traditions to create our healing pot of broth, with a couple of tweaks of turmeric and garlic to boost liver function...

  • 1 whole free range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of chicken parts (breast, wing, leg, thigh, neck) 
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 1-2 tablespoons turmeric 
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped 
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  1. Place chicken (chicken pieces) in a large stock pot with water, vinegar, turmeric, garlic and veggies except for the parsley.
  2. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Bring to a boil and remove scum that rises to the top.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours.  The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.
  5. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley.
  6. Remove chicken (chicken pieces and bones).
  7. Strain the stock into a large bowl and put in the fridge until the fat rises to the top and congeals.
  8. Skim off the fat and save to use in place of oil in other recipes.
  9. Reserve the stock in covered containers in your fridge or freezer.

After the bird is cooked, the meat put away and the broth stored up, I pop the bones back in the pot to create another round of brothy goodness (;  I add the same amount of everything above minus the chicken or chicken parts because we're using the bones.

If stewing chicken isn't your thing, you can still make great broth.  When baked chicken is on our menu, we always make sure to save the bones and store them in the freezer until we're ready for broth makin' time.  Nothing wasted here (;

Jenny from Nourished Kitchen has a great Perpetual Soup recipe using the crock pot that's also a great option so you don't feel chained to the stove.

We store broth that's going to be consumed within the next day or so in glass jars.  The rest is frozen in ice cube trays for quick access.  Once cubes are completely frozen, they're popped into Ziploc bags and kept in the freezer.  This is a great way to have stock on hand at any time and in easy portion sizes.  Two cubes equals 1/4 cup.

So the next time you're looking for a simple nourishing meal, try a cup or two of healing broth.  You might just be surprised at how much better you'll feel (;

In Gratitude,

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own


If you’re one of the many who have a longing for a farm of your own and have never read Jenna Woginrich’s book Barnheart, I highly recommend it.  She gets it and provides inspiration for those of us who have Barnheart as we move toward that inner calling of a more authentic life.

Normally articles and photos of decorating, homesteading, farming and getting ready for fall are things that make my heart sing.  But I have to be honest, that Barnheart longing has recently moved into high gear and it's been kinda hard to read yet another post of someone moving to a farm, tending their goats and chickens or showing the how-to’s of their most recent DIY project. 

Sounds horrible to say, especially because I know it's important to celebrate others and be happy for them no matter what we might be going through.  This kind of feeling is not a normal occurrence for me.  Usually these types of posts inspire, encourage and set my wheels a’turning...but not lately.

Right now we’re living the one-bedroom cottage lifestyle in a rental that’s furnished and lovingly decorated.  It’s been a temporary spot as we wait for our home…but our stay has become much longer than anticipated and this inner farm girl is longing for a spot of her she can paint, decorate, plant and dig around. 

This is the time of year I really nest and embrace the season.  I miss gardening, growing our own food, planting beautiful flowers and generally making things look lovely outside the simple way.

Planting anything isn't an option here, so there’s nothing to cultivate outdoors and not having mums outside this time of year is such a strange feeling.  I know it sounds silly, but there are certain things that say “home” and to me it’s being greeted by mums at the front door (;

I miss switching out our summer accessories with fall pieces and preparing for the cooler months ahead.  I miss working on projects inside and out and the inspiration it creates for other areas of life.  I miss our stuff that’s still in storage as we wait for our next home. 

Don’t get me wrong, our cottage in the city is lovely and we are SO blessed to live in such a prepared-for place, but it’s still someone else’s home filled with someone else’s stuff.  I didn't realize how much I missed being surrounded by our own things until we visited our storage unit a few days ago to dig out several books for a research project.

I've stopped by the unit a few times to put things in as our workspace starting getting cluttered, but each trip was basically a drop off.  Most of our living (working, eating, relaxing and sleeping) is done in a very small space which means we can’t store a lot of items here.  It's great training ground for the simple lifestyle lover and a crash course in that smaller footprint goal, but it can be challenging when you work from home.

So when things get a little overwhelming we either purge or take it to storage (;  I learned the art of letting go after our horrific move and hadn't really seen our things in almost two years, so I was unprepared for the emotional ride that was getting ready to take place.  And there I was…taking in the sights and scents of our home that once was.

I couldn't believe how much that storage unit felt like home as box after box was opened! For the first time I really missed seeing our things.  After losing most of our belongings during the move, I had to detach myself from needing things.  The loss of our stuff was a shock, but we chose to view it as a growing experience and so I embraced letting go…that is until we starting finding things that we didn't realize made it into the storage unit. 

The first item that sent my heart to dancing was a hand carved bowl created by my Grandfather.  The next thing was a box of tools which included one of the hammers he made by hand…it was his favorite and one that soon became my favorite as well.  Then I found a plaque with a handwritten note from my Dad {insert happy sigh here}.

We also uncovered photos and a few cherished mementos we thought were lost forever.  These things weren't important, but it offered a reminder of the legacy that was represented.  Seeing our things also connected me back to my aesthetic sense…the design and colors that make me feel like me. 

In an instant there was a rush of sadness and excitement all at once.  Sadness because we were leaving our things behind to go back to a place that didn't feel like us…but then excitement because I could envision us unpacking all those boxes in our new place and settling in to what we've been waiting for these last two years. 

I could see my studio coming to life again…

I could see handmade art adorning our walls…

I could see our bedrooms flooded with light from large, sheer covered windows…

I could see a front porch filled with mums waiting to greet us after nightly constitutionals…

I could see a garden packed with organic goodies waiting to be harvested…

I could see our beloved animals frolicking in the fields…

I could see a home overflowing with family and friends gathered to laugh, love and live boldly…

I could see hope and a new passion for our future…

And most importantly, I could see our Home Haven coming together…finally (;

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12

In Gratitude,

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Friday, September 6, 2013

5 Simple Steps to Whiten Your Teeth

Well, it’s Frugal Friday again and today’s focus is the ol’ choppers.  We’ll talk more next week about a dental hygiene routine (including how to make your own toothpaste), but right now it’s all about the color of the pearly whites.

I’ve never been one of those gals obsessed with the whiteness of my teeth.  Personally I just feel there are more important things going on in the world than being worried about the whitey brightness of the enamel-covered structures in my mouth. 

But that being said, it is important to look your best which includes your teeth.  Take care of them and they will take care of you, just don’t get trapped into that obsessive role of whitening.  There is something to be said for getting your teeth toooooo white…oh, so very unnatural.

A few years back we ditched the mouthwash in lieu of peroxide. One reason was because I love it when something pulls double duty (insert frugal gal happy dance here).  We use peroxide to heal cuts & scrapes, as a carpet cleaner/spot remover and peroxide also replaces bleach in our laundry room.

It's rare that we have a product in this house that performs only one function, so when I found out we could add mouthwash to that list, it was a done deal!  Not only is it a great mouthwash, but it whitens your teeth too!

Here are our 5 Easy Steps to Whiten Your Teeth…
  1. Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, which is safe for oral care.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons peroxide and 1 tablespoon water into a cup and mix.
  3. Pour the combo in your mouth and swish at least 1 minute – You’ll begin to notice some foaming action going on…there’s no cause for alarm. This is normal.  It’s just the peroxide working on the bacteria.
  4. When you’re done swishing, spit out the solution and rinse with water.
  5. Now brush as you normally do.
You can play with the hydrogen peroxide/water combo to fit your needs.  When I first started, my daily swish consisted of 2 tablespoons of peroxide and no water, but it was a bit much for me...low gag tolerance + the taste of peroxide = not a good experience.  I then tried a 1:1 ratio, but now prefer a 2 parts peroxide and 1 part water solution.

You can also add a 3 Step Whitening Brush once a week if needed…
  1. Mix 2 teaspoons peroxide and 3 teaspoons of baking soda until it creates a paste. The measurements don’t have to be exact.  Just find a consistency you like.
  2. Add a small amount to your toothbrush and brush away!
  3. Rinse and then brush your teeth as you normally do.
  • As with anything, use in moderation.  Do the whitening brush no more than once a week and do not use too much as it will damage enamel.
  • This is kinda obvious, but DO NOT swallow or ingest hydrogen peroxide.
  • To whiten a specific spot or more problematic area, use a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide.
Adding these simple steps to your oral care routine will not only have your choppers gleaming in no time flat, but the whole process is kind on the pocketbook too!  We hope you enjoy (;

In Gratitude,

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Linking to: Dandelion House, Shabby Nest, Finding Fabulous, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Ginger Lemonade Recipe

On a shopping trip the other day, I happened across a sale on apple juice. Bottled apple juice isn't something I've purchased in while.  In fact I think it's been over 25 yrs, but when you've got a few coupons for organic 100% apple juice and those coupons make that juice free...well, needless to say it goes in the cart (;

Even though it’s not a juice we like to drink, I was sure it would come in handy with other recipes. Little did I know it would be used to create a favorite new drink recipe during a late night fridge plundering episode. Now we can’t get enough of Apple Ginger Lemonade (;

We use lemons and ginger in everything so adding it to the apple juice was a no brainer! It makes the most refreshing, cool blend of flavors to sooth the heat of the ending summer. Here’s the recipe for our yummy concoction…

       ~ crushed ice
       ~ filtered water
       ~ organic 100% apple juice
       ~ fresh ginger root
       ~ lemon wedges

Fill half of your glass with crushed ice and then add half a glass of filtered water. Now grate a nice little pile of fresh ginger on top of the ice water (ginger grates much easier when it's frozen and using a microplane for a fine grate is best so it mixes well).

Next add the juice of 2 lemon wedges (or more depending on your lemon love...2 lemon wedges equals half a small lemon in this house). Top things off with apple juice, filling the rest of the glass. Shake and enjoy!!

It’s great for the digestion, not to mention your immune system and it’s refreshing to boot!!  If you’d like to go even more natural with this drink, here are a couple more options to pack on the nutrition…

       1)  If bottled juice isn't your thing, juice your own fresh apples…skin and all!

       2)  Turn the drink into a smoothie.  Plan ahead and make frozen apple cubes.
            Chop an apple into chunks and place them in a Ziploc bag along with the
            juice of a few lemon wedges (the lemon helps to prevent browning). Then
            pop them in the freezer. Once the apples are completely frozen, place them
            in a blender along with ice, filtered water, ginger root, lemon wedges and
            voilà! Instant Apple Ginger Lemonade Smoothie!!

Foods are healing and it’s so important to have a good portion of raw goodies each day. This drink (or smoothie if you prefer) is the perfect addition to any meal plan.  Here are just some of the healing benefits that these nutrient dense foods offer…

Benefits of apples: full of anti-oxidants, lowers cholesterol, keeps the heart healthy, decreases your risk of diabetes, boosts the immune system, aids in weight loss, reduces the risk of asthma, aids the liver, lowers cholesterol, prevents high blood pressure, staves off Alzheimer’s disease, helps to prevent many types of cancers, promotes hair growth, protects from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density.

Benefits of ginger: has anti-viral, anti-toxic and anti-fungal properties, helps to prevent/treat colds and flu, acts as an antihistamine to sooth allergies, the anti-inflammatory components help to treat muscular disorders caused by inflammation, calms upset stomachs, lowers blood sugar levels, relieves bloating and gas, aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol, prevents the formation of blood clots, can quiet a cough, soothe a sore throat and helps with nausea, seasickness, morning sickness and motion sickness.

Benefits of lemons: antibacterial and anti-viral properties, balances the body’s PH levels, boosts the immune system, helps with weight loss, aids the digestion, is a liver cleanser, helps to fight infection, can be effective in treating acne, eases the symptoms of chills and fevers, can soothe a sore throat and can help to lower high blood pressure.

So give some apples, ginger and lemons a try and quench your summer thirst.  We're sure this new recipe will be a favorite for years to come (;

In Gratitude,

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Linking up with: My Healthy Green Family, Simple Living and Eating, Finding Fabulous, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo, The Grant Life,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Simple, Quiet Life

A simple, quiet life is what I crave.  The last few years 1Thessalonians 4:11 has become the touchstone of that longing and the way I choose to order my days. 

A simple, quiet life blocks out the complications.  Less is actually more, there’s no drama, chaos is minimized and life has a natural ebb and flow.

Embracing the quiet means you’re listening more.  In the silent zone you begin to really “hear” the heart of a friend, the beauty of nature and the call of your spirit. 

I love that this verse prompts us to “mind your own business” because there isn’t enough of that going on these days, eh?  By tending someone else’s garden, it means we’re neglecting our own and I don’t know about you, but taking care of one garden is all I can handle (; 

To finish things off it mentions to “work with your hands” which totally speaks to this creative gal’s heart.  Work is a good thing because it keeps our minds active, our bodies moving and means we’re contributing something to this world. 

But did you notice how it’s the last part of the verse?  Sometimes we confuse work and busy-ness with productivity.  If we’re doing anything it means we’re living active and productive lives, right?  Wrong….oh, so wrong.

If we master the art of getting quiet to hear that guiding inner voice and we mind our own business so we can focus on tending our own garden, then it frees us to embrace the calling (or work) for our lives. 

Sometimes that work has to be given time to take root, grow and flourish.  It may seem like nothing is happening, but much is going on behind the scenes.  And so it is with this blog…

It’s been quite a while since our last post due to technical glitches (our posts were not showing up), but those many blog-free months offered a quiet space to clarify the vision of what I hope to accomplish here.  The last few years have been an adventure in faith building and it’s helped to greatly hone that mantra of a simple, quiet life.

Our family has moved to a smaller footprint lifestyle as we wait for the next step in our journey and our homesteading goals are still in limbo.  As a result, these things have helped to shape our planning for the months ahead.

These new plans will bring changes over the next few months as we begin to redesign how we do things at The Homesteading Cottage.  Below are just a few of the new things to come…

  • Featured herb and essential oil each month
  • Steps to embrace the homesteading lifestyle no matter where you live
  • Recipes on how to cook from your stocked pantry and freezer
  • New subscription service to celebrate the seasons of life
  • Several new books coming out (more about that next week)
  • Series on being a blessing and ways to reach out to others
  • Free printables to help you simplify, organize, entertain and celebrate life
  • Frugal Fridays are coming back
  • Our new ecourse on creating a Home Haven to fit your spirit
  • And much more…
Things may seem a little rough around the edges as we transition into a new website and store, but that flow of blogging will return.  Hopefully some of our older posts that "aren't showing" yet will soon be fixed, but right now we’re just excited to be back up and running after getting the kinks worked out (;

In Gratitude,

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