Category Archives: Household Helps

A place to find some of our helpful household favorites.

Sherry Sherry Quite Contrary, How does your garden grow?

A Girl’s Garden

Robert Frost (from Mountain Interval, 1920)

A neighbor of mine in the village
Likes to tell how one spring
When she was a girl on the farm, she did
A childlike thing.

One day she asked her father
To give her a garden plot
To plant and tend and reap herself,
And he said, “Why not?”

In casting about for a corner
He thought of an idle bit
Of walled-off ground where a shop had stood,
And he said, “Just it.”

And he said, “That ought to make you
An ideal one-girl farm,
And give you a chance to put some strength
On your slim-jim arm.”

It was not enough of a garden,
Her father said, to plough;
So she had to work it all by hand,
But she don’t mind now.

She wheeled the dung in the wheelbarrow
Along a stretch of road;
But she always ran away and left
Her not-nice load.

And hid from anyone passing.
And then she begged the seed.
She says she thinks she planted one
Of all things but weed.

A hill each of potatoes,
Radishes, lettuce, peas,
Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn,
And even fruit trees

And yes, she has long mistrusted
That a cider apple tree
In bearing there to-day is hers,
Or at least may be.

Her crop was a miscellany
When all was said and done,
A little bit of everything,
A great deal of none.

Now when she sees in the village
How village things go,
Just when it seems to come in right,
She says, “I know!

It’s as when I was a farmer——”
Oh, never by way of advice!
And she never sins by telling the tale
To the same person twice.

Weekly Update:

The garden tower is providing our lettuce, spinach, bok choy, swiss chard, cabbage, kale and soon our fennel.



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The beans and peas are growing taller by the day and will soon provide a welcome addition to our table.

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The tomatoes and tomatillos are growing taller and I had to put in the tomato cages.  I’m hoping they hold up to the weight since they are not in the ground.  Surprisingly the ph is staying within range even with all of the rain.  I like this kind of gardening.  🙂

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They survived the strong storms, high winds and hail the last few days.  The old garden holding the radishes, onions, carrots and beets is already providing radishes for our salads.

Honey Anyone?

Proverbs 24:13 (ESV)  My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.

Exodus 3:8 (ESV)  And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Matthew 3:4 (ESV)  Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

I have been looking forward to having bees for several years.  In fact, I even bought the kids a book on bee keeping for Christmas one year.  They knew it was more for me, I was just trying to rope them in to my dream.  Last year, I was thrilled to be able to buy my own bees and set up my hive.  Although they died this spring and I am trying to built upon an old hive in the woods, I was able to harvest the honey out of my original hive and scrape out the wax.

It took a week for me to complete the process and a week without being able to use my kitchen island, yet I would say it was worth it.  Oh how sweet it is.  I am praising God for His most delicious and creative creation.

Here is what fun I’ve had in the last week:

First, I scraped the frames into a plastic bin.  The frames that had honey I scraped into a colander over a large bowl.

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The combs that did not have honey I put into an old crock pot and turned on low to melt down.


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Once the honey dripped out of the combs in the colander I strained the honey that was in the catching bowl through a small mesh hand held colander into a half gallon jar.


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I cut the top off of an empty 1/2 gallon cardboard container of almond milk and cut up an old white t-shirt rubber banding the piece of shirt to the top of the container.  I then poured the melted wax out of the crock pot into the container using the shirt as a strainer for any of the paper comb that did not melt.  When it all cooled I cleaned out the pot discarding the waste comb and cut open the box to find a beautiful clean block of beeswax.

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The kids want to know what I’m going to use it for and I told them it will be used for either candles or lip balm.  They are opting for the candles, I’m opting for the lip balm.  A friend of mine from TX gave me a wonderful lip balm las week she made out of beeswax, essential oils and coconut oil.  I’m hoping to get the recipe from her when she returns back home.

When I can taste the sweetness of the honey, and smell the aroma of the beeswax, I no longer fear the disease that has consumed my life over the last year.  Nature is amazing.  God is amazing!

Keeping Busy…

Many have asked what I’ve been doing to keep myself busy while I’ve been allowing my body to heal.  Well, besides spending a great deal of time with the Lord and my children, I have been quilting.  Since my hands don’t want to work to knit or crochet with the repetitiveness of the stitches, I have been quilting.  Now, I’m sure your asking yourself what is the difference and how could I quilt without having the same issues.  I think it’s due to the fact that I am free hand stitching and I only sew a little, then cut the thread stop and repeat.  I have had some issues at times and I stop for a day or two and then am able to get back into it.

Thus far since January, I have been able to make 1 full/queen quilt, hand piecing the squares together, and I have hand quilted 4 lap quilts measuring 4×6 to 3×6 in size and I’ve made 3 table top runners.   One of my friends joins me and she calls it guilt free quilting!   It’s been very therapeutic for my mind to at least accomplish something and I look forward to making my second full/queen for our son.

Who knows, maybe it’s the start of a new business.  🙂

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Adding in a little kitty help.  She makes sure to adjust the squares to her liking rather than mine.  ha ha

A Natural Approach


Last year we were on vacation and my daughter and I entered into a store that advertised itself as being a “natural” bath and beauty store. Being that we use all natural products I was actually very excited and the colors and smells were delightful. First clue that it really wasn’t natural. As we entered the store there were soaps, shampoos, bath salts, bath sugar scrubs and oils. The word natural on the wall in big bold letters was just shouting out to us, “try me, I’m safe to put on your skin”. Well, we obliged and began testing some of the products. The salts and sugars that you rub on your skin were amazing when you washed them off. Our hands felt like silk or like the skin of a newborn.

As my daughter looked around, she came upon a cream that she really wanted. The smell was fantastic and the cream itself was more of a butter texture that was smooth and felt nice on the skin after the salt scrub. We turned the jar around to look at the ingredients, which we should have done the minute we walked in the store, and let’s just say it was far from natural. The ingredient list was long with great big long words that needed a dictionary to pronounce. One of the ingredients I recognized and I told my daughter that I read about it on a list of things to avoid due to cancer. She of course, being the beautiful smart 13 year old she was at the time, informed me that I was paranoid and needed to quit looking at lists like that and enjoy the fun smelling creams and toiletries that could only enhance the aroma we were already putting off. (Not really, after all it was over 85 degrees at the time.) That being said, I whipped out my phone and told her I would enjoy how I smell, enjoy my life without the product, and gave her my phone with the product description. I told her that if she wanted it, she needed to read about the ingredient first, and I was not going to buy it for her. She politely read it, of course this is after the long drawn out sigh, gave me back the phone and put the cream back on the shelf. I asked her why she wasn’t buying it and she informed me she wasn’t putting that on her body.

What did she read? Well, my daughter got an education about much more than just creams that day. The information I pulled up said that tumors and fast growing cancers were detected in trials using this particular ingredient. It also said that anyone handling the ingredient should not breath it in, nor touch it with bare skin. It went on to say that in small amounts this particular ingredient has been used in various consumer products for adults and children, as a preservative. Yes, it really said that. Used as a preservative, even though in the first paragraph it advised upon protecting ones self from direct contact. My very smart 13 year old, turned around, looked at me, and a discussion ensued about how natural doesn’t always mean natural. That you have to read ingredient lists. We also discussed how even in small amounts, ingredients that are known to cause health issues, can harm us just for the mere fact that we don’t use small amounts of those products nor do we use them just occasionally. After all, a dime size dollop of cream will not cover your body once a month. Between cancers, endocrine disrupters, learning disabilities in children, neurological disorders, etc., I think avoiding unnatural products is the way to go. So, the end of our shopping in the “natural” bath and body store ended when we found one sugar scrub in the store that had only 3-4 known ingredients in it, and that is what we purchased. As for the cream, we went home and followed up the scrub with some coconut oil.

Over the years, I have switched out all of my cosmetics from toxic to more green and safe alternatives. There are websites online that will list the toxicity levels of all your favorites. It’s not easy finding products that match the colors you like or the coverage you like, I admit, it takes time to find a pleasing alternative.

Although I still color my hair, I try to choose healthier alternatives in the products used. Talk to your hair dresser and see if he/she is willing to work with you using more natural organic hair care products. It’s been quite a while since I’ve used products to keep my curls and shine my hair.

As for creams and astringents, there are organic and inexpensive items that work great. For people with skin that has acne or that is oily, a great facial wash is a bar of black soap. You can buy it by the pound online very inexpensively. Make sure you get it from a fair trade company. Black soap is made in Africa and takes days to make. It’s made of leaves and plants that are non toxic. If you find black soap in a liquid, beware, it’s not the same and it’s likely made of some form of chemical.

You can safely use apple cider vinegar as an astringent, yes it smells nasty yet it works for bacteria. You can also use it under your arms to help cut down on the bacteria in the arm pits. Apple cider vinegar is a safe natural alternative to cleaning as well. Great for sinks, tubs, counters, floors.

Coconut oil has so many uses. You can use it on your skin as a cream, you can use it as a mouth wash as long as you expectorate it into the garbage not your sink, or you can use it on a babies butt as an alternative to diaper creams. Coconut oil is a healing alternative that helps with burns and skin irritation as well. Nursing moms will find healing that is more natural as well. Coconut oil can also be used as a conditioner for the ends of your hair. Claims are made that it helps with taming the hair in the summer.

Baking soda is also great as a toothpaste, powder under the arms, and an alternative to chemical cleaning solutions. It also is a great wash for vegetables. I’ve read that you can also use it for a shampoo. (I’ve tried making my own out of other products, and was very disappointed. I buy organic shampoos now.)

Essential oils are great for shining up your granite counter tops, great for helping the laundry to smell nice, and are great alternatives to any chemical spray that is supposed to help your home or car smell better.

Did you know you can make your own laundry soap? It’s less expensive, easy to make and cleans just as well as the commercial brands without the chemicals. There are many “recipe’s” out there. For the most part they are all the same. The only thing to remember is that you need to stir it up before using it. Use an essential oil in addition for a clean smelling load. Some of the ingredients used for the laundry soap will also do well for your dishwasher.

If all else fails and you don’t have the time yet can afford it, buy organic. Stay away from “natural” and go for certified organic. There are food co-ops available all over that are more affordable than the local grocery store.

Lesson of the day: Read your labels! Learn about the products you use daily and see how they can affect your body. Always remember that whatever you put on your skin, does soak in and enter into your blood stream. If there is something you can change and have the ability to change, then take a chance and see if you notice a healthy improvement.