Living A Simplified Life!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Log Cabin

Can you picture this darling log cabin on your property?

This darling log cabin conjures up visions of times gone by, when our forefathers first settled this land. It would be right at home in any state in the Union! You could put this home of a few acres out in the woods, the mountains or the flat-lands and it would feel right at home in any setting you choose. It would also be possible to take this home completely “off grid” by adding solar or windmills and a well for your own water supply.

At just under 1100 square feet, this house with it’s open floor plan, feels much larger. The design of the home makes it very livable for a young couple just starting out because it is designed where adding on later is possible or an older couple who is content with a smaller sized home and want everything on one floor with no stairs to climb.

The porch across the entire front of the house begs for some old time rocking chairs and the family to come outside and enjoy the beauty of nature that surrounds their home.   The open floor plan allows for easily adding a fireplace to the exterior wall or an old fashioned pot-bellied Ben Franklin stove as an alternate heat source for cold winter evenings. The grilling porch, located off the back door of the kitchen will allow for great outdoor cooking even when it rains!  It would be easy to add on additional bedrooms as a family expands. Because of the roof line, and the design, knock out the walkin closet at the end of the hallway between the two bedrooms, extend the hall and add on additional bedrooms and a bathroom there at the side. This could easily be expanded into a four bedroom home.

I particularly like the way the washer and dryer are situated in the middle of the home, near the bedrooms so that transporting dirty laundry is quick and easy to do. The plans call for this home to be built with a crawl space underneath, but it would be simple to add a storm shelter underneath or a full basement if desired. It would be easy to add this feature I think with access by way of the grilling porch.  If you wanted a full basement, I think that could also be done with access through the closet there at the front door entryway, but check with the people at to be sure on this.

This is a darling cabin and my imagination is running wild with ways on how to decorate it in old rustic type, primitive Americana furnishings!

First of all, all the floors in the cabin would be made out of reclaimed old wood, sanded and stained to a lustrous warm glow. I am picturing a dining room table made out of salvaged barn wood and made into a farmhouse table and mismatched chairs like in the olden days.  In the kitchen, I would use milk paint on all the cabinets, allowing the wood grain to show through. There would be an old fashioned pot rack hung like they did in the olden days. In the bathroom, instead of a modern vanity cabinet, I can see using an old dresser as the base, with an old china washbasin as the sink. Rather than have a tub, I would install a walk-in shower, for when I get old and can’t get over a tub edge any more!  In the bedrooms, high off the floor old fashioned beds, covered with homemade comforters and quilts. There would be lamps on dressers rather than overhead light fixtures.

In the living room there would be a large overstuffed couch and chairs, that beg you to come set a spell; the kind you sink into and never want to get out of! End tables and table lamps would be mismatched, to add character, the feeling of acquiring them as I could afford them at different times in my life. I would find an old area rug, perhaps a braided one, a bear rug or even a Navajo Indian rug to put down in the living room in front of the couch. And yes, I would be the one that adds the pot-bellied Ben Franklin stove there on the outside wall, between the living room and dining area!

Now that I have bought and decorated this little log cabin in my dreams, where do I want to locate it at?  I would definitely want some land and wide open spaces, maybe 10-15 acres, a place where I can have a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, a small barn with a couple of animals to raise for milk and food.  Anyone have some suggestions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Milk Carton Candle Instructions

You are going to need the following supplies:
Newspaper to cover your work area
Cardboard milk cartons - quart, pint or half pint sizes
Paraffin wax - you can buy large blocks at the craft store or smaller amounts at the grocery store (the kind you use for canning)
Wooden or metal skewers or old pencils to tie your wicks to
Candle wick material, and metal tabs (can purchase separately or already cut and together)
Coloring (old crayons work great, or small blocks of color from craft store)
Scenting oil ( purchase at craft store or health food store)

You Are Ready To Start

Prepare the work area by covering it with newspaper to catch all the drips.
Cut the milk carton to the size candle you want to make. Cut off the top flaps of the carton, and then cut it to at least 1/2 inch above the height you want the candle to be.

Cut a piece of wick that is 2 inches higher than the top of the milk carton. It’s better to buy wicks that have the little metal tab already attached to the base, and that are already coated with wax (so they stand on their own). If they are uncoated, you will need to dip them in melted wax and lay them flat on wax paper until the wax has cooled and hardened.

Wrap the free end of the wick around the middle of a wooden skewer ( I use old pencils), and then lay the skewer across the top of the milk carton. The skewer helps keep the wick in place and upright.

Melt the wax for your candle. I always make a double boiler, using a sauce pan for my water and then an old clean coffee can, which I have bent the top of to make a funnel shape. You are going to use the wax in several steps, so keep it melted.

Add fragrance. Choose a pure essential oil fragrance you like-available at health food stores and online. Depending on the size of your candle, add between 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to the molten wax, and gently blend it in using a wooden skewer or an old wooden spoon before you pour it into the milk carton.

When the wax has melted, scoop up a small amount of wax. Pour the wax into the carton so that it covers the metal tab. You may need to hold the skewer in place as you pour the wax so the wick does not shift. Hold it in place until the wax hardens.

Fill the milk carton with wax up to 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top of the carton. Let the wax cool until it is hard. You should expect the wax to shrink somewhat, so plan to top off your candle to make it level. Let the wax cool completely again. If needed, repeat the topping up step. After set and cool,
trim the wick to 1/4 inch above the top of the candle.

Insert a butter knife carefully between the edge of the candle and the carton, and gently lift it around the edges to loosen it. Then snip a cut on one side of the carton, and carefully peel it off until the candle is free.


If you like, for added visual drama, add some ice cubes to the milk carton, allowing them to stack randomly on top of each other, but not too many, or the candle will have too many holes.  You can also use a plain taper candle in the center of this type of candle, eliminating the need for the setting of your own wicks.

You can also add decorations to the outside of your plain candles, using several different mediums. You can use paper cutouts from scrap booking supplies, attach them using melted wax. Once adhered, cover over the top, using melted wax on a small paintbrush to make an even coating. You may want to do this several times.

You can also etch a monogrammed initial into the side of the candle using a sharp knife. Using colored melted wax, carefully fill in the indented monogram. If you drizzle over the edge, carefully scrape it off while still warm and slightly hardened.

Let your imagination run wild, you can do lots of different creative things!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Start Getting Supplies Together For Christmas Gifts

If you haven't started gathering supplies together yet to make Christmas Gifts, now is the time to do it. Start saving the following items because I am going to give you instructions on how to make most of your gifts this year and save a bundle of money.

Homemade candles- save quart size cardboard carton milk cartons, pint sized half and half or whipping cream containers, small Mason canning jars, small glass jars, and large sea shells,

Mixes in a jar- various sizes of glass jars with covers or Mason Jars

Fabric yardage at least a yard for most projects. If you have less, save it and we'll make some patchwork items.

Sturdy sheets of cardboard, from cardboard boxes is fine. We are going to use these as a base for handmade photograph frames.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ziplock Omelets

With holidays just around the corner, many of you will be having out-of-town guests and you don't want to spend all of your time in the kitchen. Here is a really neat breakfast idea that a friend sent to me today by e-mail and I just had to share it with you.

Ziplock Omelets

Have your guests write their name on a Quart sized zip lock freezer bag with a permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra large into the bag (no more than 2) shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients: cheese, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc

Have each guest add prepared ingredients of their choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for no less that 13 minutes and no more than 15 minutes.

You can cook 6-8 bags in a large pot at one time.

Open the bags (cut off the tops) and the omelet will roll out all folded nicely. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed!  

These can actually be prepared the night before, stuck into the refrigerator and then pulled out to cook in the morning.

Serve with fresh fruit or coffee cake, or my choice of homemade baking powder biscuits!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stocking Your Pantry

I do not know about you, but I am one of these people who have a terrible time trying to get my stock-up pantry really stocked up! I know that some of us have difficulty because of limited finances and others just do not take the time to replenish their stock as they use it. I read all these articles about how to stock up your pantry and most of them say to buy large quantities of one item at a time. Personally, I think purchasing items that “go together” to make a meal or part of a meal makes more sense. Having 10 lbs of spaghetti or macaroni noodles in your pantry without the other ingredients to make a meal does not seem very practical at all. Therefore, I will grab some noodles and then cans of soups, vegetables, tomato sauce and prepared spaghetti sauce in order to make a complete dish.

Most of us are paid either once or twice a month, so shopping every week is out of the question Most of us have very little money left over from payday to payday to use for extra groceries. Two things might work for you. Either add an extra $20 to your grocery list every two weeks that you will use strictly for purchasing items for your stock-up pantry, or else set aside that amount and once a month, you will have $40 to use all at one time for those supplies. Those of you with larger families, you may want to increase this amount. If you do this faithfully every month, at the end of the year, you will have spent $480 on extra supplies to stock your pantry.

I know that most of us utilize our grocery store flyers, concentrating on sale items to plan our meals and shopping. If there are items on sale, grab some extra cans of vegetables, fruits, coffee etc. Perhaps there is an extra good buy on meats, so go ahead and get an extra roast or a chicken to put into the freezer to use later.

As you put together your supplies, do not think of your pantry just as being there for “disaster supplies” think of all the items that you use on a regular basis that you would like to have “backups.” In my pantry, that will include all the fixings to make homemade breads and biscuits, soups, vegetables, a variety of dried beans, canned fruits, both cider and white vinegar, sugar and spices. I will also stock up on food for my animals, toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent and bleach.

The decision on what to stock up on is determined by where you live, your family and your lifestyle. Living in Montana or South Dakota where winters are long and brutally cold, your decisions will be different from those living in sunny California or Arizona. If you are concerned about power outages, slick roads from ice and snow or being snowbound, you may want to store mostly canned goods rather than putting a lot of food into a freezer!

Living in Oklahoma, we never know from one year to the next what our winters are going to be like. Some aren’t bad at all, with just a dusting of snow that might last a day or two and then you have other winters where you have iced over streets, power lines down for weeks at a time and no way to get to the store or a way to prepare your meals. I will also be sure to pick up bottled water, and paper plates & plastic utensils, incase pipes burst or freeze and there is no water to drink or wash dishes.

That leads to the next problem you might have and that is have you stocked up on foods that do not need to be heated or cooked. If you do not have a fireplace, do you have any alternative source prepared to cook food or keep your home warm? If I hear that we are anticipating bad weather, I will start making up some dishes ahead of time that I can put into the freezer, but not get too carried away just incase we lose power, I don’t want to have them go bad.

Since I do not have a fireplace, a bar-b-q grill (that I could use outside), or a wood burning stove in my home, if I lose power, I am up a creek without a paddle! I have decided to go to the local party store, where they sell the little wire stands with aluminum pans that sit in them and have the little cans of “sterno” that you put underneath to keep your food warm. A friend used them at Thanksgiving last year and they worked wonderful!

One of the main things to remember is every time you use products out of your stock-up pantry replace the item, in fact buy an extra at the same time. When you buy new products, always put them at the back of the row rather than in the front. This way you will always be rotating your stock and nothing will get outdated.

Having a pantry filled with food just makes good common sense. We never know in this economy when prices will go sky-high making items we are used to buying unaffordable. There is also the chance that you could become unable to work due to sickness or injury; or possibly be laid off from your job, or natural disasters. You need to be as prepared as you can for all possibilities. Even if you cannot afford to spend an extra $40 a month, do what you can, even if it is only $10 a month.