Five Decorating Elements to Create the Perfect Space (and taking life slow and easy)

When making a bedroom cozy, or a kitchen entertainment friendly, or in this case, setting up a reading nook, there are specific components to decorating a space to consider.  The addition of the following things will create a peaceful, flowing, and delightful space.

20190417_205521

1. Incorporate plants- Besides the obvious benefits of cleaning the air and releasing oxygen, they are beautiful live creations to share the space with.  Put a small rose in a pot from the grocery store.  Don’t be afraid to bring in big plants and some unusual ones.  I have a poinsettia year round and a large Asian aloe.  Use pots that please you.

20190417_200545

2. Add gentle light- Do not turn on the overhead lights!  Twinkly lights and candles make a space so serene.  Oil lamps add unexpected coziness.  My eyes have been a little funny lately so I begrudgingly hauled up a lamp from the basement and put it behind my reading chair.  It actually feels cozy as well.

20190417_200559

3. Add color- Add at least three colors and then repeat them.  Even if you are an austere type of decorator, add three different shades of white.  My pops of southwestern color all work together because at least some of the colors repeat themselves in the patterns.  The vibrant pink, reds, blue, and the yellow all are found in two or more items.  It doesn’t matter what the pattern is as long as the colors repeat; florals can mixed with stripes and other designs.

20190417_205717

4. Add comfortable places to sit.  We have our two god-awful recliners with chewed arm rests, but covering them with inexpensive blankets transforms them.  A rocking chair with pillows is always inviting.

5. Add things you love.  Like books, or souvenirs, or cats.

20190417_205736

Finally, take time to enjoy your space.  It’s a little crazy out there sometimes.  Everyone is in such a rush.  At the grocery store the other day there was a quite elder woman who moved slowly and kept adjusting her oxygen tube.  She stood in front of me in line and every few minutes she would mutter, “Come on!  Hurry up!” to the people in front of her.  She sighed exasperated and practically bumped the lady in front of her out of the way to get to the counter.  Why on earth was she in such a hurry?  And did she get there any faster?  On the way home, on thirty mile and hour roads, tailgaters checked out my bumper.

Listen folks, life is going to end before we know it and I know y’all trying to get there before it does, but slow and easy is the new beauty secret and anti-depressant.  You will get there when you get there.  We ought to cut everyone some slack and not schedule ourselves to the point of hysteria.  Take some things out of your schedule.  Take time to smile and chat with the cashier.  Drive safely.  If someone is driving in front of you super slow, pretend like it is your grandpa or your granddaughter.  Just easy now.

And after the supper dishes are cleared, pour a glass of wine and set down in your reading and resting area and enjoy the space.  The way you decorate can be a respite from the world.

 

The Joyful, Simple Life of a Frugal Housewife

I have a little book that was written by Mrs. Child in 1832.  The American Frugal Housewife is surely just as useful today in many senses.  The author almost lost me when she noted that coffee was not economical and could be avoided.  Oh, she’s a strict one, that Mrs. Child.  Her prose is clear and concise and the book is ever fun to read.  Going on two hundred years old, it is a bit of history rolled into a gentle reminder that not that much has changed.

20190304_065545

If you make a dollar, only spend eighty cents.  If you make fifty cents, only spend forty.  The original Dave Ramsey.  Why do all the girls these days need the new bonnets from France when clean, proper dresses and a ribbon will do?  Girls have no home education these days!  In this book she covers everything from cuts of meat (she would wonder about me and my vegetarianism), to how to make custard, and Indian pudding.  She discusses herbs for cooking and all their medicinal values as well.  A new onion will take the pain out of a wasp sting.  Every housekeeping gem that we housewives- even in the twenty-first century- could ever need are in this book.  She would tisk-tisk me for sure.  But in this time and age, I am not too bad.  But there is always room for improvement.  A simple, frugal life is a life of peace.

20180813_071424

The gents installing the meters for the solar panels on our homestead were surprised at how little electricity we use.  Now it can all be generated from the sun.  When you walk through our gate, past the Pumpkin Hollow Farm sign, you will find yourself in a large yard.  Under snow, it looks ordinary, but this spring you will find dozens, upon dozens, and dozens of medicinal and culinary herbs.  This year, enough produce growing to last us eight+ months.

20170925_095555

When you come in there is a wood stove and nice wood floors that are easy to clean.  Plants and aloes and seed starts fill my home.  We read by candlelight and oil lamps.  Twinkly lights are the electric lights.  Piles of books to read, board games, and a tuned piano supply entertainment. We rarely watch television.  In the warmer months we will sit on the porch or go for a walk, all free things.  And blessed time together.

1238278_713374525344680_849109787_n

In the kitchen, home cooked meals are made.  I am finally getting used to not cooking for  all the children.  Just me and Pa and some left for the puppy.  Our root cellar is dwindling but there are still over a hundred jars of produce put up.  There are fresh eggs from the coop.  Cups of herb tea steaming on the counter.

20180729_165312

You will almost always find me in an apron.  They are so practical and keep my long skirts clean.  I make all of our own medicine, prepare our meals, create much of what we need.  I can sew a quilt, make our own soap, brew some meade, put up green beans, bake sourdough bread, make antibiotics, save seeds, use the library, ride my bike, and if I make fifty cents then I shall save ten!  More likely five cents, but we’ll get there.

20190215_174225

Such a good life indeed.

Decorating With Notes of Spring

The air has a slightly different feel to it.  A different scent.  The cold is still there.  I bundle up as I go out to do chores.  But there is a tinge of something else upon the morning breath.  Life.  Spring.  By all indications, it is still the dead of winter, but I sense it.  I sense the pulse of the earth strengthening and the awakening of the plant world beneath it all.  Spring is coming.

20190212_082639
Pick up miniature roses from the grocery store.  Water once a week.  They will live until you can transplant them outdoors.  I had miniature roses grow three feet high in the garden before!

My home is still in the dead of winter.  Warm blankets caress chairs and the furnace is on.  The sun shines like a spotlight through the closed windows, still low in the sky.  My spirit falls more easily into stress and I long to be in the garden.  To be outside with a book without wind chill.  What to do?  The only thing I can do is to introduce notes of spring into the house.

20190210_164505

Plants always infuse spring and life into a place.  These are the babies from my very large aloe.  Last week I transplanted them into a new pot.  Its wide berth lets them spill out and catch the sun, giving a warm desert feel to this corner.  The cheap pots at Walmart are usually my go-to.  I love their cheery celadon, rouge, and artist blue colors, but sometimes it is nice to get a special pot that reminds you of something you love.  In this case, the land of the southwest where my heart and inspiration dance.

20190210_164455

It still gets dark out early so candles are still throughout the house.  These Catholic prayer candles sans saints are perfect and long lasting.  I used an old Coca-Cola crate to hold them.

20190212_082031

Found bird nests and unique pieces of wood and stone are set carefully around the house to bring nature in.

20190210_164409

My Farmhouse sign (bought at Cracker Barrel of all places!) doesn’t have a place on the wall right now because I have all my own bright paintings up but it seems cheery on the floor against the wall amongst the geraniums and other plants.

I seem to collect things with bicycles on them.  Bicycles with baskets.  I love the idea of them.  I love the freedom of them.  The perk of being in the city.  The promise of warm breezes and exercise and French bread in the basket picked up from the bakery or fresh flowers.  I have coffee cups with bicycles with baskets that say things like “Do More of What Makes You Happy.”  My daughter, Shyanne, gave me a small bicycle statue.  So Doug gave me a bike for my birthday last year.  With a basket.  I only rode it a few times before the tires were inundated with goat heads.  But a kind friend came over three different times to fix my tires, fill them with fix a flat, put on my basket and other accouterments (a bell included!) and I am ready to take off on the first nice day without Nordic winds.  The bike had a place on the porch but I brought it in.  It adds notes of spring and whimsy to my living room.

20190210_140643

Lastly, I picked up a snazzy pair of bright galoshes.  Oh, spring, I hope to see you soon!

 

Natural Notes and Cozy Decorating

20181022_145510

I carefully arranged the candles and the oil lamps.  Fluffed the fur pillows.  I hung things on the wall, then took them back down.  I took the curtains down.  I added a tchotchke, took it out.  Peace and serenity is what I desired.  I turned the guest room into our bedroom and will turn our bedroom into guest room.  Just wanted a change of pace.  My beautiful rustic bed frame that didn’t fit in the other room greeted me.

20181022_141721

Perhaps it is the two retail shops worth of stuff crammed in my basement.  Or perhaps it is the beautiful books I have read about a Nordic lifestyle.   Maybe it is the time of year, the cool morning causing the furnace to kick on, the wood stove at the ready.  Maybe I am secretly signaling to myself that I need a break.  My other room looks like a tornado hit it.

I have too much stuff.

20181022_104932

Perhaps I will box some things up and add them to the already daunting pile downstairs.  Things I don’t necessarily want to rid myself of, but things that are contributing to the overwhelming feeling of chaos.  For the moment, I just take on one area at a time.

20181022_104926

I have a Nordic decorating mantra at the moment; Use Natural Elements

20181022_151705

Wood, candles, fur (I have opted for faux fur and will risk making polyester extinct), natural elements from the outdoors, simple, sweet, uncluttered, soft, cozy.

20181022_105005

Eight dollar plush blankets and a few throw pillows transform the couches from dog bed to lush reading spots.  Throw pillows are an inexpensive way to add theme.  The blankets can be rolled up when the farm dog comes in and takes his place on the sofa, or they can be washed and a lot wasn’t invested in them.

20181022_145609

I placed the couches back to back to create two distinct areas in the l-shaped living room.  One faces the television for movie nights and one faces the wood stove along with a few rocking chairs.  Kitties placed haphazardly about create a cozy feel.  (Oh my gosh, I have a lot of cats.)

20181022_204852

Back in my new serene bedroom with hardly anything in it, I used only twinkly lights, oil lamps, and candles to light the room.  A rocking chair creates a quiet nook.

20181022_145515

Old trunks stand in for side tables.

20181022_145543

An old heavy door leans against the wall.  I used one of those over-the-door set of hooks to hang sweaters.

20181022_151315

I don’t have any window coverings in my house so the interiors are flooded with natural light in the day and at night twinkly lights and candle light rule.  Such a blessing to have a home.

20181022_210353

The End of Summer

The end of summer.

‘Twas yesterday eve that I felt the shift.  The night temperatures would fall much too cold for summer crops.  I gathered my long shawl- orange and reds to match the changing leaves- across my hair and over my shoulders to keep the encroaching dusk chill away and gathered my baskets.

Out into the gardens with falling light I felt for vegetables and fruits in the dirt, on vines, hidden in lush leaves, swiftly clipping and twisting them into my hands.  Watermelons, butternut squash, yellow squash, poblanos, chilies, jalapenos, green peppers, and dozens upon dozens of green tomatoes came tumbling in.

Into the warm house where the fire was lit and the candles dazzled the rainy night.  For rain it poured and torrents of it came, while lightening bid farewell to the summer night games.  An autumn chill has descended here and the nights will stay cool as the sun tends to fall asleep early and the gardening days of fall are almost done.

The oil lamps lit, and candles brighten pages of good books.  And the darkness descends us into a warming rest.  I took a sip of tea and watched him put another log on the fire.

Welcome to Our New Shop (a video tour)

My friends, I would like to show you around my new shop that opened Saturday!  My daughter and I (and a beautiful array of angelic friends) have been scrubbing, painting, creating, preparing, and decorating this glorious 1800’s store front.  Welcome to Pumpkin Hollow Farm Homesteading Supplies and Classes.  If you are ever in Pueblo, Colorado, do come by!  687 S. Union Ave.  Facebook.com/pumpkinhollowfarm

The Interim Room (and a recipe for a luxurious oil bath)

bath

I am sitting in the waiting room between the first part of my life and the second.  A space with cream colored walls and carpet and a fireplace run by a light switch.  It’s quiet here in this respite room as I wait for the universe to throw open the next door.  I breathe and listen to my own heart beat.  My lesson here is rest.  Learning to balance rest, work, and play. I am plenty good at the work and play part, not so much with the rest.  I am forced to learn rest before I can move on.  It is imperative to the creation and success of our next ventures.

farmers market

I will be forty-two next week.  I am thankful for each and every birthday as I know how precious they are no matter the age.  Perhaps I will be sitting on a beach or running about the San Diego zoo or strolling a really fresh farmer’s market.  I know not, open to adventure, we fly out Tuesday to stay with our friends, Lisa and Steve, who graciously opened their home to us.  We are taking the opportunity to travel some this year before we have to find farm sitters again!

yoga

I am really listening to myself in the silence.  I am highly sensitive person.  I have to be careful what I watch or read as it can completely change my heart rate, ignite fear, create chaos.  I close my eyes and meditate on nothing, or love, or acceptance, or peace as I look out beyond the crows to the snow bound mountains and the low lying clouds that embrace.  I stretch into yoga poses, more flexible and getting stronger than I have been in a long time.  I have written poetry and gratitude every day since the beginning of the year and my poetry collection is growing into an anthology of my life.  I recognize myself more, I embrace change, I look forward to the future, but I embrace today.  Even the dishwasher and dryer (which I still could do without).

meditation

The highlight of this beautiful apartment is the garden tub.  The first I have fit in at nearly six feet tall.  It is wide in girth and long and luxurious as I rest my neck against its back and meld into the warm water in the warm bathroom with candles lit.  My spirit resetting at each wave of water and each meditation prompt, and each yoga move, and each delicious clean dish served from my kitchen.  A lovely interim.

The Luxury Bath

As the bath is filling, light candles.  Let there be silence, it is mesmerizing.

To water add a good drizzle of oil, such as olive, apricot kernel, avocado, sunflower, et cetera.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to balance the PH of the body.

Add 1/2 cup of fine sea salt.

Rest in bath and pour a bit of your favorite (not volatile or hot) essential oil under the pouring water.  I particularly love rose, lavender, jasmine, and/or orange depending on my mood.

Breathe and rest completely.

san diego beach

Rest, I am learning, is as important as work and play.

(You can type “A Walk in the Vineyards” in the Search and find our week of adventures in Napa Valley and San Francisco with Steve and Lisa from a few years ago.)

Simple Country Christmas Decorating (and the surprise gift)

 

IMG_2220

This is our simple abode, our little honeymoon apartment while we wait for farm doors to open.  It is charming and cozy.  Using simple additions such as greenery, lights, and candles, plus things that mean something from Christmases past, one can create a lovely place to dwell in the candlelight of Yule.

A trip outdoors found fresh air, deer resting in the snow covered grasses, and fresh tips of trees that joined the celebration.

IMG_2219

Lights are strung across the ceiling, across the door and window, and the candles and greenery are set.

But the sweetest gift of the season thus far was from my daughter, Shyanne.  I woke up a few nights ago with a sudden devastated thought that all of the kids’ Santa pictures were gone.  Holding them in my hands the other day at her home was an amazing blessing.  While I was busy having a nervous breakdown, figuring out where we going to live, and trying to get out of the home we were in quickly, Shyanne was calmly filling her car with boxes and things and taking them to her apartment.  She gave me back the box of ornaments and I nearly wept for joy.  These little things do mean so much to us.

May this season of holidays bring you all peace.  May they be filled with laughter and family and joy.  And surprise gifts of happiness and love.

IMG_2211
Maryjane Rose wasn’t sure about this Santa! I love him though! Merry Christmas!

 

 

Candle Sweaters and Pin Cushions (homemade gifts)

Well, the craft room is done.  Christmas time is upon us.  This year with our friends and family, and with some of the kids’ gifts we have agreed to give and receive homemade gifts.  This an economical approach as everyone is trying to get by.  It keeps gifts incredibly local.  And it is really nice to get and give gifts from the heart.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on homemade gifts:

IMG_1389 (Louie is forever on the table and photo bombing!)

I made these for someone I hope doesn’t read my blog!  Click here to see how to make candles.  It is easy and most folks like candles.  Especially us homesteader types.  I made some in dollar store mugs and some in canning jars.  Put the lid on after the candle sets and you have an instant gift.  I wanted to do something a little extra.

I love the look of a cable knit sweater.  The cable knit throws at Pottery Barn and the pillow shams speak to me of mountain cabins and cozy evenings in.  I am still working on knitting (straight) so I crocheted some little candle sweaters.  They whip up in no time and add a festive and wintery appeal.

IMG_1391

Chain enough that the strand fits around the largest area of the vessel.  Then in the following rows do a combination of double crochets or triple crochets.  Add in spaces, chains, three triples in one hole, create your own pattern!

IMG_0294

Next, a pin cushion for those on your list that enjoy sewing or would like to learn to sew.  Find an old cup and saucer in the cupboard or the thrift store.  Glue the cup to the saucer using a hot glue gun or other good glue.  Next, cut a Styrofoam ball (from the craft store, often used to make planets) in half.  Wrap a piece of beautiful vintage fabric around the ball and use pins, glue, or other means to attach it to the bottom.  Glue the Styrofoam ball into the cup.  Okay, you’re done!  Put a few pins in it so the recipient knows that it is a pin cushion.

For other ideas, visit last year’s post here on homemade, heartfelt gifts.

Happy crafting!

Oil Lamps and Sleepy Tea

IMG_0448

My friend, Faleena, and I had just discovered that we both shared a love for homesteading and a desire to live with less electricity use.  We both love and have oil lamps that we use in the evenings.  We also joked that we had to turn on the overhead lights in order to find the lamps and the matches!

That was over a year ago and we have definitely made vast improvements on our homesteading goals and achievements.  I no longer have to turn on the lights to light the oil lamps!  At dusk each evening we go around the house lighting various candles and oil lamps.  To my son’s dismay, when he is home, I walk straight in the house and without thinking, turn off all the lights.  I am the worst version of the mom throughout history that yells, “Turn that light off! Electricity isn’t free!”  I love how the house looks and feels by candle and oil lamp light.  It is a natural way for our internal clocks to work.  In the evening we naturally slow down.  After dinner, the sun is going down, the lights are lit and our bodies automatically relax.  If we sit in front of the computer all night, or watch television late, or heaven forbid stay awake working, our bodies don’t get the message to get ready to go to sleep.  LED lights and habits keep our bodies awake because they never knew it was time to go to bed!  Probably the reason my Sleep medicine, that I make, is our best seller!

IMG_0449

When we go to bed, Doug goes in the bedroom and lights the beautiful, large orange oil lamp that we found in an antique store.  Doug simply replaced the wick and it is like new.  It is bright and creates good reading light.  My side has a candlestick and an oil lamp.  Those light my way through journal writing and books about farming or about traveling Europe in search of good wine and food.  Doug just got a Nook for Christmas and on the nighttime setting it will cast a nice glow for him to read by.  I do not need more than my oil lamp and candle stick.  You wouldn’t believe how much light comes off of those!

So, what’s the point?  We have a house that is fully outfitted with electricity and gas.  We don’t have a wood stove yet.  We can turn on the heater at all times, cook on the gas stove, we have every modern convenience.  We could go out and replace the oil lamps with table lamps and plug them in.  What is the point of all this homesteading nonsense?  All of this trying to use less energy?  What is the point?  I have asked myself this as well.  Why am I so adamant about this?

  1. When Andy came home one day and saw the tea pot warmer with the coffee press on top, a tea candle keeping it warm, he asked dryly, “Are we Amish now?”  No, but they certainly have some great aspects of their lifestyle, don’t they?  A stress level tremendously less than modern society’s.  A natural rhythm to their work and days. I wake up at dawn, write, drink coffee, take care of the animals, make eggs that the girls just laid and toast from homemade bread and talk with Doug.  We go to work or I work from home on the mini-farm.  Keeping a household together is a full time job outside the shop!  I pack our lunches.  I make dinner and we have dinner together every night along with any children that might be home and any friends or boy/girl friends that come over.  Most of the time anymore, it’s just me and Doug and it is lovely.  We play cards, or games, or read, or watch a movie, or just listen to music and talk.  We light candles, and oil lamps and our bodies know it’s time to unwind.  Asleep by 10:00.  Not a bad existence.  The non-electric items I use, from the washtub to the coffee press, to the oil lamps create a sense of unhurriedness in me.  I methodically wash clothes, hang them on the line, grind coffee, prepare dinner, light candles, make tea…..everything has a rhythm.  I, for too long, lived in the rush rush world that is our current state of society.
  2. Petroleum is not a renewable source.  Electricity, great as it is, has created some disastrous problems in our environment and among people and places and has made it possible for us to live that rush rush existence even though it should have slowed us down.  Perhaps I cannot solve all of the world’s environmental problems on my own.  Indeed, I am using lamp oil to light the lamps, but less energy is used in our house than before.  But, I do believe in the ripple effect.  Surely, by my taking less, less energy, less stuff, growing our own food without synthetic chemicals, and providing for our own needs will leave a little bit more for my grandchildren’s children.

So, here I end by wishing you lots of light; sunlight, oil lamp light, and candle light especially!  Here is a recipe for tea to help you sleep.

Out Like a Light Tea

In a canning jar or sandwich bag combine 1 ounce each hops, California poppy, skullcap, chamomile, and catnip.  You can add valerian for an extra kick but it does have the essence of gym socks.  Fair warning.  Use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water.  Steep 4 minutes, sweeten with honey if desired.