Posted in Homestead

How an Old Fashioned Life Benefits HSPs

What is an HSP? I first heard the term Highly Sensitive Person some dozen years ago. It is used to describe someone who is very sensitive and emotional. Words such as empath have come forth, but there are differences. An empath is someone who feels others’ emotions and feels empathy for them. My husband is an empath, but he is not an HSP.

I wish that more parents knew the traits of a highly sensitive person. They might recognize their own child and know better how to raise them. The HSP is generally the black sheep of the family because they are not easy to live with. They are emotional, anxious, and not like other kids.

HSPs are highly sensitive to artificial lights. Fluorescents can nearly take us out! (Or so it feels.) HSP’s are sensitive to sound. They are generally born with heightened sensory. So very loud voices, yelling, loud music, and crowds can leave an HSP in tears. School is usually very difficult for an HSP, as they would rather be anywhere but sitting still. They are also usually the targets for bullying. And not just as children. It is hard to be an HSP in the world today.

There are many great traits of highly sensitive people. HSP’s are wonderfully mesmerized by beauty and that rubs off on the people around them. They notice every bird, every color, every sound, the tastes of food, the moment in which they live. They are loyal friends and sensitive family members. Their empathy is beyond an average empath, because they physically feel what they see or what they are around. For instance, I cannot watch the news, because I physically will feel what someone who was beaten or raped or lost felt. That can be exhausting. An HSP has to be wary of what they see and what they read and who they are around. Highly Sensitive People are often psychic, because all of their senses are heightened. It isn’t far fetched to believe that hermits are all highly sensitive people! Maybe we don’t want to become hermits, but that is where living an old fashioned life comes in.

Last night, my husband and I sat in our rocking chairs listening to records by the light of oil lamps and candles. The calm of evening resets my senses and helps me to breathe. My friends and I joke that I become a pumpkin after nine. A kind way of saying I straight fall apart and end up crying after ten! I honor my circadian rhythms and that helps me to stay happy and relaxed.

To incorporate old fashioned living for a HSP is simple, here are some ideas:

Highly sensitive people need softer light. Oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights all fit the bill.

I am overjoyed that I inherited my Great Aunt Donna’s record player the other day! Soft music is better than blasting music.

Highly sensitive people cannot deal with anger problems and fighting. Soft voices, sweet words, this is more important than I can describe.

Turn off electronics. The television overstimulates highly sensitive people. (We won’t get into video games.) The sound, the light, (the fact that there is nothing good on except The Voice…) it is often too much. Books and creative outlets are better. LED lights can be switched off. Unplug anything with a light shining from it.

Highly Sensitive People are better homeschooled and as entrepreneurs. Home should be a respite so decorate with comforting pieces, like quilts, musical instruments, books, soft lighting, and old fashioned items from a relatives’ house. My house is filled with memories since I use things that were once my grandma’s, my chosen mama’s, my aunt’s, etc.

Spend lots of time outdoors! HSP’s do better outdoors. Grow a garden, have chickens, and chairs that face the sun. Animals are important.

From scratch cooking and herbal remedies are important for health. HSP’s don’t do well with conventional medicines or vaccines. You will find that many HSP’s are vegetarian.

Highly Sensitive People do not have a disease or a disability and it is not something they can just get over or toughen up. All of the HSP’s I have met have been truly loving, extraordinary people. I think the lifestyle that we can create to accommodate an HSP is one that could benefit everyone! Being present, being positive, avoiding hysteria in the news and on social media, filling time with creative pursuits and great books, spending time with ones we love, honoring our circadian rhythm, improving health, slowing down, being easy on our senses; all these things make life a million times more meaningful.

Posted in Non-Electric

Off Grid Lighting (even if you are on the grid)

There is something about old fashioned living that appeals to many of us. Old fashioned living honors the natural rhythms of nature and the body. It is better for the senses, the spirit, and one’s outlook. I am not romanticizing the life of pioneers of old- the starvation, traveling away from their families, the freezing temperatures- but we can take the practical, slower, methodical (and sometimes fast paced), family oriented, earth friendly, sweet aspects and incorporate them into our modern homesteading practices. One of the easiest ways to incorporate homesteading into one’s life is old fashioned lighting.

This mouse is one of my favorite finds!

A girlfriend of mine and I go visit Amish friends in Westcliffe every so often. The last time Elizabeth and I were there, Ruth showed us around their new home, freshly built of rustic logs and windows with views.

“What are the outlets for?” Elizabeth pointed at the ceiling.

“Oh, we have to have the house wired in case we ever want to sell it,” was Ruth’s reply.

Hanging between two comfortable looking chairs facing west and looking out upon the grand Sangre de Cristos- so close you could practically climb them- was a battery operated light, much like one you might find in a mechanic’s garage. They charged it in the basement at night and it ran for many hours in the evening.

So, what’s the point? If one is going to have light at all, why not just flip on a switch? For the Amish, living a slow, simple life keeps them closer to God and each other. That is really what homesteading is about as well. It connects us to things greater than ourselves. Greater than video games, recorded television shows, and opens the way for meaningful conversation and family time. One area of lighted space keeps a family together in that space, reading, laughing, sewing, watching the children play. When Doug and I popped in to see Ruth’s husband, Joel, at his furniture shop last weekend, he mentioned the birth of twins. Happy moments shine brighter in an old fashioned life.

Oil lamps are my favorite because they are beautiful and practical and some of the old ones come with their own quiet stories. Oil lamps are easy to find in antique stores and even Walmart. There are beautiful ones online and even second hand stores. That is where my daughter, Emily, spotted this charming red one. Oil lamps come in all shapes and sizes. When you are looking at an old one, turn the knob and make sure it moves the wick up and down. You can get a new screw on collar for the lamp if needed online. Put in a fresh wick. Empty any remaining oil and clean the lamp. Pour in a clean oil like, Klean-Heat or Firefly. Let the wick gather up the oil for a few hours before lighting. Let the wick barely show over the top in order to keep the lamp from smoking or wasting oil. Clean the chimney and place on top.

I also use extra chimneys to cover candle tapers. I have some lovely candle holders. Candles perhaps give off the best light. Look for packages of candles at second hand stores. The best though, is to purchase a bulk pack of dripless candles. They last a long time and do not make such a mess.

If I supplement light, it is from twinkly lights. We always grab a few extra boxes of Christmas lights during the season. They use less energy and help supplement the space with soothing light.

By using off grid or near off grid lighting options, the dimmed light allows the body to calm down and you will sleep better. It is a natural way for your body to know that the day is fading. It just doesn’t get the memo with television and phone screens! It is less harsh on the eyes and flattering on faces. It is calming in a way I cannot explain in prose. We are so relaxed and comfortable in the evenings. Between the wood stove and our off grid lighting, our gas and electric bills are less than half of what they would be in a conventional environment. And even though oil for the lamps and candles have a footprint, it is less than blaring all the electric lights. Incorporating non-electric lighting into one’s house is easily done anywhere and is a great step into the world of homesteading.

Some more of my articles you may enjoy:

Visit Ruth’s House

A return to our Amish friends’ house

Oil lamps

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

Natural Notes and Cozy Decorating

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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Old trunks stand in for side tables.

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

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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.

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Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

Farmgirl Living Room-Before and Almost After

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My goodness, it is entirely possible that I am the worst painter ever.  I do spend more time cussing and cleaning up than I do painting, but in the end you can always place furniture over bad areas and clean up the floor!

Whoever thought heavy black curtains against dingy white walls and steel grey trim was lovely has never read Country Living.  Place that against original wood floors and adobe walls and you have a bit of a decorating nightmare.  This place needed paint.  Before I go much further, I must beseech you to just pay the extra four bucks for the paint with primer built in.  Walmart’s Glidden is every bit as good as the ones at the big home supply places.  I know better but I was wooed by savings and ended up working twice as hard.

Lemon yellow paint and brown trim make the space a little cozier.  The color combination makes it look like an old Tudor.  The braided rug and new sofa cover bring in the ideas from our idea boards.

My plants from our north facing shop are happy, happy here facing south.  Using unusual pieces like the treadle sewing machine as a side table and plant holder brings old fashioned whimsy to the space.

My work space holds the loom I am going to learn how to use, plus my old Viking sewing machine, bins of inspiration and yarn, my writing station, and always a cat.  I love the look of no curtains.  I write two blogs, it’s not like I am a really private person.  Twinkly lights change the whole look of a room.

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Now, I don’t particularly like having a television as old as, well my young cousin stated as he brought it in, “This TV is older than I am!” to which my friend replied, “Sweetie, I have shoes older than you.” in the living room but I need a place to do yoga.  It cannot be hidden in the basement or I will never do said yoga.  So there it is waving at me to come over for a little Downward Dog and a good read.

I am afraid my smart(ish) phone doesn’t do it justice, but the yellow makes it so warm and lovely in here.  A few sweet pieces, my granddaughter’s handprints, my Farmgirl mug (cracked but holds pens), and paintings done by our family (I snagged the sunflower painting from the shop.  “Are you going to buy that?” Emily asked), and the lovely rays of sunlight streaming in open windows pleases me.  Note the signs around the couches.  My daughters’ creations for me, “Home is Where Mama is” from Shyanne and “Life is Better on the Farm” from Emily.

Now, we still have a few issues here.  The clock repair fellow comes tomorrow.  And the furniture is mix matched, usually not an issue, but I want to it to match some.  So, do we buy all new furniture?  Goodness, no.  I have only purchased two of the pieces in this entire living room.  Everything else is second hand.  More paint maybe?

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

The Farmhouse Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, is it not?  Where sustenance and love culminates into family around the table, friends clinking glasses, the quiet of morning coffee, and the gentle stirring of a pot of something delicious.  This is the largest kitchen I have ever had and it is just wonderful.  Even more wonderful, I didn’t have to do anything to it!  I love the color and the punched tin back splash is something I would have chosen myself.  The twinkly lights and festive grape vine lights replace the harsh overhead lighting (when I’m not taking pictures).  I will never opt for overhead lighting if I can help it!  I also removed the curtains.

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We scored this sign last week and couldn’t believe our luck.

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In these old houses the washer hook up is in the kitchen.  That seems quite reasonable to me.  Doug will be putting up a clothes line for me today!

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My apron collection hangs primly around the pantry.  The sign was a gift from a student.  It is a lovely reminder that dreams do come true.

The children’s knick knacks that they created during their childhood surround the sink along with Maryjane’s miniature coffee cups for when she sleeps over.

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Plenty of counter space, beautiful gifts from friends, and years to come of precious memories and delicious food.  Sláinte!

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

Making a Vintage Door Headboard (and decorating a bedroom)

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The last room in our homestead makeover is the bedroom.  It is away from the warmth of the wood cook stove.  It has three moderately sized old windows that look out into the trees and across the prairie.  It is where we sit and read in the evenings before we go to bed.  This room needed plenty of blankets and places to sit.

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In our desire to have plenty of places for folks to sleep should they decide not to make the trek back home, we got ourselves a new bed.  However, when we got to IKEA and looked at prices we realized we did not have enough for the mattress and the frame and headboard combo.  And I did so desperately want a new mattress.  So, we did something drastic.  We went down from a queen sized bed to a double bed.  We have never shared a double bed before, particularly with seven cats, but why not?  We fit, the warmth is most welcome in the middle of the night, and I have three beds in this little house now.  (I just need an air mattress of some sort and I can house all of my kids!)

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Now anything I wanted to bring to this house had to have a use.  Downsizing from 2500 square feet (including garage and basement) to 850 square feet (along with a small space to store luggage and canning jars in the greenhouse) meant that I could not pack everything.  The blue door was a gift from Doug for Christmas.  I love it.  The door to the guest room was hanging off of one hinge and we replaced it with a screen door.  I had two old doors that wanted to be displayed.  By making them into a headboard, they look as if we could walk through to a magical place, if only in dream.

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I painted them both red.  Since one door was white and one was blue, they came out different shades.  I could have painted the blue one white but I kind of like the contrast in the doors.

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The doors were different sizes so I attached a valance with a pattern I love to the top to cover the edges.  A string of metal stars and a sign that reads, “Always kiss me goodnight” sets the scene for sweet dreams.

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They are not attached to the wall.  They are heavy enough to stand on their own and behind the bed they are secure.

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Finishing touches include a simple old dresser, toile curtains, layered comforters and quilts, twinkly lights, oil lamps, and of course, cats.

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One could also make a charming headboard from a section of picket fence complete with a wreath and twinkly lights.  Or line up old chairs behind the bed to show off their antique backs and use as a bookshelf.  Or simply hang a quilt behind the bed as an eye catching headboard.  There are no decorating rules.  Only what you dream up.

 

 

Posted in Crafts and Skills, Farmgirl Decorating

Decorating a Farmstead Kitchen (and making a chalkboard wall)

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where the fires are burning, where memories are made, where the cook stove will stay warm and where  at the breakfast nook near the warm stove we will play board games on snowy winter days.  Where sustaining food is prepared and the baby plays at my feet while I make a pot of tea.  The kitchen is my favorite room.

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In this kitchen I have a bit of space.  Usually my friends crowd around and chat while we all put finishing touches on drinks and food and inevitably a few are pushed out due to lack of space.  In this kitchen I have seating for four and places to mill around.

This is how I turned an ordinary kitchen added on in the early seventies with peeling linoleum into a culinary oasis.  I take inspirations from Amish, Italian, Pioneer, and Country kitchens.  Combined seamlessly together into what my extended family would call a “Katie kitchen”.

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After
After

I do not like overhead lighting so twinkly lights are employed to add charm and light to the house.

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The horrid florescent lamp (those always give off a light similar to horror movies in my mind) was covered with a quaint chicken valance.  Another valance was placed above the window in the kitchen.  Doug installed the curtain hardware eight inches over the window so that plenty of light could come through.

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A sunny place to play cards or have a cup of coffee and read.

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An old cabinet piece that I have had a long time is the base for a bookshelf to make a larger cabinet.  My friend, Nancy’s, chicken tea pot, pitcher, and cookie jar stand among pioneer cookbooks and wine glasses.

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Every nook and cranny, every drawer, every cupboard if filled.  I cannot bring one more thing into this kitchen!  Everything in its place is the mantra here now.  My aprons displayed on a vintage hanger along with Maryjane’s apron invite folks to put one on and start cooking!

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The top of the fridge is always a void of inspiration for me.  This whimsical wind catcher and a pretty enamel bowl fill the space with a little fun.

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The unique part of this room is the chalkboard wall.  Simply tape off a section that you would like to use.  Paint on four coats of chalkboard paint, letting dry in between coats.  Let set for two days.  Peel off tape the first day so that it doesn’t become a permanent frame!

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I added my favorite picture to the board by hanging it on a nail in the middle of the chalkboard.  If this little girl was a blonde, it would be Maryjane.  Maryjane loves her chickens!  Notes or menus can be written on the board.

It is easy to add small touches to any kitchen without spending a lot of money.  Any kitchen can benefit from vintage furniture, whimsical touches that bring a smile, and flowers….and a chalkboard wall.