The Simple Life is the Life for Me

“Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.”

My mom and I were talking the other day about all her stuff that she has.  It depresses her to know that she has a huge house full of stuff, a storage building packed to the gills with stuff, and a huge barn full of stuff.  What constitutes “stuff”?  I would classify it as nonessentials that are taking up space.  Essentials being food, some household goods, and some clothes. I made the comment that I LOVE the ‘simple’ look for my home.  In other words, lots of uncluttered clean lines.  I also made the comment that the act of simplification is HARD!  For example, when I decorated my kitchen counters, I had to decide what I use on a daily basis.  For the most part, aside from my dry goods such as sugar and flours, if I did not use it on a daily basis, it did not deserve to take up space on my kitchen counter. The most difficult decision was deciding not to leave out my kitchen utensils (ladle, spatulas, etc) which, even though they were tastefully arranged in a vintage crock, were just too much eye clutter for me.  It sounds silly, but I do believe that my stress levels go down when I see ‘clean lines’, that is, not a lot of STUFF laying around!  I also believe in the power of a CLEAN KITCHEN SINK. I swear, it’s better than anti-anxiety medication! 

Anyway, I think this is why I have embraced the vintage country look so tightly.  I have also embraced the saying, “If you don’t love it, lose it.”  If it is an item of considerable worth, I will sell it.  If I can ‘recycle’ it into something new, I will do that.  If I just can’t figure out what to do with it, I run it to Goodwill.  I think this is an extremely valuable lesson for all of us to learn.  Why surround yourself with things that you don’t absolutely love?  This is just simplification of your Life.  Are you, too,  drowning in a vast sea of stuff?

I came upon a website that I fell in love with:  The Farm Chicks blog.  I am going to direct you to her Laundry Room blog.  I saw that blog and it so inspired me that the next day, I took an hour to re-do my own laundry ‘room’. She totally decorates with the same style that I love.  I also spent the rest of that same day re-doing my pantry.  Three hours later, I love it!  I will post pics soon.

In farm news, I would like to brag to you all for a minute.  I had this shirt that I got at Goodwill the other day.  Truthfully, I did not love it.  I will have to admit to you that it was an impulsive, dumb buy for 4.99.  But I did love the fabric.  Well the other day, I decided to do something with it.  I ripped out the side seam of that shirt, and I made each of my girls a prairie skirt/maxidress (why not get 2 uses out of one item of clothing, right???).  Oh, they really turned out so cute.  And, to top it off, the elastic I used to make the skirts’ waistband was an elastic band I had removed from one of my own skirts that I am re-doing!  Oh, please pat me on the back, lol!  See, I’m really getting into this whole ‘repurposing’ thing.  Like, I took some sundresses that I had, where I really LOVED the fabric, but frankly, as sundresses, they made me look like a beached whale.  I whacked off the straps and VOILA!  they became a full-length skirt.  I have gotten many compliments on them, surprisingly not as dresses, but as the new skirts.  So, when I go to Goodwill, yard sales, etc.  I don’t always look at something as it’s original intended purpose.  God bless my mom for buying me a sewing machine 10 years ago!

Yesterday, I made my first batch of refrigerator pickles.  I planted some pickling cukes back in September and they are now ripening.  Boy, are they good!  Here is another reason to hang onto used glass jars!!!  I was wondering what I would do with all of these glass jars that I can’t use for canning.  I can’t bear to toss a good glass jar!  Here is the recipe for those pickles.  I scaled down the recipe to make just one quart jar.  I did this by tasting the vinegar solution after boiling (Hint: Do NOT inhale when bringing the tasting spoon to your mouth.  Bad, bad idea)  I didn’t have enough liquid the first time by simply cutting the recipe down, so I just made some more up, flavoring with sugar and pickling spices.  You can substitute pickling spices instead of all of those spices they use, by the way.  I believe one reviewer used 2 teaspoons of pickling spice for the full recipe, but do add to suit your taste. 

I also made a homemade apple pie!  I picked up an apple slicer, peeler, corer at the flea market the other day for four dollars.  They are usually about 25 brand new.  I had bought one previously for 2 dollars, but I found out it was missing an integral part, so I will have to come up with something to fix it.  Anyway, to peel, slice and core and apple with this doodad takes about 20 seconds.  It is so awesome!  Well, the pie turned out delicious.  Here is the recipe.  You know it’s good when it gets almost 4,000 5 star ratings!  But, I would only suggest this:  Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tiny (!!!) pinch of nutmeg.  Also, after you made the syrup, combine it with the apples, THEN pour it into the bottom crust.  That is all!

Well, I ordered 13 books for my birthday from Amazon.  As you can probably guess, most, if not all, are on self-sufficiency.  Well, I did also get some on how to make rag rugs and vintage kitchen linens.  How I love books!  Right now I am reading through the complete Tightwad Gazette.  It is like my own personal bible.  I love it! 

Until next time, learn to simplify!

Chef Dad

As you all may know, if you are a regular reader of my blog, we look forward to the cooler temperatures because we are able to cook in our fireplace with our Dutch oven.  Jason called this afternoon to tell me he was preparing a pot of fireplace chili, so I was really excited.  After I got home, Jason carefully tended his precious Dutch oven with nothing but great love and care.  He gently stirred the contents of the pot, all while adjusting the pot oh-so-precisely.  As he stood up, he said, “My chili may need a little spice adjustment.”  At that very moment, I remembered that I had used up the last of the chili powder about 4 days ago. 

I said, “Uh, we don’t have chili powder.  What did you use?”  J: “Well, I found some powder in a jar.” Me: “Um, it didn’t happen to be a glass jar did it?”  J: “Well……”

I thought, uh oh.  We went into the kitchen and he showed me the glass jar, which was now missing half of its contents.  “This one” he said.  I stuck my finger in the spice jar and licked my finger, knowing full well what was coming. 

Bleeeeech!  That’s cayenne pepper!  Oh my God, how much did you use?” 

“Well, like half the bottle.” 

I burst out into laughter.  “I guess it’s a chicken nugget night, huh?” I said.  So, due to the  culinary faux pas, we instead ate a plate full of chicken nuggets, which I am almost convinced are not really meat at all. 

After dinner, curiosity got the best of us.  Jason tasted the ‘chili’ first. 

“Oh………………….GOD!” he managed to say between wheezes.  ” This is DEADLY.”

I took my place in front of the pot.  “My Lord!  And how many jalapenos did you put in?”  “Well, just a few.”  A few?  There were about 2 whole super hot jalapenos in there!  I put a drop on my tongue. 

“GAAAAAAAAKKKK!”  I managed to get out while spitting the ‘chili’ in the trash.  It was so hot, it seared my tongue and throat and made my eyes water. 

If I remember correctly, this is also the same man that accidentally substituted salt for sugar in a cookie recipe.  Then again, maybe I just have my memories mixed up.  Anyway, just so that you all know, Jason actually happens to be a good cook most of the time (with the exception being Chinese food, and when he gets ‘inventive’ with his spices.  For whatever reason, he tends to over-garlic things sometimes). 

He makes the best brisket this side of the Mississippi, and that’s the truth.  Just don’t try the chili on a night when he’s using an unlabeled spice jar!