Solitude and no-spend April

Friday, May 8, 2020

How are you all doing these days at home? I know that for some this solitude is extremely difficult, even depressing. And, at least here in Michigan, we've got a ways to go. Although a few are being allowed back to work (landscapers and realtors), our "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order has been extended to May 28.

I am seeing a lot more cars on the road when I go out for groceries. I think many people are so tired of being cooped up, especially as the weather is getting nicer.

But, for the most part,  I am honestly doing fine staying home. Of course, I wouldn't want to go on like this forever. I miss my friends. I miss my little grandson.

But I continue, for the most part, to be busy and happy with projects around the house.

I have all my books arranged by color, and decided I needed a few more pink books. I have a lot of scrapbooking paper that I had come across in my organizing, so decided to cover a few of my books in pink paper. This makes me happy.


I have continued to make masks. I have removed pockets from two dresses I own (those pockets added bulk right where I don't need extra bulk!). I have continued to organize and declutter and have three big boxes of things to donate. Most of these are clothes as I have gone down four sizes, from a 14 to a 6.  Yay!

I have sorted through old games and dolls and sewing and craft supplies. I have literally hundreds of sewing needles! What?! It's amazing the things I have found.

 *****
I decided when this pandemic shutdown started not to spend any money except for food and essentials. I did this mostly because everything was looking so uncertain back then (as actually it still is). This has been a really good exercise for me (as well as saving us money), and I have learned several things.

First, I've realized how easy it is just to sit on the couch and order from Amazon. As I've done another round of decluttering, I've realized just how many things I've ordered that I don't really need, and how many purchases have been made on impulse, or because a YouTuber or blogger recommended them.  Because it is just so easy to get caught up in excitement and place an order right then.

I've seen how much I really have here, and how many things I can use up before buying more. It's embarrassing, really, to see all the stuff in my house.

For example, I discovered I have seven pots/sticks of lip balm. These will last me well over a year. I have at least a half dozen bottles/tubs of body lotion, and the same amount of facial lotion. I have enough mascara and blush and eyeliner to last that same amount of time (especially since I'm not going anywhere, although I have to say I put on makeup for Zoom calls!).

This doesn't even include all the random things that I thought I had to have but that I've never really used.

I've decided that as I move forward I am going to question every. single. purchase. When I look at all I continue to declutter I feel so convicted of wastefulness. Of money and time.

Even with food purchases. When we stayed home from the stores for three weeks and didn't even have any groceries delivered I saw how much we actually had, and how, through being creative, I could still put good meals on the table.

It has been eye-opening and humbling. And very freeing.

*****

We've had eight weeks of church at home. This past Sunday we celebrated communion. We used what we had.


I miss getting together for worship, but there has been something very special and poignant about this time. To see musicians and singers leading worship from their living rooms. Our pastor in his kitchen "serving" communion to us. I'm grateful for technology that keeps us connected.

*****

What about you? Are you all climbing the walls and ready to get going again? Or are you finding contentment at home? Have your spending habits changed, out of necessity or just a result of slowing down and being more thoughtful about things? What things have you learned through this time?

A culinary success and more organizing

Thursday, April 16, 2020

I finally made something gluten-free, sugar-free that's actually good, not just acceptable!


My husband put maple syrup on his. The recipe did call for sugar, but I just skipped it, and these waffles still tasted great.

If you're a follower of my blog, you know I've spent a good couple of years decluttering my house. But it seems I keep finding more things that need to be sorted and organized. Like recipes.


 And look at what I unearthed, looking for ties for face masks I'm making. These laces must have come from my in-law's house. Circa 1960s probably. Even marked down to 26 cents!



Another thing I've been organizing is the stuffed animals and dolls that belonged to our children. I have gotten rid of some, but they are hard to part with.


These beanie babies (remember these?) were all stuffed in a pillowcase and tucked away so that our cat couldn't get at them. She would carry one around like it was her own kitten, crying so much it was really pathetic. I had to hide them from her to spare her the distress. She's sadly no longer with us, so I can pull these out again.


Not sure what I'll do with them eventually, but I had fun arranging them against a guest room dresser. Will leave them until my grandson can come over and see them.



This little pink snail is one of my favorites. Isn't she sweet?

 Another big mess right now is all our board games, puzzles, and children's crafting supplies. I forgot I have literally thousands of beads downstairs! Paper airplane kits, a woodworking kit, paper dolls, dominoes, cards . . . Our son in Iowa asked if we could mail him a board game. Then asked for five more. That was a big box.

We braved the grocery store after we dropped the games off at the post office. My nose always starts to run, even more than normal, under those masks! Does anyone else have this problem? And you can't do anything about it except keep sniffling.

It was so nice to get fresh produce. Everything got a lovely soapy wash and rinse. I haven't had a fresh berry in almost three weeks. The raspberries taste like heaven!


I came across mention of this soap in one of Miss Read's Thrush Green books. It sounded so lovely smelling that I ordered it (back before the whole Covid-19 thing). It is the soap that was used in the state rooms on the Titanic.


It is very nice, but doesn't quite have the smell described in the book. I've read that soap makers and perfumers have had to change their original formulations to comply with various environmental regulations, so that is probably the difference.

I've written a guest post entitled What the Pandemic Can Teach Us here at Cheryl's blog Homespun Devotions. If you've never visited Cheryl's blog, or her other one, Biblical Minimalism, definitely stop by. She has such a sweet spirit, and writes so encouragingly about our Christian faith.

Stay safe and well friends. xo

Staying busy at home part 2

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

This past week I've concentrated on making face masks. I dusted off my sewing machine (literally!) and got to work. I have been making them for friends and for hospital workers. It feels good to be able to contribute in some small way during this crisis.

I know that many of you are doing the same.





The kitchen is now "Face Mask Central."

We were going to do a Costco run a couple of days ago, but decided to stay home. These next two weeks are supposed to be the worst, at least here in Michigan, so we will make do with what we have. Several weeks ago I got butter and cheese and milk and froze them. I bought some powdered eggs from Amazon, which just arrived. I froze some blueberries to have on our oatmeal, and we have frozen veggies.

The only thing I will miss is fresh fruit. But it is not worth it to me to go out and get it. I am truly grateful that we have what we need. 

 Cauliflower and chickpea masala. Spicy and delicious.
We have been able to donate food from our pantry, trusting that we will be able to replenish it in a couple of weeks.  And because I invested in a handheld bidet, we've also been able to donate toilet paper!

Like all of you, I am super conscious of not wasting anything. I have a half a block of feta cheese that isn't going to last much longer.  There's also some kalamata olives in a jar in the fridge. I have jarred artichokes and beets. I will organize some kind of charcuterie board today with crackers or bread, and that will be "dinner," along with some devilled eggs. 

I have been making some dishcloths.

I got almost halfway through one and realized I didn't have any more of the matching yarn. So I'm using what I have. This will definitely not be a gifted dishcloth!


Every time I use this dishcloth in the future I will remember this pandemic, and how a trip to the fabric store was not an option.

We just discovered a new season of one of our favorite shows, Doc Martin, is available. It is nice to have something distracting and fun to watch. I have also been reading through my collection of Miss Read books every night before bed. I just can't seem to handle any heavier literature at the moment. I don't consciously feel anxious, but I must be at some level, because I am seeking out soothing entertainment right now.

My social calendar feels quite full at the moment with several Zoom calls scheduled during the week, and many Marco Polo videos to watch from friends and family. I am blessed right now to be an introvert. And to being a homebody. This is particularly hard on extroverts and those used to going somewhere every day.

If I could block out all the news, I would be quite content doing my thing here at home.


But worries do intrude, and I know many are suffering. A friend just texted last night that she and her daughter are having trouble breathing. A family member, who is self-employed, is not working and thus has no income. I know someone working for Shipt who is constantly facing exposure risks at the grocery stores, and friends who are nurses who are on the front lines every day. My husband, who is a CPA, has clients whose businesses may never recover.

I'm praying daily for all those who are struggling and for all those who are in authority and making decisions.  I know God is still in control and that He hasn't forgotten us. I pray we make it through this with as little lives lost as possible, and that we can all, individually and as a nation, make the changes necessary to improve our world.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:6,7

Stay safe my friends. xo

Staying busy at home

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Our neighborhood association asked us to put teddy bears in our windows so that children going for walks would have something to look for and to count. I think Mr. Bear looks slightly melancholy, stuck inside as he is.

I've been busy in the kitchen this week, planning and thinking about "make do, use it up, or do without." We're trying to avoid the stores now if possible. I did order some things from Amazon a couple weeks ago for baking.

I haven't baked since July when I gave up sugar. But my husband likes sandwiches, and all the bread has been sold out.

I had given my daughter my baking powder and yeast. It was hard going finding it on Amazon, and of course, took much longer to arrive. But as soon as the yeast came yesterday I made a loaf of gluten-free, sugar-free bread.

No kneading required. Just mixed with my hand mixer with the dough hooks. It took longer to rise without any sugar, about twice as long.



 It made a dense, kind of wonky-looking loaf. 


But we both agreed it was very tasty.


 I found some beef broth I had made in the freezer and made up some vegetable soup. It was delicious with the bread. This bread is also good toasted.


I had frozen some blueberries a week or so ago.





I tried a gluten-free, sugar-free coffee cake. This is the first time I've used xanthan gum. I couldn't get any of my favorite Rumford baking powder anywhere. These packets of baking powder were all I could find.





The muffins in the jar are gluten-free, sugar-free banana nut. These were sweeter and better tasting than the blueberry coffee cake.

Why am I being so rigid about sugar? I think it's extremely addictive. And so many negative side effects of consuming too much of it. And I don't do moderation very well.

I've lost 45 pounds since going off sugar and white flours. I've reached my goal, and sure don't want to gain any back!


I found the Christmas ham bone in the freezer. I made up split pea soup. I don't care for it, but my husband loves it, so I froze up a bunch of individual servings for his lunches.



And made some ham spread with some of the extra ham on the bone. I have used sweet pickles in the past, but here I used dill pickles. I've found an avocado mayo from Primal Kitchen with no sugar that is very good.


Rice and beans with scallions, tomatoes, cheese, and seasoning. Served with salsa and sour cream and more scallions.

We're having leftovers of this tonight.


I soak my pecans in salted water and then slow roast in the oven. According to Nourishing Traditions cookbook, this makes them more digestible. They taste way better too. I use them mostly on oatmeal.


Besides cooking, I hauled out my sewing machine, which was literally covered in dust! I made up five hand towels from some old linen cloth and some leftover lace.  This project had been sitting around for several years!


And brought out my knitting. Some dishcloths for Christmas.
 

Here's my answer to the current toilet paper shortage! A handheld bidet.

I love this!

I am seriously thinking of having one installed on our toilet when all this is over.


Also in the self-care department, how great are these reusable eye makeup removers? I got them in black so any mascara or eyeliner stains won't show. No more buying cotton rounds. They are super comfortable on your skin, too. Although I haven't been wearing much makeup lately ;).


Our small group Bible study is meeting tonight over Zoom. So thankful for this technology that allows us all to connect.

What have you all been doing at home these days?

xo Deborah

Hello again

Monday, March 23, 2020

Hello again, my dear blog friends. 

It's been a long time. I have missed you.

I had been thinking seriously over the past several months of shutting my blog down. But couldn't quite write that final post. I didn't really want to say goodbye.

So I am back, and hoping I still have things to say here. I still believe "the beautiful matters," maybe even more so now.

Isn't it wonderful to see some of the beautiful things happening right now even in the midst of this life-altering pandemic?

People singing together from their balconies or front porches. Families going for walks together. People at home sewing masks for health care workers. I saw last night a neighborhood where families put stuffed bears in their windows so the children could count them as they went for a walk with their parents. People sitting outside nursing home windows cheering their loved ones.

Miss Read is always comforting in times of stress.
 Drive up food distributions, online prayer meetings, funny memes to keep us smiling.

This past fall I became a mentor mom for our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program. They were looking for someone to also lead a smaller group of moms struggling with anxiety and depression. This group has been meeting at my house every two weeks since last October.

We have set up a Marco Polo group to stay in touch with each other during this time of social distancing. It has been a wonderful way to check in with each other, encourage each other, and share the frustrations and challenges and joys of being home all day with little ones. When you also struggle with anxiety or depression.

Sharpened and organized and ready for some serious coloring. 
 This is an anxious time for everyone. I'm so thankful for social media right now. My book club is meeting via Zoom tonight. Our pastor has scheduled a short prayer time online every evening at 9 p.m. There are so many ways to stay connected. I've actually set up a schedule for all my Zoom and FaceTime calls!

**** breaking news ****

Just got a text our governor here in Michigan is issuing a stay-at-home order today. Things are changing daily.

Okay . . . three hours later . . . after a whole bunch of texts and calls among friends and family about what that means for us here.  Concern for those who are self-employed. No work means no money. And concern for those who need to keep working and who risk exposure.

I am going to close now and spend some quiet time in prayer. I'll be back soon. 

xo Deborah
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