Friday, December 31, 2010

The Importance of Books

This morning, I sat in the dark of the morning reading my Bible & devotional.   I began to soberly consider that it would be my last for 2010.

Where did the year go?

For fun, I began to re-read my journal and make a list of the highlights for 2010.  Tonight I will, with the rest of my family, read them over our traditional candlelight dinner of Chinese food. 

It will be wonderful to hear their perspectives on life in 2010; from my sweet husband, to my preschooler through high school-aged children.

What seared into their minds in 2010?

In January of 2010, a thought occured to me to begin a list of the books I read throughout the year. 

The older I become, the more I am realizing the importance of books, the mind-food that we consume.  How books truly have profound effects on our character, attitude, habits and ambitions to name just a few.

Here is my list for 2010:

"Great Divorce"  C.S. Lewis
"Frugal Luxuries"  Tracey McBride
" Tea With Jane Austen"  Kim Wilson
"Cost of Discipleship"  Dietrich Bonhoffer
"Let Me Be Woman"  Elizabeth Elliot
"Mommy Diagnostics"  Shonda Parker
"City of Bells" Elizabeth Gouge
"The Pursuit of God"  A.W. Tozer
"Lies Women Believe & the Truth
     That Sets Them Free"  Nancy Leigh DeMoss
"Mission of Motherhood"  Sally Clarkson
"Maker's Diet"  Jordin Rubin
"Fearless"  Max Lucado
"Pioneer Woman Cooks"  Renee Drummond
"A Severe Mercy"  Sheldon Vanauken
"Pilgrim's Inn"  Elizabeth Gouge
"Tactics"  Greg Koukl

** I'm finishing up "Mere Christianity"  C.S. Lewis
                                 "Read For the Heart" Sarah Clarkson
                                 "Loving God with All Your Mind"  Elizabeth George
                                         (probably not before midnight, however!)

I also read to my children either before lunch
or after.  Some of our adventures have been
found in the pages of :

"Girl of Limberlost"  Gene Stratton-Porter
"Giant Killer"  (Lamplighter Publishing)
"Treasure Island"  Robert Louis Stevenson
"Man of the Family" (Little Britches series-Ralph Moody)
"Johnny Tremain"  Esther Forbes
"Our Homestead Story: The First Years" (Castleberry Press)
"Princess and the Goblin"  George McDonald
"Silver Chair"  C.S. Lewis

I am forever challenged and changed because of these books.  I was in awe of the timing of each of the books that we selected.  At times, some the characters would deal with an issue, attitude or choices that was found in us readers.  God-timed to be sure.

As I look to 2011, I am almost giddy with anticipation of what lies ahead not only in the adventures our family will encounter, but what the pages we read will hold.....

What did you read or going to read this coming New Year?  I'd love to know!
Happy New Year! 



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vintage Homestead Emporium's Winter Collection

Pamper those you love on your Christmas List

Brown Sugar Body Polish:  A luxurious favorite to pamper skin!  Exfoliates and hydrates at the same time leaving skin smooth and soft.  Made of all-natural soft brown sugar, Almond oil and Vitamin E.  Packaged in a (3 oz.) jar & wrapped in a beautiful, sage-colored organza bag.  ($5.00)

Lavender Pillow Spray:  Great for misting onto pillow for a deep, restful sleep.  Made of purified and distilled water infused with all-natural Lavender essential oil.  Packaged in a (2 oz.) amber apothecary spray bottle.  ($4.00)

Peppermint Lip Balm:  A soothing treat for wintered lips.  A wonderful mixture of Sweet Almond oil, Shea Butter, Honey, Beeswax and Peppermint essential oil.  Packaged in a one-ounce jar wrapped in a beautiful, sage-colored organza bag.  ($4.00)

Lavender & Chamomile Bath Salts:  A great blend of relaxing Lavender and German Chamomile essential oils infused in theraputic Epsom Salts.  Packaged in a beautiful, 270ml. vintage-inspired corked glass bottle.  ($6.00)

Massage Oil:  A perfect way to unwind after a stressful day or as a bedtime ritual.  A blend of Bergamont, Lavender, Clary Sage & German Chamomile essential oils infused in Sweet Almond oil.  Packaged in a (2 oz.) amber apothecary jar.  ($4.00)

Peppermint Foot Balm:  A definate favorite for massaging tired and sore feet.  Made of all natural Sweet Almond oil, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Beeswax and cooling Peppermint essential oils.  Packaged in a (3 oz.) vintage inspired, copper tin.  ($5.00)

Peppermint Foot Soaking Salts:  A relaxing way to soak the day away.  Made of all-natural theraputic Epsom Salts, Organic Peppermint leaves, Vitamin E and cooling Peppermint essential oils.  Packaged in a 270ml. vintage-inspired square glass bottle.  ($6.00)
Christmas Special:  Peppermint Foot Balm & Salts Gift Set ~*~*
Towered together in a gorgeous, sage-colored organza bag.  ($10.00)

                Please e-mail me with any questions/orders!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Thankful Unto Him

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come before His presence with singing!

Know ye that the Lord He is God:
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into
His courts with praise!
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting;
And His truth endureth to all generations."

Psalm 100

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving enjoying
all He is and has done!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Your Bedroom....An Oasis of Beauty

"In my work in interior design, I've noticed that many people have a tendency to save up 95 percent of their money and effort to spend 5 percent of their lives--festive occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, and the special, more public places in the home, such as the living or dining room.  Instead, the way to live a beautiful life is to make the daily 95 percent of your life wonderful"
                                                                                           Alexandra Stoddard
                                                                                      "Living A Beautiful Life"

We live our lives..everyday.
One-third of our lives are spent in bed.  I thought it would be appropriate then, to start the journey of exploring Alexandra Stoddard's gems of wisdom for our bedroom.

Our bedrooms should be planned with the same attention to detail as any room with a public view.  Keeping in mind that creating a room that ultimately encourages renewal.

"Conjure up images of beauty from memory and then physically and symbolically go about bringing those elements in your bedroom," Alexandra Stoddard encourages.

Keep in mind your fives senses when decorating your bedroom chamber: the soft feel of cotton sheets, potpourri or candles in your favorite scent (don't forget your husband's favorite scents too!), a portable to player your favorite music, a bottle or pitcher of cool, fresh water with a drinking glass beside your bed is a simple luxury.

Set up systems (pretty baskets, storage benches, etc.) to keep your room a neat, special place of calm and uncluttered.  Have a place for everything so that when you undress you are relaxed.  ( In my case, with four children, it is a daily removing of their stuff.)

The nightstand can hold pictures of loved ones and flowers if possible--or something alive, something beautiful & holds a special meaning.  Having abundance of lights & plenty of brightness, not only for reading in bed, but it also affects our moods.

If placing a pitcher & glass on your nightstand, try squirting in some fresh lemon or lime juice when in the mood, or add a paper-thin slice of orange peel.  Nothing is cozier too, than drinking a cup of hot herbal tea in bed (especially here in Colorado on a blustery, winter night).

Avoiding the telephone-and cell phones-creates a calmness to relax completely.  Being unavailable, except to your family for emergencies, is a luxury. (Note:  as a family, we
have also banned a t.v. from our bedroom.....I know, a scarey thought for some!)

Fresh air from an open window is a healthy thing to have while you are sleeping.  An air conditioner can be a lifesaver when available air is too hot and humid and there is no breeze.  A room that is too dry is unhealthy.  Humidifiers reduce winter sore throats.

For the bed, getting a quality matress that is comfortable is worth the investment.  Try to place the bed so that it is a distance away from the door & in a position so that you can see out the windows, but the neighbors can't easily see you.  Always put the bed where it makes sense for you-where you have the best view & the greatest amount of privacy.

The appearance of crisp, embroidered linen, the cool feel of well-ironed cotton sheets, the scent of spring flowers, all add up to making the bed a sacred, cozy and irresistable place.  the more attractive the bed, the more soothing & relaxing the bedroom experience. 

Autumn Blessings!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Homestead Full of Beauty

When I was a teenager, I began to stoll more slowly by my mom's bookshelves and my heart began to dance.  I had walked by so many times before, but something was different......

Reading the spines of the books, I became intrigued and started pulling out books and was never the same.

I knew that my mom liked to read and was always learning something new.  I loved her for that.  I never had taken the time however, to look at the well at which she drew so much knowledge from until I became a later teen.

My mother is an incredible woman.  I have always felt an awe about her and have felt to be the daughter of royalty.  She has the looks and class of Jackie Onassis Kennedy.  She has the humble-ness and gentleness of spirit of Mother Theresa.  I am incredibly blessed.

Looking at her bookshelves, I saw many parenting books from Dr. James Dobson, christian living and marriage books, homemaking and decorating books.  Among them, I became aquainted with author Alexandra Stoddard who had made a profound affect on my mother's knowledge and quest of beauty in the world around her.  My mom discerned through some of Alexandra Stoddard's worldview and extracted gems on the topic of God-made beauty.

I have never been the same since my stolling past my mother's bookshelves.  In my own home now, I have bookshelves lined with many of the same books that enriched my mother's life.  Among them, I have my own Alexandra Stoddard's books whom I have learned a great from: how to make my life and homestead beautiful....everyday.

In the next several posts, I would like to share with you some of the wonderful gems I extracted from Mrs. Stoddard's books and live out with my precious family. 
I hope they will be a good springboard for those who read and customize to their own life and

Have a blessed Autumn day!

Under His Wings,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Autumn Is Fragrant In The Air.....

This morning,
I woke up early to water
and crept quietly outside to
crisp & fragrant air.

Autumn was inhaled.

An awareness that I have
only a couple weeks left
of this chore-- before every-
thing bowes its head in
a riot of color, and then
says goodbye for the season.

I began to think about the season-ness of our lives as I stood outside and listened
Canadian geese fly overhead. As a wife, mother and daughter I have deeply anticipated coming seasons, much like I anticipate the leaves changing after a hot summer.  Other seasons, I have felt pangs of sadness wash over me and a desire to cling things and remain timeless.  Parents age, children grow, siblings divorce, grandparents die.  Intermingled with joys...a ring placed on my finger, flutterings in my womb, the young daughter becoming a teen.

As I ponder these things, I know...
I must deeply inhale the season I find myself.  

Autumn Blessings,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Harvesting Time......

In my memories, I hold the vivid images of my grandmother "Grammie" and my mom canning together on warm summer days.  I would sit among them and help as much a child can, snapping beans and cutting vegetables, but mostly I took in the wonderous smells and cautiously staring at the pressure cooker rocking back and forth.

Now as a mother, I have begun to crave the art of the canning of our harvest.  I want my children to have the skills and memories that I so cherish.  So these past two weeks have found my children and myself climbing ladders and filling baskets full of tart apples & large cherry-like crapapples.

Our kitchen and home smell of autumn harvest as we make jellies, apple butter and apple pie filling.  Our basement deep pantry shelves are being lined with colorful, glass jars and I already imagine standing before it on a cold January day and selecting one of these.  A taste of warmer days and the work of my children and myself.

My heart also longs to have my Grammie here in the kitchen.  I know my children would have adored her.  I glance across to my diningroom where her hutch sits, I wear her watch and don an apron to honor her and all those who once put their harvest away in my farmgirl legacy. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lavender Lemon Shortbread

As we find ourselves swinging open the windows and drinking in wonderful summer smells, I want to share with you a wonderful recipe that reminds me of the fragrance of summertime.....

I was coming in the other day from working in the garden, and was greeted by two daughters in aprons and the house gently perfumed of Lavender & Lemon Shortbread.  Delicious!

Lavender Lemon Shortbread
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
3 Tablespoons sugar

1.  In a medium bowl, and using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract until creamy.
2.  In a seperate medium bowl, sift together flour and salt.  Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.  Fold in lavender and lemon zest.
3.  Shape dough into a ball or disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a 2-inch round fluted cutter, cut cookies, rerolling remaining dough only once.  Place cookies on prepared sheet and evenly sprinkle each with granulated sugar.
6.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until edges of cookies are slightly browned.  Cool  on pan 1 minute; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.



Monday, May 31, 2010

Weeding our "Gardens"

These past few weeks have found me in the garden with my children.  We have been preparing the soil with a good mix of organic compost, builder's sand and clay (not a problem here in Colorado).  We then carefully planted seeds; green beans, broccoli, carrots, pumpkins, onions, potatoes, peas and sunflowers.  Ever try planting seeds with a four year old?  Everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime (I have done it four  Their raw enthusiasm and short-lived attention makes it quite an adventure!

After a couple of weeks, we have begun to see little leaves making their debut....horray!...or is that a weed?!

Several years ago, I worked hard laying landscape fabric in our now garden area.  I made European-inspired pebble paths and raised stone planters- for asthetics and practicality, to keep weeds from making our garden their home.

As the kids and I have spent time "weeding" between the planters on the pebble paths and in the raised planters, I have really thought about the "weeds" in our personal lives.  I have coached my children through weeding, telling them to get the roots of the weeds or they will just grow back, probably stronger because the roots are bigger.

The "weeds" of our lives, emotionally and mentally (even spritually) can seem harmless when they are freshly rooted and quite small.  The weeds of bitterness, jealousy, selfishness and people-pleasing are just a couple weeds I have found in my own life.

Weeding can be put off with an over-crowded life or ineffectively done by temporarily pulling the top , yet the root remains....growing and slowly choking.

Three years ago, I called an organic law-care service and inquired about the bindweed issues I was encountering everywhere in our yard.  I would pull the weed, but not the roots-they were too long.  The lawn company told me that bindweed was the worst weed (great!) because it has an extensive root system connecting plants underground and can lie dormant for up to 50 years!  Treatment has been a several-year process.

As I think about my life, I have looked for any dormant or freshly-sewn weeds .  With the Lord's help, I have been rooting out weeds that if matured, will steal and destroy the good, God-ordained things in my life.
Just this year, I have encounted others whom I love dearly in my life, revealed that they had for years  dormant-lying weeds and now, they were destroying their lives and marriages.  The weeds have taken over and choked future dreams and future generations.

We must all be vigilant in our fight with weeds in our gardens and personal lives. We cannot battle it alone. "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" Isaiah 41:10   

I have been on my knees in my garden and with my Lord.  I know that I cannot "weed" my own life without the One who created and designed it.  I have cried and been humbled as His spirit has shown my own ugly weeds.  But, it has also been life-giving freedom to bloom as I was designed to do.

   " Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up." 
                                                                       Galatians 6:9


Friday, April 16, 2010

A Yummy, Wholesome Breakfast...

I thought I would share a wonderful recipe that our family

enjoys for breakfast. It has been alot of fun to make and

customize to our family's tastes and the current season.

In the spirit of vintage-inspired things I just love, I can

imagine (do I sound like Anne of Green Gables??) an old

relative of mine from long ago assembling a breakfast

cereal like this (with similar ingredients more or less).

Our family hopes you will enjoy it as much as we have!

Homemade Granola Cereal:

10 c. oats

2 c. wheat germ (or coconut flour for wheat-free option)

2 c. shredded coconut

1 c. brown sugar (I usually use less)

1 c. chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)

1 c. dried fruit (dates, raisens, etc.)

1/2 - 1 c. coconut oil (or other healthy oil, if Olive, go "extra light"

1/2 - 1 c. raw, unfiltered honey or real Maple syrup

2 tsp. real vanilla extract

1 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together all the ingredients except dried fruit. Use

hands to mix well, pressing clumps together. Pour mixture

into shallow pans (I usually use 2: 13x9 & 2: 8x8 glass dishes)

Toast at 275 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Turn oven off, stir in dried fruit, and let sit in oven for 30 min.

Different Themes:

Tropical: macadamia nuts and dried pineapple

Autumn Harvest: pecans, dates & maple syrup (instead of


Other wonderful additions:

raisens, pumpkins seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, bannana

chips, carob chips, flax seeds.....


Malinda B.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

Sometime last year, I began to closely examine our grocery budget and narrow in one ways to trim it. With a large family, the "grocery" category in our finances is a handsome chunk.

I was ready to get creative and commit the time and sacrifices necessary to when I came across a newsletter I subscribe to that proposed....."MAKE YOUR OWN LAUNDRY SOAP".

What? Can a woman make her own laundry soap? Looking at my beloved Tide, it looked very complicated to me. I also imagined the women I saw on a missions trip to Guatemala. They scrubbed clothes with a bar of soap on a rock at the edge of a lake. I was a little (to say the least) intimidated. Leave it to the professionals at the Tide factory, and enjoy all my money.

Intrigued, however, I began researching recipes for laundry soap and discovered a wonderful recipe! This is the recipe that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar with their family. We have used it for almost 9 months now and will never go back to my once-beloved Tide again. Our grocery budget has been trimmed (more blogs to follow on other ideas!)

Our cost for every 5-gallon bucket (which lasts for 5 months with a family of six) that we make is about $2. We have saved $144 a year! Here's what the ingredients you'll need:

4 cups of hot tap water

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar

1 cup Arm and Hammer WASHING SODA

1/2 cup Borax

essential oils (opptional for added fragrance)
1. Grate bar of Fels-Naptha soap with 4 cups of hot tap water.
Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is
2. Fill fill 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted
soap, 1 cup Washing Soda, 1/2 cup Borax. Stir well until all powder
is dissolved. Fill rest of bucket to top with more hot water. Stir,
cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
3. Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser (old, used Tide
container, etc.). Shake before each use. (It will gel.)
4. Optional: you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per two gallons.
Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: Lavender, Geranium, Rosemary,
Tea Tree Oil.
Top-load machine: 5/8 cup per load
Front-load machines: 1/2 cup per load
(We have a Front Load "HE"-the soap works beautifully!)
God bless your homemaking efforts!!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Genesis of it all......

Genesis of my ponderings here, began several months ago on a cold & snowy Colorado day. After lunch and reading "Johnny Tremain" with my children, we bundled up and headed to the library.We have discovered the library to be pretty quiet after lunch and a great time to go. The small children have gone home for lunch and to take a nap. The Public School children are not out of school yet. A perfect time to slowly graze through the aisles with the children and choose our "friends" to borrow for a of couple weeks.
There is a large variety of interests and ages of my children and their topics of choice in library books. My little Olivia wants pretty books with babies and ballerinas while my Isaac requests we find books on the R.M.S. Titanic, Tornados or the Civil War. I pray for the Lord's discernment for myself and each of my children.
My two eldest daughters are again, a mix of interests. Horse training manuals, Chicken Coop building, American Girl stories, Anne of Green Gables and biographies on Queen Victoria.
After all has found a number of "friends" to take home, we discover a corner of the library to quietly read. I leave my teenage daughter in charge and steal away upstairs. I quickly pass the long isles to the books for myself to bring home for awhile...
Later, as we warm up again with a cup of hot chocolate or English Tea at home, silence falls over our home. We become engaged in our treasured library books.
I usually choose a variety of books; gardening, interior design, cookbooks, fiction and theological books from a classic patriarch or martyr of the Christian faith.
This time, several of my treasures from the library affect me deeply; Dietrich Bonehoffer, Shonda Parker's "Mommy Diagnostic's" and a large encyclopedia-type book on Essential Oils.
The more I read the later, the more intrigued I become and I found myself
reading labels on everything from my shampoo, toothpaste, lotion and cleaners and thus the genesis of this began...A way to make beauty, body & cleaning products for my family and myself that I knew was natural and/or organic. The way my family of long ago would have done in their homes with their families.
Vintage Homestead Emporium
This blog is a collage of ponderings of my heart and the Lord's guidance....of mind, body and spirit for families, homes, marriage & children. Also the products I make.
I pray you enjoy the journey with me...

Malinda B.