All Purpose Natural Cleaner

To make a natural all-purpose cleaner with a pleasant fragrance, fill a glass quart jar half full of orange peels.  Fill the jar with white vinegar and let set for two weeks.  Strain out the orange peels.  Place scented vinegar in a spray bottle–1 part vinegar to 1 part water.  Use the cleaner to disinfect counter tops and surfaces, bathroom cleaning, floors and windows.  Do not use vinegar cleaners on wood surfaces.

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Celebrating January

Random Pictures Christmas 2017 164

Every month deserves a celebration. When we celebrate, we tag the time to redeem it but not every month comes with a showy holiday to make it stand out from the rest.  January is such a month.  Yes, Martin Luther King Day is January 15, but it is rightly formal and stately in its celebration. The cold and snowy month of January  has a difficult hill to climb making a splash after the consuming color and joy of Christmas and New Years–so how can we bring a bit of sparkle to January?

CELEBRATE JANUARY FOR WHAT IT IS… EMBRACE THE SPARKLE!  Why fight it?  January is cold and icy–so GO WITH THAT.  The banner above is a light and sparkly announcement that January has arrived with glittered snowflakes.  But next month, the red hearts arrive…

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Prepping for Winter

Flower Pot Heater

A simple room heater for emergencies can be put together with things most people have on hand.

  • A loaf pan
  • A medium flower pot with hole in the bottom
  • 4 tea light candles

Put the candles in the loaf pan, light them, and position the flower pot over them, resting edges on either side of the loaf pan.  The terra cotta flower pot will act something like an internal combustion engine by drawing the heat up and out of the hole.  The pottery will maximize the heat of the four candles, warming the terra cotta and radiating out into a small room.

Although you cannot heat food on this type of emergency heater, it is effective to help heat an enclosed area if the power goes out.  Look for packs of candle lights at Walmart and IKEA.

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Embracing Winter

January is looking like…January.  This is the type of winter weather I remember from my childhood.  We played outside with double mittens and scarves wrapped around our heads.  It was expected.  Cold was expected.  I was beginning to wonder if Illinois would experience the snow and cold weather that was indicative of every winter since my 1949 birth–except for the last few years.

If I sound peculiar, it is due to a strong dislike for things that are not normal.  Normal is good.  Normal is easier to cope with because it is…normal.

So, to all those who are lamenting the temps, look on the bright side.  These sub-zero numbers are killing that nasty flu bug that has been going around.  The larva of the Japanese Beetles won’t like it.  Coffee tastes better and the fire at Cracker Barrel was especially cozy for our breakfast visit.  A winter like this will make us appreciate our planned visit to Florida in March that much more…and we will not hear dampers like “How’s Florida?  Is it as warm down there as it is up here?”



January 20 snow in Groveland 001




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Last Nod to the Holidays–Sunroom Christmas



The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day extends our celebration.  We fill it with excursions to new-release movies [Star Wars], after-Christmas sales, dinners “out,” and the inevitable return and swap of merchandise.

I am also sending a few new pictures to finish out the Christmas Home Tour of the Farm Grove Barn.  The above are of the sunroom, a separate room adjacent to the great room that we turned into a sunny room by replacing a small window with 3 French doors that open onto a spacious deck over-looking the pond.  We watch the rain, snow and Canada geese from this room and it is my favorite for morning coffee and Bible study.

Below are also a couple of pics from the kitchen, a hub of activity at Christmas.

The breakfast table is tucked into a nook with double windows on the lake side.  A small primitive tree is on the barnboard island.  The Hoosier cabinet is a vintage find that I purchased in pieces at a country auction.  It was missing a few pieces, which I found at other auctions.  It took me three months to put it back together and to refinish it but it is a favorite piece for our country kitchen.


From the Barn,

Butch and Sharon

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Christmas in the Great Room

Our barn-home great room is perfect for Christmas.  I think of the scenes from White Christmas at the Vermont ski lodge when I decorate.  It is mostly traditional red and green on barn board.

What you cannot see in the pictures is the abundant use of those tiny strands of white LED lights on wire–they highlight many of the wreaths and displays.  Candles are also lit for Christmas dinner on the table and when I play Christmas carols at the piano.

Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.  May your New Year be filled with the nearness of family, the peace of Christ, and the promise of His soon return.

Butch and Sharon

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Christmas Tea in the Library

As a nod to Downton Abby, I decorated the second floor sitting room of our barn home as if visitors were about to take tea.

Dried everlasting wreaths crafted from the Farm Grove gardens hang on the celadon door and above the green velvet Mother/Daughter love seat.  The silver tea tray takes center stage.  An icy centerpiece strung with tiny LED lights makes a sparkling presentation.  The Christmas tree cozying-up the corner next to an over-stuffed chair is decorated with silver-green ornaments and celadon green ribbon.

An antique pastoral etching hangs above the vintage drop-front desk that belonged to my maternal grandfather.  An art deco print hangs above the love seat that was in the collection of my parents.  More silver ornaments are hung from the chandelier.

Merry Christmas!



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