Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Tiny Kitchen Herb Garden

There is nothing better than chopping up fresh herbs for a dish!
As we currently live in a rental town home, the only planting that I can do is in pots on the deck. Here are a few pictures of my tiny kitchen herb garden along with some links for planting your own herb garden and the top five herbs and their uses.

My Potted Herb Garden-Rosemary


Lemon Balm

I would like to also grow thyme, cilantro, and mint.
If you are like me and don't have the backyard space to grow your own herb garden, consider potted herbs or a kitchen window garden in mason jars like this.
If you do have the backyard space to grow your own herb garden, here's how.

My favorite, top 5 herbs and their uses (uses from The Top 100 Herbal Remedies):
1. Thyme

If you are nervous, exhausted or depressed thyme can boost confidence, lift your mood and induce restful sleep. For adults and children alike, warming, gentle thyme is both expectorant and relaxant, and will help to soothe away bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Nervous coughs, asthma and even whooping cough can benefit, too. In the gut, thyme will relieve spasm and fight infections. If you have candidiasis, or after antibiotics, thyme will help to rebalance the bacterial population in your bowel. Arthritis sufferers can benefit from thyme's diuretic properties, which help expel toxins from the body. In lotions, apply thyme as a disinfectant for wounds, and to relieve muscular pain, and itching.

2. Rosemary
Rosemary will strengthen the nerves, but soothe them too, making it wonderful if you are feeling low or anxious. The herb also stimulates the flow of blood to your head, improving mental clarity and concentration, and relieving headaches. Use the essential oil or take hot rosemary tea to fight infections. Rosemary will stimulate the digestion, as well as promote the production of bile in the liver. A rosemary oil massage will ease all manner of muscular or nerve pain.

3. Peppermint

Peppermint stimulates the flow of digestive juices. It is also a circulatory stimulant, promoting sweating and helping to overcome flu and fever. It helps to keep you warm in the winter, yet cool in summer and, by increasing blood flow to the brain, to keep the mind clear. Its decongestant properties help to clear catarrhal congestion. Try inhalations of the oil to clear the sinuses and relieve colds. In addition, from stomach gripes and indigestion to headaches and arthritis, peppermint will ease tension and pain.

4. Lemon Balm
This lovely, relaxing herb, with its pleasant taste, will hep to ease away headaches, migraines, insomnia and vertigo. Hot lemon balm tea is antimicrobial and decongestant, wonderful for colds, flu, chest infections, and coughs, and one of the best remedies for the cold sore virus. It will also help to lower fevers. Add a strong infusion to a child's bath to help calm over-excitement and induce restful sleep. Stress related digestive problems, PMS, painful periods, anxiety, and depression all respond well to lemon balm.

5. ParsleyUses:
Parsley is packed with nutrients, notably vitamin C, which improves immunity and assists the body's absorption of iron, making this a good herb for anemia sufferers. Parsley stimulates the kidneys, helping to detoxify the body; and soothes the digestive tract, relieving conditions such as colic, indigestions and wind. Use a decoction of the seeds to ease abdominal cramps and headaches. Parsley can stimulate the uterine muscles; avoid it during pregnancy unless you want to use it to enhance contractions during childbirth.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I found this article at "A Wise Woman Builds Her Home", and I thought it helpful to address another area of homemaking that often gets swept under the rug- building up our homes with what we say. She writes:

"Building up our home is done in many ways. We can cook, clean and organize until our heads our spinning but literally 'tear down' our homes with the way we communicate making all our other 'building efforts' in vain. We communicate three major ways:

1. Verbally
2. Body language (example: rolling eyes, folded arms)
3. Tone of voice

We can inspire our families to change the world or tear them down in a heartbeat if we are not carefully choosing our words--just as the verse says:

"The tongue holds the power of life and death."-Proverbs 18:21

Are we bringing life to our homes or death? Are we slashing our husband to pieces with our words and screaming at our little children (who are probably unsaved and need the Lord?)


A careless word may kindle strife.
A cruel word may wreck a life.
A brutal world may smite and kill.
A gracious word may smooth the way.
A joyous word may light the day.
A timely word may lessen stress.
A loving word may heal and bless.

We are always building up our homes or tearing it down. Let's purposefully use our words to BUILD. A word that is timely can plant a seed that can be used powerfully to change the world one day---to change lives, to help save the lost.

BUILD up and respect husbands who will stand in the forefront of battle for the kingdom of God.

BUILD up children who will one day be an army for Him, who will lead the future for Him.

BUILD up extended family who need to see his love, grace and mercy.

BUILD up a neighborhood that will see Christs light in the dark, wicked world and find hope.

And ultimately...

BUILD up a world where the prisoners are set free, the shackles are loosened, and there is new life through Jesus Christ and his His healing, powerful Word."

I know that I have a tendency to focus on what needs to be done and lose sight of what needs to be said and, most importantly, how it should be said. Even more so, should I consider the things that are better left unsaid! One of Ara's memory verses that we have been working on is, "
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit." Psalms 34:13. I find my greatest challenge is Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger".

As guards and keepers of our homes, may we also be guards of our lips and keepers of our tongues!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Top Tips for Housekeeping

I found this post on Betty Beguile's blog and thought it addressed well the topic of keeping the joy in housekeeping/motivation for doing so. (Mab this one's for you [and me and every other lady who wants to be joyful in their work at home] responding to your blog comment :) )

1) Always start with the bigger jobs. I find that if I insist upon getting my daily chores (vacuuming, bathrooms, etc.) done before tackling the more involved ones (shampooing the carpet, organizing the closet, etc.), the latter will never get done. They will just stay on my to-do list day after day after day so I started tackling the larger jobs first. There aren’t usually too many of them and it feels so good to cross them off my list. As an added bonus, I’m usually on such a high after completing one of these tasks that I’m inspired to tackle the smaller ones, too.

2) I always add at least one touch of beauty to my home each day. I make sure that in addition to tidying that I create something lovely each day. I will put out flowers, bake a pie, throw a soft, beautiful blanket over the corner of a chair, something. It doesn’t have to be labor intensive or time consuming but I am committed to feathering my nest a little each day. It’s fun, it keeps me inspired and makes housekeeping a joy.

3) Keep the end goal in mind. Just as we are encouraged to keep our eyes on heaven I find it helps me to keep in mind what I want my domestic church to look and feel like. I try to focus on those things that I am working towards even as I am scrubbing bathrooms. It’s amazing but keeping a picture in my head of where I want to end up makes even the drudgery a pleasure.

4) Magazines!!! Cottage Living! Domino! House Beautiful! I’m an addict. I really can’t get enough. I encouraged Mr. Beguiles to work my magazines into the budget because “they make me a better wife!” How’s that for manipulative? They really do inspire me though. I’m not terribly disciplined so I lean heavily on inspiration and it truly goes a long way. (I have a few favorite blogs that are always good for an inspirational nudge, too.)

5) Aprons. For those days when all I feel like doing is laying on the couch and eating bon bons I find a good apron always helps. I consider it a healthy form of role playing. I have the most adorable vintage-inspired apron with red cherries on it that conquers my tendency towards sloth every time. I slip it on and am immediately transformed into Housewife of the Year, 1950.
I second adding a touch of beauty everyday and the inspiration of magazines, blogs, and books! A few tips she didn't mention which I find help me to keep joy in tasks are:

1. Regularly open your home to company. Nothing motivates me more or makes the tasks at hand seem less daunting than having company. Once in a habit of regularly opening your home, the motivation is there to keep it clean.

2. Remember Colossians 3:23 and teach it to your children! "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to man." I taught this verse to my daughter thinking that it would serve as a reminder to be diligent in working at the tasks that I give her and found that it convicted me most of all! In fact, there have been several days, one in particular that happened recently, where I was doing a full scrub down of the kitchen and my arms were burning and I stopped to rest. Plopping on the couch, I exclaimed, "Oh that feels good to sit down! This is seriously hard work!" To which my two year old daughter replied, "Mommy, remember to do it heartily as to the Lord!" What motivation!

3. Make cleanliness a habit. This one is the hardest to master. Routines feel comfortable, they provide time to mentally reflect on the day while scrubbing dishes or pulling a broom around the kitchen floor. When these practices are done infrequently, the job seems overwhelming and the mind is less likely to relax and be joyful while doing it. If we make a habit out of the tasks of housekeeping, and stay on top of things before they get out of hand, the tasks become pleasant, like sinking into a familiar rhythm of diligence and care.

What are your favorite Housekeeping tips? Post them in the comments section below or send them to me by email at weepingcherries@live.com and I will compile a nice list to post for the following month.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Art of Homemaking- Organization/Habits

I came across an interesting article by Domestic Felicity some time back that I wanted to revisit for the purpose of this blog. Here are the highlights: (read a full text version here)

Learning the Art of Homemaking: How Long Does it Take?
"While browsing a couple of blogs, I came across a comment which made me smile. I don't remember the exact way it was worded, but here's the general idea:
'I really don't get all this homemaker-in-training thingy for unmarried women. After all, how long does it take to learn to do laundry or change diapers? Can't girls just learn these things in a jiffy and then be free for exciting experiments with their lives until they get married?'

Why did it amuse me? Because the person who wrote this, obviously, knows very little about successful home management. And so, instead of starting a whole new discussion at the comments section, I decided to take this topic over to my blog and give it a good and thorough look."

"The way I see it, successfully running a household is in many ways similar to managing a small hotel: meals have to be served on time, everything must be neat and clean and presentable, with a well-organized routine of work that helps things run smoothly. All this, while staying within the strict limits of a budget. And in countless ways, running a home is so much more than running an hotel, because the homemaker is responsible for the long-term well-being of her family, and therefore must make sure her husband has his needs attended, meals are nutritious and made of high quality products and the menu doesn't become too predictable, her children healthy, educated and occupied with pleasant and worthwhile pursuits. She is also the one who sets the mood and tone of her home with her sweet and soothing presence"

"I know it's impossible to list the many arts a good homemaker must know, and there's always something new to learn. But beyond cooking, cleaning, laundry, budgeting, scheduling, organizing and decorating, there is an important trait a homemaker must have, a trait that cannot be learned and tossed aside, but is only acquired through years of practice. It is patience"

"Maybe your floors are so clean you could eat off them and you cook like a chef, but as a homemaker you need much more than that. You must learn to do the same tasks, day after day, week after week, with joy and contentment in your heart. Sure, technically, it's not very hard to change a diaper. How about ten thousand diapers? Doing a load of laundry is easy. Then why is laundry piling up in people's homes? Obviously, because after the thousandth load, we have a tendency to get bored and just let things go."

Ouch, I know the laundry has a tendency to build up at our house. I found the daily, weekly, monthly housework breakdowns in the book, "Simply Organized" by Emilie , to be extremely helpful once modified to fit our specific needs.
The one area of my home that gets the least attention (and that I need to find a good daily maintenance system for- I love suggestions, hint, hint- LEAVE A COMMENT) is the bedroom that my husband and I share. If the main floor of our home is maintained (Kitchen, Bathroom, Front and Back Porch and Living Room), I am a happy camper BUT the bedroom is really important to my husband. So, at the present I am working on a system for where to put those clothes that aren't just out of the dryer clean but not ready for the dirty clothes basket either. You know, the shirt or sweater you threw on before heading out to church Wednesday night that was worn for three hours? I don't like refolding or hanging it back up with the freshly washed clothes but the floor or top of dresser is not the solution either. What do you do with slightly worn clothes?
I know that for me, a habit of daily maintenance prevents the "getting bored, letting things go" attitude. Here is what a typical day's checklist looks like that I have found to work for the main level of my home:
(nightly checklist)
Is the sink empty?
Are the counters wiped down?
Is the stove top wiped down?
Is the table wiped down and set for breakfast?
Does the floor need a sweep?

Is the counter clear of clutter and wiped down?
Is toilet paper stocked?
Does the trash can need emptied?
Does the floor need a sweep?
Is there anything gross on the toilet that needs to be wiped?
(Cleaning toilets happens weekly here not daily)

Living Room-
Quick Straighten before Ara's nap
Quick Straighten before bed
Do any toys, clothes or books need to be brought upstairs?

Are there any mail, ads, or papers on the doorstep that I need to bring in?
Did any outdoor toys get left out on the back porch that need to be brought in?
Do the tables need wiped down on the back porch?

I'm still working on the dailies for the upstairs. The Bathroom checklist remains the same as the downstairs but Ara and the Master Bedroom have different needs to which I haven't found a great schedule that works. I'll be sure to post one when I find the winner!

Until next time,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome to The Heart of the Household

Welcome to The Heart of the Household. I began this blog as an offshoot to my other blog "Weeping Cherries" which concerns all things Faith, Family, Food and Frugality. This blog will function solely to encourage and hopefully inspire the homemaker. Over the next few days, I will be blogging sections from some of my all time favorite homemaking books along with personal notes and antidotes. Thanks for stopping by... hope to "see" you again soon!