My frugal week

You know, far from being synonymous with a miserable life, I think frugality -making the most of what you have, learning skills in order to save- teaches you a lot. I think it taught me to pause, to stop, and no longer jump from one shopping spree to another. It taught me to work with my own hands, to be grateful for the clothes I had, to take care of them, to cook my own food and be grateful for it, to not take anything for granted… I am no longer in that rush that keeps me thinking, what should I buy next. I am learning to be content with what I have and I feel, honestly, richer that I have ever been, more that when I allowed myself to buy tons of stuff…

Also, I really think that as Christians, frugality is something we ought to aim for, in the sense, that we ought to be good stewards of what we have and not waste things. Think about what the Lord did with the loaves of bread…

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”  (John 6: 11-13)

 

Little steps I have been taking, and things I have been doing recently in order to save money, increase my creativity and take care of the environment…

 

  •  I started carrying a small fabric tote bag in my purse so I would be able to say “no” to another plastic bag when I buy something
  • I made sushi for my family last week-end.
  • I have started adopting the need it or not ? mentality. Last day, I was considering purchasing on Amazon a makeup palette and I gave myself a few days to think about it. Eventually, I realized that I had tons of makeup and that I actually did not need that palette at all.
  • I am learning to say “no, I’m good” when pressured to buy something.
  • I have started making my own bread. Bread was something I avoided trying as I thought it was something too fancy and that you could not do unless you had a bread making machine… But trust me, it is really easy ! I don’t eat a lot of bread so I thought making my own small breads would be a good alternative:

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  • I used what I have in the pantry to blend my own chai latte mix. In France, we don’t have that Starbucks/Tim Hortons culture so we don’t really have that budget hole due to Frappucinos and other drinks.

 

What frugal steps will you be taking this week ? I would love to hear your ideas !

 

Becoming a homemaker: an introduction

 

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A few definitions from the dictionnary to start off…

Frugality:  the quality of being frugal, or prudent in saving; the lack ofwastefulness

Homemaker: A person who manages the household of his or her own family,especially as a principal occupation.

These few years of university, spent on my own/ with my brother for a few years taught me a lot about homemaking. Not only I learned that domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning and washing your clothes were important- sure they were, but something I have learned is that a homemaker has this unique ability to “set the tone” in her house. I have learned that you who are and how you manage your home will without doubt have an impact not only your immediate sphere of influence, such as your family and your guests, but beyond that, that will influence society. Home is the theatre of family, marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, interactions with siblings, quality time. It tells a lot about who we are really.

It is where you can extend hospitality. Where your husband, children, or friends, can find comfort and love and acceptance and a listening ear and loving hugs after a day where, maybe, things were not easy. Where things did not go as expected with the boss, where school was a burden, where temptations were constantly threatening your family. Where uplifting words are a rarity, and spiritual encouragement is clearly not a priority.

I am, as you can see, convinced that we women have this unique capacity to nurture others and use our creativity and talents to serve others, so that, for them, coming back to home will not feel like a chore, home will not be a place to be deserted and to escape as soon as possible but a place to which they will run because of the spirit of love they will find there.

When I was sixteen, for some reasonn I had to care for my siblings and I had zero knowledge of how to run a household. I clearly remember not knowing at which moment I had to throw pasta because I did not know if the water had to be just hot or boiling. Eventually I learned. Though I am far from being Martha Stewart, there are some things I learn every day that I thought I could share with younger girls.

Just a remark: as single young women, I realized that we have no idea of the impact we can have on younger girls/teens. By mentoring them, we are caring for the next generation and they are in great need, in this world where role models are rare, for an older sister, a mentor that will teach them godly things and at the same time, sympathize with them because they will have gone through similar things. Let us not waste that precious time called singleness ! It is not a time spent of the bench, but something to be used for the glory of God, and for others.

I have learned that homemaking does not necessarily imply being the perfect hostess, a gourmet chef or something that surpasses other. I will come back to that in a future post, God willing, but it is a way of life that aims at loving God and serve others through our skills.

I shared a definition of frugality because I believe frugality is a must as a homemaker: for lots of reasons I will detail later, I believe that a household cannot function efficiently if money is not well spent and if we are careless in the way we buy things and use them.

Grab a cup of tea, make yourself home, and join me as we talk and discuss about ways to make our home a place where godliness can flourish, and people can be loved.

 

Stéphanie

N:B: I want to thank every person who came to visit my blog since I start blogging. Reading your comments make my day !

 

Saturday fun: of hats and calligraphy !

Hello ladies !

As much as I enjoy blogging, with my new internship starting on Monday, I will have to post less often… It’s almost the end of the year (it’s March already, time flies so fast it’s unbelievable), so that calls for more study time ! Anyway, it’s break time now and I wanted to write a bit.

 

Outfit of the (other) day ! 

 

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A quick outfit I wore last week. Spring is starting to come around and I am glad that except for a few rainy days here and there, heavy coats will no longer needed ! In this outfit I am wearing a passe-partout knee-lenght black skirt, a champagne shirt and a white wool jacket along with a black hat, and long mustard earrings. I just love how hats add a final touch to an outfit; you can find those wool felt hats at H and M.

 

Calligraphy !

As I am starting to look for practical, beautiful yet inexpensive ways to make my appartement more homey and cosy, I am considering starting calligraphy ! In a way, I already do it on a daily basis since in France, when we were little, writing beautifully (often with a fountain pen and in cursive script) was something we were taught from the beginning of our elementary years.

I often saw on pinterest and blogs wall decors of quotes and verses and I thought that it was inexpensive and that with a bit of creativity, a frame or two, arranged on a desk, a kitchen counter or the living room, could add a lot of that unique touch to a room. One sweet lady, Jen, whose blog I have been following for years (it’s such a delight to read !), has started a her own calligraphy business, Arabella Calligraphy. Here are some of her works:

 

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How lovely is that ? Here are some other works from Pinterest. I find that not only they enhance a room, but they could be good reminders of God’s Word throughout the days.

 

Have an amazing weekend,

Stéphanie

Becoming a woman of virtue

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Pinterest

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

Today, through the Holy Spirit’s help, I want to obey the Lord and become a virtuous woman:

-I want to love my family not only in words, but in deeds also;

-I want to be self-controlled and not be enslaved to anything but to Christ

-I desire with all my heart to be pure, in this world in which purity is mocked, I want to remember this: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). I want my mind and my eyes to dwell on things… that are true, noble, right, pure, what lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy… (Philippians 4:8). The verse I posted last time made a deep impression on me: it was a key verse in the conversion of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose battle was mainly with lust. As Spurgeon once said, the food on which silkworms feed predict the color of the silk they will produce and as well, I think what we see, what we dwell upon, what we read, will go in our minds, where the battle is, and therefore, I want to feed on the Word of God.

Talking about purity, I must confess something: there are things I have decided to give up, especially in the area of music because some music and songs have the power to influence your emotions so deeply… and therefore your thoughts, and I felt like I had to give up some of these things.

But as Jim Elliot said, “”He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

-I want to be busy at home… and not be a busybody. In this world where people read gossip magazines, where we spy and stalk each other on Facebook, an attitude that often breeds envy, jealousy and evil things, join me, my dear sisters, as I strive, today, to heed the words of the Apostle Paul:

Or even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” (2 Thessalonicians 3:10-11).

Would you please join me in prayer as we not only read these words, but apply them in our daily life in order to honor the Lord ?

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:22-24)

Getting organized ! #1 The fridge

Last time I wrote a quite long post about why I was trying to spend less time on social media. Some days after I posted this article, I got rid of the app to which I was most addicted: Instagram. And one of the results of that is that my appartement has never been so tidy and organized ;). I have even printed a little ebook on homemaking and the new cleaning routines I have adopted are making my life much easier these days !

These new series of posts, Getting Organized, are just images from Pinterest that I find useful, within the context of my situation, to help me as I acquire new homemaking skills. I had just no idea how having a real routine, helps alleviate the stress and makes you more productive throughout the day. I hope you enjoy these series and again, everyone has a different home, organization, schedule… You just got to figure out what works for you !

For me, the one thing to remember here is to have baskets in which to put the food. They make a world of difference !

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This “dollar store makeover” is definitely helpful: I am putting everything as well into baskets. That keeps everything visible before your eyes without risk of having that tomato hidden behind something else and ending up… rotten.
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The ultimate fridge chart !

 

In the kitchen: thai chicken

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Ladies… Y’all know that feeling when you’re finally able to replicate that dish you were drooling over at the restaurant once, right ?

It just happened tonight as I cooked this Thaï chicken stew I once had at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant…

 

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The well-known Pho I eat every time I go there
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The dreamy decorations…

Thanks to this restaurant, l’Indochine, I discovered two things: spring rolls, which I thought were bland and tasteless because in the great majority of Chinese/Asian buffets, springs rolls often consists in a sheet of rice rolled around a pound of noodles with a piece of chicken and a leaf of lettuce.

Boy I was wrong. At the Indochine, they make sure the beef in their beef spring rolls and bo-buns was coated in a citronella/lemongrass marinade and it makes a world of difference ! Oh, and they also put fresh mint leaves everywhere, in the Pho, the shrimp spring rolls, so that adds lots of flavor too and helps you digest the big roll you just swallowed.

The other dish I had there that led me to try my hand at replicating it was one of those hot main courses they serve under silver “cloches”. It was a thai cod simmered in a coconut sauce and served with rice, and I.was.smitten.

For this recipe, I replaced the cod with chicken and roughly (I never measure when it comes to food), I chopped one onion and sautéed it in a pan with olive oil, a garlic clove, one small bell pepper; I added the chicken, a bit of chili sauce+ red chili pepper powder, half a can of coconut milk, a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and the secret ingredient… Lemongrass (learn how to slice it here). What I love about this “herb” is that it gives to the dish that “lemon-y”, “citrusy” flavor that will not disappear in the sauce but stay distinct from it- from a gustative point of view it adds texture. Serve with basmati rice and bon appétit bien sûr !

 

 

 

 

Organization: bedtime and morning routine

I finished the first semester exams a few weeks ago and without the few days of break we used to have the previous years, I started right off the bat the second semester, and my number one struggle, these days, or, to be more exact, this year, is organization.

I thought I was disciplined ! Well, the main problem when you are on your own for the first time is setting a routine and sticking to it. Since my brother left for another university, I had to set a schedule but I have trouble following it… I never go to bed early, my mornings are just hectic, it seems I can’t focus at work and in class, I am often eating on the go and therefore lacking energy and so on.

One of the things that keeps me motivated to persevere in a habit is having the necessary tools at hand. Today, while I was looking for practical ideas on how to deal with that problem once and for all, I landed on the Artful Homemaking blog which had some really good tips on that. It gave me the idea of an evening and morning basket.

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Pinterest

Actually, two of them. One for bedtime, and one that I’ll use upon waking up.

Evening basket:

  • My pyjamas
  • Herbal tea and a cup
  • Lavender essential oil-
  • Lipbalm, creams #justgirlythings
  • Socks
  • My diary
  • One or two books (like a devotional, a book about animals- at least something that does not have something to do with pharmacology)
  • And a list of encouraging verses and reminders I like having at hand

The morning basket will be similar: clothes for the day, to-do list, etc.

Why I think this would be useful is because, not only you have everything you need in one place but also, it keeps you from being distracted: for example, how many times I used my Iphone to read something before going to bed and ended up on Facebook, Instagram, and had a completely counter-productive, not relaxing at all evening ? Checked e-mail for no reason ? Worried instead of meditating ? That’s why I’m trying to put the phone away after, maybe, 8-9 pm after I finished studying.

If you have any others ideas, I’d be glad to hear from you !

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A few of my favorite things: My diary, herbal tea, coconut oil as a makeup remover, tea tree essential oil for blemishes, mango butter to keep my locks hydrated and Martha Stewart. I just love everything homemaking.

When vinegar is sweet…

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~

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After washing the dishes tonight, for the first time, I cleaned my sink with a water+vinegar+a few drops of essential oils mixture.

Every day I am amazed at what you can do with ingredients you have in your kitchen, with excellent results and for the fraction of the cost of store-bought products. Gotta love natural alternatives ! I mean just look at my sink- after years of relentless fight with my calcareous sink I finally found the ultimate cleaning product- it makes me want to spend the whole evening cleaning 😉