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Living on smaller budgets does not necessitate that we live with less quality. This post celebrates the honorable return of “homemade.” Making rather than buying may seem to require more of our time, but if we keep certain staples on hand, it actually reduces the time taken in the past to “shop.” And if we discipline our project choices, it will save money.

Homemade requires planning, work, and an acceptance of possible failure. These are three values, which if we could pass to our children, would prepare them to weather difficult times in their lives. And the process as well as the finished result brings a wonderful inner contentment that we have done something ourselves.

When I was a young wife on a limited budget, I sewed many of our clothes. My own mother had sewn so much that her example instilled in me that this was a way to stretch our income. I was fearless, making most of my daughter’s and my own dresses, the extra challenge of Easter dresses, Halloween costumes and even a pinstriped suit for my son. They were my own creation, each an unique pairing of fabric and pattern that would not be duplicated by others. I have seen a few times where two women showed up at church in the same dress. Awkward. But never a concern when you make your own.

Don’t panic if you don’t know how. I taught myself after a few basic classes in high school. I started with Simplicity patterns that explain everything, even terminology. Then I progressed to Vogue and other more challenging patterns. I have sisters that can make their own patterns from anything. They probably also cook without recipes. Gasp.

The French philosopher and writer, Voltaire, once wrote, “Work spares us from three evils, boredom, vice, and need.”

I hope you embrace the idea of “homemade” and make something yourself this week. I am offering some ideas under Family and Food.

Family
Rather than allowing movies, video games or TV to dictate how your family spends time together, “create” time yourselves. In the summer, my favorite was picnics, feeding the ducks, and simple games at parks that we invented to fit the surrounding. For colder months, be creative in doors. Pop some corn and sit down together.

Tell stories of grandparents. I loved the story of when my grandpa was a boy and he decided to attempt to fly. He mounted to the ridge line of his father’s barn, where, with a chicken grasped by the legs in each hand, he jumped. Thank goodness no bones were broken. Do your children know your own stories?
• Take time every night to read together. For ideas see the list of Children’s Classics, or Middle Classics.
• On a banner-size strip of paper from a craft store, draw a mural. Lay it out on the floor and illustrate and color together a scene from a favorite story.
• Use object lessons to teach a principle. One evening our daughter planned a “lesson” on manners that centered around a special family dinner. Prior to the meal she sat us down at the table to discuss some ideas. Suddenly our neighbor boy burst in the front door without ringing the bell. Everyone was speechless when he greeted us, pulled up a chair, and threw his legs up onto the table, tipped back the chair. Then while everyone stumbled over, “Hi Ben,” he stood up, opened the fridge and asked what we “had to eat around here.” Later I confessed to arranging the incident, but Ben was the star.
Make bread and let each child mold their own loaf or individualize their own roll (the initial of their name?).
• Make homemade playdough and sit around the kitchen counter and play together.
Make blanket tents
• Make a treasure hunt for your children. For young ones, clues can be pictures: an iron or a rocker. Keep clues simple, but slightly challenging. ABCDEFGABCDEFG would be the keys on a piano. The prize can be making cookies with mom or a story book to sit down and read together.
• Have a picnic treasure hunt where each clue leads to a place to eat a different part of the meal so that everyone is standing in the shower together eating sandwiches or scrunching into one large chair for carrot sticks.
Don’t limit yourself. Create your own family time that creates memories.

Food
I am going to pass on my all-time favorite recipe for rolls. I obtained this years ago from a lady that wowed us all at a church dinner. I have since shared it with others who have made it their “go to” recipe. They are a staple for Thanksgiving or any special occasion. And yes, they take more time than store bought, won’t save you a ton (bread is relatively inexpensive), but they are far more delicious! You’ll love the results and the compliments. I’m making some this week to take to Idaho for the big family gathering.

Sweet Roll Dough (Best dinner rolls)

1 C. sugar
1 C. butter
2 C. scalded milk
1 C. warm water
3 T. (heaping) dry yeast –mix yeast and warm water and set aside until activated (may
add a bit of sweetening)
6 beaten eggs
½ T. salt
10 C. flour—approximately (may use ½ whole wheat)

In large bowl mix milk, sugar, and butter. Add softened yeast. Mix in 1 C. flour and eggs. Stir in additional flour for soft dough. Knead on floured board until soft, not sticky.
Cover in clean, lightly oiled bowl (spray). Let rise until double. Shape and raise 20-30 minutes more. Bake 350° for about 20 minutes.

My favorite, easy shape is crescents. Roll part of the dough into a circle, brush with melted butter and slice like a pizza, then roll each one to the center. My favorite end result method is to roll out a rectangle and brush with melted butter. Top it with a second rolled-out rectangle, and butter. Repeat until there are about four or five layers. Cut into squares and place each on end in muffin tins. When they raise they become Fan Tans. For clover leafs, roll three small balls for each muffin cup.

Rediscover the satisfying moments of “homemade,” whether you bake, sew, glue or just do something with your family.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalms 90:17).

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