A few years back and two homes ago we developed a big problem with pantry moths. I am not totally sure how it all began because I never had a big problem with them before, perhaps a few here and there. This particular year though I could barely keep anything in the pantry that they did not infest within a couple weeks and they found hiding places in closets, under couches, etc. They destroyed cereal, almond flour, rice, dried fruit, and so many other pantry items.
When we moved shortly thereafter we took them with us because they had cocooned in various hiding places. By that time I was sick of all the wasted food and the larvae are just gross as heck. It was time to end their reign.
Of course any attack in my arsenal has to be natural. No way am I going to spray toxic insecticides near my food. Every thing we did involves some elbow grease and natural alternatives.
Our attack was three-fold.
- We used sticky moth traps that attract with pheromones
- I cleaned the pantry out once every two weeks with soap and water and put all attractive foods in mason jars
- I used a spray repellent in the pantry to keep them out of there
Pantry Moth Repellent Spray
2 ounces white vinegar
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops bay laurel essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
Combine all the ingredients in a dark glass bottle with a spray mist top. Shake well with each use and spray on clean shelves and walls, making sure you get all cracks and crevices. Repeat every month to prevent the moth eggs from hatching and to prevent re-infestation. You can also spray a couple cotton balls and place in pantry corners or their favorite hiding places.
We were able to get rid of our moth problem entirely. No more damaged pantry food!
When the cool weather of fall rolled around I got the itch to decorate for fall like so many women out there. Unlike the masses though I am minimalist and very much inspired by nature. I don’t crazy with decor and I actually prefer that most decor around my home be items I can use year round if I want to. So for the most part I want simple, timeless, decor that I can then tie into a few small seasonal items that rotate throughout the year. This is why I love to use candles for decor and ambiance because they are simple, lovely, enjoyable (especially scented ones), and I can put them away if the scent or appearance screams ‘Fall’ or ‘Christmas’.
The scent is just another reason to love candles. A beautiful fall wreath is lovely to look at but does it make you have all the warm, cozy feelings that a pumpkin spice candle does? Does a pretty snow globe make you want to curl up by a roaring fire or are those feelings more likely to be induced by a lovely smelling candle of pine or balsam fir? Smell can deeply affect moods and bring back warm memories of seasonal fun and festivity. I absolutely adore candles for this reason and always have.
I recently added some candles from the Chesapeake Bay Heritage collection to my own home for fall/winter. I love their classic look and wood lids. They go perfect with theme of my decor which is less traditional fall and more “fall in wine country”. The previous homeowner had a definite Tuscan theme going on and traditional fall colors kind of clash so I concentrate on purples, browns, greens, and cream colors.
We will end up renovating the home completely and go with something more modern but while we get to know the home and we save for the changes we eventually want to make, I am rather content with the Tuscan feel and colors. The dining room, which you can see below, is painted in a dark wine color. The fall candles and purple and brown acorns our buffet cabinet give me that touch of fall I want and it keeps with the wine country feel.
Of course, as I mentioned previously it is all about the scent right? Well, the scents are amazing. They transport you immediately to that fall state of mind. Pumpkin Latte, Vanilla Biscotti, and Firewood Fig. Yum!
In addition to burning these candles in the dining room during our family meals I also like to bring them in the kitchen. The kitchen is the literal and figurative heart of our home so the smell disperses throughout the home and makes it smell cozy, warm, and amazing. And as you can see the Tuscan theme evolves from wine country in the dining room to Italian cafe in the kitchen. I am not generally a wallpaper person but this cafe border has grown on me.
For scents that are more winter and a little less fall, we enjoy Balsam Fir, Snow by the Shore (Cedarwood and Lemon), and Cinnamon Spice. Since they are sitting on the buffet they are easy to grab and light for the evening meal. Eating together is mandatory in this house and anything we can do to add those comfy, cozy, special touches is a plus with me. Dinner is when we celebrate good company.
The small glass vase where I house the extra acorns or all of them when not in use is elevated by the temporary addition of a Chesapeake Bay candle I think.
Do you decorate with seasonal candles?
This post was written in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Candles. All words and opinions are mine.
In my experience swiss chard is incredibly easy to grow. It tolerates the cold well so you can start growing it very early in the spring and have fresh greens even when the weather is still chilly. It handles itself well even in the hot temperatures and lasts well into the return of the cold.
When the temperatures start to dip and frost is coming more often than not I start harvesting the remainder of my swiss chard so I can preserve it for use in the winter. A cold frame, like I might use for my spinach, simply won’t work because chard gets quite tall. In the house and into the freezer it must go.
But what can you do with frozen swiss chard? Well, you can use the leaves much the way you would use spinach and the stems can be used the same way you use celery. Here are some ideas for using preserved swiss chard…
- Add to lentil or bean soup
- Scramble in eggs for breakfast burritos
- Add to casserole dishes
- Top homemade pizza
- Adding to quiche, tarts, and frittatas
- Add to green smoothies
- Add to dips in place of spinach
- Add to curry dishes
- Pickle them and eat throughout the winter
- Add to chicken soup
- Stir fry with other veggies in Asians dishes
- Puree them for use in tahini or hummus
How to Preserve Swiss Chard
Gather your swiss chard from the garden and clean well. Cut the stems from the leaves. I blanch and freeze stems and leaves separately and I also reserve some longer stems for pickling and canning.
Blanch anything you desire to freeze for three minutes in boiling water and then immediately transfer to an ice bath. After they have cooled a bit strain out the water. From here you can squeeze the water from the leaves and add handfuls to a cookie sheet or silicone muffins trays and freeze. This creates portions you can use in many different ways rather than a massive chunk of frozen greens.
Freeze or pickle the stems or do both. Enjoy!
Here is a run down of what this book lover has been reading…
I recently finished two new audio books…
Lost Among the Living – This is a spooky British novel or at least that is the setting. It was only a couple bucks via Audible’s deal of the day and I took a chance. I ended up liking it quite a bit. Essentially it is about a woman widowed in world war two. To make ends meet she becomes a paid companion for her former husband’s wealthy aunt and after some European travel they settle into the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. That is when she learns more about some mysterious deaths that occurred there only a few years previous and she begins to suspect foul play. She also learns she hadn’t known her beloved husband very well at all. It was pretty suspenseful and kept me listening right to the end!
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ – I read a hard copy of this book about a year ago and loved it. I loved the audio version even more. Yes, a book about your bowels can be completely fascinating and educational. If you ever wanted to hear the complete case for why your gut is the entire backbone of your immune system, this is it.
Paper books I recently read are as follows:
Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit – I heard an interview with this author on one of my favorite podcasts and immediately checked out the book at the library. I have always been curious about pawpaw trees and their fruit that supposedly tastes very tropical (banana crossed with mango). The curious part is that they grow in the upper midwest and eastern part of the US. My state even hosts an annual pawpaw festival. I loved the book and I special ordered two pawpaw trees!
Love the Home You Have: Simple Ways to…Embrace Your Style *Get Organized *Delight in Where You Are – This is a wonderful book written by an author and home decor blogger who bought quite a few different homes (including a castle with a ballroom) always searching for that perfect home only to find it was a mindset thing.
Now I am on to read Spark Joy the follow up book to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I loved).
What are you reading?
I am looking for ways to save money this winter on heating costs. Last winter our peak bill was close to $600. That about knocked our socks off. It of course reminded us that we should have looked through a year’s worth of utility bills prior to buying this house. I don’t know for sure if we would have passed on making the purchase but we probably would have. But now we own it, and we do love it, so it is time to stem the bleeding.
I am going to make a challenge of reducing the bill and get the family involved. Every dollar we save compared to the previous year’s bill will be divided five ways (five family members). Hopefully the kids will be more serious about turning off lights and unplugging gadgets before they leave the home for school each day. For my part I have a couple ideas…
We already installed a new thermostat last year because our other one was ancient. We may actually go ahead and get a smart thermostat that will adjust when no one is home and that we can control from our phones. I am thinking about getting Honeywell’s smart thermostat. It has great reviews and it is much cheaper than the Nest.
We were ready to redo the insulation in our attic just a few weeks ago and go from batting insulation to spray foam. But then my husband realized that the batting was not going to budge without HUGE amounts of work so we are now thinking about having more insulation blown in instead. And if we have money leftover from not doing the spray foam we might add insulation to our garage doors.
We bought some oil filled radiators to heat specific areas such as upstairs bedrooms rather than turning up the furnace. I also saved money on them by using the Benefit app to buy gift certificates and get an automatic rebate and then using Giving Assistant to make the purchase which resulted in another rebate. Double dipping! Anyway, we are impressed so far with their ability to heat a room pretty quickly and then sustain that heat even after they are turned off. It was some obscure frugality newsletter from 20ish years ago that mentioned them and inspired to me to try.
I plan to buy some nice down comforters and duvet covers for each family member. It is a side goal to make my bed as luxurious and comfortable as that of a posh hotel. Why not ooh and ahh when you get in bed every night instead of doing so only when you go on a nice vacation??
I will be adding more thermal curtains to some bare windows. We have four windows that are still bare or have minimal (ie too thin) curtains. I am not sure if this will help because the house has all new windows and doors and they are super nice and high quality so there are no drafts. The fact that the previous homeowner had recently spent many thousands of dollars on new windows and doors is a clue we should have picked up on, LOL. If the new curtains don’t help with warmth at least they will look nice.
Other frugal wins for the week:
- We are doing a small kitchen remodel with a budget of $1500. More than half that went to buying new kitchen counters. We opted to buy our counters from Menards while they were offering an 11% rebate so we will be getting almost $90 of that money right back. You have to use the rebate money at Menards but that means I will be be able to get all new drawer pulls and cabinet knobs for FREE! There might be some left over for paint brushes too.
How did you do?