Thursday, July 10, 2014

Old Fashioned Wifery: Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep)

2. Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep) 
My second reflection on vintage domesticity is actually an admissionI'm kind of a jerk with selfish tendencies.


It was hard to admit this to myself, and it's double hard putting it online. Who wants to admit they're human?

I'm not a religious person, but at my Opa's funeral in May the paster said something that really stuck with me. He talked about Takers, Keepers and Givers. Takers steal, Keepers look out for themselves, and Givers give what they can. This sentiment can apply to actual belongings, or even matters of the heart.

It occurred to me that I've been living my life as a Keeper. I mind my own business, keep to myself, and don't actively give anything to anyone. Well, I do give sometimes. Here's me giving Antigone a chin rub.

I'm a regular saint when it comes to my cats. 

So what does all of this have to do with vintage living?

Hobbies that once brought people together are transitioning more and more to online platforms, and I believe that this is turning us into a society of Keepers. Friendships and communities built online are wonderful and real, but it's a lot easier to ignore or forget someone's cry when you can't hear them. I'm not suggesting that we get offline, but I do feel like giving yourself to others requires a little more active effort than it used to.

Today I'm working on opening my heart, and sharing what it has to give. I'm recognizing the subtle ways that I put myself first, and asking if it's really necessary. These are my first steps on a journey to a more Giving life. A process that will likely take years, decades or eons. I'm starting small, and focussing on my community and family. I'm:
  • Sending cards when I can.
  • Reaching out to those I've let slip through my fingers. 
  • Not auto-piloting "No thanks!" when there's an opportunity to give a little spare change to charity. This is a habit going back to broke school days, and is no longer necessary. 
  • Actively practicing patience above judgement. Key word is practicing. I'm practicing how to do it. The affirmation "I replace my anger with compassion and understanding." is said a lot around here!
  • Not staying silent when someone says something hurtful to someone I love. Specifically when the person being hurtful is someone I also love. I'm trying to be a courageous ally instead of "courageously" sighing real loud, rolling my eyes and walking out of the room. This has been the hardest one yet.
You may be thinking: "You're not a great humanitarian, Hannah. It's called being a decent human being."

Well sure, but consider how much happier we'd all be if more people stepped out of their comfort zones to actively attempt decency. Doesn't it feel like there's just a lot of passive existing going on out there? 

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My goal is to one day not see myself as a Keeper. How do you step out of your own space to Give?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Homemade Basil Surface Cleaner

This Homemade Basil Surface Cleaner is a really easy Summertime staple in our home. I've spoken before about our occasional overflow of the herband this is a lifesaver in avoiding waste.

The 3 ingredients in this cleaner - basil, vinegar and water - are about as natural as it comes. I make variations throughout the year which keeps me from having to buy chemical laden sprays. 

While known for its wonderful bacteria killing qualities, some may find the smell of vinegar a little off-putting. A few minutes after use that smell will fade, and you'll be left with the faint scent of basil. There's no need to worry about your kitchen forever smelling of vinegar!

You can put the strained vinegar and water (Step 6) in any squirt bottle you have lying around, but if you're interested in the elegance of a glass bottle I explain how to do that cheaply in the instructions. Happy cleaning!

Homemade Basil and Vinegar Surface Cleaner
Makes enough infused vinegar for 2 16oz batches of cleaner
  • Fresh basil, at least 2 loose cups
  • 1 Large empty glass jar and lid (a little larger than 16oz)
  • {If Making the Glass Bottle}
    • 1 16oz glass bottle of white vinegar
    • 1 spray nozzle from an old empty cleaner or spray bottle
  • {If Using Your Own Bottle}
    • 16 oz white vinegar
    • 1 empty 16oz spray bottle
  • 8oz water
1. Stuff the fresh basil into the empty glass jar. Pour your 16oz of white vinegar over the basil. Close the jar and place it in the fridge for at least two weeks to infuse.


2. Completely remove the label from the white vinegar bottle.
3. Wash the bottle thoroughly and put it away until the infused vinegar is ready. 


4. Place a fine strainer over a clean bowl. Strain the infused vinegar into the bowl, and discard the basil. 
5. Pour 8 oz of the prepared vinegar into another jar and store in a cool dark place for later use.
6. Combine the remaining 8 oz of the vinegar with 8 oz of water. Carefully pour this mixture into your vinegar bottle. Screw the spray nozzle onto the bottle and marvel at your new cleaner.
7. Use as you would any kitchen surface cleaner.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Old Fashioned Wifery: Send Handwritten Letters and Cards

"What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call." - Liz Carpenter

1. Send Handwritten Letters and Cards
My first reflection on vintage domesticity is on the subject of post. Sending handwritten letters and cards is a great way to let loved ones, friends, acquaintances, etc. know that we're thinking of them.

We're very lucky to live in an age where almost everyone we know is available to us through email, Facebook, etc. While communicating online is wonderful it doesn't carry the same emotional feeling as something physically sent from one person to another. Handwritten letters carry that unique sentiment, and this is why I send them as often as I can.

Here are a few things that continue to inspire me to keep up the dying habit:
  • The time I spend writing to each person feels like time I'm spending with them. That's is a really wonderful feeling when you're missing someone.
  • My Grandma still sends me cards for every occasion, and it always makes my day. From birthdays to Valentine's Day I know my Grandma's thinking about me. It doesn't matter that I'm almost 30 - I still completely love getting cards for Halloween.
  • When my Opa died I received more Sympathy cards than could fit in my mail box. I cried as I read through each and every one of them.
  • My mother in law sends us a card every month, and we find so much joy in trying to read them aloud in her voice. It feels like she's with us for just that little bit of time.
To keep things easy I like to have blank stationary and note card sets on hand. I much prefer a nice design in front, and an empty pallet inside so that I can personalize them for the appropriate occasion. Here are a couple that I have used plus a few that I have my eye on!

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My husband and I own this super cute set. I love to send these as Thank You Cards, Thinking of You Cards and sometimes Birthday Cards. They're really cute!

Image from
Adorable notecards with fun polaroid designs! Perfect for Thank Yous, Birthdays, and What-have-yous.

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This set is amazing! I think they would be great for Thinking of You cards.

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I'm a sucker for pretty, and these are pretty. They'd make great Thank You or Sympathy Cards.

5. Your own cards from

These were our Christmas cards last year! On you can order notecards, posters, little books and more using photos from your Instagram account. We loved our experience with this company, and can't recommend them enough.

If you'd prefer to have an all-in-one card set as opposed to a bunch of blanks this one from Chronicle Books is really cute! 

Image from

I really love the idea of this Fold and Mail Stationery set! I've never used them, but I'm smitten by their design and the thought of only using one piece of paper for letter and envelope.

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I hope you've been inspired to go out and write someone you miss or love. Maybe someone who could use a pick me up? The surprise of a card or letter can make an ordinary day so much brighter, and it's nice to be on the giving end of this phenomenon.

Check back next week for more Old Fashioned Wifery!

Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases from these links could result in a small commission used to support This post also includes a recommendation to use I am in no way affiliated with the company nor was I compensated or approached to do a review for them. I just really like their services.