Our Favorite Tools for the Homestead
Happy Friday! It's almost the weekend! Do you have any fun plans? This weekend we are headed to our first Farmer's Market of the year, and then we are going to come home and cut out our garden. FINALLY. It's all coming together. Our coop is finished - can't wait to share! - and we will be having our own home grown vegetables right outside of our kitchen window. The complete package of a kitchen garden. I honestly can't believe we made it happen. I remember sitting in this very spot months and months ago dreaming of what a kitchen garden in our backyard could look like, wondering if it was even possible for our family to achieve, and by golly... we did it! We put our energy positively towards where we wanted it to go, made a vision board, and set our goals. There is nothing a little positive thinking cannot accomplish, I truly believe that. And there's a big deserving thanks to you as well - without you reading our blog and supporting our adventures, none of this would be possible. Thank you!!
Today, I want to share some of our favorite tools around the homestead, specifically inside of the home. We use a lot of new tools now for our home that were never inside of it before we moved back to the midwest and began hobby farming. Growing up, we had the standard special dishes in cabinets that were too high up for any of us to reach, wine glasses, a few cooking tools, and lots of gadgets that we never used. Ever heard of the Slap Chop? Yeah, we had that. We also had that high shelf grabber tool. Just dumb things that nobody ever actually uses. When we became surprise minimalists - LOL - we got rid of all of that and went back to the basics. I've been gathering small items for our home and kitchen over the past three years, trying to make it as simple and aesthetically pleasing as possible. It really wasn't difficult to do and was not pricey at all. Truth be told, a lot of these items you can find at the resale shop.
I highly recommend you take a peek at our very special friends' - Natalie and Luke - shop, The Freckled Hen Farmhouse. They sell some of the cutest and useful tools for the modern farmhouse! I could not recommend them more, they are the sweetest people, and I have to say that I honestly use all of their products on a daily basis. There's no denying that my Chinese Utility Scissors go with me everywhere!
**PS - head to the end of this post for a special discount code towards their online shop!
In the Kitchen
The kitchen. My domain, my comfort zone, and one of my happy places. I spend a lot of time here, so it's no surprise that a majority of the special tools I use on the homestead live in this room. It's where my pantry is, filled with an arsenal of herbal goods such as essential oils, dried herbs and spices, sweet oils, cosmetic butters, and beeswax. There's also my necessities for baking and cooking delicious meals for my family and myself, of course. If you are looking to homestead like we do, then the kitchen is a very important place. It is where you'll bring fresh garden clippings to be washed, chopped, and dressed. It is the place where bread will be kneaded to rise, where cookies will be baked to snack on in the afternoon.
If you are a baker or a cook, then there are a few tools you must have in your back pocket! I do not believe that to be a great home cook you need anything fancy, necessarily, but there are a few items that I believe are top of the list when it comes to the quality of what you buy and what exactly you might need. Of course, this is all up to preference, and these are some of the cooking tools I use most frequently.
- Cast Iron Skillet. I actually have four cast iron skillets, but the one I use most is a large 20 inch beast, with high sides and two handles. It makes pretty much every single meal in our home. This is where I roast meats, make pasta sauces and dishes, saute vegetables, bake cinnamon rolls, and make eggs and other breakfast foods like hash browns and sausages. There is nothing this skillet cannot do! I believe every kitchen, especially a farmhouse kitchen, should have one of these. It is so versatile, and you'll never have to use an electric griddle again. If you're afraid of ruining your skillet, don't fear, they're actually fairly easy to clean. I will have to do a post on repairing and prepping your skillet down the road!
- Wooden Spoon. It's silly, but this is a really important tool when you are baking, especially with bread. A metallic spoon might leach into the yeast and cause your bread not to rise. Working with a wooden spoon can help to get your bread mixture just right. I also really love this bread whisk by Freckled Hen Farmhouse when I am using cultivated yeast, and have never had a problem! There's so much a wooden spoon is good for. I especially love the look of having varying spoons in an antique crock on the counter. They are easy to reach and use when I need them, and look perfectly rustic sitting there when I do not. Check out this cute enamelware spoon, to!
- Chef's Knife. You can't go far in a kitchen without a good knife. I promise you that! Invest your money in an incredible chef's knife, you know, the kind that's printed all over restaurant menus and used commercially. It chops everything you need, and you really don't need many other cutlery tools in the home kitchen other than that. At least, I hardly use any other knife other than a pairing knife for peeling. My knife is special, and I treat it like family. Before every use, it receives a sharpening, and when I am done, it gets cleaned immediately.
- Herb Scissors. I love these! My Chinese Utility Scissors are my favorite. I have two sizes, the 4 inch and the 6 inch. They come in handy all around the house, not just in the kitchen, but I will admit they are used there most often. Though most advertised as scissors for clipping and trimming herbs, I also use them to trim pie crust, open tough packaging, and at times even embroider. I love how aesthetically pleasing they are to my eye, and how they look hanging up on my peg rack. What more could you ask for out of an amazing pair of scissors? Not much! They fit the homestead perfectly.
- Mortar + Pestle. This is a new kitchen item for me, and I honestly don't know how I got by without it. If there ever was a time that I was grinding up herbs or nuts, I would often use my electric coffee grinder, which would make a mess and not leave me with a concentrated product. I like this gives me a manual focus to what exactly I'm grinding and can be done in small increments. Not to mention, I get to use the entire ground product when I am finished, unlike with my coffee grinder where product would get stuck in crevices and blades and end up going down the drain. It's been a game changer!
Juicer. Another game changer? My juicer! I received it for Christmas and did not realize at the time that I would be using it so often while we are on our whole foods journey. Whenever a recipe called for lemon juice, I often would get frustrated at having to pick out the lemon seeds, always resulting in one or two stay ones falling into my batter. There was the unwanted task of picking them out with my fingers. While this tool isn't completely necessary for every kitchen, it does make juicing fruits a LOT easier, less messy, and more enjoyable. We now use it most often to make fresh lemonade, which in my opinion, is a million times better than anything I could purchase premade at the store. Just try it! It takes less than 5 minutes. Try storing your finished juice in this juice jar.
Cleaning Brushes. My weakness - pretty scrub brushes. They're just so beautiful! Is that weird? Who gets excited over a cleaning brush? But they're so much nicer than anything plastic I could grab. I just love them. If I could have one in every size and style, I think I would. In reality, I have two for cleaning dishes and one for cleaning vegetables, and I think that's really all you need. Actually, the only cleaning brush that I think you need out of all of them is this one, the wooden dish brush. It's long handle make it perfectly comfortable to hold and the small head can reach into tighter spaces than you might think. I usually use this brush to clean out the tiny cracks and crevices in Tad's sippy cups. Those things can be disgusting, but clean up nice with this brush. I also have the round dishbrush, which I like for cleaning out soup pots and my cast iron skillet if it's really dirty. We don't have a dishwasher, so these get used pretty regularly, and while they don't look brand new, they do hold up extremely well. We've been using them for almost a year, and they still have every single bristle they came with! I'm impressed. If you eat vegetables - you should if you don't! - then you might consider getting a vegetable brush. Use this to clean the dirt and grime off of your veggies coming from the garden. It has heavier bristles for really scrubbing dirt off, and I like them best for cleaning potatoes.
- Beeswax Wrap. Are you trying to be waste free like us? We're still getting used to it when it comes to food preservation. Recently, we came across reusable beeswax wraps when Natalie and Luke sent us a sandwich wrap to try. It works just as well! It's easy to clean, smells amazing, and keeps your food fresh. I really like it and need to grab a package for bowls and dishes, too.
- Flour Sack Towels. Even though we make these, they really are one of our favorite products to use on the daily. I cannot tell you how often I use our flour sack towels in the kitchen. Granted, we usually use all of the misprints or failed towels, but still, they work amazingly for so many different reasons. That's one of the reasons that we sell them - we actually use them and love them so much! These towels are extremely durable, yet thin like cheesecloth in a way. I use them to strain oils when I'm making infusions and also to cover my rising bread. Soft and sturdy, our towels have been through a lot, yet they always look just as good after coming out of the laundry. So nice!
- Favorite Cookbook. Cookbooks are a must have in my kitchen. I keep all of my favorites lined up on the top shelf of my pantry and rotate them sometimes depending on the season. You know a cookbook is good when the spine is all creased and bent, and there is food splattered among the many pages. Some of my favorites include: Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, The White House Cookbook, and Plant Based!
I always have to laugh a bit when I get comments about photos of drying rack. It seems to be a hot topic of debate, that my laundry doing looks to pretty to be real. Truth be told, it does actually look like that, I just choose to not hang my dingy sweatpants and underwear up to dry for a photo. Tad's clothing, however, is always freaking adorable. Thankfully, Instagram favors him a little better than it does me. Whether your laundry is always photo ready or not, it's worth taking care of. A while back, I wrote a post on my favorite all natural laundry tools and a recipe for our DIY laundry detergent. We still use it today and all of the tools, but I'm going to list them again here as well as some new ones that you might enjoy.
- Wool Dryer Balls. These are so important. We've been using them for several months now and because of them, have completely gotten rid of fabric softener. It's been a huge savings! Though the smell of Downy is something that makes me think of childhood, I don't miss it that much, and I really enjoy how quickly these wool dryer balls make my clothes dry as well as soft. They're eco friendly and just save you a ton of money. I highly recommend using them!
- Soap Nuts. I don't use these as often, but they come in handy on the days that I run out of laundry detergent. Soap nuts do clean clothes well and leave them smelling odorless and fresh. I like that you can use them multiple times, though I prefer the scent of my homemade laundry detergent better. It's up to preference, but these do work just as well as any detergent you might buy! Plus they're more environmentally friendly and can be composted, too!
- Castile Soap. We use this all over the house. There are just so many amazing things you can make with castile soap! Like baby shampoo and dish soap and even laundry detergent. We use the solid perfumed bar to make our detergent. All natural, safe, and friendly towards the earth.
- Essential Oils. Recently, I've been adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to our laundry detergent. It's been really amazing! It gives our laundry that extra scent boost as well as the added natural cleaning benefits it possesses. Try it!
- Drying Rack. I don't know where I would be without my indoor drying rack. It changed my life! A friend of ours stopped by one day and pulled it out of the back of her car. She knew I had been looking for one and found it at a garage sale. She told me to take, and I did, loving on it every second. I love to dry my clothes on the line outside, but some days are too cold or rainy or I just don't feel like hauling every load outdoors. I can dry them easily here, without ruining clothing that shouldn't go through the dryer or wasting energy in our home on days where I don't need things dry right away. I usually use this to aerate a room (did you know it acts as a natural humidifier?) as well as to keep all of Tad's clothes lasting longer. Putting clothing through the dryer can really just beat them up!
- Clothespins. If you do have a clothesline, then get some clothespins! And a basket! So important to have some natural clothespins, the kind that won't stain or ruin your clothing. If you are interested in hanging laundry but are hesitant or need some tips, check out my blog post here. It's really amazing! There are even mental health benefits linked towards hanging your clothes outside. I love it! Especially in the summertime.
- Woven Baskets. I don't always think that having a beautiful, antique woven basket is necessary for just doing the laundry, but that's what I use them for most often. It's actually where all of my dirty clothes wind up in my closet, and it's been my favorite "dirty clothes bin" to date. I think that's because it's incredibly practical. When it's time to wash, I just pick it up, then pile up all of my freshly laundered clothes and put them right back in the basket to take outside. And it looks very homestead-chic to me LOL. There's just something really wonderful about mixing old and new pieces together in a home, you know, the ones that sing to your heart. Those are the best kind. I also use woven baskets to hold blankets in our living area, gather balls of yarn, hide uglier things like diapers and wipes. They are very versatile!
At the Back Door
The back door! I actually really love this spot, which I, myself, find kind of strange. But whenever I glance up at my peg rack near the door to our mudroom, which is usually while I am standing at the kitchen counter, I find myself smiling at the things that collect there. Not to be fooled, we do have a coat rack in the mud room that doesn't always look pretty. It collect all of our coats and jackets throughout the week that don't match each other, and by Sunday it looks like it's sprouted hair. Then we clean up and start all over again. But my peg rack - that gets to stay looking pretty all of the time, I love it, and I do use everything hanging on it quite frequently. A pair of Chinese Utility Scissors live there and are easily in reach while I'm working on a project.
- Reusable Bags. I always have at least one, but usually a stack of reusable bags at my back door. Mostly so that I do not forget them whenever I have to make a run for errands! As we become more conscious of the waste we make, plastic bags was easily one of the first things we knew had to go. It was getting to the point where we would fill our garbage can up with useless bags and have to pay to have them taken away. That's just silly! Our reusable totes are life changing and have a great message on them to remind you where to shop. You can purchase this particular tote here! Be sure to check out our other reusable bags with our spring prints here.
- Mud Boots. These are Tad's favorite! We always wear our mud boots while out on the town, and I can't help but love how they look sitting by the door, ready for the day's adventures. When you live on a tiny homestead, wellies are necessary, especially when you're turning the compost pile! I've made the mistake of trying to sift through the grime of our pile in sandals - never doing that again. We love Hunter Boots and The Original Muck Boots!
- Linen Apron. You can't go wrong with a lovely and durable linen apron. This is my go to for working in the kitchen or the garden. I never feel guilty wiping off a grimy finger on this because it washes so well. We don't have our latest apron available for purchase just yet, but I honestly consider our Linen Tunic like an apron and wear as such all of the time.
Around the Home
Remember how I said most of my tools were for the kitchen? Well, I do have a few more kitchen-inspired tools for you here, but I also think they are justifiable used in all areas of the home, whether that's the bedroom, bathroom, pantry, or living area. We use these items all over our home in our everyday lives, and I just love having them! If you consider yourself a minimalist or an attempting-minimalist, I hope that you find these tools satisfactory. They are of the highest quality and you only need so many things! We believe in quality over quantity and try to purchase the best things we can find!
- Mason Jars. If you have any sort of country ties, then you know that you can never go wrong with using mason jars as decor. We use these for literally everything! Our pantry is probably the biggest indicator for our love of the canning jar. They hold all of our herbs, spices, and dry food. We've labeled them all to our liking, which always seems to come with compliments and awe! I am not sure why. Label your stuff, people, it makes a difference! We also use mason jars to drink out of, store laundry soap, hold fresh flowers and garden clippings, grow sprouts, can food, mix paint, etc etc. There are more than a million uses I bet for these amazing jars!
- Plant Mister. I love this plant mister so much! It's gorgeous, and it works so well. Right now, I keep it in the greenhouse, but it also finds its way into the house so I can give my indoor succulents a little drink. I think it could look great in any home and is completely worth it. This particular mister was also featured in the Magnolia Journal, wouldn't you know. I felt so on trend - ha!
- Shopping List. Are you a list maker? I am dedicated lister. I always have to write my thoughts down physically, or else I will forget. I also hate having things stored in boxes or cabinets, because I tend to forget that they even exist! It's that bad. Probably why our entire pantry is stored in glass containers - that way I can see it! If you like to make shopping lists, check out this gorgeous set. I always love having these lying around different parts of our home, like the kitchen, bathroom, my bedside, and my desk. You never know when an idea will strike!
- Gardening Calendar. I always have a calendar hanging around, and most of them pertain to gardening. I think it really pulls a homestead-styled home together. There's nothing more lovely than seeing some beautiful plants, whether they are photographed or drawn, hanging in your home. It makes my heart happy and also reminds me to get to work on my own garden! I love this planting calendar by The Freckled Hen Farmhouse (on sale!!!), which lets you know what to plant by zone. I also get a lot of questions about my illustrated gardening calendar, which you can purchase here from Cavallini Papers.
- Farmer's Almanac. Completely resourceful and funny, too. The Old Farmer's Almanac is a worthy tool to have in your home, even if just for a good laugh. I love reading all of the celestial information. I am not sure if I believe in its truth, but it's always interesting when something like that seems fated. Either way, this little book does give you some fairly accurate predicted weather dates for planting as well as tips for gardening. I like to flip it open while I'm sipping coffee in the morning and see what it predicted for my day.
- Lavender Room Spray. Not a necessity, but I think it definitely should be! This makes our home smell fresh, clean, and like the garden. I love a good spritz of this amazing lavender room spray by our dear friends The Old White House. Spray it on your linens and breath in the amazing aroma of French lavender. You will not regret it!
That's it for today! As I was typing this out it felt like a lot of stuff, but I have to remind myself that these are all things I find necessary and that I do not really seem to feel like build up in our home. If you are looking to find some great items and tools for your own homestead or farmhouse, then I think all of these products I linked you to are extremely high quality, and well made. And you're supporting small business!
Because we love you guys and know that you will love the items from this list, we have teamed up with Luke and Natalie of The Freckled Hen Farmhouse to offer to 10% off your entire purchase from their online store! Get excited!!
Use the code TINROOF10 at checkout to receive your discount. I am hoping to snag some new tools for my garden!! If you are looking for our favorite gardening tools, you can check out this post from last year, and we are hoping to write an updated list later in the planting season.
What are your favorite tools around the homestead?
This post is in partnership with The Freckled Hen Farmhouse.