Sunday, October 9, 2016

Poor and Pretty Living

Library of Congress: Baking bread using 1920 Potomac Electric Appliances

The lower my income gets, the harder I work to live on my reduced resources. It is a challenge to make home look pretty without any money. There is tremendous labor in preparing homemade food when you cannot afford the convenience or take - out version.

We can bring homemade touches to our humble homes. It is so nice to have a beautiful environment at home. It makes cooking and cleaning more pleasant.

I have a full length white curtain in one of my doorways.  It adds charm to a spot where there is no door in this old 1800's house.  When some of our shades, on a few of our windows, became unusable, we put up some panel curtains found in an old box. This was a way to give us some privacy in the evenings without spending any money.

Over the weekend, I visited one of my grown sons at his job. He works at a beautiful Vermont Inn and Restaurant. On his break, he walked the grounds with me.  He showed me beautiful varieties of roses growing by a large arbor.  They looked lovely on the Vermont landscape.  The owner suggested he cut some of the flowers for me. I was delighted.  I took home a pretty pink rose and a bright red one.  It was as if someone had given me a priceless treasure.  These now sit in a small white vase on my kitchen window sill.  It is a touch of class and beauty because of the story behind them.

I have often seen homes of the wealthy.  They have landscapers do marvelous things with their property.  There are often amazing designs and lush gardens.  I have also seen homes of the middle and lower classes who have beautiful flower gardens.  I have never had such things on my property because, frankly, I do not have the money for mulch, soil, plants or seeds.  A solution for the poor, I have found, is to enjoy wildflowers that cost nothing! (It is also possible to buy seeds for these on clearance at the end of the season for as little as a quarter. Using expired seeds the following spring often works just as well.)  This makes one's property look what is commonly called, "Shabby Chic."  The beauty is in the words and the attitude! This helps one to love what one has and to be content.

I have a few old aprons that have been worn down from years of use. I need to make a new one with some charming fabric I bought some time ago for a special occasion.  The work in making the apron provides me with a happy satisfaction.  Wearing a homemade, pretty apron is a lovely way to keep house.

With recent health trials, I have gotten out of the habit of wearing a nice necklace and doing a bit of dressing up as I do my homemaking duties.  As we face living in poverty, I want to do a better job of presenting my home with class and style using what I already have in my wardrobe. This reminds me of something I recently read about American patriotism in war time.  Many families of means did not buy new clothes even though they had plenty of money. They were told to save resources for the war effort by using what they already had or making things over with what was at home.  These mothers and girls were used to buying a new dress for every social event that came along. They would have a full season of invitations in society and had to dress the part.  How wonderful for them to take their current clothes and do a little sewing to remake them into something new without spending any money!

These days we can take the time to repair our clothes such a sewing up a little rip in a sleeve, or tightening a button on a sweater.  We can make our clothes stay pretty and nice with our own hands.  This costs nothing.

I have a lovely blue sofa in my parlour that needs recovering.  That is simply impossible. Instead, I have placed a beautiful delicate sheet, which I inherited from my mother, over it. It looks homey and sweet. This is part of living poor and pretty.

Setting an elegant table can be done by using regular place settings at the kitchen table, rather than having everyone eat at a coffee table in front of television.  If a formal style dinner can be done at least for the evening meal, it will boost morale among those families living in poverty and cheer them along.  These formal dinners can be simple foods like cornbread, fried potatoes and beans. It does not have to be fancy, but the setting of the table, and the use of dinner napkins, saying grace, and sitting all together is what makes it precious and special.

Many more people than we realize, these days, are living poor. We can make it pretty and almost fun with creativity in our days and the use of our time.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Please be one of these - A Wife Who Does Not Complain.

Have you Joined the Group? - Mother's Benevolent Society.

Happy Times - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wholesome Entertainment

Library of Congress - Formal Parlour in Virginia

It is so nice to have a little time for wholesome recreation.  This is the time when we get to rest and have a little fun.

I love when there are people who can make us laugh in a wholesome way.  We need more Christian comedians and entertainers who help to cheer us along the way.  There are also movies and old television programs that offer a pleasant way to get a little rest at home.  I like "The Dick Van Dyke show" which starred Mary Tyler Moore. The husband, in this old black and white program, was a comedy writer for television.  He and his wife had one little boy. They had a pleasant home life.   I also like many old movies.

In our modern days, there are many television shows and movies which are not wholesome.  They are so common that it is almost normal to have an abundance of inappropriate entertainment for us to access at any time.

It has recently come to my attention that there is a "streaming" service which offers quality Christian based programming. (A link to this is on the left sidebar of my blog for those who are interested.) The company is called, PureFlix.  I think it is a wonderful idea, even though I have no idea how to set up something like that! (gentle smiles).  For those who are able to watch television through their computer or game systems, this is a great option to find wholesome entertainment.

It seems that television has become the new form of recreation. But that was not always the case. It is also a temptation to watch so much that we don't do much else.

For happy times of recreation in the home, I like to play cards with my grown children (and teenagers).  Sometimes I will call out, in the middle of the day, to see if anyone wants to play a quick game at the parlour table.  While we play, we talk and laugh. This is a great way to get a young adult to visit with Mother and for her to see how the child is doing.  It is also fun.

Of course, there is always checkers or chess.  I haven't played those games in quite some time because they tend to make me anxious since I know I will lose to my opponent!

It is lovely to have some fun sewing project to work on, or rearranging furniture and decorating with what one has on hand. It is a free way to have some fun at home while being productive.

I love to read to the grandchildren. We also color and play with a great variety of toys in the parlour or playroom.

Sometimes I leave home and play tennis with my sons.  We have 2 very nice courts within a 15 minute drive from our Estate.

Walking the property with guests or family is always a nice way to have some recreation while enjoying the fresh air and landscape around us.

But my favorite place will always be our parlour. I love to sit near the hearth in the winter and read classic literature, like "Dombey and Son" by Dickens.   I also enjoy reading Jane Austen. But lately I have been devouring many books by Grace Livingston Hill, which contain wonderful Christian lessons that are so precious to read.

There is a very special way we homemakers can find some wholesome fun. It is to serve others in our household by doing nice surprises to delight them and to make them happy.  Sometimes I will make a special treat for Mister.  Other times, I will tidy up a bedroom for one of the children. A thoughtful note left on the kitchen table will make someone smile. There are many ways we can think of to do special things that will surprise those around us.

We would be tremendously peaceful and filled with happiness if our times of entertainment were focused on Bible lessons, sermons, good literature, and wholesome fun with the family.  Pleasant recreation, based on godliness and doing things that are pure and happy and lovely will bring us great delight.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

It Can Be Done- Living Without Credit Cards.

A Blessing for Every Home - A Housewife on Duty

For a Happy Marriage - Cooking for Mister.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Comfort of a House Coat

Library of Congress: 1942 Nursing School Resident Hall  - Students Wearing House Coats

The fashion industry used to make such pretty robes for lounging at home. Mothers and daughters wore them at home to be comfortable and to look pretty.  In New England these are generally called "bathrobes."  In the south, the robes are known as "house coats."

In my childhood home, we girls received a new robe each year at Christmas time.  The women in our family always wore a robe or "house coat" when at home. My mother had a few different kinds.  There were light cotton fabrics, with little flowers or decorations, with shorter sleeves for summer.  Her winter robes were warm and long, often with a zipper in the front. These were often navy blue or purple and were warm and pretty.  We children always felt safe and happy when mother wore her house coat, because that was a sign to us that she was not going out.  Mother would not step out the door unless she had gotten all dressed up. So we knew she was home with us and comfortable. It gave us a sense of security.

When we girls, my sister and I, would go spend the night at our Aunt's house, we would pack our robes in our suitcases.  Our Aunt had a beautiful guest room for us with rich furnishings and lovely, delicate decorations. We felt rich in that room, with our pretty house coats.  It gave us a bit of elegance to "dress" in something pretty designed just for being at home.

These days the modern look seems to be very casual, almost to the point of sloppy. Old clothes worn around the house seems to offer the new form of comfort.  But this was not the way it used to be.

Each year I try to buy my grown daughters a pretty new robe or a nice nightgown.  I am also doing this with my granddaughters.  There is a tradition from previous generations that we can dress up even in our pajamas, in the form of lovely house coats and lounging robes.

 Library of Congress:  1975 White House Living Quarters-                                                                                                    First Lady Betty Ford with her husband and Daughter, wearing House Robes

It helps make the home culture extra special when one has pretty things to wear in order to relax and enjoy time with the family.

 It helps send a message that we are not going to worry about the bills, the trials, or the outside world when we are at home in our pretty house coats. We are just going to relax and take a much needed break to refresh our spirits before facing the world again.

This is a wonderful example to set for husband and children to help quiet and calm the household with the gentling comfort of a house coat.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Remembering my Aunt's House - Manners Learned at the Finishing School.

A Special Room - Grandmother's Nursery.

Early in the Morning - The Foundation of Cleaning.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Afternoon Walk at the Estate

A river bordering the land at Mrs. White's Vermont Estate

The weather has cooled tremendously here in the mountains of Vermont.  The heat has been unbearable for me, so my walks on the grounds of our estate have been a rare treat this season.

This afternoon, I put on my "house coat" and started for the outdoors.  I love to wear a house coat rather than a sweater when I am at home.  It gives me a sense of peace and happiness. It is comforting to my children and grandchildren because they know that when I wear this, I am not going to leave the property for errands or appointments. It is a like a sign to say Mother is HOME.

There is a light breeze, and the sunshine in the bright areas give a gentle sense of warmth. The shady areas are also lovely to walk through.  I walked slowly around the property to see if there was any damage, or overgrowth of weeds.  One of my boys has been mowing our 2 acres and everything looks very nice.

My strawberry garden has been completely ignored for most of the summer. I haven't even looked at it in months.  I think it produced less than 5 strawberries for me, at the beginning of the season.  That is the reward I get for my neglect. (gentle smiles)

We have some trials and worries (as do we all) that we are trying to peacefully walk through.  I have to remember that I only have to face today. I can do it gracefully, with trust that my Heavenly Father will guide me through it.  I have a picture on my kitchen wall with a prayer that says, "Lord, help me to realize that nothing can happen today You and I can't handle."  It is encouraging!

I was so happy when I finished my walk and went back to the front porch. It was nice to get back inside and take a little break before it is time to start dinner.

No matter what is going on, there is a sense of security, a bit of serenity, to keep house and to be here as a wife and mother.  It strengthens our faith to just calmly walk along through life, doing our best to encourage and cheer the family.

The other day, I heard the sweetest message on a CD of Mrs. Lloys Rice. I believe she was around 80 years old at the time. She was the wife of evangelist Dr. John R. Rice and the mother of six wonderful daughters.  She said something about how she has depended on men her entire life.  She said she has depended on them to provide for her. She described her husband as very loving and kind to her.  She made an old fashioned, traditional marriage sound so precious.  She said she loved to just be at home and keep the home.  The message is called, "Patterns for Living," from "Sword of the Lord" ministry. She was speaking at a women's conference or a ladies tea of some sort.   (I believe Mrs. Rice passed into heaven in the late 1980's.)  Oh, how wonderful it is to reflect and to be encouraged from the saints of previous generations who greatly encourage us to continue on the old paths!

Mrs. White

From the Archives - 

A Blessing to Be - The Mother who Isn't Busy.

"There is No Ambition" - Simplicity of Old Fashioned Homemaking.

A Happy Marriage - Serving Mister.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Just a Housewife

Mrs. White's Parlour in Vermont

There is something very special about being a wife and mother.  It is an honor and a privilege.  It was a common custom, that when a lady got married, she gave up her job and planned to be a housewife. 

In many old movies, you hear a marriage proposal from a gentleman offering his girl a "job for life" of "making his breakfast every morning."  The acceptance of the proposal was always a delight to see.  It was a happy offer to be a housewife.

Times have changed so much.  You can see this very clearly when watching television of different time periods.

 In the 1970's, "The Bob Newhart" show has some interesting dialog about women's liberation.  The main characters were Dr. Hartley and his wife Emily.  The neighbor across the hall, of their apartment complex, was a kind airplane pilot. He visited the Hartleys frequently.  You can see him just about to pull out a kitchen chair for Emily to sit, as was the custom of gentlemen.  Then he hesitates, saying, he forgot about women's lib and apologizes to her.  He also tries to open the door for her, but backs off with a laugh, saying he is still learning about women's liberation.  He handled it with laughs and a sweet demeanor. But the message is clear. (When did manners go out of fashion?)

During this time, "All in the Family" had a specific episode in season 2 about women's lib. Archie and his wife Edith visit cousin Maude for her daughter, Carol's, wedding.  It gets difficult and sad.  The night before the wedding, Carol's fiance, David, tells her he just bought a house.  She gets mad.  He talks about how nice the house is and how big the kitchen is. She gets madder.  She is divorced and has a child and wants to be "free" and decides getting married to David would be a big mistake.  She wanted to keep her job and continue her life as it was.  He was shocked and hurt. The wedding was called off. She was thrilled and toasted to freedom and women's liberation.  (What is wrong with being a housewife and mother at home?  Why the anger and hostility?)

On the other hand, in 1951, a movie starring Clifton Webb, called "Elopement" clearly showed the traditional attitude of the value of being a housewife.  The daughter in this movie was a brilliant student who had a scholarship to an engineer school overseas.  She was a talented designer and inventor who just graduated high school. She was to leave the next day, heading off to college.  Her plans were changed suddenly when she was asked to be the wife of one of the teachers. They went off to elope that evening.  Her family was shocked but her father explained that she wasn't throwing away her future by giving up college and getting married. He said she would use all her talents in the home as an incredible wife and mother.  All was well. Everyone was happy.

It used to be common that schools had a Home Economics curriculum offered to students. Most girls took these courses, and learned many skills including: Child care, Nutrition, Decorating, Cooking, and Sewing.  These programs helped train young girls to be talented and valuable wives and mothers at home.  Today, sadly, very few girls choose to take these types of classes anymore. It has gotten so out of fashion that the name "Home Economics" has been changed to simply "Dressmaking and design" or "Culinary Arts."  These are intended for girls who want these to be their working careers rather than for use in a home.

In these modern days, we do not need to accept the common ways of our culture, which says that being a housewife is a dying work.  Despite television and movies depicting dual career couples as normal living, there are still many who are traditional housewives and many who want to be housewives.

A woman at home, one who loves her job as a homemaker, is a joy to be around. She has all the time in the world to patiently care for her family. She manages the kitchen, the housework, and the family with love and skill. She cares for her husband and children like a precious, talented hostess.  She is an asset to home life.

To be a traditional housewife in a godly home is one of the greatest jobs available to women. It is something to strive for. It is the ideal life in a world that is out of control.  To uphold the image of virtue, morals, dignity, manners, and selfless service, is the work of Christian homemakers.  If every home had a housewife, how very fortunate husbands and children would be.

Mrs. White

From the Archives

The greatest work of Mothers - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

Remembering my childhood home - Memories of Ironing and Other Chores.

Here is the truth - Why the High Cost of Food?

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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