Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Winter Break

Homemade Muffins in the Parlour at Mrs. White's Vermont Estate


Here in the mountains of rural New England, it is quiet and peaceful.  Each day, this past week, there has been a steady amount of snow throughout the days and nights. It is not a blizzard, but a pretty, gentle accumulation of glistening, white to brighten the landscape.  It is lovely to see.

The boys have been shoveling out the cars and keeping the parking area, and walkways, in good order.  They are often doing this just before the sun sets as they wait for dinner to be served in the evenings. 

It is better to stay off the roads during these snowy days.  Errands and appointments are rare, or cancelled, as we wait for warmer weather. 


This afternoon's view from the front porch at Mrs. White's home.



I have been catching up on some organizing and heavy cleaning.  I have also been doing a lot of reading.  It is warm and cozy indoors with our wood pellet stove. 

Often, in the early afternoon, I welcome grandbabies to the table. I serve lunch or some homemade treat.  It is lovely to have company, especially when it is family!

Our pantry and refrigerator are full of the basics for cooking and baking.  I have no need to go to the market, for which I am grateful.   The other morning, my daughter wanted to bake a cake.  She didn't have a mix, so I got out my cookbook and showed her some easy recipes using what we had on hand.  You can make just about anything, on a whim, if you keep a steady supply of basic groceries, such as cocoa, powdered sugar, flour, and shortening.  All we have to do, is put on an apron and get to work.

In Pioneer days, settlers did well in the cold season if they stocked up on coal or wood, for their heat, to last through the winter.  They also stored the summer's harvest in a cellar, or on pantry shelves, since they knew it would not be easy to get supplies during the coldest months of the year.  How nice it would be if we were able to plan our lives around yearly expenses, rather than weekly ones.

This does not mean we can afford luxuries (like hot chocolate, steak, or "name brand cookies").  Just simple basic ingredients so we can make things from scratch. These might include flour and such for muffins, pancakes, and quick breads.   We can even make our own pizzas if we have cans of plain tomato sauce and some inexpensive hand-grated cheese.  Getting good prices on meat, here and there, so we can stock the freezer over time will also help keep us safe and cozy at home during the difficult weeks and months of winter.  Even if we could put up enough food to last a few weeks, it would be ideal in these modern days.

This is such a lovely time to stay home, putter around the house, do projects and enjoy the hearth and family. There is no rush or worry to go anywhere.  As many appointments and errands as possible are put off until spring.  This is the quiet time of year where we can just rest and take a winter break.


Blessings,
Mrs.White

From the Archives -

Good advice from Colonial Days - To Earn and Not to Spend.

The Way it is for Many - Retirement Planning for the Poor.

How Nice it is to Be - Just a Housewife.



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





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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Company Ready Home

Library of Congress: Mrs.Schulstad and her daughter setting the table for dinner. South Dakota, 1940.

There is usually a main room where guests first see when they enter a home. This is often a kitchen or living room.  These are the common rooms we housekeepers try to keep the neatest.  We also do our best to keep the bathroom tidy.

It is not possible to keep all rooms, of a house, perfectly organized and spotless at all times. This is because we do not live inside a magazine cover photograph. Our homes are not going to be "picture perfect." But we do well when we keep the main rooms company ready.

I have often read of the different temporary homes which Caroline Ingalls and her family lived in.  She did a few specific things on a daily basis:

1. She always swept the floors each day, even dirt floors in a sod house.

2. The beds were made each day. She made her own, and directed her girls to make theirs.  This was an expected chore.

3.  After each meal, she and the girls would wash and put away the dishes. She would put a clean tablecloth on the table. Then she would put the Kerosene lamp neatly at the center of the table. It made things look pleasant and tidy.

4. All were expected to sit up straight and use their manners, even if they were camping near the river on their way to a new homestead out west.

There was a time when they didn't have much and the children had been sick with Scarlet Fever. I believe this was in the book, "On the Banks of Plum Creek."   Some company was stopping by unexpectedly.  Ma (Caroline) worried about what food she could serve, since nothing special was available at the time.  Laura, who had been taking care of everyone said something like, "If it is good enough for us, it is good enough for them!" This is so sweet because the way in which they lived, good housekeepers, hard workers, and simple living with dignity, made any meal they served to the family, or to guests, a blessing.

In these modern days, we can certainly take a few minutes throughout the day to keep things neat.  I like to polish the bathroom sink, wash mirrors and put out a fresh towel each day.  I also make my bed each morning, and open the blinds to let in the cheerful sunshine.   I straighten flower arrangements (these are assorted plastic flowers that make things look extra nice all year round), straighten chairs, and put everything "to rights" in the main parlour. This helps to keep our home looking inviting and pleasant. 

It is good to just keep the house looking nice in case unexpected guests show up.   When my parents were in their elder (retirement) years, they used to do some extra tidying on Sunday afternoons, as that was the common time when church members would stop in to see them once a month or so.  Mother would be sure to have some coffee cake on hand for refreshments.  She and Dad would dust the furniture and vacuum the carpets. They would make the kitchen counters and table look extra pretty.  This was for "just in case" company came. If nobody stopped by that week, they would enjoy the special treat and the extra lovely home regardless.

Years ago, one of my grown daughters used to love to drop in for a surprise visit. She lived a few hours away and I never knew when she would just show up for the night, or for a day- visit.  I always wanted to have a warning so I could buy special foods I knew she liked.  As the years went by, I realized that I would much rather have her just show up unexpectedly. Surely she would enjoy any food we had on hand because it would be made with love. It was much more fun to have her come by without a warning. She loved to see how happy and surprised I was to see her! 

In my childhood home, special treats like cake or popcorn were reserved for once a week or special occasions.  Often this was on a weekend.  If company happened to stop by, they would share in the refreshments.  If they happened to show up on a weekday, they would have the common fare of whatever meal we were having - nothing special.  But we made sure our house was always decent and neat so we could share our happy home and life with our guests.

Very often, "Nothing special" in a cared- for, humble home is just what company would love to see.

To have a company ready home just means we housekeepers are doing our job of keeping a decent and tidy home. We look as nice as we can (as representatives of our homes), and gladly welcome weary visitors with a smile and with grace.

Blessings
Mrs. White


From the Archives -

The Way it Was - Retirement Planning for the Poor.

A Happy Marriage - Serving Mister.

Training Children - Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House.




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





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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poverty in the 1800's




Betsy Moody was the mother of nine children.  She lived in a beautiful house in Northfield, Massachusetts in the early 1800's.  She was expecting twins when her 41 year old husband died suddenly leaving the family in dire straits.  There was a mortgage on the house, but because of favorable laws in those days, the creditors were not able to take away her home.  Instead, they took just about all her possessions, including the firewood needed to heat the home, in order to recover the debt.

Betsy was the mother of the famous preacher, D. L. Moody. The way in which she brought up her children and retained the family homestead, as a widow, is inspiring. 

Her brother came to her aid by providing such necessary things as firewood. They were also helped by the local pastor. Her older children worked in nearby farms (as was common in those days) to help feed and support the family. The work they did helped them to learn skills and built a tremendous work ethic, making them hardworking, dependable and successful. 

The children were required to attend church services, as were most all children of the time.  Their "mother instructed her children in the true religion of the heart that seeks first God and His righteousness."  The foundation of their home was strong in godly living.  They also learned compassion and charity from an early age:

"Mrs. Moody was tender-hearted, and the children learned the privilege of giving from their scanty store.  The hungry were never turned away from her door and on one occasion when the provision for the evening meal was very meagre it was put to the vote of the little ones whether they should give of their small supply to a poor beggar who appealed for aid.  The children begged that he should be aided and offered to have their own slices cut thinner."

The Sabbath was a wonderful time for the children.  The older ones worked away from home all week and returned each Saturday evening to be with the family. On Sunday, the family brought a packed lunch and spent the day at Church hearing 2 sermons and attending the Sunday School before returning home.  This precious time created a beloved "habit of attending God's house."

The children would bring home books from the church library for their mother to read to them.   She, herself, only owned 3 books, including the Bible, a catechism, and a "book of devotions."  She also read to the children each morning and prayed with them.

Betsy made home life attractive and pleasant for the children, despite her poverty. She did this by encouraging the children to open their home to friends. While the children played, "she would sit quietly with her mending," and provide a wholesome and pleasant environment of love and warmth.

I am amazed at how beautiful their house was, yet knowing how cold New England winters can be, I realize the Moody family did not have an easy life.  Yet, somehow, through their hard work, independent Yankee work ethic, and great trust in God, they succeeded!  It also amazes me to learn that Betsy lived in that same house until she passed into Heaven, at the age of 90!

Her grandson tells us that his father, D.L. Moody, "could never speak of those early days of want and adversity without the most tender references to that brave mother whose self-sacrifice and devotion had sacredly guarded the home entrusted to her care."

Blessings
Mrs.White

*Quotes, and photograph, in this post are from the book, "The Life of D.L. Moody by His Son," published in 1900.



From the Archives -

Old Fashioned Thrift - Retirement Planning for the Poor.

Taking care of Children - I Hear Angels Crying.

A Happy Marriage - A Wife Who Does Not Complain.





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





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Review - Class Lesson Planner




The following is a homeschool review of "CLASS Lesson Planner," published by Christian Liberty Press:


 
 
 
This 111 page book is an excellent addition to any homeschool curriculum.  Here is what you will find inside:

1. Ideas for organizing your school year

  One method is to take each school book and divide the number of workbook pages into the number of school days in the year.  This will help you see how many pages to do on each school day, in order to complete the curriculum on time.

2. There are a few pages of blank calendars for each month of the year.
 
  This includes suggestions on how to fill these in.

3.  The Main portion of the book contains the "Weekly Lesson Plan Forms." 

  This is my favorite part of the book and what I use most!   Here is where you, as the teacher, write down your daily and weekly work that you expect your student to do.  For example:

In the category of "Math" - do page 14 in workbook.

 I also write a few notes about what the student learned, or any special accomplishments from the lesson. I will write notes in the margin about what we need to work on for improvement, if needed.

The weekly Lesson planner section has two pages for each week, covering all possible subjects. The forms are blank for you to fill in the dates.  You can start this at any time, take a vacation, and start back up again by just filling in the dates.  There is a space for each of the following subjects:

Bible; Reading; Spelling and Handwriting; Grammar and Phonics; History; Science; Math: and "Other."

I like to write down what we did, as a sort of brief journal. It is also great to look back over and see, in writing, all that you have accomplished with your student!

4. In the back of the book, there is a worksheet where you can write out the names of all the curriculum you are using (category suggestions are given) as well as spaces for the year, and the name of your student.

5. There are pages to list the assignments given, as well as worksheets to list all the books your student has read independently.

6. You'll find an attendance record, report card, evaluation reports, transcript worksheets, and so much more.  There is even a worksheet for a weekly chore list, which is so helpful for homeschoolers!


You can find this book at the Christian Liberty Press site:

CLASS Lesson Planner



 This post is the fourth in a series of reviews I am doing using Christian Liberty Press curriculum.  I hope to do 2 reviews each month as I work with my grandson for Kindergarten. To start with the first post, please see the introduction:

"24 Years of Homeschooling with Christian Liberty Press"



* Disclosure - I received this item for review purposes.*










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Sunday, January 1, 2017

The First Housekeeping Day of the Year

Library of Congress:  1941 Georgia family saying Grace


The other night, I cleaned our kitchen and parlour before I went to sleep. I wanted it to look nice because that makes me happy.  I want to reflect a little on this since it is the first day of the New Year.

No matter how tired I am, I try to make the effort of having the main rooms of the house put "to rights" before I rest.  This often takes herculean courage and an incredible attitude of "with a will."

I am not young, nor am I old.  But life has taken its toll on me.  I get worn out incredibly easily.  I do rest when I must, but I have to get back to the duties of homemaking to accomplish lovely things here for my family.

The lovely things of home, for me, are just keeping things simple and peaceful.  It is peaceful to have homemade foods made on a daily basis. This keeps us nourished with wholesome food.  It is peaceful to fluff pillows and straiten the couch cover in the parlour.  I want the couch and chairs to look inviting so people can take the time of rest and refreshment here before getting back to their daily work.

I have grown children, a teenager, toddlers and babies here on a daily basis.  They play, eat, run around, and enjoy home.  They do not make "messes," they simply "live."  I clean up as we go, or when they are finished. They are my helpers as we often do chores together.  I feel blessed as I work as I am so grateful to have them all here. It is a privilege to be the wife, mother, and grandmother of a family.

Sometimes, if I am terribly worn out, I will leave the crayons on the kitchen table. I will leave my tea cup there as well.  I will leave the papers, and the cups from the children's juice.  I will leave the chairs out from the morning activity.   I am greatly amused when, later in the day, a little grandchild will come back to visit me, glance at the table, and looking worried, say, "Me`me didn't clean up the mess?"  It is funny because he knows how much I love to clean and he thought something was wrong with his beloved grandmother! This sweet little comment gave me the energy to get it all tidied up with his help.

We cannot have perfectly spotless houses in showroom condition. Certainly not.  But we can take the time, throughout the day, to be about the business of housekeeping. It takes work and effort and creativity to keep a home in order.  It also takes a cheerful willingness to make home a peaceful, happy place to be.

The nice thing about being a good homemaker is we don't have to wait for a New Year to start. We can start fresh every morning.

Blessings
Mrs.White


From the Archives -

Frugality - Poor and Pretty Living.

Happy Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

A Wonderful Kind to be - The Mother who isn't Busy.






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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