Friday, March 24, 2017

Doing Less

Winter Scene, Dalarne

There is a gentle snow falling here in rural Vermont. It looks so peaceful and pretty as I look out the window.  Even though the calendar claims the season as spring, it is still winter here in the mountains of New England.

This is a good time to rest. It is a good time to make resolutions for the coming year.  Perhaps planning out little gardens to plant when the last of the frost is gone?  Maybe think about all the things we would like to do this summer?  It can be a happy time of bundling up and sitting near a cozy fire dreaming of spring flowers and sunshine.

I am doing less these days.  I remember when all my children were young. They helped me so much with the chores and housekeeping.  They did much of the cooking with me and the planning to keep budgets under control.  While they learned valuable life skills and work ethics, I had happy comrades to help me in my work. 

Now that the helpers are all grown up, I am not able to do all the chores and duties. So I've had to make changes - find ways of doing less of other things so I could rest more.   Of course, there is less work in a smaller household, but there can still be an urgency (in this culture) to multitask and be so busy with projects, making money, and running around that we can become stressed and burdened.   Sometimes, we do not even notice this is happening to us until we are forced to stop. Perhaps by a snowstorm or a car that will not work.  Sometimes it is by a sickness that forces us to rest.  Once we accept these detours (of sorts), and yield to them, we find a benefit of peace and a rest for our minds.

Doing less is definitely the opposite of the race this culture is running.  But it gives us time to read the Bible more and to pray more without rushing.  It gives us an aura of gentleness and spreads a light of cheerfulness to those around us.

Doing less can mean many things. To me it means I do not want to be swept up with the distractions and glitter of this life that tend to lure me away from a quiet, simple life of a happy, godly home.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

I want to be - The Mother Who Isn't Busy.

Good propaganda - Kitchen Sermons.

A happy day of -  Gracious Homemaking.

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, March 12, 2017

A Confinement

Mrs. White's Parlour in Vermont

This has been a cozy winter, here in New England.  Last month brought us many snowstorms which kept us indoors much of the time.  We are in the midst of a below zero cold spell right now. It is a time to rest and keep busy indoors.

A gentle sickness has brought a confinement.  I am weary and struggling, but know it should only last a week or so.  I have been resting on the parlour couch reading a Grace Livingston Hill book, but taking many breaks to give in to much needed slumber. 

Sweet visitors come throughout the day-  One of my daughters and her brood of sweet children.  Their mother comes for coffee, knowing Papa keeps a fresh pot regularly brewing.  I also love their visits, even if I am sound asleep and they wake me up.  It is cheerful to have such special visitors.

It feels like I am in a home hospital, getting plenty of rest, combined with precious family who are as quiet as can be part of the time, yet mostly lovely and loud as is their sweet nature.

I wanted to check in for a quick visit with all of you. I may be gone for awhile, perhaps a few weeks. But will return as soon as I am able.


From the Archives -

An Encouraging look at - "Poverty in the 1800's" about the Mother of D.L. Moody.

For the love of precious grandchildren - "I Hear Angels Crying."

Sweet Faith for Mothers - "All of God's Children Have Shoes."

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. 


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.


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."

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


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.

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."

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


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."


*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."

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


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