Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A New England Winter on a Small Income

November snow at Mrs. White's Vermont Home - A view from the front porch.

We've had our first heavy snowfall of the season this morning here in rural Vermont.   It is a good day to stay home.  I was thinking about Pa and Ma Ingalls and how the family would stay at the homestead and not venture to town on a day like today.    In the writings of Laura Ingalls she would talk about the men using a horse-drawn cutter which, I imagine, is a sled with a sharp base to travel in the snow without difficulty.  We would certainly appreciate such transportation here in Vermont!

In the older books of Grace Livingston Hill (such as In the Way, copyright 1897) the characters are dressed very warm, and are tucked into sleds with thick robes, or wool blankets, for traveling to church and such.  (This is an excellent book, by the way, and one of my favorites!)

There is often talk, even in the writings of Charles Dickens in Dombey and Son, about how one would sit by the warmth of the fire to read or visit.  Getting close to the fireplace is how the chill from outdoors was soothed.

In modern homes and businesses there is central heating which makes the entire building kept at a set temperature to ensure warmth and comfort.  But in old houses, such as our 1850's colonial, there is no such thing.  Our struggle, and our challenge, each year is to find ways to keep warm indoors on a small income.

There are many rooms in this humble, old house, over three stories.  We also have different sources of heat. Part of our second floor is the least expensive with a wood pellet stove.  In some of these rooms there is electric heat, which is unbearably expensive, but necessary at times.

 In other rooms, mostly on the main 1st floor, we have kerosene (which used to be oil) heat.  This will keep us very cozy and happy but it is very expensive at over $3.00 a gallon.  If our tank is 200 gallons, and the weather outside is 40 below zero (common on some February days), we will go through a great deal of kerosene (perhaps an entire tank full) in about 3 weeks if we want to be at a comfortable temperature.  But this is not something we can afford to do.  So by comparison of the way people lived in our readings of old literature, we learn many things of how to stay reasonably warm, in cold New England, at a reasonable cost.

 Looking out the Window at the snow- covered landscape from Mrs. White's Home

Here are some ideas of what we have learned, living in this chilly, drafty old house for 15 years:

1. Winter clothes are very important. We cannot walk around the house in summer attire.  We need thermals, house coats (robes), and cozy slippers. 

2.  Papa keeps the thermostat (for kerosene) at 60 degrees in the evenings.  During the day he sets it at 63.  I get up early and open all the curtains to get as much natural heat from the sun as possible.

3. We are very hesitant as to when we will first turn on the kerosene heat for the winter.  We are also very cautious about how long we can put off that first delivery.  This year it happened in October because the cold weather had settled in right in the middle of autumn.  The reason we must be so careful about this is because we only have so much money available for heat to get through an entire winter season.

4. If we are very cold, Papa will start a fire in our old wood stove in the downstairs kitchen. We have a small table and chairs set up nearby so we can sit and get warm while sipping on hot chocolate. This is also our only source of heat if the electricity goes out.  It is so cozy and a blessing to sit by the warmth of a fire!

5.  Every doorway, including the one connecting a living room to a kitchen on the first floor, must have an insulated curtain. (I have read that in England, curtains are lined with Flannel to keep houses warm.)  We keep these curtains closed so that each room is kept warm.  Each room must be closed off from the rest in order to keep the rooms reasonably warm.

6. Have you ever read of Children in one-room schoolhouses in winter-time?  They all pulled their desks close by the wood stove and did their lessons near the source of heat.  I don't think anyone would have thought they could keep an entire building warm.  One would have to get near the fireplace, or wood stove, to stay warm.

You also read of families, at home, going upstairs at bedtime to a cold room and snuggling under piles of homemade quilts for warmth.  In the morning, Mother or Dad would start a fire in the kitchen stove to start breakfast for the family. This was also a way to warm up the house before they woke up the children in order for them to get dressed by the fire.

I am grateful for modern heating, but it is not something you find in humble old houses, even today.  In our case, we cannot afford to keep our house at 70 degrees. That would be a luxury beyond our means.  Our winters last for about 6 months.  One would need an entire separate income to keep this old house that cozy. So we learn from history to go near the fireplace or the wood- stove to take off the chill as we rest for a little while.  Then we get back to our home-keeping work which also helps keep us warm.

7.  When you are sitting too long, and you first get up from under blankets or afghans you will be much colder than normal.  Once you start doing some chores, sweeping, putting away laundry, you will warm up.  There is no need to turn up the heat unless you cannot get warm from being active.

8.  Whenever I have to travel (to the store or on errands) with Papa driving our car, I bring a warm blanket for my lap so I am extra tucked in and cozy.   I have also enjoyed the experience of being in a horse- drawn wagon and we were all tucked in with thick wool blankets to keep us nice and warm on a lovely December day here in Vermont.

9. Keep a supply of beautiful blankets and afghans in all the rooms.  We have these on rocking chairs, on the sides of couches, and in chairs by the beds.  This provides extra warmth as we sit for our breaks, visit with guests, or when we go to sleep.

10. When we are expecting company, or grandchildren are visiting, I always tell them to dress very warm. "Wear sweaters," I tell them. I also say to put a cozy blanket- sleeper on the babies. In this way, they will be warm as they play and visit in our drafty, old house.

Gentle Falling snow on our Front Grounds here at Mrs. White's Estate

I also love to just stay home as much as possible in cold New England.  I will do a great deal of reading, sewing, crocheting, and baking.  This is time for the indoor home arts.  Pretty candles also add an idea of warmth and a sense of cozy ambiance.   The warmest room in the house is where you will often find us.  This is our front parlour by the wood pellet stove.

The front parlour at Mrs. White's home

Each year we try to find new ways to keep warm on a small income.  Someday, we hope to add another wood pellet stove to the 1st floor. It will be far less expensive than the kerosene.  Perhaps this will happen soon.

How do you keep warm in winter? We would love to hear your ideas and experience of keeping a warm home with little money.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Are You a Member? - Mother's Benevolent Society.

Old Time Colonial Advice - To Earn and Not to Spend.

Difficult Days - Forgotten Kindness in Marriage.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe Vermont

Front View of the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe Vermont

This is the second post in my series of touring Vermont.  (Please click on any picture to make them larger.)  I have lived in this state for 15 years and rarely stopped to look at the sights.  Starting last year, I made the effort to stop and visit some of the places that I see on my travels. This does not mean that I would need to spend money, but that I would take a few moments of rest and visit some of these places, instead of just rushing through life and never taking a scenic break.

     The center of Stowe Vermont, as we drove through last Summer

I usually drive through Stowe,Vermont a few times a year. It is the route I take to visit some of my grown children who live a couple of hours away from me.  Stowe is such a beautiful town and we always drive through the main road, where tourists often linger, no matter the season.

Visitor Information Center in the center of town in Stowe, Vermont. We did not have time to go inside, but stopped to take a quick picture on our way through town.

One thing that is exceptional about Vermont is that there are no billboards.  We do not see advertising slogans or any large signs as we drive through the Vermont countryside.  Billboards are not legal in this state.  This keeps our scenery and our visits a peaceful experience.  In order for me to find The Trapp Family Lodge, I always saw a simple sign on the side of the road:

Trapp Family Lodge sign showing it is 5 miles down the road, in Stowe Vermont.

One day I realized it would only be a few minutes out of my way to actually see the famous Trapp Family Lodge. Are you ready for our quick tour in pictures?

Parking Lot with Mountain View at the Trapp Family Lodge.

From what I understand, The Trapp Family Lodge consists of 2,500 acres. We are told that the land reminded the family of their Austrian homeland.  It is open to the public to just walk, or picnic. There is also lodging and a restaurant.  They have many activities for guests including cooking classes, movies, tours, tennis, and much more. For us, we just wanted to look around and take a short little walk on some of the grounds before heading back on the road.

The lounge leading into a library at the Trapp Family Lodge.

The staff was very welcoming and said we could walk anywhere we wanted around the main lodge. We were just asked to avoid going upstairs since that area was for guests who were staying there.  There was a beautiful lounge with a door to a little family library.  Some people were playing checkers at one of the tables. There were also many books and comfortable chairs so visitors could sit and read.

History of the Family on one of the walls.

We made our way downstairs towards a gift shop. The walls had many informative pictures, just as you would see in a museum.  It was wonderful to just linger and read.

Lounge outside the gift shop at the Trapp Family Lodge.

On the lower floor of the main lodge was a comfortable lounge area.  It was so peaceful and quiet. I enjoyed sitting for a little while, and then getting up to look at all the pictures.

Trapp Family Lodge Gift Shop

The Gift shop had many books and music CDs of the Trapp Family singers.  I remember watching The Sound of Music on DVD and hearing the angelic voices of the Trapp family children.  One of the music CDs contained Christmas music, which I thought would be lovely to hear.  We didn't have much money to spend, so we bought a couple of postcards and a refrigerator magnet for a remembrance.

In front of the Main Lodge.

As we stepped outside to go home, we wanted to just take a few more minutes to look at the breathtaking scenery.

A small retail shop at the Trapp Family Lodge

There was a small retail shop down the road a little ways. We did not go inside. The entire property was full of so many sights, but we only saw glimpse of it all.  It was such a pretty day to just walk and look for a few minutes. But we really had to get back on the road.

Retail shop at the Trapp Family Lodge

First, though, I had to get a little closer to this little store.  The flowers, landscaping, and the building itself was so pretty to see.

The grounds of the Trapp Family Lodge

I took one more look at the beautiful grounds by the main Lodge.  There were people walking around and enjoying the serene setting.  It was a lovely break on our little journey as we tour Vermont in our every day life.  Thank you for visiting the Lodge with me!

My next stop will be the King Arthur Flour Museum which we visited early this year.

Mrs. White

The first tour was -  A Vermont Christmas Tree Farm.

From the Archives -

Finding Happiness at Home - Poor and Pretty Living.

Are you one of these? - Just a Housewife.

In case you wondered - The Secret to a Clean House.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Early Frugal Christmas Planning

Library of Congress:  Mr. and Mrs. William O. Douglas, and family, in Washington, Christmas, 1939

This is the time of year I like to start planning for Christmas.  I want to create and make special things for my children and grandchildren.  I would like to have plenty of time so I can work at my leisure.  I will be sitting by the fireside, on cozy afternoons, and sewing a pretty apron for a granddaughter.  I will do little hand-stitches to make a set of tea napkins for another grand-girl.  These will just be precious little gifts, that mean a lot, but do not cost very much.

I also want to come up with ideas to do giveaways here on the blog.  I will be hosting a couple of giveaways, here,  the week after Thanksgiving, starting Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

I plan to make a set of little tea napkins. I make these by hand, without a machine. They are not perfect or professional, but they are charming and homemade with love.  I will be giving them away here on the blog. If you are the winner, perhaps you will use them at your own tea table at home?  Watch for an announcement of this offer in late November.

I will also be giving away one of my favorite Christmas books, "Dear Christmas Mothers" by Mrs. Connie Hultquist.  I did the editing and publishing of her writings to create this book in 2013.  She makes you want to have an old time Thanksgiving and Christmas as she talks about her daily life and projects in her home and kitchen.  Watch for this giveaway in late November as well. If you are a blogger, you are welcome to sign up for the opportunity to review and give away one of these books as well. You can find more information at The Legacy of Home Press.  In this way, you will get the book for free and be able to give one away for free!

I am also thinking about hand-sewing an apron to give away.  I will see if I have enough energy, but it is very possible. I have some pretty floral print fabric that would look lovely and feminine for an apron.  Would you be interested in winning an apron if I made one?  Should I made it for a little girl, or for Mother?

What kinds of things can you bake, or create, that cost very little this Christmas season?  I like to bake brownies, fudge, and cookies to give to those nearby.  I would love to hear what you do to make a  frugal, old-time Christmas for your family!

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

We need - Mothers with Christmas Courage.

A Happy Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

Precious Living - Gracious Homemaking.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Autumn in Vermont

Autumn scenery at Mrs. White's Vermont home. 

It is amazing outside here in Vermont.  The temperature is warm with a gentle breeze. The sky is bright and sunny, while colorful leaves fall all around us.

I found Papa outside doing projects. I told him we should take pictures of the beautiful scenery here at the Estate. He was relieved to stop and take a break.   (It is good to have opportunities like this to keep laughter and happiness in a marriage.)

We each have our own cameras. We kept trying to get a perfect photograph of falling leaves in action.  The leaves are so small, in front of the vast trees in the background, that the camera can barely capture them as they travel to the ground.

Finally, Papa suggested he throw some in the air while I take a picture. This way the camera could capture what we were seeing.  This is the result:

A toss of leaves in Autumn at Mrs. White's Vermont home

We had a lovely break, from our home responsibilities, out in the fresh air.  Now we must get back to housekeeping.  I enjoyed visiting with you. I hope you are having a peaceful fall season.


From the Archives -

Teaching Children - Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House.

You Can Do It! - Housekeeping With a Will.

Happiness in - Poor and Pretty Living

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Days of Housekeeping

Library of Congress:  Howard family moving into their Alabama home, 1937.

I remember the early years of my marriage.  We had moved into our first home. It was completely empty.  We had limited furniture and not many possessions. The boxes were few.  We had packages of brand new items from our wedding.  Soon we had to find curtains and bedding and a kitchen table.  My parents had given us a couch, a bureau, and a few other pieces of furniture. We had to set up housekeeping with limited means.  Because we did not have much, it was easier to keep things neat and clean.

These days, many of us are fighting clutter and an abundance of items.  The common teaching out there is to "purge" and "declutter."  This is because, over the years, we tend to accumulate more things than we seem to know what to do with.  But we do not have to throw out things that are useful. We do not have to give away, or trash items, that we can neatly pack away for the future.

We often read of grandmother's attic and the old trunk full of treasures.  This is where grandchildren come along and find wonderful things from the family's history.  Often an old shawl, toy truck, or precious book finds a new home with one of the decedents.  Sometimes, baby clothes are carefully stored away because we should always expect a baby will, someday, enter our home again.  I don't think any of these possessions should be purged.  But we do have to get rid of junk and trash in order to have a neat home.

It can be quite an ordeal to keep a nice home when there is too much clutter around.  Often it is almost impossible to find enough energy to do the daily work, and take care of the family, while organizing our possessions at the same time.   This is where having set days for specific housekeeping is helpful.

If we simplify the work into a weekday schedule it may help keep us peaceful and happier.  This work is over- and- above the normal tasks of preparing meals, making beds, taking care of the family, etc.

Expect to spend between 2 and 4 hours on each of these days. You might want to do a few hours in the morning and then work again in the early afternoon. Take lots of breaks so that you are well rested.  Get help from the family if you still have children at home. Small children love to help with the work.  Older children are often willing to help if we are cheerful and offer to play board games, etc. during breaks. This makes the work a social event and is more enjoyable.

Here is an example:

Monday -
Organize and Declutter.  This work will always be necessary.  It would be nice if it was part of our weekly routine.  We may want to file papers, sort photographs, handle the bills and finances, pack up seasonal clothing, put away books, organize the closets, etc.

Laundry, sewing, mending clothes, ironing, tidy drawers and closets, wash bedding.

Do all the deep cleaning (bathrooms, wash floors, dust, vacuum, etc.)  In my teenage years, working as a maid, it took us 2 hours to do the basics of deep cleaning for an entire house.

Grocery shopping and errands.  I always get extra tired on days I have to go out.  This is a good day to serve easy meals to keep things simple.  Buying the groceries, using a carefully prepared shopping list, setting up the week's menus, and bringing it all home takes a great deal of frugal effort. (You might want to use this day to post next week's menu in the kitchen so you have your plans all ready in place.)  Sometimes on these errands we may also have to stop at the bank, go to the library, or visit a relative.

Heavy Baking and Cooking.  This is a good day to bake a cake for the weekend. We might want to make easy food for next week's lunches to put in the freezer (like homemade pizza and lasagna).

I believe one of the biggest obstacles of keeping a nice house is being overwhelmed by clutter and messes. Sometimes we end up throwing out things we really wanted to keep. We might do this because it is hard to keep home neat and we often feel guilty for having so much stuff.  It doesn't have to be this way. I believe that a good schedule of keeping set days to do certain work, including a day just for organizing, will make our homes more pleasant and easier to manage.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Is This True? - Only Rich People Have Clean Houses.

A Treasure - Homeschooling with Grandbaby.

It is how we make it -  The Cultured Society of Home.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

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


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