Monday, February 12, 2018

The House Comes First

Library of Congress:  Mr. and Mrs. John Herlihy at home, 1942 Montana 

I have been thinking lately about how empty many neighborhoods are these days.  There are all kinds of houses and apartments that are left without a keeper for most of the day.  It is hard to imagine driving through a lovely neighborhood, on a weekday, and seeing no children playing, nobody taking laundry off the clothesline, no families on the front porch, and nobody tending the front walkway. 

What is causing all these houses to be empty?  Could there be a loss of love and appreciation for home?  

I love this quote by G.K. Chesterton: 

“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place ...”

Empty homes seem to be the modern way of life for our culture.  Babies and children are in daycare and parents are at work.  Grandparents do not commonly live with their grown children anymore like they did in the past (particularly in Italian homes). Can you imagine what a help it would be if grandmother lived at home and could help care for the children and tend the house?  It would be a blessing to her as well as to the family.

The Christian Home, a godly home, has tremendous value to our well-being.  It is to be a restful, pleasant place.  It must be cultivated by someone.  Someone must be the keeper, the one who "keeps the home fires burning."   Someone ought to be home.  Mother is the ideal (and Biblically appointed) keeper.  

Home can almost be like a hobby. It is where we spend our time decorating, cleaning, dusting, and greeting visitors.  It is a place to provide wholesome, nourishing meals, clean laundry, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep.  It is a place to rest and spend time with the family. It is a place of security and contentment.  There is much to do in order to keep it happy.  Some people spend a great deal of time on hobbies.  These hobbies are times of entertainment and recreation.  If a large portion of that time was spent in the care and love of home, it would be an enjoyable place to be.

We need a priority of home. The House must come first. What we do there each day builds memories we will cling to in later life.  Let them be good memories.

Here are some practical ideas to bring life back into our neighborhoods by tending our homes:

1. Arrange your schedule so you can be home more often. 

I sometimes see teenagers roaming the streets looking for mischief.  I wonder if it is because nobody is there to make a real home for them.

2. Make a list of daily chores and do them.

We are constantly tempted by distractions to do many things. The television, computer, telephone, invitations out, craft projects, and reading are enjoyable but must have their slot of time.  The chores have to be completed before we have the fun.  (dishes, laundry, sweeping, meal preparation, etc.)  

3.  Simplify your possessions.

We will always need to sort clutter.  Things come in each day and we must discard what is not necessary.  It is a tremendous waste of time and energy to have too many things in our houses that we do not use or need.

4. Avoid spending money.

The greatest trouble in the home is the lack of careful use of money.  In our culture we are constantly tempted to buy, to shop, to spend. Do not yield to this temptation. Do not give in.  Learn to spend money carefully and as little as possible.  It is better to have money saved "for a rainy day" than to have a financial calamity hit and cause you to fear the loss of a comfortable home. 

5.  Don't leave home until you make your bed. 

I know this sounds simplistic, but the simple act of making your bed will help inspire a clean and orderly home.  I do not want to go out on an errand or to an appointment, unless I know I have done my work at home. This starts with making my bed.  

6.  Evaluate how you are spending your time.

If you are busy with too many outside commitments, this will often cause you to neglect your house. You will be stressed out and anxious.  If we do not have the time or energy to maintain a happy, neat home, we must stop all the extra activities that take us away from our main work at home. This will help make us sweet with a gentleness of spirit. 

7. Enjoy your labors.

Decorating and cleaning the living room and then sitting down to admire your hard work is a blessing.  When you are outside tending the laundry on the clothesline, enjoy the serenity of the fresh air, the retreat - like feeling of doing wholesome work in a lovely setting.  Find happiness and joy in the work of keeping the home.  

8. Do pretty things.

We ought to present meals in an attractive way.  Set the table with silverware, napkins, real dishes, and present the food in pretty serving bowls.  This will invite the family to want to come to the table and enjoy eating together.  Make the work look pretty. Make the home look pretty. Do you hair nicely and wear a lovely apron.  Make home a pretty place.

9.  Make it look like a Christian House.

There are paintings and wall art full of Scripture and quotes from great ministers of the past. These types of decorations will inspire you and your guests.  At the very least, each Christian home ought to have the 10 commandments posted by the door. (You can type these up directly from Scripture.)  We have them there as a rule of life, something that we love and find joy in observing.  

10.  Keep Love Strong.

A house of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, charity, and love will be a happy home. These are daily acts that must constantly be in service.

11. Keep dust off the Bible.

The foundation of a godly home is the Lord.  The Most important part of good housekeeping is daily Bible reading.  This ought to be done alone and with the family.  It does not have to be formal, but just picking up the Bible and happily reading will bring a great blessing on the home. 

This is all "housework" and it is wonderful work that we can enjoy.  When home is our priority we find joy in our daily lives.  This provides a happy place for our children and families.  A great deal of our recreation and entertainment can come just by keeping house.  If more mothers could do this at home, wouldn't we have lively, pleasant neighborhoods?

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

We Must Learn  - To Earn and Not to Spend.

This is What many of us Crave - An Ordinary Life at Home.

The Greatest Use of a Mother's Time - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

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, January 12, 2018

Tea Napkins

Grandbaby's Tea Set and handmade napkins at Mrs. White's House

Last month, I found some beautiful Christmas Fabric.  I planned to make myself an apron.  I have been working on it, little by little, over the last several weeks.  I hand-sew because it is easier for me, even if it takes much longer than a sewing machine.

Part of Mrs. White's Apron, made with Christmas Fabric

I thought this material was so pretty and cheerful. I wish my local store carried more, but they only had about 2 yards, and then it sold out.

My three -year old granddaughter saw me hand-sewing the  lovely material and asked me to make her something with it.  I would have loved to make her a little apron, but there just was not enough material.  However, there was enough for some tea napkins.

Grandbaby loves Grandmother's napkins. I keep a pretty box of them on a hutch in our front parlour. She helps me set the table for meals, and for tea time.  I have plain linen napkins, paper ones, and some homemade ones.  Her favorite napkins are pink linen which were a gift from a dear friend.  Whenever she reaches for those, I hear her older brother call out to me, "Me'me!  She is getting into your tea napkins again!"

I thought she would love a set of miniature napkins for her toy tea set, which is kept here at our house.  The Christmas fabric would be lovely for this.  There was just enough material to make four little squares.  All I had to do was hand-sew the hems around each of them.

I put them in a Christmas tin, along with her plastic tea set.  She can use them anytime she likes, and then put it all away in the pretty tin.

I have not finished my apron yet. Baby's tea napkins came first. (gentle smiles)

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Encouragement - Poor and Pretty Living.

What it Means to Be - Just a Housewife.

In Case You Wondered - The Secret to a Clean 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, December 31, 2017

A Louisa May Alcott Winter

Library of Congress:  Orchard House, 1910 - Home of Louisa May Alcott - Concord Massachusetts 

Here in rural Vermont, the bitterly cold winters remind me of life in Concord Massachusetts as described by 1800's author, Louisa May Alcott in her beloved book, "Little Women."

To cheer myself up during these long winter days, I like to read literature from an earlier era to see how others have lived while often snowed - in or kept indoors because of the cold New England days.

I have often read "The Long Winter" and other Laura Ingalls Wilder books. But this winter, I am focusing on the sweet stories of Miss Alcott.  Last year I read "An Old Fashioned Girl."  I enjoyed hearing how visits were made on Winter afternoons and the guests would sit by the fire in a lovely home.

I just watched the movie "Little Women" which showed a beautiful house in Concord.  The interior was humble and lovely.  There are fireplaces in most of the rooms.  Pretty wallpaper makes the home look cozy and sweet.  The girls wear pretty coats and shawls.  They make an old fashioned home, especially in winter, look inviting and peaceful.

Our Estate here consists of 14 rooms.  Many of them are large and a bit chilly.  Some are too cold to spend much time in, so we close them off and try to avoid them until spring.  Our wood pellet stove in the upstairs parlour makes the home so pleasant and warm.  We also have other sources of heat, such as electric and kerosene, along with a wood stove on the main floor.  I have often thought of this house as a humble, Jane Austen, English estate.  This winter I shall think of it as a dignified home similar to Orchard House owned by the Alcott family.   One must find a way to cheer along dreary days with happy thoughts!

I very much enjoy reading about how New England families, in the 1800's, passed the time at home during the winter.   We have our Bible time each evening.  We also enjoy table games, singing, and do a lot of reading.

I have been baking a great deal the last couple of weeks.  This helps warm up some of the rooms and provides treats for the family to enjoy.

I will be doing a lot of mending, sewing, and writing during this cold season.  Our most difficult months are January and February. These are bitterly cold and can be depressing at times.  I will focus on the happy stories of Miss Alcott and enjoy our home as if it were a dear old home in Concord Massachusetts.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

A Happy Marriage - Serving Mister.

A Lovely Occupation - Happy Home Keeper.

Old Fashioned Thrift  - Living Without Credit Cards.

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, December 22, 2017

Christmas Baking

It has been snowing steadily for days here in rural Vermont.  It is so pretty, especially this time of year.  The temperature outside was 10 degrees yesterday when I ventured out for an errand.  Inside, it is cozy and pleasant by the fire.

I just made a batch of sugar cookie dough.   I wrapped it in wax paper and placed it in a bowl to cool in the refrigerator.  I will make the cookies much later today.  I have bell shaped cookie cutters, which are my favorite.  I have red and green sugar sprinkles to decorate with.

I am just about to make Christmas fudge.  It is just plain chocolate fudge made using a recipe on the label of Carnation Evaporated milk.  It doesn't take long, but it requires standing by the stove and working quickly before pouring into a pan to cool.  I have to make sure no one calls me on the phone, or walks in for a visit, or else I will lose my concentration. Everyone has to be settled before Mother makes the fudge. (gentle smiles)

I am just doing a few, basic things to bring cheer to the family. I don't have the energy to do anything time consuming or elaborate.

I have some pretty rose colored carnations in a jar on my sideboard table. This sits on a red table runner. It looks festive.

I have a couple of presents for some of the grandchildren sitting on the floor near my rocking chair in the parlour. When the children come upstairs to visit me later today, I will let them "find" these gifts. I will smile and tell them, "Oh, well you may as well open them, of course."  They will be so happy!  It is just warm, new pajamas for each of them.

Some of the children and grandchildren will visit over the Christmas vacation.  I have a small present for each grandbaby.  No matter how cold it gets, or how grumpy and tired some of us can be, we hope to attend the Christmas service at church. (gentle smiles)

I am busy sewing a couple of aprons and doing some crocheting, which keeps me busy while I sit on the parlour couch and visit with the family.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a joyful time with your families.  If Mother is happy and cheerful, the family cannot help but cheer up and smile too!  Besides, our happiness is not based on anyone else's mood or troubles. It is based on the joyful peace we have as a child of God.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

The Truth - "Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House".

Through Good times and Bad - "Living on Mister's Income".

God bless the dear Mothers! -  Encouragement - "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. 


Friday, December 8, 2017

Pioneer Homeschooling Mothers

Library of Congress - New York Chapel and Cottages, 1906

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, homeschooling mothers were under the impression that our children would turn out to be model citizens, above temptation, dutiful and kind to parents, faithful church members, and grow up to adore all their siblings. The essays and articles of the times gave us the impression that we would have it easy. It created an idealism which caused a great deal of confusion in our parenting.  At some point, these children, who are like all the other children in loving homes, became teenagers, and times got tough.

There is no formula for easy parenting of teenagers and there never will be.  This is why:  The culture around us is constantly changing. Each new generation of parents is a pioneer of the times.  I will give you some examples:

 In grandfather's day, there was no such thing as television.  When it was first introduced in the home, there were morals and values coming through the programs.  Families on television went to church and said their prayers.  After decades of changes in the media industry, television and movies are rarely without trash and vulgarity.  This causes us harm. Older adults have often said, "As long as you know it is not real, it will be fine to watch." But this type of wisdom, from the 1970's and 1980's, had not been tested on innocent, growing children. As time has gone by, many realize this type of advice was for an adult, not for a child or teenager.  The results of viewing "fluff" and "vulgarity" and "violence" for entertainment is a serious problem. It has caused great harm in our children.  This is something grandfather would never have imagined.

Facebook is a fairly new invention.  It may have been introduced to many families through a child in college. Soon grandma had a profile and then the younger children all wanted one.  It has both good and bad features.  It can cause harm in many ways, especially to children and teenagers.  This too is something grandfather would not have thought was dangerous.

Public schools and colleges are not what they used to be.  A good solid, academic education is much harder to come by. It is not so easy to just send junior to the local elementary school and think everything will be okay.  It is not like it was in the one- room school houses that produced the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I will not even comment on video games, cell phones, and other such things.

Despite all this and many more difficulties in our modern, American culture, we can still be good Mothers and raise good children.

There are many new inventions and ways of living that great-grandmother never would have dreamed.  I love my washing machine, electric stove, and frost-free refrigerator.   I appreciate my computer very much because I had spent many years, as a typist, using both a manual and electric typewriter.  When we have a power outage, here in rural Vermont, I am doubly grateful for our electricity when it comes back on.

There are always going to be innovations, new concepts, and modern inventions.  Yet we mothers would be wise to consider each new thing and see if it is something we will embrace in our own homes.  Is it good for our family? Will there be long term consequences?

 It is similar to how the Amish elders have meetings to come up with their rules for their districts.  They pray about each new thing and discuss if it will be good for their people.  It is okay to reject certain things in our homes.

To combat some of the negative influences on our children and teenagers, I know of many families who do not have a television set.  Others have one only for using carefully selected DVDs.  When I was a child, there was only one television set in the home. It was in the living room. These days, there are sets in all the bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, in the family van, and even portable ones for using outdoors and while visiting friends and family. It can be found in public places, waiting rooms, and even in some salons.   It is important that mothers make rules and guidelines for their children, thinking of their long-term effects, and not just on today's entertainment value.

Facebook is confusing to me and of small value.  Yet it is highly important to a great many people.  It can be used for good, of course.  But it may not be okay for children.  It may not be okay for young teenagers.  Options might be to not have it at all. That is certainly okay.  Another idea might be to have one "family" account that mom and dad use along with the children. This might protect the children from many dangerous things. It is something each family ought to evaluate and make rules for their own household.

To combat the problem of sliding academics in our culture, we could build up a collection of good, quality literature in our own homes.  It is very easy, these days, to have a home library.  It may take years to build, but it will be used for generations if it is carefully tended.  Encourage reading, help the children with their schoolwork, develop a love of history and a love of learning.

The issue here is that we are raising children, not adults. Too many modern inventions are harmful to children in the long term, even though they may not phase an adult.  It is important to evaluate the good and the bad around us, and not just follow along with the masses.  Your home is a reflection of who you are and of what you value.  No matter what is happening in the culture, you can still have good, kind children.  Take them to church, have daily prayers and Bible time, sing with them, teach them your talents and skills, educate them to the best of your ability.  Do all this with a great deal of mercy, long suffering, patience, and love.  Do this consistently, even if they are having mood swings, grumpy days, or hard times.  The constant routine of goodness will have its positive effect on them over time.

A Mother ought to offer a happy home to her children.  She can play board games, cook, bake, sew, knit, paint, teach, and love being with her family. She can laugh, encourage, pray over her little ones, and lead them to her dear Lord.  She can have a humble and meek spirit with an overflowing aura of the joy of the Lord.  She can do this even amidst trials and troubles.  She can do this despite an ever-changing culture.  A Loving Christian Home has always been the greatest place on earth, in all times, in all places.  

How they turn out, when they become adults, is up to them. You can only do the best you can (as flawed as we all are) with the wisdom you have each day.  You are responsible for their childhood. They are responsible for their adulthood.

 A Mother's job is to do the work.  The result of all this effort is up to God.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Organizing - A Home Without Clutter.

In Case you Wondered - The Secret to a Clean House.

Peace and Simplicity - An Ordinary Life at Home.

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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