Saturday, December 29, 2007

Widows

I've been asked several times by different people to address the subject of widows.



Consolation
Consolation
Giclee Print

Ekwall, Knut
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My sources for information on widows come from two places: the references to widows in the Bible, and the memory of widows of the past.

Every woman should be able to imagine how she will manage in the role of a widow.Much of what happens to a widow begins earlier on in her life. Her life before widowhood is her spiritual insurance policy. How she copes as a widow has a lot to do with how she lived her life. A life of seriousness and dedication to duty in the home will be rewarded in widowhood. If she has raised good children who have an honoring spirit, she will be paid back for her efforts should she ever be a widow. If she has taught good things to younger women, she will reap rewards as a widow.

Young women need to really take seriously the role of wives, mothers and homemakers. If they spend their youth partying and getting into one relationship after another, putting their children in the care of others, and neglecting to be good house keepers and good homemakers, they will not find the comfort and honor they will need later in life, should they become widows.

For that reason, young women would do well to live their lives above the world, tending to matters at home, and really do all they can to make their houses real homes and their families really interested in serving others through hospitality, having a good knowledge of the scriptures, and wanting a Christian education. In the end, the movies and the parties and the shopping and the social life, even the BALLGAMES, ladies, will be meaningless. These sort of things do not "pay off" when one becomes a widow. Hospitality, teaching, working quietly at home, diligently training children in manners and respect, and making the home a home, will come back to bless you in your old age.

Homemaking will open up many different interests. Homemaking is ageless. If a young women spends her life in employment outside the home, she may get to the age where she will not be hired,but she is always needed in the home. It is here her true talents can be developed. If she becomes a widow, her good works will follow her.

Families need to plan for widowhood while they are young by teaching their children to respect their parents enough to provide a home and a living for them. They need to also start investing and saving, just in case, so that they need not be a burden on anyone if they become widows.

Home builders need to return to the custom of building a little house on the same property as the family home, to accomodate parents, so that they can be protected by the family, and so that widows need not be left lonely. A woman who has worked hard raising a family all her life, teaching the children, caring for the home, and being a good example, needs to have the reward of a living and a home, later on. We all need to plan these things for ourselves and teach our children or trusted friends how to guard our income and our property, in case we become widows.

Although we seem many generations away from the last era that practiced any kind of widowhood etiquette, we can still find principles to follow in the case of widowhood.

Being a steady, faithful church member as a young woman, is important because as a widow, that sort of background will qualify you to teach others. Being a woman who maintains Biblical principles while you are young, is an investment for your old age. As a young person, you can study and practice things that will help you develop the character and the skills you need to become a woman worth looking up to when you are older. These can be things like:

-being on time and being a good steward of time.
-managing money well.
-hospitality.
-managing a home, and being a good homemaker, including neatness, orderliness, cleanliness, cooking, sewing, caring for the sick in the home.
-looking after property, and keeping the house in good repair.
-finding ways to influence others.
-dressing with dignity and beauty.
-care of clothing.
-attention to correspondence.

Things like the above are things that will come back to bless the widow.

Just from an over-all reading of the Bible, one can conclude that widows should behave in a dignified way, not being silly, not out in the bars drinking, not partying. In the Old Testament, widows sometimes went back to live with their parents until they found another husband. One reason for a young widow to remarry was to have help and guidance with any young children the couple had. Another was to keep the young woman safe with a protector and a provider, a husband, over her. Without marriage, she might take to wandering from house to house, talking about things which should not be talked about, and being idle.

This seems to be good advice for single women, even if they are not widows. Without a husband, house and children to care for, it is very tempting to be footloose and fancy free, using spare time for socializing and partying. If young girls learn to do this, the habit is not easily broken once they marry. They become discontent and restless and do not know how to occupy themselves as wives and homemakers. This is not to say they will be inside of a house every minute, as most of us certainly are not, but it shows that many women do not know about the millions of things that can be done as full-time homemakers.

Widows who are older, who have had long marriages, will be incredibly lonely after the loss of a lifetime mate. This can make them vulnerable and many have jumped into second marriages out of a feeling of loss and desperation. A portion of these have made very happy, lasting matches.

However, it is still important that the widow be very careful. If she has children and grandchildren who occupy her time, she may not benefit at all if she remarries. Remarriage means his children, her children, step this and step that, and a whole complication of relatives. Remarriage may involve problems of the family she marries into. If she remarries, her time will be occupied by her new relationship. If she is a grandmother, she may find her time even more divided. If she has a good relationship with her children, and they have reservations about her remarrying, she needs to consider this.

Another thing a widow needs to be careful about is relocation. Although friends and relatives may urge her to rid her house of all her husband's things and move to a smaller place, it is not always the right thing to do. If she has been happy there and if she loved her husband, and if it gives her security to have the familiarity of her own home and his things around her, why should she leave? Change is a trauma in itself. She has already lost a husband and is adjusting. Moving will create another adjustment problem. It is better if she stays put. I know one widow whose husband provided a house for them in their retirement. His plan was to have a place for her should she ever be a widow, and he had it made with ramps for easy access to the doors, and every convenience for her. After he died, her grown children talked her into selling it. It sold so fast she did not have time to find another place so she was talked into buying from a realtor a place much further away from the town, the children, and the church she was used to. The first night she was there alone, a robber entered the house, but she called the police and he was scared away. The distance she had to travel took its toll on her car. Eventually her children had to help her move to a small apartment in town where she could be checked on more easily.

Other widows I have observed who have stayed in their own houses, have lived much longer and in better health. They do suffer from missing their husbands, but it is not accompanied by the anxiety that packing up and moving around causes. There are exceptions, of course, and personalities are different. Some widows really need to move if the house is run-down and dangerous or if the children really want her badly to come and live with them, or if they are living a long way from relatives. Some widows feel they have stayed home enough in their lifetime and prefer to travel, but it is generally better not to cause too much upheaval in an already shocked and grieved woman.

One reason it is important for young women to develop some kind of thing that she can use as a service to others, whether it is hospitality, teaching sewing, crafts, or teaching younger women, is to give them practice. Then, when they are widows, they have their experience and talent to occupy them. They will have a driving purpose in life. They will be full of life and enthusiasm for the home and the family. They will be able to encourage younger women.

The Bible gives instructions for the care of widows. One is that the children should be responsible for them. If there are no children, the church can help, but only if the widow has been a big help to the church, and a devoted member during her youth. She has to be over the age of 60, (and some people conclude it is somewhat older than 60). Many people raise a hue and cry that the church should be providing for single women, when the single women have cared not a bit during their youth about the church, about living soberly, or about following the rules of the Bible regarding marriage, home and family.

The church is not expected to care for widows or single women except in very rare cases. It is a family responsibility, but lacking a family, a widow has to have certain qualifications, one being the qualification of agedness. She has to be over a certain age. Another qualification is dedication. She has to have served the church members and been a teacher of good things in her lifetime. Most widows or single women will have families. Many families, raised on the socialist idea that the state should care for widows and singles, will not feel the responsibility of supporting widows. Therefore it is good for all young people to plan for their own old age, or widowhood, by setting aside an investment or fund for themselves and teaching children from a very young age what is to be done should their mother or father ever be left alone. Lacking children, they can put a trusted friend in charge of their business.

Widows who have been good homemakers and good wives and mothers will use their time to serve others and to show hospitality and to continue to be quiet and to be good examples to others. Young widows also should act with propriety and be sober-minded. That is not to say they cannot be happy and have fun, but it must not be seen as irresponsibility.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Hostess Gift

Old World Roses in a Basket
Old World Roses in a Basket
Art Print

Williams, Albert
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I was surprised pleasantly by one of my guests with a hostess gift. I have often taken hostess gifts, which are things of a small, but thoughtful nature--perhaps a scented candle, a vase of flowers, some packaged food, a photo frame, fancy soaps, or just whatever I could find or had on hand in my home. I noticed it seemed to be a dying art amongst the younger generation and wanted to pass on some of the delights obtained by hostess gifts.



The pleasure of giving such things is so uplifting that it ought to be included along with chocolate, as a mood lifter. I've given things when my children were at home, which made us sing all the way home. Giving certainly brings you more exhuberance than getting.



If you have no money you may be able to retrieve some things from your home that will make excellent gift baskets, gift bags, or gift boxes. I must insist that the container is part of the charm of the gift itself. When I am looking for some kind of bath product in a discount store, I always consider the container. If it looks like something that could be used in the home as a useful item, or something beautiful to put letters in, or has any kind of appeal to it, I am more likely to buy the product. I believe that one of the reasons for the success of the bath and body products is the containers. Therefore, if you wish to really make your gift burst with delight, fix your eye on the kind of container you will use and then start filling it full of things that people do not normally buy for themselves: scented things for the house, bath products, stationery and cards, and little bits and pieces of things that are a luxury.

There are so many ideas for containers that they cannot be counted, but here are some:
-a gift bag
-a gift box with a lid
-a small bucket
-a basket
-a wall pocket or planter
-an old drawer or silverware divider
-an attractive bowl
-trays
-a hat is a great container
-any altered container such as a paint can, cleaned up and repainted with flowers or scenes, an empty tea box altered with pretty papers and scrapbook objects, and any hand made container from fabric such as a drawstring bag or a cloth box.
-Zipped plastic containers that once held sheets are great.

To fill them up, there is also no end of ideas:

In the spring: seeds, a little trowel, a recipe for garden produce, a towel
-bath products that suit the season are always welcome. These days, unlike days of old, women are actually using up the soaps and bath gels, and depend on these gifts to keep them in supply.
-ingredients to make a special cooked dish
-shaped measuring utinsels

In the summer: a picnic basket filled with special things
-bath products that make a person feel refreshed and cool since they are more apt to head for the shower in hot weather.
-flowering plants, flowers
-things that help the recipient with their efforts at showing hospitality--such as special gadgets and plates that provide more space for serving, or fancy paper napkins.

In the autumn: Everyone likes spices that smell like cinnamon, - cookie cutters, mixes for special breads, table cloths, and placemats.

In the winter: Reading material of high quality, CDs and DVD's of a soothing nature, slippers, towels, little blankets to use while sitting, writing materials such as good pens and papers, and baskets full of skin care products.

I've never tired of giving a hostess gift and learned that you do not have to be invited in order to do so. You can just make something up in a container and take it to someone. They enjoy it and hopefully be spurred on to repeat the action to someone else.

The recent hostess gift that I received was a bag full of all kinds of things, and not related to one theme. She gave me a book she had read that she knew I would like, a tea recipe cookbook, a tea cup, fancy paper napkins, a classical CD to listen to, a box of specialty tea, some notecards and a pretty ornament that would suit any season. It was all packed inside of a glossy gift bag with matching theme decorations on it.

It does bring a concern to the minds of older women for the younger ones to follow suit. They need to realize that after a period of time, they should grow up and behave as adult women. To prove their maturity and responsibility, they can adopt the practice of giving a hostess gift.

Update: As I have received so many comments about the appropriateness of flower and containers, I have decided instead to make a summarizing statement about it:

The problem with flowers wrapped and not in a container is that the hostess is often not able to attend to them right away. In olden times the hostess would simply hand them to the maid, who would put them in water in a vase that already belonged to the family.

When you visit someone who is shut-in, or that you are just making a call on, it is a great inconvenience sometimes, especially if the one you have called on is feeble, elderly, or has not been well--or maybe is so young she has no vases for fresh flowers.

If you are visiting where you have been invited and the hostess is expecting you, she or he is usually very busy either greeting and visiting or in the kitchen making sure all the food had been taken care of. If someone hands her a bunch of flowers, she has to break away from her primary duties of being a hostess and go take care of the flowers. Most of the time the flowers have to be re-cut and then a search has to be made for a vase. This also makes a new mess in the kitchen. I have been a hostess many times and I love flowers and do not mind if they are brought without a vase, but have noticed that they either lay in the kitchen until the guest has left or I have to leave my friends and go take care of the flowers, which does take some time. I'm never prepared with a handy vase and I'm always anxious to get back to serving or visiting or taking care of someone's coat. I think it is rude to leave a guest sitting alone and so that is why I prefer the flowers be brought in a container. Sometimes I offer to give the vase back and sometimes the giver asks for it back. That is alright with me.

If there is an accumlation of containers, boxes, jars, etc. from gifts, the best thing to do in my opinion is start getting rid of them by re-using them by filling them with gifts for others.

Of course, as in everything, if you know the likes and dislikes of the person you are visiting, it is well and good to accomodate them. If they don't like flowers, or candy, or if their living accommodations are crowded, do not bring things that would clutter. There are many options these days in gifts, and in a close circle of friends, it is possible to find out what a person would really like. Most of my friends like hand made things if they are in the colors and styles of their own tastes. Almost everyone likes scented or non-scented candles, and now there are the lovely battery-operated votives and pillars you can give. A present tied in a shiny bow is always a delight, and people love getting things of quality. Don't forget things like embroidered cloths, dish towels, table runners and other specialty items. The modern gift store has lots of "hints" in it and the way you personally respond to the item can give you a clue as to how it will be received.

Ultimately it is the thought that counts, and the younger recipients need to remember to pass the thought on to someone else by the same gesture. Young women need to learn to reciprocate, but it cannot be done immediately. If for example, you receive a gift and the very next day invite someone over or give a similar gift back almost immediately, it can be looked at as a mechanical effort to get the pay-back out of the way. Hospitality and gifts must come from the heart and it is very easy to detect when it is only done out of obligation.

As for bringing food, there were a lot of comments I did not post, hoping instead to summarize them. Food can be a problem if it is not packaged. Everyone likes non-perishable type of foods, like bottled drinks, particularly the non-alcoholic drinks like sparkling grape juice and sparkling apple juice. A package of fancy cookies or a braided bread, a basket of perfect fruit, good quality nuts, and high quality chocolates are appreciated. Nor does it have to be a large quantity of anything. Sometimes one single chocolate, beautifully packaged, is greatly appreciated if it is of really good quality.

Not everyone can buy gifts, and so hand-made is just fine, particularly updated type craft items like cards and stationery. I once made a little puffed heart with a scent for someone and was surprised to find out she still had it today. It was given at a time when very few people gave hand made gifts, and so she treasured it.

I agree that gift bags are never a problem to store and can be reused quite easily. Just remember to remove the to/from tag if someone has written on it!!

An altered box is anything that has been changed or made prettier by being covered in papers or other things.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Arranging Living Room Furniture

Go here for living room drawings. Scroll down to see all the arrangements. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.deesdecor4sims.net/04-21-06%2520UPDATE/ColorfulStripeBedroomALL.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.deesdecor4sims.net/sims2objects4.htm&h=1024&w=604&sz=163&hl=en&start=80&um=1&tbnid=6HeylIgAt9VkNM:&tbnh=150&tbnw=88&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dflower%2Bframe%2Bvase%26start%3D60%26ndsp%3D20%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7DKUS%26sa%3DN


I am catching up on my list of requests for articles. I am not sure if I really know anything about the subjects people ask for, but I try at least to research them and see what I can come up with. My own home is the place where I have experimented with the arrangement of furniture. I have observed other people's homes while visiting and picked up a few ideas.
Besides all the things that I have listed below, the living room will also create a scene or view of its own. A homemaker has to make it work for the family, but also make it look appealing.







The first thing you have to do is get the furniture situated in the living room and live with it for a few days. You really can't tell from drawings on paper or from photographs. You have to experience the view and the temperature and the traffic flow. You will need time to understand the effect of light on the living room and the comfort of heating and cooling. It may look good in a glossy magazine photograph, the arrangement of furniture and pictures might be a disaster when really living with it. I've tried to make some categories to consider here:

Traffic flow: When you are sitting in your living room/lounge area, and talking to someone in another chair, you will be most disturbed by the action of people walking in front of you. If you find yourself dodging these people and having to move your head about to look at the one you are conversing with, you will need to rearrange the furniture. Sometimes there is a path to the hall, that goes right down the middle of the living room. Sometimes there is a path to the kitchen from the living room. It is best if you create a hall space from the entry door, that guides the traffic to other places in the house. You can group your furniture in an area where no one will be walking through it to get somewhere else. A little grouping in front of the fireplace or a picture window is ideal. No one will use that small space as a path. A corner seating area is also very homey and comfortable and people don't usually walk back and forth in that area. You will notice how the arrangements in these paintings create private spaces and prevent interference from people walking in front of reading areas and conversation areas.

Arrangement: Even in small living rooms, it is not necessary to push the furniture flush against he walls. It is prettier and homier to pull the couch and chairs away from the wall. A book case behind a couch, with a narrow table in front of it, is ideal. The bookshelf will not fall on any little people if for some reason it is tugged on (we bolt ours to the walls with heavy hooks and eyes). The bookshelf is a nice background for the couch. It is quite nice also to angle a couch or a bookshelf or a piano against a corner of a room instead of flat against the wall. It seems to add more kinds of little spaces like nooks and crannies.

Placement of Pictures: Imagine your wall divided into thirds. There is the top third, the middle third and the lower third. The lower third is where your biggest piece of furniture will be, probably your couch or setee. Just above that, in the middle third, place your pictures. If you get them too high it is like visiting a museam. Pictures should be low enough to enjoy while seated. In fact, they can be at eye level when seated across from them.

Size of Pictures: You have to experiment with the pictures and stand back and see if you like the balance of space. A small picture will need other things beside it to fill up the wall space. Things like wall sconces and flower holders and other small groups of pictures can fill up the space. Some of these paintings how how this is done.

The View: Whether it is a fireplace or a front window, you can make the furniture face the view so you can get full benefit from it.








The Furniture: I don't know if there are any rules about this, but generally you would not put two end tables next to each other or two chairs next to each other without something inbetween. It might be a chair, a small table, another chair and another small table. A couch is flanked on each side by a table with a lamp on it.


Accessories: Doilies and table cloths, table toppers and runners add softness and comfort to a living room. They also protect wood surfaces from damage. I visited someone whose home was absolutely beautiful and yet comfortable and she told me that she only keeps one thing on a side table or end table because she likes to lift with one hand and clean with the other. Therefore she picks up a lamp and dusts the table, and puts the lamp back down. She had many ornate things in her home and it always looked clean. You can get these small squares and circles to cover surfaces, made of tapestry, silk, or any fabric, to suit your home and family.

Atmosphere: Candles and centerpieces add light and life and warmth to a living room. I hollow out the top of pillar candles and put a battery operated votive light inside of them. That way I don't have to worry about putting them too close to a wall or catching anything on fire. I light scented votives while I am cleaning house and I use scented votives as scent, without lighting them.

Observe: Take note of where your husband is most comfortable and where he likes to sit, and what sort of thing he likes to look out at. This is a great guide for where to put your furniture. I know of one family whose husband always wanted to look out on a garden he planted so his wife arranged the furniture so that he could sit toward it. Others have a favorite picture they like to look at. My husband likes to hear our children play his favorite tunes on the piano so his chair faced the piano for years. It all depends on the kind of things you will be doing in your living room. We have divided ours up into several different sections within the room. We did this by placing furniture as dividers. We have a writing area, a music area, a craft area, a visiting area, and even an entertainment area all in a small living room. You can see in the Stephen Darbyshire painting of the afternoon tea, how several areas are created out of one room, but they do not interefere with the function of the other, nor would there be disrupting traffic in any of the areas.


Light: You definitely do not want light to hit you in the face. It is best to have indirect light. That means you may want to place a chair where the light can come over your shoulder when you are reading a book or doing needlework. If you have a view that you like, you will not want to block it out with furniture, but if you don't want to look directly into your neighbor's house, you might consider blocking that view by placing the couch or setee with its back to the window. It is important to observe the way in which you live. If you like to write letters in the morning, you might have a look at which way the desk is facing. Generally, northern windows get the best light all day and are an ideal place to put a desk or artist board. I quite like the way the light shines in the multi-paned door and casts a shadow of those panes across the entry floor, so I do not put furniture there. It is all a matter of deciding what you value in the way of light and sunshine, etc.

Seasons: Light and life change seasonally so you may want to experiment with changing your furniture and pictures arround to accommodate the seasons.
Beauty: In my opinion, from living at home most of my life, a room has to speak to you with beauty. If you love being in that room and if it makes you smile; if it is a place you do not want to leave and you want your family to admire and be in, it is decorated the right way for you. If it irritates you for some reason or if there are pieces there that you are not happy with, they must go. You can "feel" a room with all your senses, (sight, scent, touch, sound, etc) as well as your spiritual senses. If there is something that bothers you, get rid of it. If there is something that delights you, keep it. If it soothes you, well and good. If it seems to be disruptive to the feeling of the room, take it out or disguise it or cover it or combine it with something else. Homemakers spend a lot of time between the four walls, and they deserve the best. My husband's attitude is that it costs a lot less to change something with paint or by re-arranging, or by changing, than a bad mood costs!

Certainly, there is much more to arranging a living room than this, and I will add to the article when I have time. Drop by http://howtokeephouse.blogspot.com/ and see her lovely rooms.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Rich Home Life


Examples of contented women who guard and guide the home full time are often so far away from us, that discussions about the normal model of marriage, home and family make us think of some kind of lost civilization.

Although there is a generation that thinks of the woman as a wife, mother and full time homemaker as an imaginary story, there really was a time when most women preferred to be at home rather than out in the world competing for jobs. Most women knew how important it was to create an atmosphere at home that would comfort the family and provide protection from the world, as well as bring up children who would be polite and be able to bear the responsibilities of life.

A family did not have to be rich in order for the woman to be able to stay home. They stayed home because they wanted to give their families their very best, not because they could afford it. It wasn't considered some kind of luxury to stay home. I often get letters saying, "I can't afford the luxury of being a full time homemaker."

In the 1950's, when I was a child, it was rare for a woman to go to work outside the home. They were not rich, but they didn't think that lack of money was a reason to leave their responsibilities at home. They weren't languishing in the luxury of being homemakers. They were home managing their husband's earnings and finding ways to live on the income a man could bring home. A woman would have been ashamed to admit that she could not manage on her husband's income. If they were not doing so well, it would have been kept quiet, as it embarrassed them if they could not make ends meet. There was rarely a complaint, even in difficulties.

Being home meant that there would be time to bake bread and cookies and cook wonderful meals. It meant also that clothes would be cared for by being washed and mended. Things were not easy but the family learned how to live in a home and have a rich family life in a house together. This was all on the surface, but underneath there was a greater thing going on. The loyalty the family felt for each other made them strong emotionally. They stuck up for one another and pulled for one another. They protected each other, and each other's reputations.

By watching their parents, children learned to be good caretakers of the home. They learned how to treat the family possessions, which in most cases, were hardly as nice as the things young couples have today. Being home also meant that the family and the house would have dignity. It would not just be a place where people came to crash after a day away. It would not be a place where people came to shower and fuel up and rest up in order to go somewhere else. Home was a place that had a purpose and a rich meaning. The family was royalty in their own right inside those sacred doors.

The family was making a name for itself by its reputation. It could either be a fine, upstanding family, reliable and steady, or a ne'er-do-well type that produced children that were always troubled. The mother knew she had a big part in what kind of reputation that family would be, and the children learned to keep the family name clean, by their actions and words.

Children who grew up in this environment experienced a rich home life. There was make-believe play and made-up games. There were evenings spent at home with the father and mother around the hearth. There was singing. There was story-telling. There also was preparation for the evening. People did not just fall into bed after staying up half the night. They prepared for retirement by having a meal, reading a verse or two from the Bible, or doing something very relaxing.

One way to understand how this home life was made so incredibly and indelibly impressed on the lives of many young people, is to look into the past. What kinds of things went into making a home life so rich ? Poems and songs and stories of such childhoods abound in schoolbooks of the 19th century. What was it about childhood and homelife that made people weep in sentimental love when they thought about it?

Prior to the 1900's, a good family life was the most important element in building a safe society. This was largely dependent upon a mother who stayed home, and even if there were no children at home, women wanted to guard their home and see to its keeping. They did not have a great desire to go to work for wages. They had it good where they were. For more information about the way in which the women's movement of the 20th century took women out of the home, see http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/LAF_Theme_Articles_13/Women_s_Lib_They_re_Spoiling_Eve_s_Great_Con_Game_5010050.shtml
Before relating the various things that went into making the home life great, here are some things which were not included in that rich home life:

*There was very little television, and most families did not have any. When television was first available to the home in 1954, most programs did not even start until 8:00 in the evening. Children went to bed then, and the adults watched Bonanza or Wagon Train. On Friday nights, Disney presented a series of programs for children. One of them was called "Daniel Boone," which made a whole generation of boys want to wear coonskin caps, build and explore.

*There were no weekly trips to the movies.

*Parents did not think they had to give children a lot of toys. Many children had one or two treasured childhood toys.

*Clothing and food were prepared carefully from the materials available. There was no such thing as "fast food" unless a child wanted to pick an apple from a tree.





*Lack of money was not considered an excuse for a broken family or for a weak family or an unhappy family. (Some of the poorest people had the most love in their homes.) Financial gain was not considered the answer to strong families.
*There were not a lot of agencies available for family matters to be solved.Families preferred to solve their own problems.
*There were not a lot of things that kept young people playing and indulging in games and pleasure in their young adult years.
*Families did not have more than one car, more than one record player, more than one television set. They shared. It was exciting to get married and know you would finally have your own house and your own car. This was very grown up and everyone looked forward to it.
You can think a moment and probably come up with a lot more things that the 19th and early 20th century families did not have, erstwhile having a rich and complete family life.

One source of richness in home life is seclusion. It is at home that the family is free to be who they are without feeling obligated to tolerate the world and its demands. In that seclusion, however, there must be something in the home that makes it restful. If it is full of electronic noise and commotion most of the time, the mind cannot be restored. If the homemaker concentrates on making that home a place of beauty and peace, it will be a place where the family can restore their minds. When they are able to do this, they can think more clearly and make rational decisions and behave with dignity.

Personal responsibility was part of developing a rich home life. From an early age, we were taught that we were responsible for anything we came across that needed to be done. Granted, there would often be younger children who avoided responsibility, but eventually they, too, would learn that "if you see something that needs to be done, you do it." Therefore, books that needed to be put away, were immediately picked up if someone saw them cast aside. Clothes were put away and possessions were cared for. One reason we looked after everything is that if we did not, it would be destroyed by careless use, and everything in those days was valuable. It felt good to take responsibility and do the right thing, by being concerned for others in the home. It made us feel grown up, and the more grown up we were, the more responsibility we would be given. Eventually we would be trusted, and be right up there with the adults, drinking tea in their midst.

Creativity was also important in a rich home life. When family members think "how could we make this," instead of "how could we buy this," they enjoy using their skills to make things work, make things do, and just make things. This is the kind of thing memories are made of; the kind of things they will talk about to their children and grandchildren.

Resourcefulness made a rich home life. It helped families rise above their circumstances. Resourcefulness is that inner strength that surges forth when you need something. It says, "How can I do without this?" or "How can I make this work?" and "What can I do to make things better?" We all practiced resourcefulness by using whatever we had around us, rather than depending on money or services and conveniences. When we didn't have resources, we invented them, or used substitutes. For sentimental reasons, I still save a paper bag and a box now and then just to make something that I need, whether it be a file box, a gift bag, a special placemat--just about anything.

Being resourceful does not only apply in matters of finances. It is important in urgent matters in life. One time my husband was driving across a desert in summer and his tire went flat. He got out to change it and took the old tire off. As he was sitting on the ground he noticed he had parked right on top of some red-ants nest and they began to sting him. He remembered that he had a piece of cake in the car, which someone at church had given him before he left to go home. He took the cake and put it a ways from the ants, providing also a little trail of cake for them to follow. He got rid of the ants and got his tire changed and went home. Everyone needs to learn to be resourceful in order to face difficulties with confidence.

Frugality adds to a rich home life. I feel sorry for those who will not learn this, because frugality is actually a lot of fun. It is fun to think how to do without something or get something cheaper or for nothing. It is fun to trade. It is fun to get more out of your money by using things in several different ways. When I was growing up it was harder to get things like paper towels, plastic wrap (there was no such thing as plastic trash bags), and all the paper and plastic products available today. Therefore, I know I can live without them if I need to hang on to my money. If money is tight, which happens to everyone, the first thing I eliminate is any non-food item like foil, zip-lock bags, and household cleaners. These things can be substituted cheaply and money used for food. Without frugality, a young couple will have no stories to tell their children and grand-children. It is a challenge to look for a cheaper price and to count your purchases by rounding off the price to the nearest dollar before you check out. It is very good to look at your cart and decide to live without some of the things in it and put them back. A lot of people refuse to be frugal because they think it is beneath them, but if they didn't spend a dollar, they would have saved a dollar, which would come in very usefully later on.

Seclusion, responsibility, creativity,frugality and resourcefulness were the motivating factors in the settling of North America. The people found ways of getting what they needed, and many of them used their discoveries to create businesses for themselves and their families. It is no different today. There are many resourceful people who have taught their children how to create things and make their own businesses. It is unfortunate, in a way, that so many people are born into a world already made for them, for they do not have the will to develop resourcefulness and do not feel the need for seclusion. It is very important that we deliberately create the opportunity for all five of these things, right there within our own houses. It can be done, there are many who are doing it, and we can do it.







Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Movie for the Season

My time has been quite used up just keeping the ordinary things going at home. I have been trying to do a video of the decorating type, but after spending an entire day for just a two minute clip, discovered it was done from the wrong angle. It is amazing the things one must look at through a lens before perfection is achieved. There can be a cord hanging out, or a stray piece of paper, etc. The light has to be cast in a certain direction or it will reflect badly back into the camera. Sometimes objects behind a person or thing can create an illusion of something else. People are not always careful about that. I remember one really good film I watched, where the speaker stood with a tree in the background. It looked like the tree was growing straight out of the top of his head. It is things like that that make filming very tedious...it is very hard work.
Speaking of Films, about 35 years ago my husband and I saw a really good movie on a station that showed old movies late at night. We stayed up into the night laughing so hard at this story, which was called "It Happened on 5th Avenue." It ranks right up there with "It's a Wonderful Life." We searched for this movie over the years and finally landed it this week. We ordered the DVD from Nostalgia Family in Baker City, Oregon, which is available on the web.http://www.nostalgiafamilyvideo.com/ Thirty five years later last night, our children and grandchildren got to watch this film and share the laughter and warmth of it.

The story begins with a transient sort of man who moves into mansions when the owners leave to warmer places for the winter. He does no harm, and he eats very little of the stock of food in the pantry, so that no one knows he has been there. Before the owners come back, he leaves to the next empty mansion.

In this story, however, he meets up with former U.S. Service men, home from the war with no housing available, and offers to share the residence with them, as long as they do their share of work and don't damage anything.

In the meantime, the daughter of the owner of the mansion comes home unexpectedly. The resident "butler" as he poses himself, thinks she is a thief and chastises her completely. She catches on to the things that are going on, and begs to stay. One serviceman and the butler agree to let her stay on the condition she won't take anything. She then invites her father, the owner of the mansion, (who is also the 2nd richest man in the country) to pose as a beggar and come and stay with her there. He reluctantly agrees and is shocked to see his home turned into a type of soup kitchen for homeless people. In desperation he sneaks away in the house to use the phone and trade a few stocks, and make some transactions from his accounts, just doing business. The transient butler overhears him talking about millions of dollars and tells him, "You really must control these fantasies you have of being a rich man. I know you think you have millions of dollars hanging in the balance, but Mike, today, you didn't make your bed." He makes him take his turn washing dishes and doing menial tasks.

Evolving throughout the story are two romances, one which is incredibly funny. The owner of the mansion tries to talk to his wife, who also joins them and becomes the cook. The relationship of the father, mother and daughter are not known to these homeless people, so they treat them like they would any ordinary person. The transient chastises them when he sees them in a room alone together and tells them, "There are children living here and we have to be good examples to them."


You can see pictures and read more descriptions here: http://ihofa.gspband.com/

Please preview the movie before watching it as a family, to see if there is anything in it you might have to fast forward. We found one scene of a woman dressed in a black, strapless dress, smoking a cigarette. It isn't integral to the story and we couldn't figure out why it was included.







Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creating with Scraps

1.
These are cards made from scraps. The silver background mylar in card number 1 is cut from a silver gift bag purchased at a dollar store. I figured out that you could get more silver paper from a giant bag for a dollar than you could buying a sheet of paper in a scrapbook store. I like also that it tears easily and gives a soft finish to the edges.

The pictures come from used cards, or catalogs and magazines. They are outlined with scribbles or dimensions tee shirt glitter paint. I use silver, gold, and anything else that has glitter in it. Sometimes I add glitter over it while still wet.


2.
The papers in number two are scrapbook papers also from the dollar store, and the butterflies are stickers. The outlined roses you see are cut from the same package of scrapbook papers found at Dollar Tree stores nationwide.









3.
This is a clipping from an old magazine, but outlined in the glittery paint, it looks very festive. I added the glitter outline to the cup and saucer where it had a gold rim. To make it even more scrappy, I could put pieces of lace, paper doilies or bits of cloth on it.





4.

This is another clipping from a magazine someone gave me. I used a clear glitter paint from Scribbles.\ and cut out a rose from other paper.

5. Here's a piece of an old calender. The back of most calenders have small snapshots of the entire year and they can be used for scrap cards or tags or any paper craft. I added the sticker butterfly because it had the same colors in it.














6. Another picture from an old card, placed on a vivid piece of paper, and embellished with a clipping of a rose.















7. This is a favorite because it came from catalogs. The green border is from a catalog page and the picture and butterfly, as well. All outlined in silver, it makes a card worth framing. I used half a paper doily on the end, just for softness.















Here are some of them all lined up.







I have even added bits of jewelry, in the shape of keys, or flat jewels, and just about anything that you can find at a dollar store, or things that you would cast off at home. Check the boxes you throw away and all the promotional things that come in the mail. There are some beautiful things that come from ads for decorating magazines and such.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Comments Open Today

Bringing Home the Tree
Bringing Home the Tree
Art Print

Sorenson, Jack
Buy at AllPosters.com



Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sewing Lesson





Cleonice, by John William Goddard


A young lady, age 10, comes to see me once a week and learns to sew. We are hoping to put all her learning projects into a scrapbook to record her progress and enable her to look at samples.
Her first lesson was threading a needle and tying a knot. Then she learned about how to handle scissors and care for them. Each of these things will be recorded in her scrapbook, along with pictures of her doing them.










Every Friday she takes home a finished project. With just the knowledge of a simple stitch, she has been able to make a skirt for herself and her doll, a little pincushion, a bag, and several table cloths. I use gingham fabric so that she has a line to follow for her stitches.



She also preshrinks her fabric for the next project and irons it.







Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Interesting Cup




I was given this interesting cup. I wondered why the giver kept watching me as she poured the tea!














There was no indication of its inner shape when I first saw it.
Similar cups can be found at these sites and in gift shops.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Better At Home

To clear up some possible confusion, let me explain about why I posted the copyright notice. It was to prevent and discourage those who paste portions of my articles on blogs for the purpose of mocking. I don't mind if you need to use the articles if you are friendly to the idea of homemaking.

The home is uniquely suited to the woman's guidance. If it truly is a home, and not a place just to sleep and eat, a woman will really enjoy being in it and caring for it. New readers to this site might conclude that being a home maker means being stuck in the house all day. It is in fact, less confining and more varying than the factory worker or the office worker, for here she is free to determine what is the best way to conduct her day. If she needs to go shopping, she may, and if she needs to rest, she may do that.


There is a tendency to read many things about the role of women, especially in a religious sense, and get the wrong idea. Sometimes it is easy to conclude that it is okay for a woman to stay home, as long as she is producing something of monetary value, or running a small business of her own. However, Christ liberated women when His inspired word was written, including Titus 2, which instructed women to care for husbands, children and the house.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a business as long as she does not feel pressure and it does not interefere with caring for her family and her house. It is actually a shame and a poor reflection on her own religion if her home is neglected, but it is not a shame if she does not have a business at home. Having something to make and sell at home should be a source of relaxation and pleasure, not a source of stress and pressure. It should be only for the purpose of having a little extra money, and not for the purpose of providing a living or replacing a man's work.

If she is to do a really great job at these things, (homemaking) then she cannot have the distraction and competition from too many money making actitivities. What usually happens in trying to create a home industry (which there is nothing wrong with) is that it either gets neglected, or it becomes the most important thing to do. Dishes go unwashed, children are not supervised, and the laundry piles up. Proper meals are never cooked, and the homemaker is always rushing around playing catch-up, trying to make it appear that she has been homemaking all day.

It is better to concentrate on doing the things that make your home a pleasure to be in, than trying to hold down two full time jobs: one of home making and the other of earning money. Many young women think that homemakers clean house all day without pay. However, the women of the 1950's were very smart. They took care of their husband's earnings, and sometimes doubled it by spending wisely. They knew if they were careless and lived a wild life, they could ruin their husbands and waste the paycheck. They "got paid" by their savings accounts and the riches that they collected by making a home.


Later on, some of their houses increased in value and they could sell them and retire somewhere. In the 1950's very few women worked. Single women worked but as soon as they could, they got married and gave up their jobs, and were relieved to do it. Today they are being given a spin. "Why do you want to "give up" a job, "just" to stay home?" they are asked. When it is put like that, it sounds terrible, but what if someone said, "Why do you want to give up your comfortable, lovely home, just to work an ordinary job?"

For certain, many women work because they think they are getting something they cannot get at home: a paycheck, a retirement account, medical care, and other benefits. However, if a woman will work outside the home, a husband these days will certainly let her, knowing he won't have to work as hard or be as concerned with caring for the family. He will rest on his laurels, so to speak, and get less ambitious. He won't even mind earning less than his wife. He loses his pride in being the provider...or maybe today the young men have never felt that certain pride.

I was taken aback to hear a man complain how high his house payments were. He said that his house payments were $1,000.00 a month and they were about to lose their house. I asked him why. He said, "Because Betty, my wife, only makes $1200.00 a month!" Now I have heard it all. Some men, dependent upon their wive's salaries, have sunken to a new low, and women who work have helped them down the ladder by making the men dependent on their salaries.

Women need to let men know they expect them to be the providers and they will be the caretakers of the home. Taylor Caldwell's essay, "Women's Lib," written in the early 1960's showed how women working would make men dependent on them, and where it would lead. Today we see that she was right.

It is also hard on a woman's nerves and on her physical stamina to work a job day in and day out, and then have to take care of the home. While many men are now staying home because their wives have a bigger salary, it is not the best for them emotionally. Women are natural at nurturing and it is healthier for them to be home with their children. Too many times women are pressured into putting their children into daycare so they can hold down a full time jobs.

Women can get all the benefits they need, when their husbands really work. Retirement accounts double and triple, and the benefits in a husband's income are available for the whole family. By being the homemaker, the wife gives the husband a chance to excel in being the provider. There are many people who say that "it works for them" when the woman works, but they will find out just how much physical toll this will take on the woman. Men were created to work "by the sweat of their brow" but the last will and testament of Christ nowhere commands the women to be the providers. Rather, there is a distinct command to "marry, bear children, and keep house." I Timothy 5:14

One can see clearly the results of this: a very busy woman. If she is busy sewing and cooking and cleaning or just being there to guard it, she will not have time for wasteful living. I see young women going into drinking establishments, and as I pass by I think of all the women who stay home and care for their houses. If these women would also do that, they would not have time for social drinking. At home, a woman contributes to the world more than the eye can see at the moment. There is something far greater taking place than just cleaning house. She is passing on spiritual values to her family and her friends. She is showing a greater purpose in life--that of making a beautiful home. That is something that cannot be learned in colleges or schools or places of employment.

Recently in a college history textbook, I read an interesting part that explained to me why so many young women do not think that homemaking and wifehood is the highest a woman could possibly achieve in life. It said, amazingly with no proof and no documentation, that in the 19th century women were not allowed to work. It then went on to claim that the only thing a woman could do was keep house because she was afraid to do otherwise. Young women read these books and do not read the Bible, so they believe that homemaking is drudgery and working outside the home is better. Many of them have breakdowns from the pressure to have careers, which they were not physically created for in the first place. As can be shown historically, most women did not WANT to work, and knew that the more seriously they attended their responsibilities at home, the less likely it would be to have seek employment elsewhere.

Health also can be maintained better at home. When she is not well, she can take it easier. She may get horribly behind in her work but she will never lose her job. She does not have to share her working space with other people with different habits and she can control the atmosphere of her home. Lenin, Marx, and other communists, wrote that housework was demeaning, and that women ought to be liberated from it. These teachings have not been challenged enough and continue to make headway. I wrote an article earlier called "Do What God Says Do and Let Him Take Care of the Rest." It is a challenge to women to go ahead and step out on faith and become the women God made them to be.

Concerning children: there were women of the Bible who had only one, or two children, and some who had none, yet they were counted worthy. Adam and Eve only had 3 sons that were recorded (it isn't mentioned how many daughters they had, but we observe that before Jacob, most recorded families were small compared to his), and Rebecca and Isaac only had one set of twins. Noah had only three children. Jacob's family of 11 is the first really big family recorded, and one of the few large families really mentioned, but then the Bible goes on to show small families again. Moses had only two children, and yet Moses was used by God and was a great man. There were several "one-child" families, as well as some who had no children. This did not mean they could not fulfill the roles they were given. Sometimes people mistakenly think that everyone in the Bible had large families, however the Bible is worded in such a way as to refer to all descendents as "children." It may list the "children" of the patriarch, but the original language in many cases means "descendents." A patriarch would refer to his grandchildren and great grandchildren as his "children." If one will look carefully they will see that although it was a blessing to have large families, many people mentioned in the Bible had only one or two children. Most people desired large families, and women desired to have children more than they desired any other accomplishment, but there were some women with no children who still had a purpose. It is the same in any generation.

Even without children, there is a huge responsiblity when you live in a house. Things have to be looked after, and you can find yourself busy all the time. Each person has the responsiblity to work with what she has been given--whether a lot of children, few children, or no children, and do it to the very best of their ability. Childless women can be happy knowing that God may be using them for something else. Women without children are able to do more for others around them, and can put more time and effort into their marriages and their houses. Those with children can be happy knowing that they have a worthwhile work ahead of them in training those children. There are advantages in both states.

Generally, home is a better place to be. It is here that women can rest, and they can prepare natural foods into good meals, and where they can be at ease.


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