Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ideal Toy Chest

Here's a great idea for children's toy storage at Grandma's house. I noticed when Little Miss Pooh comes to visit she is fascinated with drawers in the kitchen, drawers in the bedroom, drawers in the bathroom, and is always being told to get away. Papa gave her a set of plastic drawers that he used for files. What is so clever about this is that this particular brand has a little gap at the top , leaving quite a bit of space. so that no baby can ever get their fingers hurt when closing the drawer.

Miss Pooh loves pulling the drawers out and checking out her things!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Be Renewed

White Trellis With Roses

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


I hope this will, maybe in part, answer the question about how to "school" our feelings, which, in my opinion, is just channelling thoughts and feelings into a profitable direction. It means to be calmly assured, rather than restless, discontent, upset. It does not come naturally to everyone. A lot of people are very susceptible to suggestion, and their emotions are tuned into just about everything that happens or might happen. Feelings have to be guarded and trained. For example, there are some times you might not feel like making lunch, but you have others to think about and they depend on you to make lunch, so you overcome your feelings and do what is best for them. When we are transformed, we no longer allow the world and those around us to control our lives, but we do the controlling, guided by the heavenly principles written for us.

Renewing the mind can do many things: it can make the cloudy, dark weather seem inconsequential, as we busy ourselves doing what needs to be done. Renewing the mind can make life richer, just by focusing on what is good. Now and then, someone is going to make a rude remark that will make you feel worthless, but you can endure it by substituting worthwhile activity. Clean a drawer, catch up on correspondence, do some hand work, and foremost of all, fix yourself up as though you are on top of the world. It can enable a person to use the worst circumstances as a step to something good. When our grandmothers had disappointments, they immediately went in the house and swept the floor, washed the dishes, and made dinner. Since the hands engage the mind, something far healthier happens by making things better, than by allowing fears and worries to guide you.

Conforming to the world also means that we feel controlled by today's fashions,news,music, education, and even by the current personal relationship trends. It is a never-ending cycle of keeping up with everything. The solution is to stick with something you love, whether it be a style of decorating, the reading you like, clothing, cooking, or the type of outings you enjoy, and let the world and its trends pass on by. You won't miss the stress of constant change.

The Bible says that we aren't to be conformed by all that the world is beckoning us to , but to prove what is the good and acceptable will of God. You aren't going to prove the beautiful , God-given role of women in the home if you spend the day upset and worrying. You will prove it if you do not waste time trying to conform to the world's dictates, while giving your home your very best.

I've always believed in substituting a "yes" for a "no." When my mind wants to dwell on bad news, I substitute a favorite hymn or scripture. Each time a plaguing thought comes to your head, sing that song or quote that scripture, even if it happens all day long. It will school the mind and bring something productive and positive into your life.

Here is a verse I like :

Isaiah 26:3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. "

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Will Walk Within My House

Spenny Moor Mansion by Barbara Mock from Lovely Whatevers



Psalm 101:2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
Secluded Garden by Barbara Mock order from Lovely Whatevers


The verse above reminds me of something I have always wanted for myself and others within my home. If that is the thought that is uppermost, then even when there is trouble, we will always be trying to get close to that standard.

People are always wondering what to do if they have "blown it" or gone down a wrong path, messing up their lives and their homes. No one is perfect, but we can get as close to the model as possible. At least, we have a model in the scriptures, of the home as it should be. That in itself is good to look to, even when we haven't lived up to it. It will help us look up instead of back.

It is good to think of a perfect heart within the house. We know we need to be "nice" in public, but the home is the foundation for that public. The habit of having perfect behavior at home will make it easier to know how to act in public.

When I read the phrase "behave myself wisely in a perfect way," it sounds the opposite of folly. It brings thoughts of:

-keeping in close contact with God. It is faster than email.
-dressing well at home, even if you aren't going anywhere or no one sees you.
-creating a pleasing atmosphere in the house so that even those who do not understand the role of homemaking are blessed by it.
-schooling your feelings in good thoughts; filling the mind with whatever is lovely.
-engaging in quiet, calming handi-work, art, reading, or some peaceful, constructive pleasure.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Plain House - The Entrance

"Impressions" by Susan Rios from Susan Rios, Inc. and Pierside Galleries

How does one create the impression of an entrance, in house with no foyer, no hall or entry way? In older homes, there always was a place to hang a coat and put an umbrella and place your keys and pocket book. I suggest putting a table by the front door for this purpose, and getting what is called a "coat tree" which usually includes an umbrella stand. A little desk or high table by the front door provides the feeling of an entrance area. I have seen short book shelves used to divide the area from the living room, making you feel as though there is a hall there.

Regarding bookshelves and small children: we have large pieces of furniture that might tip, hooked to the walls with the metal hooks and eyes from the hardware store. Children sometimes are tempted to climb on a book shelf. Put all the heavy books in the lowest shelf to anchor it, and the lighter ones at top, and it is less likely to tip. You can wedge a piece of wood on the front of the lowest shelf and make it lean back against the wall slightly, for safety. The ideal bookshelf is what is called the poet's shelf. It looks like a staircase, with the widest shelf on the lowest part.

There are many things of interest to place on an entrance table. On my own entry table area I have a little stand that holds out-going mail, as it is close to the door. A vase of wonderfully scented flowers is a great idea because when the door opens, it sends a breeze with that scent throughout the house. Another nice touch is a guest book, which you can make, yourself.




Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Plain House - Outside Touches

Southern Shadows 2 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers

The gingerbread brackets for the corners of the overhang or porch roof are not expensive anymore, and sometimes you can get them at craft and fabric stores, made of metal and other products that withstand the weather. You can now get picket fence sections that stick into the ground, which add interest to plain houses. Corner brackets can also be used on the inside of the house in areas that separate rooms, such as the dining room opening or kitchen entrance.
Coquina Coast 2 by Kimberly Hudson, from Lovely Whatevers

Most of the shutters on the sides of the windows are merely decorative, but outside shutters that actually open and shut are now becoming more available. A plain house can be made interesting from the outside by painting these shutters a contrasting color.

Southern Shadows 1 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers

If you live in a plain house, do not agonize over it. Look carefully at any house, and the bare bones of it is always a box shape anyway. It is the addition of columns, fences, cornices, lamp posts, fences, railings and plants that give it shape.
You can make a sign to hang on the outside, with a number or a message, that will add a bright spot to the outside. If in the end you find you cannot afford to add embellishments like this, a nice curtain in the window and a plant will still give a look to a plain house that says someone lives there who cares.


Coquina House 1 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers
Houses of the past often bore special names chosen by their owners. Rooms inside were also given names associated with the character or memories of those special spaces. It seems like any plain house could be made more interesting with a good name.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Plain House - The Front Door

These paintings are all by Dwayne Warwick from allposters.com

The scenes do not show any porches, so I'm including them to illustrate what can be done to a plain house without a porch. If you stripped away the foliage, you might wonder as a home dweller, what to do to make the outside more interesting. Here, you can see all the shapes that bushes and bulbs can create just outside the front door. Add a little old bench or stool, or something you don't mind being outside, and it creates more interest.

Here, plants in pots make quite an artistic scene, especially when one is on a seat. The pots are as important as the plants, though. I prefer the containers to be as ornate as possible, painted, perhaps, in a favorite color, and on a pedestal of some kind, so that looks like a huge, fancy outdoor vase. Do you recall paintings of Victorian homes where huge vases that looked like cups, with handles on both sides, were filled with flowering plants, decked on both sides of the stoop? I quite like the flower pots that look like giant baskets, also. Each homemaker has to determine what she likes and what makes her smile and feel enthusiastic about her house.

Windowboxes also add depth and shape to an otherwise plain house. There are now some very simple type you can get at Dollar Tree and other discount stores. They are made of wrought iron and lined with a peat pad. You just add your favorite bedding plants. This entire thing hooks over the window sill.

As our visitor from India said, there are garlands that some people put over their front doors, that are very interesting and vary in color and theme from door to door. It reminds me of our wreaths and garlands that sometimes grace our doors. They are quite eye catching if done up really carefully in matching or contrasting colors of the house.
If you think you lack the skill or the money to add any front door beauty, then here is an idea: Gather up all the fake stems you have in the colors you like, and tie them with a rubber band. Over that tie a bright wired French ribbon. Hang it upside down on a screw-in cup hook on your front door. You can also use baskets and stuff them with fake flowers that withstand the weather, sticking the stems in florists foam, also available at dollar stores. These front door arrangements can be put in boxes, cones, containers and cans of all kinds. A try a half-wreath, or swag on the front door. You can get them for very little money (under five dollars sometimes) or make them yourself.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Plain House (1)


Victorian Spring by Susan McClure, from allposters.com


The plainest home of the 19th century seemed to have an allure even without embellishment. The architecture was so much more interesting, that it did not take much to make the house interesting: a few plants,and lace curtains in the windows. Inside, the little nooks and crannies had so many built-in features--shelves and ledges, etc. that even the plainest furniture did not detract from it.


Today there are special problems with plain houses. Often they are little more than boxes with windows. I often wondered what the secret was to getting those plain homes to shine out a feeling of love.


I have lived in many of these kinds of houses and after puzzling over them and finding that even the decorating schemes of the times were too expensive and did not really help, have come up with just a few, inexpensive things that might help make a plain house look more like a home.
Today I'm just going to deal with one feature: the outside front entrance.


If all you can do is put a pot of flowers on the edge of the front stoop, it will be a big transformation. If you can't afford that, just look around the place and dig up any flowers already growing around, and put them in some kind of container you already have. That one feature will be a bright spot on the edge of an otherwise plain house. A hanging plant is also quite welcoming. You do not have to go to a lot of expense for these, as most plants, when hung, will eventually lean over the pot and come trailing down.



I noticed on this porch there is a little rug. That also, adds a lot, but so many of the outdoor mats curl up and cause more trouble than they are worth, so they have to be chosen with care. It has to have meaning to you beyond just being a mat to wipe the feet. Considering the color and design will have an impact on making that plain house more interesting on the outside



Friday, April 18, 2008

The Answer of a Man

Spring Flowers by Annie Feray Mutrie

Lovely Whatevers is updated with new paintings for your home. I would like to introduce you to a site Paris in a Cup is lady sends a newsletter also. Very nice!

In keeping with short posts, I'd like to provide one answer to those who make rude remarks about the role of the full time homemaker. Hopefully I will have time for more posts on this subject. There is a variety of answers that can be offered.

The best explanation I ever heard was from a woman my age, who said, "I really do appreciate your concern. I know that ultimately you are thinking of my welfare. I have always wanted to be the best wife, mother and homemaker I could be. I'm still learning how to do that. It has been my dream to have a strong family and a nice home. A job would take that away from me. I just could not do both, successfully. I need to concentrate on one and do it well."



Pro 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!


I do think the younger women need to become very sensitive to the situation. For example, you can learn what to say, but you have to "know" instinctively whether or not to say it to certain people. You have to be able to sense their hostility or their receptiveness. You have to know when it is going to get you into more trouble than it is worth. It takes a kind of art of sensing the tension surrounding that person. It isn't good to just blurt out something snappy. It won't win them over and it will cause more stress to your life. With some people, you just need to smile and say "That is an interesting question! I just can't answer it thoughtfully right now!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beautiful Hands



I am very enthusiastic by Lillibeth's new post that she has been mulling over for several months, and working on it on and off, about the woman's hands. It goes beautifully with the series here on frugality, for in times where there is a lack of things, hands are our greatest tool!

I really like all the paintings depicting the various ways hands are used.


http://thepleasanttimes.blogspot.com/ While you are there, check out her study on the making of sleeves. It sounds a little boring, but she managed to do a study on how sleeves are developed into the various shapes, and how the seamstress gets the design.
This scenic window is so nostalgic of childhood scenes when homes often had places to look out at, or walks afforded good scenery, even if it was a little slope here or a meadow there and a little creek. It is copyright free from Dover Clip-Art so you can use it on your blogs if you like.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Value of Real Work

Her Office from http://www.allposters.com/

Homemaking is a multi-faceted job, much more so than any other job a woman could have. If you work in an office, you will probably not be required to clean the floor or the windows. Another crew, from another company, will be hired to do that. You will probably not go to the cafeteria or restaurant and cook your own food. You will not be required to sweep the walkway to the place of work. You won't be mowing the lawn. You will not be repairing anything inside the office or on the outside of the structure where you work. You won't be greeting everyone or doing all the correspondence if you are in a firm where the work is specifically assigned amongst other employees.

If anyone thinks that being home full time is taking the easy way out of trying to have a soft life, just invite the over and let them help you with your day, which will not end at 5 pm with other institutions.

The so-called "work ethic" existed long before it was labelled "the work ethic." From the beginning of time, work existed. God invented it, for he worked when he created the world and mankind. Man himself was created to work. Adam was given the first job in the Garden of Eden, to dress it and care for it. Eve was given the job of being a helper fit for him. Later, Adam was told to work "by the sweat of his brow," in order provide for his family. Obviously, work requires some exertion. No religious group invented the "work ethic, for it was taught in the New Testament in instructions to members of Christ's body, the church. Church members were warned particularly to be busy, to provide for their families, and not to "pilfer, purloinThe words about working with your hands and not being a burden on others were written long before any denomination existed. It should be called "The Bible Work Ethic."

Some women who just want to get out of working, will claim to believe in the scriptures that command women to be keepers at home. Yes, it is important to stay home, but you cannot just stay home and not work.  The house must be "kept," which means made clean, orderly and comfortable. This entails regular de-cluttering, sweeping, washing and arranging. There is enough to do at home to justify being there. If you do not think there is enough to do, it is time to invent things to do: new sewing projects, cooking meals, setting the table, laundry, ironing, yardwork, studying various aspects of homekeeping, and more.

The subject of begging has been introduced by various comments from time to time.This is not the subject of eliciting free-will offerings for the Lord's work, but whether or not able-bodied people who should work, are justified in begging. If the commands in the Bible to work were taken to heart, it would eliminate the need to beg. David said in the famous Psalm:

Psa 37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

Another good thing about the work of home is that it can be done as quickly as desired. A woman can put in a load of laundry and then go to another room to work on something that she wants to accomplish, whether it be a sewing project or a letter. She can get all the main work done (dishes, laundry, straightening up the house, meal preparations) completed and make some time to do something that is creative or some extra project that she enjoys a lot. Time is within her own control. Sometimes in the workplace in industry, for example, or an office. or a shop, a woman must spend a lot of time waiting. This is not necessary at home. While waiting for something to bake, she can be setting the table. While waiting for the post to come, she can tidy up the front room. While waiting for lunch or dinner time, she can do any other item of housekeeping she likes. While waiting for visitors, she can clean up the dishes she used to prepare food in. Her time at home is usually packed and there is not a lot of waiting around for others to do their jobs. She is, for the most part, in charge of everything.

One Bible verse to consider is:

1Th 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands...

The way to get the house clean and function is through the work of our own hands, and through designating tasks to others in the house. Children can help a lot. They can transfer folded laundry to the right places. They can gather dishes from the tables to the sink. They can pick up things on the floor. I have had posts here that explained the importance of having a bare carpet and floor. Many home accidents can be avoided if there is a bare-floor rule. Certainly, no other business could be successful if there were toys and clothing in passage ways and hall ways and heavy traffic areas.



Men also, can do a lot at home to help make life easier for the homemaker. Being good workers themselves, they will not, even when laid off their jobs, want to sit around and watch sports and drink beer, leaving cans all over the place for the homemaker to dispose of. They will not create work for others. They will realize that time spent in begging could just as well be spent in working. They can also make life more comfortable at home by providing things that make her work easier and more exciting. Conveniences such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, good stoves, and furnishings that give the family a lift, are all important aspects of helping women love being at home.

In hard times of previous generations, men who could not find work, found things to do at home. They did necessary repairs on the house, improved the grounds, tended the garden. built things, even whittled toys for children. They were not idle just because they did not have a paying job. The Bible talks about working with your own hands: If a man wants to be hired he can develop a reputation of being a hard worker, whether he is employed or not.

Keenly aware of this scripture, men and women knew that they would soon come to hunger in their homes if they did not work.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing (Ist Thessalonias 3:10-13)
2Th 3:12 -

Commenting on one of these verses, one writer of the 1700's recorded this interesting fact about the way society deteriorated when people did not work:

With quietness they work - Μετα ἡσυχιας· With silence; leaving their tale-bearing and officious intermeddling. Less noise and more work!

That - they work, and eat their own bread - Their own bread, because earned by their own honest industry. What a degrading thing to live on the bounty or mercy of another, while a man is able to acquire his own livelihood!


He who can submit to this has lost the spirit of independence; and has in him a beggar’s heart, and is capable of nothing but base and beggarly actions. Witness the great mass of the people of England, who by their dependence on the poor rates are, from being laborious, independent, and respect able, become idle, profligate, and knavish; the propagators and perpetrators of crime; a discredit to the nation, and a curse to society. The apostle’s command is a cure for such; and the Church of God should discountenance such, and disown them.


Work is not always paid work. Work is still work when it is done honestly, with all your might, in the home. Families come to hunger when fridges are not cleaned and food is left to rot. Families will not prosper when the home is not looked after from within. Things that are not washed, cleaned, sorted, looked after, will deteriorate, costing more money to replace.

Of course, there are different kinds of "work" mentioned in the Bible, and there is a difference between working (labor) and good works which show love and hospitality to others, and the work of spreading the gospel. I believe that even when women are resting in their own homes, they are still in charge of a great work. Please do not assume that I think they should slave from morning til evening. At home, they can draw their own lines. They can determine their own limits. They are motivated by love for their families. They want their marriages and their children to have a good reputation. They want their husbands to be successful. No one has to stand over them and tell them what to do. They can tell by which need is the most urgent.

In closing, I will leave you with this:

Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;

If there is work, there will be no need for begging. The description of the Proverbs 31 woman includes the words: Pro 31:11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

"Spoil" was the substance the men got after conquering a city, when they went in and took the best of everything. Spoil is also defined as "pilfering," which is similar to stealing. If a woman at home will study the Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31 verses 10 - 31) she will find the principles to live by in the work of the home, and there will be no need for begging. The value of real work is that it keeps people out of trouble, helps them mind their own business, and gets things done. Neglect of personal property and laziness in relation to poverty is described here:

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. Proverbs 6:10-11.


There are several reasons for poverty. One antecdote within our own power at home is work. At least, we can keep poverty on the other side of our doors, if we carefully monitor waste and work. Work enables us to do things that others have to hire people to do. Work can save us money.

Family Picnic, by Consuelo Gamboa, from allposters.com


For homemakers, here is a video library that might have something that would help in your home keeping: .asp?category=Human%20Environment%20Design%20and%20Textiles

An old poem:

Now I get me up to work,
I pray the Lord I will not shirk,
If I should die before the night,
I pray the Lord, my work's alright.

Pro 19:15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
Pro 14:23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.(poverty)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sackcloth and Ashes





It is often easy to jump to conclusions before searching out a matter. One such case concerns my frugality series. Sometimes people do not understand why people of the past, enduring hardship, did not play it up or parade it, flaunt it, claiming they were not "ashamed."


Sometimes people think that because we do not announce a failure or a hardship, we are somehow ashamed of it, but that is not the case. Playing down a low-income or a loss of income, is not the same as being ashamed. For example, we are not ashamed of our bodies but we cover them and dress modestly to protect them and to give us privacy. It is not every one's business. We may have one messy room in our house that we close off to visitors, in order to hide our privacy and protect them from something that may depress them.


Having not experienced an era of hard times and observed the people and their behavior, for example, during the Depression, it is easy to misunderstood their beliefs. For example, they would dress up. They would not beg. They would not reveal their economic status to just anyone. It is difficult, in a day an age where everything is reveal all and tell-all, loudly broadcast on television talk-shows, to understand that personal privacy that people in hard times protected.


Keeping frugal times to themselves was also for the benefit of other people. They didn't want to concern other people with their problems, and cause distress to others. They also didn't want to appear to be begging. I have known ladies who concerned themselves with other people's problems so much that they literally made themselves ill over them. When someone told them some problem, they tried to solve it, rushing around gathering up things to help, even going to employment agencies to find jobs for people. They worried themselves sick, and so people have learned to say "We are doing fine," when such people ask how they are doing. If you tell them too much, they will stay awake at night, worrying and generally distress themselves until they are upset. That is not the way most people react, but it is generally good not to add burdens to people who tend to take it upon themselves to make things better, while neglecting their own families or their own health.


Whether or not this was once of the reasons to remain dignified during economic depression, one vital principle remains to shed further light on keeping a stiff upper lip. Jesus was critical of the hypocrites of his time, who when they fasted, went about with a sad countenance, disfiguring their faces, in order to give the appearance of fasting. In those days, people walked around in sackcloth and ashes, when they were in mourning, fasting, or in a state of repentance. He told his followers that they were were to fast in secret. They were to wash their faces and dress in such a way that no one would be able to tell they were fasting. They weren't supposed to announce it. Doing without material goods and money is somewhat like fasting. (Matthew 6:16:18)
If we are trying to manage our money and pay off our debts, people can be awfully curious. Eventually it becomes bore to explain (who wants to repeat their sad story over and over?) and so it is really better, and more uplifting, to look on the bright side, and talk on the bright side. This was the main purpose for the frugality posts.
Again, I would point you to the story, "When Queens Ride By," on the side bar of the theme articles. It reminds me of someone I knew, who, when the family was having a difficult time, would put on the best dinner she could. She said she was was not going to impose fear and uncertainty on her family, but confidence, in difficult times.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lovely Whatevers



Road in Bloom, by Hans Ressdorf, from http://www.allposters.com/
I have another blog that just has pictures on it. It is my concern that one day these prints of old paintings will not be available to the public. So, if you like, you can order these posters from the site http://www.lovelywhatevers.blogspot.com/ We try to put them order of cottages, gates, ladies, etc.







Friday, April 11, 2008

Creative Frugality


Gazebo, by Sung Kim, from allposters

For some reason, there is a great deal of talk about the hardships of the past, and mostly in a good light. Two elderly people have recently talked to me about this, even though I doubt very much they know of this series on modern frugality. One family was telling me that it was just about impossible to find work when he was very young, so he and his wife followed the harvest. Wherever they could pick fruit or berries, they went. He was describing how difficult it was, and yet, because they were not tied down to a lot of financial obligations (having no money to do so in the first place), they were free to go and find work. He said that in spite of his own childhood spent in austere circumstances, his memories of all those times are ones of great happiness. After picking fruit all day, the children jumped in the river and swam.


I visited my grand-uncle on his 99th birthday and took a printed photograph of his family. He told me, "If you had only seen how those people lived, you would not have believed it. They had nothing." Yet, he told me that they found many innovative ways to live. He also expressed the fact that there was a lot laughing about, and humor seemed to be one of the marks of character in those days. He was able to point to each of the 9 people in the photographs and tell something about their personality and the things they liked to do, and at least one humorous story about them.





Cottage by James Lee from allposters



There seemed to be an unwritten formula in these families, that made them come alive in the worst of times. Complaining was not cultivated as much as it is today. It was considered ungrateful to despise their lives. They did not, however, consider lack of money or material things the "worst" of times. They were difficult financially but not as bad as the break down of the family. Lack of money did not seem to break down the family as much as it does today. They had an inner resolve and deeply held Biblical beliefs that kept their family loyalties strong.

Most of them knew the scriptures and identified with strongly with the phrases and the historical accounts of the Bible. Some of those accounts took place in a barren land, where water was hard to find. Some of the work was back-breaking. Some of the prominent characters followed the harvest. One thing that many people learned is that planting and cultivating a piece of dirt brought more prosperity to it. Once barren land could have a foot of loam on it in only a few years if it had been cultivated. In some ways, I think our attitudes respond the same way!


They were able to be creative. It is interesting to "paint your way out of" just about anything. I would encourage a viewing of the artists featured in this post today. Just type in their names at allposters.com. When I was growing up, we often were stuck out on the homestead, not having much, for a long time, but drawing was always encouraged. In drawing, you can go anywhere in the world and do anything you want. Developing such a skill is very important to the mind, to lift one out of their current situation.


Writing your way out of something is just as absorbing. The best loved stories, including "Anne of Green Gables," were written by women who were confined to the home because they had to care for someone around the clock.


Singing your way out of something is more uplifting than going on a shopping spree. It is fun to buy things when circumstances enable it, but when not, singing can get a person through a lot of hardship. One of my favorite things to do when I have a huge pile of things to wash or sort through or fold, etc., is to have a younger person in the family sit down and tell me the words in a song book, helping me to learn all the verses of a song. It helps them learn to read and sing and it helps me get through some of the more time-consuming tasks.


Giving your way out of the circumstances is also a very interesting concept. When trying to cut back and be more frugal, giving to others is an activity that distracts us from our lack of money. No matter how frugal we get, there always seems to be a creative way to serve others. I have noticed that people are starved to come to visit other people. They just are not doing that as much these days. One lady I know always has someone over, at least for a cup of tea and a scone. She does not do much real cooking otherwise, but she has become an expert at making a pot of hot tea and scones. She gets her house all cleaned up and calls someone over and the two of them talk of whatever is lovely in their lives.

Working your way out of circumstances will not only improve the mind, but change the circumstances. Houses can always be improved through cleaning and arranging, and yards can always be kept spic and span as if they were surrounding a castle.


Being at home does not necessarily mean you will not have money. This is what people do not always understand. It means, instead, that you will not spend it as freely. You will find more ways to put it away, and more excuses to save it. You will find more substitutes for things you might have bought.


Porch, by Erin Derner


Creative frugality requires looking at things in a different way. Sometimes we have more than we think we do, but we are stuck in a mind set that it can only be used one way or cannot be changed.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Subtle Frugality


I don't know how many people have seen the movie, "Cinderella Man," about a famous boxer during the Great Depression.(This film is not for children, and ladies beware if you tend to have high blood pressure. There is too much boxing. You could get really caught up in it and have a heart attack. I know a lady whose doctor told her to stop watching boxing matches!) Quite accurately, they portrayed the welfare lines with people dressed up in their suits and ties, and ladies in their hats and dresses and nice shoes.



No one really wanted to be poor, nor did anyone want hand-outs. Some people even paid back their welfare payments, because it was beneath their dignity to take money from anyone, even the government. Perhaps one reason they showed up in their good clothes is that the suits always lasted longer than the work clothes and didn't have holes in them. Another reason could be that in public, people always wanted to present a good front. They didn't want anyone to think they were ne-er-do-wells who just wouldn't work.


Most people were poor at that time through no fault of their own, yet they still wanted to work, if there had been any work to be had. There was still some of this dignity that carried over into the 1950's. I knew a lot of poor people but they tried not to let it show.


This may be hard for people living in this era to understand, but they didn't want freebies and hand-outs. They were fiercely independent. They wanted to solve their own problems. Though they accepted help from good friends and relatives, they remembered to pass on the favor to others in need when they got better off.


The posts on frugality have gotten the most attention than any other posts I've had so far, and there are over 400 of them. So, I thought while the interest is still high, I would make another article about this matter. This one deals with being subtle, or quiet, about frugality. There are several reasons for this.


Friends may despair of including us socially when they get tired of our frugal remarks ("You should wash out that plastic bag and use it again! Are you going to throw away that tin can? Can I have your leftover chicken?") It gets to be a big downer for others if we are so "obvious" in our frugality. So, my idea throughout all these articles was to disguise it so that you looked like you were living well. I suggested that the main thing was to remain happy and optimistic about life, and not be trying to remind everyone about your own hard times. We should not be trying to impose our own gloom on other people. In spite of financial lack, women at home need to be happy and optimistic, assuring others that there will be better times, just as there will always be daylight after a long night.


There are two extremes in this case: one can either be too vocal about being poorer, and appear to show it off, making others feel guilty if they have more, or, one can cry "poor" and still be trying to live an expensive lifestyle.


If you are trying to be more frugal and overcome a financial hardship, you can't go out buy something like a horse. I've known poor people who couldn't "make it" but they went out and got a horse. A horse has to have care and food and sometimes a place to stay, if you do not live in the country. These things costs money. A horse, or even an exotic indoor bird, is another mouth to feed. In hard times, I think you should be happy with an ordinary cat or dog or fish. Some people just want to buy something like that, because poverty can be depressing, and getting something exotic makes them feel better. However, I've seen, particularly with horses, people lose even more of their living. Several families I have known, seemed to go down-hill financially because they would not give up their expensive horses or animals that were costing them a lot of money. They didn't want to give up a part of their lifestyle that elevated them socially.


Other things people won't give up, erstwhile complaining to their parents or their families that they have fallen on "hard times" are tickets to concerts, nights out with friends, new clothing from expensive stores, and trips. When they ask parents or grandparents who have money (those people that saved the rubber bands and twist ties off things), the lenders don't want to give them anything because the couple won't pare down their expenses and live simply.

Young women who want to come home and be wives and mothers and homemakers, will often have two or three vehicles to "support" and have huge house payments. I heard a mother telling her pregnant daughter, "You could sell off two of your cars and sell your house, buy a smaller one that doesn't have as high payments, and stay home when your daughter is born." The daughter wanted to continue working so her little child wouldn't have to suffer poverty like her mother had, when she was a girl. I'm sure this is a common story. I have listened to young mothers tell each other their plans for their children. They want them in all kinds of lessons and camps and activities that cost money and keep the mother running back and forth in a car. These are expenses that are not important, and will not guarantee a rich life later on.


People have a strange attitude toward poverty, as if it were a deadly or debilitating disease, leaving you marred for life. I smile. I was poor growing up and so were my parents and their parents. We didn't know it. Our parents kept it from us. Our mothers stayed home. Our lives were made richer by that. We thought we had it all. With a warm, cozy house, and a mother there at all times, what more would a child want?


There are people today who are living proof that poverty doesn't hurt you. In fact, it can really be a great motivating factor in your life. If it had not been for poverty, some people would never have invented things. If it had not been for poverty, others would not have made up stories for their children. Many mothers would never have knit a sweater for someone they loved, if they had wealth enough to buy whatever they needed.


Many fathers would not have striven so hard to learn how to do just about everything so that they could always find work or offer something to sell, produced by their own hands. If it had not been for poverty, some families would not have learned to entertain themselves by singing. Look at the family of now famous singers: all poor, but they found something within themselves that they could do which eventually became something that brought prosperity. Many people today who are very creative and talented, grew up poor.


While practicing frugality, I think it is good to behave with dignity and not walk around like life is over. At the same time, it seems like a good idea to explain things once in awhile, to those who wonder why you don't go out to eat with them or buy new clothes. You might tell them you are trying to show an example to others of living within your income, and that you don't want all the world's goods anymore.


In the meantime, as I said before, it is so important to eat well, and eat right.Most cheap food consists of simple carbohydrates. Living on carbohydrates is not good for you. Products made of simple flours and sugars will eventually make your heart race and you will experience panic attacks. You may even develop a sleep disorder and a feeling of fear and anxiety. Even in poverty, there should be something to eat which is very good for you: fresh vegetables, fruits, fresh fish, meats and cheeses. If you eat bread, you should eat the highest quality you can bake or buy. It might cost more, but you don't need 4 slices of it to sustain you. You may need only one.


To make frugality a subtle art, it is good to keep up with things like entertaining and helping others, being creative, or sharing your talents and knowledge. You may not have much money but life doesn't have to stop.


Hospitality is especially important if you are trying to be frugal. It gives you the social life that seems to lift you, and others, out of discouragement. Like "When Queens Ride By," it gives the impression that all is well in the kingdom and that the Queen is still alive and thriving. There used to be people who would deliberately have a celebration with friends and loved ones when they met with hard times, just to show their appreciation for them. Afternoon tea is the least expensive kind of hospitality and is so elegant, an excellent gesture in times of hardship. This kind of activity provides a luxury that makes life seem rich. It does not cost much, either, and most people are happy to come over for tea made in a real teapot and served in your good china cups.



Some of you might remember watching a series in the 1950's called "Wagon Train," depicting the treacherous journey across America to Oregon or California, via the Conestoga wagons. Not all the travellers were rich, but at night when they had camped, they enjoyed music and fellowship that many rich people did not.



Others can remember when nobles and lords suddenly lost their fortunes, yet kept an air of propriety about them. Just because they had no money, did not mean they would not speak properly or refuse to bathe or suddenly become thieves. Poverty is not an excuse to become lesser human beings. Many of my generation would have been considered very poor by today's concept of poverty. We still had to wash our hair and faces, brush our teeth, keep our clothes clean, and keep a clean house and behave honorably to our parents. If there were no jobs, we at least used the time off to improve our own houses, work on the garden, or do something useful. It is important to dress up and look up and not accompany lack of money with a sour attitude or sink into depression.

Subtle frugality requires a cheerful countenance and a soul grateful for the rain on your face and the sun on your shoulders. Every family will have ups and downs financially. Remember the apostle Paul said that he knew how to "abound" (behave when he was well off) and how to be "abased" (get through hard times). So should we. We need to be heroes to those around us by showing how we can get through poverty and still become rich in many ways. It probably is not a good idea to complain about being poor, especially if you are a full time homemaker. People will always tell you to leave your children in daycare and get a job. They do not understand that there are some things worth more than money.

Being subtle means being hardly noticeable where wealth or poverty is concerned. Just as anyone would be dismayed at someone showing off their wealth and living to excess, wearing your poverty on your sleeve might be offensive to some. It is possible to explain your frugality with words like, "I have developed a liking for spending the evenings at home," when asked to go out, or "We haven't decided what kind of furniture we want yet. We are going to use this until we find just the right set," might silence those who put pressure on you.

There is one other thing that can be demoralizing to the family when talking about being more frugal: telling people that you are too poor and can't afford something, can be a kind of put-down to your husband, especially if he is the breadwinner. You may not mean it to sound that way, but it does send the message that he isn't a good provider. Instead of saying you are too poor, say that the item is too expensive, or that you don't need it or do not want it. Saying that you are poor can also be questioning God's provision for you. It is all well and good to acknowledge limitations on spending, but not always wise to say that you are poor.

Even when not enduring hard times, it is good to have a respect for our income and to use it as wisely as possible. Being generous and hospitable seems to create a feeling of living a lavish life, as we can "afford" to show our love and regard for others.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Home Newspaper

19th century painting of woman looking at newspaper, by Adolfo Belimaugh


Three Generations by Melinda Byers from allposters.com

Possibly, many families have made little newspapers for their homes. It is not like a newsletter. It is a miniature newspaper that either the children or the mother makes to put on the side tables by the beds in the morning, or at the breakfast table by the plates. All it consists of, is hand written little news spots about things around your home. (Has anyone else ever done this?) You use it to remind the children of the things that need to be done, and include things like, "Please, lets just let one person feed Mr. Fish. He is getting very fat." We used to put inspirational poems about work: "If a job is once begun, never leave it, til its done,..." etc. We included our own cartoons of something funny that someone in the family was always doing.

Reading, by S. Wilson from allposters.com


We wrote out verses in small boxes around the paper and decorated them with fancy hand-drawn borders. We might have included the menu for the day, and even paper dolls for the girls and a truck for the boys. All this was hand-done.




Pure Hearts by Liv Carson from allposters.com


The little newspaper might be called "The Family Times," or "The Humphrey Home," or something catchy from the mouths of your own babes. Even before I had children, I liked to write a little newspaper, making headlines with wide markers, putting in columns and hand-printing little things to remind my husband of his appointments that day or that he had to call someone.

You can use pink paper for little girls, and blue for boys, or you can print the same paper off on white, and let them color it themselves. I found the home newspaper a great delight. I always liked newspapers and publications when I was a child, but we didn't get them often. When we did, I thought it was such a luxury, yet I believed it could be done so much better! Then, I started writing my own little paper by folding a typing sheet in half and pretending it was a newspaper. I gave the weather around our house (it is snowing today but the chickadee is singing) and included a craft, a cartoon, a coloring section, and news of the home: Dad will be bringing in the potatoes today and Mama Makes A Great Soup."

The three artists I show today have a host of other good paintings. Just type in their names at allposters and enjoy

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Bright Side of Frugality

Cotswold Hills by Peter Adams, from allposters.com


We have been concerned about conserving our resources at home, and have had some very interesting observations.


While some things might not seem to cost much, when you consider the cost next to the family income, it is really high. For example, something that costs a dollar at the dollar store is more expensive to a family with a limited income. It is equivalent to just a few cents to someone who has a lot of money coming in. That really needs to be taken into consideration! Just because something costs a dollar, does not mean you should spend a dollar on it. Have a good look at a bottle of shampoo, for example. It will cost a dollar at your local dollar store, but at a place like Wal-Mart or even the grocery store, it can go on sale at half the price.


You can also use less of the shampoo each time you wash your hair, and make it last longer. When the container is empty, add water and get one or two more shampoos out of it. I remember sort of laughing at my own parents who used up every bit of everything, including rinsing out tomato-sauce cans and adding it to the soup, but later I found that because they did not have to go out and replace everything as quickly, they were able to save money. Later, when young people began to feel that they could not afford anything, it was these people, these men and women who had saved things like rubber bands and old pencils, instead of buying new packages of things, that had enough savings to help their children with a down payment on a house.


The bright side of seemingly silly frugality, is less tension over money. If you have a dollar, you won't be persuaded to part with it easily, and then if you get another dollar you add it to that one, and soon you have some cash for something that is lasting.


We snickered a little to see our elderly grandmas wash and hang a plastic bag on the line and wondered why she didn't just throw it away, but she didn't buy a roll of plastic bags, even if they were only a dollar. I admit you can get a bit ridiculous about cutting costs, but there will be times when you realize that it is better to scrounge around and find something that will work in place of buying something. When you buy something, even if it is a dollar, it usually costs more than a dollar to go and get it. These people are in fact, the old folks who had money in the bank to care for themselves. Now, I do wonder at the elderly men and women who get reverse mortgages and take their pensions to the gambling casinos. Their children will find it a greater burden to care for them, especially if they have ruined their health with drugs, and alcohol and a poor diet.


The bright side of buying less manufactured food and more real food, will be good health. As poor as one gets, it is never wise to buy de-valued, de-vitamized food, which is what happens to it once it gets in a box or a can. An apple is still quite inexpensive for a snack, and if you have small children, it can be divided among several of them. The key to good health is to eat food as close to its original form as possible.


You might find that Little Debbie's or Hostess apple pies are cheaper than a bag of apples, but they do not have the health benefits of the fresh apples and can in fact, reduce your health. Just because something is cheaper, does not mean it is better. One of the advantages to watching your money more carefully is that you discover the difference between something real and something artificial; the difference between natural and processed. Natural food has not been through a process. The one exception might be cheese or butter, but that is still a ancient natural process, and is not as harmful as all the cheap concoctions that pass for cheese and butter. Natural food is the apple, and the processed food is the apple confections. If you get back to real food, you can make your own desserts with the real apples, and not have all the artificial ingredients in it that are in the processed foods. Lunch meat is also processed. You can make your own lunch meat by slicing home cooked meat and fish thin enough for a sandwich. The taste is beyond comparison.


If there is one thing I would never scrimp or cut down on, it is high quality food. I would not buy the cheap bread at the store: it has very little food value and takes tons of it to satisfy you and can give you heart burn to boot, plus cravings for more. You can make your own bread quite easily, even without a bread machine, and it is such a wonderful, loving treat for the family. The bright side of this kind of frugality is that a home starts to smell like a real home and the kitchens left unused when you were away, will get a real workout. Your family will be so much healthier and won't have to worry about the diseases that people are contacting, if you have good bread. To my plain bread recipe, I add flax seed meal, wheat germ, and various herbs and spices depending on the flavors I'm trying to produce. I never used bleached flour, but have found natural flours that are light. A friend of mine bought a grinder and has another friend who grows wheat. She buys the wheat, grinds it and makes wonderful bread. The family doesn't eat as many slices when one slice is hearty enough to satisfy the appetite.


Another bright spot in frugality is the cost of transportation and telephones. People will write letters to each other which are always such a thrill. The "progressives" who put more and more taxes, interest charges, socialized this or that, on us, will find society going back to basics. Those who hate the Victorian era will find that their own policies will drive us back into that family style of life, where people made their own clothes, women stayed home and guarded the house, and men provided and protected that home. The high cost of everything will make us go back to being enterprising, and trading with one another. High costs of housing will make families pull together and become closer, and help each other out more. The great fear that some of the powers-that-be have of going back to a Victorian lifestyle, will actually be forced on us by their high interest rates and high prices. Living with our families together, longer, we will be exercising more courtesy, which will then flow outward into society. We will expect people to be true to their promises. We will be more inventive, more innovative. We will be more distinguishing between good quality and poor quality. We will focus more on what is best for preserving our marriages, our families, our property. We will not be willing to go into debt for things that deteriorate with time. We will surely want what is important in life, which costs very little.



One bright side of frugality is that people will learn to accept each other for themselves, rather than the shoes they are wearing or the sunglasses they are wearing. I saw a ridiculous show about the newest bags. The commentator said, "Up next: it is time to buy one of the fabulous new bags." She showed some high priced, ridiculously designed bags that were nothing more than squares with handles on them, which were selling at the "terrific bargain" of $150.00! Sometimes the morning shows tell women that a skirt is a "must-have" at $49.00. Are they kidding us? It has about two dollars worth of fabric in it. And will any sincere person admire you more and think more of you because of the bag you are carrying? You can put two pieces of decorating fabric (the kind used for curtains or couch covering) together, sew up the sides and make a handle, and get the same results. We sold some of these years ago when my daughter was learning to sew, and brought in a little extra income. I saw a lady in the fabric store the other day who had a beautiful patchwork square bag. Another woman asked her where she could get one. The lady gave her a business card and told her to go to her website and order one from her. She then showed her the inside of the bag and the outside, explaining what kinds of fabrics they were--some antique, some ordered from England.



I have seen women go to garage sales, yard sales, and pay $80.00 for a dresser. They think they have a bargain because the ones in the new stores are $200.00. My limit for a used piece of furniture is twenty dollars, but even at that, I feel better if I only pay five. Every price should be considered relative to YOUR income. If you are on a higher income and trying to cut down, maybe $80.00 for a dresser would be a bargain for people who are used to paying more. To a poorer person, $80.00 is equivalent to $800.00. So, be careful of bargains, and make sure you are getting a good ratio with your income.


Another bright side to frugality is the absolute beauty you can make of everything. Instead of getting a new table, you can paint your old one. Learn to use the various wood glues to stabilize loose legs and arms on chairs. The old wood is better than new wood, which is often made up of various glues and chemicals, so you are better off with your older pieces anyway.
One of the brightest sides of frugal living is that family and friends will begin attending church again, reading the Bible again, and valuing things beyond the superficial, materialistic life of the busy world around them.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Frugal Ideas

"Room to Breathe" by Susan Rios

As a follow-up to the previous article, here are a few more frugal tips that can really help you keep your money and keep it from going out the door.




The first thing to go when you are out of money, or trying not to spend money, are non-food items. The only paper product you must have is toilet paper. You can live without paper towels or even napkins. If you can get them for such a small price that it won't affect your income, do use them, but generally when times are tough, the first thing to eliminate is all the non-food products. In most places, the large trash bags are a necessary expense, but you can be careful to fill them more adequately and not let a bag go out to the curb unless you have emptied all the trash from the house into it. When you shop, look for foods that do not have a lot of packaging.


You can get containers with lids at the dollar store, or reject store, instead of spending money on plastic wraps and plastic bags, which you only throw away. If you have to pack lunches, containers contain the food much better and give you more use for the price.


Learn to look after all your belongings. Books that have been dropped or left on the floor will have broken bindings. Develop a sense of respect for everything from your chairs to your vacuum cleaner. Don't jerk things or bang them against things. Handle everything carefully and with grace. They will last much longer and you won't have to replace them. I have decided not to replace a lot of small appliances because it frees up space in my kitchen if I stir the batter with a wooden spoon and chop food myself with a chopping board, however, if I do have an appliance, I want to treat it carefully to get the most life out of it. Do not tug at bedding or pull clothing out of the closet. Pull out drawers and open cabinets more carefully. This is just good stewardship.


As in the previous article, eliminate complaining. Only build up and create ideas for living beautifully without spending.


For the most part, do not pay for things you cannot own. There are of course, some expenses you cannot "touch," which will be necessary, but many of the things we pay for are not real. There are high costs that give you very little in return, and in fact, will enslave you for a long time, trying to work to pay for them. I remember once being with some friends, who liked to drink. They were buying cases of beer and then laughing at one of the women with us because she bought a small coffee table she had always wanted. She looked straight at them and told them the cost of her table was exactly the cost of their combined cases of beer. "Where will your drinks be in 5 years?" she asked. They soon shut up. In 5 years, she still had the little table and had repainted it several times. People offered to buy it from her at twice the price. I don't think you could do that with beer or cigarettes.


Sometimes newspaper subscriptions are a big drain on your budget but you do not see it right away. Where are those papers at the end of a year? Would you like to have a hundred dollars in your pocket instead of 365 days of newsprint sitting on your back porch? You can't re-sell them. The same goes for a lot of magazines. Just pick the ones you like and intend to keep in your library.


To some people, living with thrift is like challenging game. They enjoy it and are enriched by it. They gain more confidence in the future because they are securing their income and preventing it from flying away with the wind.




Another thing to eliminate is all junk food. Soda pop is not necessary, and neither are chips of any kind. Once you stop buying the cans and bottles of fizzy pop, you will have have more time, because you won't have to take those extra steps to recycle the containers. You will be in better health without the junk food, anyway.
You can get frames, trays, baskets, planters, and all kinds of hard-goods at your used stores, junk stores, Goodwills, etc. and paint them with ordinary craft paint. Make matching sets for your house and you will feel you are living rich. As long as things are clean and smell fresh, you do not need to appear to be in reduced circumstances. Read "The Wife" by Washington Irving, for inspiration, on the sidebar under "Theme Articles." The wife in this story, from the 1800's, is someone who found herself losing the lavish lifestyle she and her husband were accustomed to. Instead of finding her unresponsive and sullen, when the husband got home from work, she was happily making a cozy nest out of the run-down place they had removed to.
As Deby, below said, STAY HOME as much as you can because it saves fuel. It costs at least $20.00 in some places, to leave the house, when you count wear and tear on the car, gas, and having to buy something when you are out. I always laughed at the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads in the 80's--meant to mock the women of the Victorian era because they supposedly didn't have freedom (supposedly--but then, they didn't have the heavy responsibilities of earning a living AND keeping house--they only had to do one--AND they didn't have the worry that women have today)--particularly the one of the woman taking a break outside hanging up the laundry. It said that every woman should "get out of the house" regularly. Yes, those ads were clever but they got you thinking about how you can actually go outside and sit on your own porch or walk in your own little garden and it costs you nothing and does a great deal of good.
As for essential shopping, this will be necessary, but for those who must cut back on spending, there are many alternatives that do not cost as much. STaying home, even if you just relax and read your favorite book or magazine, is much cheaper and calming to the mind.


When things do get better, you'll have very good habits ingrained in you, and be able to use money to really help someone and to make your own future and the future of your loved ones secure.

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