Saturday, July 29, 2006

Living at Home and Liking It

If you know of any grown sons or daughters not married who are living at home, you probably know some very interesting people. I know several women who are living at home, and enjoying every minute of it. After all, this was also the family with which they spent their childhood, and they were happy here. Some of them say that living at home prevents them from being in debt. Others really want to be with their parents and have familiar surroundings rather than go off to an apartment in a strange place and hear sounds at night they aren't used to. Home is the safest place to be for them, and it makes more sense to have a family around them that loves them, than to be with strangers.

Many of the sons and daughters living at home are very busy and like improving their home life. They feel the freedom to be themselves and to express themselves, in a family that understands them. It is here that they can develop many talents and enterprises. There is a lot more to living at home than people think. Single women at home have a variety of things to do. There is always the work of keeping the home clean and lovely, but there are also things like sewing and creative endeavors.

One woman I know says she intends to be at home until she is married and goes to her own home. In the meantime, she looks for every opportunity to be of help to her family, so that their home is better for having had her there.

I've had the privilege of visiting in families where the single men and women live at home until they marry, and they have a lively lifestyle that many single people out on their own, envy. In the evenings they do charming old-fashioned things like play the piano and sing, or have a game of chess. Indeed, some of these families seem more of a storybook than real life --that is, something you might read about in a book from the 1800's--but when I pinched a girl lately to see if she was real, she said "ouch." These families are not at all a fantasy. They really do exist, and they love their homes!

When I was younger, the single life was promoted in a much different fashion. Young women were encouraged to get out on their own and share rent with several other young women. All of them had jobs, and in their spare time, they did their laundry or went out. Most did not know what else there was to do, and therefore they rarely cooked and only sewed when they needed a button replaced. I really admire these single girls today that reside at home. Though some of them work outside the home, they are still deeply absorbed in life at home yet find time to reach out to others and show hospitality or help others.

A Game of Chess, by George Goodwin Kilburne, (1839-1924)

Friday, July 28, 2006

House Dresses

Women's Housedresses, 1921. Everyday Fashions of the Twenties: As Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs. Ed. Stella Blum. NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1981. p. 39.

These were usually worn with aprons when cooking or cleaning. My mother in law had an ordinary apron, with a bodice, that slipped over the head, for hard work and cleaning, and a company apron, usually the same style, made of lace or crochet, for meal time preparations when there was company. She removed the apron to answer the door or before sitting down to eat.

The dress style changed slightly in the 50's, with the skirt being a bit more of a circle, rather than so straight, and the apron being only waist high.

Will answer the schedule of home routines, in due time.

Note: because of hecklers, the comments come into a moderation area first and have to be checked by the owners of this blog before they get posted, so don't worry if it doesn't seem like your comment is posting. It will be slightly delayed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Glory of the Home

The home is a combination of the dwelling place and those who live in it. Such is it's importance and sacredness, that there will be forces applied to break it up. At every turn, it seems that there is mocking and ridicule of the home and what it stands for. Even 20 years ago, the behavior that is widely accepted in homes today, would have been wrong.

Also, allowing a house to deteriorate by not keeping it clean and orderly, was considered the height of impropriety, yet today, there are many who glory in their own sloth and ridicule the hard work that others do that maintains a beautiful house.

Your house can be lovely no matter where you live, if certain key elements are applied: hard work and an eye for loveliness. If you will think about the places you most enjoy visiting, whether it is shops or the homes of friends, you will not notice exactly how it is achieved. The owners have somehow captured the ingredients that it takes to make a home appealing. It is often a combination of homey things that have both useful and sentimental value. It is the way a house smells and the memories or ideas it inspires in your mind. It explains why someone can weep over a house in a small village that they grew up in, while the world looks on and wonders what in the world they can see in that run-down old place. I've seen grandmothers do a better job at making a home with an old place, than new home owners can with a large home filled with up-to-date conveniences and accessories.

The grand finale of cleaning and organizing is the vases of flowers and nice family posessions being put on display. Your home is the gallery of your beliefs and your life. The things in it will set a mood for the members of the family and keep them them reminded of the values in your life.

The only way to really get a homey feeling in the house, is for the homemaker to be dedicated to the home. Being gone all day just doesn't give her the time she needs to look at it, consider it, move things, or make good judgements about what should go or stay. The homemaker needs to have time to clean the house and do it without being rushed. It is during this time that she will discover things about her house that need changing. When she spends a lot of time at home, she can truly put the homey touches into it that make it a joy.

It is worth repeating from the last chapter, that the work of the home is worth your getting up and getting a bath or shower, getting dressed up, fixing your hair and applying some makeup and perfume. Many women used to wear a "house dress" every day, with a necklace, and did their hair up in a fine way. The shoes they wore may have clacked across the wood floors but they walked with dignity and the noise gave them a sound of importance. If we want to restore dignity to the home maker, we have to begin with our appearance. Our attitudes often accompany our mode of dress.

Look at this beautiful painting. You probably cannot understand how such beautiful houses and accompanying flower gardens can have owners that look like something the cat dragged in. If women will dress for their homes/houses and their families, they will find that it affects their attitudes for the better, enabling them to do their best at home. If you were going to work in an important business where customer relations depended upon your smile, your appearance and your attitude, would you not prepare yourself before going there? The home is even more important than anything else out there. Rather than being more casual, our homes deserve more respect and more attention. Not only will dressing with respect create a more professional attitude towards the work of the home, it will bring about dignity to the office of homemaker, wife, and mother.

Painting: Summer Cottage by Rowena, available at

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Beautiful Life

If you are a keeper at home, here's a reminder to do the best you can. The body and the mind are the tools necessary for living a good life and for creating a beautiful life at home. As busy as a homemaker gets, it is necessary to take care of herself first. Taking a cool shower, adding soft perfume and dressing respectably, sets the tone for a productive day.

Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin. Some women find it valuable to start at the entry of the house, which most people see first. Pretend you are having visitors, and you'll find the motivation for getting the house in order. After the living, dining, and kitchen areas have been cleared and made presentable, the bathroom and bedrooms can be quickly gone over and then there will be time to pursue something creative or something that really needs some attention.

Peace in the home contributes a great deal to its beauty. Decades ago, I spent an afternoon with a woman who lived in an apartement above the family store and gas station, in the country. She had no remarkable furniture or decor to speak of, but that memory remains in my mind as the most beautiful and peaceful times of my life. She had peace in her home, but she also had order, and cleanliness, and the things that meant the most to her.

A certain amount of handi-work, such as sewing, crafts, or gardening, settles the mind, and adds peace to your life, so it is good to include these things every day.

A reminder to those parents who need information on dealing with troubled adult children, please be sure to read the article by Doug Philips, here
Also, there is still a parents site that you can visit, which may have articles on it to your benefit. Comments are open and you don't have to use your name. You can view it by writing me first at

A comment came in about dressing in the heat, which said it was too hot to wear modest clothing. Have a look at the photographs of women on the streets and boardwalks during hot summer vacations, and see what they wore in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can read about their clothing in Linda Lichter's well-researched book, "The Benevolence of Manners" (available at Amazon, ebay, and other places), in which it is explained how they layered their clothing for maxium coolness or heat. We all knew even back in the 50's, that white clothing was cooler and the natural fibers kept you feeling dry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pictures at an Exhibition

Be looking for my new article in the Lady Lydia Speaks section of today.

Based on the musical composition by Russian composer, Mussorgsky, this article shows how important it is for life at home to have meaning and purpose, even if it is just a refuge away from the pressures of the world.

It takes you through a home, as through an exhibition, and shows you the scenes of life that the woman can create, with a desire to please the Lord and create beauty and peace around her.

We need to return to the real reasons for homelife.

Is it just a place where people crash and leave pop cans and chip bags all over the place; where the family members "vent" and tell each other off, or does it have a more sacred purpose? Be sure and read the inspiring article about "Honor" by Doug Philips, posted today at
Painting: Pathway, by Cao Young, from allposters

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Well-Dressed Table: Centerpieces

The most humble homes can still have table centerpieces. There is something about having one that makes a meal special, and keeps the table looking good long after the meal is over.

Most popular over the years for centerpieces have been candles and flowers, but there are a number of innovative things you can do to create a centerpiece without spending money.

Large sea shells can be filled with water, in which small wildflowers can be floated.

One woman who invited me to her home recently had made a centerpiece with a gift bag. So many of the new gift bags are absolutely lovely, even with classical paintings printed on the. Inside the bag, she had placed a vase of flowers. The container was hidden and the effect was very dramatic.

Look around your house and yard, and you'll see a great number of things that can be used as centerpieces, from colorful rocks put in a bowl of water, to children's toys.

A "Commonwealth" party that I attended, had a set of flags in a centerpiece on each table, representing countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others in the British Commonwealth. These flags were placed inside short vases.

Lacking a centerpiece, the food itself can be used: a round platter of vegetables, or fruit, nicely arranged.

Like an orderly house or soft music, a beautiful centerpiece can be restful to the eyes and the emotions.

(to be continued)

Picture from: Please click on the picture for a larger view.

Respect for the Home

(This article was posted on the parents support blog by one of the editors. Since it has something to do with peaceful family life, I'll reprint it here.)

For more articles on rebellion in the home, go here where I have written. Also, a friend of mine has a few of hers on there, with her own insights.

The concept of respect has been grossly demoted. It is sad that our children have never seen their country in a time when there was great respect for parents and families in society, as a whole.

In the 1960's our nation endured a cultural revolution that broke down the kind of respect that actually ran the nation for many decades. I've read that the rebellion of the 1920's did far more damage, (Read "The Benevolence of Manners" by Linda Lichter. She shows how some leading 20th century people helped to throw off the values of the parents and grandparents of the Victorian era, which was largely family and parent guided) but since I've personally seen the cultural changes before and after the music and riots of the 60's, that is what I will talk about here.

As I was saying, the grown children of this generation do not know of a society where adult children showed respect and love to their parents and grandparents. What they see today is children using their parents and grandparents and feeling that they are owed a living. I grew up hearing the phrase, "No one owes you a living." We knew the deeper meaning of that. It was to ward off self-centeredness.

When I was a little girl I adored my mother and father. There was a compulsory education law that came into effect that most parents of the 50's thought they had to comply with, and so I was sent to school. That was the beginning of my disrespect for my parents. I thought my teachers were "it" and couldn't tolerate my parents demands on me.

Althought I was not always outwardly rebellious, the school experience, which took me from God-given authority and put me under other authorities and "experts" made me lose respect for the home. I was a child, and didn't know what in the world I was doing. I am sure my parents were very bewildered at this behavior. They had both grown up with respect for their homes and families.

Keep in mind that the parents of the 40's and 50's were not children in the 40's and 50's. They were raised by parents born in the 1800's or early 1900's who were raised by parents in the previous century. They passed on their upbringing to their children, so in a sense, many that were raised in the 50's received a Victorian upbringing and an appreciation of the family that does not exist in most homes today.

I keenly remember one time that I attempted to shout at my mother. Both my parents shut me out of the house and made me sit on the porch til I had gotten over my fit. As it was the usual course of most parents, most kids did not consider it abuse. They learned from it and adjusted to it. We were ashamed to speak of it because it meant we weren't compliant or mature. To disturb the home or rail against a mother was not tolerated. Sometimes after we recovered from such a slip in our behavior, we asked our mother not to tell the neighbor about it; the neighbor that she spoke over the fence with occasionally. If anyone heard about it, the reputation would follow you quite a long time. This, and other methods of chastisement, kept many of us following the right direction!

As a teenager in the 60s I saw a lot of rebellion. It is sad that those kids barely had any training in respect and were not even old enough to be well grounded in family life, before the 60's revolution hit them. Night and day they listened to the new rock music, which encouraged self-actualization and rebellion against authority. Even "Life" magazine, for the first time, featured the rock groups instead of statesmen and good things about America. Schools had social studies programs in which the teenagers were encouraged to listen to report the news rather than write compositions and book reviews of good literature. Literature and poetry was introduced into the education system that only spoke of despair and disappointment, or portrayed authority in a bad light, showing the failing of parents instead of the purpose.

This generation of grown children never saw the nation as a whole, in a time when families were strong and the rule of the parents was the wisest counsel you could get. To be sure, there were hooligans and deadbeats and hoods and bums and people of the times that could not get their lives together, but even THEY knew that they were not following the right standard. Parents would point to their unwholesome relative and say "Uncle Jim is a perfect example for why you should not drink." Failed lives were used as obvious lessons in life for what could happen if a child disobeyed and dishonored his parents. The old people warned the young people not to ruin their lives, and showed them the little things that would lead to that ruin. There were things that would ruin your life they said, and even if you did get back on the right track, you would have a difficult time and have to pay for your failures both in money and in time lost. Success in life depended upon character qualities rather than money. (Compare that to today's popular concept of success.)

Since the 60's, great efforts continued to break down the values of the home. Educators and writers did this by changing the values of values, saying that respect was not necessary and there was no reason to honor your parents, since they were probably hypocrites anyway.

When today's children do meet families that have that kind of honor and respect for the home, which comes from an adherance to the Bible, they think they are wierd. More and more families, however, want that for their homes, wierd or not, and are succeeding at it. I know several of these families who homeschooled their children. Their homes have the kind of atmosphere that homes used to have before 1964.

Grown children have never seen America as it used to be when it was family-based. Nowadays it is economy based, and most people base decisions and likes and dislikes on whether it will benefit them economically. These offspring view the world only as they see it now in front of them. They have no respect for their parents or grandparents, often scoffing at the old ways, where the good walk is.

Many counsellors and people who deem themselves authorities (teachers, psychiatrists, --even ministers) do more harm to the family cohesiveness than good. Instead of teaching the child to respect and honor his parents, turning their hearts to their fathers and mothers, these people play down the concept of respect.

I even heard one preacher say that the parent had to EARN the respect. I think a lot of teens and adult offspring who were just on the edge of rebellion and disprespect, and may have been looking for an excuse for their bad manners and rudeness toward their parents, were given the green light by such a sermon. If earning respect was a criteria in having honoring children, there would never be one single parent who would qualify. The children would only look for fault and find loopholes.

Most of these ideas come from psychology, not from the Bible. So, even in our churches, although our adult children may be sitting there, they can secretly be high-minded, lording it over their own parents, and feeling disrespect. The word "rebellion" from the scripture in I Samuel, that I mentioned in a previous article, is from a Hebrew word that means "bitter."
In a society that does not respect the concept of honor for the parents, it is extremely trying and difficult for mothers and fathers to cope. Some families may even sympathize with their rebellious sons and daughters and entertain them. If any of you reading this is over the age of 60, you'll remember a time when harsh words spoken to a parent resulted in having to leave the house.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will rise up from defeat and quit feeling demeaned and demoralized. Those who are promoting disrespect for the home are the enemy and the insurrectionist, not you. God made you a parent. You were not trained to fight this kind of rebellion. Most of you look into the eyes of that precious baby after the birth, and never dream that they will create so much grief and hardship on the family. After all the devoted care to see that the child lives, no parent ever expects to be punished with such sore punishment.

Although I was born in 1951, that does not mean I knew nothing from the previous decades. I observed a lot in the lives of people who lived at that time who grew up in the early 1900's. I had the privilege of being around really firm fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers who were born in the 1800's, which was referred to as the Victorian Era.

Contrary to popular myth, this era was not full of rigid people whose lives were miserable. Their strictness was tempered by their intense loyalty and love for their families. They could sound very harsh, but they wouldn't take the easy way out. They weren't the type of people to be your friend one minute and then turn against you. You never wondered what they thought of you, you KNEW. They were not consumed with trying to have high self esteem. They knew that if they did what was good and right, and were respectful, they would naturally get good feelings and good self esteem. Nowadays, the grown kids want good feelings even when they do what is wrong.

These days we live in a society of treachery, and grown children are picking up the attitudes of disloyalty, disprespect and dishonor. Disrespect for the home isn't limited to teen-agers. It can come at any age--20's, 30's, 40's, etc. I know of 50 year old children who still criticise and disrespect their aged parents, and treat their homes casually.

For parents who are hurting, let me give you an example of my mother. She had 7 children, and once in awhile they would give her a hard time, especially as they got older. When we reached the age that we could go out at night, (most of the time it was with our own brothers and sisters), she would give us a curfew, but she would say something like,
"I am not going to stay up and wait for you if you don't come in at the right time. It is YOU who should worry. You've been taught what is right, and I'm not going to do the worrying. YOU are. because if you don't come in, you are the one who is in trouble, not I."

My mother never spent one sleepless night over us, not because we were always good or always obeyed the rules, but because she put the burden of the fault on US. I well remember going somewhere I shouldn't have, and feeling very nervous. When I got home, I had trouble sleeping!
If only parents could instill this personal respect and responsibility into their grown children, so that when they disrespected their parents and their homes, they would be the ones to lose sleep!

Now let me contrast the actual look of the houses before and after the 60's rebellion against parental authority. Inside, our homes were absolutely valued and loved. We loved our things, our couches, our beds, and our pictures on the wall.

Usually there was a quilt that a loving relative had made, on the back of the chair or couch. The living room and dining rooms were especially revered, because the living room was a place we visited one another, not just guests. Small tables flanked each side of the couch or chair, holding a lamp and maybe a small stack of books.

A table and chair set created the dining area, where most of our meals were taken. The pride we had in our furniture and decor was not because of the furniture itself--I doubt if anyone can remember the exact style of furniture they had---but in the way it was kept. There was a lot of pride in being neat and clean.

There was really no such thing as "decorating" as we know it today, with styles or colors matching. A hand braided rug was placed in the middle of the living room floor. Paintings on the wall were usually bought from a friend who painted, or painted yourself. Often, people would take pictures out of magazines and frame them for a wall hanging. Black and white family photographs were especially treasured. A picture of grandparents would be displayed on the mantel.

Bedrooms were places that were also kept in order. We each had a bed, some blankets, and maybe a little dresser. We took time to fold our clothes and put them back neatly in the drawers. (You can imagine the astonishment of that generation of parents, when the modern bedroom came into their view--with stacks of clothes in a corner, and loud rock music blaring from huge speakers.)

We knew the purpose of the dwelling place. It was not somewhere to flop around in and create a mess and disprespect. It was something to be proud of. Our parents told us that if we respected the house and the home, we could expect to spend many happy hours there.
This was written for parents of rebellious teens and adult chldren, on the blog that was started as a support group. I thought it was appropriate to post here, as it has much to do with the home. As before, if you are interested in this group, contact me via email:

This picture is called "Going Home" by Consuela Gamboa.

Friday, July 14, 2006

What Do You See?

The name of this print is "First Catch" by C. M. Relyea.

Someone found this in an antique store and I couldn't resist it. What can you tell me about this picture? What emotions does it bring to you?

There are still some people who remember scenes such as this. I received an email not long ago saying that the kind of life exhibited in such pictures was just a dream world and we could never go back. What do you think? Maybe if posters like this could be found on the poster rack in stores, people would have worthy goals toward which to work. Teens would have pictures with real heroes in them, and things to dream about that would build their lives instead of sending them into despair.

Visits: Another Part of Home Life

I just had a visit from a wonderful lady who brought me brunch, which she cooked in my kitchen.

She brought with her two of her three grown daughters, who were educated at home, age 25 and 18. These two girls were extraordinarily enthusiastic about life. I took them on a walking tour of the garden and the land about us, and they were enchanted with it.

I asked them if they knew anything about the rhubarb plant and they showed me how to pick it, weed it, and take care of it, as well as offerred suggestions on how to make from it sauces, jams, and muffins. "I will warn you, though," said one of them. "that if you ever decide to chew on raw rhubarb, everything will taste like rhubarb for a long time." She told me she had done so and even when her mother made chocolate cake, it tasted like rhubarb.

During breakfast they told me about things they were doing at home. One of them wanted me to come and see a room she had rearranged and cleaned. The mother commented that they as a family rarely get any encouragement for the life that they lead. We shared ideas about living in small homes, trying to come up with plans to make things fit in small rooms.

The daughters are earning money by being able to care for elderly people in their own homes. People usually donate what they can afford, to have these girls come, cook a meal, clean house, help them with a letter, read aloud, or just keep them company. The eldest daughter, who was looking after her grandmother, also raises sheep, and has learned to use the wool to make a fabric called "felt," which she dyes with vivid colors. She does something called "felting," whereby she makes this fabric while forming it into something such as a tea cozy or purse or hat or mittens.

Brunch consisted of English muffins with sliced tomato and cooked asparagus spears, covered in a wonderful cheese sauce, fresh baked scones with raspberry jam (home made) and whipped cream. Tea of different kinds consisted of: Yorkshire Gold, Orange Spice, and Camomile, served in individual pots.

While their mother and I visited, one of them played tunes reminiscent of the Edwardian era. These girls could easily converse about such writers as Adam Clarke or Jane Austen, and discuss their values at length. It was most refreshing to hear such talk, in a society that is full of idle foolishness.

Although they had just been out on a farm picking the fresh crop of raspberries, they wore skirts and blouses, and floppy hats to shade their faces in the harsh morning sun.

One of the interesting things that these girls revealed that they were doing as a hobby, was called "letterboxing." Has anyone heard of it? They showed me their little book that people had signed with their stamps and names. This occupation takes them to many beautiful parks and public places like rose gardens, and lighthouses.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Firm Foundation of the Home

Some email acquaintances have suggested a support blog for parents with teen and adult children who are threatening the stability of their lives and their homes (rebellion). If anyone would be interested in something like that, please email me:

As many have observed, the home is more than the walls and the roof. It is represented by family members wherever they are. When we see teen and young adults around, we behold their manner of life and their attitudes and wonder what they were like at home. Obviously, some will have been a terror to their parents, tearing down the stability of the home. Others will be a help to their families, building up their parents marriage and helping everyone around them love and respect their family.

One of the signs of respect of the home and family is the way teen and adult children treat the house and talk to the parents. If they come home and flop all over everything, leaving disorder in everything they touch, it shows lack of respect. If they come home and their presence benefits their parents and their parents dwelling, they show honor, and they will be the ones who will ultimately get the most good from it in their lives.

Orderliness in the home contributes to a feeling of peace. Disorder often brings confusion and lack of logical thinking. It is very difficult to sort out one's thoughts in the midst of chaos. That is one reason that the homemaker is so concerned about messes in her house. I once read that sloppy living leads to sloppy thinking. I don't know if it is true or not, but certainly there are those who aren't at their best when their house is a wreck. If the state of our homes are a reflection of our thoughts, and if our teen children's rooms are a measure of their cooperation or rebellion, then some of us are in real trouble! I for one am attempting to streamline my house so that it is easier to keep up.

Apple Gatherers by Frederick Morgan (1847-1927) English.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tackling the Formidable

Those formidable areas in your home can be tamed. By breaking the jobs into small, manageable tasks, you can get ahold of these monstrous messes and keep them orderly for a long time. Very few people can just barge headlong into hard work, so I would suggest that you start with something easy and small.

If you have "one of those rooms" full of things you never seem to get around to doing, I would suggest you find small messes in other rooms, that are easy to clean up, first. Go around and do the small jobs, and you will work up the mental stamina to tackle the larger one. When you get to the larger one, clean out spaces, bit by bit, and don't be discouraged.

One of the greatest helps to home living and home keeping is the elimination of things. The less you have to pick up and put away, the easier your life will be. I have to shake my head in wonderment at the memory of my first years of homemaking. I had so very little--no bed to put a mattress on, no pictures, no decorations, no furniture, no dressers, but the housekeeping was so simple. Now I look back and wonder why I was so concerned about getting things. They certainly do accumulate, eventually, and if you aren't careful, they can clutter your house horribly.

Bedrooms in particular, can be a place where family members store more stuff, until there is barely room to sleep. After going around the house methodically, cleaning and straightening, and adding to that the summer responsibilities of watering plants outside, the bedrooms sometimes get only the left over time. These rooms can be dealt with in the method that is taught by many cleaning experts: just take parts of the room at a time and deal with them, until it is all done. Make the bed first, then sort things into piles of these "subjects" - paper, books, clothing, objects, other things. Put away each section, then vacuum.

I would suggest keeping only things that are being used, things that are of value sentimentally (your Grandmother's teapot, etc) and things that have meaning to you. Taking pictures of areas of your home is an effective way to analyze what needs to be kept and what needs to be taken out.

Today, you can go around and put your home in general order, and then if there is time left and you are not tired, begin on a larger problem area of the house, that is bothering you. Don't forget not to get too anxious, but stop now and then for a wee spot of tea and remember to be thankful that you have been enabled to do this job.

In a workplace, such as an office, there will be someone dictating your tea-breaks and your hours, and even the amount of work you accomplish. I've seen many hours wasted in the workplace, because of regulation, which de-motivates employees. Self-regulated people seem to accomplish a great deal.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Fourth

When we were younger we used to attend huge 4th of July celebrations among great crowds of people, with a featured band, lots of noise, in a carnival atmosphere.

As the years have gone by we have given it all up for a home celebration. We felt safer and more comfortable, were able to use our own kitchen and find a restroom more easily. The first year we stayed home, we studied how people celebrated the fourth of July in previous centuries and tried to immitate that. Some of our ideas came from The American Girls Handibook and The American Boys Handibook, which were reprints from the late 1800's.

These books explained how to make harmless fireworks out of bright, sparkly cellophane and metallic papers. These were cut to make fringes, and tied around little beans to give them weight, then dropped from a high place such as an upstairs balcony. They twirl as they make their way down to the lawn. Lacking a balcony, trees or a ladder give a good height. Another simple child's fireworks consisted of a straw to hold, on which was stuffed some sparkly paper that the child could wave around. We had great fun with many of the fireworks crafts from these books, and still get them out of the tin where we stored them, each year.

One year we had a dog and pony parade. To do this, the family just finds everything they own with wheels, and every animal that will cooperate and stay in line. Wagons, tricycles, bicycles, lawn mowers of any type (push or ride), will do. The children carry flags while they ride in the "parade," and we take pictures.

This year the traffic in the city was impossible to navigate in order to see the annual city fireworks. We stayed home in the country and had our own display, which was quite good. We talked to the children about the meaning of the Fourth and what it meant to other countries, as well. My email was interesting, as I received "Congratulations," on the birth of our country from Russia, The Ukraine, Romania, Great Britain, and Kenya. Our country is noticed by people all over the world and is of special concern to them. Many of these people know and understand the reason behind the existance of America more than some of our own citizens. Some of these countries actually appreciate it more, as they suffer things that we have never had to endure.

Then we took a quilt and laid it in a farmer's field in the moonlight and watched the fireworks on display from a nearby town. We had snacks on a tray and some cold drinks. While we were sitting outside we were commenting how pleasant it was to be experiencing this in peace and quiet, not having to turn our heads away from unpleasant scenes or try to ignore rude arguing, blatant immodesty, smoking or the smell of alchohol, and having opposite values flaunted before us. We all commented on the fact that harmony was so present between us all.

Having our own quiet 4th celebration was so much more meaningful to usn than forging our way through traffic to see a show.Last year we videotaped the children singing "Hail to the Chief" and marching in their own parade.

From Pierside Seaside Memories by Susan Rios

Your Home: A Jungle or Paradise

The business of home involves developing routines. These might not take place every single day, yet you will have them on your mind.

Making the home a pleasant place to be, takes about 99% work for 1% enjoyment, it seems. Therefore it is mighty important that you develop a penchant for your work. Some jobs are gritty and hard. You have to get the determination to do them, but your motivation comes from the picture in your mind's eye, of the end-results.

To achieve the dream you have for your home, you might have to break down the tasks into small portions.

Let me give you an example. I mentioned in a previous post that the outdoor area around your house can extend your use of the house. I wanted to have a place just like pictures in Better Homes and Gardens. However this would take some hard work before could become a beautiful spot to sit and sip lemonade on a warm day.

Around our house was overgrown brush up to my waist. I had given up wishing to win a prize of a free garden make-over. I sat for years thinking that it couldn't be done. Then, one summer day I reached over and pulled out a clump of dried grass and weeds. Beneath it appeared bare ground and fresh soil. I pulled some more. The grass was so difficult to pull, and the ground so hard, that the only thing to do was to pull out the grass, one blade at a time, with the help of a little hand trowel. I told myself I would do one square foot. I don't know how much that is in European measures, but just think of it as the size of your foot, four ways, making a square. After one square, I would quit.

By the time I had done one square foot, having a bare spot next to the outer wall of the house was so pleasing, that I could not quit. I did stop now and then to refresh myself but by then, was hopelessly addicted. I stayed outside til 9 or 10 in the evening, as long as the light lasted. A job that I thought would entail months of work, took me only one day of hard labor. The next day I was enthused about filling up those bare spots with pretty flowers.

It might seem like the 99% of hard work resulted in 1% pleasure, but the work became part of the pleasure, as I saw good results.

The same can be done with a laundry room. Everyone has experienced not seeing the floor of the laundry area for a long time. Just clean up one square foot. The same can be done in a kitchen that you've lost control of. Clean up one square foot.

After one area has been conquered, you will want to move on to another--maybe, the bathroom or a crowded bookshelf. However, you can't let the other things that you've mastered, such as the flower beds and the laundry room, slide back into disarray. You have to maintain these areas first. This is where your daily routine comes into play. When you first get ready to begin your day, go around and maintain the areas that you've already cleaned up. There will be a stray towel here and a pair of shoes there; a pan or a cup left out from the previous night. There will be a messy couch or papers left around on a table. Go through and maintain these areas, by picking up the clutter and wiping sticky surfaces, sweeping floors, folding things, putting in a small load of laundry. Then, and only then, begin another area, which I call "the jungle." Do not start a new jungle area til the paradise areas have been "maintained."

Let us suppose that you have caught up on your laundry, and your kitchen is clean. The next day, you will go through and maintain those areas, and then begin a new area that needs a complete overhaul. Do one square foot of some area if you like. The next day, maintain that one foot of clean area, and do another square of it.

In maintaining a home, you may get discouraged if you assign yourself something that is too big and then you will want to give up completely. I always have a "hope to do" list, rather than a "to do" list, because sometimes, so many urgent matters have to be taken care of, that I never get one thing done. I just begin again the next day. There have been times when something on my list just kept getting put aside, and it took me a month to get to it, but it was on my mind, and eventually I did it.

In the summer, outdoor work is always pressing, and you can expect that indoor projects may have to wait awhile. That does not mean that you can't get your laundry done, but it may mean you won't be organizing your cupboards and drawers for awhile.

The most important things are your dishes and laundry, care of food, and cleanliness of the bathroom. These things MUSt be attended to, for the sake of healthful living and sanitation. Clean floors are essential if you are living in the country, as I am, because if you leave crumbs and filth about, the field mice, ants, spiders and other critters will come in and get it!

Wise women like to get things in the house in order before noon, when the heat of the day hits them, so they can do something less intense and more relaxing. If you aren't a morning person and don't like to do it that way, you can use the evenings to get things straightened up.

Homemaking is more than just pleasing yourself. You are leaving an impression on your family and others who notice your busyness. They know that you think your house and home is important enough to keep clean and beautiful. They know that you love your family enough to provide a place for them that is neat and orderly.

"Sharing the Gift" from Pierside Galleries, by artist, Susan Rios

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Looking Forward to Marriage

I would love to hear from you if you are a single woman. How are you preparing for marriage, and in what ways are you using your time right now? If you write a good essay, I'll put it on this blog.

Regarding married women without children: if those who are in this situation who are staying home, would like to continue writing their reasons and the way they fill their days, it would very much be appreciated. While it has been stated that there is still plenty to do, we still could use a list of things that occupy your time.

Single women, please share if you want to, something about what you would be comfortable with, in a future husband. You don't have to use your real name!

Gardening is another aspect of homemaking that adds more room to your living space, and places for activities.

One way to to get paths in the grass is to just walk them over and over until they are tramped down. Adding benches and tables here and there create restful areas to sit in the summer heat.

This year, I've been trading plants with other people. Usually when you clean up a piece of property, you dig out over-growth, and this can be transplanted. I've received some wonderful plants which multiply on their own, year after year, as well as a few trees, that will add shade. In exchange, I've given away ground covers, which are plants that creep along and cover bare areas. One is called "creeping thyme," that emits a scent when you walk on it.

painting: Sheep Grazing Under Apple Blossoms by John Appleton Brown