Monday, November 05, 2007

Older Women and Virtue

Virtue being the practice of goodness, and vice the neglect of duty and the use of substances not able to multiply wisdom in one's life, it is incumbant upon me to discuss this in relation to the example of older women.

There seemed to be many a young woman in the 20th century who at one time or another as a young person who cried out in anguish for better guidance from older women. It was an era of abandoning the responsiblities of the home. Many older women shaved their heads, donned trousers and went to work with the men. It was hailed as a right and and an expression of independence, but later became a harsh taskmaster, demanding more and more of women outside the home.

Imagine if you can, a young woman at home in an empty neighborhood, praying for a visit from a wise older woman. She comes to the door and offers to help. Once inside she demonstrates a routine of picking up things and cleaning, leaving the front room, living area a scene from a memory of long ago when women were at home and loved making it a place of beuaty and order for their husbands. Then she leads the young women into the kitchen where she shows her how to put dinner on the stove to simmer, while they clean up the kitchen and then go through each room of the house to put it in reasonable order. Afterwards she brews a pot of tea and finds the tea cups which have rarely been used. She brings a tea tray to the lounge room they have just put in order. Between sips she tells her things about the home and family, while the young woman takes notes. Oh, wouldn't it be lovely?

Witness, however, what takes place in much of our society today. Admittedly there are a lot of wise and helpful older women around who really do more above and beyond their own strength. Some of these wonderful women are exhausted with the work they do for their own homes as well as the help they give to others. If more older women would return to the Titus 2 model, the burden would not be so great on these few wonderful women.

Instead we can't help but notice the many older women who spend enormous amounts of money at gambling casinos, or in drinking establishments, or travelling to and fro to spend money on their favorite vices. Many of these older women are quite noticible in regard to what is in their hands. Whereas older women of the past could be seen with a benevolence basket, or their hands holding a piece of sewing for the home or a family member, or hands holding a fan, or holding the hand of a little grandchild, today, older women can really shock you with the things they hold in their hands: cocktails, cigarettes, gambling chips, scratch cards and even guns. It is impossible for the young women to imagine an older woman with the Titus 2 description!

What is the solution to this? Anyone can change, it is true, but sometimes it is time consuming and fruitless to try to reform older people who are set in their ways. It may be necessary to train yourself and the next generation to become those older women that the young people so desire in their lives.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this piece. Yes! Yes, such a visit would be lovely indeed. How I have longed for such a woman in my life.

Being on this journey to becoming a godly wife and mother is relatively new for me. However, I have become acutely aware of the lack of older women as models for being so. The "red hat" ladies shock me so much. I caught myself with my mouth hanging open as I stare in stunned silence over their behavior and conversation. I have had, on occasion, to shield my children from their talk and antics. It is just not right.

Thank you for the direction and example you do provide for so many of us.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, thank you so much for this post, and the one before it, "Dignified Speech." These are needed reminders for us older women, to be the godly, gentle, womanly examples to younger women and a proper reflection on our husbands and our Lord. My brother has said, "The world is so dark, that even a very small light shines brightly." Desert Lady

Anonymous said...

What a sad contrast, sad because of its accuracy. There are women still seeking "aged women". I am there for them with joy, but always keeping my eyes out for others to teach! Willingness is the greatest lack.

Mrs.E said...

I married a week after I turned 21...quite young I think. Then because my husband was in the military at the time, I moved from one end of the map to the other. It was very hard being away from home for the first time and oh how I wished there was someone as you describe to be a mentor for me at the time.

I learned through trial and error. Yes, there was much that I had learned from my mother, but in a new marriage and new home, there were times when such help would have been wonderful. Needless to say it was a hard and lonely road but I never gave up on my morals and values. I just happened to learn alot on my own.

Now at 38, I am a seasoned homemaker and I find many younger ladies I know are living such modern lives and don't wish to learn things of the old fashioned kind. They prefer the quick "throw things in the closet" cleaning, microwavable "fast" meal preparation, and not sitting to just visit but prefer to gossip or watch questionable television.

It is disheartening to see which direction alot of society is going. Granted, there are many who still follow the old fashioned morals and values way of life which is wonderful, but still so many follow a modern way of life.

Thank goodness for such blogs as yours to help and direct ladies and women in the right direction because there are many out there who are in the same predicament I was in at one time.

Anonymous said...

Dearest lady Lydia,

You are spot on in your illustration of the craved home making guidance and mentoring so many women of my generation and younger simply haven't had access to. How wonderful would it have been in those early years of the late teens and early twenties. You're also right on target with the observation that those women who are thus engaged in the home sphere and helping the next generation are often overburdened, though they strive on regardless.

Even though the vast majority of we readers have none in our flesh and blood sphere to ask for help and seek training from, your blog and LAF column go a long way to meeting this need.

Here in Australia, it's so called for that the ABC has released a magazine entitled Home Basics - dedicated to homemaking and passing on skills that a generation or two ago would have been passed on from mother to daughter, grandmother to grandaughter and aunt to niece.

The author, a home guru and Australia's answer to Martha Stewart, Shannon Lush has written three books; 'Spotless', 'Speed cleaning' and 'Comfy' all dealing with keeping the home clean, orderly and helping folk to learn, cultivate and maintain good shedules, habbits etc. Though secular in nature, they're full of fabulous hints and wouldn't go astray in any Aussie Girl's home making library (though speed cleaning is thought by some to be just a wee little idealistic - smile).

Along with the Australian standard 'The Commonsense Cookbook' and any number of 'Gardening Australia' titles, we have a good start; though for those like me who cannot access print readily we can but hope Vision Australia has the foresight to add these to their Braille and Audio lending library.

On a more sobering note, it is very sad that these skills have been lost in the context of family for the mostpart and people have to pay in order to learn.

Now I've just got to find someone able to teach a person with no functional vision how to sew! (who's up for the challenge down under??)


Mrs. E.,

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. Would it be possible to have such a "visit" here on your site? I would love to hear more about how to manage my home in such a thoughtful manner. I had no guidance and have had to teach myself through trial and a lot of errors. I sincerely hope I can eventually pass on my knowledge to my children.

Lady of the house said...

I remember my granny working on lots of hand work. I can see her now hemming pants for her grandchildren, embroidering pillowcases and pillows. She cleaned, cooked, and hung out her laundry, and when I went to live with her at 16 she taught me so much and provided a wonderful example. She always dressed so nicely, too. All her dresses were made by a local seamstress and the fabrics were always delightful cotton floral prints.

She worked as a teacher when her youngest went school, and I always wonder if she intentionally became so domestic after retirement to make up for lost time. She still cooks and hangs out her laundry (bless her heart), but age has limited her sewing abilities and cleaning abilities. I love her still, of course, but will always remember her like she was.

The Proverbs Wife said...

I totally agree with all that was written in your post. I posted this morning about mothers. At the end of my post I wrote that I didn't experience a loving mother in which I could confide, but nevertheless, I am going to be the kind of mother that my children need in spite of my mother.

So in my lifetime I endeavor to restore the Gods vision of a Christian home begining with Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 as my guide. Thank you for you post.

Johanna said...

I agree with every word! I am now struggling as a SAHW and would love to have an older woman who can mentor me. I don't need someone to "lead me in Bible study" or go to the Womens' Conference and talk with me...I need someone to give me hints and tips to help me be more productive! I am of the first generation of children (born late 70's) whose mothers left the home to go get a job. My mom worked part time but wasn't intentional in making sure that I learned homemaking skills. (It was more of a "you saw me do it; why can't you do it?" brand of teaching.)

The only thing I can do is plod ahead, with what little bit of knowledge I have. Rest assured that if God gives me daughters, I will see to it that THEY know how to run a home efficiently.

CM said...

This was such a good article! Thank You. I, too, married young at age 18. I'm now 37 and have been at home (almost) this entire time. I look around at both the older ladies (because I feel like I am moving into that stage of life. My children are all teenagers, my oldest is 18.) and the younger ones and I feel I very much stand alone and I stick out like a sore thumb as well. This website, articles and comments give me a much needed boost of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I would love such a visit! My mother is a wonderful and peaceful, but she has to work full-time and we live an hour from her (we are soon moving closer to her which will be wonderful).

I am sorry to hear you are getting not-so-lovely posts. I don't understand people who troll blogs they know they disagree with. How can that be rewarding? There is so much on the internet these days, something for everyone. People should work to find the reading materials that THEY find inspiring.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia. Thank you so much for this series. I will be 55 years old this month, and strive to continue being a Titus 2 woman.
Your posts like these are always a great encouragement, and I often share them with my daughter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia, this subject of the undignified and indiscreet older woman has been much on my mind lately. Thank you for articulating the phenomenon so succinctly!

I recently had the opportunity to visit with my four older sisters (and we are all well into our older years!) As we visited back and forth about various subjects, one of us mentioned that we should watch ourselves to make sure that our conduct and speech was becoming to our age and status as the "aged women" of the church. Imagine my delight as I am reading your very eloquent treatment of the same subject we were discussing.

One point I have yet to see mentioned so far is the danger of what I call the "fiesty Grandma" syndrome. These are women who seem to take a delight in behaving and speaking in such a way as to shock or startle others. I believe it is an attention-getting ploy rather than a true personality quirk. While the "fiesty" among us may enjoy their reputations, I cannot believe that any young lady would seek out such a one for advice on homemaking or child-raising.?

Has anyone else noticed this trend among the fifty-something ladies or is it just me?

Kind regards from Susan T.

Anonymous said...

This post is really on the mark!! Some of it so sad I very nearly cried...what an opportunity some of our elder women are wasting!

I read something encouraging recently, however. My latest issue of "Taste of Home" contains an article about a group of older women teaching younger women. They run a 6-week course called Apples of Gold. Apparently you can check this out at the magazine's website. The photo shown with this article was wonderful...smiling faces of women happy to be what they're called to be, a couple of the younger ones with babies in their arms.

I always find such interesting & thought-provoking reading here, Lady Lydia! Many thanks.


Anonymous said...

This post is really on the mark!! Some of it so sad I very nearly cried...what an opportunity some of our elder women are wasting!

I read something encouraging recently, however. My latest issue of "Taste of Home" contains an article about a group of older women teaching younger women. They run a 6-week course called Apples of Gold. Apparently you can check this out at the magazine's website. The photo shown with this article was wonderful...smiling faces of women happy to be what they're called to be, a couple of the younger ones with babies in their arms.

I always find such interesting & thought-provoking reading here, Lady Lydia! Many thanks.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry you have gotten ugly comments. This whole series has been very uplifting for me. (I, too, like Mrs E am a military wife and have had to figure out much of this on my own) It's my hope to become an 'older woman' to some of the young wives I'm getting to know. I've linked to your article from my blog! Many blessings!
Jen in CA

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I am close to both my mother and my grandmother, neither of whom work outside the home, so they have been able to give me homemaking and mothering advice. I have also had the pleasure of advice from older women at church, which has been lovely, they are so kind, generous and everything Titus 2 ladies should be. I've also made friends with some lovely Titus 2 ladies on the internet, which has been fun. I have been blessed.

I hope one day someone would consider me to be a 'Titus 2' lady.

~~Deby said...

This is the most excellant of posts...
I desire to be the Titus 2 woman mentoring in my church..but I must say sadly they are all WORKING moms....What blogging has and is doing for me is filling th gap of I think this is the ideal...of course not. When I am out somewhere, I try to be the type of example in word and deed and yes even in dress that would help fulfill the madate in Titus2.
I do think churches are afraid to preach this...why...some would leave and also the amount of $$$ given to a church would decrease if giving is based on BOTH salaries. Keep speaking the truth.
Would love to know of inventive ways to even FIND the women who want to be taken under somebody's wing. I think most of them are on line, because frankly in my area of the world they are not at home.


CM said...

Oh, I"m sorry to read about the ugly comments. Not a bit surprised, but sorry. Again, thank you for having the courage to say what you think needs to be said!

Several years ago I was out for dinner with my family when I saw the most beautiful older lady I've ever seen. I still remember her so vividly and she is my standard to what I want to look like when I am not just older, but elderly.

She must have been in her 90's and I think she was with her children who looked to be in their late 60's, maybe 70's even. She had pure snow white hair. It was just beautiful, it looked so soft and you could tell it was well cared for and loved, even. It was swept up in a bun on the back of her head ,but somehow she had kept some fullness to the front of it rather than having it all just scraped flat back. I don't remember her clothing other than she was in a skirt or dress. Her skin was pale and soft looking and she had these bright,bright shining blue eyes that looked so alive and interested and lively, not feisty, but lively. She carried herself beautifully. She stood in such a sharp contrast to the lady she was standing in line with, I think it was her daughter or daughter in law. She had on knit pants and the standard older lady short permed hair cut.

I bet its been 8-10 years since I saw her and I've never forgot her and I regret not speaking to her if only to compliment her on her hair. I only pray that I may age half as well as that lady did! I figure I'd better start preparing to be like that lady now, it will surely take me the next 50 years or so to get there! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I went to housekeeping in 1970 and even then I was alone on my street. The only advice I was given was given one time by a kind woman who worked for the Agriculture Department who came to my home and showed me how to make bread. It is a memory I hold dear. Even the few other young wives that we knew could care less about making a home. Reading your article brought me to tears. What a beautiful thing to do for another woman... I used to pray and pray some woman would come into my life for guidance and friendship. I wanted to learn so I sought out good books on the subject by woman who knew these arts. That was the only guidance I could find and was grateful for them. Now I run up against woman who think these ways are "old fashioined". They are not. I lack confidence to get out there at times and avail myself to others. I need to think less of myself and more of others. I should keep my memories of how lonely and scard I was those years and try to not let another young wife go through that. These articles have made me think and I thank you for them.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman,

This has been on my mind lately; I'm one of those women who grew up without proper guidance and instruction from older women. A visit such as you described would be lovely... in a way, your blog *is* this visit.

About comments you don't publish. I've had comment moderation for a long time now. I wish I could turn it off. But every week, I get rants, nasty argumentative comments, and even personal insults. Those typically come from anonymous people who won't stand behind what they say. I considered eliminating anonymous comments altogether, but many of them are so wonderful that I couldn't bring myself to do that. So I stick with comment moderation. It's a bit tedious, but without it, I know discussions would get out of hand.

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent, thoughtful post. I do know that most "older women" of my age (50) are career women, or are wanting to "be done" with that area of their lives. There are some of us out here, though, that would dearly love to share the lessons we have learned with the younger gals, to give them a jump start in their homemaking pursuits. However, as has been mentioned above, so many of today's young moms want instant everything, pre-packaged/frozen food as opposed to cooking from scratch, buying everything for their homes rather than trying to work with what they have to beautify their homes, etc., and really don't want to learn a better way. There are a precious, few, though who do.

I think that the blogging community is making it easier for us to connect with one another, though, and for that I am thankful!

Anonymous said...

As Cheryl just said, sometimes one wonders if any of the young moms actually do want to learn from us older women. I had a young friend who began staying home after working previously for several years. Many times I tried ( in a kind way) to give her bits of advice on how to run and manage a household and at times she seemed to want to learn. She was of the generation that thought working moms were the norm and felt guilty for not working out to help her husband. He seemed fine with her being home, but wanted her to improve her homemaking skills- mainly keeping things neat and cooking regular meals. She never has quite gotten the hang of it, but I think it may be that the younger women are being trained up to be wage-earners rather than help-meets and often feel guilty for staying at home.

K said...

Lady Lydia, wonderful article and very well said. I am one of those stay at home moms in an empty neighborhood. It is so sad some days.
I do think the tide will turn. I was born in 1970 in a neighborhood full of stay at home moms. I know younger women, in their twenties, who grew up with work outside the home moms. Most of the latter seems to be really very driven to return home.
Maybe in another generation, when I am a more mature homemaker, I'll be staying home helping my daughter and others like her learn good homemaking skills.

Sorry to hear that you're getting bad comments.

K said...

Lady Lydia, wonderful article and very well said. I am one of those stay at home moms in an empty neighborhood. It is so sad some days.
I do think the tide will turn. I was born in 1970 in a neighborhood full of stay at home moms. I know younger women, in their twenties, who grew up with work outside the home moms. Most of the latter seems to be really very driven to return home.
Maybe in another generation, when I am a more mature homemaker, I'll be staying home helping my daughter and others like her learn good homemaking skills.

Sorry to hear that you're getting bad comments.

Lucy said...

My dream is to be a wonderful grandma, the sort who can be a friend to her daughter-in-laws and a welcoming pair of arms to her grandbabies. I want to be sure not to hurry back to work when my children are finished being taught at home - just recently my 24 year old sister spoke with joy of a shepherd's pie that my mum made her, a wonderful break from microwaved meals after work for her. And my mum was able to bring meals to us after our daughter arrived. I want to be able to support our children even before they marry and have children - pressing my son's shirts, cleaning my daughter's house if she ends up working before marriage, being the person who can take in parcels for them or wait for deliveries and repair men. And when there are babies in the family I hope I can be the help I would welcome now.

BoysMom said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
I am surprised and saddened at your implication that guns should not be used by ladies. You wrote: "older women can really shock you with the things they hold in their hands: cocktails, cigarettes, gambling chips, scratch cards and even guns."
Who, then, is to stand between a home invader and my children while my husband is at work if not me? By the time the police arrive it will be too late, even if they take only five minutes! Should I, smaller and weaker than the average man, face him barehanded? I think not. I will continue to use guns, which are powerful tools in the hands of a trained individual, and keep myself and my children safe from those who would seek to harm us. I will continue to encourage other ladies to do so as well.
I hope that you will further look into the subject.
Sincerely, Boysmom

Anonymous said...

I am a long time lurker and have never posted. I just need to say: "Well said!". To the commentors who write such disrespectful things....Say nothing unless you can say something nice. You are a visitor when you come to this site, so mind your manners, sit up straight, don't fidget and at least try to act like a lady.

Also, thank you for that lovely image of the visit from an older and wiser woman. I think we all could have better days knowing such a person was nearby. I, too, grew up in a multi-generational neighborhood with ladies at home. I miss the friendliness, the visits, and the help-one-another attitude of those days. The woman at home today is just lonely.

Alexandra said...

Sorry to hear about the bad comments. Seems like a pretty benign post to me?!

I would have loved to have an older woman come help me with clutter, cooking, organization, a pot of tea and conversation. How nice! Who wouldn't want that kind of help and support. Geez, I would even take it now, and I'm 41! Please, come over, and bring some tea cakes or something, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article. It is very interesting and I do agree. I have been very disapointed in many of the older people I see in public as well as some family. My husband's uncle is now twice divorced living with a girlfriend. 25 years ago he was married with three children and a devout Baptist. Then his children rebelled and his marriage ended. He had a short second marriage. As I told my father in law, it is more difficult to teach your children right and wrong when old Uncle Leo is shacking up! Many of the older people I see in public fuss and nag. I'm sure my grandparents had their moments, but not in public.

Mrs. H said...

As a "younger woman" (does 30 count as younger ?:) I would like to comment on what a couple of posters above have said about feeling guilty for staying home. What a horrible psychological predicament many women of my generation are in, but it is true! I know that I am doing the best thing I can for my husband and child, and do love it, but there is always a nagging guilt about not earning money (even though we don’t need it), and the worry about losing the respect of my husband, though he fully supports me at home. I’m not sure if there is a way to be rid of that internal conflict, or if it is just something that has to be accepted and worked through. But I did want to say yes, however illogical the guilt is, it is there for me and many of my peers. However, the kind words of an older woman really do make a difference. I remember when I met my husband’s previous commander’s wife for the first time (she’s about 20 years older than me) and she asked me what I did and I sheepishly told her I was a stay at home mom that she grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eye and said “Good, they need you now and they need you when they are older. I stayed home with all of my children.” That encouragement meant the world to me and it is something I return to when I have doubts. Mrs. L is a beautiful, dynamic, energetic, and spunky woman with a beautiful home and makes everyone feel welcome. She gives me a goal to shoot for. Though I don’t have the lovely visits described in the article, just knowing a woman like this makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

mrs. h- yes, to repeat what your lovely friend said- it is OK to stay home. You are ok with it, your husband is ok with it, you don't need the money and frankly, it is none of anyone else's business if you choose to stay home. The younger lady I mentioned happens to be near your age. :) I find that of the ladies I know that are closer to my age- mid- 40's- none carry that kind of guilt. Even ones who have been to college and have degrees that could earn them very good wages should they decide to work. Your wage earning potential does not determine your worth. You will not lose the respect of your husband by caring for him, your child and your home. To me, the important thing is that when I am home, I must actually do those things and not just sit around wasting away my days. I need to plan my days to maintain a sense of order in my home and so that I am able to actually be at home and accomplish things rather than be running around town every day. You know you are going out too much if your child asks where you are going every day. It is important to spend time in your home and be content there. You don't want to make your child feel that you must go somewhere or get something in order to be happy.

Anonymous said...

I have always desired to have an older woman mentor me and have even mentioned it in a ladies class once where I was the youngest in the class. I was 43 when I mentioned it and said that I would love to have a ladies class about how to love my husband and children. The response I got was, "we need to study something that applies to all of us." So, once again I've had to turn to my homeschool group to feed me these things that the church should be feeding me. I'm taking a young mother to these classes and trying to be the older woman to her. She and the other ladies in the class said that they have always desired to have a class like that. So are we just the few who do desire to be taught this? Most young ladies in the church don't act like they care anything about seeking an older woman's guidance.

Anonymous said...

I attend a church of mainly older women but they are too busy being on this or that committe, singing in the choir or running the church that they don't have time to mentor. They were all mostly career women and they can't stop. I also feel that they resent me staying home, older women can still feel guilty about the choices they made and this can impact on their relationships with others.

I also agree with some of the comments that said that many younger women do not want to be mentored. I am 40 but had my children later in life so I have a foot in both camps. I am old enough to have considerable experience as a home maker and with young children I feel I need a mentor to advise me on balancing my life. I do not have many friends as my home challenges people especially other women who do not work but are never at home and their homes reflect that. They complain and seem to be asking for help but I recently discovered that what they really wanted was empathy as any advice I have given is ignored. I have a difficulty with this as I feel like I am being dishonest to say to someone "Oh, well it is really hard to keep a house tidy when you have children" when I don't really think so as I can do it.

I feel really lonely and isolated at times and have even considered keeping a messy house just so I can have some friends.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Ladies,

What a fantastic, well thought out and poignant batch of responses I've read. Like Kelly, I was also born in 1970. Good heavens, how times have changed (though I think they were already well on the march when we were children even if we didn't see it in our immediate sphere).

As another commenter has already stated, i feel as if this blog is the encapsulated visit we all long for (even though I'm 37). It's women like these who've taught me to cook and handspin. How marvellous are these skills.Now in a new denomination, congregation and district their valuable lessons have helped me give of my best to my husband (even though I've only been truly coming round to this way of thinking for the past 18 months or so). Not meaning to wish my life away, but I hope when I'm fifty something and older, I can be a truly rounded and proper mentor to a younger woman. Even now, if young ladies wished to learn cooking, cleaning, nutrition, meal and menu preparation, preserving, baking sweets making, ironing, washing without the help of the dryer, how to dress modesly, arrange their rooms etc., I'd be more than happy to show them.

Speaking of showing, this Shannon Lush I've mentioned has a radio slot on 702 (ABC LOCAL RADIO ( every second Monday at 1:15pm. They've got a competition going where the lucky winner will win a visit , have their house cleaned for them using time honoured, chemical free methods and also learn how to take care of it for themselves.

You know, if I had the room (I can only entertain 5 others in my home due to our confined circumstances), I'd have you all around for tea, break out the heirloom Royal Albert, make some of my lovely lemon slice, fresh strawberries plus dill scones with smoked salmon, cream cheese and caper topping, put down the lovely tablecloth my husband brought back from Egypt and welcome each and every one of you.

Mrs. E.
(The 'Down Under' Mrs. E.)

Anonymous said...

I just couldn't help myself!

I don't cook from a recipe book so you may have to experiment with measurements, temperatures and times.

Lemon Slice:

125g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 heaped tspn baking powder
a little milk if necessary.

1 or 1 & 1/2 cups icing sugar
enough juice of one lemon so it is spreadable but not runny at all
zest of the lemon for decoration.

Cream the softened butter and caster sugar in a bowl till light and fluffy.

add the egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add the flour carefully and fold in. At some point you may need to use your hands. Don't shy away from this if they're clean - it's fine and your family will not fall ill.

Add baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Line a slice tin with baking paper and add in the mixture, patting it out evenly till it fits well.

Bake in a preheated 180 degree celcius oven till lightly golden and a skewer or knife comes out clean.

Leave in the tray to cool.

When cold, ice with the lemon icing (made as follows).

Sift icing sugar into a bowl and add enough freshly squeezed lemon juice till you have a thick, just spreadable but not runny icing. Spread with a palet knife (I use a clean finger so I can feel what I'm doing - this is acceptable).

Garnish with lemon zest and leave till icing's set (several hours). Cut into squares and lift out.

Stores well for several days in an airtight container.

Use the best strawberries you can get hold of - the ones with true flavour, not those that are like sour soggy water. Remember to hull them for your guests. They may be garnished with a little orange rind, a touch of icing sugar and served on a dainty little platter (you may like to offer little tongs or a nice spoon so that people can serve themselves elegantly.

Dill scones.

125g butter
2 cups sifted plain flour
baking powder
enough milk to form a dough
fresh dill (a good tablespoon).

rub the butter at room temperature into the flour very lightly.

Add baking powder.
Add finely chopped dill.
Add milk gently, stirring in with a knife.

lightly bring ingredients together to form a dough that leaves the bowl clean.

Turn out onto a pastry slab (any flat surface will do) lightly dusted with flour and roll lightly till the dough is 1 - 2 inches thick. Cut out with a small scone cutter or rim of lightly floured small glass.

Bake on a greased or baking papered biscuit tray at 200 - 220 degrees celcius till very lightly golden on top and cooked.

When cold, split. Upon each scone half, spread a nice amount of Philadelphia cream chese, add a little smoked salmon (or gravlax if the budget is particularly sweet) and top with a caper and little sprig of dill. The unused scones will freeze for about 3 weeks.

Serve with a Moroccan Mint tea, good green tea or a good quality Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea (nothing to do with actual oranges) (Twinings produces excellent Ceylon Orange Pekoe leaf tea) with milk, sugar and little lemon slices. Remember, tea may be enjoyed black, with milk and/or sugar, or lemon. Lemon and milk don't work as the former curdles the latter. Green and mint tea are usually taken straight or with a little honey or lemon.



Mrs. E.,

Anonymous said...

I really empathised with Mrs H. I am 44 and have give up my career to return home and since doing that I too have felt guilty. But now I have come to realise that I am may not be making money but I am making memories such as being there when my sons come home, having a good cooked supper, log fire lit, chores done etc when my husband returns home. I am also making time as I can tackle most household duties and thus leave our weekends free. I was told by several (probably jealous) "friends" when I left work that my husband would not respect my decision or I would be boring to him by not being able to chat about a workplace outside the home. But it is not the case. My husband leaves his own work at the door whereas I used to worry all evening about work - no more!! My husband respects my decision , is pleased that I am happier and respects the way I handle our finances better now I have time to cook from scratch, make greetings cards & presents etc. Instead of thinking that I don't earn money I concentrate on how I save money.
I also remind myself every day "I have arrived!!" I wanted to be at home for so long that now I am here I am sure going to enjoy it!!
Lynn, England.

Anonymous said...

Would you mind posting a list of books that this wise woman might recommend? I have Home Comforts that I purchased because of reading about it here. It is very good and I have really enjoyed it. I'm also thinking that a good book might be a good Christmas gift that doesn't cause much clutter or require lots of dusting.
Thanks for your post,

Anonymous said...

I have decided to stop sighing at the thought of all of these lovely young ladies who lack an older woman to instruct and encourage them in their daily walk as wives and mothers. I have two devoted grandmothers, and they both work. They are very encouraging to me, but they are at a loss as to how to run an effecient home themselves, and cannot imagine what they would do with all that time at home. I receive all I need in that area from sites like this one, and many others out there devoted to home and family, my own personal site included. I am thankful that there is a network of women I can 'consult' with often, when I am feeling isolated and lonely. Reading these sites reminds me that there are thousands of women just like me out there, taking care of their families and homes because they believe it is important work. Thank you for being one of those ladies, Mrs. Lydia

Anonymous said...

Some of the books I found helpful early on in my homemaking were by Deniece Schofield- Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, Confessions of an Organized Family, also one on kitchen organization. Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette books.

Don Aslett has great books on decluttering and cleaning. Flylady's "zone" cleaning is helpful. You don't have to join her list if you don't want all the emails, but check out the site and the zones and make your own plan to suit your needs. If you aren't a fabulous cook, try the Taste of Home magazines by Reiman publications. They also have Light and Tasty, Quick Cooking ( uses more prepared foods) and I believe a magazine geared towards cooking for one or two. It has been very rare that my family hasn't liked a recipe I've prepared from one of these magazines. Check your library for these books and magazines first . That way if you don't like them, no money has been spent. If you do and want them for your home library, you can then purchase. I'm sure there are newer books out there, but I just haven't felt the need for that type of book anymore as I have my home the way I like it to be. I often see moms publishing "e-books". I am not sure how great a value they really are. I prefer to read before purchasing and I don't want a bunch of tips I've already read elsewhere ( the longer you've been reading on homemaking, frugality, etc., the more you start to notice the same information being passed around again by another person.)

Mrs. H said...

This has turned into such a great discussion. I'm blushing at the anonymous comment above addressed to me about staying home more . . . I do need to work on that and streamline my errands and plan better so I'm just taking one or two trips to the store a week . . . not the "oopps I need some bananas" trips I take to the grocery store so much.
I know there are a lot of skills I would love to learn, and my husband would like me to learn as well. He was so excited when I got a sewing machine for Christmas a few years ago, but I need to learn to use it. With him being in the military, there is always something that has to be changed on the uniform . . . or at least it used to be that way. Now, all of the patches and badges are attached with velcro! Is that a sign of the times or what? Plus, with moving so much, I would like to make my own curtains. A different house every two-four years means new sizes and numbers of windows. I want to ask someone to show me how set up my machine and make some simple things, but I feel like I'd be a bother because everyone seems so busy. There is a sweet older woman who runs a fabric shop a few blocks from my house. I asked her if she ever taught classes, and she said she didn't because there was not enough interest to make it worth her time. She said she'd help me if I ever got stuck on a project though. I have thought about signing up for a sewing class at the craft center on my husband's base. I signed up for one several months ago, but it got cancelled because I was the only one. I guess none of this is an excuse. I need to get the machine out and just give it a try on my own! I’d like to learn to knit too . . . and I think that does require a “teacher” I bought a book on knitting and crocheting, and just could not figure it out by looking at pictures. While I think having an older woman come to my home to visit and show me a few things would be nice, I’ve often thought maybe the other way around would be nice too. Offer to go to her house and help her and learn something new as a result. So, why I would love to have a mentor and teacher, not having one is not an excuse for not improving my homemaking skills. Would it be better to learn from someone? Yes! But, you have to work with what you have, even if it is just a sewing machine and an owner’s manual. ;)
Learning new skills would be wonderful, but like I said in my first post, encouragement is the most important thing to me. That’s why I come here. 

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about the people who waste their valuable time mocking other people's sincerely-meant and valuable advice, particularly those who do it online. Are their lives so empty and worthless? Why don't they find a cause they can bring positive energy to, instead of trying to destroy yours or others'?

I hope you don't take their words personally. While I don't agree 100% with everything you've ever said, I still visit you regularly to see what you're up to. I find you refreshing. I link to your articles semi-regularly on my homemaking blog because younger women need simple, straightforward homemaking advice like yours.

On a more personal note, I enjoy your blog very much and have been helped by it. After growing up in the "Free To Be... You and Me" 1970s and 80s, my decision to stay at home with my family and home seemed lame at times. I didn't have ambition or was lazy, to others' way of thinking. I don't feel that way anymore now, and reading your blog has helped. So thank you.

Maybe you haven't considered this, but I think it would be really funny if you set up a "heckler's Hall of Fame" blog and posted the naysayers' comments so we can all have a chuckle. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these last few posts. This very subject has been on my mind for some time now.

What I find missing in these posts that I would really appreciate to see addressed is the despising of grey hair in old age. I often see older woman (actually, 99% of older woman I see) who dies their hair. First, it just does not look right to see perfectly dark hair, or dark hair gone purple, on an older lady. It is almost as if they would do anything than to appear old. Hence the reason for the immodest clothes, inappropriate speech, and died hair that looks as if they are still in their twenties. Is it not possible to have natural colour hair, well taken care of and to look beautiful?

Old age is not something to fight. We are all getting older. We should be able to embrace our age, be it 10 or 90, enjoy each phase and not despise it. If the older ladies are despising their own age and try to hide it in every way, how more difficult for the younger look up to them and respect them?

Another thing, older ladies have had a lifetime to practise in behaviour, not to be slanderes etc. If older ladies have embraced Christ and walked closely with Him, surely they should be of incredible inspiration in old age to the younger ladies?

As I am growing older (34 yrs), I am looking for well cared, godly, feminine ladies who act their age to teach me (as I am much wanting) I have found none that I know so far besides ladies on the internet.

Lady Lydia, thank you for inspiring me to grow old gracefully.


Lisa said...

Wonderful post as usual! How well said everything is. I feel like I'm still learning how to be a truly good homamaker (I'm 48), but my mother is a fine example and it's not through her lack of trying. I love your emphasis on creating beauty and peace in the home and I think that's one of the quickest, least expensive ways of making your family (or yourself) feel loved and cared for. As for older women, my mother and I have a fear of becoming "mutton dressed as lamb." Older women should dress age appropriately--not like teenagers. It isn't fooling anyone. Older ladies with white or grey hair who dress in softer colors look so regal and lovely. I wish more of them would realize this. It also garners respect from the younger people. Thanks for all your worthy advice.

Terri said...

I LOVE you, Lady Lydia. When I was a young newly wed my husband was in the military and we moved far away from my mother and other older ladies that I knew. I had a new baby and was completely inept. I read and studied as much as I could about housekeeping and being a mother and that helped a bit. But I longed for an older friend to guide me and had so much to learn and no one to teach me.

The older women in our church were career women and caught up in their own busy lives. I remember feeling that they were so unapproachable. Many had permanent worry scowls on their foreheads. I felt too intimidated to ask for their help. I really felt so alone and overwhelmed by my responsibilities I had many extremely frightened moments.

Those tough times taught me a valuable lesson. Now I am 44 and I try to make myself available to the younger women without being a busybody. If they need me I am here. I love being a mentor. They do come to me quite often and that makes me very happy!

Karen said...

Marita, if you google "Anne Kreamer" you will find a link to a book she just published - I think it is called "Going Grey" - she decided to let her natural hair colour grow out after seeing a photo of herself and realizing that the dark dye job was not flattering anymore. I agree with you, can't we just embrace each season of life? In proverbs grey hair is a sign of a righteous life - what could be wrong with that? But the hair colour companies would go bankrupt if we all loved our natural colour. That said, I am 38 and starting to grey. It takes a bit of bravery in today's society to let the grey show.

CM said...

Embracing each season of life.

That is key, isn't it? So many people these days are just so unwilling to do that. I wonder why that is.

I was talking to a friend the other day, she has younger children than I have, her littlest is only 3. She was telling me of her plans for the future of how she wants to go to school and be a paramedic or a nurse and how she wishes she could be "out there, chasing tornadoes" I gently tried to tell her that if that is what the Lord wanted her doing, there would be plenty of time later in her life when she could do that. Her reply was,
"I can't do that when I'm 50."
To which I replied, "Why not? Who says you can't?"

She admitted she is an (her words) "adrenaline junkie" and needs constant excitement in her life. She's bored just staying home.

I'm 37 and the greys are starting to really come in now. I like them and intend to keep them. I'm also letting my short cut grow out and will have long grey hair for this next season in my life. I think long hair on an older lady is SO lovely.

The beauty and fashion industry would bankrupt if we all just accepted ourselves, wouldn't it. It doesn't cost a dime to try and make ones self beautful in God's eyes does it? It costs us alot actually though, doesn't it? Just not in a monetary way.

Marcia Wilwerding said...

Here's another one for older women: give an elder care caregiver some time off! Not just an hour or two, either, I mean a good long time. Even 24 to 48 hours wouldn't be too much. Family members should be doing this anyway, but anyone can do it who sees the need.

My mother and her elderly husband lived with my grandmother who had Alzheimer's disease. A relative had the audacity to call and ask Mom to head up a funeral dinner because all the women in their church, including the pastor's wife, had to work. Shameful!

bran said...

I just want to say that you are right on in this post as far as I can tell. My ownmother, 64, has taken great advantage of my dh's generosity to support vices, mostly gambling. She recently lost a job and is now moving to Louisiana to work in a casino.

I was hoping to learn much from my MIL. She was a SHAM to 9. However, she has become a staunch feminist, or now I am guessing always was and is pretty bitter at how she has spent her life. She is now working and lets me know frequently how NICE it is to have some better reason to get up in the morning beside to do housework.

It's pretty discouraging. At church I have dfound a few ladies, "doing the right thing", but many are just always down in the dumps or have emotional issues of some sort. I must sound like I am expeting too much. Suffice it to say, I have wished, in my 15 years of marriage to have more dauily life examples to figure out what I am supposed to be doing.

(Hence the previous specific questions regarding keeping warm in dresses, shoes, etc.)

Anonymous said...

To the reader interested in learning how to keep warm in skirts during winter, I can assure you, skirts do a far better job than pants ever will. Though our Sydney winters are no winters at all by Northern Hemisphere standards, we still feel the cooler temperatures. The key lies in good tights/bloomers/leggings, good stockings/socks and good petticoats (the full ones that come to the mid calf or lower). Tello (google them to find out about their garments) manufactures excellent petticoats and long tights (with a little touch of elegance as it were and can be purchased (In Sydney, Australia at any rate) through the Middle Eastern Clothiers in lakembah. These come in black and white. You won't go wrong with a good drill, twill, denham, corduroy, velvet or even wool skirt. These can be as dressy or as practical as you like. If you're going to go down the skirt route, a good natural fibre blouse or skivy with a nice woolen jersey will see you right. In the US, for some reason, the Pinnafore (or jumper as they call it) is not relegated to the realm of school uniform as it is in the UK, Australia and NZ. You also have the kape dress and modesty vest to choose from). For going out wear in colder climates, a lovely full length woolen overcoat matched with accessorised scarf and gloves will keep your head and hands warm. The use of Pashminas, Shawls, Ponchos and the like is also excellent. If you're a headcoverer, there are a huge range of lovely bonnets for outside wear that will stand you in good stead.

There are many modest and feminine dress links availabel on that should suit all tastes and inclinations.

To keep cool in summer, use of long flowing lightweight cotton dresses, skirts, blouses and the like with equally lightweight breathable natural fibre underpinnings (slips, undershorts, bloomers etc) will help keep you that much more cool and comfortable. Boots are an excellent all-year-round choice - Questra and Dianna Ferrari both make excellent leather lace up ankle boots in browns and blacks. Keep your handbag co-ordinated and regardless of what you wear, it will look good - Ankle length skirts, as Lady Lydia has stated, suit these boots excellently (along with long, lightweight cotton bloomers and slip. You'll not be troubled by the layers if the fabrics breathe, are of natural fibre (with the exception of silk, that does not breathe) and are flowing.Also remember it is best to stay indoors during the hottest time of the day (from 10-3). Light chambres, callicos and denhams make lovely practical summer fabrics, with linnens and some of the dressier cottons reserved for better ocasions.

Keeping long hair up in a braid, ponytail or bun will also be far more comfortable than wearing it down.

Hope this helps.


Mrs. E.,

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you get ugly comments but not a bit surprised...when people get a niggling of conviction their first reaction is to tear it down. You just keep on keeping on and I'll keep praying for you.
I have to agree with Mrs. E. (not from Australia) and with "daughter of the King" there are not any women living near me that would enjoy that visit...most work and anyway would probably be defensive. Maybe I am pre-judging. The church we attend is about 45 miles away and with gas at $3.00 a gallon I don't travel much.
Several years ago I attended a very worldly church but they did hone in on the Titus 2 command and paired up an older woman with a younger woman according to their likes/dislikes/hobbies etc. You were paired with someone new each year. I tried that for two years but found that neither young woman was interested in what the Titus 2 older woman was supposed to be teaching but rather wanted someone to "approve" their idea of how they wanted their marriage to be and side with them against their was disappointing to me and I daresay to them also because I wasn't about to get out of the Titus 2 mandate. Look what happened with Eve when she added to God's Word! She opened herself up to more error.
For about 15 years I have wanted to be a Titus 2 woman to a younger woman or women, I certainly have the time. But I guess the Lord does not think I am wise enough yet as He has not sent anyone my way. I have two dil's who live within walking distance one is 35 and one is 23 and they both think they are very adept at homemaking. The older one is an excellent housekeeper and cook but has much to learn about loving her husband and being an encouragement and helpmate to him. Many times in the past she said to me that she could never give a soft answer to a sharp rebuke the way she had seen me do. The younger one needs help in everything but doesn't think she does. These two women need an older woman but not their Mil. I would love to find an older woman near here that would befriend them and help them to grow in the Lord and His calling for wives and mothers. Unfortunately I don't know anyone like that anymore than I know someone young to mentor.
Too bad there isn't some kind of online matching system for younger and older women like there is for dating. Of course the most important part for that would be proximity and each participant would have to be open to one another and persoanlities disregarded.
I really appreciate your writings LadyLydia, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

The idea of matching the experienced woman with the younger bride in churches sounds interesting. Like someone said somewhere, sometimes paring an experienced {although not terribly old} wife who follows the Bible mandate, with a new wife when an older one is not available might work or is that wrong thinking? Please let me know what you think. I understand the more mature woman is the standard and is to be the one to teacher if at all possible.
When you first mentioned how the older woman are lacking virtue it took me back. Once I had time to ponder it and look around I noticed so much of this too. I am so sorry so many of the woman of my generation were and are staunch supporters of the feminist agenda. Even if they don't think they are they act like it. I know my husband and I pretty much stick to ourselfs as when we try to find other couples to do things with they seemed to turn it into husband and wife bashing. How people could go around bickering and putting each other down everywhere is beyond us.