Saturday, March 29, 2008

Living Beautifully With the New Frugality

Morning by the Sea by Susan Rios from

There is a beautiful side to frugality going on all around us. Women who are coming home are discovering the beautiful life by what I call "creative resourcefulness."

Our basic needs are food and clothing, and even at that, we only really need enough to sustain us, not an abundance to indulge in or feel entertained by.

Here are some things that you do not need:

- You do not need to have your hair streaked and you don't need to pay for a tanning session. Even if you have your sister, friend or mother do it from a home-kit, that product is not a necessary expense. Instead, do as we did in the old days: if you are blond, rinse your hair in lemon juice and water, and if you are brunette, try vinegar, and go out in the sun and let the sun streak it naturally. Without all this trouble, it will streak in the sun and you will get your tan, especially if you are gardening and trying to grow some vegetables for your family table.

-You don't need posts in your skin. This costs money and is a health issue. Ask any dentist or doctor. The people who make money off naive young women who do this, ought to be locked up. Look at the photographs of the women of the 19Th century, shortly after the camera was invented. Without modern makeup, tattoos and skin-piercing posts, they had a fresh bloom in their faces and sweet smiles, highlighted by bright eyes. This kind of beauty is free. While cutting down on expenses, consider learning to cut your family's hair, and learning how to trim your own. You can now get videos and books that show you how. Doing your own hair at home will save you money, and the cost of driving to and from the hair clinics many times. I am not saying that everyone must do this, but if you are seriously trying to redeem your family finances so that you can stay home, this is one expense that is not necessary. Long-haired ladies do not have to have maintenance cuts as often, and can often get a friend to trim their locks.

-You don't need fizzy drinks, or coffee by the cup, which can add up to $45.00 a week. You do not need to eat out or buy prepared food. You can make the same things at home, and enjoy it with your own choice of company and music. Home made fries taste much better. The cost of food is considerably less when you only buy raw ingredients that have to be peeled, sliced, or cooked. It costs a lot more to get any kind of prepared food, because you are paying for the extra services of peeling and chopping, putting it into containers with a label, and shipping it somewhere.

-Women at home do not need to drink,smoke, gamble, or go to parties. The amount of money spent on these things could buy things of lasting value: a new couch, a new rug, or fresh paint for the house.

-You don't need to go to the movies or an expensive vacation. You can improvise and substitute things that are free. You do not need to buy seasons tickets or any tickets to ball games and concerts. They are pleasures but not necessarily needs. There may be nothing wrong with having any of the above-listed items, but if you are cutting down on expenses so that you can secure your position as full-time homemaker, they are not necessary. The Victorian women were entertained by reading, writing, doing puppet shows for their children with socks and handmade dolls, and they knew how to make up stories. In those days it was quite common for families, even those not rich, to have a piano in their house. The young people enjoyed exchanging sheet music and playing new tunes while others gathered around and sang. Even without instruments, families learned to sing in harmony and entertain themselves. The hub of life was the home, and to be invited to someones house for the evening would be a memorable event consisting of happiness and warmth. People used to make up their own jokes and invent their own games. Every family can do this today.

The Picket Fence, by Dwayne Warwick from Allposters.
You can plan day trips that are interesting vacation locations, and still be in your own bed at night. You can learn to relax at home, even while you are working. You can provide a place in your own back yard to have quiet moments. When your home is cared for and put in order the way you really like it, you won't want to leave it for long, anyway. With all the lovely corners you create in your house, being home will become a lot like a vacation, without the cost. Consider using the cost of a vacation for home improvement: a new stove (or even a new kitchen) new sheets and bedding, and new bath towels and things for your bathroom.

-Don't get in the car to go to the store for every little thing. Save up a list and make one trip, or ask your husband to get something on the way home from work.
-You, or your children, do not need 40 shirts and 20 pair of shoes. Try to wear out all your clothes and shoes before buying more, and when you buy more, think of ways to get them without spending a lot. If you sew, you do not have to buy expensive buttons or trims. Instead, clip them off the garments you are going to discard, and use them again. The 6-inch ruffle on Lillibeth's dress, was a cotton eyelet curtain valance we had kept in a drawer with laces because we had no use for it but thought it might be useful for some stitchery item some day. She did not have to do any cutting or unpicking or altering; she just sewed it around the hemline of her dress. Our grandmothers kept jars of buttons they clipped off old shirts before using the shirts to crochet into colorful rag-rugs. Sewers can use up their stashes of fabric, and scrapbookers can use up all their papers and embellishments.

When you are finished using up available materials in the home, challenge yourself to find a substitute before buying more. When you have a new attitude toward spending, you begin to look at things a little differently: an empty jar, a box, an old piece of furniture--even if broken, can take on new life when you look at it as a valuable raw material. Originally, materials do not come in labelled packages: you can make almost anything you are interested in. Before you go out and buy something, think of how the item came to be made in the first place, and you might possibly be able to make it yourself. I'm not suggesting that you waste a lot of valuable home-keeping time trying to make something like your own leather for shoes, but there are some things you really do not need to buy that can be substituted quite easily.

Many women are really good at decorating rich. When they do not have money for lavish furnishings, they manage to take something and make it look like the expensive item they want. It is a matter of style and taste, not money, that makes a home look beautiful, as many people are finding out.

When trying to be careful of extra expenses, entertainment and social life can be more enjoyable than ever. Just because you cannot afford to give an expensive dinner, does not mean you have to live in isolation. You can still have company and share some little thing. I used to know someone who would clean her house, bake some muffins, and then call us over for a cup of tea. That is all she had, but oh, did we enjoy sitting at her table and looking at her wonderful setting. Her hand made centerpiece was nothing more than a candle with some cranberries around the edge of it on a plate, but the atmosphere was complete joy. If you do not have flowers, you can always pick something from outside, put it in a vase, and tie with a colorful ribbon. An inexpensive meal prepared carefully and arranged beautifully on the platter is very elegant and hardly distinguishable from something expensive.

To live beautifully while being frugal, you can still be a good housekeeper. I have noticed some people who claim to be poor will also have smelly, musty, dirty houses with soil everywhere and the stench of dirty laundry. Children run around in diapers that have not been changed for two days, drinking out of cups that haven't been washed in a week. There is simply no excuse for this, as most poor women are still able-bodied enough to wash a dish. I know of single mothers who have a very low income that still manage to have a very beautiful home and clean children!
Painting by Consuelo Gamboa, from Allposters. (Enjoy a vacation in your own area, using simple things like picnics and tea parties.)
It does not take money to clean a dish and put things away. It does not take money to have some pride in your existence in the home. If you have no washing machine, some things can be washed by hand, and if you have no water, you can catch rain water with a bucket. People of the past could be poor, for sure, but many of them had a pride about them that required them to be clean, to have a tidy appearance, and to keep their houses neat, and they were resourceful enough to know how to wash their clothes and bathe themselves and their children. Other people who have a sense of dignity, will so live that you can't even guess that they are enduring hard times. Cleanliness and neatness, home cooking, and upright living, will go a long way to making life at home beautiful even if you do not have money to spend.

Here are some ideas for using less, so that the products you buy last longer.
-You can probably use less detergent. Too much detergent makes it harder to rinse off the clothes, which then can make people have quite itchy skin.

-Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. The fruit has a lot more properties in it that are good for you. Buying juice means you are paying someone to squeeze it and bottle it.

-Buy fresh vegetables and cut them yourself, and learn to cook them so that they taste good, instead of buying frozen. If your electricity, for any reason, gets knocked out, the frozen things will spoil anyway. Cooking with fresh ingredients is like gourmet cooking, which is what a lot of the popular television shows feature. You can do this at home and experience the satisfaction of eating something that is very good for you in an atmosphere that is better than a fine restaurant.

-Read the ingredients on packages of your favorite foods and figure out how to make them yourself. Often a flavoring is only garlic and salt. Italian season consists of oregano, basil and a few other ingredients, all which you can use yourself to make your favorite salad dressing or sauce. Just about everything you buy can be made by using basic ingredients at home.

-Get out your stack of magazines that you have saved from years gone by. Pick the current month and display them on one of the tables. Read them when you need to sit down and rest. They are very refreshing! Sometimes when I tell people that I do that with old issues of Country Woman or Romantic Homes, they "feel sorry" for me, but now, I do not do it because of poverty. I enjoy it! I see things in a different way when I have not seen them for a year. It is like taking out a box of old letters and reading them again. After all, many magazines cost as much as a book these days. Why not get them out and make use of them, even if it is for clip art for scrapbooks.

-Consider growing a garden. It does not have to be an ordeal. Just put some seeds in some soil and water them. I knew of one woman who was not in good health one year, so she just pulled up some weeds and grass, and put seeds in the loose soil and covered them up. Her children watered them, and she had a harvest. She did not have a tiller or a shovel, but she still grew some tomatoes and cucumbers. If you only have a tomato plant, your yield will be good enough to save you some money at the grocery store. During the World Wars, Americans and British had "Victory Gardens." Each family was encouraged to plant seeds and make themselves independent. They would then share what they could, with others. I think whether there is a war or not, everyone can have a victory garden, even if it is a bean plant in a pot on the front porch. Declare it victory over financial burdens and poverty, victory over helplessness, or victory over going to the store for every bite you eat, and independence from having to spend your entire income on food.
Now here are some things you do need:

-You do need to pay your monthly house rent or payment. Therefore, it will be necessary to eliminate the above "do-not-needs" in order to protect the money for that payment.

- You do need your electricity. There are many ways of cutting back on it so that rooms are not left with lights or fans on, and things are not left running all day long.

- You do need your water. If you don't spend money on unnecessary things, you assure yourself of the availability of money to pay for your household water supply. Sometimes young women who have quit work to be homemakers, do not realize the cost of water and electricity. They have worked in places where it seemed to be all paid for, and did not realize how it could be conserved. If you can look at your electric meter and watch the numbers roll by, you can understand how the things you turn on or plug in can make your energy costs rise. The more you spend on things you "want," the more likely you are to lose the things you need: light, water, rent, fuel. Keep these at the top of your list as priorities, and you will be able to find many substitutes for other things.

-Learn the many uses of age-old, basic, natural ingredients like vinegar, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide, Epsom salts (I think I read somewhere that this was good for the garden)soda bicarbonate, corn starch and many other common kitchen items. You will not have to spend on expensive medicines and cleaners.

I can tell you from living both ways--both well off and poorer, that I enjoyed the creativity of the frugal times much better. I quite liked my fringed muslin curtains, and didn't miss the expensive drapery and the accompanying complicated hardware. I enjoyed stenciling the walls and didn't miss expensive wall paper that was hard to remove and couldn't be painted over. I liked doing without a car. It gave me hours and hours of freedom to complete jobs and to cook dinner early and have it ready by evening. I was not rushed.
Using a car in the daytime is nice, but it takes a huge chunk of time and can leave a nervous, anxious feeling similar to that of rushing to work and back home. When I didn't have fabric to sew, I enjoyed looking around for unused sheets, table cloths and other fabrics in the house that I could dye, cut and sew for other things. I liked framing scenic pictures from magazines and using them for pictures in the house. A smaller house was easier to take care of an cost less to paint and decorate. It was cheaper to heat. I could hear everything around me. There were many advantages to living a more frugal life.
Being frugal does not mean your house will be unlovely. With the same fabric you make your curtains, you can make a matching tablecloth and napkins and a few runners and doilies, edged in fringe, for other pieces of furniture. You can often coordinate everything much better than if if you were looking for something in a store. Being frugal means you won't have as much clutter and junk as you would if you went to the stores more often. Your house can actually look better. Being frugal means you can make gifts and give them from the heart. It means you will be less wasteful and more mindful of the hard earned money that could be saved.

Daughters at home need to learn how to make do without spending. Even if they are going to have money to spend, there is something sad about not having the inner resources to survive if needed. They need to be able to, if necessary, do without, make things do, or create something out of practically nothing. It uses the creative skills and gives them more interest in life.

I observed girls who had grown up in families where everything was provided for them. They never had a moment's concern about money or about making things do. When these girls got married, they were bored and unhappy. They seemed to have no challenges or goals. I believe frugality is something that the Proverbs 31 woman had in mind when she "looketh well to the ways of her household." She might have been watching for unnecessary waste. Frugality is actually quite fun, for you can start laughing at the world and its insistence that you need to buy everything. It isn't' true. We can get along with merely a shelter and food and adequate clothing to cover our bodies. If we get extremely poor, we can sell our out-grown, torn, faded, threadbare clothes at a high price to famous actresses and call them "Designer Threads."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Home: The Woman's Realm

The home is the perfect career for a woman. It is here that she owns the things around her, many of them gifts from loved ones. It is here that she creates a routine based on the needs of her family. Here, also, she is free to enhance the beauty and comfort of the dwelling, according to her own desires. No one can hold her back from career advancement, for she can learn new things and implement them whenever she likes. Here, she doesn't have to watch her back: she is already at the top of the corporation. She has no competition; no one is after her job. She's the keeper of the house, the guide and the guard. It is her very own realm. She can find ways of saving money and still live richly, but a career at home has rewards beyond money. During her tenure as a homemaker, she develops untold amounts of skills and talents. Resourcefulness and creativity are more likely to develop during uninterrupted days at home. One of the greatest motivations of being a good homemaker is being able to experience the results. It is very uplifting to the emotions to have a clean house that has a feeling of joy and beauty in it. Sometimes little corners that have been arranged with love and care, become the focus of photography or art, such as these paintings by Susan Rios. I have sought many paintings from the online art stores and have yet to see very many paintings glorifying women in factories, offices, institutions or other places of work outside the home. The 19th century paintings nearly always portray women doing something of a serious and peaceful nature at home.

When the mistress of the house confidently assumes her role, home life gets better and better. She provides for the family a safe and lovely place to dwell. She makes the house look good, feel comfortable, and smell sweet. She learns all the ways of her home, and from that, figures out how to remedy problems and rise to certain challenges. She looks around her to see things that need to be done. She does things without waiting for someone to tell her. She needs no supervisor. By instinct, the ant and the spider industriously make and provide for their homes. By instinct, women can manage her home.

Married women and daughters at home do not require a committee, a study, a group, a march, placards, or an act of Congress in order to be liberated. It just takes one woman at a time taking up her God-given role in the home. It doesn't take a lot of noise or slogans or any kind of a "women's studies" class to convince the next generation that a woman functions best as queen of her home. What it takes is persistent attention to the tasks at home, discerning the most urgent to the least important. It takes women who are willing to live the role of homemaker. Standing around arguing with friends about the viability of such an occupation will not prove a thing. Doing it, will.

When you come home, life will be more exciting and fulfilling if you will determine to do it excellently, not half-heartedly. You will have sick days, for sure, and there will be times when you need more rest. There will be interruptions and emergencies, but at least you will be there to tend to them.

Though she keeps an eye on the time, a woman at home will not be in any particular hurry. This is a great advantage to her health and her mental state. Being at home gives her a chance to think deeply about what is important. Though she is the social director of the home, keeping track of appointments and expected company, she has the power to curtail that side of her life just because she feels the need to. She is not obligated to let the public into her life, yet she can chose the people she wants to associate with. She is not obligated to keep the same hours as the rest of the world, but she is free to make a schedule for herself if she sees the need. That is perfect freedom.
I realize there are women whose husbands are gone during the brightest parts of the day and it can get lonely. I've always drawn great comfort from the women of the past who kept so busy at home. Nearly all of them could make something with their own hands. They had an absorbing interest in life. I think this is important for all women to know, so that they can be content when there is no one to talk to. Most of the time, when a man does come home after being around people all day, he just wants to relax and not talk much, any way. That is why having some interests in life that can be pursued from the home, are such a great advantage.
Being home is like owning a little world of one's own. Inside that world, there is freedom from all the things that oppress us in the rest of the world. Here there is freedom, but from that freedom, a woman at home can influence the world in a great way.
There are many houses that remain empty all day while both the husband and the wife work. I believe many women would like to be liberated from the workplace and be given freedom to be home. They would much rather live in a small place of humble stature and be able to live on their husbands earnings, than have to be away from home every day just to pay for it. I hope all who are in that situation will take hold of the liberty to be homemakers, a liberty that Christ already gave women in His will, and come home.

Women of many generations past have been full time homemakers. It was not because they could "afford it." It was not because they didn't want to go to work. It was not because there were no job opportunities outside the home. It was not because they "had no choice," and it was not because they were down-trodden and oppressed. It was their rightful honor. It was their natural place. It was the thing they were created for. They had a "tireless devotion to duty." To leave this realm in the care of others would have showed a dereliction of responsibility. No man in his right mind would have suggested she leave this nest to serve some other cause. It was because she knew it was the role given to Eve and other women, from the beginning, a blessed role. It was because men knew what was right and good to do, and that woman, being the gentler sex, played the most important role in society through that act of guarding and guiding the home (See Titus chapter 2 and Ist Timothy 5 verse 14). I hope every husband within reading distance will manfully fight for his wife's right to be the caretaker of the home, while he nobly becomes the provider and the protector of her office.
Home provides freedoms for women that no feminist movement could ever guarantee:
The freedom to rest when needed.

The freedom to create without the rules and regulations of the employment place.

Freedom to develop family ways and humor distinct and apart from everyone else.

Freedom to sing aloud, laugh, and talk about important issues with the family, without censure.

The freedom to take sick days without losing your job.

The freedom to conduct your day according to your personal needs.

The freedom to dress as you really want to, without the dictates of current fashion.

Freedom to learn new talents and skills and do with them as you like--keep, give away, or sell at your own price.

When you are home-based, you need not compete with the traffic of the working world, and you don't have to fill your gas tank so often.

The freedom to go outside when it is a nice day, whether the work day is over or not.

The freedom to sit and write a letter to a friend when you need to.

The freedom to call your mother and talk, even in the middle of the day.

Quotes about the home:

No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.Samuel Johnson1709-1784, British Author

A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home.Chinese Proverb
Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing.Harriet Beecher Stowe1811-1896, American Novelist, Antislavery Campaigner

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1920's Interior Decorating

Country Armoire by Kay Lamb Shannon from

Anyone interested in the theory of decorating in the 1920's can go here and click on the link that takes you to a free book written in the 20's.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell part 2, continued.

"Let me see your garden plans," said Roger, looking over Molly's shoulder. They reminded him of his mother's garden. (We noticed that after planting this garden, it had grown quite a bit by the last episode. In the arbor behind Molly, is where she and Cynthia sat and talked.)

So far, we have seen the sweet character of both Molly and her young friend, Roger Hamley. In contrast, her new stepsister, Cynthia wants to have secrets and weaves a tangled web of insincerity regarding her relationships with people. Interestingly, Roger's brother also keeps secrets of great consequences from his father. The fact that he is married and is expecting a child, is kept from his father because his father hates the French. "I remember once Madam wanted a French maid. I'd sooner keep snakes in the house!"

"In my day," he said, "We were content to hate the French. Aye, and beat them at sea and on the land!" Osbourne married a French woman while he was abroad, and never told his father. It strains their relationship and takes its toll on Osbourne's health. He shares the secret with Molly so that someone will know of his wife, Aimee's whereabouts and be able to help her, in case anything happens to him. Now Molly is having to keep a secret, even from her father. She doesn't like doing it, but she made a promise not to reveal anything to anyone.

Her step-sister also has a secret: she tells Molly she is secretly engaged to Mr. Preston. Once again, Molly has to agree to secrecy. "I do so hate these underhanded dealings!" she tells Cynthia, when Cynthia wants to involve her.

Hopefully, the reader comes to admire Molly and want the best for her. One cannot help thinking, at this stage of the story, that Molly must wish for her old life back, when things were simple, and the only one she had to please and give comfort to, was her father.

"I think you must be a very good person, Molly," Cynthia tells her. "I am not very good, myself. In fact I gave myself up as a heartless baggage, years ago." They both fall into laughter.

Molly happily picking berries in her apron before she arrives home to learn the startling news.

Blueberries staining her hands and her apron, Molly mourns the loss of Roger as her best friend, now engaged to her step-sister, Cynthia.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Part 2

To listen online, go to this free link

Screen shot credits go to where you can find more pictures. Roger tells Molly, "A man needs the companionship of a woman."

Here's the picture of Roger trying to console Molly when she fell apart emotionally after the news that her father was going to marry. "It doesn't do any good," he said, "to pre-judge people. It will all work out for the best."

In the previous episodes (based on the reading of the book which I obtained free online, and the set of 4 movie episodes), Molly, a motherless girl, gained a new Mama, a new friend in Mrs. Hamley, plus her husband, Squire Hamley and their two very nice sons, Osbourne and Roger. Later she gains a stepsister.

Her losses began with the loss of her mother, then she, through her father's marriage, loses her place in his life (or so she thinks) and her mother's things, which are removed by the new Mrs. Gibson.

In episode 2, Molly meets her new step-sister, a social butterfly named Cynthia, who enjoys capturing the attention of any young man around, even allowing herself to be engaged, sometimes to more than one person at a time. Molly does not seem to be influenced by this but is often saddened at the way Cynthia wins people's hearts and then lets them down.

Mr. Gibson doesn't like foolishness at all, and he lectures Cynthia about her ways.

Mrs. Hamley, whom Molly has grown to love as a mother, dies, adding another loss. Yet through this she gains the love and respect of all the Hamley family. Roger tells her "I think of you as a sister."

Pictures to follow soon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wives and Daughters Part 1

To listen online, click on this free link

These are just a few quotes and scenes from the first video of Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865). Our family has had frequent discussions about Molly and the other characters in the story. We also enjoy listening to a free download of the story online.

My favorite character is Mr. Gibson, as an ideal father. He is the county and country doctor. Molly has an idyllic life, even though her mother died, because she loves her father so much and she trusts him completely with her future. Mr. Gibson says "Her happiness means more to me than anything." She's a "good girl, who is always ready to do what anyone asks of her," as Mr. Hamley, a family friend, says.

Although Molly really is a good girl, and has already lost her mother, she begins to suffer losses, one right after the other. Shortly after the story begins, her father sends her to stay with the Hamleys, a family Mr. Gibson likes, who has two sons. Obviously he hopes she will become interested in one of them. She says, "I was never away without you, Papa." She is thrust into the home of another family, a family that has conflicts and sorrows.

After that, her father decides to remarry. The revelation sends her into a state of grief. "I never thought he would want to marry again. He had me," she told Roger. "You don't know what we were to each other!"

Later, her new mother decides to redecorate her room, and disposes of all the old furniture and things in it. Here is another loss. Molly faces one loss after another in her comfortable life, yet she will eventually have more than enough, emotionally and materially.

The opening scene is a favorite of children in my house: Molly watches a caterpillar. As she grows up, this scene becomes more significant, in connection with someone else in her life.

Nearly 10 years old, Molly falls asleep near a huge tree at The Towers where she was invited to a garden party for children. Near the end of the story, the grown-up Molly finds solace at the roots of that great tree, once again.

Every frame of this movie could be a painting. Here, Molly sits above the barn, with a view down the road toward the village.

"She really is the loveliest girl! Do you think I have a chance with her?" Mr. Cox, one of the doctor's apprentices, watches Molly walking outside, from the doctor's surgery.

"This is a motherless girl of barely 17, and that is not what you are here for." Mr. Gibson then ships Mr. Cox, one of the apprentices in his practice, off the premises almost immediately upon discovering that he has written a love note without his permission, to his daughter, Molly.

...and prepares to ship Molly off to the Hamley's at "Hamley House," to become acquainted with his two favorite young men, Roger and Osbourne Hamley. "I was never away without you," she says, feeling puzzled.

This is my favorite picture of Roger, for it looks like a scene from the 19th century; a painting, if you will.

"I am sure you have thought, as I have, the difficulties of being a young woman growing up without a mother..." Molly interrupts: "You're going to be married again."
Lady Harriet advises Molly to "be a good girl and suffer yourself to be led, and you'll find your new Mama the sweetest person."

"Try to walk half a mile a day," instructed Dr. Gibson. "Such a pleasure being told what to do, for a change," said Lady Cumner.
Molly tells Roger, who tries to encourage her to think the best of the match, "I'll try....but as for the happiness you speak of, well, I shall never be happy again

I like this lemon chiffon colored dress with the white lace collar, and the sage green shawl. Here, the Miss Brownings tell Molly that Roger came by and left a hornet's nest as a gift for her. "I wouldn't touch the horrid thing! Either you or he or both of you must be crazy."

"What have you done with my things? They were my mother's!"

I did not make exact quotes in some cases but you can get the idea. Please add yours from Volume One only. I couldn't find pictures for some of my favorite scenes, one being Roger and Molly walking home to lunch while he tries to console her sadness at prospect of her father remarrying.
A link to the site that provides these photos coming soon.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Enjoying Monday through Friday

Note: Being home gives me time to prepare for the week-end home-coming of those who work during the week. It may mean I do not have extra money to spend, but it gives me a chance to be resourceful and learn how to make-do. For the most part, that lovely week-day experience gives me a calmness and peace of mind, knowing that I am able to get my work finished and prepare for a leisurely week-end. The homemaker knows she is the servant of all, but she also has many rewards for this. It is a sacrifice but it is also a joy to serve others by being at home.

Cape Cod Home by Steve Zazenski

I thank the Lord that it is soon to be Monday! It is interesting how those who have to fight the traffic every day and go through the week days working for other people, will breathe a sigh of relief when Friday comes. They want to relax on weekends and feel the freedom. At home all week, I personally find Monday through Friday more free and quiet than the weekends. I am sure many full time homemakers are discovering this. On week-ends, it seems the whole world is out doing its shopping. The recreation spots are crowded. The lines are longer. The restaurants have waiting lists. The noise and movement, even in the country escalates. The work at home can sometimes increase on weekends, as families, in a rush to mow their grass and do necessary home-keeping, rush about to get it all finished before they have to leave again on Monday.

In many ways, it is the opposite for the home-body. Most of us enjoy that peaceful quiet of Monday through Friday at home. If we have to go out, the post office and the stores are not crowded. The traffic is less. If more women, especially those with children, could be home during the week, it would cut the traffic problem and the week-end rush problem in half. I leave the week-ends for the people who work outside the home. I don't even try to compete. I wait til Monday to go out. I do not need to take up space on the roads and in the shops on week-ends when such a huge population of people must be about their essential shopping and trade.

At home, Monday through Friday can be the most exquisitely beautiful days of the week. Every day is like Sunday. We dress up as we wish, get our work done and have someone over for tea. We write letters, and even write stories for children. Even ironing can be a glorious task, as we put the ironing board in front of a window with a view. The smell of the steam on my husband's shirts bring back so many memories of golden days growing up in an unhurried home, with my mother contentedly ironing her family's clothes. (Remember, every thing had to be ironed in those days, so it was a major event during the week. No one would have worn anything wrinkled and was it ever wrinkled!)

On week days the cooking is unhurried. We have time to enjoy every minute of the process. Dinner is ready and the table is set. There is time to enjoy the preparation of things, even time to get a shower and freshen up and change clothes for dinner, yet the homemaker is in no particular hurry.

If there is a grunge job or two, or some seriously heavy cleaning and moving to be done, it is softened by the sweetness of the day. Women who used to sit in offices or work in institutions have expressed their desire to find out what those moments would be like if spent at home. Now, many of them are experiencing the exquisite beauty of the home during the day. Now at home, we can spend the week days in preparation for the week's end retreat to give rest and renewal to those who do not have that week-day revival at home.

Monday through Friday, we can sew and clean to our heart's content. We can choose the noise we like: our favorite music or the birds singing outside. We are free to come and go as we wish. We are not tied down or isolated, as many people suppose. The best kept secret is that Monday through Friday at home are celebrated days. Others may grimly get through the week, anxiously looking forward to the relief of the week-ends, but I, I say "Thank God, it is Monday."

It is a wonderful feeling to get the home ready for the week-enders who so desperately need to have time free from pressure. It is great to have the laundry caught up during the week and everything cleaned up so the men can come home and finally enjoy what they have worked all week for. It brings a sense of peace to know that they are being served and helped by the women being home taking care of the things they cannot do during the week. Monday is the starting point for the week-end that will give the workers their rest. Women at home provide this wonderful experience, but it takes Monday through Friday, five days of determined effort, to have the perfect week end. During that time, there are so many perks, so many sweet moments and so many flashes of creativity. For us, it is a great responsibility to be at home, but the freedom of being there Monday to Friday is worth the hard work.

Week's End Retreat By James Lee

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Make Your Own Battery Operated Pillar Candle

Be sure to use the plus or minus on the video to speed or slow it down. Run your mouse over each picture to read the captions.

To make a pedestal for the candle, just turn a dessert dish upside down and add a garland of your choice around the base of the candle.

Just do this per your own style: country, primitive, French, Shabby Chic, Homestead, Seaside, and the colors you like. You can imbed things in the wax candle: buttons, shells, pine needles, spices. You can use whatever rings that suit your decor, in whatever color pleases you.

Regarding glitter: You can glitter the small votive candles to if you are not going to burn them.

See also

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Contentment At Home

Editor's note: I am not unsympathetic toward those who need better homes or a new kitchen. I hope everyone gets the the opportunity to have the improvements they need. Certainly, a new kitchen or bathroom makes home keeping much, much easier and will set the mind at ease. So, I pray that women everywhere will have decent, livable homes with plumbing that works and houses that have not fallen into disrepair.
Swan Cottage by Sung Kim
(click on pictures for a larger and brighter view! These all come from Allposters.)

There have been a few posts here which delve into the problems of homes that are in a state of deterioration. The modern homes particularly seem to break down more quickly, particularly kitchens and bathrooms. We constantly see home makeovers and new kitchens in magazines and film, which urges us even more to do something about our leaky pipes, sagging counter tops, and chipped floors. What can be done when the condition of the house takes away your motivation to keep it neat and clean?

Swan Cottage 2 by Sung Kim

I just remembered something that was told to me as a young girl: "Take care of what you have and do not worry about what you do not have. If you do not keep house well now, you will not keep house well when you get your dream house." While it is surely more enjoyable to sweep a new carpet and clean a new refrigerator, it is more of a challenge to keep up good housekeeping when things are not in the best condition. Still, the point is well made: if you will not make a bed when there is no pretty, matching spread and curtains, you will eventually not make it when you get a new bedroom set. If you will not clean the bathroom when it is not modern, you probably will not clean it when you get a new one.

The problem of being a contented home dweller comes with the habits that are developed. While a new kitchen might make it more exciting to wash a dish, it will eventually wear off if you do not develop a kind of pride in your housekeeping. So, even if the house is breaking down, you can still clean it and make it look charming. Remember the film based on the book, "One Small Woman," about the life of Gladys Aylward (later made into a movie called "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness), when she went to China. When asked how she would manage everything without money or material things, she said, "If your house is dirty, you can clean it." She did things without waiting for conditions to be ideal.

One of the most inspiring trends is that of taking an old, old house that is not livable and turning it into a gift and antique shop. Walking into these places makes you see what could be done with a small, plain house. It gives you hope that you can make even a less than perfect house an exciting place to be, when you see what these people do in those old places. Sometimes all they do is give it a new coat of paint on the inside. Then, they drape it with all the most humble of things, from old linens to measuring cups, and it has a wonderful feeling of love inside. With the nostalgic pictures on the walls, the candle sconces and the mis-matched furniture, no one seems to even notice the imperfections. All they see is this wonderful place that makes them smile and relax when they walk in.

Cottage Home by Consuelo Gamboa

I feel that even though we might have to move to a better house some day, it is important not to rest easy and give up. We have to leave a good impression on our children and grandchildren. We have to have certain values that we pass on. Imagine, for example, the pioneer women making homes on the plains of America, Africa, Australia or any other country in previous centuries. They may have had bare, sod houses but they knew to sweep them. They may have had shabby clothes but they knew to wash and iron them. They may not have had the finest china but they knew how to wash dishes and keep their little kitchens clean. They may not have had a beautiful bedroom set with Egyptian cotton sheets, but they knew how to make a bed.

Whatever our circumstances, even if we are waiting for a better house or waiting for a new house to be built, I think it is important, if not just for our own state of mind, to make it neat and clean and pretty. If we don't, we may look back on those years some day and regret not being better stewards. The Bible says, "He who is faithful in little, will be faithful in much." (Luke 16:10) If we can't stand to pick up clutter now in our inadequate houses, we may possibly let the new house deteriorate as well.
Many people will think they will be so much happier when they get out of their dismal environment. While we should always strive to improve our living conditions, I think it is important to remember that even if we are given the most ideal setting and the most modern home in the world, we still may take with us our basic attitudes about life. If we do not learn to be creative , positive and resourceful and diligent in our worst circumstances, we will bring our bad attitudes into the next place and make our lives there just as miserable as we were before.

How many times have you seen a couple who longed for their dream home, and then, when they finally got it, it took only a short time before it looked just like the one they left: the porch is breaking down, the inside is dirty and the walls are damaged. Sometimes I see beautiful houses that have been sold. Such houses were lovingly cared for by the previous owners, but the new owners have no knowledge about the care and maintenance of the home. They let the property "go" into disrepair. They do not know how to maintain it. They may have come from a broken down old house and were quite glad to get out of there into a new house with the nice interior and a stove that works and a big refrigerator with an ice maker. However, they do not understand how to be careful and respectful of the property.

Bathroom Elegance 2 by Charlene Winter Olson

(the walls may be peeling and there might not be modern heat, but the towel is neatly folded and everything is clean)

Having a better house is a great blessing, but it does not necessarily make better people out of us. It may help us serve the Lord better if we use it for the right reasons, but if we do not know how to show hospitality in a less than perfect place, we may lack the knowledge to do it in the new house. If a person is not a faithful keeper of the home in a little old place, she won't be any better in a big, new place, once the newness has worn off.

Teapot and Iris by Chiu

I enjoyed listening to a woman who had a friend who lived above her parent's shop. It was a small place, much like an attic, but the friend invited her over to tea. All she served was bread and butter! That bread and butter became a sumptious experience of the senses in the atmosphere that the young homemaker provided. All around was neatness, cleanliness and orderliness. Her dishes sparkled, her floor shone, and her table with the cups and loaf of bread looked like something from a picture book. I will always remember the way the visitor said, "Bread and butter. That is all she had." Her eyes got a sort of far away look as she transported herself to those happy moments sitting, not even on chairs, but on on cushions around the low table in the living room. The young homemaker had given her best!

The way to develop such sweet contentment is to feel a deep appreciation and gratitude for what you do have. Washing the dishes can be a trip down memory lane when you recall how you came by the set of dishes you use every day, and dusting can be fun when you see how you were blessed with that wedding bowl and the pitcher. Washing clothes can really be fun when you think of each garment as a gift and a blessing.

Even young girls in dorm rooms can improve their attitude toward cleaning up after themselves. They may think there is no use doing anything in those dismal places, but if they will make that small place a haven, and use their imagination and knowledge to create the best atmosphere they can, they will find such skill very, very useful when they finally get a home of their own. Girls who live with their families and rooms of their own need to know that if they are a slob in their own room, there is a strong possibility they will not improve when they get their own homes. That is one reason it is so important to create a place within your limitations, that is lovely.
Added comment: To the younger women I would suggest ways to improve your house or get one that is more adequate for you, would be to watch your spending. If you smoke, drink, party, or even buy coffee by the cup twice a day, it can add up to quite a bit. Vacations, also cost quite a bit. I have one dear friend who chose to get a completely new kitchen rather than spend their bonus on a car or a vacation or even clothes. Going out to eat costs quite a bit, and so does going to the movies. If you give up some of these things for awhile you might find you have a little more money to use on the house. Sometimes even getting a new set of cannisters for the kitchen, or new curtains, can go a long ways to making the house a better place to be. The cost of new clothes or the amount that is spent at the mall, might buy a small improvement at home, even it it is a little rug for the bathroom.

A search of the art of both Sung Kim , T. Chiu, Charlene Winter Olson, and Consuelo Gamboa will reveal a host of beautiful paintings. The posters are not always very expensive, and some are under ten dollars. You can get frames at discount stores, and enjoy this beautiful art in your humble home. Please don't forget to click on each picture for a larger view. Having such pictures on the walls create a peaceful mood in the room, and are a great influence on the family, as they focus more and more on the importance of the home.

For further reference see Matthew 25:21-23


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