Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guide of the Home

 How can you get your home in working order if  you have spent your life away from home in the corporate world?  How do you adjust? How can you order your day?
While it seems natural to begin with a brand new morning, I would suggest that getting the living room and kitchen cleaned the evening before, is a better way to begin.  Waking up to those clean areas gives you a great start to getting the rest of the house in order.

I would also suggest creating a homemaker's basket to help you prepare for the next day. You can make one for yourself or for someone else, as a homemaker's motivational tool.  It is a very large wicker basket, painted the colour you like, lined with a small table cloth.

Load this basket with a day-calendar that has the absolute best pictures you enjoy seeing every day, and a place on it to write. Each day, you tear off the page, and use the back of it for your shopping list. A shopping list is something you add to occasionally, as you see the need for something. You may be in the bathroom and notice you need more soap, so you reach into your apron pocket and pull out the list and and add the item. You might be hanging out clothes to dry and notice you are short on clothespins, so you add that to your list.

The homemaker's basket can be taken from place to place within the house. It contains a box of your favourite tea, a scented candle in a jar, your favourite magazine or book, some stationery, envelopes, stamps, and pen. Load it with some scented dish detergent and a matching room spray, some fancy rubber gloves and brand new  dish towels, plus some delicious snacks in a little container. Put a tear-off day calendar with the most beautiful pictures you can find. Each day, tear off the page and use the back of it for your shopping list. Find a tea cup you can't resist and put it in the basket.
 You might include things you will be using, such as a special cookie cutter and some matching paper towels or napkins. You can get some of these things at JoAn fabrics (scrub pads, cookie cutters) and others at Dollar Tree, Wal Mart, Ross, and TJMax. Lacking these stores, you might be able just to look around your own house and find some things that would work for a homemaker's basket. The little table cloth liner is just an old cloth that has been dyed light pink by sprinkling a little fabric dye in a pan of hot water.  Click on the pictures for larger views.

All these items are a feast for the eyes and a delight to the senses.A soothing CD from the Dollar Tree is just the thing to put into this basket if you are making it for someone else. You can probably get every one of these items at a dollar store, including the basket.
On the inside of the cup is written a scripture in gold. It comes from a discount store where less than perfect items are sold. (Ross) 

The basket can be painted a different colour and you can make stationery or cards for it.  A notebook and pen that match your basket color theme can be used to make your schedule list.  

On this list, there are three things that will be helpful in getting your house in the kind of order you are happy with:

Things that absolutely must be done;
Things that should be done, and,
Things you really would like to do.

Use the first item as a motivation that will get you to the third item. If you get the things that really must be done, completed, you are closer to doing something you really would like to do.  The must-be-done items are limited to about three things also:

Dishes and kitchen must be clean, in order to be able to function in the kitchen and be able to have a healhy environment,
Laundry must be done,
The bathroom must be clean and sanitary,
The floors must be clean.

I have a bare-floor policy in my house because I want to prevent accidents, and also be able to get around the house without having an accident on a stray shoe, a toy or any kind of object out of place.  I also believe that clean floors, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, contribute to good health in the home.

These are all things you need to write down in the fancy notebook with the elegant pen you got just for your homemaker's basket. 

A better beginning for each day is to dress up, but not in the kind of clothes you were used to wearing when you worked for someone else. Instead, choose long skirts, to just above the ankle,  made with natural fibres, (cotton, denim, pique, wool, linen)  pretty, low-heeled shoes, button down blouses with ruffles and pretty embroidery, and cardigan sweaters. Pull your hair back and fasten with clips or roll into a bun. I know women who never set foot in the kitchen or any part of the house unless they are dressed and ready. They never wear slippers to do housework and they never do their housework in their robe and nightgown, because they believe that the way you dress has a lot to do with the way you approach your work.
 At the Cottage Gate, by Helen Allingham

19th century women managed the home, indoors and out,  just fine in a long skirt.

Dressing up as I suggested above, gives the work the dignity it deserves.  If you are used to wearing jeans all the time, the longer length skirt will make you feel a lot more comfortable, and it is a lot more modest for all the bending and reaching you are going to have to do in house work.  I think it is really important to have a print or color that gives you joy, and I also believe in mood-dressing. This means that on a particularly gloomy day, you can bring the sunshine in to your life by wearing something that is cheerful.
 From dollar stores or discount stores, you can find homemaker's aids such as these scented trash bags for small trash containers around the house, which come in white, blue, and green. Hand soap in clear, unscented, or scented colors, as well as a cheerful blank book with no lines and some matching pens, give the homemaker a chance to sit and think,make lists, make clothing sketches for her sewing,  design her garden or sketch out her living room arrangements If the basket is for someone else, you can add healthful snacks such as carob bars with nuts, from the whole foods section at discount grocery stores. Package them in cellophane or hand made containers of some kind.

Take the homemaker's basket to a comfortable place, pour yourself a cup of tea in your fancy cup, and write down the things you want to do, as you want to do them. A list would look something like this:

make beds
go outside

These things being done, I would feel free to pursue something that I enjoy doing. Some people like to knit, and others would rather read.  I believe it is essential to do something creative every day because it renews the mind and body. These creative things can also add to the beauty and comfort of the home, especially if they are things like hand made cushions or a vase of fresh-picked flowers for the table.

 There are always much bigger projects that will need attention, such as wallpapering or painting,cleaning closets or the home office,  and different kinds of home improvement. You can put aside one day a week just for those kinds of bigger projects. Eventually, you will catch up to all the years of neglect. Clean one cupboard once a week, and one row of books in a bookshelf.

  I believe it is a priority to have your house in the design and arrangement that makes you happy, because it is your office and your daily environment. You are going to be the one that does most of the work at home, and it is helpful if the house is a beautiful place of refuge for it. You can make it a happy place that looks relaxing, or you can make it austere and uncomfortable. It is your choice.

It may seem like an extravagance, but it does no harm to the budget to buy grocery store flowers. Sometimes they are not very expensive, and a bouquet can last as long as a month.  If you have no vices (smoking, drinking, gambling, expensive collections) and if you rarely go out to movies or restaurants, I dont see any reason not to treat yourself to a lovely bouquet at least once a month. If you are frugal with everything from bathroom tissue to cleaning products, you can afford this wonderful treat. Imagine yourself inside a grand mansion where every room is filled with fresh flowers. All you have to do is break the bouquet apart, shorten the stems and put them in various vases and jars throughout the house. It amounts to about $2.50 a week when you break down the cost. It brings a spark of life to the home and makes your job more important than anything else.
I really believe in homemakers rewards and am always looking around for something elegant to work with at home, that can either be free or just cost a few cents.

Being the guide of the home means you have to control the clutter and the atmosphere. There will be those who will want to pour cold water on your ideas but you have to persist in doing what is good and right. If you are the guide of the home you are actually in a better position than the head of a corporation, because you can do exactly what pleases you in order to get your job done with grace. You do not have to sit down with a board of directors and pass things through congress before you can get anything done. You can regulate your time so that you have plenty of time to pursue other interests.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks so much. A question- how do you go about a bare floor policy with little children? My floors always seem terribly messy, any helpful suggestions would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I have been going to bed with the kitchen and living room clean for several months, and have noticed it makes a huge difference to my sense of well being. Excellent advice. Thank you!


Mrs. P said...

I love this post. Is there a way to print it out for my homemaking journal?

I can't wait to visit the Dollar Tree and make my homemaker's basket.

Mrs. P

Little Natural Cottage said...

I love this post, Lydia! If you don't mind, I would love to link to it at my blog next week. Thank you for such beautiful advice for us young homemakers!

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

P.S. Have you ever read the book Fascinating Womanhood?

Anonymous said...

I second the flowers! I used to purchase flowers once a week during the winter - and in MN the winters are long- it sure helps to see something beautiful and alive. My children (all girls) remarked how much they missed them when I stopped buying them, a little too early, for the warmer months.

C said...

I agree with Rosemary. If I wake up to the living room and kitchen messy I immediately start to feel stressed. But when it's clean, it's like breathing a breath of fresh air!

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

Thank you! Excellent post.

There is a web site / upkeep system that changed my life around many years back, and is great for someone who has never learned how to care for their house, or feels overwhelmed. It's also a terrific self-esteem booster for many lifestyle choices (working, stay-at-home, part-time, new wife/mom, etc). www.FlyLady.net.
Personally, I stay away from the chat rooms & e-mails, but use the yahoo calendar option & the control journal.

Jana said...

I've been trying to find a good routine method to start at when I finally get to leave work for good, but I've only found modern concept ideas. I truly love how Victorian and romantic your whole view of keeping the house clean. Women love beauty and you've revealed a way to bring beauty to cleaning the home. Thank-you.

Anonymous said...

Great post - and I totally agree about the flowers! I love picking up a few Gerbera daisies to put on my kitchen counter, they are a great little pick-me-up and they last for 3-4 weeks :)

Laryssa Herbert said...

I'm really trying to "dress up" even if we are staying home. It really does make a difference!

Laryssa @ www.heaveninthehome.com

Anonymous said...

I love this basket idea!!! I may take my daughter with me today and pick out some things to put our own basket together :)

I homeschool my four children and I would love to read more about your homeschooling journey.

Lydia said...

Some people say they are having trouble right clicking on my blog to make a short cut on their desktop. I honestly dont know how that happened and will try to fix it if I can.

You can link if you like.

I guess you will keep thin trying to keep the things picked up off the floor. I would suggest only one to two toys per child, and not one with tiny pieces. That way, having a dollar or truck on the floor wont be a problem.

Most of the time the children dont even play with the toys. They dump them and leave them. Its good training to pick up one and say "Are you using this? Then you need to put it away." Expect times when this cannot be monitored, especially when they are little.

You can print these messages but for some reason, there are some people who are unable to do it. I dont know what the problem is. You could possibly paste it and put it in your own wordpad or notepad or other document and then print.

Jill said...

This post and your last one was wonderful Lydia! I know you have dealt with clutter in other posts but it can't be said enough that decluttering saves so much time in the cleaning and upkeep of the home.
For women who work outside the home, I have noticed that if they are feeling guilty about that choice they often have a hard time taking charge of the upkeep of their home. Yet, it is such an important job and,eventually, your family will appreciate your efforts!

In other words, because I am home all the time I notice that too many items have collected and that I am wasting my time cleaning around clutter so I unapologetically insist that we get rid of extras. I also am able to insist on shoes coming off at the door etc. A woman who feels guilty about being gone so much or being away from her family a lot often has a harder time taking authority over all those little decisions that make a home.

Don't be afraid to do what you can when you can!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to hear more about this with homeschooling. It seems like I can make a plan like what you are suggesting and keep my home running orderly. Or, I can make a plan to keep the schooling running orderly. But I still can't seem to figure out how to combine the two. I most often feel like I'm failing as mother/homemaker/teacher because everything feels undone and/or unfinished and I feel guilty to have any reward for myself because of it. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. I'll be going to Dollar Tree, too, to find some pretty things for my basket!

To Anon at 3:25--can I give a suggestion that works for my family? If you HS daily (5-days/week), maybe take one day off for cleaning/laundry? Once started, the remainder of the week will just be "maintenance", and doesn't take too long. HTH! :)

Anonymous said...


This is a wonderful post!!

As Autumn has finally arrived in Sydney, your ideas coupled with the wonderful, sparkling atmosphere and golden sun-drenched day helps truly lift the spirit. Your commentary about wearing skirts as mroe comfortable and practical than jeans is absolutely spot on. For houseworkd, gardening etc, skirts are incredibly comfortable;
Traps for young players: pencil skirts or knee length are more of a hinderance than a help; even a reasonably taylored skirt can hamper, and this type of wear often colours a woman's experience of skirt wearing for labouring about the home.

Solutions: length is best, and does not cause a tripping or catching hazard. Around a couple of inches above the ankle or true ankle length are the most practical; combining modesty with utility. gored or a-line skirts are best, they offer true freedom of movement without any of risk.

Additionally, appropriate underpinnings are esential for optimum skirt wearing. In the hot, humid Southern hemisphere petti-pants or undershorts in lightweight cotton make all the difference, especially to those of us carrying a few extra pounds. In cooler weather, or even the Northern winter, layering underneath is essential; bloomers, leggings with socks or knee high stockings work a treat, wearing the stockings on the outside of the leggings prevents the former slipping down or latter riding up. over this, a good peticoat and/or a petticoat of anti-stat stops everything bunching around one's legs or the skirt and everything else sticking. then pop on your skirt, be it cord, cotton drill, denhem or nicer fabric for best-wear with dark socks and good boots or walking shoes looks smart. If one likes the comfort of trainers, these on the whole can clash, but coloured converse with matching detail in casual skirt and shirt for casual or homewear can add a light-hearted splash of fun, especially to those young enough to carry it off. Good leather shoes such as Munroe or Questra will give you years of smart service and are schmick enough for Church and durable enough for the garden. Keeping them polished will keep them looking good for a long time; take it from someone who has to get the most out of a pair of shoes because of very small sized feet meaning very expensive footwear :-0 :-)

Anonymous said...


I've sent links to 'Kristen's Daughter' and 'LisaM's' Polyvore pages in the past where they provide scores of modest attire ideas for casual, practical work, to best wear ideas.

if one cannot sew for whatever the reason, especially if learning is simply not an option, there are fabulous modest clothierres out there who do a fabulous job. Two of the best are 'the King's Daughters' (I purchase from them and have done for years), and 'Lilly's Apparrel'. 'TKD is more geared for those of us who have found ourselves walking the 'plain' or 'plainesque' path, but their clothes by no means look frumpy or dower. With the right combination of garments and fabrics, with an accessory or two of one's own thrown in, a perfectly acceptable look can be achieved that is incredibly practicl and suitable for every day. if one wishes for a bit more flare and colour, 'Lilly's aparel' is incredible! Vibrant, modest, timeless, classic with accessories to die for, their clothes will likely prove a more suitable starting point for most. TKD's workmanship and customer service is 100% professional and they will be happy to take the time to negotiate a style and talk through your order with you. In both cases, Christian small business is being supported when one purchases garments from them; when we buy from the large department or chain outlets, 99% of garments are manufactured in the developing world with workers enduring virtual slave labour conditions because the multi nationals can get away with it. These are your brothers and sisters, people, be they Christian or otherwise. Read james 5: 1-6 for a sobering reminder of the Divine consequences to the architects and perpetuators of these practices...

I would especially recommend reading such from the J. B. Phillips translation, New English Bible (1961 edition, Exford University press) or Jerusalem Bible...

here's the J. P. Phillips link...


Same goes for paper products, especially serviettes; each one's a tree, folks, whereas if one has something as simple as cloth serviettes, the stewardship responsibility of this choice is far higher; might look like a small thing, but think about it. This fans out into regular use of chain take-away etc... At Home makes sense, Spiritually, practically, relationally, and in terms of ethical Biblical stewardship.

We are called to be counter cultural as Christians... Let us fly the flag for Christ, and His life-giving way. Even if one cannot extract themselves from the career-world right now, thinking on this perspective will enable the possibility of change, incrementally, step by stip, with prayer and practical common sense.

As one who was in the working world for 12 years, having to support myself (no family to do this), Even so I was able to make it work; never worked full-time, rented small, but clean accomodation, and the part-time hours allowed me to practice hospitality, get in with a lovely ladies' craft group - no gossip, no running down other women, many homemakers or part-timers) that cultivated skills in craft, catering etc and networked me with older women who were true T2 mentors even though they never knew it, nor did I at the time, so natural and unconscious was the process. I learnt how to manage my home, keep it looking decent, cook, entertain, provide hospitality (have had ladies in distress literally on my doorstep at midnight), provided clothing and food for those really doing it hard living in very tough extremes etc. And I had time to manage my energy - of vital importance. Simply being able to come home early after working my shift and take a power-nap before getting into my afternoon was a blessing.

Anonymous said...


It can be done, and now I have been home for several years - Got a redundancy package. Now I know this in and of itself will not be an opportunity for most, but I gave it up to God and this is how He chose to answer my prayer; He will anser everybody's prayer in the way that best suits their needs.

Anonymous said...

Love the homemakers basket idea for bridal shower and housewarming gifts. Brilliant!!!
L. Rose

Lydia said...

I hope in a future post to show how you can make a basket withou much less expense, using my cardboard box ideas, covered in elegant scrapbook papers, and making potholders, towels, tablecloth, notebook, list pad, stationery, scones and tea.

Jane said...

I love this idea. I think it is so important to teach young ladies housekeeping skills. I plan to take my daughter to Dollar Tree so we each put together our own baskets.

I was never taught these things growing up. I was expected to have a career outside the home, and it really is kind of a struggle some days to get things done and stay motivated when they were not learned early on.

Lydia said...

also at Dollar Tree you can find white feather dusters (also in blue, pink) and scrubbers in green or pink, bag clips in colors, goblets, paper napkins, crochet doilies large and small, bathroom products, stationery supplies in delightful designs etc. You could also include little books about tea time, also sold at dollar stores, and maybe something for children when the mother sits down for a break.

Lydia said...

I am still trying to find out why you cannot right click on my blog....hopefully I can get someone to help me figure it out.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of something I wanted to pass on to you. Your homemaking baskets are very pretty amd I've never seen anything like them before. I think if you or another homemaker were so inclined, you could sell pre-made homemaking baskets. If you did this online, I would definitely purchase one, probably more as I think they would make nice gifts.

Anonymous said...

Oops--forgot to include the link to the illustrated garden journal article! Here it is:


Anonymous said...

I usually do a form of seasonal cleaning every season so that I am not overwhelmed with one big bout of Spring cleaning and my home stays clean year round. I started doing it that way years ago when I was going to college fulltime and working fulltime. Now, I'm at home fulltime but have a child and an elderly Grandmother to look after and the system allows me to spend time with them and still keep up on my home. This Spring my cleaning supplies had been worn out so badly that I had to rebuy the majority of them. I bought the pink and silver scrubbie pads w/the plastic meausing cups, the pink plastic gloves with the scrub brushes, the pink bubble set of spray bottles, and the window scrubber with pink microfiber cloth sets at JO-Ann's for $2.50 a set. For 96 cents at my local Meijer store you can get lavender scented comet for scrubbing out your toilet bowl/bathtub rings. I love the Dollar Tree and Dollar General for homemaking things. Yes, I believe in careful budgeting and not wasting money/resources but I will tell you Lydia and other ladies out there-it may seem like a bit of money to pay $2.50 for a set of pink, purple, or teal colored cleaning accesories but I've often ended up paying more for ugly plain cleaning supplies at Wal-Mart. I have noticed that when even my cleaning accesories are pretty it makes a huge impact on my attitude about cleaning. Yes, I feel it's important to be home with my family and take care of them but I still hate scrubbing the toilet-if it means wearing pink rubber gloves and using lavender scented comet to improve my attitude and make a hated chore more bearable than I think it's worth it. With that said-the Dollar Stores are coming out with more pink, purple, blue and green household things such as microfiber clothes and scrubbies and clips. There are more offbrand cleaners with nicer smelling scents to them, or if your like me and want something, cheap and non-toxic make your own with vinegar, borax, baking soda, washing soda-etc and add your favorite essential oil. I use lavender and yes its 8-12 dollars a bottle depending on size and brand. That's pricey at first-ladies I'm still using a bottle up I bought just for that purpose five years ago. You can buy a nice scent of rose oil for $3 at Wal-Mart if essential oils don't fit your budget. I've also bought pretty cloth napkins for a quarter a piece at thrift stores and yard sales, crocheted and knitted dish clothes 3-for a dollar, and homemade pot-holders, embroidered or knitted-top dish towels for three bucks tops for a set at church bizarres, craft fairs, and country/state fairs.

Anonymous said...

I also believe firmly in the homemakers binder-there are many free sites you can print stuff up for it on-line and some fancier and more dolled up lists you can download for a fee and not only help keep yourself organized but help keep another woman in the home by supporting her online home business. Decorate the outside and tie on a pretty dollar store pen with some ribbon left over from a craft project. I have often given a homemakers basket as wedding shower gifts or wedding presents and I've also given them to single women going to college or living on there own for the first time. If I have given it for a wedding I will include a pretty frame to put a wedding picture in to remind the bride why she should create a pleasant home. I've often given cookbooks, organizing books, and a book like HOME COMFORTS or THE FLY-Lady to the single woman, college gal because often they are wanting to know such things but don't want to come right out and ask other women for fear of looking unmodern. I've boughten copies for the married gals too-and you can buy gently used copies fairly cheap and just make cloth covers for them. Regardless of your faith or the work outside the home or be a home maker-everyone has to clean unless they want to live in filth-and its a way to gently let the message across-and make it bearable. Lets face it single or married, Christian or not, outside employment or homemaker-unless you have the money to pay someone to do it for you-you do it yourself if you live alone, or you do the bulk of it even if you live with other people. You might as well live with that fact and make it as pleasant as you can.

Rachel said...

I so agree on the getting dressed before getting out and about in the house...it seems like if I am not attired properly, I spend so much time trying to play "catch up". Getting my hair done up, face washed, and clothes chosen and on for the day, makes all the difference in the world.

I don't wear shoes in the house, mostly because we live on a farm with free-ranging chickens and geese, and that spells m-a-n-u-r-e! LOL. So we take our shoes off at the door.

But being able to slide on a pair of decent, reasonable shoes for running to town, etc, is critical. I try to stick with basic colors, brown or black...much more versatile...

I like going to bed with the house clean, too. Especially if I can get the wash done beforehand, so my initial morning work is far less hectic....

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love this idea of a homemaker's basket!

Anonymous said...

I found that asking my husband what around the house is most important to him has helped me figure things out. Some men are not worried about dust say but want their newspaper or special book always in a certain place. Every man will have their own. Sometimes you will never guess. The rest of the cleaning needs doing but to know the things that help to make your husband feel at home are done is a good feeling. Two of my husbands are ice tea ready at all times and good homemade meals at home. Do include your husbands and families wishes also in your homemaking plans.

Anonymous said...

I've not been able to right-click on this blog for quite a while, but thought that you had put in coding to prevent folks from stealing pictures and text. A good work around is to select the text and then to use your CTRL and the C key to copy. Then it can be pasted into a document using CTRL and V.

Angelique said...

This is a great idea and post!!! I am going to see how I can make it work for me. Thank you for always the lovely ideas and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Another great article for my notebook!!
Thank you,
Mrs. Strickland

Anonymous said...

My daughter has been a homemaker for years and I imagine it is about time she could use some new pretty homemaking tools! You have given me an idea to start gathering some very pretty ones for her for her birthday. That along with some hand embrodered t towels and some other personally made things and it will be ready to present! There have been baby showers where we have given the mother herself most of the gifts. Some mothers after having several babies do not need much for the new baby. Mothers tend to think of their children first and do without. So we give them pretty new slippers and such. Mothers need a boost too and when we have given the mother some pretties for herself it sure makes her feminine heart sing! Just another idea. I know Grandmothers who would love a homemaking basket with such pretties in them like yours has too! Mother's day is coming soon ladies! Much thanks for your special ideas and for caring so much. Anna

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Anonymous who mentioned asking her husband what mattered most to him. My husband is a stickler for a clean dining room table and having a gallon of sweet tea ready when he comes home. (Can you tell he's hungry when he comes home? Ha!) And if dinner isn't started, that it is at least in the works.

Anonymous said...

My husband bought me an orchid plant the last time we went shopping at Aldi's ... over a month ago. All I have to do is water it with 3 ice cubes each week. It is beautiful and continues to bloom and even the original bloom it had on it when he brought it home has not fallen off (even though he dropped it on the floor once). I was amazed. It is so pretty, and it keeps putting on blooms and they are all staying. What a nice added touch, and he especially likes the idea that he bought it for me!

Homemaker's basket is SO BEAUTIFUL!

Homeschooling is hard work and makes clutter and it can be hard to be peaceful and do all that stuff all the time. But it is a calling and it definitely pays off. It is one of the things I did in my Christian walk that I never had to wonder if I was doing the right thing. God will work it all out.