Monday, September 13, 2010

A Homemaking Class

Although I have taught a lot of homemaking classes, I had never attended a Titus 2 class taught by anyone else,( which is a time when older women teach younger women how to guide their homes and become good wives, mothers and homemakers),  and when I received an invitation from a lady to come and observe her first class, I gladly went. It was more than I expected!  I travelled quite a ways from my home and was so pleasantly greeted by this lovely Victorian Farm House with its pretty porch and oval window door. Nearby was the soothing sound of a creek, where the hostess can go for rest and relaxation.

Having grown children, Mrs. J. now looks after the needs of her husband's parents and her own parents, and yet wants to share some of her life with young girls. There were 5 students in this class, including one of the mothers who wanted to learn alongside her daughters. The girls were just delightfully eager to learn. Mrs. J. began with a well-set tea table which I would like to describe to you. She had a floral oval cloth on her oval table, and on top of that she laid a white see-through lace cloth, giving  a wonderfully Victorian look of depth, fullness and warmth to the table.  I had never done this with a printed table cloth, but the effect was so beautiful that I am eager to try it.

 Each tea setting was from her collection of tea cups which she had procured from yard sales, antique stores, and second-hand stores, and the young ladies felt so special being offered such pretty vessels to drink from. Mrs. J. showed them how to drink from the cup and hold the saucer close to catch any drips. She served a light, fluffy scone with cream and jam and explained a little of the technique of making perfect scones: do not over-work your dough, but pat it gently after kneading it only 6 or 7 times. 

Our hostess is using a book called "Polished Cornerstones," which she let us look through, and which is well worth the investment, for it covers all aspects of life at home. Her lesson began with instructions about modest dressing, and modest sitting. After demonstrating how to sit on a tall stool in a kitchen, a regular chair and yes, the carpet or ground, each student was allowed to practice and see if they could do it. She showed how you could be modest when sitting in all these places, and how a long skirt could help you sit more modestly in all situations. She was wearing a pretty blouse and a long skirt and apron.

Mrs. J. then took us on a tour of her kitchen, where she had things set up in what she called stations. Her baking ingredients were in top shelves, where she had installed lowering spice racks and her baking equipment and pans were directly underneath in the lower cabinets. She had a drink station, a dinner station, formal dinner station, and other places where she had organized her kitchen with helpful slide-out organizing units to store  her kitchen things more  efficiently, all from a Lowe's store in her area.  

Organizers help keep the baking station neat.

She showed each student how to hold a broom and angle it to sweep the floor effectively, and instructed them on other things concerning sweeping.

When the kitchen tour was completed, Mrs. J. took her students upstairs to the sewing room, where she gave the first lesson in sewing, and began their first project, a bag in which to hold a travel iron,  after learning to thread a sewing needle and tie the knot.  As an iron is a companion to sewing, this is a useful container that will serve her students well.

Door racks and pull-out drawers make it easy to store things, find them, and keep them neat.

Married in 1969 at the age of 18, Mrs. J. and her husband have spent nearly 40 years developing their dream home. In the beginning, when her husband was earning $200.00 a month, they rented a garage to live in, in which they bought only the bare necessities to live on, and that did not include a phone. However, as time went by, they prospered from this frugality: Mrs. J. says,

Five years later in 1975 we were able to afford our first down payment on a fixer-upper house. We improved the house with a new roof, half a house room addition, fence, veg. garden, a postage stamp orchard of fruit trees and a concrete driveway, paint and stucco on the outside of the home. I planted trees in the front yard for shade and privacy because we lived on a busy street.
We drove old fixer-upper cars because my husband was handy at repairing them. I sewed many of mine and our child's clothes and my husband was able to save some money every payday. We didn't eat out much or go to movies. We entertained our children and made our own fun. Holidays were special and we made a big deal out of baking, and making handmade gifts and cards.

In 2005 we designed and built our final home using home plan magazines. We found a home plan we liked and tweaked the plans to customize the house for our needs. Then we contacted a draftsman to draw up the blueprints according to our design. I had 40 years to plan where everything would go, how we would use the house right down to the way I wanted the kitchen arranged. It had to be a large kitchen because we planned on having a large garden and orchard. I loved the cottage style farm houses of the Victorian era so I designed the house to appear Cottage Victorian with wood gingerbread trim and fish scale siding over the front porch peak. We found a contractor who gave us a bid we could work with and a time frame to look forward to.
The drink station as everything she needs to make tea or cool drinks, without having to walk to distant places in the kitchen to gather supplies.

We need to know the stories of how people have built their lives and their homes, not all of a sudden, but patiently, over time, with goals in mind.  This is a great encouragement to people, and they should also know, that even in the tiny garage apartment they can live a beautiful life and create good memories. Much of this depends upon the woman, who puts a lot of time and effort into making a home homey and creating family dinners and special moments. Mrs. J. has been a homemaker from a very young age, and yet, she still was able to have a home and the things that mean the most to a woman. Her husband gladly earned the living from the age of 21, and she carefully looked after their income, looked after their children, and created contentment even in the poorest of circumstances.  This was the first Titus 2 class she had taught, and I thought she had an excellent presentation.

View of her kitchen.

During the sewing class, she invited me to share a homemaking scrapbook that I had made for my daughter between the years of 7 and 11.   There were no scrapbook materials as we know them, available at the time, so I put together some pretty typing papers and did the best I could at the time.

This is the cover, decorated with an advertisement for a plate, from a magazine, and holes punched to thread ribbon through. The book looks old and faded but at the time it was made, the quality of the papers was not high, and things available to us such as glues and acid-free supplies, were limited.

Little handmade dividers glued in to show the different subjects in the notebook.

From a sewing pattern, she made a pair of felt skates for a doll. You recognize the fold-out house card here, as I have given a printable pattern for it earlier on this blog. The fan came from directions in a pioneer girls book. 

From a quilting magazine, she learned to make different
kinds of patterns. She did not make entire quilts at this stage, but enjoyed trying different blocks. This is a block called "Windmill."

This was from a Victorian doll dress pattern, where she learned to stitch tucks, sew a set-in puffed sleeve, do cuffs, collar, and add trim.

We scrapbooked different decorating styles,

and found things in magazines about foods and cooking.

She learned to crochet, and knit, just a sample. The crocheted item is a circle, the same as a doily, with a ribbon threaded through the holes to make a doll hat.

Learning to teach a Bible lesson to little children, we
saved several patterns and samples so that she could be prepared if she
ever needed to help.

Example of a child's Bible class craft depicting a house where the doors and windows all open to reveal an indoor scene.

Landscaping was included, as well as architecture. In those days we had no access to copy machines, so the favorite architecture and house designs were kept in the books.

We created a pocket in the back page, where we tucked pages from magazines that had instructions on the other side.

Our hostess allowed me to share this book, and hopefully with the marvellous scrapbook materials available these days, the girls will save samples of their own work in pretty memory books.

More of Mrs. J.s Home:


Unknown said...

What a lovely home and great idea for teaching young ladies homemaking skills. I agree with you. Your friend did a nice job on her class.
L. Rose

Anonymous said...

That is really wonderful, Lydia.

Anonymous said...

I made a few of these in the 1970's when I was a young teen. I still have them, and it's fun to look back. I still do this only mine is online in file folders. I think like the notebooks better. :)


Anonymous said...

Do you know if the instructor blogs or has a website?

custom seamstress said...

That is a grand idea to be able to give what she has gleaned over the years. And that porch looks similar to ours.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's silly for me to keep telling you, but I enjoy your blog immensely. Thanks for continuing to inspire your readers.

Simply Shelley said...

Very needed in this day and time...

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post and seeing all of the lovely pictures. It gives many good ideas to those of us who have not yet attempted having a class like this at home.

Anonymous said...

Greetings Miss Lydia,
thank you for sharing about my class. I do hope the ladies reading will try this even if it is to teach only one child what they know of homemaking. I would have loved to go to a class like this when I was young. My momma taught me everything I know.

I don't have a blog, but I faithfully follow this one and comment most of the time under

Also thank you Lydia for putting photos of the scrapbook on your blog. I wanted a chance to look more closely at it. My girls will really enjoy making one of these too.

Thank you again for being such a wonderful mentor to me.
Blessings, Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

This post was very encouraging to me. With the economy the way it is, I think your posts, especially about making the best of things and persevering, take on an even bigger significance. Thank you. This blog is so helpful - it gives me something to aspire to all the time.

Anonymous said...

That does look like a great class! Oh, how I wish I had liked-minded friends in real life!

Thanks for sharing Lady Lydia and Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing! I am glad you were able to go and thank you for sharing!

C. C.

MRs Tailleur said...

Your story touched my heart. I was happy to read it . I felt like I wanted to be there. I also wish i knew a young lady with an open heart, with the desire to learn . I have sons.( who like to cook) My neighbor girls have a mother who does not work but sends them out for take out for every meal. I would love to reach these girls but they have a closed and bitter hearts.One young girls tries to cause trouble for my young son.He is a young boy of good character and she tries to create conflicts. I think the girls want drama. Thank you for sharing your story and I love going to your blog and reading . ( p.s. I have a copy of :A matter of good housekeeping I read it for encouragement) thank you

Lori said...

I really love your blog. It would be so much fun to have taken my girls to this lady's class. I have 3 girls and I think it would've been fun! I love the book you and your daughter made. Gave me lots of ideas! ;0) Blessings,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I have seen young girls invited to tea parties mis treat the cups and throw them in the sink, heedless of the fact that they have to be treated carefully. I hope your hostess/teacher addressed this. Also there was a lot of sneering at the idea of drinking tea, and the girls laughed if they spilled it, and didn't offer to clean it up.

I was wondering if this class was a one-time event, monthly or quarterly.

I had a one time home making class in my home a few years ago, in which everyone brought a demonstration of something to do in the home, from washing dishes to cooking, sewing, cleaning, decorating, entertaining, first aid, child care, teaching children, and so forth. It was a great event and people have asked us to do it again.

It is admirable that she cares for her parents and also gives some of her time to the Titus 2 teaching.

It would be great to attend one of her classes. Her house looks like it has a wonderful atmosphere. Any chance of seeing more photographs of the inside?

Lydia said...

Mrs. Taileur, thank you for your comment. Yes, there are some women who do not pass on their homemaking knowledge to their children, and some who stay home but do not keep house. The main principle is that we are to mind our our houses and be good examples to the outside world. The girls who aggravate your own children need to learn to be absorbed in something that is useful. Socialization is such a distraction and sometimes can become an addiction, from what I have seen. Homeschool girls are often very content to read or sew or cook, and they tend to want to be at home. Mrs. Wood at Thinking Housewife has a good article up about the tendency to outsource home life into public school classrooms. Mothers are the best teachers because there is a relationship there that is so important.

Regarding the pictures of Mrs. J.'s home. I will add some to the post. She is a good friend of mine and is far ahead of me in her home organization and housekeeping. Her class was excellent!! I believe it is once a month or once a season, but not sure. I would like to report on another lady who has a homemaking class, who also has a beautiful way of teaching.

If you want to have your own private time of learning homemaking, you can get some books, such as Laurie Latour's homemaking book, or Mrs. Martha Green's book, Collections of the Homekeeper. You can have your own private study on the subject and do the practice work yourself. You do not really need a class. The class provides a glimpse into someone else's house and that is probably the great appeal of it. It lets you visit someone else in their home. If taught in the home, it is more down to earth and personal.

Anonymous said...

Would Mrs. J. be willing to allow detailed pictures of her kitchen layout???

I would LOVE to benefit from 40 years of planning an efficient kitchen!

Thank you for a lovely post.


Suzanne said...

I love the Polished Cornerstone's book , such a valuable resource! We are starting a Keeper's at Home club from the Keepers of the Faith publishers, for girls 6-12 in our homeschool group. I am doing it once a month and hoping the little girls are enthused about learning homemaking skills:-) It may sound silly to teach girls how to hold a teacup, but I have seen girls 10 and up who can't eat using utencils correctly. When I showed my daughter's friend how to cut a steak using her knife and fork properly , she told me her mother never taught her how:-( I mean aren't these basics of eating at a table?

Anonymous said...

It was mentioned in comments lately the many goolish things at the fabric shops especially this time of the year. I want to inform you of a fabric store that never displays such things. It is Hobby Lobby. I do not know if they are all over the country or not. They are Christian owned and although they will show pumplins and such decorating things for fall they do not do witches and ugly cats and such at all. They have beautiful Christian related things to sell too. They usually have christian music in the background too. Their staffs are very informed and friendly too. Thankyou for this article on the homemakers class. Peggy

Lydia said...

Thanks for that information. If there is a Hobby Lobby in my area I will gladly shop there for sewing and craft needs, instead.

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

How beautiful and what great ideas. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with the rest of us!

Many blessings...

Gail said...

This lady's house is beautiful, and those whose circumstances are not quite as auspicious at this time can still feel like queens in their homes by applying Mrs. J's principles of organization. Better a humble dwelling that is cozy, clean and organized, than an empty mansion or a house loaded with expensive things, but also with disarray. This is the little secret of a happy life - to keep up what you do have to the best of your ability, and to cultivate peace, contentment, and quiet within your own soul - that is the richest way to live! And we can all do that with God's help because that is His will for us. Thank you for showing us examples of this, in your blog.

Lydia said...


I agree: it would be great to see someone who is making the best of circumstances when they cannot have the great kitchen. I guess that would be when they are just beginning their married lives. And sometimes, though rarely, I do see an inspiring lady who has taken something like a tent, a camper, a barn, and made it into a home as if it were a castle, and are living their lives to the fullest. I do not know if many people know what that means. It means you know how fleeting life can be, that you may not even be here tomorrow, so you don't put off having a pretty home; you just make what you have as lovely as possible.

Lydia said...

I have another report of a Titus 2 class from a different older woman, coming up when I get time!!

Jeanne said...

What an inspiring post. And the scrapbook you made with your daughter is a treasure indeed.

Far Above Rubies said...


Anonymous said...

I have been reading through your blog (again) and this time I am taking better notes. In one of the postings you mentioned a finishing school (I believe that's what you called it) for young girls that you and your daughter taught and that you gave at the end of the class a pretty pink certificate of completion. You hinted that you might post an outline of that class. I have been considering teaching a class at a local community college for continuing education. I believe there are many others besides myself that would appreciate an outline if you have the time.