Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making A Home Anywhere: Lessons for Young Ladies

The Homecoming by Jennie Brownscombe, American 1850-1936  Click on the picture for a larger view.

Art by Susan Rios
(This artist's  “favorite things” are wicker chairs,  pretty tablecloths, lace, vintage china and teapots, and bird
and butterfly objects.)

I have been lately stressing to young ladies who live at home with their parents how important it is to learn every aspect of home life, so that they can one day easily settle in to their own homes and confidently make a home for their families. 

Sometimes young girls do not realize that their parents may have begun their first home with nothing, or very little in the way of material things. They may need to learn how to make a home anywhere, and make home living important. Even if they expect to be well-off,  they should at least be prepared to live in reduced circumstances if they have to. I think it is important to prepare for a hard life, rather than an easy one, and to know how to be resourceful (finding resources from other things) and make many things from basic ingredients, and how to substitute when they do not have everything they want. 

 (I like how these artists put paintings inside their own paintings.)

Southern Hospitality

When I was very young, my family, and others like us in those circumstances during homestead days, lived in tents while our houses were being built. In spite of that, our mothers rolled up the bedding each day (which we then used as seating), swept the floor, shook out all the towels and clothes and hung them on hooks, cooked meals, washed dishes, washed clothes, and in general made life happy and pleasant. While not everyone will have to do this in their lives, they should prepare for it in case they have to do it.  Not everyone will begin with a big, furnished house. Quite a lot of good information can be gleaned from homestead sites on the web, and of course, it depends upon the teachers and the kinds of things they wish to provide for their classes. Every homemaking class is different and people do things their own way, depending on their climate and their needs.

Some commenter's spoke of making a home in the most humble circumstances, and I have enjoyed looking at the little trailer that was fixed up here,  as well as visiting her links which show creative ideas for fixing up old things, as well as using fabrics and natural resources to make the family feel rich while living within their incomes. Another camper can be seen here, which is called a Cottage on Wheels.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

How true this is !!Having went from my parents home to my own with little experience and from wealth to poverty was shocking to say the least. We had fifteen dollars for breakfast,lunch and dinner for two of us for the week.

I learned in a hurry, yet how much smoother the transition would have been if I had some training in how to take care of the house, cook and budget !

Thank you for taking the time to write about these things. Your daughter is truely blessed to have you as her mother.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

I love it when you post about how to keep a lovely and welcoming home on a budget! Your ideas are so practical yet simple, lovely and affordable. I rely upon the creativity of others who can see potential in stuff that can be refreshed with paint/fabric. Otherwise, I'm likely to throw out something I would want to have back later ;).

That little camping trailer re-do that was linked in your post was positively amazing! I literally squealed with delight and disbelief! Think of how sweet an actual single wide mobile home could be fixed up for full time living!

Thanks again for the post and I look forward to reading more on the always-fascinating (and for me, quite necessary!) subject of making do with available materials.

Kind regards from,

Susan T.

Anonymous said...

Love this post. Especially since we will be selling our home soon and moving into a 5th wheel on a relative's property until we can find work and permanent housing. But we will be debt free!!!
After my great grandmother's husband abandoned her and their 7 children, she moved back to Nebraska and lived in a tent beside a stream for quite some time.....she was a wonderful homemaker, even there!
Thank you for the encouragement, and the link to the awesome camper re-do! Somehow I don't think my man will go for that exact color scheme.....but I'm thinking maybe denim blue and red/white gingham...
With some red cabbage rose chintz throw pillows tucked in?!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I so agree with you, Mrs. Sherman!

We are preparing our children to live a simple know how to grow their own food, can it, to sew, to knit, to work hard.

When my husband and I were in missions training, we had to live for 6 weeks in the woods, in a house made of wood and landscaping plastic. It was a wonderful experience and we learned that we can truly make a home anywhere!

Anonymous said...

When you think of it you really need very little to furnish a home. Nothing fancy and nothing new if friends or thrift stores can supply what you do need. Many things you can find and reinvent uses for. The wants can happen later. We got married and had little.Even less money! :) We got most of our house goods at one garage sale. Sheets, towels, kitchen things etc. $30 for a lot, but basics. I remaid a skirt into kitchen curtains etc. I was very soon pregnant and had to quit my job and stayed home ever since. On the days I had doctors visits I went to a thrift store and may have only $1 I could spend on baby things or anything that day. I got what I could made or material to make it myself. Between that time and the next I sewed or cleaned and ironed and got all ready I could. I wanted to have nice new things but we couldn't. Money had to go to necessities and doctor bills. We never got behind in any of it. God seemed to help us stretch every penny. The pride and stability we felt from doing it ourselfs was something we built on for the rest of our long marriage. We should have planned better before we married but God led us through and we made it. I learned my children needed to learn much before they married and other lessons through it all. If you pull together and talk through things and work on the same dream you can achieve it if God aproves of it. Thank you again Lady Lydia for sharing. Sarah

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the site you provided. Thank you sooo much for it! The camper is beautiful!!!! I looked at her blog and when I saw her kitchen I knew I had been there before but I had lost her address! Now I have it again. Like her, I move things from one room to another...freshens the house and zero money invested. Pictures or a chair from one room switched to another etc. A card gotten for a birthday slipped into an old frame. Dresser scarfs now used as valances etc. Such fun isen't it being a women and being able to make a home for our families! Sarah

Anonymous said...

What an INSPIRING link--a gorgeous camper! I would want to snuggle in and never leave! What industry she shows, and what beauty she has created!

I so appreciate posts like this. they are a great lesson. I think it's wise advice to tell ladies they need to prepare for living on Not Much. I recall reading about how Edith Schaeffer made a house a home, even during the Depression, with zero funds as a newlywed bride!

Lydia said...

Married couples of the 40's and 50's were able to brave the frontier undaunted by hardship. They were prepared, and the woman for the most part set the mood of the marriage and the home by her cheerfulness. Anyone who remembers those people knows that they did n ot go in to marriage expecting a lot of things and an easy life but that their overcoming of hardships and poverty gave them a story to tell and bonded them together. Each one helped in their own way and I think young women at home need to know what to do if they do not have money, or convenience.

Anonymous said...

I know you grew up on a homestead and learned to chop wood boat, and fish. Though not so many people live like that anymore, it is good to at least know how to do some of these basics in case it is necessary. By the way I read your book and loved it. I felt the beauty of nature and the freshness of it all. That kind of life would inspire anyone!

Anonymous said...

I also agree Lydia, there is just something very satisfying about making something out of nothing and growing your own food, building or sewing something of real use to you or someone else.

We can all do a little of this for Christmas. By starting now we could all make a few things for Christmas gifts for our families.

Lydia has shown us all how to make simple items for our homes and it would be interesting to see what we could make for very little cost to make someone else happy for the holidays. Sew something, bake or build something and save it for a gift.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,

I've said this before, but I just really love your blog and the encouragement it brings. I really needed it this morning. We are going through foreclosure and were served papers yesterday to be out by Nov. 10.

Now, the Lord has provided a place for us to go, our church has offered us a small trailer on their property to live in until we find more permanent housing. It's not much in size, but I'm full of gratitude for the roof over our heads and I so look forward to making it into a pleasant, pretty place to live for a while.

God's blessings to you,

Anonymous said...


This is a beautiful message for us all! My husband and I combined our two homes, as it were, when we married over five years ago now. it may not match, it may not be new, but it is clean, neat, serviceable, and it works. I was also able to give away excess items that were good, but unnecessary. What we have works well for us, and it is a joy to open up our home to family and friends whenever the opportunity arises. Our home is small and by no means a showroom dresspiece, but it is tidy and clean - and a haven of peace, which costs nothing.

I am thankful to the Lord's provision, who has given us abundance; perhaps not as defined by the world, but abundance that is far richer than the latest furnishings etc can give.

tidyness, cleanliness, a smile and genuine heartfelt warmth go a long way to giving contentment. With Christ as our central focus, our peace (even in difficult times) is promised; that peace which passes all understanding.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Very encouraging post, Lady Lydia. I read about one missionary wife in Chine who used some checked kitchen curtains as a way of making a home out of any place she found herself in. Because of the Communist rebels who were slowly taking over all of China, this dear home maker had to move many times. They were finally thrown out of China altogether.

The uncertainty and turmoil of the times forced her to move often, but she made sure that "home" still meant something. She was primarily a home maker, and was determined to honor that role no matter what her circumstances were.

Now, SHE was a strong woman!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for linking to the trailer make-over. I noticed she used things she had found in thrift shops, yard sales, or been give and other free things. I have had paint given to me and painted my entire house, and also had a lot of fabrics and old things given to me, which I used for that wonderful, cheerful and bright look. One need not appear to be "making do" in order to make do with little. I think it is fun to look as though you are rich, even when you are not using money to furnish your house or tent or garage apartment. I lived in a very small place once and even though we had very little income, we fixed it up with a bit of free paint leftover from someone else's house, and we used old sheets, dyed, for curtains and matching furniture covers. No one would have guessed we were poor at the time. I think it is atrocious to cry "poor" and look as though you are down and out, if indeed you really can use things that are used or free. Where there is a will, there is a way. I know, because we have done it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link. The trailer is quite impressive!

You make some excellent points in this post. They are important reminders for older women, as well.

Jill F. said...

I was recently reading "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle"(published in 1954)to my children and was impressed by how often the different mothers in the story would ask their 9 and 10 year old sons if they were done making the table in the basement and if they had put away the tools. Also, little girls were asked if they wanted to wash their teddy bears dress and iron it before they went shopping.

These children were being taught skills necessary for homemaking very early in life!

Lydia said...

A few days ago someone who has written to me before, sent me an email regarding a business her husband was in, and some other things. I have had a lot of company lately and other activities and have somehow lost the email letter. Would she be so kind as to send it to me again?

Anonymous said...

They did such a lovely job on the trailer. Thank you for sharing this.
L. Rose

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you! What a lovely painting ("The Homecoming").

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful world in a tiny abode! I want one tooooo!
Lynn M

Anonymous said...

Isn't the dress on the mother in the first painting just as lovely as can be?! And such a heatwarming scene...
Lynn M

Anonymous said...

I went from my parents' house right to my husband's small apartment. I've had to make do with less (no central air or heat for one thing), but it hasn't been so bad. Everyone keeps asking us when we will get a house and I get so tired of that question. We have only been married a little over a year. I do everything I can now to make it nice and cozy for the two of us. My husband has mentioned that he has never called the landlord so much to have things fixed, but I told him this isn't a bachelor pad anymore!

Anonymous said...

That is the kind of story I like to hear!

I went to live at first in a tent by a river and each day would sweep the tent, roll up the bedding, and set up a little table where we ate lunch. I even brought in wild flowers and put them in a little can. I was taught that two could live as cheaply as one. I have a house now, but my willingness to live that way for a while has helped a lot.

Anonymous said...

We must do all we can to teach or daughters to make their homes as peaceful and full of the love of the Lord as they can.

After working all day with people who don't know the Lord or want him in their lives, it is so comforting to come home where the Lord and peace are welcome to abide.

Lady Kara said...

What wonderful articles! As a single mother, learning to make do with very little has become an art form. I think it's fun! God bless you.

Gail said...

Some of the richest people in my town insisted that their children work part-time, menial jobs as teenagers, in order to train them to be responsible and to take care of themselves someday. These were the folks from "old money", who seemed to have a more realistic grip on what wealth is and what it should do. They were also the ones giving to charitable causes, setting up endowments and doing other acts of philanthropy. Contrast this with the "nouveau riche", those who come from poor circumstances but are self-made - these are the ones you see in Hollywood and on these "reality shows", dripping with jewels and living in mansions loaded with expensive furnishings, spoiling their children rotten. Even people in the middle class are guilty of this, and it sets children up for a life of misery. The boys don't mature into responsible men and the girls want all the niceties and frills from day one when they marry. Well, the recession and what's coming next will eventually bring balance back, but it will be and already is painful to a lot of folks.

Lydia said...


I have seen this as far back as the 1960's when a lot of families came in to wealth due to oil strikes on their land, which also benefitted the community. Young women who had perfectly nice husbands were not happy because their husbands could not provide for them the same way their fathers did. They had to go from a house with all the latest furnishings and a pool and so forth, to a smaller one with their husband, and they longed for the luxuries they grew up with. I was astonished at their attitudes. Some were reading books of the day with titles such as "How to Be Happy, Though Married" which was an expression we had never heard spoken in the past. Having been spoiled by their parents, these girls just would not even try to be happy in marriage.

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

Your writing is always a blessing to so many. Making a home anywhere is an important message for mothers young and old alike. Homemaking is a beautiful challenge, one to be taken seriously in that which we impart our all!

Many blessings...

Bek said...

Yes I totally agree today people expect to get everything new and have it all when they move out. Learning to make do with what we have and fix things up gives so much more enjoyment and a sence of pride.

Anonymous said...

Your posts are so appropriate at this time when so many people are out of work and losing their homes.

Today a neighbor told me that several family members are moving in with her because they are losing their home and money is tight.

I'm so thankful that some families are pulling together to make ends meet.

I was raised on the same three acres of land that my aunt, uncle, three cousins and a set of grandparents lived on.

We raised rabbits, chickens, and goats for meat, milk and eggs. We went to the local farms to pick our own vegs. and shared family meals together on holidays.

My brother and I always had someone our age to play with. My folks said we were poor back then. I don't remember ever feeling that way.
We were fed, had clean clothes, and had a roof over our heads. We were most content.

I do remember getting bags of hand-me-down clothes from my older cousin and looked forward to it.

Anonymous said...

The things I remember making me happiest when I was a child was the mundane things, the everyday activities of home life, such as eating meals together twice a day, seeing mom at home making cookies when I came home from school and her asking us kids how our day went, what did we learn that day, dad coming home at night smelling like the sage brush he'd worked in all day (dad was a land surveyor) watching cartoons on Sat. with my brother, the regularity of life.

Things that most people take for granted made me feel secure and security was the best feeling of all. It meant there would always be a tomorrow, it meant hope for the future.

Kids don't always want the best of things they just want to know their mom and dad will never leave them alone or abandon them.

My heart goes out to the kids whose daddy won't be coming home from war, or a divorce.

Anonymous said...

There is a scripture in the bible that states, having godliness with contentment is great gain.

Sometimes life gets chaotic and messy. A woman can make the most miserable places seem like a palace when she focuses on making things clean, orderly, pleasant and peaceful for her family and if she does it with a loving attitude.

I know of a family that was forced to live in a camp trailer because they have no house.

The wife has decorated it simply, she grew a garden and is raising a few chickens to make ends meet. She is most happy and content with this because she has hope in the Lord.
Her family seems content also.

Lydia said...

I am hearing of more people related to one another who are doubling up on housing because one family either lost a job or a house. It will remain to be seen how that works out over time. It was not unheard of even back in the 80's when some couples moved in with their grandparents, and the younger family helped the older couple and the older couple helped the younger by providing a place to live.

If families are of like mind in regards to things like frugality, healthy eating, noise,home education, entertainment, friends, bedtimes, and religion, it can work out fine.

Judy Dudich said...

So happy to have come across your blog from another (Angel Wings and Apron Strings)...thank you for sharing these beautiful insights and pearls of wisdom for the young ladies of today...and for those of us who are blessed by being reminded of these things :) I visit another blog often, which I think you might enjoy is authored by a young woman named Mia and her link is here:
God bless you as you strive to encourage, inspire, and uplift women in reaching their fullest potentials as the lovely creatures that God intended them to be.

Anonymous said...

When I grew up most of the homes in our area had an extra family member or two living full time with them. A widowed Mother or an Uncle or an unmarried cousin. I just thought it was natural. They all worked together and each had their place in the daily work of running the home. The gentlemen usually held full time jobs outside of the home. You saw them all working together on outside chores and shopping and such. Some of them also gave music lessons or mentored students in their studies in the home. Sometimes the extra people had a room in the family home, other times there was an attic made over for an apartment for them or a room or two added on the back of the home and they had all the meals together. As children we were in and out of all these homes and loved the feeling of closness and dignity they all had. Cara