Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking forward to the New Year, garden, activities for our course

Good morning!

Here are some things for us to think about as we move along in our Project Home Economics Course. Choose whatever projects work for you:

1) For either your homemaking notebook or your book of days: Jot down dreams and goals for the New Year. Spend some time thinking and praying about them.

2) For your homemaking notebook: If you would like to do a garden this year -- or even just a few potted plants -- draw out your garden scheme. Make notes about what you will need to put this into practice.

3) For your book of Days: If you have any beautiful photographs of your yard or garden in different seasons, place them in your notebook along with some beautiful quotes or your own thoughts.

4) If you mail order garden plants and seeds, have a fun time with your catalogs. Sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket and dream away!

5) Do you live where it's winter in January (northern hemisphere)? Did you know that even wintry old January can be a great month for gardening? This is especially true where I live -- in the Southern U.S. -- but it applies even further north. Of course, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you're in peak garden time right now. We will try not to be jealous. :)

What can be done in January?

Plant fruit trees.
Plant flowering or shade trees.
Plant ROSES.
Use branches from your Christmas trees to cover and protect tender plants.
Prune deciduous trees and plants. Prune fruit, flower, and shade trees. Do not prune spring flowering plants or plants that look as if they have begun to bud, as you will be cutting off their spring flowers.
Check beds for weeds. Yes, some may be growing still or already growing, depending on how you look at it. Weed them now, in winter, before they have a chance to spread many seeds.
Do you need to take garden equipment in for repair? Do it now before the spring rush.
Bulbs -- Yes, they should ideally already be in the ground. But, if you didn't get them all in and if you live where the ground is not frozen solid, it's not too late. I grabbed some bulbs on sale this year and am intended to get them into the ground today.
Some people spray dormant sprays on their plants to protect plants and get rid of winter diseases.

Information based on material from Ed Hume Seeds. Don't forget to check with your local county extension agent or a local nursery or a local garden club for information about what you can do in January in your specific area.

Do you live in the U.K. The BBC has a lovely article about what you can do in the garden at this time. Actually, this is worth reading even if you do not live in the Great Britain, as some of the ideas apply to any place of similar climate.

6. Remember, managing a home can be as involved as you have time and interest for, or it can be simplified to take care of a family's basic needs with excellence. It is better to do a few things well than to extend yourself so much that you can't give your best to any one activity. As you write down your new year goals and dreams, take into consideration your interests, your level of health, your season in life, whether or not you work outside the home in addition to managing your home, etc.

On the other hand, trying a new endeavor can enrich your home management experience and can add satisfaction to your endeavors in home keeping. Plan to try at least one new craft or skill this year. If you conquer it, perhaps you'll be able to move onto something else that's new.

7. Let's all plan to try twenty or more new recipes in the coming year. Please keep a running list on your blog so that we can all get ideas from each other.

8. Beginning the apron project as you have time: Step One. Cutting the sash and ties. Measure around your waist. You want the sash and ties to be long enough to circle your waist and to tie. A rule of thumb might be your waist size plus thirty inches. However, this is just a guideline.

Next: Determine whether you want to use a contrasting or coordinating fabric for your sash and ties -- that's what I'm doing -- or if you want to make your apron of all the same material.

Next: Cut the waist sash: Waist - Finished size 18" x 2" (Allow 1/4 to 1/2 inch extra material for hems) - Cut two layers:

Cut the ties: Finished size* 1" x 18" - Two layers each. Again, allow 1/4 inch for hem. You'll need four of these strips -- two for each side.

This should work for most waists. However, you should check against your waist measurements. You can always increase the length of both the sash and/or the ties if you need to.

While you're at it, it's easiest if you cut the top ties while you cut the waist ties. Again, for the top ties, cut two layers each so that the finished size will be 1 by 18 -- four strips in all.

When we get to the sewing part, we'll sew the two layers to each other, as if we were sewing a pillow. Then, we'll turn the straps inside out and top-stitch them.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year and Gardening

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
- Emma Goldman

In March and in April from morning till night
In sowing and seeding good housewives delight.
- Thomas Tusser

Note: Gardening has become somewhat of a politically and ethically charged issue for some people today. Just because I have linked to a garden site in this article does not necessarily mean that I share the author's philosophy of life. For example, I would probably be poles apart in outlook from the urban homesteaders. However, my goal is to glean the practical information and to leave the rest.

I hope everyone's still having wonderful holidays. Are you looking forward to the new year? I am.

Though we're really just beginning winter in the U.S., my thoughts usually turn to gardening at this time of year. Do we have any vegetable gardeners following along with us? Readers who grow roses or other flowers? Those who have fruit trees? I'd love it if you'd post about your gardening adventures on your blog and provide a link in the comments section so that we can all visit your site.

Garden How-To Internet Resources: Here's a great list of gardening resources that can be found on the web. It was put together by the Warwick, RI Public Library system and includes resources that would be of interest to children and adults, as well as beginning and expert gardeners.

Finding Space to Garden -- Anyone Can: Remember, even if you lack space for a "real" garden, you can still enjoy some of the gardening experience -- if you would like. There are varieties of vegetables that are perfect for growing in tubs on a deck or patio. Plus, you can always grow herbs on a windowsill.

Back in the day when people thought tomatoes were poisonous for human consumption, some people used to grow them in pots indoors as ornamental plants. You can always follow suit.

Many vegetable plants are quite beautiful. Lady Lydia suggested that the home keeper who is trying to save money might plant some varieties of vegetables along the edges of a driveway or walkway in order to find some garden space. Be sure you're not violating any neighborhood covenants by doing so.

Finally, some apartment complexes are starting to offer communal garden plots, where you can claim a space to grow your own veggies. There are other such communal plots in urban areas, as well.

For maximizing whatver gardening space you find, I recommend reading, "Square Foot Gardening". It's very likely that your library system will have a copy. This is a great book for gardeners of all levels -- from beginning to advanced.

Cold framing: I live in an area of the U.S. which has a fairly long growing season. (I'm zone 6 or 7, depending on which zone guide you use.) Even if you live in colder zones, you can extend your growing season by cold-framing your plants: See cold frame or cold frame . I have not tried this method, myself, since our winters are on the short side and this is more involved than I care to get. However, it's an excellent project for the serious gardener.

Here are some thoughts for young or beginning gardeners from Oregon State University.

1. Plan, prepare, and plant a little garden the first year you set out to garden. Start with a few pots in tubs, a few veggies in a narrow row, or a small plot of about 10 feet by 20 feet. (Actually, I think the urban or suburban gardener can get quite a lot of yield from a 10 by 20 foot plot. Of course, for those of our readers who live on farms, this would be a very small plot.)
2. Learn to do things well in a small garden before tackling a larger one. It is better to tend a small garden well than to plant more than you can handle and let it get away from you. You can always add a few gardening activities to your garden each year. Include roof, leaf, and fruiting kinds of vegetables.
3. As you learn more about gardening, draw up a picture of the garden you want to have. Use that as a guide for expanding your gardening efforts.
4. Learn how to use things like compost, fertilizer, manure, and lime to condition your soil. (My note: Your local county extension agent will tell you how to work with the soil in your area. He can also measure soil samples from your garden and yard and give you advice about what to do to improve your soil for the particular plants you want to grow.)
5. Once you've turned over the soil for your first planting, the hard work in a garden is not really in planting or growing the vegetables. It is in eliminating weeds and diseases and harmful insects and keeping the garden free of these things. Learn what you can about dealing with garden weeds and pests -- particularly in your area. Decide whether you want to deal with pests organically or if you want to use commercially prepared pesticides. If you take the latter route, make sure that you use the right chemicals -- ones that can be used safely on vegetables and fruits that are to be eaten.

Composting: Would you like to try your hand at composting, if you don't compost already? Composting not only provides you with material with which to condition your soil for growing vegetables or plants, it is an environmentally friendly way to use up peelings, leftover veggies that are going to waste, coffee grinds, tea bags, eggshells, and other sorts of kitchen refuse. (Do not use items which contain meat or dairy, as these will attract unwanted animals and other pests to your compost pile or container.)

There's a lot of information on the Internet about how to compost. Plus, if you really want to invest in the equipment, you can buy tools that will help you compost. Also, there are more than one method of composing. For example, in one method, you actually use worms in an indoor container to compost the material. In other methods, you keep the composted material outside and let nature's critters do the composting work.

Here's what I do: I took a large garbage can that we were no longer using, and I drilled holes in the sides, top, and bottom. I gathered plenty of fallen autumn leaves to use as a base. Since then, I have continued to throw kitchen scraps onto the compost. (Remember, compost continually shrinks in size, and you will be able to add more materials as you go along. Remember, too, that a good compost pile needs both brown materials -- leaves, twigs, etc. -- and green materials -- fresh scraps from your kitchen. Be wary of using grass clippings, especially if you have treated your lawn with pesticides or certain fertilizers. Also, your compost pile will perform best if you turn it with a shovel once a week, though you can eventually get results if you just let it go.) I am about to spread the contents on my raised vegetable garden -- yay. Then, I'll start over on a new batch.

Here are some articles about composting:

How to compost -- for beginners through expert

U.S. government guide to composting
Using compost
Composting for Kids

Here's a thorough glossary that contains terms that even advanced gardeners may need to look up: glossary

Remember, your job as a gardener is basically to provide the plants you have chosen with

1) adequate water
2) adequate nutrients -- particularly through improving the soil
3) making sure that plants in clay soils receive enough oxygen to the roots
4) making sure that you have chosen species and varieties of plants that will grow in your area
5) patrolling the garden to eliminate weeds and pests. Weeds must be dealt with at the roots, or they will simply grow back again.

The process of keeping a garden goes basically like this:

1) Till the soil (or place soil in pots for container gardening)
2) Prepare a nice seedbed
3) Plant seeds and plants
4) water as needed
5) cultivate to control weeds.
6) thin for proper spacing
7) continue to control weeds
8) harvest and enjoy!

Keeping garden records can help you manage your garden better, particularly if you plant from seed. Think about your gardening year. For example, will you plant early crops -- such as lettuce -- in a space and then use the space for something else later on in the season? If so, write this down.

Also, write down the name of each vegetable or flower that you plant, the depth at which the seed must be planted, the correct spacing for seedlings, the days to germination, the days to maturity, and the estimated date of harvest. You can find this information on a packet or in a seed catalog. If you are transplanting seedlings, rather than growing from seed, then jot down the correct depth and spacing, as well as the days to maturity and harvest. Jot down any other notes you think you may need, such as when you thinned seedlings. If you keep information like this on index cards or in a notebook, you can refer back to your notes as often as you need to.

Many gardeners also write down a yearly evaluation of how their garden went, as well as plans for future gardens.

Your garden notes can be as fancy or as plain as you like. If you really get into gardening, you might keep a pretty diary -- complete with photographs of your plants. Such diaries -- minus the photos, of course -- were popular for farmers and gardeners to keep in days past. Today, people learn much from old garden diaries which have been preserved.

Do the math: If you live on a farm, you likely maintain a garden or gardens already. You have the space, and, most likely, the equipment and the means to make gardening a worthwhile, money-saving endeavor.

If you live in a city or in suburbia, the question of whether or not a garden is both cost-effective and, also, something you want to do becomes a little more complicated. Some say that the average gardener can save on food bills by growing vegetables and other food plants; other experts say that the average gardener will not save any real money.

In an article, Constance Casey said, "But, to be realistic, the people who can feed themselves and their families from their own vegetable plot and save money doing it are rare. These people are extraordinarily diligent and patient, and, what's more, they're possessed of gigantic freezers and a willingness to explore the mysteries of canning."

On a more positive note, here's a link to articles by a couple who purposely set out to discover whether home gardening yielded a financial return or not. I've only glanced at this site and intend to read it more thoroughly later. But, I believe that they concluded that it did save money for them. Here's an interesting (or at least I think so) article about a family who turned 1/10 of an acre in Pasadena, California into a viable homestead.

If you are new to gardening, you may or may not see financial rewards in the first year. Generally, getting started requires some investment in equipment -- both for gardening and for preserving your harvest. Be sure to figure in this cost against the yield you expect. Also, investigate ways to obtain the tools and materials you need as inexpensively as possible. Do not sacrifice too much quality for the sake of price, however.

Also, a few crops require an investment of years, while most bear in one season. Fruit trees may take up to five years to bear a good harvest, for example. Yet, if you keep at it, fruit trees can provide some of the most healthful, pleasurable, and abundant harvests in the home garden. Fruit can also be preserved in many ways, making it a year-round way to add to the bounty of your table.

Anyhow, at least for the first year or two, your gardening may need to be a labor of love. Embrace benefits other than financial: better tasting produce, more nutritious produce, exercise and fresh air in the garden, teaching your children usefull skills, enjoying the wonder and beauty of seeing a garden come to life, etc.

Know that in the long run, some skillful gardeners save on food bills. As you increase in skill and knowledge, you, too, may be able to save money through fruit and vegetable gardening. To reap the most rewards, study how to be a frugal and effective gardener.

In my case, I do feel that at least keeping a salad garden is cost-effective. We do not have any berry bushes at our current home, but we did at an earlier place, and I believe that they are wonderfully cost-effective to grow. I'm an optimist about gardening and believe that it is helpful to the family budget. However, I have to admit that I need to do a cost-effectiveness study in my own case to be certain, and, of course, I also cannot speak to all situations. Investigate what works for you.

Here are just a few ways to be a frugal gardener:

1) Let a few of your plants go to seed in the late summer and fall. Collect the seeds and store them appropriately. Be aware that the seeds of some hybrid vegetables may not produce the exact same qualities of the hybrid, but may revert to one of the earlier varieties. However, you can't beat free seeds!
2) If you do buy seeds, you may find it worthwhile to invest in good quality seeds that will yield a high percentage of return. This is particularly true the larger your garden is. I have a small garden and have had all the yield I can handle from inexpensive seed packets. I may be pushing my luck on this, though. Most serious gardeners consider good seed to be an essential building block of a productive garden. Poor seed can be one reason for a gardening flop.
3) Trade the use of gardening equipment. Trade cuttings from your garden for cuttings from your neighbors.
4) Learn ways to freeze or otherwise preserve your harvest. Investigate recipes that use your produce. For example, if you grow zucchini, make zucchini bread, stuffed zucchini, Bisquick's easy zucchini pie, ratatouille, vegetable soup, etc.
5) Use some of your garden bounty to take to the elderly, the sick, newcomers to the neighborhood, or those who may not have gardens of their own.
6) Prepare your soil well, and you won't have to use costly chemicals or fertilizers. Great-great-grandma knew tricks for getting a great yield from a garden without access to stores like Home Depot!
7) Cut up potatoes that are beginning to sprout. Make sure there's an eye in each piece. Plant these, and you'll have a new potato plant for each piece. Also, start a sweet potato plant in a jar. There are directions on the Internet.
8) Investigate using materials around your house such as banana peels, Epsom salts, etc., to feed certain plants. Do your homework, so that you know what you are doing.
9) Learn about companion planting. Some plants do especially well when planted near each other. For example, marigolds have a reputation for scaring off pests that attack certain plants. Geraniums can turn tomatoes red earlier.
10) Grow herbs. In many climates, herbs really take hold in a garden and become very large, high yielding plants that produce year after year. In addition to using them straight from the garden, dry or salt the herbs to preserve them. There are recipes for doing this on the Internet. You can also make jellies out of herbs. Again, you can find recipes for this on the net. (One year, I made mint jelly to give as gifts.) If you do not want herbs and mint to get out of control, plant them in a container and sink the container into the ground. The container will provide somewhat of a barrier to keep herbs from overgrowing your garden.

Count the Time and Interest Cost, in addition to the financial: For many home managers, gardening is a vital activity that provides many, many rewards. However, while some home managers love gardening, others find it to be tedious work. You can be a great home manager without gardening. So, consider whether this investment of time and energy is truly for you.

Also, consider your season in life. There may be periods when you have more time to devote to gardening than in others. Gardening may or may not be right for you now, but you might re-consider the issue again at some future date.

Even if you decide not to garden, read a few books and articles about agriculture and home gardening: Having some understanding of these topics can enrich your appreciation of the foods you bring to your table. Gardening books can also help develop your eye for beauty and your awe for the wondrous plants the Lord has created. Reading them with your children will provide them with these benefits, as well. Check your local library for some wholesome books about gardening and farming.

Happy homemaking!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hi There -- Catching up, aprons, just chatting.

Aren't these some darling aprons from Anthropologie? For more examples, see Anthropologie. Their full-length adult aprons seem to run around $38.00 on average. I think we can have fun making our own for less -- Don't you?

Did everyone have a happy Christmas? I'm still not barging ahead with our home economics plan, as I figure we can all use some more family time, as well as time to catch up.

We had a wonderful holiday. Part of the fun was that my father came to stay with us for a few days. He had some health issues on Christmas Eve and had to delay his visit by one day, but seemed to be feeling better by the time we took him back to his assisted living place today. It was very special to spend time with him. Later on, we'll discuss taking care of the elderly. That's a topic that Ann Ward covers in her 7 year home school economics curriculum, "Training Our Daughters to be Keepers at Home." It also is a topic that many of us will face as our parents age.

My sister in law did something for me that I think is very sweet. On Christmas day, I took a crochet project to my parents-in-law to work on during the family gathering. My sister-in-law noticed that I was struggling with it. As she watched me, she realized that my troubles were because I am left handed, and I was trying to perform the motions just like my right-handed mother-in-law does them. Usually, I can pick up something the way a right handed person does it, but, apparently, it's not so with learning to crochet. So, my sister-in-law asked if she could borrow a hook and some thread from my mother-in-law. She sat down and figured out how to reverse the motions and then taught me how to do them left-handed. Once she showed me the left-handed way, it was as if the proverbial light bulb turned on for me. The way of holding the crochet hook and the thread made so much more sense. Since then, I've been crocheting up a storm. I still need to work on my gauge, but it's so much easier now. When I blog about the project, I'll try to include illustrations for both left-and-right-handed.

Remember, I'm leaving this information up for as long as I can. So, you're never behind. Just work at your own pace, and select what topics and what projects interest you. Also remember that I'm teaching this to myself, as well sharing what I'm learning with you, so some of you may be more advanced in a certain area that I am. Please feel free to leave comments sharing any information you have about a certain subject. Also, feel free to post about one of the topics we cover on your blog and leave a link in the comments section so that we can all visit your site.

Also, remember that I will include projects and topics for beginning, intermediate, and advanced homemakers as we go along. Just to make it even, we'll go until December 31, 2009, if the Lord so wills.

How to stay encouraged as a home keeper during 2009:

1) Remember that trials, temptations, and struggles are part of life in a fallen world. God uses them to refine our faith. So, don't let it discourage you if the going gets tough at times. Read James Chapter One and John Chapter 16 for inspiration.
2) Keep your sense of humor. Try to see the positive side or even the funny side of life's little events.
3) Look at home keeping as an adventure. There's always room to grow! There's always something exciting to learn! There's always a wonderful memory to make! There's always someone to love, and there's always a chance to bring a bit of beauty to life in your home!
4) Forget past mistakes and look forward. Keep your eye on your goals.
5) Be inspired by others, but don't compare yourself negatively with them.

Happy Homemaking.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Caring for the People in Our Home

I thought I'd repeat this, since it was at the end of a rather long post. It's something we can all think about during the holidays. We can personalize it by thinking about our own goals and statements for the new year. In any endeavor in life, it helps to have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish:

The Betty Crocker Homemaking Statement

I believe homemaking is a noble and challenging career.

I believe homemaking is an art requiring many different skills.

I believe homemaking requires the best of my efforts, my abilities and my thinking.

I believe home reflects the spirit of the homemaker.

I believe home should be a place of peace, joy and contentment.

I believe no task is too humble that contributes to the cleanliness, the order, the health, the well being of the household.

I believe a homemaker must be true to the highest ideals of love, loyalty, service and religion.

I believe home must be an influence for good in the neighborhood, the community, the country.

For managing your food budget while creating healthy meals, follow this easy tutorial from Oregan State's Extension Service. Note: Some of this is basic information about how to shop, plan, read labels, build meal plans around nutritious foods, saving money by using coupons and watching sales, etc. So, this may be more helpful to the beginning or future homemaker than to the advanced frugal and nutritionally minded shopper. There is a more advanced course, but it is not free.

Stretch those food dollars!

Some ways to support our husband's work. I learned some of these by watching a wonderful and supportive wife in action:

1) Learn the names of all the people your husband works for and with and of those who might work for him. Pray for them. Take an interest in the events of their lives: engagements, marriages, births, graduations, etc. Send a card if appropriate.

2) Bring a basket of goodies or a pretty plant to his work place once in a while.

3) Be willing to have people from his work over to your home when it's appropriate.

4) Speak respectfully of your husband's work -- especially in front of your children. Perhaps, you feel that your husband is traveling too much or that his work asks too much of him. Maybe, you think he is underpaid or that his boss is Scrooge personified. These can be valid concerns, and you may want to address them with your husband. However, there's always a way to be honest about what you are feeling with respect and without complaining, nagging, belittling, or being sarcastic. Especially in the presence of your children, do not make bitter comments about your husband's job. Lift him up for working hard. Your children will likely take their cues from you. If you see the positive in what your husband does for a living, they likely will too.

5) Do not compare his work to what other men do or accomplish. Do not push him to be something he does not want to be. On the other hand, if he himself aspires to a more fulfilling job or to complete his education -- yet he lacks confidence -- be his greatest cheerleader.

It may sound old-fashioned to be so supportive of a husband's career today when so many women have jobs of their own. Yet, we are specifically called upon to be our husband's helpers. Though we cannot demand this, if we are vitally interested in our husband's work, he will likely be supportive of our interests, as well.

Interesting thought: I read about a woman who wanted to marry a preacher of God's word. Yet, she had a horror of visiting hospitals, and she knew that a preacher's wife would be called upon to minister to the sick. So, she determined to visit the sick in her local hospital at least once a week. She kept going until she got over her phobia. She did marry a preacher.

What was Jesus' source for being able to serve the disciples to the point of washing their feet? John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

Jesus knew who He was. He knew what His purpose was. He was confident that He had come from God and was going back to God. He was secure of this, and, therefore, He did not have to prove anything. He was able to humbly wash his disciples feet, even though He was their Lord, Savior, and Master.

Likewise, we are enabled to serve when we are confident of God's love for us and that He has a purpose for our lives. During the holiday season, it's a good thing to meditate about God's wonderful holiness and His unmeasurable love. You just can't spend too much time thinking about those two qualities of the Lord.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 7 -- Day I -- more on caring for people

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

This will be a short week due to Christmas. And, we won't try to do anything that adds to our usual just keeping the house neat and tidy. Instead, we'll press on in our study or caring for the people in our home.

Here's a quote I like:

"Never hesitate to do your best, no matter what your situation...I knew of a young woman who lived in her garage on a farm while waiting for her house to be built. this was not a garage in the form as we know it today, for it had nothing but a dirt floor and crude walls of boards. It was separate from the house, having been built in the 1930's. People in the church who knew her said she didn't let that stop her from doing the Lord's word. She put out handmade braided rugs on the 'floor' and hung her pictures. She got out her furniture and set it around in a pleasing arrangement. She practiced hospitality and had people over for meals after church. This simple story has inspired me forever." By Lydia Sherman.

She opens her arms to the poor; Proverbs 31.

After a couple of very warm days, the temperature here has plummeted. It was only 12 degrees this morning!! That's not usual for our part of the country. I was thinking this morning how blessed we are if we have a roof over our head, warm clothing to wear, and warm blankets to snuggle in. There are so many who don't have these things.

Christmas time is a good time to think about ways that we, as home keepers, can extend our arms to those who are less fortunate. It's also a good time to train our children to be sensitive to this, as well. Remember, historically, churches and homes were the most important centers of charity in a community until people began to think of the government and secular charities as the entities to take care of the poor. I'm not saying that it's bad for the government and charities to get involved. However, churches and homes should still be on the forefront of helping people. In some ways, they can do a better job of ministering to people. In the days when churches and homes were such an important part of taking care of a community's needs, women were an integral part of this. Think how many novels and histories from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries portray women as ministering to the sick, taking baskets of food to the hungry, etc. There's no reason why we can't follow in our fore mothers' footsteps in this regard.

Here are some ideas which can be done now or at some later point in the new year:

1) Sew baby blankets and buy a few inexpensive children's books. Deliver to local hospitals for mothers who might need them. At some of our local hospitals, there are mothers who give birth and do not even have any clothing to take their children home in.
2) As a family, volunteer to help in a shelter for an afternoon.
3) Have a garage sale. Clean out junk, make a little money, and give some of the profits to charity.
4) As a family, help spruce up the home of an elderly person or couple. Many older people cannot do the upkeep on their homes that they could when they were younger. You can help a lot simply by doing a little yard work, placing light bulbs in areas that are too high for older people to reach, cleaning walls and windows, checking gutters, etc.
5) Keep a change jar and donate the savings every time you accumulate twenty dollars or so. Let even young children contribute a penny or two of their allowance to the jar.

Ideas to help children focus on true values during Christmas:

1) Talk beforehand about the importance of listening to older relatives. Sometimes, young children grow bored when older relatives talk about the past, as older people so often love to do. Help your child understand that if he or she listens, she will learn a lot about your family's history, as well as history in general. Teach them to ask questions and take note of the answers. Afterward, point out things that older relatives shared that are worthy of taking notice. Often, older people will pass on a lot of wisdom in their conversation. (You can also enlist children in recording family history in a notebook. This will peak their interest even more. It will become a treasured resource in the years to come, when older relatives have passed on. I used to love the family history passed on to me by my older relatives, and I so wish I had written down more of the details!!)
2) Let children pick a gift for someone else to open from under the tree.
3) Involve children in gift wrapping.
4) Involve children in meal preparation and clean up.
5) Let children help you prepare a room or sleeping space for out of town company.

Taking care of guests:

1) Have little samples of toiletries in a basket in the bathroom. If guests forget something, they'll appreciate having these things at hand.
2) Place a pitcher of water and cups in the room where guests are staying or have small paper cups (like Dixie cups) in the bathroom they will be using.
3) Prepare a little basket of snacks for your guests to choose from while they are in your home. That way, if someone needs to eat at a time other than meals -- to have a little food in their stomach when they take medicine for example -- the guest will be able to help themselves.

On an entirely different note, I am looking forward to sewing an apron project in the new year. I saw some darling colorful and vintage inspired ones in a store called Anthropologie, but they came with a rather large price tags for aprons, I thought. In January, for all who want to join in, we'll create some cool looking aprons for a fraction of the cost!

A friend of mine told me about a site called "My Publisher." Many of you may already know about it. You download their software. Then, you load in pictures. It walks you through the steps of arranging the pictures to form a paper or hardback book. (The least expensive book is about thirteen dollars, and they have a coupon to get one free with your first order). They will turn your pictures into a book and mail them to you. My friend did some lovely ones of her grown children's early years, which she is giving as Christmas gifts. My daughter-in-law was just now able to give me the CD's of pictures from our son's wedding photographer. The wedding was in Septmber, but it's taken this long to get all of the photographer's package. So, I was eager to try out My Publisher. I did two paperbacks to give and a hardback book for us to keep. I should have thought about this a little more, though, as it broke our Christmas budget. It would have been better to wait until after Christmas. And, I should have consulted DH, who is watching our budget carefully right now. So, that was an opportunity for me to learn!

Speaking of opportunities to learn, I read a long time ago in a book about marriage and family that it is essential for us to do two things: 1) Keep a sense of humor and 2) Forgive ourselves when we mess up. Along the way, we will make mistakes. We will fail to accomplish all that we set out to do in a certain week. We will spend money foolishly on occasion, or we will burn something we cook. We'll sew a seam and have to rip it out. We'll slip and that beautiful cake we just iced will tumble to the floor. We'll get to the grocery store and find that we lost an important coupon.

We must keep the balance between striving for excellence and being patient with ourselves. If we excuse everything with a glib "oh well", we'll never improve. On the other hand, if we fret over every flub, we'll become discouraged. A healthy attitude is to assess both our successes and our failures and determine what went well and what can be improved. We must also depend on grace.

I finished sewing curtains for our living room, though I do need to hem them. I learned many things about sewing, and, if I had to do it over again, I think I could do a better job. But, you can't really see the little things that bug me when the curtains are draped properly. And, the material really brings my living room and kitchen together. It feels great to get that mostly done, as this is a project that's been sitting in my sewing room for quite a while.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Week 6 Day 6 Caring for People

More on Caring for our Families.... That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:4-5 KJV Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.Titus 2:3-5 NIV version The word translated as good in the KJV or kind in the NIV is agathos. According to Bible Crosswalk, it means:
  1. of good constitution or nature
  2. useful, salutary
  3. good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy
  4. excellent, distinguished
  5. upright, honourable
It's also been translated as kind and benevolent. It is used of Dorcas(Tabitha): Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. Acts 9:36 It is said of Jesus in Acts 10:38 that he went about euergeteo or doing good. The Proverbs 31 woman does her husband good all the days of his life: vs. 12, reaches out to the poor and needy, vs. 20, and is a blessing to her husband and children. vs. 28 A kind-hearted woman gains respect. Proverbs 11:6

In loving our families and others, kindness and thoughtfulness are keys to understanding and meeting their needs.

To whom do we need to display kindness and goodness?

our husbands 2) our children 3) members of our extended family, especially the elderly who might be staying in our home 4) everyone -- beginning first of all with the church.
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10

Remember: We are working at our own pace. God uses our experiences as a wife and mother to mold our characters. If we attempt to grow in our keeping of a home for our own glory and by our own power, we will likely find ourselves feeling burdened and discouraged by our lack of progress. If we set out on this endeavor in order to please Christ, with a whole-hearted devotion, and by depending on his grace in everything, we will find satisfaction and peace.


GOD made a wonderful mother,

A mother who never grows old;

He made her smile of the sunshine,

And He molded her heart of pure gold; In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,

In her cheeks, fair roses you see;

God made a wonderful mother,

And He gave that dear mother to me.

~Pat O'Reilly~

Nurturing Confidence in Children
Excerpt from Bulletin Article

The Right Foundation

The only way to develop a solid confidence in children is to train them to be properly related to God. If they look to God and His unconditional love, there will be developed a confidence that does not turn into conceit and a humility that does not degenerate into self-rejection. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment…there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…I John 4:16-18

Mistakes Parents Make

1. Being basically critical of children

2. Insensitivity (discussing their faults in front of others)

3. Giving love only; failing to express esteem and admiration

4. Little or not time to be with a child exclusively. (Children will form their self-esteem based upon the kind and amount of time we give them.)

5. Failure to understand the unique needs of each of our children. People are motivated or discouraged in different ways.

6. Favoritism

7. Pushing too hard, too soon! Understand your child’s individual stage of development, his capabilities, etc. Children grow up too fast as it is in our society

8. parental self-depreciation. If children hear us run ourselves continually down, they learn to think little of themselves

9. Living our lives again through our children. Driving them to achieve what we never did. Getting our self-worth from how well they do or what people think of them.

Nurturing Confidence

1. Stress Relationship to God. Teach them that they are special in God’s sight and that their atlantes and abilities are gifts from Him

2. Stress character above looks, talent, intelligence, grades, and possessions

3. Applaud effort more than ability

4. Encourage children to talk about insecurities, fears, and failures. Share your moments of failure and how you overcame them.

5. Encourage achievement and improvement in their areas of natural strength.

6. Help them form upbuilding peer relationships

7. Teach them to appreciate and applaud the efforts and achievements of others.

8. Let your basic posture with your child be that of encouragement and training.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 6 Day 5 -- caring for people

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:3-6

Children and just a little bit more about marriage:

Here's one more verse about marriage for us to look at:

I Peter 2:21 through I Peter 3:7 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. KJVLikewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

There's so much in this passage that we can't cover it in one post. Maybe, you'd like to study it on your own in your home making journal.

However, I did want to point out a couple of things:

Why does Peter, through God's inspiration, place such emphasis on our doing what is right without giving way to fear? It's my thought that much of a woman's contentment in marriage (and in life) comes from trusting the Lord to take care of her, to work through all circumstances for her good. That doesn't mean that she never speaks up or that she never addresses problems. There are Bible verses that offer guidance on how to do that. It does mean that the basic quality of her spirit is calm, gentle, and full of faith in the Lord. She trustfully and humbly does what is right and believes God will see her through anything. She does not need to nag or complain, for she speaks with her life. Though she may work for the betterment of things in life, she doesn't strive in her own effort or stew or act contentiously. Again, she doesn't need to, for she trusts in the Lord's care. Again, she speaks most loudly with the example of her life.

In the same way, much of a woman's discontent in life (and in marriage) comes from fear. I know this is a temptation for me. What things are we likely to be afraid of? In this context, I believe that the passage is speaking directly about being afraid that a husband's decisions will affect a wife negatively. That certainly can be a big fear for a woman. Other fears we might carry are of aging, will we ever get married if we are single, what if I can't do or be all that God wants me to be, what do other people think, what if I get sick, what if my husband gets sick, are my children healthy, what if they get sick, etc. The antidote to fear is to trust the Lord.

The other thing I wanted to point out is how beautiful God finds it in a woman when she does put her hope fully in Him. It is precious to Him when we have a calm and gentle spirit.

A calm and gentle spirit, or, as the KJV puts it, a meek and quiet spirit, does not come naturally or immediately to most of us. In striving for it, we can turn to Philippians 4:4-8 for instructions on how to have peace and also to the Lord's example in Gethsemane, where He prayed until He got his will in line with His father's. For some of us, the road to a meek and quiet spirit means that we must daily ask the Father for help in this area.

Some women who are vivacious in nature mistakenly believe that because God values a quiet spirit, they must try to be what they think of as "mousy". They find that to be a daunting task. It's my opinion that the word quiet here means quiet in the sense of being untroubled -- as in quiet waters. The original Greek word, Hesuchios, means quiet or tranquil. A woman can be bubbly and outgoing, yet possess a trusting and tranquil heart.

A young girl can begin to train herself to put her hope fully in the Lord and not give way to fear. This discipline will serve her in good stead throughout all of her life, whether it is the Lord's will for her to marry or not. It's often in adolescence that we establish habits of thought and of emotion. If we begin as children and teens to foster healthy and godly habits, this is a great foundation for beginning adult life.

Some of us, however, did not acquire healthy habits of thinking and of emotion in our childhood. No matter where we started out in marriage, it's not too late for us to acquire the peace that passes understanding.

Of course, our thoughts and emotions are affected by hormones, genetic tendencies, experiences we've had in life, and other factors. If we find ourselves struggling with undue fear or depression, it's wise to seek help. However, even when seeking medical or other help, we should still use God's word as a guide to training our thoughts. Since our thoughts lead to emotions, this training will benefit us greatly.

How about you? What thoughts do you have about his passage?

Remember, marriage is a life time relationship. God's word offers many verses that counsel us about marriage and relationships. Make it a lifetime study to keep growing in your marriage. Great marriages are built over time.

Children: Again, we don't have the scope in this blog to cover all that a real home economics course would study about child development. We'll look at child training in a few other posts. But, one excellent study is to read through the book of Proverbs and note every verse that mentions children.

Maintaining a peaceful heart is important for us as mothers, as well as in our roles as wife. If anything can tempt us to the fears that disturb our trust in the Lord, it's mothering! Here are some thoughts from the Mother at Home by John S. C. Abbott for us to think about. This is something that I need to work on.

"In your morning prayer, you pray for a cheerful spirit, as one of your...duties and blessings. You then go fortified by prayer from your chamber to the family below, with a placid countenance and a still more placid heart. If any domestic annoyances arise, you are thus prepared to triumph over them. And there is a mysterious influence by which the serenity and good nature of one heart are transmitted to all surrounding hearts. As you speak in kind and pleasant tones to the family; as you are continually active in making peace and in keeping peace; in preventing, as far all possible, all occasions of annoyance and in sacrificing, with alacrity, your own ease and your own rights to make all things go smoothly -- you maintain an unruffled state of mind, which most richly compensates you for every act of self-denial. The reward comes with the duty. It is surprising what an influence one really warm hearted, cheerful person may thus have upon a whole family. I once heard it said of a certain child, "There can be no sorrow where she is. She has the faculty of making everything go pleasantly, and everyone feel happy."
...If any mother will set out perseveringly and prayerfully, this this course of life, resisting every emotion of discotent, cultivating, day after day and hour after hour, a cheerful and happy spirit, contenting against every wrong feeling and cherishing everything that is love of good report, with an effort, never intermittent, to keep a smile up on her countenance and peace in her heart, she will soon gain such control over self and get into such a habit of being happy, hardly anything can interrupt her joy." Excerpts from The Mother at Home. John S. C. Abbott

Also, do you know what to expect from your children at certain stages? Whole books and courses are devoted to this topic, but here's a magazine article that gives us just a taste of this important idea:


How a child thinks

Typical Behavior Problems

Birth to 4

Understands no reasoning, only the simplest directions, no explanations. Responds best to physical distraction and discipline rather than verbal commands


Won’t go to sleep (usually if not on an orderly schedule)


Fights over sharing

Fears of separation from parents (usually if parent is overprotective)

4 to 7

Lives in a world of fantasy

Prey to nightmares; fears of imaginary things

No sense of time beyond the present.

Doesn’t understand reasoning.

Takes words at face value, often mistaking adult humor for the literal truth. Very intuitive, especially in picking up hidden family problems


Lies (as part of fantasizing)

Exaggerates and brags (because developing self image)

Doesn’t keep promises (because doesn’t understand the concept of future commitment)

Inexplicable behavior (often based on undiscussed family problems)

7 to 11

Able to understand logic and reason

Can grasp cause and effect if distinction is made clear.

Can be taught to keep commitments

Ready to learn simple systems for organizing things.

Likes games, competitions, rules, facts

Schoolwork, chores not done

Sibling rivalry – especially if sibling is in different developmental stage

Growing up too fast

12 and up

Has to be different than parents (whatever parents say is wrong)

Needs to talk to parents but is afraid of being judged

Idealistic, sees everything as black or white

While building own set of beliefs, often adopts ready-made set of beliefs from others. Likes cause and effect reason and if-then reasoning

Needs non-threatening adult (sometimes a friend’s parent) he can be close to

Sneaks behind parents back or defies them openly.

Acts obnoxious or rude.

Hates family activities (though it’s important for him to participate in them and he will remember them fondly later)

Picks up bad habits from peers runs with the wrong crowd.

This came from a 1989 edition of Woman's Day. Later studies have shown that teens continue to develop the ability to think logically even up to age eigtheen or so.

Keep in mind that these are generalities based on studies that physicians have done. Your child is not a generality but a specific child. He or she is your child. Parents will likely be more in tune with his or her developmental stage at any one time than anyone else will. The key is to know what your child is ready for and how he or she is progressing.

I've also found that children mature on different levels. For example, a child may be quite physically developed for his or her age, but his emotional or spiritual development may not quite have caught up. Or, a child may be intellectually advanced, but not as mature emotionally.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:53

Happy home economy!