February 22, 2014

Book Review: "Mothers Book of Home Economics"

When Mrs. White at The Legacy of Home published her latest book, Mother's Book of Home Economics, I couldn't wait to read it...and it didn't disappoint!

This book is a 312 page collection of essays from Mrs. White's blog, The Legacy of Home, published by The Legacy of Home Press. Easy to pick up and read in whatever amount of time you have, whether that's minutes or hours, the book takes a novel approach to teaching the economic management of home to women of all ages. Rather than they typical "textbook/how-to" approach seen in most of the books I've read, Mrs. White invites readers to "apprentice" with her by inviting them into her home to watch her real-life, everyday work, practices, and decision-making.

Her style is more than engaging...spending time at Mrs. White's side through her book is like being with a gentle grandmother as she lovingly pours forth her wisdom, learned through years of challenges, mistakes, and successes. I was often compelled to slow down with a cup of herbal tea and a scented candle filling the room with gentle fragrance as I read this book; that is the "mood" and the pace...never preachy, never overwhelming, but definitely convicting.

Mother's Book of Home Economics covers topics from cooking and cleaning to budgeting and frugal-living to getting along in marriage, but the main focus of the book is on the heart of a wife, mother, and homemaker, and this is the what sets it apart from the overwhelming number of books on the market that have a "how-to" bent. The book doesn't teach the reader how to fold the laundry,  to cook an egg, or paint a bedroom. It assumes the reader's knowledge and ability in the "how" of housework, and thus allows for any- and everyone's individual tastes, tasks, and practices, while focusing more on the why of our homemaking practices. With each vignette I entered, Mrs. White gently reminded me, in whatever I am doing in my home to take a moment...take a breath...keep the big picture in mind...and then to tackle a task, make a decision, or speak a gentle word needed to someone around me. As a driven, multitasking, "lion" personality, I wish I had this book while my sons were growing up, but even now that my nest is on the verge of empty, Mrs. White's encouragement toward a more calm, peaceful, and steady-paced lifestyle has been a game-changer for me. Here are a few samples that I highlighted:
"With so many problems facing Mothers, we need to work on having a peaceful attitude. Of course we are going to get upset, and worry about things. If we learn to seriously give things over to the Lord, and not worry about everything, we will have an easier time. To have a happy home is going to take a daily fight. We will fight bad news, irritating people, messes, accidents and sickness. These fights are in the mind. We fight off the negative, and work on remaining steady through it all, like the hand that does not shake in the midst of trauma. This takes practice."
"I've been thinking a lot about material goods. Television is full of nice houses, nice cars, and people spending money on things that seem like necessities. I see people all around me with newer homes good paying jobs, and cash with which to splurge. I have to shake this all off because that is not my value system. I crave a spiritual life with fewer possessions. My permanent home is in heaven. I pour all my energy on my children, my husband, and my family, seeking my reward in the next life. ...Somewhere along the line, the American Dream spiraled out of control. It is not about being surrounded by fine things. It is about having a HOME and a FAMILY."
And this sample, which I consider to be classic Mrs White:
"It is raining and pleasant this early morning. The lush Vermont landscape is inspiring. It makes one want to shut off all the technology and enjoy the pleasant tasks of homemaking. I will sweep and polish by lamplight in my old country kitchen. Our little homeschool will start in just a few minutes. While my teenage student is working on math, I will do some baking as I listen to the rain falling and the birds singing. I will do a little laundry and delight in the folding and the sorting. It is lovely to put out fresh towels and do those little touches that make this place a home." 

Mother's Book of Home Economics is a great book for any woman, of any age, who desires to build a peaceful, beautiful, love-centered home without a hint of "Martha-like" perfectionism. I think that this, and any of Mrs. White's books, would make a lovely gift for a teenage daughter, and also for a bride-to-be! It is available at Amazon.com for just $15.19...but the wisdom this book imparts makes it worth so, so, so much more.

Disclosure: I received this book from Mrs. White as a gift for review purposes...however, I have happily purchased her other books, and would have gladly purchased this one, as well! 

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January 15, 2014

A Year of Sacrifice...Two Weeks of Rest


There hasn't been a new post here for several months...I've been blogging our family's adventures on our son's new (old) farm over at a blogspot dedicated to it (find it HERE). But I thought I'd share a quick summary on what we're up to these days.

First of all, I am beyond tired. Physically, emotionally, I am often spent. While I have for years dreamed of a life in the country, and am now basically living it, it isn't exactly what I was dreaming about. Not that I over-romanticized the amount of work that it would be...I didn't. But the life I dreamed of was mine...it was ours (mine and my dh's). The life that I live now, on the other hand, is one of service, and of sacrifice. The farm isn't mine. It's my son's. And it is, simply put, too much for a "green" 21 year old to do all on his own. So, until he and the Lord decide otherwise, I need to be there to help.

This means that I cannot be at my own home, which dh and I would desperately like to sell, but cannot, as it needs much time and attention and work before it would be ready...and I am not here to do what needs doing, and my dh is working so much that he's not able to, either.

It means that my dh has to be a "bachelor" of sorts. I come back once a week, for a brief 24 stay. He seldom has time to come up to the farm because of work, and other obligations here at home. It is hard. And I'm growing weary. But this is a time of service, of giving, and of sacrifice, praying that the Lord will continue to guide and direct our steps as He has over these many years of preparation for just this very time. We have times of fun and joy, and as many times of discouragement and downcast spirits. We see the Lord's hand of provision in so many ways, and yet I still, at times, wonder how He's going to pull this off. Notice that I lay this burden upon Him...I am beyond my strength. I do what I do for Christ. I don't do it for me, I don't do it for my son. I do it for my Lord, because He has told me to.

Just this last week-and-a-half, during the coldest days of winter this area has seen in decades, we were blessed to take our last "full family" vacation with our farmer son joining us. Once the livestock joins the farm this spring and fall, he will no longer travel with us. We had a beautiful and mostly sunny and warm vacation to the Bahamas and then Florida. On the days that were too cold and windy to swim in the ocean or the pool, I thanked God every hour that I was enjoying 60 degree temperatures along with the wind and rain, while it was 80 degrees colder in Illinois and Wisconsin! The vacation was a wonderful time to reconnect with my full family, and to slow down and savor a two week time of rest in the middle of this year of sacrifice. Our second day in Florida was 80 degrees with a chilly but not impossible-to-stand ocean. We spent the day on the beach basking in the sun and enjoying the rough surf. I watched a number of "silver heads" strolling the beach together. They looked to be 10 to 15 years ahead of me and my dh. I pray that in 10 to 15 years he and I will be in a place to be able to come back to this our favorite little spot in Florida and stroll the beach together...just the two of us. For now, we are still in the incredibly stretching and emotionally exhausting years of launching young adults. So our life is not our own, and seems to be turned on its head.  It is difficult to be so scattered, and tomorrow we will begin to scatter again as our youngest heads back to university. I will carry my warm memories with me throughout the rest of this winter apart.

From the cruise, it was on to our beloved Vero Beach...

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