Friday, January 12, 2018

Tea Napkins

Grandbaby's Tea Set and handmade napkins at Mrs. White's House

Last month, I found some beautiful Christmas Fabric.  I planned to make myself an apron.  I have been working on it, little by little, over the last several weeks.  I hand-sew because it is easier for me, even if it takes much longer than a sewing machine.

Part of Mrs. White's Apron, made with Christmas Fabric

I thought this material was so pretty and cheerful. I wish my local store carried more, but they only had about 2 yards, and then it sold out.

My three -year old granddaughter saw me hand-sewing the  lovely material and asked me to make her something with it.  I would have loved to make her a little apron, but there just was not enough material.  However, there was enough for some tea napkins.

Grandbaby loves Grandmother's napkins. I keep a pretty box of them on a hutch in our front parlour. She helps me set the table for meals, and for tea time.  I have plain linen napkins, paper ones, and some homemade ones.  Her favorite napkins are pink linen which were a gift from a dear friend.  Whenever she reaches for those, I hear her older brother call out to me, "Me'me!  She is getting into your tea napkins again!"

I thought she would love a set of miniature napkins for her toy tea set, which is kept here at our house.  The Christmas fabric would be lovely for this.  There was just enough material to make four little squares.  All I had to do was hand-sew the hems around each of them.

I put them in a Christmas tin, along with her plastic tea set.  She can use them anytime she likes, and then put it all away in the pretty tin.

I have not finished my apron yet. Baby's tea napkins came first. (gentle smiles)

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Encouragement - Poor and Pretty Living.

What it Means to Be - Just a Housewife.

In Case You Wondered - The Secret to a Clean House.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Louisa May Alcott Winter

Library of Congress:  Orchard House, 1910 - Home of Louisa May Alcott - Concord Massachusetts 

Here in rural Vermont, the bitterly cold winters remind me of life in Concord Massachusetts as described by 1800's author, Louisa May Alcott in her beloved book, "Little Women."

To cheer myself up during these long winter days, I like to read literature from an earlier era to see how others have lived while often snowed - in or kept indoors because of the cold New England days.

I have often read "The Long Winter" and other Laura Ingalls Wilder books. But this winter, I am focusing on the sweet stories of Miss Alcott.  Last year I read "An Old Fashioned Girl."  I enjoyed hearing how visits were made on Winter afternoons and the guests would sit by the fire in a lovely home.

I just watched the movie "Little Women" which showed a beautiful house in Concord.  The interior was humble and lovely.  There are fireplaces in most of the rooms.  Pretty wallpaper makes the home look cozy and sweet.  The girls wear pretty coats and shawls.  They make an old fashioned home, especially in winter, look inviting and peaceful.

Our Estate here consists of 14 rooms.  Many of them are large and a bit chilly.  Some are too cold to spend much time in, so we close them off and try to avoid them until spring.  Our wood pellet stove in the upstairs parlour makes the home so pleasant and warm.  We also have other sources of heat, such as electric and kerosene, along with a wood stove on the main floor.  I have often thought of this house as a humble, Jane Austen, English estate.  This winter I shall think of it as a dignified home similar to Orchard House owned by the Alcott family.   One must find a way to cheer along dreary days with happy thoughts!

I very much enjoy reading about how New England families, in the 1800's, passed the time at home during the winter.   We have our Bible time each evening.  We also enjoy table games, singing, and do a lot of reading.

I have been baking a great deal the last couple of weeks.  This helps warm up some of the rooms and provides treats for the family to enjoy.

I will be doing a lot of mending, sewing, and writing during this cold season.  Our most difficult months are January and February. These are bitterly cold and can be depressing at times.  I will focus on the happy stories of Miss Alcott and enjoy our home as if it were a dear old home in Concord Massachusetts.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

A Happy Marriage - Serving Mister.

A Lovely Occupation - Happy Home Keeper.

Old Fashioned Thrift  - Living Without Credit Cards.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Baking

It has been snowing steadily for days here in rural Vermont.  It is so pretty, especially this time of year.  The temperature outside was 10 degrees yesterday when I ventured out for an errand.  Inside, it is cozy and pleasant by the fire.

I just made a batch of sugar cookie dough.   I wrapped it in wax paper and placed it in a bowl to cool in the refrigerator.  I will make the cookies much later today.  I have bell shaped cookie cutters, which are my favorite.  I have red and green sugar sprinkles to decorate with.

I am just about to make Christmas fudge.  It is just plain chocolate fudge made using a recipe on the label of Carnation Evaporated milk.  It doesn't take long, but it requires standing by the stove and working quickly before pouring into a pan to cool.  I have to make sure no one calls me on the phone, or walks in for a visit, or else I will lose my concentration. Everyone has to be settled before Mother makes the fudge. (gentle smiles)

I am just doing a few, basic things to bring cheer to the family. I don't have the energy to do anything time consuming or elaborate.

I have some pretty rose colored carnations in a jar on my sideboard table. This sits on a red table runner. It looks festive.

I have a couple of presents for some of the grandchildren sitting on the floor near my rocking chair in the parlour. When the children come upstairs to visit me later today, I will let them "find" these gifts. I will smile and tell them, "Oh, well you may as well open them, of course."  They will be so happy!  It is just warm, new pajamas for each of them.

Some of the children and grandchildren will visit over the Christmas vacation.  I have a small present for each grandbaby.  No matter how cold it gets, or how grumpy and tired some of us can be, we hope to attend the Christmas service at church. (gentle smiles)

I am busy sewing a couple of aprons and doing some crocheting, which keeps me busy while I sit on the parlour couch and visit with the family.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a joyful time with your families.  If Mother is happy and cheerful, the family cannot help but cheer up and smile too!  Besides, our happiness is not based on anyone else's mood or troubles. It is based on the joyful peace we have as a child of God.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

The Truth - "Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House".

Through Good times and Bad - "Living on Mister's Income".

God bless the dear Mothers! -  Encouragement - "All of God's Children Have Shoes".

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Friday, December 8, 2017

Pioneer Homeschooling Mothers

Library of Congress - New York Chapel and Cottages, 1906

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, homeschooling mothers were under the impression that our children would turn out to be model citizens, above temptation, dutiful and kind to parents, faithful church members, and grow up to adore all their siblings. The essays and articles of the times gave us the impression that we would have it easy. It created an idealism which caused a great deal of confusion in our parenting.  At some point, these children, who are like all the other children in loving homes, became teenagers, and times got tough.

There is no formula for easy parenting of teenagers and there never will be.  This is why:  The culture around us is constantly changing. Each new generation of parents is a pioneer of the times.  I will give you some examples:

 In grandfather's day, there was no such thing as television.  When it was first introduced in the home, there were morals and values coming through the programs.  Families on television went to church and said their prayers.  After decades of changes in the media industry, television and movies are rarely without trash and vulgarity.  This causes us harm. Older adults have often said, "As long as you know it is not real, it will be fine to watch." But this type of wisdom, from the 1970's and 1980's, had not been tested on innocent, growing children. As time has gone by, many realize this type of advice was for an adult, not for a child or teenager.  The results of viewing "fluff" and "vulgarity" and "violence" for entertainment is a serious problem. It has caused great harm in our children.  This is something grandfather would never have imagined.

Facebook is a fairly new invention.  It may have been introduced to many families through a child in college. Soon grandma had a profile and then the younger children all wanted one.  It has both good and bad features.  It can cause harm in many ways, especially to children and teenagers.  This too is something grandfather would not have thought was dangerous.

Public schools and colleges are not what they used to be.  A good solid, academic education is much harder to come by. It is not so easy to just send junior to the local elementary school and think everything will be okay.  It is not like it was in the one- room school houses that produced the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I will not even comment on video games, cell phones, and other such things.

Despite all this and many more difficulties in our modern, American culture, we can still be good Mothers and raise good children.

There are many new inventions and ways of living that great-grandmother never would have dreamed.  I love my washing machine, electric stove, and frost-free refrigerator.   I appreciate my computer very much because I had spent many years, as a typist, using both a manual and electric typewriter.  When we have a power outage, here in rural Vermont, I am doubly grateful for our electricity when it comes back on.

There are always going to be innovations, new concepts, and modern inventions.  Yet we mothers would be wise to consider each new thing and see if it is something we will embrace in our own homes.  Is it good for our family? Will there be long term consequences?

 It is similar to how the Amish elders have meetings to come up with their rules for their districts.  They pray about each new thing and discuss if it will be good for their people.  It is okay to reject certain things in our homes.

To combat some of the negative influences on our children and teenagers, I know of many families who do not have a television set.  Others have one only for using carefully selected DVDs.  When I was a child, there was only one television set in the home. It was in the living room. These days, there are sets in all the bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, in the family van, and even portable ones for using outdoors and while visiting friends and family. It can be found in public places, waiting rooms, and even in some salons.   It is important that mothers make rules and guidelines for their children, thinking of their long-term effects, and not just on today's entertainment value.

Facebook is confusing to me and of small value.  Yet it is highly important to a great many people.  It can be used for good, of course.  But it may not be okay for children.  It may not be okay for young teenagers.  Options might be to not have it at all. That is certainly okay.  Another idea might be to have one "family" account that mom and dad use along with the children. This might protect the children from many dangerous things. It is something each family ought to evaluate and make rules for their own household.

To combat the problem of sliding academics in our culture, we could build up a collection of good, quality literature in our own homes.  It is very easy, these days, to have a home library.  It may take years to build, but it will be used for generations if it is carefully tended.  Encourage reading, help the children with their schoolwork, develop a love of history and a love of learning.

The issue here is that we are raising children, not adults. Too many modern inventions are harmful to children in the long term, even though they may not phase an adult.  It is important to evaluate the good and the bad around us, and not just follow along with the masses.  Your home is a reflection of who you are and of what you value.  No matter what is happening in the culture, you can still have good, kind children.  Take them to church, have daily prayers and Bible time, sing with them, teach them your talents and skills, educate them to the best of your ability.  Do all this with a great deal of mercy, long suffering, patience, and love.  Do this consistently, even if they are having mood swings, grumpy days, or hard times.  The constant routine of goodness will have its positive effect on them over time.

A Mother ought to offer a happy home to her children.  She can play board games, cook, bake, sew, knit, paint, teach, and love being with her family. She can laugh, encourage, pray over her little ones, and lead them to her dear Lord.  She can have a humble and meek spirit with an overflowing aura of the joy of the Lord.  She can do this even amidst trials and troubles.  She can do this despite an ever-changing culture.  A Loving Christian Home has always been the greatest place on earth, in all times, in all places.  

How they turn out, when they become adults, is up to them. You can only do the best you can (as flawed as we all are) with the wisdom you have each day.  You are responsible for their childhood. They are responsible for their adulthood.

 A Mother's job is to do the work.  The result of all this effort is up to God.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Organizing - A Home Without Clutter.

In Case you Wondered - The Secret to a Clean House.

Peace and Simplicity - An Ordinary Life at Home.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

A Ten Dollar Birthday

Mrs. White's Parlour in Vermont all ready for a simple birthday

I have been getting my parlour ready for a little birthday celebration with my children and grandchildren.  I have always shared my birthday with Thanksgiving since it happens in the same week.  It is a beautiful time of year when family is expected to visit in just a few days. Often, I seem to neglect to do much for my birthday since the focus is on Thanksgiving.

Very often, we mothers tend to feel disappointed with our birthdays.  This sometimes happens if we are overwhelmed or feeling unappreciated.  Perhaps we don't think our family will remember the day. This is why it is so important to do a few extra things ourselves to make the day special for others.

I want to see the delight in the faces of my children and grandchildren when I serve a special cake for them to enjoy. I want to have special activities or games so they can have a fun celebration.  If we mothers make holidays and birthdays a time of serving our family and a way to bring them joy, we will be so much happier.

We need mothers to bring peacefulness and sunshine to brighten the homes no matter what is going on out in the world. Birthdays are a wonderful time to do just that, even if there is little money available.

Today, I spent just a few dollars to bring some pink cheer to our day.

I spent four dollars at the discount store. I got a pink, plastic tablecloth.  I selected cheerful birthday plates and napkins.  I also bought a small bag of party favors for the grandchildren to enjoy. It is full of those cute noisy things people blow during New Year's Eve.  At the supermarket today, one of my sons bought me a pretty bunch of pink roses from the clearance rack for $3.00. They look simple and beautiful in an old mason jar on my table.

Our simple party decorations

Late this afternoon, some of the grandchildren gave me a lovely homemade present. They had been working with their mother for several days on a hand-sewing project.  Their mother had some pretty fabric and sewed a little decorative pillow. She had the children stuff it with cotton. They had a wonderful time helping her.  They were so happy and proud when they gave it to me. I was delighted!

Tomorrow morning I will bake a white cake from a box mix. I will also use some chocolate frosting and colorful sprinkles over the top to make it cheerful and festive.

I spent less than 10 dollars for the decorations and the cake.  This will bring us all wonderful happiness as we celebrate mother's old time, simple birthday at home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

For those Tough Times - Living in Reduced Circumstances.

Happy times with Little Ones - A Joyful Time at Home.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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