Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hi All,

Sorry I haven't posted in a week or so. I accompanied dh on a business trip he made to Williamsburg, VA.

We had both envisioned that dh would work during the days, and that I would rest and sight-see while he was working. Then, we would take time to relax in the evenings. Plus, we worked in a overnight stop in Asheville, North Carolina so that we could visit the Biltmore House.

Last March, when I went with DH on a business trip to Utah, we tacked some sightseeing days on to the front end, and we turned those days into a romantic getaway.

Well, this time we did have some fun, relaxing, and relationship-building times together. But, we also had some times when nothing flowed as we had envisioned that it would. DH called those our "patience-building" moments.

Bassett Hall

Among them were getting lost numerous times, despite having been to these locations before, plus having a GPS system and dh's own usually impeccable sense of direction to guide us. It got to the point where we began to joke that we'd probably have to write our son, "Dear Son, we are sorry to have to miss your September wedding. But, we are still wandering around Virginia, trying to figure out how to get home. Send help!" On top of that, dh contracted some type of virus or food poisoning ,and I was struggling with a shoulder/neck injury. Add to that a three-hour traffic stall on a section of Interstate with no access to alternate routes.

Despite these challenges, we're glad we had the trip. This time, I had houses and the domestic arts on the brain. DH and I drove past the James River plantations, plus I hung out at the DeWitt Decorative Arts Museum, looking at all of the furniture, china, samplers, quilts, etc. and took a tour of Bassett Hall, the "little" colonial house which John D. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller owned for a time. And, I took a lot of mental notes when touring the Biltmore. It had been some time since I had visited either Williamsburg or Biltmore, so I had fun looking at all of the details, gleaning ideas that might beautify an ordinary home. I'm sure most of you know how much you can learn about keeping your own humble home from visiting restored homes and museum homes.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

J.R. Miller on Worry...

"Worry exhausts vitality. True, all good in life costs. Virtue goes out of us in everything we do that is worth doing. But for normal, healthy action nature provides. There is recuperative energy enough to supply the waste. The fountains are filled as fast as it is worn away. Worry, however, is abnormal and unhealthy. It exhausts vitality more rapidly than nature can reinforce it. It is like friction in machinery, and grinds away the very fibre of life. Worry, therefore, both impeded progress and makes work unduly costly and exhausting. One neither accomplishes so much nor does it so well, while the outlay of vitality is greater.

The ideal theory of life is, therefore, work without worry. At least, this certainly ought to be the ideal for a Christian. We have an express command not to be anxious about anything. Our whole duty is to do the will of God and leave in his hands the outworking of circumstances, the shaping and overhauling of all the complicated network of influences, so as to bring about the right results. The working plan for a Christian life is clearly laid down in our Lord’s words: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” This ideal leaves no place whatever for worry. It requires single-hearted devotion to the interests of Christ’s kingdom, the elimination of self and self-seeking, uncompromising loyalty to the principles of righteousness, and the faithful and energetic doing of duty, — all duty, without regard to pleasure or cost. This is all the human part. Then God will look after the outcome; will take care of us and of the results of our acts. It is the function of faith, when we have done what we can, to put all into the divine hands, giving ourselves no anxiety, while we go forward in peace and confidence to the next duty that awaits.

It is said of a Christian man, who has risen from a humble station to great national prominence that his motto has always been: “Do the very best you can, and leave the rest to Providence.” This is nothing more or less than the putting into plain, crisp Saxon, our Lord’s counsel already quoted. If we would all get this bit of practical heavenly wisdom out of our New Testament and into our daily life, it would not only greatly increase our working capacity, and consequently make us more successful, but it would also largely enhance our happiness."

My note: To be technical, I'd say our motto should be to lean on Providence from the beginning of any endeavor and do our best as we trust in the Lord and leave the results to Him." But, that's a mouthful.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Merry Story at the Merry Rose:
Well, I didn't post this on Merry Monday, but I thought this story form Yahoo News was encouraging. It seems that a thrift store worker found $30,000 in the pocket of a woman's clothing item that was being donated to the store. The woman had passed away and her relatives had not known the money was in the pocket. Follow the link to find out what happened.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Intellect and Education of the Keeper at Home...

Contrary to our culture's belief, being a keeper at home provides a woman with many outlets for improving her mind. Those of us who choose to tend to family and household as our primary career need never let the world make us feel inferior on that account. Likewise, if we feel that our daily tasks are becoming routine -- as can happen with any endeavor in life -- we can refresh ourselves by learning new aspects of our vocation.

Have you ever pondered the following topics?

1) The principles of chemistry related to baking and cooking.
2) Economic principles; the historical connection between household economy and a nation's economy; the current economic situation and how it affects your household economy; how your household economy might play a part in the larger economy; stewardship; consumer science; how to assess quality of basic household materials and goods; how goods are made and merchandised and shipped
3) Nature as viewed from your back yard; the trees and flowers that grow in your area; principles of landscaping and gardening; botany; your area's environmental health or needs; ornamental plants and plants grown for food; indoor plants; historical varieties of plants; cultivating soil for lawns and gardens; the components of soil; the science of composting; chemistry as related to botany and also to plant care; stars seen in your area; effect of sunlight on a household
4) All about your pets; local animals; local birds; migration patterns of birds in your area; local butterflies and other insects; animal science as is related to your household's needs or to animals that live near you
5) Your area's climate and weather; how the climate affects your household management; the delights of your area's seasons
6) The principles of chemistry related to cleaning and laundry
7) The development of your area's style of cooking; your favorite country's cuisine; kitchens and cooking around the world; cooking seasonally
8) The principles of art as they relate to creating a comfortable and attractive living space; color, shape, arrangement, flower arranging
9) How fabrics are made; properties of various fabrics; how clothing is designed and made at a commercial level; home sewing
10) Family communication; childhood development; language arts
11) Nutrition, health, physiology; the development of a child within the womb; gerontology; how children grow physically
12) Computers, cars, appliances, a little bit about home construction; energy sources in the home (such as electricity)
13) Historical styles of home furnishings; houses from different countries; local houses of interest; houses in your area that have been turned into museums or bed-and-breakfasts; notable women of the past who managed households well
14) The history of manners; customs from different countries; changing views of manners in modern day; etiquette in the home; law as it affects the family and household
15) Principles of efficiency, more effective ways to accomplish tasks in the home; principles of organization and time management

These are just a few examples of subjects that relate to the management of a home. As you manage your household, your curiosity may be sparked by one of these topics or by something else entirely. In today's world, you have a number of options for further study: your own personal observation (keeping journals and sketches add to the fun), library books, the Internet (though be sure to check sources), asking people who have already studied these topics (asking intelligent questions will make you a more interesting conversationalist), visiting local museums, and taking a class.

It's not necessary to study all of these things in order to keep a house well. Just as you can drive a car without knowing what's happening underneath the hood, you can cook without knowing the chemical principles behind it, sew without knowing how certain fabrics are made, use a computer without understanding anything about software or hardware design, and balance a checkbook without knowing anything about economics. I, for one, couldn't tell you much about the inner workings of a car, much less of a computer.

You may find great satisfaction in your work simply by mastering the most basic concepts needed to manage a household, and that's wonderful. Or, you may choose to follow the elementary principles of home management in most things, but take an extra interest in one or two particular aspects of homemaking.

That's the beauty of being a keeper at home: All you really need for success is love, faith, courage, willing hands to work, and attention to detail. However, if you do want some extra intellectual stimulation, the possibilities for learning about subjects related to home management are endless. Have fun exploring the topics that interest you!


Friday, March 07, 2008

Did you know...

Here's a study that says that clutter in the home and excess weight are linked. The article says that people who struggle with too much clutter are also likely to struggle with weight, because the underlying impulse to accumulate too much stuff is similar to the desire to eat too much food. In both cases, the person is trying to achieve emotional satisfaction from over-consumption, only the over-consumption actually creates more anxiety and depression for the person. On the other hand, if a person tackles the issue of clutter in their home, they may find they lose weight in the process. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's an interesting thought. Read the article and tell us what you think.

My current clutter challenge is that both my parents-in-law and my widowed father are downsizing. There are many family pieces that I would like to keep. This means that I am continually needing to determine what in my house, my parents-in-law's house, or my father's house I will keep and what I will toss. I don't want to overload my place with too much stuff. As far as my father's house goes, I need to completely empty it and put it on the market to sell. He is in an assisted living place and only needs so much. It's sort of like managing two households at once.

Does anyone who's been through this process of your parents' downsizing have any helpful thoughts?


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One hat at a time...

A woman wears many hats in life. Of course, her primary end -- whether she realizes it or not -- is to know God and to be in relationship with him. At any given season in her life, however, she may also be wife, mother, friend, neighbor, daughter, granddaughter, helper to her husband's business, owner or employee of a business enterprise, student, volunteer, voter, mentor, etc.

If you look at just the role of home manager alone, this could entail being a lover to her husband, a companion and help meet to her husband, household economist, an organizer of the home, decorator of the home, cook, chauffeur, cleaner, launderer, mender, teacher, nurse, gardener, seamstress, listener, encourager, disciplinarian, comforter, breast feeder, guardian of the home, activity director and keeper of the schedule, social secretary, event planner, tax preparer, etc.

Fortunately, a woman's man activities usually blend together into a manageable and fulfilling life.
However, we can frustrate ourselves when we try to wear all of the hats in our wardrobe of roles at one time. I know because I have done this.

I can remember times when I was vacuuming with my hands and mentally brooding about something else -- such as something my husband needed. If I was spending time with my husband, I was worrying if the children were ok. If I was playing with my children, the dirty dishes in the sink tugged at my mind. If I was doing the dishes, a church matter might weigh heavily in my thoughts. If I was participating in a church activity, my mind would wander to the floor that needed vacuuming again.

This is a form of worry, and it is a discouraging way to think. It can make a woman think that her life is overwhelming, when it might really be that her life is full, satisfying, and in God's hands. It divide a woman's attentions, so that she cannot give her best to any one task, thus reducing the satisfaction that comes from productive work.

I've found that it's more satisfying and efficient to follow the admonition in Ecclesiastes 9:10: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

When performing an activity, give it your full attention at that time, knowing that there will be time to attend to the other things in your life. Some of our tasks do not necessarily engage every bit of our thought power. It is possible, for example, to think about something else while cleaning the counter tops in your kitchen. If your thoughts run to productive things and you are also able to do the job well, this is fine. However, if your thoughts run to everything else on your to-do list or they interfere with your doing a good job, you are setting yourself up for frustration.

Sometimes, it's hard to marshal our thoughts for our tasks because either we or loved ones are facing some sort of heartache. We home managers are not the only ones who struggle with this. I read a recent study that showed a correlation between drops in an entire company's productivity and challenges in the top executive's personal life.

Even in times of heartache, however, turning full attention to daily tasks can help us cope. It's important to pray and talk about griefs or concerns. Once we've done that, doing something routine can take our minds off of things and give us some moments of relief. In fact, in troublesome times, we may benefit even more from performing whatever our hands find to do with all of our might.

Of course, a woman of many hats must be able to change them in a moment's notice. Perhaps, we are tending to some work at our desk, but we realize that our child needs some attention. Or, we are cleaning out our refrigerator, when a friend comes by with a problem. Here again, if we must instantly take off one hat and put on another, we should give full attention to the new hat while we are wearing it.

Another time when it's hard to take off one hat and put on another is when we're excited about finishing a project. For example, if we are absorbed in sewing new curtains, we might find it hard to switch our attention to cooking dinner. Or, if we are planning something for a home business, we might find it hard to tear ourselves away and clean the bathroom. In fact, we can be quite restless inside until we get a certain project done and out of the way. It's best to enjoy the process of accomplishing something, even if it must be done in several sittings, and we do well to exchange our restlessness for contentment.

When we do reach a goal, it's wise to take a moment and mentally register the satisfaction of a task completed. Yes, there are likely many other things on our to do list, and these may loom large in our thoughts, making us wonder if we really are getting anywhere with our day. Our outlook will be cheerier if we do take note of what we have accomplished.

Many of the roles a woman does in her life are ongoing. Some are even a lifetime commitment. While a husband is living, what wife can say that she has no room for growth in her marriage? Who can say that their house is perfectly clean and organized and that there is not one thing that could be done to improve it?

The key is to manage our overall life well, rather than obsessing about one aspect of it. Again, we need to celebrate steps achieved along the way, and we also have to learn how to be content with the process of living. When it's time to wear one hat, we must wear it with all of our might. Then, when it's time to put on another one, we can take the first one off, rejoice that we were able to wear it when needed, and look forward in peace to the next time we put it on again.

I love physical hats and actually have a stash of them. Imagine what a sight I'd look if I put every hat in my closet on at once! Think of how hard it would be for me to balance all of those hats on my head at the same time! I'm sure that I'd not only look a fright, but I'd drop a lot of the hats as I walked. My physical head can wear only one hat in a moment. It would also be silly for me to choose one hat to wear and fret because I'm not currently wearing another in my collection.

In the same way, our attention can only focus in so many places at once. While we must be adept at changing hats or roles in the moment, in order to meet needs in a timely manner, we'll do well if we are content to wear one hat at a time.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dining American Style -- Compare to Previous Post about Continental Style.

My Note: This video assumes that you are right handed. If you are left handed and also dine American style(as is my case), you do not go switch the fork back and forth from one hand to the other as right handed people do. When you use your knife and fork for cutting, your fork will automatically be in the correct hand. You will, however, need to turn the fork tines upward and slide your fingers into the proper position for eating. Do this gently and unobtrusively.

If you are a left handed person or you are a hostess who is working a left-handed person into your seating arrangements, remember that it's a good idea to place a left handed person in a seat where he will not accidentally bump a right handed eater with his arm. This generally means an end seat on one side of the table.

If you are left handed and find yourself seated between two right handed people, be aware of how you hold your arm when cutting and eating.

Of course, if you have enough dexterity in your right hand, it's not a bad idea to learn how to eat as a right-handed person does.

Dining Continental Style

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's another Merry Monday...

Jessica Long, who turns 16 on Friday, is a world-champion swimmer despite being born without bones in the lower part of her legs.

New Baby polar bear

MIT Student wins award for work in fighting disease resistant bacteria.