Becoming the Ultimate Housewife: 1950s Housewife

Shavua tov ladies! 🙂 This is just a little bit of fun really, but I wonder – how much of this do you aspire to? 

How much of this is cultural, dated and irrelevant now, and how much the Biblical ideal/ pattern for wives?

http://www.ultimatehousewife.com/2013/02/1950s-housewife.html?m=1

Crafts and Topics for 2016

I have been thinking about what to do with this blog over the next year, and I think that, in addition to specifically Messianic/ Jewish topics, I will try to post on subjects covered in the TODKAH home economics curriculum, in no particular order:

todkah

– sewing
– knitting
– crochet
– embroidery
– gardening
– cooking
– baking
– flower arranging
– basketry
– budgeting
– child development
– child training
– home management
– making a house a home
– quilting
– cross stitch
– hospitality
– caring
(caring for the elderly, sick and injured, comforting the mourning)
– rug braiding
– women’s health
– pregnancy
– infant care and breastfeeding
– child bearing
– candlemaking
– soapmaking
– raising small animals
– home business

If you’re looking for a home economics curriculum, it really is unequalled – it is a 7 year programme for home educated teens (not to mention useful for their mothers!), and as you can see it covers far more than what is usually covered in school. (Certainly today, but even 30 or 40 years ago.)

I know that the uber-traditional title of the curriculum puts more moderate Christians off using the curriculum, but I think that is a pity. It’s not necessary to agree with Mrs Ann Ward’s very conservative views to make use of her expertise and knowledge in the areas of crafts and home management.

If you are interested in exploring the curriculum, take a look at the website, and join the yahoo group and/ or the facebook group/ page to discuss any of the crafts or topics covered.

A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

This budget recipe book was recommended to me a year or two ago when we had a rough patch before we sold our house, and I will have to look at it again as we are struggling to budget in our reduced circumstances.

It’s a good collection of cost-cutting ideas and clever, simple recipes, although obviously cooking from scratch where economically viable. (Sometimes it works out more expensive, since there is economy of scale with packaged foods.)

Please note though that it isn’t a Christian book (although oddly, she uses a Bible quote at the beginning). I don’t remember anything particularly offensive, but I followed Jack on twitter for a while and found her to be quite foul-mouthed and unpleasant 😦 I didn’t follow her for very long though, so hopefully I just caught her in a bad mood and got the wrong impression. She was, though, very political and very ‘liberal’ (in quotes because ‘liberals’ tend not to be very keen on liberty unless it suits their purposes, but that’s a discussion for another post!).

As always though, take the ‘meat’ and leave the ‘bones’.

I would love to hear any tips you might have for frugal homemaking and cooking, as well as any other book recommendations.

Pesach Cleaning

I learn something new every Pesach – about myself, about housework, about the nature of sin and cleanliness, and this year has been no different.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I felt that one of the lessons of Passover is that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t get rid of all the dirt (sin, for which yeast, leaven, chametz is a metaphor) on our own, because it is never finished, the dirt just keeps on coming.

This year, we are in the middle of moving house, so clearing and cleaning two houses. The new house is exactly that – a brand new build where nobody has lived before. I thought that this side of things would be easy, but I have been amazed at how quickly the dust and dirt has mounted up. We may not have much in the way of actual chametz here, but we certainly have dust and dirt!

At the old house, the revelations have been even more startling. Moving things that never usually get moved, like the cooker, has made me realise how the dirt collects in places we’re not looking, not paying attention to, and how once a year ‘spring cleaning’ may not be enough – much more thorough, regular cleaning is going to have to be a feature of life at our new place.

And the spiritual application, of course, is that we need to be making regular self-evaluations, regular repentance, and regular washing (by the Water of the Word).

I am reminded of the classic story of the rabbi who told his students, “Make Teshuvah (repent) one day before you die.” His students would respond with the question, “But how do you know when it is one day before you will die?” The answer of course is that you don’t know, so you must make Teshuvah every day!

Rediscovering Home

I have been thinking a lot lately about how very deeply blessed and privileged I have been to be able to stay at home to be a full time wife and mother and homeschool my children. I know many women who would have loved to have that opportunity, but were denied it. I thank God for my sweet, kind, generous husband who recognised how beneficial it can be for a family to have the wife and mother at home, and that it was worth giving up a second income for.

And yet I have found ‘homemaking’ frustratingly and discouragingly hard, and as much as I desired to be ‘domesticated’, it has been a struggle because I have both a lack of practical knowledge and a lack of natural talent in this area.

I have realised that I have allowed my heart to slowly drift away from my home and family, and as a result I have looked elsewhere for satisfaction, fulfilment, status, recognition and ministry.

But I can also pinpoint the time when my heart began to grow cold – it was when I lost my fifth baby in a row, and I realised that I would most likely never fulfil my dream of having a large family (which was integral to my overall vision).

I started my married life with a vision of very old-fashioned, traditional, back-to-basics homesteading, based on a mixture of Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons (and if I’m honest that’s still my vision and ideal – I love the videos from Homestead Blessings, for example), and my vision was encouraged by reading Mary Pride’s provocative books ‘The Way Home’ and ‘All The Way Home’, amongst others, which advocated many of the things I was aspiring to.

But my reality has been very far away from that dream – I’m living a frustratingly fast, modern life which, although we escaped the city, does include regular trips to town for activities (which I’m beginning to question the value of), and sadly doesn’t include having access to any land at all.

I still haven’t learned how to cook properly or knit or crochet or quilt! So the result has been overwhelming discouragement. Perhaps it was all just a silly dream?

And yet, I feel as though somehow I have abandoned my first love. I seem to have looked for God and ministry in all the wrong places, and finally He is drawing me back, and turning my heart back to my home, back to my husband, back to my children.

I spent years as a young wife and mother desperately searching and hoping and praying for a Titus 2 mentor, but there were none, not a single one. Nobody in the church, or in the Messianic congregation, were living out anything like the traditional Titus 2 role at home. So mothers like Mrs Ingalls and Mrs Walton were my role models.

Now I am in my 40s I realise that, whether I like it or not, whether good or bad, I am setting an example for young wives and mothers. That is an awesome responsibility, and I don’t want to let another generation struggle the way I did.

So as much as part of me has been longing to escape ‘failure’ – the failure of my dream life to match reality, I realise I need to make teshuva, to turn around and go back the way I have come, and find the peaceful, gentle path I was searching for all along.

My own particular vision of Godly womanhood may not be at all what young women are looking for or would aspire to at all. In a way, it’s irrelevant because that’s not the life I’m actually living.

But this is the way it is described in Titus 2:3-5:

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 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.”

I’m really just feeling compelled to meditate again on this passage and what it means, and I hope that, despite all my flaws and failings, my life and my lifestyle, such as it is, will be achieving those things and giving young women something realistic and truly Godly to aspire to. And may the word of God not be blasphemed.

Shabbat Shalom!

Cleaning Deadlines

We have a property inspection tomorrow morning. It’s one of the many down sides to renting. But as much as I’m dreading it, there is nothing like an externally imposed deadline for motivating you to get things done.

So although there is still work to do today, the house is looking tidier and cleaner and more organised than it has done since we moved in.

What I’ve realised about housework (and here comes the metaphor) is that, like sin, and the leaven that represents sin at Passover, it’s a relentless battle.

You can’t rest back and assume it’s conquered. Maybe there is a sense in which it is conquered once and for all in the heavenlies (and I think that my own personal heaven will be a self-cleaning & self-tidying house!), but in the gritty, earthly here and now, you have to wash daily, battle it constantly and never give up.

Shabbat and Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread represent little windows into a heavenly future time when we’ve come into the fulness of the Kingdom.

May your Kingdom come, Yeshua!

Homemaking Degree

I was surfing today looking for homemaking blogs, and I stumbled across a blog which mentioned that a US college had instituted a degree in homemaking., so I just had to investigate!  It’s offered at The College at Southwestern which seems to be a fairly liberal Christian Seminary (I may be wrong about the liberal part though!)

Division of Homemaking

HMK 2101 Orientation to Homemaking
This introductory course provides an overview of the field of homemaking, its place in history, and biblical perspective. To be taken the student’s first semester.
One hour

HMK 3103 Biblical Model for the Home and Family
Focus on the Biblical role of women related to the home, family, church, ministry, and relationships.
Three hours

HMK 3113 Nutrition
Focuses on the fundamentals of nutrition, nutrition through the life cycle, brief overview of food preparation, and meal management.
Three hours

HMK 3203 Value of a Child
A study of the spiritual, physical, emotional and cognitive development of a child.
Three hours

HMK 3204 Meal Preparation with Lab
A study and practice of the basic principles of the selection and preparation of food. Nutrition is a pre-requisite.
Four hours

HMK 4101 Senior Seminar
Focuses on putting fundamental elements of homemaking into practice. This course is to be taken as a pre-requisite to the Homemaking practicum and should be taken the first semester of the student’s final year.
One hour

HMK 4103 Basics of Design
Introduces the student to design and includes colors, space, interior design, and a brief overview of clothing construction.
Three hours

HMK 4201 Homemaking Practicum
Focuses on putting fundamental elements of homemaking into practice while placing the students in real life situations. This course serves as the capstone course of the program and should be taken the student’s final semester.

HMK 4204 Clothing Construction with Lab
A study of patterns, fabric, equipment, and sewing. Basics of Design is a prerequisite.
Four hours

I think it’s really good that it’s offered, and encouraging that homemaking is being presented as a worthy career, but I do wonder whether this degree will actually prepare women for the calling of motherhood, homemaking and being a wife.  I’d really like to see the reading list and textbooks and compare it with, for example, the TOD-KAH curriculum (Training our Daughters to be Keepers at Home) which is very thorough and comprehensive and written from a conservative perspective.

Urban Homemaker’s Challenge – Update

When I took up this challenge, I wasn’t very optimistic really about making any progress: I grew up in a super-modern 70’s home where all food came out of a packet, space-age style.

But over the last few weeks I’ve actually been quite pleased with what we’ve achieved.

We’ve started drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk again. Husband – who I shall name henceforth as ‘Harvey’ whether he likes it or not, since he can’t think up a sensible screen-name for himself – wasn’t too keen on the idea, (a lot of people screw their noses up at the idea of ‘live’ milk or yoghurt) which is why we didn’t do it for long when we tried it before, but I think that I have to take ‘small steps’ in changing his mind, so rather than overwhelm him with a fridge exclusively full of the raw stuff, I’m just supplementing our usual supply of pasteurised.

I managed to source a relatively inexpensive manual juicer and a flour mill, which both arrived today, and so we spent the morning juicing every fruit and vegetable in site. The children thought this was the most fun, and I was really encouraged because they were actually willing to try what they’d made!  We also milled our first batch of flour (I have both wheat and spelt to play with).  We did try to make a cake using our wholemeal flour, but it wasn’t terribly successful – I think that will take some practice.  We have even tried wheatgrass today. It’s a bit of an aquired taste, even mixed with the recommended pear juice, but I hear it’s just so nutritious that I’m thinking of starting to grow my own.

I’ve been sprouting seeds for the last couple of weeks and the first batch was really fantastic, which encouraged me to experiment with different types of seeds, but I haven’t had quite so much success with the second batch so far.  But again, the children (who are not generally very good at making healthy choices in their diets) were very keen to try them.

I’ve started my first batch of live yoghurt today (I’m just going to check how it’s got on when I finish up on here).

And finally, I’ve ordered a kombucha starter and a kefir culture, and I’m waiting for them to arrive.

I haven’t done too much home cooking yet, but to be fair, we’ve been eating lots of raw foods and salads for summer, so we’ll see how that goes.  On the whole, I’m really pleased with the direction we’re going in.

Housework To Do List

goodmorning_2.gif

Good morning! Though actually it is already afternoon here and I haven’t got much done. We had another busy weekend so the house looks completely crazy. I think making a list of things ‘to do’ is really helpful – the days I do that I get much more done. (If you aim at nothing you reach that real easy….)

Well, I did get some hoovering done downstairs, cleared the kitchen and run the dishwasher, but there’s so much more to do, if I hadn’t been so aimless I think I would have got more done.

So my monday afternoon (and probably running over to the rest of the week now) list today looks something like this:

– Take the children out to the park to make the most of the nice day
– Schoolwork
– hoover upstairs
– Take the clean laundry upstairs, sort, fold and distribute
– help the children with their bedrooms (they’re all a bit challenged in the tidying department)
– 15 minutes of sorting clutter downstairs
– Get some sewing done
– Phone my friend Tieja to arrange coffee for tomorrow.

wash_dishes.gif vacuuming.gif dusting.gif laundry.gif washer.gif chef2.gif iron.gif rugs.gif mop.gif

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

My friend Kathryn (the bookworm) introduced me to the Simple Woman’s Daybook meme, and I thought I would give it a go today:

http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to add your own.

Outside My Window… it’s grey and drizzling. Actually it looks very lush and green out there, I may get everone into their wellies and go out for a splosh in the puddles.

I am thinking…that I should really finish up on the computer and gather everyone into the living room and start school now.

I am thankful for… relative peace in the house this morning! A roof over my head, plenty of food, family, friends, car, all that I need. To have a dishwasher!

From the kitchen…DS has loaded the dishwasher without complaining this morning so all I need to do is tidy up. Oh, and hoover (now that I check, there’s quite a lot of work to do in there 😦

I am wearing… a pink t-shirt and black jogging bottoms, (and bright orange socks).

I am creating… I’m not being very creative at the moment. I might start another scarf (my forte is chunky knitted scarfs using 2 different yarns – one thick and one thin, in co-ordinating colours – it makes a lovely effect). I’m also wondering about making some clothes for my daughter because it’s so hard to find modest clothes for girls. But the price of material is so horrendous, that I’m contemplating making some kind of hippy-looking rag-quilt type clothes from scraps. (Is there a proper name for that?)

I am going…to ballet this afternoon (well not me, my daughter). I’m rather relieve there’s no other activities to worry about any more for a Tuesday… but there’s a possibility of a Hebrew lesson this evening. I’m waiting to hear.

I am reading…a huge pile of books! See yesterday’s entry! The fiction title on the list is “Lucca” by Jens Grondahl.

I am hoping…that school will be a bit more successful today. I’m not actualy feeling too well (I think I’m fighting something off, and I have toothache) and I don’t want to fight with the children again today.

I am hearing… happy noises from the children playing upstairs, the whirr of the computer’s fan, and now the gentle hum of the dishwasher.

Around the house…lots of houseplants without a home (they had been moved into the garden for the summer, but the summer has given up a bit so they had to come in again while the weather is so cold and miserable.

One of my favorite things… bookshops and libraries which also allow you to drink coffee (how very civilised)! We first discovered this concept in Sweden when we lived in Stockholm – especially Lidingo library which remains one of my very favourite places. But failing that, Borders is pretty good.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: actually nothing much on the agenda this week, just Ballet this afternoon, and Girls’ Brigade on Thursday evening, but I’m looking forward to seeing my Swedish/Finnish friend Tieja for coffee at Ikea next week.  I might take a walk into town if the weather clears up, perhaps take the children to a park.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

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