Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vintage Modern Farmgirl

How does a woman thrive today whose heart longs for the virtues and ways of living of the past?

These thoughts have been stirring in my mind for the last several years.

I am a great-grandaughter of those who settled the West.

August of this past year, I found myself on the dirt road heading to the homestead of my great-grandparents with my wonderful mom next to me and my precious children in the backseats.  Dust gathering behind my vehicle and farmland sprinkled with cattle, sunflowers and windmills, I made the journey to the homestead.

I have lots of memories of visiting as a child.  Getting up at the crack of dawn with my great uncle to gather eggs, riding on the back of an old truck as it slowly crept through the prairie throwing bales of hay to cows who gathered behind.  Listening to the coyotes howl at night, worrying about the little kittens nestled in the warmth of the old barn.

Walchle Homestead: taken by Cathy Stewart, cousin

My children have no memories of this place.  My heart feels sad that I am the last generation of my family to have these memories of a working homestead.  My uncle now is now gone, his grave on the bluffs of the small, nearby town.  His wife, in a nursing home of that small town.  They had no children.  Ironically, she lives on another bluff across from the graveyard.  My maternal grandparents and several great-aunts and uncles all buried here.  Their lives beginning and coming full circle to the hills and bluffs of the prairie.

I have farmgirl roots.  How do I keep from losing my heritage?  How do I spill these thoughts and way of living into my life and the lives of my children? 

I have experienced and enjoyed the theatre and art museums of New York City, symphony orchestras (I was a violinist) and other "modern" life.  But it has been the joy found in daily living, that I have done much soul searching.  As a teenager, I thought it too old-fashioned & a bit embarrassed.  It's funny how sometimes we reject things that we later learn is an immense treasure.

"Steadfast at home" or committed to a home-centered life is what it has been boiled down to.  Interacting with God's creation in the way I was meant to, becoming less dependent on government and big business and more dependent on our Creator.  Putting my husband, children and home first in my priorities.  Viewing my home as a place of creativity, industry and ministry.

For me, it physically began when I started wearing aprons again
So simple, yet as I began to think about it, I don't have any memories of my Grammie or great aunts not wearing aprons (unless they were dressed for church on Sunday).  As I get to work in my kitchen, I tie those strings around my waist and feel the heritage of those precious, hardworking and Godly women who have gone before me. 

As I studied the daily lives of the women in my family's heritage,  I began to see some areas that I could re-capture and cultivate in my own family and life.  Lots of the following ideas we have begun adding into our family's way of life.  Others, I am prayfully considering.

Things like:

growing a vegetable garden


using natural products for medicines, beauty, etc.


stocking a deep pantry


writing letters

raising chickens


making own cleaners & laundry soap

cake decorating

nature studying/sketching

listening to sermons & radio dramas together as a family

bee keeping

making menus from scratch

planting and harvesting own orchard

reading great books aloud as a family

candle making

growing herbs for cooking, medicine & teas

grinding wheat  & baking homemade bread

What I didn't expect in doing these things was the changes that would take place in my family's hearts and relationships as we've learned to plant, harvest, can, bake, sew and mend together.  It has really brought a deep sense of joy and satisfaction. 

Can a woman of today be a Vintage Modern Farmgirl?

Yes.  She not only can, but it's a tiring, rewarding & beautiful life. She may also change the lives of those who walk in her footsteps and those around her.  The fruit has the potential to live beyond her own lifetime.

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all."  Proverbs 31:28-29

Homestead Blessings!


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She Looketh Well Over Her Household

"She lookethwell to the ways of her household
and eateth not the bread of idleness"
Proverbs 31: 27
These past two weeks or so has found me with a mission:


Once, as a mother with young children, I began to research how to more efficiently run my household.  I began to slowly take apart Proverbs 31 and reflect on each verse and how those categories "she looketh after" apply to my life. 

I also came across two books, specifically, that help me also"looketh well to the ways" of my household.  They were Emilie Barnes's "More Hours In My Day" and  Kathy Peel's "The Family Manager"The books had specific ideas for life in the twenty-first century.  I also in recent years, came across several great books on organization/family management from Edith Schaffer (her books are very thought provoking!)

As I have reflected on many great ideas on home management, I thought I would share what I have found works for our family: a house full of children (preschool through high school), a husband, wife and a cat named Pepper.

   It works for me to......

* Straighten up & clean the house at night before bed
   (it is such a great way to start the day....fresh & clean!)

* Check the menu plan for the day in the morning.  Looking at what I need to do  (thaw, chop, etc.) for lunch & dinner, so I know when I need to begin. Example: it takes about 6 hours to thaw a pound of ground beef on my windowsill.  I have to calculate when I will begin preparation.

Get up earlier than my family.  At least one hour.  I spend it reading God's Word, devotional, journaling, exercising and reading a chapter from my book.  I am what I put in and what I think about.  That is the well my family draws from in me.  He fills me.

Have a ritual of quiet time everyday. 
   From 1p.m. (or so) to about 3p.m. I have "quiet time".  Naps, quiet activities, reading, etc.  Even my high school daughter does this with no problems. My children get a better mommy (I get refilled) and they all get along alot better.

Make a list before I go to bed of any pressing projects or thoughts before I go to bed.  I sleep soo much better when I am don't spend all night turning those thoughts over and over in an attempt to remember them the next day.

* Take some time in the afternoon to have tea or coffee.
   I know this might sounds very old-fashioned and English, but this ritual has been so refreshing to me and is a time of reflection (as I sip), prayer and doing mid-day course correction.

* Set a day(s) each week that the major categories (laundry & dishes) get done.
   For example, Mondays and Fridays are laundry day. Thursday afternoons I go grocery shopping.  This has changed throughout the years as my family has changed.  I no longer have to spend a couple precious hours on the weekend shopping (it's also too crowded)!

* Have your children help you.
   I have certain days that I have them do different jobs around the house.  They have quickly learned that if they complain, they get more jobs.  I try to be fair and thank them for helping our family.  Showing gratitude is important for me.  (I don't want my children to being doing chores and harboring bitterness).

* Stop running all over town.
  This used to be my life and I was always worn out.  My house was very messy and my children were always tired and cranky.  My priorities were out of order.  I have found the more consistent days I have that I do not leave my home, the more peaceful & content my children and myself are.   My husband is also blessed to come home to a joyful wife, happy kids, clean home and home-cooked meals (most of the time....).  Yes, my children have interests.  Yes, they have classes/clubs sprinkled here and there.  But we have put quantity family time first over living in a minivan, going different directions and not knowing one another. (Again, most of the time.....)

* 10 Minute Miracles
   I can't remember where I learned this, but it has been so wonderful to practice.  Do 10 minutes worth of organizing..... something.  In ten minutes I have straightened our junk drawer, sorted through the kids' drawers, read a chapter in a book, organized bathroom drawers, stacked the tupperwear & lids, wiped off refridge shelves and so much more!  If I know that I have to only work for 10 minutes, it is not so overwhelming.  I also get alot done knowing that timing is ticking (it's sometimes a fun game for me......I know!)

What I have listed has evolved through the years as my family changes and I (finally) get what is frustrating me--or go back to Proverbs 31 or the other books I mentioned.  I want to be constantly learning and growing in household management and make this home a beautiful and fun sanctuary for my family. 
I'd love to hear what you do that works for your family!

May you have a wonderful New Year!

Malinda B.