zaterdag 30 maart 2013

The Power Of Positive Thinking


My post on discretion has been featured on another blog and it attracted a lot of visitors, which made me think further about the subject. When I wrote that post I thought about the importance of maintaining one's privacy and also about the propriety of saying certain things in unsuitable social settings, but the discussion on Lady Lydia's went further and switched more to the issue of general negativity some people spread about themselves and whether one should burden others with his troubles.

Till recently I always thought that people should have an opportunity to vent and that complaining about one's problems can have a therapeutic effect but now I'm not so sure. The more you encourage people around you to complain the more they will do it, and while it is uncertain whether they will feel better afterwards, it's fairly certain that you will feel depressed.

There are some people who are simply never happy. They can't enjoy life. They will turn every little trivial thing around them into drama. They will always search for an opportunity to pity themselves. It's probably best to avoid them if you want to try and maintain a positive outlook on life. I'm sure we all know such people. After half an hour in their company one starts getting suicidal inclinations.

The same is true about internet blogs. It's easy to become negative when our civilisation seems to be  unravelling before our very eyes, and it's important to point out the problems we are facing, but it's totally unproductive to wallow in misery and to concentrate on the worst things around us. People lived through worse times than these. Our ancestors used to be tough, they survived wars, epidemies, revolutions, loss of children, financial ruin and they went out and built the greatest civilisation that ever was.

They had a zest for life and they weren't afraid of what tomorrow would bring. I think Kipling expressed it best in his poem IF:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'


... 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


(Read the whole poem over here )

What I found out is that complaining seldom helps. The more you talk about your troubles, the worse they seem to you. It's always good to minimise the problem, instead of blowing it out of all proportion. It's one thing to ask for friendly advice in a difficult situation, and totally another to drone on and on about how unhappy one is for hours. For the sake of one's sanity it's better not to dwell too much on the negative things in life as it has a tendency to make one bitter and jaded.

                                         
I believe it's especially important for the housewife because she sets the mood in the household. She owes it to her husband and children to create a cosy, warm and cheerful atmosphere at home, so that when they come home from work and school they can relax and enjoy. Also the children nearly always copy their mother's attitude, if she is negative about everything, they will grow up to be exactly the same and will always be miserable.

And your husband who works hard to make a living deserves to come home to someone who is smiling. Husbands like little attentions which add to the home comforts, such as a nice cup of coffee with a piece of cake and a bunch of spring flowers. In short, you may want to give positive thinking a try!


donderdag 28 maart 2013

Cranberry Cream Dessert

It looks like there is always winter and never Christmas around here last time:) Yesterday the temperature hardly rose above the freezing point the whole day, but at least it was sunny, while today we actually got snow, though not much. Since I partially recovered from flu, I decided it was time to try a new recipe and as I still have some cranberies in the freezer, I decided to make Cranberry Cream dessert. It turned out fine and dear husband liked it, too.

Cranberry Cream dessert is easy to make. You will need cranberries, fresh or frozen, sugar, cream and some gelatine. First I made cranberry compote, by cooking half a package of frozen cranberries with half a cup water, some sugar and cinnamon. When it was ready, I left it to cool and whipped the cream, also with some sugar added. Then I combined the two and added some dissolved gelatine, and voila- here it is:


The glasses are actually meant for Irish Coffee but I thought that I could use them for the Cranberry Cream dessert as well, especially since we never drink Irish Coffee. The mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least two hours before serving. Cranberries could probably be substituted by something else. Now the next milestone will be baking a cheesecake for Easter on my husband's request:)

dinsdag 26 maart 2013

Discretion

I was asked to write about discretion. According to my Longman edition of 1992, discretion is "the quality of being discreet", and being discreet means being "careful and sensible, esp. in what one chooses to say." Discretion went out of the window right after self-control and reserve so that nowadays people tell the most intimate details of their life to nearly perfect strangers.

 I'm afraid it can be especially true of women. I remember how I went to a supermarket once and while searching for meat I had to endure a loud conversation of two elderly women (whom I'm afraid I can't call ladies), where one was telling the other the most unpleasant details of a certain medical examination which she had undergone.

At a birthday party I once attended a woman proceeded to give a full medical description of symptoms of menopause which she was experiencing to a guy who looked as if he'd rather sink through the floor than listen to her. By the way, why is it that people who have various sicknesses or medical conditions think that it amuses others to listen to the stories about their health for hours on end? A dinner party is hardly a place to discuss such things.

Of course, it's true not only about health. It simply makes no sense to burden others with your troubles and problems. Most people who are not your close friends or relatives are not interested and will listen only out of politeness. You may think it's unfair, but it's true. It reminds me of an old joke, that a bore is man who if asked how he is proceeds to tell you exactly that.

It can also be unwise to tell strangers or people you barely know about conflicts or problems in your family. Not only they will lack sympathy, but they can later use the information against you, and considering the modern paranoia about abuse, they can even get you into legal trouble.

It's interesting that the Bible names discretion as one of the qualities of a Titus 2 woman: To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands...Matthew Henry in his Bible commentary refers to discretion as one of the qualities of a good personal character: "To be sober and discreet, contrary to the vanity and rashness which younger years are subject to: discreet in their judgments and sober in their affections and behaviour. Discreet and chaste stand well together; many expose themselves to fatal temptations by that which at first might be but indiscretion. Prov. 2:11 , Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee from the evil way."  (Read the whole commentary here )

Discretion in this context means making wise choices based on reason and not on emotion and not exposing yourself to unnecessary temptations. It's a character quality which our modern society not only lacks, but actively discourages (did you notice how nowadays vice is turned into virtue and vice versa?), so that there is even more reason for those beholden to tradition to practise it.

maandag 25 maart 2013

Can Can

Time for a musical interlude!

Last Friday my husband's company organised a party for the employees and their wives. Part of the entertainment program were Can Can dancers. While watching the girls perform I kept thinking that once the dance was probably considered really shocking, but nowadays with our lax modesty standards, vulgar TV programs and the abundance of Internet Pr0n, it seems rather innocent. Anyway, the guys apparently enjoyed it though the presence of the wives somewhat tempered their reaction:)

The dance itself may be naughty, but the music is great. Enjoy!

zondag 24 maart 2013

Older Women And Work

I got the following comment from Lady Lydia in response to my post on the new breed of women:

People think women are just going to run like a new washing machine for ever and ever, and that she can just go to work outside the home when she reaches 50 years of age, and the children are grown. The problem with that kind of thinking is they are not taking into account the stamina and health of women age 50-70. You reach a point where you know you can't keep up the pace the world expects of you and need to have more rest. Yet the rest of the world wants the 40-70 year old women to get up and get a job outside the home. Do they think these women are going to have the strength of teenagers?

That's how I basically feel about the issue. While technically I probably don't fall into the category of older women yet I'm not that young any more, either. You definitely feel that you are getting older, and that your level of energy is lower than it used to be. You need more rest and sleep. The children may be grown, but you still have your husband and the house to take care of. Your parents enter their old age and need more help and attention from you etc etc. Why the rush back to the office?

I'm not speaking here about the families in dire financial circumstances, but about those who can exist quite comfortably on one income. It must be countless times that I read on supposedly conservative sites advice to women to marry young, get children in their twenties and embark on a wonderful career when they are in their forties.

Well, I have nothing against marrying young (though statistics seem to point out that those who marry very young often have less stable marriages), and having children in one's twenties used to be quite normal, but as for the rest of the plan, I'm not so thrilled with it.

I know that some women like Phyllis Schlafly can pull it off, but let's be realistic here. There is a reason we send children to school when they are young. You learn better  when you are younger, not when you are 45+. It's difficult to start a career when you are that old. Companies prefer to hire younger people, and they search for someone with experience of working in a certain field.

 Not that it's impossible, though, as some women were left widows and managed to get back to work and to do quite all right, but if you really want to have a career it makes sense to start when you are young. Younger people have more drive and ambition, more energy and stamina.

The idea behind that particular piece of advice seems to be that women miss something important when they choose to stay home and they need to try and get this important experience before it's too late. Either that, or it can come across as women having a duty to work outside home which they only can be freed from for a certain time, when the children are very young, and then, back to work you go.

If you are really a traditionalist, you'll agree that men and women are different and naturally occupy different spheres. Men are protectors and providers and guardians of the society as a whole, while women excel in domestic sphere and are to guard the home. Home is where most women thrive. Remember that not so long ago men tried to protect even the unmarried daughters from the workforce. Think Jane Austen, for instance, after her father's death she and her sister Cassandra were both supported by their brothers who made a good career.

I'd say to each his own, but if you are financially comfortable and your husband agrees why not staying home even without children/with grown children? Your relationship with your husband will be better if you have more time to take care of him (a hint: husbands like attention, lots of it!), and now that the children are grown you'll have an opportunity to do things you always wanted to do, but never had time for, like learning to play the piano. Or as the lady in the original article stated, to have the best kept lawn in the neighbourhood. Why not? 

donderdag 21 maart 2013

The New Breed Of Women Has Finally Arrived!

In case you missed that one (not that I read Daily Mail anyway, but it was commented upon on some blogs). My comments will be in italics.

Daily Mail announces that the new breed of feminists has finally arrived - the homemakers!

Rise of the happy housewife: How a new wave of feminists are giving up their careers to stay at home because they WANT to
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2295236/Rise-happy-housewife-How-new-wave-feminists-giving-careers-stay-home-WANT-to.html#ixzz2OBwpGzOK
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Daily Mail goes on to mention the new book by that lovely lady Sheryl Sandberg, who I have heard, left her baby when it was only 2 weeks old to go back to the office. It appears that not all women were amused:

A growing number of women are dismissing the career-driven conventions they were raised with, saying no to full-time work; believing instead that every household needs one primary caretaker - the mother.
One of them was Kelly Makino, who describes herself as a feminist but then goes on to say how happy she is to finally be able to quit her job and stay home with her own children:

Her sacrifice of a salary pays her family back in ways Mrs Makino believes are priceless, and she is not alone. A new breed of young, educated, and married mothers are finding themselves untouched by the notion of 'having it all.'

Of course, as I previously mentioned in one of my posts, no one can have it all. It seems that the younger generation of women has finally figured it out, which fact combined with the state of economy, led to the reduction of the amount of women in the workforce:

For the first time since the downturn of 2008, the percentage of stay-at-home mothers rose between 2010 and 2011 - and some of the biggest increases have been among younger mothers, aged 25 to 35.

Another lady, Patricia Ireland, left her job, too, and has no plans to return back to work. She finds that it's a privilege to be able to take care of her children:

she feels it is a privilege to oversee 'not just what they do, but what they believe, how they talk to other children, what kind of story we read together. That’s all dictated by me. Not by my nanny or my babysitter.'

Amazingly, she doesn't feel that her husband oppresses her by allowing her to stay home! That's what she said:

'I’m not bitter that I’m the one home and he goes to work. And he’s very happy that he goes to work.'

Daily Mail then quotes another lady who made a ground-breaking discovery: she has figured out that the sex differences can be inherent (she is still not sure about it, though):

In her much-discussed Atlantic piece, Why Women Still Can't Have It All, Anne-Marie Slaughter called for better workplace programs: more parental leave, more part-time and flextime options.
But even she admits this new breed of women could be on to something. 'Are there characteristics inherent in sex differences that make women more nurturing and men more assertive?' she asks in Lean In. 'Quite possibly.'

Of course, then we all have once again to hear the tiresome complaint about women still earning less money than men. However, instead of demanding more affirmative action (if women are equal, why do they need it anyway?), the Daily Mail quotes Mrs Makino again:
 
'I know this investment in my family will be paid back when the time is right,' she said, referring the option of someday, when her children start college, figuring out what she will peruse next.
Apparently some women are not interested in fighting for their gender equality, they'd rather work for their own family than for some corporation. Interesting enough, the heroine of this piece is not dreaming of rushing back to the office the moment the children are older. , She wants to have a well-kept lawn instead:

Maybe I will be home for ever and ever. Maybe I will have the best-kept lawn on the block for the rest of my life

It makes little sense for older women to go back to work. If the family finances allow it, why not staying home and just enjoying your life? If you click the link above, you can read the whole article and the comments.

woensdag 20 maart 2013

Dreaming Of A Vacation

We were planning to go on vacation in March when our central heating system broke down and we had to install a new boiler. That brought an abrupt end to our dreams, as you can well understand:) It makes me doubly nostalgic for last year when around this time we spent a heavenly week in Vienna and Budapest.

 The weather was beautiful so that not only we didn't once have rain, but it was warm like in summer, too! At least during the day. This year the winter seems to be staying forever, just this morning it snowed again, and I have been down with a flu of some sort. So to cheer myself up I decided to browse the photos from last year and to share some of them with you. First Vienna:

This is a hotel room we stayed in:

The hotel was called Biedermayer, it's a 4 star hotel and I can recommend it to anyone. The service was great, the breakfast buffet offered a lot of choice, and it was situated at a walking distance from the centre of the city.
 Here is a picture of the hotel itself:


It looks romantic, doesn't it? Below is a monument to the Emperor Franz Joseph:



Carriages are waiting to take you sightseeing (they are quite expensive so we just walked everywhere):


Me in the park of Schoebrunn:


Visiting the library of Hapsburgs:


Inside the Opera:



The graves of the Emperor Franz Joseph, his wife Elisabeth and their son:

And of Max of Mexico:

As you see, people have not forgotten them. I was especially touched to see the children's drawings on the grave of Sissi. They drew horses for her because they know how she loved horse riding.

The teahouse of Schoebrunn, where you can eat various delicious cakes:

The flower clock in the park:


The church built to celebrate the victory at the gates of Vienna:


The Parliament building:

And just some cars in the street:


 

I'll post the pictures from Budapest next time.

maandag 18 maart 2013

Are Housewives Lazy?



I'd like first to state that, yes, some women who call themselves housewives are definitely lazy. They can't be bothered to learn how to cook a decent meal, they prefer watching telly to cleaning the house, they let their children basically raise themselves, they don't take a good care of their appearance etc. I'm sure in real life we all know the examples of such women.

However, I'd like to point out, that their laziness is a character deficiency which has nothing to do with their chosen occupation of homemaker. If they had any other profession they wouldn't show better results. A lazy woman is just that, lazy, and she will always try to do the bare minimum of whatever is demanded of her. That said, it is often assumed that a wife and mother is lazy simply because she doesn't work outside home.

We live in the times when one is supposed to engage in some frantic activity the whole day, every day. When I was at school I remember we had to learn a poem by heart which began like this:

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?

That was an old poem, by Robert Frost, I think, and the situation has become considerably worse ever since, it's not that we don't have time to stand and stare any more, it's that standing and staring nowadays is considered practically a sin.

I encountered this attitude even on supposedly Christian sites, where some authors said things along the lines of, why does this woman write on her blog that she enjoys working in the garden? Or how dares that woman to describe her drinking tea with a neighbour during the day? Don't they know these hours could be used productively by working in home business and earning money? What's wrong with those women for Pete's sake? It's like if they never heard that Making Money should be the prirority for everyone, everywhere?

Women nowadays are supposed to have it all and to do it all. Our ideal is a successful career woman who is at the same time a great homemaker cooking delicious exotic dishes, a doting mother of several children, and a wife to her husband who retains her maiden figure well into her forties and fifties, looks hot, wears sexy clothes and can compete with any model out there. No wonder so many women are neurotic and suffer from various stress related maladies.

For more than 40 years now we have been hearing how women are strong and independent. Well, the Bible calls a woman a weaker vessel not for nothing. Women on average are more physically and psychologically fragile than men, and if they are to fulfill their childbearing function, they should be protected from strenuous work and too much stress and negativity.

It's downright unjust to expect from a woman that she fulfills both her domestic duties without any help from her husband and at the same times works to make a living. Homemaking and child-rearing done properly take a lot of time and energy and the wife and mother is entitled to have some rest now and then. If she has some free time, for instance, when the children go to school, why can't she visit her friend or watch a nice film? A homemaker should not be guilt-tripped into spending all her free time filling in reviews online to earn extra 50$ a year, or babysitting the neighbour's children because the said neighbour chooses to work.

You are not responsible for other people and their choices, except in a general sense as a member of  society. If someone you know takes a huge mortgage and as a result, both husband and wife have to work, it's not your fault. You should not feel yourself guilty that you can afford to spend some time drinking tea with your neighbour when she can't. You should not try to apologise for being a housewife. Just like being rich doesn't mean you stole from the poor, being a housewife doesn't mean you took something away from a working woman. Only communists think differently.

I want to add that personally I  sympathise with those ladies who want to stay home but due to circumstances have to work. It's a tough situation. My point in writing this article was to defend innocent homemakers who are under attack for their decision to serve their families at home. When you choose to live on one income in a two-income world it often means a considerable financial sacrifice, but it brings its own rewards as well. One of them is being able to divide your day how you see fit and have some extra free time. You forego material luxuries for the luxury of being able to stand and stare. Don't let trolls disturb you.

zaterdag 16 maart 2013

Saturday Musings

We have had some sort of a Fimbul winter lately, yesterday it kept snowing the whole day. Braving the snow and ice cold wind, my friend and I bicycled to the second-hand store I once mentioned on the blog, and there I found this:



I think it looks nice with the skirt, and it's quite warm, too, and the price was only 4.50! My friend ended up buying two skirts and a summer dress, and I dug up this treasure:

Keep in mind that the price was less than 10 euros and it looks like new and comes from an expensive shop. I remember I saw those dresses hanging there a couple of years ago for a much higher price. I came to conclusion the second hand store is definitely worth visiting regularly!

It has been a very busy week as practically every day I had various appointments, so that today I finally collapsed and subjected our family to a dinner made with the curry sauce out of a jar, which tasted really funny. I don't know why but I can always distinguish between certain homemade and convenience items. Take bread, for instance, the one made in the bread-baking machine tastes much better than the one from the supermarket, but if you knead it by hand, which I sometimes do, though not as often as I'd like to, it will taste better still.

Speaking about baking, I saw this recipe on Mias Landliv and decided to try it. I was intrigued by the use of rye flour, I guess. It took me the better part of a Thursday afternoon to make it and then to clean the kitchen, but it was worth it. Instead of egg butter, I served it with egg salad, like this:


Rye flour gives these pasties a peculiar taste. According to Mia, they are a traditional Finnish sort of pasties, which made me ponder the fact that rye flour seemed to be used a lot more in the traditional Northern European kitchen than now. In fact, you can't even buy it in the supermarket and since the guy who sells it at the market didn't show up on Wednesday due to bad weather, I had to undertake a half an hour walk to a special shop which sells it.

So I did a little Wikipedia research and found out that just as I had expected, rye can grow in poorer soil and worse weather conditions than wheat, and that it has much lower amount of gluten in it, which made me wonder whether the widespread modern gluten allergies could be caused by the fact that we have switched from rye to wheat as our choice flour. It's only an idea of mine, of course, but there could be something to it.

Being interested in everything traditional I searched further and found a recipe for dark rye bread on About.com, which I'm going to try as soon as I find time for another trip to the aforementioned shop. I also discovered that rye flour has health benefits and according to this article is good for your blood sugar levels. So on that positive note, gentle reader I'm going to leave you as my husband has been deprived of tea and my company for much too long. I wish you all a blessed Sunday!

donderdag 14 maart 2013

My Philosophy Of Homemaking

Homemaking is something you can't avoid: whether you are married or single, with a bunch of kids or childless, you will have to perform at least some homemaking activities for you home to function properly. The truth is that no one can have it all, contrary to the stories MSM keeps telling us, which means that the more hours you are working outside home the less time will be left for cleaning, cooking, baking and the like, so that it's not uncommon for single people who per definition have to work to hire someone to help with the basic housekeeping tasks.

When you keep this in mind, you'll see for yourself that the traditional labour division within the family makes a lot of sense. Someone has to take care of the home front and keep the fires burning. The rumour goes that the Neanderthals died out because they lacked the division of labour between the sexes, hence their women shared in such traditionally male activities as hunting and had less and less children and thus finally disappeared. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Modern world is very complex and we can't always have what we desire, and I'm aware that some couples have a lot of debt and other problems which may force the wife to work, but I think we all could agree that it is hardly an ideal situation. The loss of home comfort can't be substituted by extra cash the working wife brings.

We live in very materialistic times when pragmatism rules the day and everything is measured by material success, yet, to paraphrase the Scriptures, what does a man profit when he wins the whole world and loses his soul? The homemaker is the soul of the home and when she leaves it, the home loses something very essential.

The same is true to a certain extent even in the case of working part-time. I guess it all depends on how you view your homemaking. You can view it as a nuisance, a boring list of chores which must be done, or you could view it as your career. In the latter case, if one wants to be successful in his career, he usually dedicates all his energy to it. Think, for instance, about a promising young surgeon or a politician. Would he search another part-time employment in addition to his main one, for instance working in the factory twenty hours a week? Well, may be, if he needed money desperately, but otherwise...

Let's be honest about it, a person, man or woman, can't succeed in both worlds. It's either one or the other. Why not make a choice and stick to it? It's only logical. I still don't get it how staying home became a synonim of oppression for women while working for the boss and keeping the house in addition to it is supposed to be liberation? Liberation from what? From your evil husband? If he is such a dastard, why did you marry him? It simply makes no sense, whatever way you look at it.

The truth is, homemaking is not at all oppressive or humiliating or debasing, it's creative, uplifting and a lot of fun, that is, if you are not a perfectionist or overcrowd yourself with too many activities. And it has to be done anyway.Why not just relax and enjoy it?





woensdag 13 maart 2013

The Biggest Bunny In The World

and other things:

My husband found him on twitter. Isn't he cute? If he lived in my house, he'd be in danger of being cuddled to death:) I didn't even know rabbits can grow this big!

I finally finished knitting my skirt on Monday, and since we've got a spell of unusually cold weather, I had a chance to wear it, too:


The top part will have to wait till the next cold season, as today I have started working at this project:

Even though it feels more like  December than March, lol! I also bought fabric to make two skirts. Actually, I was first planning to make only one but had difficulty choosing between the same pattern in two colours so I ended up buying both of them. Now for the time being I will have something to do!

maandag 11 maart 2013

A Job Or A Career?



For all Star Wars fans out there - I know it technically isn't really classical music, but I happen to like it:) My husband has it as the ringtone on his mobile:)

Now to the topic of the post: My Longman Dictionary of English Landuage and Culture, edition of 1992 defines 'career' as "a job or profession for which one is trained" or a part of the general course of a person's working life. However, in usage 'career' often implies one's lifework at which the person presumably will achieve some success. Still, if we only go by the bare dictionary definition, we'll see that 'career' is simply a more glorified version of  'job'.

'Job' is defined by the same dictionary as regular paid employment and the paragraph on usage tells us that job is something you do to earn your living. Why am I posting these definitions? Chiefly because nowadays there is a lot of confusion about the family and traditional sex roles (note: gender is a grammatical term). There seems to be no shortage of people nowadays who insist that they support the traditional family and they will even tell you that they are against women having careers, but then they turn around and say it's OK for women to have jobs as opposed to careers.

In other words, it's fine for the married woman to be in regular paid employment (which is different from occasional babysitting and selling handmade soap through internet) and to earn her living as long as she doesn't enjoy it ot tries to be successful at it, or to put it simply: operating a cash register at McDonalds's for the minimum wage 35 hours a week is good, while being a lady doctor working 40 hours a week makes her an evil career woman.

I understand that everybody is entitled to his point of view, and that a lot of people disagree with the idea of the traditional family, but the least they could do is to state it openly. The traditional idea of family in the West is a breadwinner husband and a homemaker wife who can have some occasional earnings but whose primary occupation is running the household. That's how Longman defines 'housewife': "a woman who works at home for her family, cleaning, cooking etc., especially one who does not work outside the home. (emphasis mine).

To say that one supports traditional family and is against women working at careers but is OK with women working at jobs is akin to saying War Is Peace and Freedom Is Slavery. I guess George Orwell was onto something and the 1984 has finally arrived.

zaterdag 9 maart 2013

Housewife's Honour

My favourite phrase in the movie "Prisoner Of Zenda" (which I wrote about here ), is the one uttered by Princess Flavia, "women have honour, too!" What does it mean for an average housewife? In her chapter on Good Character in "Fascinating Womanhood", Helen Andelin talks about such virtues as responsibility and diligence and explains that they are essential for successful homemaking.

A homemaker is responsible for running the household efficiently and it's her duty to check that everything is functioning smoothly. If she dislikes some tasks around the house, it's not a reason to neglect them, she will do what is necessary without whining or complaining. She will take pride in the job well done. As Mrs Andelin puts it: "She assumes it (her work) with a keen sense of responsibility, realizing that it must be done and the job rightfully belongs to her." (Fascinating Womanhood, p.214, Bantam Books 1992).

The wife and mother who neglects her responsibility in the home, shows a weakness of character, or to quote Mrs Andelin again: "To turn her back on her work is a serious dereliction of duty." (idem, p. 215.) Think about these words. Dereliction of duty is considered a serious crime. In times of war you could be executed for it! When you are at home full time, it's easy to get distracted. At work, you have your superiors to tell you what to do, while at home you are free to fill your day as you see fit. Unfortunately, sometimes we fill it with hours of watching TV and browsing on the net.

Besides responsibility, a homemaker needs diligence, which basically means to do a good job. Diligence is the opposite of laziness and neglect. Mrs Andelin warns her readers against being just good enough, as it leads to mediocrity. The housewife should always be ready to go a second mile in her job, because only then she will really find satisfaction in homemaking.

There is actually such a thing as the homemaker's creed, which says, among other things, that homemaking is a noble and challenging career and that the homemaker will give the best of her efforts and abilities to it. (You can read the whole Creed over here ). Think about it as an honour code for housewives, just like the one used in Middle Ages by knights ). The world tells us that housewives are fat, lazy slobs and every time we neglect our homes and our appearance we enforce this stereotype.

One of the reasons the world puts homemakers down, is because they don't take pride in their accomplishments at home, and if asked what their occupation is, mumble something like, "I'm just a housewife." A homemaker should not see herself as some domestic drudge, she is the lady of the house and she should absolutely take pride in her job which is only possible if she is doing it well.

vrijdag 8 maart 2013

Lemon Yogurt Cake And Some Links

Baking lemon yogurt cake is a fine way to utilise yogurt, it's very moist and lemon juice gives it a fresh taste. I used this recipe from Barefoot Contessa, and it turned out great:

Everybody liked it, even the guy who came to repair our central heating. It tastes nice with a cup of tea, or you can serve it with after dinner coffee:


I'm afraid we like it so much that already there is very little left of it, which, on the other hand, will allow me to use my culinary talents on something new:) Kitchen is a great place for experimentation!

While enjoying your cup of coffee or tea, with cake or without it, take your time to browse through some recent articles and discussions on the world wide web, all while keeping in mind the obligatory disclaimer:

The advice on protecting your time

The discussion on what Love Thy Neighnour really means

The critical look back on The Feminine Mystique

The information on labour force participation of women

The history of the married women in the workforce

And the humorous take on Laura Silberman


woensdag 6 maart 2013

Is Home Business Worth it?

Strictly speaking, home business is worth it in one situation only - when it brings money. More often than not it doesn't, and what is worse, it costs much more than it brings. Only this morning I have read a story from a Catholic forum where the husband was complaining that his wife went into debt to sponsor her online shop.

That reminds me that I Love Lucy episode in which she and Ethel start a home business selling mayonaise (at least, I think it was mayonaise) which takes all of their time and in the end, they lose money on every jar they sell.

It's not that I think it's wrong to try and sell things online or to be profit-minded. However, before trying to set up an Etsy shop or a home business of any kind, the wise thing to do is to figure out whether it is cost effective. Generally, one doesn't become rich with selling hand-knitted sweaters or socks or some such thing. The price of quality yarn is high on its own, and the amount of time invested is considerable, while the returns if you are trying to sell, are low.

For instance, in a knitting magazine I usually read, some lady figured out that if she asked 6 euro per hour, a sweater which she made would cost more than 300 euros. It's simply not realistic to expect that people will pay such a price. It's one thing to view knitting as a relaxing hobby, and quite the other to try and become one woman factory.

I believe that having a home business nowadays is a sort of a fad. Since housewives are treated with contempt, it's often a nice way for the lady of the house to say: "You see, I'm really a business woman, not some dumb homemaker like the neighbour next door."

While the profits of such an enterprise are often rather low or non-existent, it often tends to be very time consuming, so that the woman will have to neglect some of her housekeeping duties. The irony of it all is that she would probably save more money if she invested this time into learning about  budgeting and searching for bargains in the shops.

Finally, a woman is not a machine, and she needs to have some time for herself to unwind and relax, she should not feel the pressure to spend every free minute of her day trying to earn money, especially if her husband earns a decent income. Home businesses are overrated.


maandag 4 maart 2013

Spring Is In The Air!


Today for the first time it feels like spring. The sun was shining the whole day and the temperature rose to about +13*C. I don't know about you, but I have much more energy when the weather is sunny and I get a real urge to clean and organise and streamline.  
                                     

The cat was sunbathing. He is seldom at home nowadays so I took the opportunity to snap a picture of him:

My knitting project is nearly finished so I have been wondering what to do next. The new spring fashions are lovely, very feminine and colourful. One of the themes of the season is Italy, another - Vintage chic:

I also bought a new Sew Easy magazine which has some neat dresses and skirts. Though I'm not much of a seamstress, I'm tempted to try and make this one:


I'll start with something more simple though, probably with an A-line skirt, which is also featured in the magazine. Such beautiful weather as we are having now calls for some really cheerful music, so for today I chose this piece:

zaterdag 2 maart 2013

Victorian Women And Sports

To continue with the previous topic, I thought you'd enjoy these pictures of Victorian women engaging in various sports, such as:

riding the bike and trike,

sailing,



diving,




playing tennis (with men, no less!)


playing croquet (again with men)


playing billiards,


ice-skating without a chaperone,

boating (or punting, to be precise. Notice that while she is managing the boat the guy is busy with lunch),


swimming,
and playing golf and flirting with men. Just so you know they weren't all of them chained to their stoves:)

vrijdag 1 maart 2013

Retro Casual

While I'm not into retro clothes in the sense that I'm not trying to dress according to the fashions of the 1950s or to recreate Victorian styles or some such thing, I still think that there are a lot of things we could learn from yesteryear. Most people who are seriously into vintage will try to copy a certain look or design, as for me, I'm trying to follow vintage principles and philosophy of dress.

In the past people used to dress much more formally than now and to stress rather than conceal the male-female differences. They also wore clothes according to the occasion and sometimes would change them several times a day. I have been collecting vintage ads and magazines for quite some time now, and when I look through them, Í'm always impressed by how well people tend to look even in the most casual situations, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the pictures with my readers.

                                           
Here we see a lady relaxing in the garden with her dog. The fact that she is wearing a dress doesn't seem to prevent her from enjoying life.


Above is a 1940 ad which shows a family apparently having a picnic. Notice how they all are dressed. They look wholesome to me. I'd like to have them as neighbours.

This is another ad featuring casual shoes. It shows a neatly looking young woman with a bike, but did women actually ride the bike in a skirt? Yes, they did, and here is the proof:


The man manages to look like a gentleman, too, apparently with little effort on his part. While in the XXth century women started wearing trousers for some sports, it was still not unusual to go ice-skating in a skirt, like this girl:


Apparently her dress didn't hinder her from having excercise. Now tennis is one sport which the women still participate in while wearing a skirt of some kind, though it has become ridiculosly short. However, as the ad below demostrates, you can play tennis in a normal length dress, too:




I'd like to end with another picture showing a young lady apparently going on a hike. She looks self-assured and confident, and determined to have a good time, all while wearing a skirt:


Casual clothes don't have to look slovenly or unfeminine.