Saturday, November 30, 2013

How To Organise Your Homemaking

I have recently noticed that though my blog is called Adventures In Keeping House, there are actually not that many posts about housekeeping, so I decided it was time for one!

Have you ever been overwhelmed with your housekeeping? I have. It all started with me deciding to write a book, which took a lot of my free time, but was nothing compared to typing it, editing and preparing for print. If someone tells you that housekeeping is easy to combine with writing books, working from home or running a business, don't listen to them! Something will inevitably suffer and in my case it was my housekeeping and my sanity.

Seeing me overwhelmed with responsibilities and not wishing me to lose my mind, my husband suggested hiring domestic help, which we did; unfortunately, just as I got accustomed to the changes in my cleaning schedule, she got married and quitted. It was right before summer vacation, and then I had to deal with serious sickness in the family,  and other unpleasant things.

 Anyway, this all being in the past, I finally decided it was time to put my life back on track, starting with getting the house in order. Actually, I'm always planning to get my house in order, but something always interferes with the best of my intentions. Well, this time I decided to really make an effort and turned to YouTube for solutions, hoping that a homemaking video or two can give me the sorely lacking inspiration, and I was right!

YouTube has lots of homemaking videos, which will teach you all sorts of things, from setting the table to cleaning your bathroom properly, to blessing your husband to homeschooling your children, you just name it. I spent the best part of Thursday watching them and found one which I especially liked and would recommend to anyone struggling with organising her home. I hope you'll find it as helpful as I did!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charity For Homemakers?

Some time ago I read an article about the position of women in Iran. Now I must tell you beforehand that my ideas about life in Iran were based on newspaper horror stories and a book called "Not Without My Daughter" which some of you have probably read. The article in question dispells myths about patriarchal oppression of women in the modern day Iran (warning: language) and presents quite a different picture.

To sum it up, while there are laws in Iran which seem unduly harsh and repressive to a Westerner (like public hanging or prohibition of alcohol), they equally apply to both men and women, and men often have it harder. Women, on the other hand, get all sorts of welfare payments from the government which enable them to stay home if they choose to, even in the case of widowhood and divorce. I was especially impressed by the fact that there is an organisation which will pay salary to a single lower class woman who has no male provider (neither father or husband) and no governmental job, so that she can presumably stay home.

Iran looks like a country where they have socialism for women and capitalism for men. I won't reflect on whether such system is good or bad, or whether certain restrictions of freedom are worth being able to avoid joining the workforce. There is something else I'd like to point out: in Western countries churches run all sorts of charities and collect money mostly for the benefit of the Thirld World, but I have never heard of a charity which would support homemakers, like enabling widows to stay home, for instance.

I'm not saying they don't exist, it's simply that I never heard of one, meanwhile I'm sure there was a verse in the Bible about pure and undefiled religion being visiting widows and orphans in their affliction. Western churches want to do a lot of things for orphans, but usually in some other country, not their own.

To illustrate my point further, my husband once knew  a Turkish guy who was self-employed and had a wife and a couple of children to support. He didn't always earn that much and his parents regularly helped him financially so that his wife could stay home. It was simply a normal thing to do. Now how many Western parents would do the same for their daughter-in-law? They'd rather complain that while she is enjoying herself at home, their precious son has to break his back at work.

You see, in our society the default position for a woman whether married or not, and whether she has children, is to have a job. People complain that the government is constantly trying to cut benefits for housewives, but what about the Church? Surely, Christians should know better? To get back to the money question, there are lots of things churches could do for homemakers, besides giving them direct financial help. They could, for instance, start a special free newspaper, supporting housewives, or may be, a ministry for new mothers who choose to stay home and are overwhelmed with responsibilities, because they were never taught homemaking skills.

In the meantime, while the churches are busy with other things, it becomes our responsibility. If you are wealthy, and if you donate to various organised charities, may be you could consider donating to a struggling one income family for a change? If your son's or daughter's family is struggling to pay rent so that the wife and mother has to work and you have a big house, may be you could invite them to stay with you for a while? If you have some free time and know a homemaker who is lonely, may be you could visit her? If a young mother is struggling with her housekeeping, could you give her advice and help?

What have you recently done to support a homemaker?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Defense Of Coverture

Below is a guest post by Jesse Powell. Since coverture has recently been a subject of discussion on this blog, I thought it a good idea to publish it.

In Defense of Coverture – Guest Post by Jesse Powell

Coverture was the legal system of marriage in England from 1188 to 1870; from the Tractatus of Glanvill to the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.  The Tractatus of Glanvill was the first effort to systemize and make more formal English Common Law, it was the beginning of the common law system in England.  The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 was the beginning of the modern day feminist revolution; so basically the era of coverture goes from the beginning of common law to the beginning of modern feminism in England.  Early America as an English colony originally also adopted coverture regarding the laws of marriage up until American Married Women’s Property Acts started to be enacted state by state from 1839 to 1865.  The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 is what set the stage for the later emergence of common law in England and coverture as part of common law.

It should be pointed out however that coverture which was part of common law or secular law was not the only legal authority affecting the lives of married women; equity courts, ecclesiastical law (from the church), and customary law were alternative sources of legal authority that women could appeal to.  These alternative jurisdictions were not bound by the coverture principle that wives were “covered” by their husbands; wives often acted on their own as plaintiffs and defendants in the proceedings of these alternative jurisdictions, these alternative jurisdictions giving women including married women certain individual rights and opportunities for redress and litigation outside of the system of coverture.

The idea behind coverture was that the wife and the husband were one legal entity; in practice this meant that the husband was always the one either suing or being sued and that the husband was the only one who could enter into contracts, that the wife could only enter into a contract including employment contracts with her husband’s consent, and that the husband was legally in control of all marital property and income including property brought into the marriage by the wife and including income earned by the wife.

An interesting aspect of coverture that is often overlooked is that the wife could act on behalf of her husband unilaterally with the husband’s presumed consent to purchase household goods or “necessaries” according to the husband’s economic status.  This meant that the wife unilaterally acting on her own initiative was automatically assumed under the law to be acting as an agent of her husband when purchasing ordinary household goods.  In other words the husband was automatically legally liable to pay for any debts his wife incurred “acting on his behalf” in the purchase of “necessaries” such as clothing, food, lodgings, and medicines for domestic use.  A husband could take steps to try to control his wife’s spending by contacting specific traders and retailers telling them to no longer accept credit from his wife or by general announcements such as paying the town crier to announce to everyone that retailers should no longer accept credit from his wife or taking out advertisements in the newspaper telling retailers to no longer accept credit from his wife.

“A married woman could not contract debts in her own name. Instead, the common-law device of the law of agency provided her with the right to purchase necessaries in her husband’s name, according to his rank and wealth. A husband’s consent to his wife’s pledging his credit was assumed from the couple’s cohabitation. As The laws respecting women stated in 1772, ‘the husband shall answer all contracts of hers for necessaries, for his assent shall be presumed to all necessary contracts, upon the account of cohabiting ’.  This implied authority meant that retailers and traders could deal confidently with a wife without checking whether she had her husband’s permission to act as his agent.  A wife therefore had the right to make purchases using her husband’s credit while they cohabited, even if she was known to be adulterous. The right still applied if her husband turned her out or if she was forced to leave her husband to escape his violence. Wives were not entitled to use it, however, if they ran away from their husbands for any reason, or if the couple entered into a mutually agreed separation and the husband paid a fixed maintenance.”

This power of unilateral spending by the wife could sometimes have serious negative consequences for the husband.  As related in the “Favored or oppressed?” paper about coverture:

“Furthermore, 10 per cent of the secondary complaints in the records of marital difficulties were made by husbands accusing their wives of extravagance and financial mismanagement.  In response to his wife’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights in 1708, Thomas Wood, a sea-faring man of Whitburn, explained that he had separated from her because she had lived extravagantly, contracting debts during his time at sea that reduced him to poverty.

The complaint of financial mismanagement sometimes referred to business as well as household concerns, when men claimed that their business had been damaged by their wives’ actions. In 1723 one farmer declared that his stock was not worth £100, as his wife estimated, but no more than £40 because of her mismanagement.  Similarly social criticism and advice to tradesmen commonly blamed wives for their husbands’ bankruptcy. Daniel Defoe, in The complete English tradesman noted, ‘ I know ’tis a common cry that is rais’d against the woman, when her husband miscarries, namely, that ’tis the wife has ruin’d him’, though he went on to observe that this was not generally true.  This was not just a literary device. A number of husbands accused their wives of bankrupting them.  In 1730 Henry Hendry, a wherryman, responded to his wife’s accusation of physical abuse with a petition that her ill-management and contracting of debts had impoverished him so that he was carried to Newcastle gaol.”

The “Favored or oppressed?” paper goes on to detail some of the ways women were privileged or protected under coverture:

“The so-called favouritisms that wives enjoyed also stemmed from their lack of legal identity. The privileges and rights described by the legal guides can be grouped into three general categories.  Firstly, coverture imposed obligations upon husbands. A wife was entitled to be maintained and to make purchases of necessaries as her husband’s agent.  Secondly, wives were afforded some protection against the unbridled power of their husbands.  They could obtain ‘surety for the peace’ – a bond which obliged a husband to keep the peace towards his wife – against violent husbands, could retain property in marriage through ‘separate estate ’ – a means by which property could be protected for the sole use of the wife during matrimony – and could protect certain rights through equity courts.  Finally, married women enjoyed the evasion or mitigation of punishment in certain types of offences. For example, a wife could not be punished for committing theft in the company of her husband, because the law supposed that she acted under his coercion.  Wives’ inability to make financial transactions in their own name also prevented them from being sued and therefore imprisoned for debt.”

The important thing about coverture that needs to be remembered is that coverture was a system of male guardianship of women, specifically of husbands towards their wives.  Male guardianship of women is a very important principle of traditional culture; to be a guardian means not only to control but also to “guard” and serve the interests of the other.  In particular it needs to be kept in mind that the guardian has to control the person they are guarding and serving in order to guard and serve the person they are the guardian of.  Male control is necessary for the man to be able to serve the interests of the woman he has been assigned to “watch over” and support; in particular male control is necessary for the man to be able to protect himself from the woman he is responsible for taking care of.  People don’t understand that being responsible for the well being of another is a very vulnerable position to be in as the effort you expend for the well being of the other can easily be misused or turned into a mechanism of abuse against you.  This is why the upholding of male authority has always been a fundamental part of every system of male guardianship of women that has been established in the past.

The end of coverture was the beginning of family breakdown and the beginning of men withdrawing their investment in women.  Coverture was the last stable social system the English speaking world had; ever since the dismantling of coverture the family has done nothing but get worse and worse and worse.  Family breakdown was slow in the decades immediately following the end of coverture with family breakdown accelerating as the time since the end of coverture lengthened; a very sharp acceleration of family breakdown starting after 1960 when the pernicious ideology of “gender equality” first started to gain in popularity.  Also thankfully at least in the United States a backlash against the family breakdown wrought by feminism has slowed down the rate of deterioration in the family significantly since 1995.  Historically speaking though the end of coverture was the beginning of the great self-destruction of family life and gender relations that took place from 1870 to 1995 before a significant backlash against this family destruction took hold starting in 1995 and continuing until today.

In order for family life to be returned to full strength and full functioning like it was before feminism started its work of undoing the social contract between men and women; that social contract being that I the man will take care of you the woman as long as you the woman obey me; coverture or something functionally similar to coverture has to be reinstituted.  Men must be seen as the guardians of women and placed into a guardianship role in relation to women once again.

For more on coverture and the history of the breakdown of marriage in the United States including statistics and graphs to illustrate the massive withdrawal of male investment in women that has taken place since the end of coverture I recommend the following article at my website:

I am Jesse Powell.  My website is Secular Patriarchy and my cause is the Traditional Family Activists or TFAs.  On October 30, 2013 I split with the TWRAs (Traditional Women’s Rights Activists) to start my own group, the TFAs.  I felt it was important to have my own group, to be able to play a leadership role as a man.  I still support the cause and purpose of the TWRAs but am no longer organizationally connected to the TWRAs or represent the TWRAs.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Farmer's Salad

This is a Middle Eastern salad or a variant of it, my new cooking book calls it fattoush. It's actually very easy to make and tastes very fresh, due to mint leaves (be careful with using too much of it, I read somewhere that mint is not that good for men).

You will need:

toasted bread, cut into small pieces/cubed
1 cucumber
parsley and mint leaves (I used dried parsley)
garlic to taste
salt and pepper
1 onion
vegetable oil
lemon juice

Mix together bread cubes, cucumber and tomatoes (sliced), and parsley and mint leaves. Make salad dressing from chopped garlic and onion, salt, pepper, vegetable oil and lemon juice (I usually use 2tbsp oil and 1tbsp of lemon juice/vinegar, but you can use any other proportion if you like). Add to the salad ingredients and mix well.

I served it with baked potatoes and hamburgers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Important Announcement

I have some great news to share with you all - my book is now also available from where it right away went on sale and can now be purchased for as little as 11.25$. They also changed the preview slightly, so that you can read the whole of the first chapter and the beginning of the second.

Here is the link:
The Long Way Home

I have also been thinking of a Christmas giveaway. If anyone is interested in getting a free copy of my book in exchange for a review, please contact me via email and don't forget to mention your address so that I can send it to you by post.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 2013 Books

I have been reading several books at the same time. I decided to re-read Mansfield Park which by the way is a great book to read if you have any trouble falling asleep:) There is absolutely no violence of any sort, and the most shocking thing which happens is the adultery committed by Maria and Henry Crawford. It's quite soothing for one's nerves, and Heaven knows, I needed it badly.

Another book I want to talk about is Friendly Brook which is a collection of short stories by R. Kipling. I decided I wanted to read something more sophisticated than Agatha Christie and was lucky to find this book in a second-hand book store in Delft. So far I have read all the stories but the last one, as here I got distracted by rereading the Narnia books (more about them later).

Well, what should I say? Kipling's stories are sophisticated. In fact, I  had difficulty with understanding some of them, and once I only got it, after my husband explained it to me. The language is also quite difficult at times for someone who is not a native speaker, especially when the author is copying some local dialect.

The first interesting thing I learned from that book is that Kipling, just like Mozart, had connections with Masons. In two of the stories, In the Interests of the Brethren, and A Madonna of the Trenches, the action, at least partly, takes place inside a Masonic Lodge, and Masonic traditions and rituals are described. It seems like everybody was a Mason in those times.

Second, women don't come off too nicely in his stories. They are either adulterous wives (A Madonna of the Trenches, Dayspring Mishandled) or display cruelty and meanness above of that of an average man. In Mary Postgate, a woman lets a wounded German soldier die a slow painful death and observes his agony with satisfaction, while a man, according to the author's own words, would rush to help, bring the doctor and try to save the wounded enemy's life.

I probably shouldn't be surprised about these sentiments from a man who wrote a poem saying that a female of the species is more deadly than a male but still...My father told me that when men write books it's mostly to show women in the unfavourable light, and vice versa, and he is probably right, though in my own book I tried to be fair to both sexes:)

Some of the stories had a mystic component to them. In Madonna of the Trenches, a soldier commits suicide to join his mistress who died a day before, and another soldier observes the ghost of the dead woman as she is calling the man she loved. In The Wish House, a woman enlists help of an evil spirit, so-called Token and sacrifices her health and life to save her lover. That last one was quite scary, I even dreamed of it next night.

 Madonna of the Trenches, by the way, has lovely descriptions of soldiers crawling over half frozen, decomposing corpses of their slain comrades, as a daily occurance. It was part of their patriarchal privilege, apparently, but if feminists have their way, women will be able to share in the experience during the next war.

In general, Kipling's stories kill all one's illusions about the moral state of the Victorian and post-Victorian English society, as they show adultery, illegitimate children and similar things were hardly an exception in those days, though illegitimate kids were mostly passed off as nephews and people seldom bothered to divorce officially.

Some stories deal with the topic of revenge, like Dayspring Mishandled. In Sea Constables, a man lets his enemy die from pneumonia even though he has the means to help him, but not a legal obligation to do so. It makes one wonder what one would do in his place. Regulus is a story about the boys' school and The Eye of Allah is a story about medieval monks.

I'm not going to write a thesis about Kipling's prose though, so I'd better stop, but if you ever come across a book with his stories, keep in mind they are well worth reading.

Now finally a couple of words about Narnia series. They certainly will always stay ones of my favourite children's books, but there is something interesting I noticed about them. If you read the books in the order in which they were written, instead of in chronological order, starting with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, then Prince Caspian etc you will see that the girls first don't participate in battles. "Wars are ugly when women fight", says Father Christmas in the first book, and Lucy is given only a dagger, though Susan has a bow.

In Prince Caspian Susan uses her bow a couple of times, but doesn't kill anyone, and during the final battle, the girls stay with Aslan. In Silver Chair, Jill isn't given any weapons at all, except a knife; doesn't take any part in fighting. Then in The Horse and his Boy, it's suddenly Lucy who becomes a valiant warrior and goes to battle with her brothers, while Susan stays at home. Looks like Lewis changed his views on women in combat half way down the series, which is, in my opinion, quite disappointing.

Well, this post is already kilometers long, so I'd better stop right here and do some shopping. Have a great day, all of you!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dinner Ideas

Someone gave me a book as a present called Culinary Passport. It's a Dutch book from the 1970s, which contains recipes from several European countries, plus Turkey and the Middle East. So far I have tried several of them and they all came out well. This week I tried brunede kartofler, a Danish recipe which one could translate as caramelised potatoes and an English one, scotch salmon with hollandaise sauce. 

The results you can see above. I had to adjust the recipes slightly, but the dinner was a success. Let's start with caramelised potatoes. They are really easy to make. The book suggests using normal potatoes which you cook unpeeled, peel when they are still warm and use the next day. I chose small peeled potatoes which are sold in our supermarkets. Those you will have to cook first, too.

For 1 package of 450g, I used 4 tbsp of sugar. You let it melt in a frying pan and then add butter, about 3 tbsp, and then you simply fry the potatoes until they are sufficiently  browned on all sides and  thoroughly warmed. (Mine are not that brown, as caramelising is not my strong point, so some of  the sugar became hard as rocks, but they still tasted delicious).

As for salmon, the book suggested buying it fresh but since it is so expensive around here, I used the frozen variety. You will want to defrost it before cooking. I put some salt on it (the book omits it, but I found out it tastes better this way), then it must be wrapped in aluminum foil (per portion) and placed in a shallow pan so that the water doesn't cover it fully. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with the sauce made in the following way:

Combine 3 tbsp of vinegar (I used lemon juice instead) with 1 tbsp of water, add some peppercorn and a bay leaf and cook until the amount is reduced in half. Remove the bay leaf and the peppercorn, and pour over an egg, whisked (the book suggested using three egg yolks but I discovered that 1 egg works just as good). Place the sauce pan in a bigger pan with hot, but not boiling water, and whisk the sauce until it becomes light in colour and thick (it will take may be half a minute). Start adding butter cut into small pieces (ab. 6tbsp), whisking all the time until you get a smooth, thick sauce. Add a bit more lemon juice and serve over the fish.

I added green beens from the freezer as a side dish and it was a great dinner.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Dangers Of Ageing For Women

In this post I'm not going to talk about things like putting on weight or various health problems a woman can acquire as she is getting older, but about something entirely different. Have you never noticed, dear reader, that older women are often bossy?

Part of it is probably due to the (gradual) loss of female hormones as we are approaching menopause, but the most important cause is, in my opinion, just the fact that as people get older they naturally become more certain of themselves. After all, in our culture, we are still socialised to attribute the position of respect to the elderly, and they are supposed to possess the wisdom which comes with considerable life experience.

The fact, that many women in their late 30s and 40s have nearly grown-up children who are still under their authority as father spends hours away from home earning the living, probably adds to it. It is a natural process, but herein lies the danger of turning into a person resembling Hyacinth from Keeping Up Appearances. Have you ever watched this TV series? If not, you probably should, as it's very funny, but also has some cosy scenes of domestic life in it. I usually watch the reruns of it while knitting.

If you did, do you still remember the story line? Hyacinth bosses everyone around, and her primary victim is her unlucky husband who is the object of sympathy of all her neighbours, family and acquaintances, including the vicar. Have you ever wondered how did she turn into such a monster? In one part, her husband reminds her that after the birth of their son (which happened quite late in their marriage) she lost all (sexual) interest in him, and that's probably when their problems started.

Now, it's partly Richard's fault, too, as he is a total wimp who blindly obeys every ridiculous command of his wife, though sometimes he shows some weak signs of rebellion. The problem with men is that as they age, they get less dominant (due to the reduced amount of testosterone their body produces), while women get more dominant as I pointed out above.

The worst thing about it that the changes in the power balance of marriage usually start with small things, and it's easy to overlook them at first. The husband comes home tired from work and simply has no energy to engage in domestic conflicts and power struggles with his wife, who thinks by herself that she is "not a little girl anymore" and that she "has the right to her own opinion" and probably better knows what the family needs are at the moment anyway, since she is busy with the children and household management day in day out.

It's a temptation very easy to fall into for any woman married for a longer period of time, and then, before she notices it, a new Hyacinth is born, and the marriage relationship is completely ruined. The attraction will usually die on both sides, as women tend to lose the respect for wimpy husbands (as one of such ladies put it, nobody can get attracted to a kitchen*itch), while men, on the other hand, are seldom attracted to a dominatrix.

Granted, such couples don't always divorce. Richard and Hyacinth didn't and some couples I know in the real life who are like this, didn't, either, but you could never call them happy. Ask yourself is it what you really want?

Sometimes it's wiser to keep your mouth shut as a woman even if you know for sure you are right. Sometimes it's better to be kind than right. Several years ago I read an article by Michael and Debi Pearl about Jezebel, which I don't have time to google for right now, when they discussed the same problem from spiritual point of view - women who manipulate their husbands and assert the authority in marriage by pretending to be more spiritual than their husbands.

I know not everyone agrees with Pearls on all sorts of things, but I thought this article was quite good and I still remember one phrase out of it. It goes along the lines that men by nature need to be honoured by their wives and treated as someone who accomplishes great deeds. My own life experience teaches me that it's true.

If you want a happy marriage, don't turn into Hyacinth. At any age.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Links For November

Here are some interesting links for November:

November is usually considered a gloomy, dark month, so it sounds like a good idea to actually celebrate it!
In case you missed the post on the topic on The Pleasant Times, here is the link:
The Celebration Of November

Mias Landliv also has ideas on what to do on a rainy November day:
Rainy Days And Mondays

November also since recently appears to be the "men's month", otherwise known as Movember, so Germany recently had
World Beard Championships

I also recommend this interesting post which argues against short hair on women using a pictorial guide:
Women, please don't cut your hair

Bruce Charlton has several posts on the evils of mass media:
detox programme for mass media addiction
mass media colonised small talk
the mass media is enemy headquarters

And one more article on the dangers of mass media:
Television Is an Evil

Ladies and gentlemen, that's all for today!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carrot-Raisin Cake

This is one of my favourite recipes. It's sweet, moist and healthy, because there are carrots in it! I shared it with my neighbour and her husband and also with those who came on a visit.

You will need:

1c raisins
2c flour
2c sugar (brown)
2tsp baking powder
2tsp cinnamon
1tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
1tsp salt
3/4c vegetable oil
4 eggs
3c grated carrots.

Toss raisins with 2 tbsp flour. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, soda, salt and the rest of the flour. Add oil and eggs, beat well and then add carrots and raisins.

Transfer to a greased baking dish, bake at ab. 165*C (325*F) for 55 till 60 min., remove from oven and cool. For frosting you will need:

1pkg cream cheese (8oz)
1/2c soft butter
1tsp orange juice
1tsp vanilla extract
powder sugar to taste (I usually use ab. 2 cups, though the original recipe calls for 3 3/4c)

Beat cream cheese and butter, then add juice and vanilla, beat in powder sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Spread over the cake and store it in the fridge. I usually cover it with aluminium foil which helps keep it fresh.