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My beloved bought me a book that has been on my Amazon wish list for ages. Living on A Little by Caroline French Benton.
I have looked but can not find when this book was published. It was, I am thinking early 1900s. Possibly 1890s. The lady had a telephone and refrigerator in town, they did not refer to it as an ice box but a refrigerator. Also the house in town was lit by gas jets.

I like this kind of book because I love learning how people lived in times past. This book deals mostly with the table and how to economize there.

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The basis of the story is this. Dolly is to be married in one year. So she goes to her sister while her parents travel Europe and her fiancee is working in South America, to learn how to live on a small salary of $1800 a year. The feeling is that the parents have raised the girls in luxury and now she must learn how to do with out that.

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Her older sister, Mary, has been keeping house for six years. She has some very inventive ideas too. One thing confused me in the reading and I am not sure if it is a typo or if there are two appliances the sister has to make her work easier. One is a “fireless” box. A box lined with asbestos in which she makes puddings, and things. Later it is also mentioned a “tireless” box. Which from the reading seems to be the fireless one but the typist who put it on line seemed to have changed its name.

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The grocery amount per week floored me. Mary budgets $7 a week. This covered the cost of food for herself, her husband and her sister, or maid if she has one. Plus out of this she saves for any entertaining she plans to do. In this book that included; a surprise visit of two gentlemen her husband brought home, a drop in set of guests for luncheon, 2 dinner parties and 3 luncheons that she planned. When she has a dinner party she also pays from this the 75C cost of a serving girl. Who stays and does dishes after the dinner too. At the luncheons her sister is her “maid”. She hires out her heavy laundry, does her dainties herself and hires a laundress who comes in once a week to do the heavy floor scrubbing too. The amounts of her parties were so neat to read. Imagine serving 4 people on $1.35! Or paying some one $1.50 a week to do all your heavy laundry and scrub your floors!

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The meal amounts taught me just how much we over eat now days. Then sugar was something to be saved and cakes and cookies were a rarity. Eggs were .04c a piece, cream .15c a pint, and both considered too extravagant to be used in desserts very often. Yet they had dessert every night! She used only 1 dozen eggs per week! Now to be fair I use about that too, but if I make a big breakfast everyday, I would use twice that! With two eggs each. Mary only fixes one egg each. I think in gerneal today people would think of the food amounts used in this book as starvation rations and yet they worked harder than we do and thrived.

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Some of the meats she uses I just can’t imagine. Such as boiling a calves head for meats. Using the brains, I don’t like the idea of tongue and can not stomach liver. All of which were common in Mary’s kitchen. At least when we was saving for a party. She believed in economizing before she spent extra instead of making it up afterwards. I believe in this too.

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I do find that I agree with Mary in that you need not spend a lot to have a pleasant home. Cheap pretty dishes, treated as if they were expensive china will do just as well as Haviland on a carefully set supper table.

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One thing I think today’s young woman lacks is the hope chest. In Mary’s time a hope chest was begun by the girl as she learned to sew and she made things for her future home. A passing comment is also made on the trousseau. Both the hope chest and trousseau held the clothing and linen a girl would need for at least 1 year.
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Though Mary suggests buying inexpensive linens for daily use as the purse permits. I agree with this. I prefer table linen to paper and I prefer to use a table cloth and place mats (Mary uses doilies to protect her table linen). My dishes may not be expensive ones, but they are pretty and I enjoy them. I am blessed with an abundance though, having inherited several sets from family and being given one set by a friend. My everyday set is a patterned Corelle, because it can handle the microwave and most of my inherited ones can not. (3 sets are from the 40’s or earlier). For special occasions I select my table from my more fancy, or as my dil says “ooo pretty dishes”.
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My goal as a keeper of the home, is to provide a comfortable, safe place for my loved ones. While the methods and general feel of this book is old, out of date and perhaps not considered these days I find the basis is one we should aspire to.
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You don’t need to spend beyond your means to keep what you have nice, serviceable if not pretty. Home isn’t made up of expensive things as much as it is the attitude of the one preparing the meals, doing the laundry and the scrubbing. If one does these things cheerfully, there will be rest and happiness at home. If one does these things grouchily with a complaining or as the Bible calls it a downcast countenance the home will not be restful or happy.

I understand we need money to live. Thriving is a whole different thing though. Money can not make one thrive.

I do recommend this book. If for nothing else it’s historical value.
However you do not need to buy it unless you want to. It is here on Amazon for $2.99.

It is also here on Project Gutenberg for free.

I hope you enjoy it!

Hug Y’all!

Melissa

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I read a lot. I read mostly books by Grace Livingston Hill at this time. I read other authors too but right now I crave books by Grace.
I purchased a kindle copy of Katherine’s Yesterday Thursday night and read it on Friday.

In this book is issued a challenge. To read 1 Corinthians 13 daily for 3 months.

In these times of stress I think it is a good thing for us to remember God and his love for us. His rest that is freely available to us.

I hope that if anyone reads this little blog, they will resolve to take up this challenge too.
Hugs y’all
Melissa


Every morning before my banana and cold iced water I have a talk with my friend. Sometimes my friend talks to me in a whole chapter, some times just a few verses. Some how it seems to fit my thoughts for that day or perhaps my thoughts seem to fit it. I do not know.
Today my friend and I talked in 1 Corinthians 10 verses 25-33. In this section of scripture Paul tells the Corinthian church not to worry about what they eat. He says “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there in”.
This verse always strikes a cord with me. What this says in no uncertain terms is, I am at liberty to eat or drink what ever I choose. He continues on though to instruct me that I have that liberty as long as I do so with thanks to God. God should be glorified in what ever I do. This carries great responsibility with it.
Paul goes on to say, that if some one comes to me and is pricked because of what I am eating or drinking, that for their sake I should stop. So if I am eating pork and a sister is hurt some how feeling I should not be eating pork I need to stop for her sake.
Is it wrong for me to have pork? God says no. However it is wrong for me to act in a manner that is disrespectful to another. Disregarding how another feels is disrespectful. Later once this sister begins to understand the liberty we have in Christ to do or not do, that may change.
I have always heard these verses. Usually when some one is arguing about drinking alcohol. Yes we have that right. However, what is more important? MY rights or the soul of a sister who is not convinced of our liberty? If by drinking that glass of wine I hurt her, is the price really worth it? Paul says no. If my job on earth is to represent Christ who did no harm to any, what does it say about my conviction to follow Christ if I am willing to disregard the thoughts of another?
Now I do believe that a solid discussion of scripture is called for. Because a religion deciding we can not do that which God says we can, is false religion. They are adding to the law of God. However that is no excuse for doing something unneeded just because I can.
There are many instances of this. Look at the brouhaha over “holidays”. No where in the New Covenant are we told to celebrate feasts or special days, other than the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread. Yet every year around October folks get all antsy and riled because of the up coming festivals and holidays. If the earth is the Lord’s, then surely so are the days. Personally I do not celebrate any day as holy. Other than Sunday. I do have a feast and gifts and all on Christmas, and I do a feast on Thanksgiving. The rest I do not mess with. Colossians 2 is very explicit in it’s instruction. Judge no one for any respect of any day. We have liberty to do or do not, as long as what ever we do, we do with thanksgiving to God.
I am not sure why my friend brought this to my attention this morning, but he did and he asked me to share with you when I talked to him afterward.
Have a blessed day ladies!
hugs y’all

I know it seems odd. I have however just realized that one thing I keep doing is learning. I enjoy learning, but I keep learning things I thought I knew. I mean I know the skills but new ways of using them keep surprising me. For instance, cooking. I love cooking ( the clean up afterward… not so much but cooking yes) However food became a whole new realm for me when I began reading this blog by my friend Jess. Homemade with Love
Jess adds a whole new dimension to food and cooking for me. Plus her pictures are more drool worthy than any cookbook I have EVER read!

Being self sufficient is another area that I thought I had at least some ideas about. Then I met my friend Cat. Cat is a person like I want to be when I grow up. She is a true Proverbs 31 woman. She cans, gardens, keeps livestock, and innumerable other things. She inspires me to relearn gardening, I mean REALLY learn. I may even study on keeping chickens…You can read her adventures here Ten Things Farm

Crafting is another area of new exploration for me. I mean real crafting not gluing glass beads on a jar or something. I mean from scratch crafting. I have been awed, shamed and inspired in this area by 2 awesome women. Also friends of mine. One is doing wonderful work making art in cross stitch here at Tea Kettle Corner

The other is encouraging me to find time to sew and make wonderful things for my family here at Calico Prairie Another awesome crafts person is Leah. Leah is a world class quilter. You can see her garden of work here at Stitched With Love

A person who influences me to have fun in life, is Klutzy Mama. I adore the humor she pours in to her stories. My favorite of the moment is “Repenge”. You can read about that adventure and many others here
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I would be mournfully remiss to not inclue a woman who shines such joy on family for me. I love reading her posts and one day I hope to be able to be a “Sunny” to some one else. My cousin Christy (I think we may have been sisters separated at birth…) blogs about rural farm life here at Our Simple Lives.

Last but by no means least is a woman who may just encourage me in the most important learning experience of my life. Ella faces life with such a giving spirit and with so much love I have never seen its equal. No matter what confronts her family, her faith and her love for our Lord shines through. Her trust in Him is unrivaled. She KNOWS He will come through for her. If I never achieve any other thing in my life, it would serve me well to mimic this lovely lady of God. You can get to know her here At His Feet.

I know this may seem like an odd first blog post. However these women, and many others, have inspired me to post my learning journey on these Texas Prairies. These women, and many others have played a huge role in who I now am and who I am becoming.