Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Our maples are making many seed "helicopters." 

Are you new here?   Welcome.

The assortment of articles you will find here are a compliment to my books: Mother Culture® - for a Happy Homeschool, and A Charlotte Mason Companion.   

I am keeping this blog online (with updates here and there) but I am saying farewell to blogging.
Here's the good news. You can visit with me anytime on my active and ongoing Facebook and Instagram posts.
For various reasons I am closing a chapter of my life as I did years ago with Parents' Review 1991-96.

Karen and Dean Andreola, Maine 2005
One wall of the kitchen.
You are welcome to post a comment anytime - and - to reach me anytime through my personal email (typing it) karenjandreola(at)gmail(dot)com.

I’ve enjoyed preparing these blog posts for you these 9 years. Thank you for doing me the honor of reading them.

What a pleasure it has been getting to know those of you that have been in touch with me in the blog neighborhood. I hope to pop by your place now and again.

Parting Message 
Hold onto your ideals - - - even if by a string. An ideal is like a helium balloon. It hovers above your head quietly. As it hovers, it inspires you to effort. By contemplating and reaching for an ideal we are guided and grow.

Like a balloon attached by a string to a child’s wrist, we can be attached to an ideal and look up to it. It is high. But it doesn’t matter that it is hanging by a thread, it is nearby. Because it is high what we actually accomplish is somewhere below it, usually. Faced with our limitations and inadequacies we live with the realistic, and yet, meanwhile, we seek to be content with what we can accomplish at present, so that our eyes are open to the blessings those hovering ideals bestow.

Let us value small daily accomplishments. Many small steps bring large return.

Keep faithfully plodding, my friends.

Climbing the stairs to the second floor.
Yes, we live with the realistic. But on our good days we recognize moments of the idealistic. We say, “Ah! Isn’t that nice? I like to see my children playing together in harmony.”
“Wow. It's wonderful to hear that beautiful spiritual insight brought forth in my student’s Bible narration.”
“The reading-seeds I’ve sown are sprouting. Hey Honey, your son is in the middle of his first chapter book. He's immersed. Yeah.”
“What a delight to finally open that novel I picked out for myself six years ago for my Mother Culture. I love the characters and am glad I blew the dust off my shelf of Mother-Culture-Books.”
“Weren’t we hearing our daughter practice Charlie-Brown-and-Snoopy on violin not long ago (four years)? How is it that today she’s playing hymns for Sunday worship?”

Although faced with our limitations and life's interruptions, we can be humbly grateful amid the realistic. When we are greeted with the idealistic, these sparkling moments surprise and warm a parent’s heart, like little else can.

Sophia &Yolanda at a wedding, 2006. Both are married and mothers today.
Isn't this a wonderful truth spoken by the apostle Paul? “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6) Oh, that one day we may hear our Lord Christ say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”(Matt 25:21) when we meet Him face-to-face.

Our lilacs once bloomed but are now nibbled by a growing populations of deer.

I found this poem about ideals by Adelaide A. Procter (1825-1864)

Have we not all, amid life’s petty strife,
Some pure ideal of a noble life
That once seemed possible? Did we not ear
The flutter of its wings and feel it near,
And just within our reach? It was. And yet
We lost it in this daily jar and fret.
But still our place is kept and it will wait,
Ready for us to fill it, soon or late.
No star is ever lost we once have seen:
We always may be what we might have been.

Sophia's Nature Notebook from days gone by. 
Charlotte Mason says, “The parent who would educate his children, in any large sense of the word, must lay himself out for high thinking and lowly living; the highest thinking indeed possible to the human mind, and the simplest, directest living.” (Parents & Children p.170)

Illustration by Nigel Andreola for Blackberry Inn
There are no higher ideals than are found in the Word of God. There is no greater help than by His Holy Spirit.

Afternoon cross stitching is a relaxing hobby.
Post Script
Jenny, on Inconvenient Family, wrote a review of my book Mother Culture ®. I was honored by it and found it touching. Thank you, Jenny.  I worked hard on my book so that it might be the ministering-kind that would be shared friend-to-friend.

Turning 60 this year. 
Amazon Reviews
Dean noticed a brand new book on Amazon - with hundreds of reviews posted the same day.  Astonished he said, "How can this be?" Evidently, big publishers have big-funded launch programs. Many bloggers receive free copies of manuscripts pre-publication. The agreement is that they post a review on Amazon. 
We are teeny-tiny. And Madison-Avenue programs are beyond our scope. That’s okay. It isn’t our style, anyway. I told Dean, "I greatly appreciate every sincere review that trickles in the natural way." Thank you, friends, for your kind support.

Nigel finished a new cover for Lessons for Blackberry Inn (sequel to Pocketful of Pinecones) at my request. Do you see the Queen Ann's lace? His blackberries look edible.

One of Nigel Andreola's favorite graphic arts services is doing book covers. He would be happy to create an attractive book cover for you. He does all his work with a Wacom tablet turning his Wacom pen into a variety of electronic paint brushes.You can reach him here:

Nigel's 7th birthday 1996. (He recently turned 30.) 
I post on my Author’s Page, on a Monday or Saturday, stirring up ideas that I think will encourage. I hope one day we will meet in person.

Here is my book page on Amazon. Thank you for your purchases over the years, my friends.

I hope you will always set aside moments for your Mother Culture.
Karen Andreola 
PO Box 296
Quarryville, PA 17566 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Color my Life - a Writing Tip and Book Review

Color My Life - A Writing Tip and Book Review
I thought I’d share a trade secret. It is a tiny tip from (and for) a student of writing. (I’ll always be a student of writing.)
I made a curtain valance for over the kitchen sink. The morning sun shines brightly through the leafless trees.
Since this tip is briefly mentioned in general writing-helps – if mentioned at all – I’m highlighting it here.  It’s one of those little things in life, easily overlooked, so it's given less credit than it deserves.

If writing is an exercise in black and white, how do we convey what we want to say in black and white and appeal to the imagination? The most direct way of doing this is to add color-words. Color-words are the simplest of all the sensory languages. I find color-words to be a natural, easy-going way to engage imagination. Color is part of our beauty-sense. 

Make a quilt using colorful scraps from former quilt projects - was the challenge I took up over winter.
A writer has a pool of experience. Drawing upon her sense-experience she describes what she has seen, felt, smelled and tasted. Color-words find a happy home in fiction and non-fiction alike.

In Mother Culture (a collection of essays) I seek to bring intangible ideas to life by drawing upon my sense-experience. It occurred to me, only recently, that Mother Culture uses color-words freely. In fact, when I went back and flipped through the pages – with a mind to share this tip with you today – I found every color in the rainbow. These colors are straightforward; not fancy oil painting colors (although I do like the names of these).

This is what I like about color-words. They engage the imagination of the reader without detracting from the main ideas of the essay. This isn’t any hard-n-fast rule. It’s just my idiosyncratic opinion. I know some of you enjoy writing a blog and might welcome the occasional tip, while your own special writing-style is developing to your liking.

Here is a sampling of some of the simple colors in Mother Culture. (Scroll below for the book review.)

. . . pink and tan dress . . . p 37
. . . he knows something more about it than just its yellow color. p 57 (referring to a dandelion).
. . . the bright purple lupine by the roadside, . . . p 57
. . . leafy green forest . . . p 60
. . . juicy red watermelon . . . p 74
. . . expressive brown eyes . . . p 170
. . . flimsy black cape . . . p 181
. . . making patterns on the white tablecloth; . . . (from a passage on picnics by Charlotte Mason)
. . . the sky turned peachy . . . p 212
. . . a size two blue mitten . . . p 222
. . . orange flowers that seemed to match her personality. P 278

Book Review – For Mother Culture 
This winter I read The Lighted Heart (1960) by Elizabeth Yates (1905-2001).  I happily found it to be a story of rare sweetness.

I savored its peacefulness in the face of its frightening disappointment. After ten years of doing business in the city of London, an American couple, Bill and Elizabeth (in chapter one) move to rural New England. They find the antique house and farm of their dreams, near a country village. They have no children, but they do have some companionable dogs and friends. Elizabeth tells the story. It takes place over a handful of years and follows nature’s four seasons. Then the frightening disappointment befalls them. Bill loses his eyesight. They meet this tragedy with courage. Because of a diagnosis he was given in earlier years Bill and Elizabeth knew it was an eventuality.

While this couple adjusts to their new life together, Elizabeth tends a large vegetable garden. Humorously, she explores different ways to cook squash. She also takes up writing so they can butter their bread. As Bill learns necessary skills, his wife reads everything she can find in the local library about living with a blind person.

Some philosophizing pops up in between scenes. The wife (who wishes to keep gladness a quality of their lives) recalls a Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” She describes scenes for us and as she describes them for Bill. She describes the rosy sunset, the green forest trees, chirping birds at the feeder, the orange glow of firelight, how the table is set, Christmas decorations, the face of friends. One day Bill says something like: “I’m glad you tell me the color of things, because it’s color that soonest fades from memory, and what needs the most reminding.” This communiqué tugged at my sympathy – as Bill says it incidentally, not out of self-pity. He never moans, “Why me?” Rather, he is a remarkably patient gentleman with a "lighted heart.”

An incident proves Bill is a follower of: “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” After the incident (which comes as a big surprise to his wife) he says: “Listen, Elizabeth . . . you can’t say ‘I’m only one, there’s nothing I can do,’ . . . What you should say is, ‘Because I am one there is something I can do.’”

The value of this easy-to-read tale is the warm relationship shared between husband and wife. Theirs is an enduring love. “How do they do it?” I asked as I closed the book. In answer to this, an ideal I’ve found to be a very high ideal indeed, from the Word of God, entered my mind. Here we have two people who give the other precedence. Each, in humility, counts the other more significant than himself/herself. (Philippians 2:3) Isn’t this what true love is?
God is named as being the Source of life, love, and Christmas - although in a later novel the author clearly holds the opinion of a Unitarian where all religions are one. (This is not my view of Christianity and misses the truth of the the gospel of Christ.) Pen drawings accompany each chapter. The story is somewhat auto-biographical. Those fond of Gladys Taber’s non-fiction would surely warm up to The Lighted Heart, too. Dear Amy, I’m thinking especially of you.)

Post Script
Dear Cheryl, you can see how I’ve been using your gift to me of a green basket. Could you ever have guessed such a use?

Dear Mrs. Sharon White, uplifting and gentle Christian homemaking advice embodies your writings. I feel honored that you featured Mother Culture on your blog: The Legacy of Home. Your testimony of the positive influence of a wife, mother, homemaker, is encouraging. I feel myself rising out of a domestic slump when there. Therefore, I can invite my blog friends with confidence to visit you in the blog neighborhood. Your offerings are generous and inspiring.

Many thanks, dear Brenda, for including Mother Culture among your on-going book reviews. I am impressed with your fondness for books and am amazed at how quickly you devour them. Your bog friends can never be in want of suggestions at Coffee Tea Books and Me. 
A stack of blue quilt squares and a stack of red (Courthouse Steps) yet to be sewn together to top a dresser. 
 The Lighted Heart, on Amazon.

Mother Culture, on Amazon.

Thank you for visiting here today. Comments are Welcome.
Karen Andreola 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Walk Down "Mother Culture" Lane by Karen Andreola

A Walk Down Mother Culture® Lane

Early Days of Speaking
Whenever I come across a mom who is ministering the ideas of Mother Culture online, my heart is warmed. I’m happy to see the ideas welcomed.

We home teachers have weighty cares. Endurance is needed for our long hours of service. But moments of Mother Culture are refreshment along the way. A glass of ice tea, ten minutes with an embroidery needle or paint brush, a few lines written in a journal, a stroll in the garden, a prayer while folding the towels or making a bed, are calming interludes.

Every once in a while, I’m sent a link to the rumor: “Mother Culture" was a term coined and popularized by Charlotte Mason . . . ” I say “rumor” because the term Mother Culture hasn’t been spotted in any of Miss Mason’s writings, to date. Yet, this misunderstanding has been circulating for years. Therefore, the Man-of-the-House said, “You should tell your origin-story.”

Early Days of Writing

The Mother Culture Origin-Story   
Mother Culture bubbled over in my magazine 1993.
An obscure article lay dormant in a hardbound Parents’ Review. One day, while my children were having a quiet time, I was slowly turning the pages of this hardbound volume (one of 77 on special loan from England.)

“Hmmm, this looks interesting,” I thought. It was the article “Mother Culture,” an article that had been buried in the archives for a century, used for the first and last time in 1892 in reference to parenting . . . until the day it caught my eye. It gives me goosebumps to think of it.

I remember how little my children were.

I remember which house we were renting.

I remember how impressed I was by this anonymously written article. Even the title struck a chord in my heart.

While standing at the sink washing dishes, I began considering how its message might be relevant to my own life and to my fellow home teachers. Consequently, my thoughts on Mother Culture bubbled-over onto the back cover of my homespun magazine in 1993 (pictured in purple, above.)
Nigel, the baby of the family, turns age 30 this April. Oh, my.
Over the next 26 years I would continue to revive, expand, and introduce Mother Culture to a new generation.
Dean spoke on Charlotte Mason as early as 1993,.

Greatly sympathizing with my fellow home teachers, I put effort into promoting Mother Culture wherever I was asked to speak. I was a nervous and shy speaker. (I still am.) My soft voice doesn’t project well or record well. But because I sensed Providence had given me something important to say, I rose to the challenge.
I spoke at retreats, to small groups at public libraries, in churches, private homes, my own living room, even on the radio, gladly, without honorarium.

Eventually, Dean and I were invited to introduce the ideas of Charlotte Mason across America as professional keynote speakers.
We have fond memories of sharing supper with Chris Klicka several times.
When we did, I also gave a talk on Mother Culture. Audiences at these state conferences grew bigger and bigger.

Really a homebody, I remember telling Dean, in Florida, when I peeked into an auditorium filled with thousands of people, “Where am I? What am I doing here?” With trembling fingers, I held tightly onto my notes.

1998 was a busy year. Our children enjoyed the Sandy Cove family conference at they did other family HS retreats.
Mary Pride, editor of Practical Homeschooling Magazine, invited me to be a columnist. My column was dedicated to the Charlotte Mason Method. (We advertised and sold Miss Mason’s “pink” books through the magazine). Here you see the first page of one of two articles I wrote on the advantages of Mother Culture.

The time was ripe for a book. Endeavoring to paint a picture of what home education can look like, A Charlotte Mason Companion was born (1998). I found Mother Culture a good remedy for preventing burn-out so I decided to turn it into a chapter, too. Blogs, websites, podcasts and tutorials were not widely in use, so a book was still the best way to share a collection of ideas.

Chapter 46 of A Charlotte Mason Companion, 1998.
In 1999 Dean and I were contacted by CBD to write freelance reviews for their printed catalog.

That year I suggested a special feature devoted to Mother Culture. CBD liked the idea. I set to work arranging it, picking out books and writing up the reviews for what I had found helpful in keeping up my own Mother Culture. The catalog was read far and wide. It would reach more readers than A Charlotte Mason Companion.

Years later, my son would do the graphics for my CD. This live conference talk on Mother Culture® (2004) is now accessible FREE on YouTube.

So you can see, for quite some time, I’ve been busy popularizing Mother Culture publicly through: articles, books, speaking engagements, catalog product reviews, 10 years of blogging - and lately - mini-articles on Facebook. Phew.

Privately, I’ve answered hundreds of letters over the years from moms who have questions or wish to connect with a kindred spirit.

Here’s a flash back. I remember sitting in a lounge chair, on green grass, under a shade tree, while my little ones were splashing in the puddle pool and digging in the sandbox. On such a summer afternoon, I might have a large plastic zip-lock bag of letters to answer. (I had learned from experience the necessity of a zip-lock bag during outdoor playtime, he, he.) With pen in my hand, a prayer on my heart, I attempted to confide and encourage.

In time, paper letters dwindled. Emails took their place. Today questions mostly come through Facebook messenger. I wish I could have a chat in person with these conscientious mothers.  Understanding their apprehension and stress, I pray the Lord uses what little I am able to convey by FB messenger. It can only be a small help in light of the weighty cares that are carried on feminine shoulders. If I link to an applicable article, I make sure to link just one. I discern internet-information-overload and the “not-enough syndrome.” These steal away peace. With carefully chosen words, I address apprehensions in my new book, Mother Culture. 

At Dean's suggestion to write, “A Walk Down Mother Culture® Lane,” he rummaged through his big metal filing cabinet in the office. Then, he brought up a dusty box from the basement. (The office is across the hall from the sunny parlor where I receive guests, photograph books, and do my needlework.)

Stuff was piled on the parlor sofa, floor, and chairs. To my chagrin the little room took on the clutter of catalogs (Dean saved at least one of each issue that featured our reviews), old brochures, and paper correspondence.

He has kept all this paper not because he is a pack-rat (although he does tend to collect) but moreover because in business you are required to show evidence of your brand.

Mother Culture® became so entwined with my work and ministry that I filed for the trademark in the year 2000. That’s why you see the “R” next to it – like so many items at the grocery store. This does not prohibit people from using the term Mother Culture in conversation. We hope it sparks enthusiastic discussion within lively forums, study groups, and blogs. The business trademark simply reserves Mother Culture® as a title and exclusive brand-name for goods, books, services, websites, ebooks, lectures, etc.

My writing represents my life. It is part of our livelihood and pays my high medical insurance/expenses, tax, food, etc. Thank you for your patronage. It’s been an honor to serve you.

Dean says:

The original Mother Culture article (1892 Parents’ Review) is commonly linked by bloggers as an online reference without mention or knowledge of Karen’s origin-story. Yet, had it not been for Karen Andreola - Mother Culture as we know it today - might have gone undiscovered for perhaps another 100 years.

Thank you, Dean.

Pears ripening in the sun. Getting the parlor tidy again.
Amazon placed an order for Mother Culture.® Therefore, it is in stock. It is also sold at ChristianBook (CBD), Simply Charlotte Mason, Grace & Truth Books. In Canada: Maple Tree Publications, The Learning House, and Heritage Resources. In South Africa: Cubits Kids Edu.

I wish you well-being and well-doing,
Karen Andreola