Friday, June 1, 2018

Love and Duty

Love and Duty

"Karen, please give a short and simple definition of Mother Culture," was the request on Facebook. Wishing to accommodate I typed away. Then I worked to cut it down quite a bit.

     To me Mother Culture is a mingling of love and duty. It is the skillful art of a mother looking after the ways of her household and herself. With a heart of devotion, she seeks to find happiness in those things she "has" to do, as well as whatever she might set her hand to do to express her creativity.
     Greatly helped by an understanding of the educational method of Miss Charlotte Mason, she is a home teacher who learns how to cultivate the souls of her children and herself while she is free to not be too exhausted for her husband's company.
     So nourished and refreshed with ideas, she keeps growing closer to God and into the Christian woman God is designing her to be.

I hope this definition helps you introduce Mother Culture new home teachers in your circle of acquaintances.

In the Works 
Nigel finished the cover of Mother Culture - for a Happy Homeschool (above). If it is difficult to tell whether he used water color or oil paint it is because he used neither. Using his large wacom tablet and wacom pen as a paint brush, he worked meticulously on my front and back covers for a good many days. It is a skill he taught himself. By a kind of trial and error he designs his own paint brush tools to accomplish the strokes he needs to get the look he imagines. "Necessity is the mother of invention," said Aesop.

One morning he said, “I have a surprise for you. I added something to the picture.”
“Really? What?” I questioned.
“Take a look,” he said.

He had painted my purple book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, on top of the pile of books he had placed within easy reach of the mother. 

As you know, fabric makes me smile. In between daily chores I enjoyed making a pint size "courthouse steps" inspired by Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy. Using the 4" Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright, my piecing turned out less wonky. With this plastic ruler you trim after you piece each new pair of strips in a continual sort of "squaring-up" of the block as it grows. You end up with a pile of scraps,which in olden days would have stuffed a toy. I watched a YouTube tutorial about how to use it.

I placed this little quilt on my tea table to photograph it, while I was drinking a watermelon-strawberry-orange smoothie, and decided to make the quilt its table top for awhile. Some "wonky" is still in evidence but I tell myself this is part of the charm of something handmade.

I hand-quilted in-the-ditch with blue thread and added a scalloped edge to put some "round" in the design.

Wild Flowers
Walking back from the mailbox early in May I was pleased to see that a wild azalea (rhododendron prinopyllum) was blooming in our Pennsylvania woods again, this year with more blooms than last. I found a second bush on the other side of our property. I only know its name because I identified it (the old fashioned way) with my field guide some years back. I've managed unscathed, to keep the prolific poison ivy off both wild azalea bushes.

At an antique store two little out-of-print books caught my eye: First Delights - A Book About the Five Senses by Tasha Tudor (pub.1966) - a well-read library discard - and And It Was So by W. L. Jenkins of Westminster Press (based on Scripture) illustrated by Tasha Tudor in 1958. One is for Sophia and Andrew's children. 

The other is for Yolanda and Daniel's little girl on the way.

Speaking about babies on the way. I collected fabric for a "pink lemonade" crib quilt. As this quilt has a thicker batting than what I usually use in my doll quilts I quilted it with a walking foot on machine. I will show you my photograph after the baby shower as Yolanda reads this blog and I want to keep the finished quilt a surprise.

In April I spent a week with my parents in New Jersey. Then one of my children had surgery and I tried to be supportive.

And yet, since last November, rarely a week has gone by that I wasn't either contemplating, writing, or re-writing, my book.

A Family Affair
For the book, my husband Dean spent weeks scanning choice pictures from our collection of antique books. His computer died and he had to take it to a computer fix-it place to recover the scans. My daughter Sophia wrote the Foreword in the middle of a major household move. Nigel has started the lay-out.

The Calendar
The calendar I wrote for Simply Charlotte Mason titled Hope for Tomorrow is for sale.

This spring Sonya Shaffer wrote an inspiring blog article, "8 Reasons to do Nature Study" that I enjoyed reading.

SCM is planning to carry Mother Culture. I feel honored and encouraged.

Learning Styles
In March I re-wrote (and polished up) my article "Learning Styles and Charlotte Mason" for the blog Charlotte Mason Poetry. You will find a wealth of topics there.

Garden Flowers
In early May (in between all our rain) I enjoyed surrounding the front lamp post with pink zinnia. I can highly recommend keeping up with any physical therapy home assignments. If it wasn't for PT I would not have the joy of using a shovel again, kneeling on my garden mat and getting up again even with curious bees whirling around and buzzing in my ears.

You can see in the foreground how our hungry wild rabbits like our crocus, nibbling leaves in a series of "meals" until they are chewed down to the root. I try not to mind because somehow the crocus always manages to bloom each spring.

I think I did more reading this year so far than I've ever done. I hope to share highlights of some of these books in upcoming blog posts.

Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy

Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright

My article on Charlotte Mason Poetry

2018-2019 Hope for Tomorrow Calendar Journal for Simply Charlotte Mason

Sonya Shaffer's "8 Reasons to do Nature Study."

Keeping in touch,
Karen Andreola


  1. I enjoyed this post, Karen, and your article. I was at the CHAP convention today, and happily saw your wonderful books, in many booths, especially the 'purple one.' I pointed it out to my daughter in law and told her that THAT book saved my homeschool back when her husband was my oldest student at age 9! So happy you're writing still and look forward to your new book!

  2. I loved this post, Karen. And I'm highly anticipating your book! <3

  3. Karen, I like the cover so much. The little boy has what we call "floofy" hair, like all four of my sons. The only day they couldn't use a trim is haircut day. He is adorable. :) Nigel did a fantastic job.
    Thank you for sharing all the news. I am happy to hear that physical therapy is making your life more do-able. And no nasty side effects.
    I know the addition of a new little girl to the family circle must be very exciting. Eloise will have a real baby doll to admire. We had "And It Was So" when my children were small. I remember keeping it in the Church bag for wiggly people during the homily.
    Mother Culture is permission to care for myself as well as my family. I know I have mentioned this before, but twenty years ago so many speakers and authors were telling mothers it was selfish to take any time for oneself. But then I encountered your CM Companion and the idea of Mother Culture made so much more sense.
    I am looking forward to your book. :) Thank you again for all the work you've put in to it.
    Happy Springtime!

  4. What a lovely surprise from Nigel! I am looking forward to opening the pages of your new book. I know that it will be filled with wisdom and inspiration for the homeschooling mom.

    It is wonderful to hear that the physical therapy exercises have been so beneficial and that you are feeling up to puttering around in the garden! Your "courthouse square" quilt is charming. Can't wait to see the pink lemonade quilt you have lovingly stitched for your new granddaughter! (And a new granddaughter is sooooo exciting!)

  5. I'm smiling at your comments my friends. It is so fun to hear from you. You are kindly appreciative. I'm touched. If I am a little late in publishing comments it because my grandchildren were here yesterday and none of your notes made their way into my email. My son showed me where else to find them in "Awaiting Moderation."

    Nigel looked at an old photograph of Spanky from the original Little Rascals for the little boys face. Faces take so much care. I don't know where he got the floofy hair but I approved of it. The back cover is a scene of mother and son walking onto a sandy beach to look at the ocean (something I requested) and the little boy's hair is just as floofy - and in the wind, so is Mom's.

    1. Karen, I am smiling at your use of the word floofy. :)

  6. Thank You Karen for another interesting post. That quilt sounds lovely. God Bless you and yours.


  7. Oh, I can hardly wait to purchase your book. Thank you for continuing to encourage those of us still in the trenches. I just lent my copy of Lessons from Blackberry Inn to a new friend. I'm sure she will be comforted and encouraged just as I was 8 years ago when my oldest two were 1 & 2.

    I'm so happy to hear that physical therapy is giving you some relief! Praise God!

  8. I saw a little floofy-headed boy at the grocery this week. He had floofy curls just like my son had as a child. When I got closer, I realized he also had a bruise on his forehead. My son most always had a bruise somewhere on his head. It made me want to cry, but I decided to smile instead. I was rewarded with a big toothy grin to go with the curly, floofy hair. What joy!


  9. I'm so glad that I am not the only user of the word "floofy." My youngest is nine now and still wakes up every morning with "a giant floof" on the back of his head. Those are his teenage sister's words. :) This is such a nice community of mothers.

  10. Thank You Karen for another interesting post. Congratulations on purchasing the two Tasha Tudor books. I hope your child that had surgery is doing fine. Nigel is a talented young man. Thank You for the links. God Bless you and yours.

  11. So many gems here! Thank you for the links! I was so happy for you when I read about physical therapy allowing you to use a shovel and kneel and get back up! Wonderful! Claudia

  12. Patiently waiting for your latest book. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Karen,
    I am looking forward to your new book very much. I am absolutely charmed by the front cover your son created! Nice to read some of what is happening in your day.
    Blessings to you!

  14. Oooh! A new book! SO exciting! Can't wait to read it! Hooray for a new grandbaby on the way <3 I just love the way your posts have a little bit of everything. I just gobble up everything you write. My mother-in-law wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday this past year, so I had her get your Parents' Reviews, and she is mailing me one every quarter to spread them out! It's so perfect. Thank you for all your hard work on them :)