Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rising up from a Domestic Slump

Rising up from a Domestic Slump
Earlier this month I fell into a domestic slump. With my book out of my hands and scheduled for press, my eyes were opened to household details I had put off. Oh my. Where do I start?
Nigel, 2000, Maine. He hand-fed is chicken earthworms until it became plush. 
My first step was to hop onto The Legacy of Home. I hadn’t been in a while. Here, Mrs. White aligns Christian holiness with homemaking. Her devotion to God and family is uplifting. Next, I made haste with one need staring me in the face. We had burned-out light bulbs all over the place. I’m embarrassed to say how many. Summer thunderstorms will shorten their life I was told. With darker days upon us, good lighting is appreciated.
Keeping Room. 
Standing on the step ladder replacing bulbs on the chandeliers, I also dusted them – especially as I will garland some soon. My mood turns melancholy when days are gray and overcast, and when darkness falls early. To remedy this gloom, I put up three new mirrors. Mirrors multiply light. Our “new” mirrors are used. I like federal period mirrors. Their swirls are interesting, decorative, and a little fancy, without being gaudy.
This house, I newly discovered, is an antique shop that I'd like to visit.
Perhaps the style is of by-gone days and unpopular, because I’m always surprised at how inexpensive these used mirrors are when I spot one at an antique shop.
A Play Quilt (for tummy time) with flannel accent in border and a pieced binding.
Recently, I walked across the road to visit my new-ish Amish neighbor. I brought her the little play-quilt I made her baby (for his tummy time.) Normally she is all smiles. On that day she tucked a dilemma between her smiles. We’ve had a great many rainy, overcast days which probably led her to say, “When you English build houses you assume electricity will light them. We Amish, who purchase them, find the rooms dark.”

By free-motion quilting I put doodle-swirls in the squares. Goldilocks is peeping out.
What came to my mind privately, were all the many sky-lights I’ve seen built into the ceilings of non-electric Amish shops. I didn’t suggest these, however, knowing how drastic cutting a big hole in the roof would be. So, I suggested mirrors since mirrors were fresh on my mind. I saw none on her walls. She liked the idea.
Flannel Backing. Yellow Thread.
We knock on one another’s doors unannounced, to say hi now and again. She doesn’t see this as strange behavior for the 21st century, and I don’t tell her it is, because this is what Amish do. As they live without radio, telephone, music, or any screens, face-to-face relationships are priority. “It must be pretty quiet over there,” I’ve said more than once to the Man-of-the-House when I gaze out a front window and across the road. I did tell my neighbor which days of the week I’m more free to chat. What I need to remember to tell her, also, is how nice it is to have a stay-at-home mother nearby. Although our family has lived in many different neighborhoods, this stay-at-home mom is a “first.”
The Mud Room has a little window and a little mirror.
While deep cleaning and de-cluttering, some passages of Jane Eyre vaguely drifted to mind. I pulled my book off the shelf and quickly found the place I was looking for because I had left a tiny sticky-note in it, years ago. In chapter 34 Jane sets up housekeeping for herself and Diana and Mary. I read it over. I was happy that its attitude further motivated me to spruce-up.

When I shared with a friend how much I enjoyed the housekeeping chapter 34 she said with joy, “That place in the story catches my notice every time.”
Boston Harbor, Johnson Brothers, single plate found at a brick-a-brack shop.
Jane’s aim is to first “clean down” Moor House
from chamber to cellar; . . . to rub it up with beeswax, oil, and an indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters again . . .
She tells Mr. Rivers
Afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your sisters are expected, will be devoted by Hannah and me to such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince-pies . . . to have all things in an absolutely perfect state of readiness for Diana and Mary, and my ambition is to give them a beau-ideal of a welcome when they come.
Further on Jane writes,
The ordinary sitting-room and bedroom I left much as they were: for I knew Diana and Mary would derive more pleasure from seeing again the old homely tables, and chairs, and beds than from the spectacle of the smartest innovations. Still some novelty was necessary, to give to their return the piquancy with which I wished it to be invested.
Therefore, Jane refurnishes the other rooms of the house with curtains, carpets, some carefully selected antique ornaments, bed coverings, mirrors, etc. She seems to be delighted with the task, excited even. The end result was a “model of bright modest snugness.” It “looked fresh without being glaring.” It would be a lovely warm place to spend their winter together.
Don't you like this poem, "Thanksgiving Day" by Lydia Maria Child? 
Podcasts For Your Encouragement
Sonja Shafer has been presenting 15 minute video podcasts on the Simply Charlotte Mason blog. My link takes you to the beginning of the series. These bite-size segments on switching to Charlotte Mason are approachable. They give the home teacher ideas to contemplate along with some direct step-by-step how-to.

On Charlotte Mason Poetry, 15-yr-old Anesley Middlekauff shares a 12-minute piece she composed: Growing up with Charlotte Mason. This bright homeschool student tells personally about how the following 4 have impacted her life. I found it touching.
Go outside.
Read and narrate living books.
Teach living math.
Start a handicraft.
"Thanksgiving Day" is in my copy of "First Poems of Childhood" illustrated by Tasha Tudor.
Nancy Kelly’s Living Education Retreat featured a panel of experienced homeschool fathers over the summer titled “Building Their Houses.” As the session is longer than an hour, I listened to it in several segments while sewing, enjoying the honest and rare discussion of these dads. The best word to describe it is: “heartening.”

Looking forward to our next visit,
Karen Andreola


  1. It's always a treat to "hear" from you, Karen. Thank you for giving us a peek into your life!

  2. That was lovely. The dark winter season tends more than ever to bring my emotions down -- maybe a couple of mirrors would help! That is one thing I hadn't thought of. At Christmas several years in a row I did string little white lights around my kitchen window, and left them until they burnt out, which was almost through until spring.

    Thanks for sharing some pick-me-uppers!

  3. What a delightful visit! I enjoyed the pictures of your beautiful home and as always, the books you choose. Thank you for writing this - it was very encouraging. I also look forward to hearing about your new book!

  4. I enjoy visiting your blog home. It's a lovely place of grace and beauty.


  5. I am new to following you and I must say I do love your blog. I am now 70 years old, am married to a wonderful guy now for 45 years, have two grown children, a girl and a boy, who are both married and our daughter and her husband have 2 girls and our son and his wife have 3 children. We homeschooled our 2 all the way through high school and loved it. Our daughter had homeschooled their oldest for a few years, then they moved to Lynchburg VA and that daughter goes to Liberty Academy. They are moving in the spring to Ohio and she will be homeschooled again. She said she didn't really like the classroom. They are too slow :) Our son's 3 kids go to public school and do very well there as their parents are very involved and I must say it is an exceptionally run public school. Anyway, just saying hi and I love your "stuff".

  6. Karen, I really like the mirror idea. The ones you found look just right in your lovely home. I especially like the corner of the mudroom. It looks like a sunny fall day. And what a charming plate! I have two red transferware plates hanging in my kitchen that I discovered in the basement shortly after we moved here 4 1/2 years ago. I am very fond of pretty dishes but with four boys I tend to decorate with them rather than use them for meals.

    _Jane Eyre_ is a favorite of mine, too, which I'm sure I've had reason to mention before. I am currently making slow progress in _Wives and Daughters_ and I think we chatted about that one not too long ago as well. Oh, what Molly puts up with! She reminds me in a way of Dickens' Amy Dorrit. Long-suffering and magnanimous.

    Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, Karen!

  7. Hello Ladies, I always enjoy your comments. So glad you like the "mirror" idea for this time of year.

    Welcome Nannie. Nice to have you joining us.

    Kristyn, I know. Life's trials are growing Molly into a woman, aren't they? Yes, the same can be said about Little Dorrit. I like both of thesse young lady heroines very much. They are exceptional.

  8. I love reading your posts. I am excited about a new book coming out. What is it?
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Hi Dawn, The book is titled "Mother Culture - For a Happy Homeschool." I hope to announce it is ready for sale in my next post. Thanks for asking.

  9. Dear Karen,
    You always bring a smile to my face and a "sigh" of contentedness to my heart. I love your posts! This one in particular is so encouraging as I too deal with the heaviness of the dark season and I love your cheerful ideas to combat it. How wonderful that you are able to befriend your Amish neighbor. I'm so grateful you are bringing light to her in the form of your friendliness and that beautiful quilt. I use white twinkle lights year round and one year invested in the LED ones at an after Christmas sale. So now they are very inexpensive to use. Tea and candle times I find are essential too to help get us through the darkness. Highly anticipating your book! :)

  10. Dear Karen,

    I am excited that you are coming out with another book! I am looking forward to owning a copy when it's published. Your little "tummy time" quilt is so bright and cheerful, just right for perking up a dark day. How blessed to have a stay-at-home friend across the street; they are rare these days!

  11. Karen,
    I have a delema. Because of the expenses I encountered in curriculum costs, I am working on a long time dream to write a practical all-in-one curriculum using several educational methods ...but I put Classical in the title. However, I have fallen in love with so many of the Charlotte Mason Methods, especially because of your writings, that I find myself grappling with what to do. Thanks for all you wrote and still do.

    1. People seem to be defining the term "Classical" in various ways, today. Therefore it is difficult to know what is understood by the term. And yet in Charlotte Mason's "A Philosophy of Education" she compares the differences of her philosophy and method with the traditional and classical way education was being carried out in the schools of her day. Living books, narration, and knowledge gained through a "wide curriculum" are some of reforms she endeavored to set in motion. Perhaps her essays in "A Philosophy of Education" will be a help to you.

    2. Karen,
      Thank you for the advice. I will start with this reading.


  12. Your posts are always so uplifting from beginning to end. I love the Johnson Brothers plate you found. It is beautiful.

  13. I am enjoying catching up with you! Your quilts are beautiful! I am so enjoying your newest book!