Friday, December 24, 2010

EASY Microwave Caramels

Courtesy of

 I tend to always put off my Christmas baking until Christmas Eve because then we have plenty of treats to last the whole week between Christmas and New Years Eve.

The following recipe is a family favorite, handed down from my wonderful Aunt Joyce. These yummy candies have worked EVERY TIME I have made them, even though I am usually a candy-making failure. I hope you and your family enjoy making and eating these as much as mine has over the years.


Microwave Caramels
from Aunt Joyce

Yummy and easy!

2 cup sugar
2 sticks melted butter (1 cup)
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup Condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Butter a 9X13 pan. Combine the sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave uncovered for five minutes. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Gradually stir in the condensed milk. Microwave on high for 12-15 minutes (the less time they're cooked, the softer they'll be). Give it a few quick STIRS EVERY 3 MINUTES using a clean spoon each time. Stir in the vanilla and nuts. Quickly pour into the buttered pan. Cool. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Question and Answer: College Housekeeping

About a month ago, I received a letter from a sweet young lady in Scotland, asking my advice. I was so flattered that she cared about my opinion on this matter. And since I have her permission, I'd like to share her letter and my response here on the OFM blog today.
Dear Rachel,
First of all, thank you so much for your blog. I thoroughly enjoy reading it and find myself in a lot of the things you write about.
I am a 22 year old student in Scotland, studying for a Masters in Victorian literature. I live with three other students, one girl and two guys. I have become, somewhat naturally, the "mother" of the house: I bake, I cook, I organise the cleaning etc.
I love my flatmates, but I find it hard sometimes to get them to recognise all the hard work that I am doing. A., the other girl, and I spent two hours on Sunday cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom; one of the boys came home late and told us the next morning how much he had appreciated the clean flat and the abundance of food in the refrigerator upon his return. The other guy came home just as we were finishing up. He did make some remarks on how necessary the cleaning had become and then vanished into his room. I had asked him to please take out the garbage bags we had filled during our cleaning session and maybe empty the dishwasher later on with the other guy. he had made some grunty noise of acknowledgment. At midnight that day, the dishwasher was still not emptied, so I did it, and the garbage still has not been taken out.
I know I am complaining overly much here, but I just wonder if you have any advice on how to deal with this lack of recognition, which I find to be somewhat of a lack of respect. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and our second male flatmate´s wonderful reaction just put it into such a stark contrast :( Of course, neither of them are my husband, my brother or even my boyfriend, so I do not really have any influence on them. But I do consider them my friends.

I am sorry to write such a whiny email, but I thought you might be able to give me some solid advice :) Once again, I admire you and your blog and can only pray for God to send a loving husband my way.

With lots of love from Europe,

After a busy month, I finally responded to her letter this morning. I would love to hear your input on my advice. And perhaps she can benefit from hearing the advice of more than just one person. So please feel free to chime in your comments below!

Here is my message to her:
Dear Miss L,

I'm sorry for my late response. I have been out of town, and then all my planning for the Christmas season has been taking much of my time. Thank you for your very kind words! I so appreciate them. :-)

I actually have been pondering over how to address your question quite a lot since you sent it. I sincerely wish to help you, even just a little bit.

As you can hopefully tell from my blog, I am a very religious person, as well as "old-fashioned." Please keep these things in mind as you read my advice...

To begin with, you should consider the great differences in homemaking approaches between men and women. Men invest time and effort into things that matter to them. For your male roommates, as with many young men of college age, the cleanliness of your flat is very low on their priority lists. It is not in their nature to be greatly concerned about it. If they were in a flat with two other males, instead of two other females, they would just continue to live in a mess!

Even in a marriage, the cleanliness of the home is not always enough of a concern for men that they will do much in the way of homemaking duties. There are some men who like things very neat and tidy, and are willing to clean up quite a bit, but most husbands leave those duties to their wives. They are busy fulfilling their roles as provider and protector, while their wives-- whether they work or not-- are always concerned with the state of cleanliness in the home.

As you are all in college, you are all busy and occupied with your studies. Of course, you would assume that you should each do your share of the housework. But as women, you and your roommate have an innate need to clean and beautify your home. So while your male roommates may notice and even thank you for your efforts, they cannot fully appreciate what you have done, because they do not feel the same need to care for their home in the same way a woman does.

In my opinion, the root of your problem is the very fact that you and your female roommate are living with two men that are not your husbands. I recognize that they are just your friends, and that the situation is completely platonic. But husbands have more invested in a home and in a relationship because they are the provider, the protector, the husband, and the father. (And even then, they don't often help out in the homemaking duties. But that's a subject for another day!  ;-D )

The only things we can change are ourselves and our situations.

If you want to have a flat that is equally cared-for by all those living there, I suggest you room only with other women who care about their home being tidy and are willing to do their fair share of the work.

If that is not a change you wish to make, then I suggest that you accept your other flatmates for who they are, and continue to serve in your role as the the flat "mother" without expecting any help from the men in your flat. This is what real mothers usually do. (Though when a mother has children, it is also her responsibility to train her little people to work, and do their part to help in the housework.)

I do NOT recommend that you try to train your flatmates, as you would your own children. They are NOT your children, and that is not your responsibility or privilege. If their own mothers did not have success with teaching them to help around the house before now, you certainly will not be able to change them at this point!

If I were in your situation, I would prayerfully consider the wisdom in continuing to live with all your current flatmates. I commend you for being such a fastidious homemaker, and for unselfishly blessing the lives of your friends. To reiterate, the way I see things, you can either continue as you are and be happy in your situation, or change your situation to be closer to your expectations.

I hope I have helped you in some tiny way. And I wish you a very Happy Christmas!!! :-)

She has already sent me a very gracious response. (Thank you, Miss L.!)

Miss L., I sincerely hope all works out for the best for you! You have your entire future ahead of you, and I know that if you sincerely seek His help, God will gently lead you in the direction that He has planned for your life. Thank you so much for writing! :-)


Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Stories

 One of our long-standing family Christmas traditions is a nightly Christmas devotional. Daddy reads a scripture, we sing a Christmas hymn together, and then Daddy reads us a story. It's a wonderful time to be reminded of what Christmas is all about.

The stories are not very long, and they've become quite familiar over the years, but we all look forward to that time spent together as a family each night.

One reason Christmas stories mean a lot to me, is that they remind me of my late Aunt Linda. Every year for her Christmas card, she would send a small collection of Christmas themed stories. She loved sharing and reading them each year.

Some of the stories we read are stories told by my Church leaders or from church publications. Our collection also includes:

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
"The Cobbler and His Guest" by Anne Boyles
"Christmas in the Morning" by Pearl S. Buck
"The Other Wise Man" by Henry Van Dyke

We also like to read small books together, such as Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson. Both of them are short enough to read in one long sitting. (Of course, the little ones often fall asleep or have to be chased back into the room from the chaos they're creating elsewhere!)

The best story of all is, of course, the Nativity from Luke 2 read and acted out on Christmas Eve. We have a part for everyone, and the kids love putting the little play together for their parents.

May the pure love of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, infuse all that you do doing this glorious time of year!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Simply Beautiful Christmas

 Our Christmas focus has changed this year. Our family has not simply decided to "Keep Christ in Christmas," we are striving to making this year's holiday all about HIM.

I thought I would share some of what we're doing here, to help us keep our focus where it should be, and also to possibly inspire others in their celebrations of the birth of Christ.

For today's post, I'd like to share a beautiful, SHORT, article about keeping our Christmas perspective where it should be.

Here's an excerpt, but be sure to check out the link to the entire article, titled "Can We See the Christ?":
 "The Christmas season is wonderful in many ways. It is a season of charitable acts of kindness and brotherly love. It is a season of being more reflective about our own lives and about the many blessings that are ours. It is a season of forgiving and being forgiven. It is a season to enjoy the music and lights, parties and presents. But the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty."

(President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church; emphasis added)
May the Lord bless you and your family as you simply celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year. Merry Christmas, dear friends!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How do we see others?

Once a year, my church has a special, worldwide meeting for all the women in our women's organization, which is called "The Relief Society."  At the most recent session, our church's president gave a wonderful talk on not judging others. He began with this great example:
A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood.
One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.
 “That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”
John looked on but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments. A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard.
She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”
John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”
 I love this story! How many times do we, as women, judge others harshly without fully understanding them? I know I have been guilty of this from time to time. (To read the rest of this great talk, click on this link.)

If we make the effort to see others as the Savior sees them, would we treat them differently? This is something I'm working on today. :-)

Have a great week!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Old-Fashioned Home Management-- Part TWO

"Hearth and Home" magazine, October 1918
Before I get started on this post, I want to make sure my readers know where to find Part One of this series. Be sure to read it here first!

PART TWO: Planning by the Week
Okay. So, our fore-mothers knew all about running a household. Is the modern homemaker doomed to always serve last-minute freezer meals and to attempt to gather useful cleaning tips in 30 second segments on the Today show? No way! Of course, we need to adapt old-fashioned skills to meet our modern needs, but we can successfully utilize the knowledge of the past.

I'm excited today to dust off one of these old ideas and share it with you. While it is not a revolutionary concept, I think it's worth revisiting.

Remember these?

Many of our grandmothers embroidered dishtowels just like these. They're cute, though they may not be conducive to your decorating style. But let's explore the idea of organizing our weeks according to days, as these towels demonstrate.

Remember that the homemakers of the past worked hard all week simply to put food on the table each day. We have been blessed to no longer need to exert ourselves so much. We no longer really need a baking day, or a day dedicated to ironing, but we can look at the duties that fill our modern lives, and assign them a day for us to accomplish those tasks.

Some possible examples of this could be a day to run errands (Who likes to go to the grocery store every day? Not me!), a day to pay bills/ take care of home office tasks, a day to focus on sewing or craft projects, etc.. Wouldn't it be great to have a day each week where you know you'll be running hither and yon, but then, you'll also have a day to finish some of those projects you never seem to give much time to?

Now, I'm not going to tell you what your schedule should look like. The idea is for you to customize your week in a way that works best for your home and family!

Here's an example of how things are scheduled in my little world:
  • Monday: Weekend Recovery Day-- My house is always destroyed by the time Monday rolls around. This is the day I focus on gathering up the laundry, and making sure each child's church shoes have been put away. I also try to make sure the kids get their Sunday clothes in the laundry so that they'll be clean by the time next Sunday rolls around. I'm not perfect at this, but I do have it scheduled!
  • Tuesday: Personal Study Day-- I teach a Shakespeare class for homeschooling youth once a week, and Tuesday is my day that I prepare for that. My bigger kids also need time on that day to finish their projects for their classes and other personal study. The computer gets a lot of mileage for us on Tuesdays!
  • Wednesday: SUPER Cleaning Day!-- Because we host weekly homeschool classes in our home on Thursdays, I have assigned all the deep cleaning jobs for our schedule on Tuesday. This is the day when walls get washed, floors get mopped, toilets get scrubbed, and the dust flies!
  • Thursday: Renaissance Commonwealth and Dance Classes-- Beginning at 9:30am and ending at 2:30pm, we have twenty-plus extra people at our house. In the morning, we have a Constitution class going on at the kitchen table, while a Civil War class is going on in the living room. The younger children (under twelve years old) of the teachers are outside. Then we all gather for lunch at 11:30am, and I start teaching choir and then my Shakespeare class at 12:30pm. THEN, at 4:30pm, my twelve year old daughter goes to ballet lessons, and my sixteen, fifteen, and fourteen year old kids attend ballroom dance lessons at 7:00pm that evening.
  • Friday: Low-Key Day-- This is the day when we take a deep breath. I do a little sewing, let the kids do some crafts or art projects, and we just enjoy one-another's company. Lots of reading happens on Fridays. We sometimes make a library trip or watch a Shakespeare movie on this day. This is the night my husband and I also try to take time to go on a date.
  • Saturday: Errands and Shopping-- I prefer to go grocery shopping early in the morning on a weekday, before the crowds descend, but we usually don't have a lot of time to do that. Saturday would not be my ideal errand day, but it's a necessity for us these days.
  • Sunday: Day of Rest and Worship-- We attend church, write letters, read books aloud for long periods of time, call family, nap, and attend other church meetings as needed, on the Sabbath. Meals are easy, and often dinner is popcorn and homemade snacks. I'm so grateful for a day of rest!
The planning of the week can be a very powerful thing for a homemaker. It gives us some structure, but it also gives us some freedom to plan days of rejuvenation, purpose, and rest. We can also see where our time is going, and then we can adjust things as we need to.

Consider planning your week to be a more effective homemaker and mother. It worked for Grandma, and with a little creativity, it can work for us!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Old-Fashioned Home Management-- Part ONE

Bread rising on a windowsill sometime in the 1930's

PART ONE: A History on Modern Homemaking

Have you ever thought about how women of the past organized their homemaking efforts? I sure have! And it's sad to me how little there is recorded on the subject. But we do have some clues we can find-- classic literature is a really big one for me. Books like the "Little House" series, some of Louisa May Alcott's books, and my favorite, "Laddie" by Jean Stratton Porter.

In fact this excerpt from "Laddie" (originally published in 1917) inspired me in teaching my daughters how to become proficient homemakers:
"Before any daughter has left our home for one of her own, she has been taught all I know of cleanliness about a house, cookery, sewing, tending the sick, bathing and dressing the new born. She has to bake bread, pie, cake, and cook any meat or vegetable we have. She has had her bolt of muslin to make as she chose for her bedding, and linen for her underclothing. The quilts she pieced and the blankets she wove have been hers. All of them have been as well provided for as we could afford. They can knit, darn, patch, tuck, hem, and embroider, set a hen and plant a garden. I go on a vacation and leave each of them to keep house for her father a month, before she enters a home of her own. They are strong, healthy girls; I hope all of them are making a good showing at being useful women, and I know they are happy, so far at least."

Wow! How many of us even know what those skills are, much less how to do them?!

Modern feminists tend to look down on the work women have done in the home for ages. Yet, look at how skilled, hard-working, and efficient the women of the past used to be! Today's homemaker relies on technology and businesses to do the work that our foremothers did all on their own. We should respect and honor them for all they knew and did-- not look down on their efforts as "menial" or "unimportant".

A 1930's Housewife

I truly believe that if we look at the women who came before us, and think about what we can learn from them, we can be more efficient in our own homemaking efforts in THIS day and age. It can be argued that we are busier than women of the past, but I contend that we're busier outside of the home, than they were. Without modern conveniences and ready-made clothes and food, they had to work hard all day just to eat! So, they really didn't have the luxuries and time we do today to spend on hobbies, socializing, shopping, running kids around, etc..

A mother sewing clothes for her family

Now, I am not putting down the way we do things today, nor am I saying that we should "pull the plug" on technology, conveniences, or avoid shopping and outside activities. I am only trying to put things in to perspective for myself and other women. While I am grateful for all the opportunities we have in the world today, I do reflect on all the knowledge and skills we, as women, have lost. The most important of which, is the value we place on serving our families in our homes every day.

She looks happy to me!

How did it all happen? I mean, besides all the inventions and changes in our economy, how did the lack of respect for traditional homemaking come about? Here's my take on how things happened in recent history:


First off, there was war. The men were needed in combat, and women were needed in factories to help in the war effort. I do NOT blame them, however. This was needed and necessary, at the time. I honor those women who left their homes and their babies to help out in a great cause. But there were still consequences as a result. Because the homemakers no longer had time to work all day in order to put food on the table, meal preparation had to become more convenient and easy. Then, after the war, the new technologies made homemaking even easier than before. (Can you say, WASHING MACHINES?!)

Doing laundry near the turn of the century

 The housewife of the 1950's had all kind of conveniences their mothers had never dreamed of! Electricity brought electric ovens, indoor washing machines, and refrigerators to the kitchen. And kitchens began to be more decorated and beautified. And the women became "more beautified", too!

"Here, children. Have some soda pop with your cookies."

With all of this ease and convenience, the standards for cleanliness grew to new levels. And television entering homes reinforced this idealized view of homemaking. Homes needed to be pristine in cleanliness. Furniture and decor became more expensive and fancy, so the appearance of housewives was expected to be neater and more refined, as well. Aprons were now less of a tool for women to keep their dresses clean, and more of a fashion statement.

I can't decide which is more polished-- her or the table!
Perhaps in response to the new high expectations women had placed upon themselves, the 1960's and 1970's became fertile ground for the so-called "feminist movement." Women of my generation (I'm a Gen-Xer in my 30's) were raised by mothers who were constantly being battered with the message that the work they were doing in their homes was "meaningless" and "stupid." I can't even imagine how difficult it was to raise daughters in such an environment! To work hard trying to give your family the best you could, and then at the end of the day, being told your efforts were worthless!

I honor my mother and my aunts for standing strong in the midst of those times of confusion! They recognized how important the work of motherhood was, and they passed that down to their daughters. I am so grateful for their good examples!!!

I could go on and on about how destructive the "feminist movement" has been to us in society today, but I'm trying to be positive, here. *wink*  Besides, I think we can see the fruit that movement has produced in our lives at this time in history, every day.

But I want to give you hope and encouragement! We, the mothers and women of today, CAN make changes for good! And when we look at the women of the not-to-distant past, we can find many of the  answers we need to improve our homes and families in the here-and-now! I can't wait to share some of these lessons in my next post-- Part Two of  "Old-Fashioned Home Management".

Check back soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm Grateful for Husbands and Fathers!

This song has touched my heart so much. I am grateful for the husband I have. He's a wonderful leader in our home. (I love you, Russell!)

I hope, as you watch this video, that you will take the time to thank your husbands for the weight they carry, and that you will be sure to pray for them, as they do their best to lead their families in righteousness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Autumn Work

Some of this year's peaches

Autumn is here! 

At this time of year, my mind always turns to CANNING.

My favorite (and my family's favorite) things for us to can are:

  • Salsa
  • Zucchini Relish
  • Peaches
  • Apple Pie Filling
  • Jelly
  • Apple Sauce
When I was growing up, my mom's house was "the place to be" in the neighborhood every late Summer and  Fall. Our friends would gather with us kids and my mom in the kitchen, where my mom had set up an assembly line along the breakfast bar and on the kitchen table. She put everyone to work, peeling peaches or tomatoes, and stuffing them in shiny glass jars.

You would think that our friends would avoid our house during this time. But in reality, they would bug us and beg us to let them know when our mom was ready to can each year.

There's nothing like good old work to bring a community together! :-)

Of course, there are other ways to preserve nature's bounty.
  • Freezing- We freeze the juice from our citrus trees.
  • Drying- My mom makes some killer fruit leather, and my husband's grandmother dries lots of vegetables to put in soups.
  • ???
How and what do you preserve in your home?

I'd love to hear all about your traditions in the Fall. :-)

Last year's Zucchini Relish

Monday, September 27, 2010

Husband and Wife

Despite what so many in today's society say, I believe that a happy marriage between a man and a woman is more important than ever before!

Back in ancient times, marriage occurred not only for social and economic reasons, but for the ever-present needs of survival. The Lord gave Eve to Adam as his wife, not just because he might be lonely on his own, but also because God had a plan for his children! Marriage between a man and a woman creates an equal balance in nature-- the earth needs the varying talents and differing attributes of both men and women. Marriage also produces children, which expands the societal structures of FAMILIES, and perpetuates the human race.

It makes no sense for God to create Adam and Eve, and then have that be the end of his creation and plan-- He wanted His earth to be filled with people, cultures, and ideas! The Family, with a father and a mother at the head, was the way that God's purposes rolled forward throughout the ages.

But what I want to focus on today, is that relationship of Adam and Eve, between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and even between Dagwood and Blondie. What makes a marriage "good"? What makes it necessary for the happiness of God's children?

(Now, before someone asks about the exception that singlehood creates, I'd just like to state that I recognize that not all who visit here are married. Many single people have much good to contribute, and I appreciate their struggles and the paths that their lives take. But, being a married woman, myself, that's not where my focus is. So bear with me today, ladies!)

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World , we get some ideas we can use to help us in our marriage relationship:
"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

1) Spirituality--

When a couple is united in their spiritual beliefs and practices, it strengthens their relationship more than any amount of flowers given or dishes washed ever could. Our core beliefs are part of us, and they reveal themselves in all that we say and do. When a couple is equally yoked in their spiritual and religious efforts, they can work together to help their family be one of strength and unity. If one person in a marriage is carrying more than their weight in the spiritual realm, feelings of discord, frustration, and sometimes resentment, can create a wedge in their relationship that slowly drives them apart.

2) Love and Compassion--

When we are filled with love and concern for our spouse, we put their needs above our own. Too many times, many couples start "keeping score" in their relationship. A wife might think, "Well, he bought that silly contraption, so I'm not going to feel bad about spending money on my clothes/hobbies/jewelry." (Boy, I've been guilty of this!) A husband might think, "I watched the kids while she went scrapbooking all weekend, so she can clean up the kids' mess."

Does any of this sound familiar?

In Luke chapter 6, verse 35 of the New Testament we can read what the Savior said about this:
" But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."
I read a beautiful quote the other day by one of my church leaders, and I believe if I keep this in mind, I can keep my priorities in line with the Lord's:
"Harmony in marriage comes only when one esteems the welfare of his or her spouse among the highest of priorities. When that really happens, a celestial marriage becomes a reality, bringing great joy in this life and in the life to come." (Russell M. Nelson)
My relationship with my husband is not perfect-- I'm not trying to portray that at all! But I can honestly say that we are both trying to keep the blessing of our marriage our highest priority and focus. It's not always easy, but I try to remember that LOVE IS A VERB. It is an action (and I'm not talking about you-know-what only, though it IS a big factor, ladies!!!), and it takes effort and compassion.

3) Work and Play--

When was the last time we went on a relaxing, fun date night with our spouse? When was the last time we worked together on a project at home, such as some housework, home improvement, or yard work? As people work together, they form a bond and create memories that bring them closer together as a couple. When we take time out of our busy schedules to go out together, whether it's to a restaurant, or for a walk in the park, we are showing one another that we value our spouse more than our hobbies, friends, or "important causes".

Time = Love not only applies to our children. It also applies to the strength of our marriage relations.

I  testify that marriage was instituted by God for the happiness of His sons and daughters. But it is up to us to make our marriages strong enough to withstand the trials of life. Our Heavenly Father has given us many resources to help us, but it our job to work, love, and reexamine our priorities to make our marriages the gifts that God intended them to be.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So, What Do You Think?

Hello Friends!

Old-Fashioned Motherhood has a whole new look, and an improved attitude! I hope you like the changes, and feel the positive energy that the OFM blog is trying to share with the world.

I'm looking forward to posting more encouragement, homemaking tips, marriage helps, and parenting ideas. I hope you can feel my love for you, dear readers, and for the passion I have for happy families and joyful motherhood.

As always, please let me know any suggestions for posts, and feel free to ask me questions in the comments section below the posts.

I'm so glad you're here!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The other day, I was looking at some artwork painted by a talented mother, and found myself wishing that I had her skill. I began to compare myself to her further, noting that she was thin, and lovely, and seemed to have it "all together."

Luckily, I snapped out of it, and started counting my own blessings. I have a house full of beautiful children. I have a husband who thinks I'm pretty hot, even if the world might not think so. ;-) I have my own strengths and talents that I enjoy, and I'm making my own impact on society.

Some days, when I read an inspiring blog post, see a beautifully decorated home, or admire a wonderful woman's appearance, I tend to second-guess my choices. I get distracted by the seemingly-perfect life and skills of other women.

Then a thought strikes me: NONE of us are perfect, but each one of us are a Daughter of God! We've each been blessed with talents, goals, and ideas of our own. We do not have to change who we are, just because we see the beauty in what other women do. Our different talents can unite us, IF we appreciate one another without becoming discouraged or critical of our own efforts.

When we can honestly appreciate one another, without comparing ourselves to others, we can truly enrich the world. Let's all start loving ourselves AND others today. What a powerful thought! :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inspiring Words

There are a couple blog posts I've read by blogging friends recently, and I thought they would inspire you like they've inspired me. Enjoy!

"Our Collective Memory Loss" by Hands Full and Loving It
 "I wondered if as a society, we have a collective memory loss of what normal life has been for generations and generations. We wake up to an alarm, flip on the lights, take a shower, then walk from our air-conditioned house to our air-conditioned car to our air-conditioned job, run over to the gym for a workout, then hit the drive-through for a shake on the way home. At home, we warm up leftovers in the microwave or pop in a movie to relax. We take for granted the hot and cold water that comes into our sinks and the only time we even think about our toilets is when one of them is broken. We drive a block to the grocery store to fill up our car with fresh produce and convenient foods no matter what time of year it is."

"Noah-Moses and Empathy" by Inspiring Motherhood
 "We just moved so we are meeting many new people. Think of the last time you met someone new. How did that conversation go? I have noticed that frequently within two minutes of an introductory conversation it starts: the comparisons and judgments, the defensiveness and rationalizations. I’ll type a few facts about myself that come up in conversation and see how if any of those kinds of thoughts come to your head: Hi my name is Britt. I have nine children, I homeschool, and I haven’t eaten sugar in almost seven years. Has it started yet? Are you questioning your family size, or mine? Are you defending your diet or the education of your children? Please don’t. PLEASE don’t. I’m not looking for an advisory, or a competitor. I need a friend."

Friday, August 20, 2010


Lately, I have been experiencing a real paradigm shift in my little world, and I want to share it with all of you.

I decided that I have used the word "SHOULD" far too much in my life!

The word "SHOULD" always made me feel that I could never DO enough, or BE enough. I felt like I would never be able to measure up to all the high expectations that the word "SHOULD" implied.

This past week, I realized that I've been draining all my energy and happiness with feelings of guilt over things that were completely silly-- all because of this one little word!


I discovered that all my self-loathing over my inadequacies was actually keeping me from being closer to the Savior, and was not allowing his great Atonement to work in my life.

No more.

This past week, I've given myself PERMISSION to remove that one, discouraging, energy-draining, horrible word from my vocabulary and my life!

And what's amazing to me, is I've been more effective in my homemaking duties, more loving to my husband, more patient with my children, and more joyful in my life-- all because of the removal of one word:


Here's how this post relates to all of you: I feel all the women who read this blog deserve an apology.

If I have EVER made any of you feel like you're falling short in your homemaking efforts, I'm so sorry!

If this blog has ever given you discouragement or frustration, I'm so sorry!

Please know that we ALL have permission to remove the terrible word, "SHOULD" from our lives.

YOU ARE DOING GREAT THINGS. And your sacrifices, your love, your patience, your efforts ARE ENOUGH.

I know that God thinks so.

So let's all stop "SHOULD-ing" on ourselves and get down to the business of serving, loving, and spreading joy to those in our lives who matter most.

Just FYI, there are some changes that will be coming to this blog very soon, in an effort to help us all do just the above, and I'm so excited to have you all on this journey with me! We can encourage, and lift one another and those in our homes through our homemaking efforts.

And unrealistic expectations are not an effective part of those efforts. So I'm saying goodbye to "SHOULD" and hello to "JOY"!

We all have permission to do that, you know... ;-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thoughts on Sacrifice...

In this day and age, many of us don't really have a grasp of what true sacrifice is...

Unless we're MOTHERS.

We sacrifice:



hobbies & interests,

our very bodies and lives.

But we also do something sacred when we dedicate our bodies to the creation of life. It is an enormous sacrifice that God sees and sanctifies.

It can mean morning sickness, heartburn, swollen ankles and feet, stretch marks, sore joints and muscles, insomnia, crankiness.

And then come the rigors of labor, birth, recovery, more insomnia, sore breasts, nursing.

Then there are the sacrifices that go on and on, through all our children, throughout their lives.

What is it all for?

"Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends."
(John 15:13 KJV)

Motherhood refines and purifies us. But it is the late nights, the struggles, the faith we place in God that makes us better than we could ever be without them.

Yet, motherhood is the sweetest work in the world, and we are so very privileged to be called to it!

It's a sacrifice that all of heaven notices.

What a blessing to give.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

We Guard the Gates

"Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her . "

"Sisters, you are each like the lioness at the gate. This means that there has to be some prioritizing. I was taught years ago that when our priorities are out of order, we lose power. If we need power and influence to carry out our mission, then our priorities have to be straight."~ Julie B. Beck

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Eternal Partnership with God

This video has some wonderful encouragement for ALL mothers! Even if you're not of my faith, I think you will be uplifted by this great message.

May the Lord continue to bless us all in our mothering efforts! :-)

Love, Mama Rachel

Friday, June 25, 2010

A New Sewing Project

I LOVE my baby sling (It's a Moby Wrap), BUT it is very hot here just now, and I haven't been able to talk myself into being wrapped in all that excess fabric. So I've been looking for something more simple with less bulk.

Well, today I found a great baby sling pattern tutorial, and I'm thinking I'd like to make one of these simple slings for my new baby!


Doesn't that look easy? I'm getting excited about all the fabric combinations I can try out. Wouldn't this also make a fantastic baby shower gift? FUN!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ten Tips for Mothers

1. Take time to always be at the crossroads in the lives of your children, whether they be six or sixteen.

2. Take time to be a real friend to your children.

3. Take time to read to your children. Remember what the poet wrote:"You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be— I had a mother who read to me. "

4. Take time to pray with your children.

5. Take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening. Make this one of your great family traditions.

6. Take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible.

7. Take time daily to read the scriptures together as a family.

8. Take time to do things together as a family.

9. Take time to teach your children.

10. Take time to truly love your children. A mother’s unqualified love approaches Christlike love.

Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion, pamphlet, 1987

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Baby!

At 10:19pm on Monday evening, our new baby GIRL swam into the world after a short and wonderful home birth. We're so glad she's here!!!

She weighed 7 pounds and 2 ounces...

And was 20 inches long.

She's getting lots of attention and love.

She's definitely a keeper! :-)

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