Friday, April 03, 2009

Homemaking as an Art

I spent hours this week creating... changing the dining area to make a home for the beautiful (and free!) piece of furniture, thinking of ways to declutter, switching out photos in frames, uploading and downloading and generally making the laptop my own, spending time in the kitchen as defrosted chicken and beef were turned into delicious (if I must say so myself) meals, making a cake at the last minute to cheer up my son, arranging daffodils in a vase to place in the kitchen as a cheerful reminder Spring is here even if it is snowing... those little acts of creativity Edith Schaeffer refers to as "Hidden Art".

How many times have I talked about the joy of walking through the front door (especially when the dining table has a pretty centerpiece instead of stacks of papers!). My home is a canvas where I can bring everything together that reflects who live here and as that also involves two men... pretty pink things are only in my tiny bathroom and behind china cabinet windows. My guys don't "do pink". However, they both (I think) appreciate the other feminine touches found in each room.

Long before Stephanie earned a Bachelor's degree in Interior Design, I gave her my decorating mantra over and over... if you love it then it will probably look good together. Rarely has that not worked in my home. My living room and dining area reflect a combination of English Country (with the silver, china, flowers, lace, and all things "tea time") and Early American with a little Primitive. We love the earth tones, deep jewel colors, and inherited antiques.

I've only been to Stephanie's home once since she moved to New England (as I've said before, I don't travel well) but I remember walking through it for the first time and smiling as the "decorating" reflected her love of the same vintage and "tea time" items I appreciate but... reflecting the other section of the paint chips... light, white, creamy, airy, open spaces, and child proofed.

One of my favorite sections of Edith's books was her description of her weekly bread baking session... taking raw dough and making it into bread, buns, orange rolls, braided sweet breads, and kneading dried fruit into the dough to make a special dessert bread. That one part of just one chapter in an entire book dedicated to the creativity of homemaking best describes the joy of creating in the kitchen.

A blessing we can give our children (especially daughters as they are most often the chief cook and bottle washers later) is the gift of basic cooking skills upon which they can draw upon to take it to the next level of creativity... becoming artists in the kitchen.

To be able to create delicious breads from one recipe as Edith did, take leftovers from the refrigerator and transform them into soups and stews, skim over the available pantry shelves and come away with the ingredients for an Italian pasta dinner, or walk by each booth at the farmer's market making a mental menu from the available fresh picked foods... an artist with an apron tied around one's waist.

I have friends who are Monets in the garden... in whose yards I find joy and peace as I view the colorful blossoms and greenery combined to form Beauty everyone who knows them can enjoy. I'm not such an artist but I do enjoy planting beautiful flowers in containers on my front porch and deck, those blossoms that are little touches of leftover Eden.

I truly believe there is a reason most of us are drawn to books and video about cooking, baking, growing vegetables or flowers or fruit, decorating, sewing, knitting, quilting, needlework, scrapbooking, building things, decluttering and cleaning, making our own healthy and environmentally safe cleaners, and other forms of "Hidden Art".

What sparked these particular ponderings? It was (finally) getting the antennae installed and receiving PBS again... especially the channel that shows cooking and gardening shows. I first have my morning quiet time and then go through the house with a basic cleaning and decluttering. I make a smoothie or scramble eggs for Christopher before he leaves and think through what will be needed for any cooking and baking that day. (My husband likes to make his own breakfast.) Then I can relax and enjoy a few half hour how-to shows. Even though I've been married over thirty years, there is so much to learn about creating a home. Time well spent as they give me not only knowledge but inspiration.

It doesn't matter if we are at home full time or only a few hours each evening and weekends. There is no difference if we are single or married, have no children or many, own a house or rent a room... we are all making some kind of a home. How lovely to live during a time where we have so many ways to continue our homemaking education... from TV and video, to informative books, and magazine articles filled with photos and articles by people who teach and inspire. Not to mention the many blogs created by those who are artists in the home.

The world outside may be chaotic and uncertain but what a lovely gift we give ourselves and family when we can walking through the front door and find a place that brings us peace and joy.

As for me today... there is laundry, and the always filling sink of dishes, some necessary dusting, taking the MAAS silver cream out of the drawer to polish tarnish off a few trays, thinking through what must be defrosted for the weekend's meals, and perhaps beginning to pick up broken tree branches and small limbs in the yard... leftovers of Winter storms.

But time will be made to watch Jacques Pepin teach quick and healthy meals and then peruse a few decorating blogs for ideas and inspiration.... continuing education I enjoy. :)


scrappy quilter said...

Wonderful words of wisdom.

Tracy said...

I will have to re-read The Hidden Art of Homemaking now. Wonderful post! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved...loved that picture of the two women in thos beautiful aprons! They inspired me before I even read your text!! I just love puttering around the home. Changing a table top look, putting a picture from one room now into another, setting out fresh fruit etc etc. Thinking ahead to the meals to prepare and thanking our Lord each time for his provisions. Our spring here has sprung and the garden is planted. We can now have all our outdoors for our home rooms. It is much fun to have a table on the lawn for dinner. I have never read Edith's book but sure do want to!! Brenda you are a lot of my inspiration to keep up my home for my family. I have been a homemaker as long as you have. Yes, I too love PBS shows! Jody

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

What a lovely post!

Sharon said...

Such a wonderful post! I consider time spent reading, blog-visiting and watching television shows that teach us something new a part of my "continuing education". 'Course it also way too easy to lose track of time and spend too much time "learning" and not enough time "doing". :)
How lovely that you have found such a good balance - I'm still working on that!! lol

the pleasures of homemaking said...

Lovely post Brenda! I read that Edith Schaeffer book a long time ago and didn't like it (can't remember why now LOL). Maybe it was just the time in my life, but I think I need to re-read it because you always make it sound so interesting and right up my alley.


Vee said...

The book is one I've never read, but the more you discuss it the more curious I become.

Truly enjoyed seeing all these lovely images that you gathered today.

Heather L. said...

Such a lovely post -- definately like an Edith Schaeffer chapter :) It's so fun to be creative. Have a good weekend!

Queen Of Her Castle said...

I enjoyed today's post very much. Actually, I've been enjoying your blog for awhile now, but I think this is the first time I've commented.


becka said...

The Hidden Art of Homemaking is one of my all time favorites. I have read it many times--in fact it has traveled overseas with me twice! Your posts definitely show that you are applying the principles of the book in your homemaking. It is very satisfying to create in the kitchen, in our home decor, and in our yards and gardens.
I've been watching Jacques in the mornings when I can as I prepare to go to work. (I watch it backwards in the mirror as I do my hair and make up!)

Gayle@Mountain Moma said...

Homemaking is one of my top joys. I even have an Associate Degree in it. Although I can't get a paying job in it, I use it every day.

Martha said...

I enjoy homekeeping and always have. It is a joy to make a lovely space for family and friends, to feed their eyes as well as their stomachs. I get pleasure out of ironing my linens, polishing my silver and copper and pulling weeds from the garden.

Shan said...

Dearest Brenda,

What a lovely post! Many years ago, when I was a young wife and mother, I had someone tell me that I was wasting my talents because I was at home instead of the workplace!

My how I cried, until my dear Husband held me and told me that I was the best wife and mother and that there was nothing more wonderful and meaningful than caring for my home and family.

What a ministry we Homekeepers have! Thank you for reminding me.

Yours kindredly,
Honey Hill Farm

Anonymous said...

Lovely, lovely post! I'm headed to my bookshelf to grab my copy of The Hidden Art of Homemaking to read in bed tonight! I, too, have spent the weekend puttering and re-arranging and making-do with things I have around the house. It just refreshes the atmosphere. Tomorrow I pull out some Easter decorations. I have been enjoying the scent of some lovely purple hyacinths I treated myself to. I just love being a homemaker.

Barb J. said...

Thank you for these inspiring words.

Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! My mother taught me how to keep home and I have a young daughter that I will teach as well. I have just started to read The Hidden Art Of Homemaking and it's so wonderful. Thanks again!

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

Thank you for sharing your hidden arts here! I love that book so much I have 2 copies--one for me, one for whomever seems to need a positive book next!

Irina said...


I just now read this post. What an inspiration! Thank you!