Homemaking Series Launch!

I’m a big fan of words and “home” is one of my all-time favorites! Comforting, nostalgic, even stressful at times, it’s a tiny word that packs quite a punch. One of my favorite qualities about the idea of “home” is it’s variety. Homes can look as different as any two things might, however, the one shared trait seems to be that many of us are daunted by the prospect of setting up and managing a home, particularly twenty-somethings who are just starting out. 

In turn, it appears only two options arise: give up and give in to the stress, resigning to believe that you don’t "have what it takes” to be successful at managing your home and to enjoy doing so OR become a wild-eyed despot hell-bent on spotlessness, tossing at night with nightmares of soiled table linens and a dinner party where Martha Stewart and Julia Child show up to sneer at your every faux pax (just...as a fictional example, of course). But after extensive research and years of self-doubt, I’ve recently begun to accept that the real truth about keeping-house is just a rarely discussed secret:

Modern homemaking is entirely doable and enjoyable!

A lack of available education (how many schools still offer home-ec?) as well as the prevailing notion that these practices are outdated, tiresome, and unprofitable may make the above statement seem untrue. And though modern practices may look different than the past...at the end of the day, houses still need to be cleaned and meals still need to be made. Plus, you might be surprised how many young women today are eager to reclaim these skills!

That being said, this Modern Simple Homemaking series will seek to be a helpful and realistic resource for anyone looking to create a simple, comfortable, and manageable home. You won’t find any lengthy discussions on textile fiber origins as they relate to laundering (snooze!). Posts will also be lacking in tips for serving caviar and overseeing household staff, because frankly, the closest I will ever get to household staff is watching Downton Abbey in my pjs. There is a time and place for household scientific data and for hors d'oeuvres with foie gras, just not often in my home. There is, however, loads of room for learning in the in-between. And fun giveaways too!

Keep in mind: Home responsibilities, today more than ever, are shared. Though women are no longer confined by expectations of managing the household alone, and although household tasks can certainly be done by male and female members of the home alike, there are plenty of women who take pride in their desire to be homemakers, stay-at-home or otherwise. These women (like myself) prefer to own the responsibilities of the home and consider it just as viable a career choice as any of the other avenues available to women today. So whether you take charge of things mostly on your own or divide work between all members of the household equally, the important part to remember is: Anyone can create a wonderful home, it’s who you share it with that matters.

So...whether you grew up sitting around the table, napkin tucked in at the neck as your June Cleaver mom served pot roast in heels OR you carefully peeled the plastic off your pre-partitioned microwave dinner while rushing to snag the best spot on the couch, I hope this series helps you believe that creating a place of warmth and order in your home is possible, enjoyable, and rewarding!

                                                                         Thanks for taking this journey with me!

**Note About Pinterest**
In the last few years, the Pinterest sensation has swept the nation and almost anyone who seeks inspiration or likes looking at colorful photos can find something to love. Though I'm a big advocate of this site as an inspiration-finder and will link to it on occasion, be sure to check ingredients/warnings before attempting something that doesn’t seem quite right. There are loads of homemaking ideas on Pinterest, but be cautious when experimenting.

**Author Note**
I am a mid-twenties, newlywed, not-for-profit blogger. I am not yet a homeowner or parent, and generally try to live a pretty simple life. That being said, please remember that despite my research, the info in this series is ultimately just opinion. None of the posts, ideas, or products mentioned have any kind of corporate sponsorship or paid advertising attached to them. And of course, if you have tips or suggestions to add, I'd love to hear from you!


Coffee with Mrs. Beeton

Over 150 years ago, a newlywed in her early twenties (much like myself), became dismayed at the state of homemaking in her generation. Her name was Isabella Beeton and she masterfully set out to create a series of articles to help newly married women successfully face the role of becoming “mistress of the home.”

“What moved me...to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering 
which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement.”

Her work was published from 1859-1861 in 24 parts, which would later be bound into a singular volume. Sadly, Mrs. Beeton died during childbirth in 1865 at the age of 28, so she was unable to see the truly lasting influence her devotions had on housekeeping and cooking for decades to come. Fun fact: Downton Abbey creators have relied often on her work for historical accuracy. 

Though the 1800+ Victorian-era recipes included predominate her work, there are also portions on household management. The roles of Mistress, Housekeeper, and various Kitchen Staff are discussed at length, with information ranging from the proper way to pay calls about town to comparisons on cooking equipment dating back to the early Roman Empire.

Some of her writing is entertainingly out-of-date for our modern lives, and a number of the recipes are truly horrible sounding (Boiled Marrow-Bones), but it is amazing to see the similarities that do still hold true today. Some nuggets of her advice include:

“Early rising is one of the most essential qualities....” “Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well-managed.”

“Cleanliness is also indispensable to health and must be studied both in regard to the person and the house, and all that it contains.”

“Frugality and economy are home virtues without which no household can prosper. ... 
We must always remember that it is a great merit in housekeeping to manage a little well.”

“Hospitality is a most excellent virtue...for, as Washington Irving well says, ‘There is 
an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality, which cannot be described, 
but is immediately felt, and puts the stranger at once at his ease.’” 

Though remaining print copies of Mrs. Beeton’s original wisdom are a bit unaffordable (to put it nicely - $3,500), thanks to the University of Adelaide, the first edition text is available in entirety for free in three PDFs here, including scans of the original artwork.

As I pointed out to Strider, I fully recognize that I may be the only one weird enough to be fascinated by this kind of thing. Nevertheless, I think it is just incredible to have such historical household insight at our fingertips. However, if I’m not alone and you might enjoy it as well, check out the PDFs and join Mrs. Beeton and I for a cup of coffee and slice of homemade Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread.

I’ll leave you with a (slightly adapted) version of my favorite quote:

“...there are [no feminine accomplishments] which take a higher rank...than 
such as enter[ing] into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually 
dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family.”

P.S. - Don't forget...exciting news is coming this weekend!


exciting news coming soon!

Hi there blog friends!

You may have noticed the new look here at A Song for the Birds. After 2.5 years, it was definitely time for a face lift. And there's lots more too -- other big and exciting things in the works that you won't want to miss out on. Lots of new content, pics, and giveaways coming in March.

Don't miss it!!