Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blog roll!

It is always a delight for me to read other homemaking blogs as I learn so much from them! I'd like to share some of my favorite ones for you:

-Rhonda from the Down to Earth blog is an experienced keeper at home who lives a simple homemade life in semi rural Australia. She is a great inspiration and has a lot of recipes and ideas such as bread and soap making.

-I have been reading Mrs. Anna T's blog Domestic Felicity for several years now and her posts never fail to uplift my spirits! 

-Mrs. Lydia Sherman offers great wisdom and support for homemakers on her blog Home Living. I always read her posts more than once!

-Mooberry Farm Homesteading Journal is the blog of a wonderful American farm wife and mother of 8 who is truly happy and content!

-Donna writes her experience at doing a 50's housewife reenactment project for her third year in a row and I've learned a lot from her: 50's times

-Cedar is a vintage homemaker who has an adorable little girl and has great 60's style! The Vintage Wife

-This vintage wife and mother shows her great outfits that she either sews or finds: Vintage Girl

How amazing it is to find like minded women on the web!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In praise of housewives!

In today's society, the working woman is praised to have "made it". There is little room for the equally second choice of being a housewife: in fact, the media portrays housewives in a negative light, like on shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "The real housewives" series. The message is clear: housewives are desperate and unfulfilled.

I am here to say that what married women decide to do is none of people's business. I never liked the question "What do you do" because it seems to imply that if you are a housewife, you are either:

1) Unemployed, a leech, lazy, or:
2) Backwards: husband is sexist!

This is what happened to the so-called "choice" feminists gave us! Working women used to be looked down on and now it is housewives, so when an occupation is not socially accepted, I fail to see how much of a "choice" it is. Sure, mothers who stay home when their children are 0-5 years of age is probably the mainstream accepted idea of a wife at home, but I think more should be done to encourage the childless, homeschooling or women with school aged kids, as well as empty nesters as the job of mothering is more accepted than the "drudgery" of cooking and cleaning!

I am hoping more people will praise the hard working wife and/or mother for maintaining a nice home, relationship and well behaved kids, for these are not easy tasks to achieve contrary to what you might have learned to believe! Being a housewife is very well deserving of being a real equal choice to working.

Don't let anyone be a joy killer for you will become stressed and unhappy at home. I am here to tell you: you have made it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a blessed and wonderful day in the company of your loved ones!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home decor

I am so eager to put my own decorative touch in a bigger way when we become homeowners in a few years. We can't really do much with a rental, but some help!

I used to watch HGTV a lot and enjoyed the modern style, but now, I think I really want our home to portray a mix of formal and informal spaces. Formal rooms for beauty and informal spaces for relaxation. 

Many modern homes don't have formal living rooms and dining rooms anymore and I wish to have that. An open space can be nice for entertaining, but I long to put different paint colors and decor in separate spaces. Vintage pieces add a nostalgia which I love. It slows you down, in a way! Home decor can definitely affect our moods and I think it is important especially for us homemakers who are mostly spending our days at home. It doesn't have to be expensive, just a space we don't feel like leaving!

I love colors like greens, blues (especially the vintage turquoise!), reds, yellows and pinks, and long to have them on our walls. I love the traditional, country and victorian home styles. 

I think we have lost touch with the notion of "home", which is for me not a quick investment, but a long term place where one can build memories.

I often wish we could build our own house so we could pick and choose the floor plan! I'd love to customize everything to fit our needs. For now, I just enjoy looking at beautiful home decoration ideas.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feminist Linda Hirshman

Linda Hirshman is a feminist who believes that women should never be housewives nor be stay at home mothers. She writes books about her views and is in my opinion not someone I want to listen to. 

She also compares maternal leaves to "a nazi experiment", I kid you not! She believes children are an obstacle to one's career and should be limited to one per family (China, anyone?). Now I think it is fine for women to admit they do not want to be mothers. After all, it is best for them not to have children if they truly do not want them. Who can argue with that? I also believe that I've had enough of some feminists truly devaluing motherhood and homemaking. 

For more info, here's an interview:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/jan/14/familyandrelationships.usa

In the world of self-imposed mental enslavement


Linda Hirshman outraged the US when she said the real glass ceiling is at home. She prescribed a new set of rules for women: put work first, marry beneath you, and never have more than one child. By Suzanne Goldenberg:
    In Linda Hirshman's ideal world, the family would free itself of gender ideology and allocate the drudgery of housework and child-rearing through bargaining sessions. If a husband wanted more children than a reluctant and overworked wife, well, that too could be negotiated and if it called for extreme measures the woman could always resort to a "reproductive strike".

    But we are painfully far from that ideal world. In an essay in the liberal magazine, American Prospect, Hirshman argues that a generation of efforts to bring equality for women has failed. "The belief that women are responsible for child-rearing and homemaking was largely untouched by decades of workplace feminism," she writes. Women cannot rise as far as they should in the public world because, in their private lives, precious little has really changed. Or, as Hirshman puts it in conversation: "It's the family, stupid." Unless women address the social structures that unfairly burden them with the demands of running a household and raising children they can never achieve what Hirshman calls "a flourishing life".

    Her thesis, based on statistics about women's participation in senior-tier jobs in law, business and academia, touched off a ferocious debate. At dinner parties, in the blogosphere, and in newspaper opinion columns, women and men asked: Was she right? Have our private lives remain untouched by feminism? Or, and this was asked more often, did Hirshman get it wrong? Was she glorifying the workplace and denying the happiness that could only be derived from family life?

    Hirshman's prescriptions for doing away with repressive family structures were just as provocative as her diagnosis. In the article, she sets out three simple rules for women who want to avoid the trap of a gendered household. Rule one: Take a degree that will lead to well-paid work. Forget the classics. "Find the money," she writes. "Money is the marker of success in a market economy." Rule two: When it comes time to wed, marry a poor man (you will be in a better bargaining position than someone who is financially dependent), or an older one (who may already be financially secure and therefore less intent on advancing his own career), or failing that, a right-on one (who will provide the support while you pursue your career). Starting a family shouldn't necessarily divert an ambitious young woman from her path to professional glory. "Have a baby," she writes before bringing us to rule three: "Just don't have two."

    For those discovering Hirshman too late in life, there is also a solution - bargain. She rejects the suggestion that a life of constant negotiation might not fit some people's idea of home, and cites repeatedly the maxim of Hobbes that the lack of order in society leads to unrest and disarray.

    Hirshman, who spent a decade as a trial lawyer before entering academic life, knows how to drive a hard bargain. When I arrive at her home, as arranged in several phone calls and after travelling a distance of 3,780 kilometres, she meets me at the doorstep, and refuses to let me enter until I agree not to describe its interior, including the art works. I may, however, mention the grand piano. She is extremely sensitive to the notion that the public may reject her ideas because of her lifestyle.

    Later, after a bit of negotiation, Hirshman suggests I describe her home as "comfortable". It is in one of the most comfortable neighbourhoods in the US. Large homes in the pink-beige tones of the Arizona desert sit low to the ground among artfully arranged cacti. Women wearing lipstick and fashionable and unfaded workout clothes power-walk along gently winding lanes.

    Hirshman, 61, has been spending the winters here with her second husband since taking early retirement a few years ago. The couple have three grown children together. In her years as a trial lawyer, and later as an academic, she published two books and was a frequent public speaker on issues about women and the law. But she never had the impact she so clearly craves until last month when she emerged with her provocative thesis that the only true human flourishing was to be found in the world of work - and not in striving for balance between public and private life.

    Hirshman based her findings on interviews with about 30 women whose weddings were featured in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. On America's east coast, those marriage announcements are an important signifier of status and class. They are not so very different from the society notices of Tatler or Harpers & Queen although, this being the US, they also pretend to meritocracy, listing colleges attended and jobs held by bride and groom. Inclusion is so sought after by the affluent and socially ambitious that the notices are referred to as the Sunday sports section for women.

    This is, by definition, an extremely limited sampling of the elite. However, Hirshman argues that it is instructive because the elites set the tone for society. The world of the New York Times notices is also one that she knows intimately. Her daughter's wedding announcement appeared in the Times in 2003, about the same time she embarked on her research. To her horror, she discovered that the Ivy League-educated, impeccably connected, and well-married brides of the Times did not share the career ambitions that have driven her own life. Only five of the women she interviewed had remained in full-time work after having children.

    She does not discount the effects of workplace discrimination, but she argues that the women have retreated from the public world because they are exhausted by the demands of full-time work and running a household. "The reason we don't see more women in the higher ranks of the public work is that the women that you would expect to see rise are withholding their commitment from the public world - and one of the main reasons why they are doing it is these demands from home," she says. "So the real glass ceiling is at home."

    In part, the women have themselves to blame. They have been brainwashed into believing that they and not their husbands are primarily responsible for making sure their kitchens are clean, and their children happy and fed. "It's really important to see that a tremendous amount of that glass ceiling pressure on them is from their own internalised demands," she says.

    Until women are able to release themselves from such self-imposed mental enslavement, they need her rules, which Hirshman happily admits were inspired by a popular handbook on dating. "The current resolution is that the women internalise the gender ideology and they don't bargain for themselves at all. They simply act out the prescribed role," she says.

    Hirshman's views are a deviation from what some see as a growing trend in the US among women who can afford to scale back to part-time work, or to leave the workplace entirely when their children are small. Critics have called her a throwback to the feminists of the 1960s or 1970s, but the comparisons to Betty Friedan, and her broadside against domestic drudgery in her book Feminine Mystique, do not bother Hirshman in the least. In fact, she's rather pleased.

    She loves work. She believes in work. "To build a life out of the things that aren't work is like eating cream puffs for every meal," she proclaims. She is convinced that a truly flourishing life is impossible without paid employment. Her moments of fulfillment came in 1978, when she racked up 2,700 billable hours as a labour lawyer and in 1984 when she was part of a team of lawyers arguing a case before the supreme court.

    Hirshman's ideas do not easily translate into a European context. She is sceptical about the premise of maternity leave - never having really seen the need for it personally - and worries that women who take a career pause immediately after giving birth expose all women to charges of unreliability. The notion of maternal baby bonding does not appear to enter into her thinking. "You know what maternity leave is really good for?" she asks. "You are constantly getting awakened in the night and so you feel like the victim of a Nazi experiment - how long can this woman go without sleep and still function. That's a physical thing."

    She is also deeply suspicious of the concept of balance, claiming that if its prime advocates are women, work-life balance is just another term for keeping women out of positions of power. "I wonder what their concept of balance would be if they weren't dragging around the full weight of the household. This isn't about balance. It's because they need more time to do tasks that are unjustly handed to them, or that they hand themselves because they believe in the gender ideology as much as their husbands do," she says. "Part of that cry for balance is like, 'Oh my God the garbage can is overflowing and he'll never take it out.' I don't know what they would see as a proper balance if they weren't trying to do so many things and if the responsibility for the household were not more equitably distributed."

    In Hirshman's idealised world, of course, the rubbish would just sit there until the weaker party surrendered to the stink.

    · Linda Hirshman's Prospect article, Homeward Bound, is at: www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name="ViewWeb&articleId=10659"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home life personality

I feel quite a difference in how I used to be when I was studying and working, and how I am now that I've been at home for a while. Whenever I leave home, I feel other people's stress: whether on the road or at the store, many seem overwhelmed and perhaps unhappy with their lives. The lack of manners show and is perhaps an indication of stress.

One can never fully avoid stress, even at home of course, but I feel blessed to be here, in my refuge, away from the modern everyday life. I like the alternative lifestyle of living. I think I would be a different person if I weren't a homemaker. I for once would not have saved as much money as I have over the years I believe: I just wouldn't have had the time or energy to handle finances well and cook. We would probably have adjusted our cost of living to two incomes.

I think I have told you the story of how I got home. Well I got home unexpectedly after a health issue that took years to resolve (and is still chronic, but better now). I never expected myself not to work. Soon enough, I started to research homemaking online and make new friends. Now that I could work (probably only part time though), I feel that it wouldn't be worth it. We love our lifestyle the way it is!

I think in  a way, I am calmer and more feminine than before. I've always been feminine and sensitive, yet I always thought something was "wrong" with me and tried to be "tougher". It feels good to be who we are, doesn't it? Well even when I was working, it was in music, a field that is also not so mainstream.

Even though I feel quite the odd one especially living where I live, I wouldn't change this for anything in the world. I am a better person at home and strive to be content every day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beef stew recipe

I made up this recipe last week and it turned out to be so delicious! 

-2 lbs. or more of blade cut beef
-All purpose flour
-Salt
-Pepper
-Olive oil
-2 yellow onions, chopped in medium pieces
-3 large garlic gloves, finely chopped
-1 red onion, chopped in medium pieces
-1 red cabbage, roughly chopped
-3-4 carrots, cut diagonally in one-two inch pieces
-2-3 branches of celery, thickly cut
-3 bay leaves
-1-2 tbs. of chopped fresh rosemary 
-2 tbs. of red wine vinegar
-45 ml. of tomato paste
-A quart of beef stuck, plus water to fill the pot

In a Creuset type casserole, heat the olive oil. Meanwhile, dry the blade beef with paper towels, then put in a plate of flour, salt and pepper. Cover both sides and shake off any excess flour. Brown both sides in the casserole, then set aside on a plate. Warm the oven at 300 degrees.

Add more olive oil then saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes, then add the carrots and the celery. Add the cabbage, salt, pepper and the bay leaves, then add the rosemary, the beef, the stock and the water. Add tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer in the oven for 3 hours! It is SO good! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aiming to save a net paycheck a month

I think it is very important to save money; to really sit down and look at the figures. Just like a diet, a budget needs elasticity for a few treats, but I think that even treats can be both pleasant and frugal, such as making a cake at home or looking for ice cream sales.

Fixed expenses for us include:

-Rent
-Car, home, life insurance
-Electricity (fixed plan: trying not to go overboard it!)
-Home phone and Internet (we canceled cable and cell phone, saving us $100 a month)

The rest can be controlled with enough planning and perseverance! I want to trim our food expenses and aim to save 25% of our monthly income. I want to cut on electricity as well although we have it quite cheaply here as it is hydro.

As a housewife who has never worked throughout my marriage, I can attest that living on one income is doable and even comfortable. I've never been a spender: in fact, I prefer the stability and the security of an emergency fund above all things. When my husband was out of work for 5.5 months last year (2.5 months of which were a low paid job outside his field), we managed on the emergency fund I had saved. I am now re-saving it and I am already at six months saved. I am aiming for a solid eight-month fund. It is quite essential in case of job losses. We had a ten-month one before we lost the income. Some financial planners say only 3 to 6 months, but I think it is not nearly enough especially in this economy!

We don't really feel deprived as for us, good food made at home by either of us and the occasional good wine or beer is plenty enough. I'd rather go to a cultural event than spend on designer clothes or go on lavish vacations. We don't go out to eat and if we do, it's one of our favorite rotiserrie chicken meals take outs on sale or the occasional ice cream cone in the summer (we go less now that we have an ice cream machine). When we want to watch a TV show, we find it for free online. We have no debt: some people believe that it's okay to have debt as they will pay it off later, but I think I would not be able to sleep at night if we had any debt, excluding a small used car loan and a mortgage. But just like having extra weight, having debt can come from personal issues that need to be dealt with in order to succeed in life worry free.

So as a housewife, I am helping my husband have a better future by taking care of our finances. We live under our means every month.

I invite you to read financial expert Suze Orman's books and watch her show on CNBC or for free on itunes.com. She taught me everything I know and more!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Housewife Day!

Today, November 3rd, is North America's National Housewife Day!

I actually had no clue it existed as I just stumbled upon the news! Let's be kind to ourselves today and be busy with our hands, as always. We are under appreciated by the majority of people nowadays, but let's not let them tear us down for we know how important and worthwhile we are to our husbands and children!

I'm constantly learning and reading about homemaking. My daily work is never complete as there is constantly something to do at home! What is the most important to me is a clean and well decorated home, hot meals, errands done, bills paid, money saved and an organized daily life. When these tasks are done, I am free to focus on other homemaking tasks that are more detailed and less essential.

I wish I could reach out to more ladies and educate them on the wonders of home. I hope this blog helps.

So pat yourself today for your family is grateful for everything you do!