Homemaking is one way to help your family–and yourself–with stress. Imagine running errands all day and coming home to a house that was clean, peaceful, and welcoming. Although not necessarily paid for her efforts, the homemaker can contribute much to her family’s welfare–even if “family” means just herself. Having a home that is a solace and refuge from this world is truly a blessing, especially in today’s world.
My homemaking skills are far from perfect, and I find much inspiration and instruction hidden in this skillfully written book.
This story is about a lady around 40 years old. After spending her entire life serving and taking care of others, she is left alone in her parents’ home. Her college-aged niece and nephew pay her a visit that will change the course of her life. They want to attend the same college and to have a home where they can both live, instead of each living in a separate dormitory. Their guardian says they may as long as they find a suitable lady to act as mother for them! Cloudy Jewel is the affectionate nickname Alison and Leslie Cloud give their beloved aunt.
1. A homemaker began preparations for company as soon as she discovered they were coming.
“She turned from the belated sunset unregretting, and hastened to begin her preparations. There were the two front rooms up-stairs to be prepared.”
Beginning preparations for company right away saves on stress later on. As a homemaker and hostess, you want your company to feel welcome, not to feel as though their coming caused you extra work or stress. You want them to know that you anticipated their coming. You want to have their rooms prepared.
As I learn to be more prepared for company, my stress levels are a fraction of what they used to be.
2. A homemaker cares for the air quality in her guest’s rooms.
“There were the two front rooms up-stairs to be prepared. She would open the windows at once, and let the air sweep through all night.”
Fresh air is the best air freshener you can use. It will help your guests sleep better at night and will make the room smell clean.
Go here to learn more about improving your home’s air quality.
3. A homemaker divides her work and does not attempt to do it all in one day.
Because company was coming the next day, Julia Cloud prepared their rooms the night before. She knew there would be work to do the next day, and anything accomplished the night before was one less task to do tomorrow.
4. A homemaker keeps some things “just in case.”
“There are a lot of boxes in the cellar, and there’s a pile of papers to use for lining the boxes.”
When it was time for Julia Cloud to move and pack up her home, she did not need to purchase packing supplies. She already had them in her home. In today’s world where everything is thrown away because “we can always get/buy more,” it may not be a poor idea to ponder what we may keep “just in case.” I am not advocating hoarding, but it does save stress to have certain things at home rather than having to go purchase them.
The papers were more likely than not newspapers, and she had a pile of them, not ten piles. If you have boxes and newspapers, you can save money when you move. You can also share your boxes and newspapers with a friend or neighbor who is moving!
5. A homemaker presents her guests with clean rooms and fresh sheets.
“She hurried up-stairs, and lit the gas in the two rooms, throwing wide the windows, hunting out fresh sheets and counterpanes. She could dust and run the carpet-sweeper over the rooms right away, and have them in order …”
While you do not need to paint your guests room or have expensive furniture, having everything in the room clean will make them feel comfortable and does not cost much money.
6. A homemaker keeps up on the cleanliness of her home.
“… by four o’clock a great many little nooks and corners in the house were absolutely clear and empty, ready for the cleaning before the new tenants arrived, although, to tell the truth, there was scarcely a spot in Julia Cloud’s house that needed much cleaning, because it had always been kept immaculate.”
We all have physical limitations but can still do our best to keep our home clean and presentable. While perfection is not expected by most people, having a system to clean the home ensure a few things. First, no area of the home will be filthy. Second, scrubbing will rarely be needed when floors, doors, and appliances are regularly cleaned. Third, a move out clean will not be quite as overwhelming.
7. A homemaker prioritizes her work.
“’Let’s get the curtains first, and then we can have the windows washed, and put them right up,’ said Leslie, ‘and nobody can see in. I’m crazy to be shut into our own house, and feel that it belongs to us.'”
As limited as Leslie’s homemaking knowledge was, she knew that windows should be washed before curtains were put up. She also wanted curtains put up to create a sense of privacy for the family.
This is definitely an area in which I can improve much. I tend to have too many priorities, and this fact makes it that nothing is important.
8. A homemaker learns skills to save her family money.
” …when Julia Cloud heard the stupendous price that was asked for ready-made curtains or curtains made to order, with fixtures and installation, she exclaimed in horror: ‘Leslie! This is foolish. We can easily make them ourselves, and put them up for less than half the price …. ‘”
Instead of purchasing ready-made curtains, Julia Cloud insisted that she and Leslie make the curtains. Yes, they invested in a sewing machine, but that machine could be used for years and decades to come.
Most homemakers do not have unlimited funds at their disposal. Learning skills such as cooking, gardening, and sewing can save the family money.
9. A homemaker plans how her and her family’s money will be used.
“They had set aside a certain sum for each room so that they would not overstep their guardian’s limit, and with Julia Cloud to put on the brakes, and suggest simplicity, and decide what was in good taste for such a small village house, they easily came within the generous limit allowed them.”
They did not just start purchasing things for a new home without a plan. Even with a generous amount of money to spend, they made sure to spend it wisely and not end up with a room without furniture.
10. An older homemaker can use her skills to teach a younger homemaker!
“Leslie hovered over everything new that was made, and wanted to have a hand in it. Each day she learned some new and wholesome fact about housekeeping, and seemed to take to the knowledge readily. Her first attempt at real cooking was learning to make bread; and, when she succeeded so well that Allison thought it was his aunt’s baking, she declared her intention of making it once a week just to keep her hand in.”
If you have ever had homemade bread, you know there is no bread in any store that can taste as delicious as homemade bread. My cooking teacher in college said she thought it was one of the best foods a wife could bake for her husband. Whether or not you choose to bake your own bread, there are plenty of foods that you can cook at home from scratch that will taste infinitely better than anything from any store or restaurant.
11. A homemaker is creative.
“Julia Cloud seemed to have a fertile brain for all kinds of lovely ways to while away a holiday. As the cold weather came on, winter picnics became the glory of the hour. Long walks with heavy shoes and warm sweaters and mittens were inaugurated. A kettle of hot soup straight from the fire, wrapped in a blanket and carried in a big basket, was a feature of the lunch. When the party reached a camping-spot, a fire would be built and the soup-kettle hung over an improvised crane to put on its finishing touches, while the rest of the eatables were set forth in paper plates, each portion neatly wrapped in waxed paper ready for easy handling. Sometimes big mince pies came along, and were stood on edge near the fire to get thawed out. Bean soup, corned-beef sandwiches, and hot mince pie made a hearty meal for people who had tramped ten or fifteen miles since breakfast.”
In 2022 I read a book that stated most people think that a lady who is home all day and does not work outside the home just cleans. This is far from true. As you can see from the above quote, Julia Cloud used her imagination to help her nice and nephew, along with their college classmates have a lovely picnic in spite of cold weather!
Go here to read more about the joys of winter.
“Another evening there would be brought forth a new game which nobody had seen, and which absorbed them all for perhaps two hours until some delicious and unique refreshments would be produced to conclude the festivities.”
Do you notice how much food is involved in this story? Julia Cloud was one who did not allow herself to get into a rut. Even her food was delicious and unique! As homemakers, we can vary the places where our family eats. Even in winter we can have picnics on the living room floor, or move the dining room table to a different location in the house to make mealtime more pleasant for our families. In another part of the story, Leslie cuts sandwiches (usually considered a rather dull kind of food) into various shapes.
12. A homemaker has food on hand!
“Then Julia Cloud entered with a tray, and Allison and Leslie both jumped up to help her. Leslie brought a plate with wonderful frosted cakes and little sandwiches, which somehow Julia Cloud always managed to have just ready to serve; Allison passed the cups of hot chocolate with billows of whipped cream on the top, and they all sat down before the fire to eat in the coziest way. Suddenly, right in the midst of their talk the big grandfather clock in the corner chimed softly out a single clear, reminding stroke.”
As you can see, it was not in the middle of the day. There had been an emergency in town, and the family had company later on (a young man had found something Leslie had lost).
Several of my relatives are just like this. They always have soup in the refrigerator or something that can be cooked very quickly and served even to unexpected company.
In a day where getting take out or going through the drive through is the norm, love your family and your company by having food ready to eat in a few minutes.
What is your favorite homemaking tip from this book? What other homemaking books do you love? Would you like to see more homemaking posts like this one? Please share in the comments below!
You may also enjoy these other homemaking blog posts: 10 Homemaking Tips from Not under the Law, 7 Spring Cleaning Tips from Honor Girl, 10 Homemaking Tips from A Daily Rate.
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Even though i have kept house for many years, i always learn something in your articles.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Joelie. I am sure I could learn much more from you and your decades of experience. 🙂