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marimara 10-09-2008 01:12 PM

I thought we could use a thread to discuss this topic but wasn't really sure what forum it should go in.

Ok, I've been doing alot of thinking about homemaking lately. I read a book recently that really spurred my imagination about traditional homemaking skills and how they used to be essential for survival. In today's day and age, most people don't really think about homemaking as being a skill. It is also not valued very much by our society.

I am a SAHM to a 2 year old and consider myself to be the homemaker. I am also teacher and mother to my dd and dog

I know lots of other mamas here on this board are doing the same things and thinking like me.

Maybe we can discuss some of the ways we develop our 'skills' in homemaking and share tips/ideas. We can also discuss how homemaking is viewed in our society and how we view it.

For example, before I was a mother, I thought that being a housewife was boring and didn't allow room for a woman to develop her full potential. Now that I a mother, I cannot imagine my life any other way and wouldn't want it any other way. I love being a SAHM and homemaker and the small, quiet ways it DOES allow us to develop ourselves.

Lately, I have been very interested in learning the traditional crafts of homemaking, like quilting, canning, growing, sewing, making candles and soaps. And also the specific details of housecleaning, cooking, and creating a safe, happy, and fun home for my family.

I was reading on another thread in SAHPing about some moms not knowing if they would consider being a housewife after their kids are grown and gone. To me, I think that I will always be the homemaker even after my dd is gone. If I can learn some more traditional crafting, it would make my work more purposeful to me. To feel like I am contributing more to our household. More like in the old days when the Housewife was something to be respected and considered essential for survival.

I also think that with the way our economy is going, there is going to be more of a need for these traditional skills and crafts as families have to find ways to be more self-sufficient.

So let's hear your thoughts!

SortaCrunchy 10-09-2008 01:15 PM

First of all - subbing!

Secondly, I also consider myself a homemaker/householder (are those two interchangeable?). I would love to know what book you read, as I am in big need of inspiration/motivation these days!

Hazel 10-09-2008 01:27 PM

I'd also love to know the name of the book!
This is something I have been working on for a few years now. I don't feel like i have made as much progress as I would like but I'm still learning and trying.

marimara 10-09-2008 01:32 PM

Some of the books I read recently that spurred this were:

Back to Basics:

A handmade life:

Home Ground:

wendyland 10-09-2008 02:32 PM

I guess I'm a part time homemaker. I love learning new skills and reading homemaking/country books. I work full time right now, but I'm dreaming of working part time. I work at home, which allows me to do more than I could if I was stuck in traffic two hours a day. Growing my own food and possibly preserving some of it are on my to do list for next year.

MrsMike 10-09-2008 02:53 PM

I would love, love, love, love, love love to be a traditional housewife-type and learn everything that comes with it. I want to be like my mom. I do work part-time and I am praying hard that we will be able to make it so I can SAHM in the coming years. I would love to learn how to sew, knit, quilt, grow veggies, organize my home, can/preserve, cook (I can sorta one has died yet), bake, do crafty stuff and all the things pp mentioned.
In a way, I feel limited by the fact that we live in an apartment and by the fact that I was not born with a single ounce of organizational skill. I would love to learn.

rootzdawta 10-09-2008 02:54 PM

I never knew I would enjoy homemaking so much. People around me try to belittle homemaking but it doesn't matter. I agree with you tumblingstar, it is "the small, quiet ways it DOES allow us to develop ourselves" in a way my master's degree did not (not knocking furthering one's education).

Anyway, I just wanted to sub to the thread. Also feeling a little sad because it seems that my homemaking days are drawing to an end as we try to make the ends meet.

Oh, forgot to say what I do. I knit/crochet, do a very little bit of sewing but would like to get better, do all the cooking (we eat out maybe 4 times total in a year), I do most of the housecleaning chores (and have a schedule that I stick to) and we just turned over the land to make a garden next year so I'm going to be learning how to preserve/can. I am constantly decluttering and re-organizing to make the house a more pleasant and peaceful place to be.

Stone Fence 10-09-2008 02:57 PM


Next year (I hope) I'll be a SAHM.

I learned a lot from my mom about traditional home skills. She was just old enough to have some of them and use them.

I'm looking forward to everyone elses ideas and insights.

marimara 10-09-2008 03:49 PM

Some things I am looking forward to learning/practicing this fall/winter is cooking more in the crockpot (mmmm, Can you say white chicken chili). Getting a dutch oven and learning how to cook and roast in it. Also I want to bake more bread by hand (no bread machine). I was doing 2 loaves a week early in the summer but then it got too hot. I'm planning to make a roasted chicken, potatoes, and veggies dinner this weekend for us and some friends

Next year I hope to be in a house with more land to grow a small garden. This year I did tomatoes and squash but they didn't turn out that great. My dd picked all cherry tomatoes before they were ready and the squash rotted and died mysteriously.

Back in the olden days, traditional housework included many things. Of course, they did these things without modern conveniences (like washing machines!). Growing food and preserving it was a way of life and a major portion of your daily work. Quilting was done because people needed blankets to keep warm and as an heirloom. Nowadays, we just go to Target and pick up one! It was also done in a communal setting sometimes (like quilting bees). I read recently about women in a small community would all get together on wash day and wash clothing and linens together. They did this to share the work but to also have social interaction.

I can see how so many modern housewives or SAHMs are feeling isolated and I think it is in part a result of us our modern life. We don't participate in quilting bees or wash days with our neighbors and community. Instead we purchase blankets and linens at stores and go home alone. We take our kids to playdates instead of letting them run free in the yard while we wash, or hang clothes on the line. Or help pick the veggies. Ok, this was a long tangent I just went out on......

But I do some sewing, mostly mending items. Sometimes I'll take an old long sleeve tee of mine and cut off the arms, and sew them together with an elastic waist to make pants for my daughter. Or I also sew table linens, like cloth napkins for home use. I have also made cloth diapers and wipes on the sewing machine. I made a wetbag once. But I'm not great with patterns and sewing clothes for me! Well I did recently make a skirt but that was pretty much impossible to mess up

I have done some rag quilting and love it!!!! I still have a rag quilt that I haven't finished on my daughters bed right now. I started it when she was a year old and now she's 2! I used her old flannel receiving blankets. It's so soft and cuddly.

I'm really interested in hearing what things you all are doing or considering doing to bring some of these traditional homemaking crafts and skills back to life!

Smokering 10-09-2008 05:30 PM

I've been increasingly developing a 'life is what you make it'/'living without excuses' approach to things recently. I'm a SAHM and have always appreciated that role in theory, but I do have a tendency to get stuck in a rut (always have done, whether SAHMing or not). So I have to make a conscious effort to do stuff, and not let 'Oh, I have a small baby, I'm too busy' get in the way. It's tricky, but doable!

Right now I'm trying to learn to sew. DH bought me a sewing machine last Christmas and it hasn't exactly had a lot of use... my sewing skills are appalling, but I was seduced by baby girl's dress patterns the other day and am determined to learn! Mum sewed clothes for us when we were young, and I'd love to do the same for my daughter.

So I'm practicing by constructing fabric gift bags for Christmas and birthdays. They're absurdly simple to make and I take an embarrassingly long time to complete each one... but you know what? They look good! And they'll have paid for themselves in about, um, fifty years... I could have been frugaler with the fabric. Still I bought it months ago, so it's a 'free' hobby now and it makes me feel domestic and productive.

I also have a bunch of sewing projects which have been on the go since forever. A baby quilt top which I need to make into a quilt (which I have no idea how to do, so I'm waiting for a lesson with Mum); a big-sized hand-stitched quilt I've been 'working on' for four years; three bolsters I was gonna cover; a beastie cloth I need to hem; and so on, and so forth.

What else do I do? I'm really getting into my veggie garden this year--hope to freeze a lot of homemade tomato sauce. I do bake bread and cook from scratch--sometimes I get into a rut with that, but I try to keep creative by making goals and challenges. Right now I'm trying to learn Indian cooking, and have made a few increasingly yummy curries and really perfected the art of naan bread.

Things I'd like to be good at include that rather cheesy, but lovely 'make the home a haven' knack, which I completely don't have. And interior decoration--I don't have ghastly taste, I just lack flair or something. Money, perhaps. I'd also like to try sprouting, and use my crockpot more often... and I have a vague desire to can, but probably never will because a) I find the prospect terrifying, and b) I don't really like canned fruits, chutneys, jams and stuff. I mostly just like the idea of the laden pantry shelves.

StormySar 10-09-2008 05:55 PM

Originally Posted by MrsMike View Post
In a way, I feel limited by the fact that we live in an apartment and by the fact that I was not born with a single ounce of organizational skill. I would love to learn.

Don't let living in an apartment stop you. I designed a website about homesteading when I lived in an apartment - much of what you can do in a house you can find a way to do in an apartment!

Now I have a monthly newsletter tat goes out (in my sig) that deals a lot with these topics. It's been awesome putting it together.

marimara 10-09-2008 08:29 PM

Wow, StormySar, you have a ton of information on your site! Thanks for the links

lifeguard 10-10-2008 12:35 AM

I love the independence & sense of completion/satisfaction I get when I create things with my own hands. Whether it's a wool soaker, a table runner for a gift or well-organized closet.

rootzdawta 10-10-2008 01:10 AM

Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post
I love the independence & sense of completion/satisfaction I get when I create things with my own hands. Whether it's a wool soaker, a table runner for a gift or well-organized closet.
I agree.

happyhats 10-10-2008 01:52 AM

I love homemaking but I'm not sure about my appitude for it. I can cook, but it's mostly my husband's joy. I am skilled at shopping out of the pantry, jam and jelly making, baking, etc. I've never been able to enjoy sewing, but maybe if I got a machine it wouldn't be so dreadful. I need to learn to crotchet again...I have a bit of skill at it but I always put it down too quickly to really get good. I've been learning how to put food by, and I'd really like a dehydrator sometime soon. I have learned about cleaning with all natural products and I've dabbled with soap and candle making in the past, both of which I enjoy. I need to get my mom to teach me to cold press soap. She's quite good at it, whereas I used to make soap predomitately out of glycerin as a teenager.

I think I'm good at shopping and finances, which may not necessarily be old fashioned but are necessary. I have the patience to research the best buys out there, etc, and how to diy things.

sunnysandiegan 10-10-2008 02:01 AM

Awesome thread!

I have no idea where I learned my homemaking skills. I never even wanted children or to stay at home. I was determined to be a career woman. I was raised by my father and his chain of wives...none of whom exhibited anything resembling homemaking.

It is truly a mystery, but I LOVE being a wife and a mother and being at home for DH & DD!!! : I give DH and his family all the credit because they are so 'normal' and steady and just all-around good people. Before meeting him and falling in love, I had no intentions of every becoming a parent. He didn't mind as he didn't envision himself as a parent, either. Something changed for me and I convinced him and viola! We are a happy family! :

All that to say, I do feel like a successful homemaker and I enjoy my role. I haven't always been perfect at housekeeping (dishes are on the counter right now), but I generally LOVE our home and have gained some valuable skills somewhere along the way. I am apparently passing these along to DD, age 7, as she says she wants to be a mom when she grows up. (I never said that once as a child.)

I have the following homemaking skills: crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, cooking (not my fave, DH does more of this than I do, but I do know HOW...LOL), baking, interior design, housekeeping/cleaning, organizing, finances, home improvement projects (DIY and calling professionals when appropriate), growing plants (although this skill seems to be waning a bit since becoming a mother...seems I am focused on growing HER versus the plants...LOL), volunteering, and more I cannot think of right now.

I am in the process of learning some new skills, too. We started a mini garden this past spring with herbs and strawberries and flowers to fill in the unused areas. We've been composting awhile, but still feel like we're learning all this type of stuff. Our outside area is quite tiny, so I have been paying attention to other folks' tiny growing nooks and am inspired to learn more. Being the family healer (for mild issues and for finding appropriate care beyond that scope) is something I associate with homemaking and I am learning more and more about this topic, too. I have a working knowledge of essential oils and some great reference books. I am seeking more info on herbs and homeopathy and other such methods at this time.

I wanted to also comment on "quilting bees". In my area, there are very active quilting guilds and free semester-long quilting classes through the continuing ed programs (daytime and evening). I learned to quilt through the classes and have ALWAYS been the youngest person in each class I have ever attended. I've always looked younger than my age to begin with, but it is commented on at least once per semester about how 'young people' aren't interested in the same skills as 'their generation'. I take no offense and listen avidly. It is amazing what one can learn from these ladies. (I don't necessarily agree with them on the lack of interest, though.)

By contrast...
My DD has been BEGGING me to learn to knit for nearly a year. I know how, but didn't recall the details for teaching purposes. I always preferred crocheting anyway, so I taught her that over the summer. She liked it, but it didn't satisfy her urge to knit. So...I found a free knitting class through the same continuing ed program and emailed the instructor asking if she would allow my DD in the class with me. She was quite willing and shared her personal story when introducing my DD in class the first day. At age 7, and this being an adult class, DD was obviously the very youngest. However, there were MANY young ladies in the knitting classes, which is a strong contrast to the quilting classes. (DD absolutely LOVED learning to knit, btw!)

I'm sure there are many factors to my observations, not to mention this is just one city (large as it is). However, I have to wonder about the differences in the two crafts/hobbies and why one seems to appeal to different ages/life cycles in modern society. Quilting is soooo much more labor intensive and equipment/supplies intensive and space intensive. Knitting is so much more flexible on when and where and how long, etc. What does this say about current society?

Okay, novel over...for now, at least...

SAHDS 10-10-2008 02:30 AM

I consider myself a homemaker/housewife. I've been a SAHM for almost 10 years, but now that the kids are in full-time school, it doesn't exactly fit (hence my username). I won't continue to SAH once the kids leave for college, though.

I've always loved to decorate. Comfy, warm and beautiful.

I also love to clean, organize, cook/bake, sew and garden.

I was proud to be a SAHM, but feel even more blessed to be a homemaker.

knittinanny 10-10-2008 07:31 AM

Subbing. I'm a homemaker, but not a SAHM or a SAHW. I work full-time outside the home and unfortunately will continue to do so after we have children (I make twice as much money as my partner and will always, since he's a preschool teacher). I don't think that being a homemaker and SAH full-time necessarily go hand-in-hand - there's many different ways to make a home!

I bake bread every other day, do all the cooking/baking/fermenting/etc, have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, keep up a vegetable and herb garden, and continually work to make our home more peaceful and gentle. I knit, sew, crochet, quilt, and embroidery pretty as well as practical things for my family. I'm currently in the midst of making holiday presents and building up a layette since we're TTC in the spring.

I feel blessed that my mother was/is a wonderful homemaker and that I have learned from her how important traditional homemaking skills are.

marimara 10-10-2008 09:36 AM

Originally Posted by knittinanny View Post
Subbing. I'm a homemaker, but not a SAHM or a SAHW. I work full-time outside the home and unfortunately will continue to do so after we have children (I make twice as much money as my partner and will always, since he's a preschool teacher). I don't think that being a homemaker and SAH full-time necessarily go hand-in-hand - there's many different ways to make a home!

I bake bread every other day, do all the cooking/baking/fermenting/etc, have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, keep up a vegetable and herb garden, and continually work to make our home more peaceful and gentle. I knit, sew, crochet, quilt, and embroidery pretty as well as practical things for my family. I'm currently in the midst of making holiday presents and building up a layette since we're TTC in the spring.

I feel blessed that my mother was/is a wonderful homemaker and that I have learned from her how important traditional homemaking skills are.

Oh, I totally agree that you don't have to a be a SAHM to be a homemaker! That is amazing that you are able to do the baking as well as keeping a garden! I know before I had a child, when I worked full time, I was still considered the homemaker, I did all the decorating, most cooking, sewing and gardening. But it was only recently, after my dd's birth, that I became interested in things like bread baking, actually cooking from scratch, growing food and putting it up, quilting.

This has all been a such a long process for me. I started out on a natural lifestyle about 10 years ago when my dh and I first got married. I did my yoga, gardened, tried to make a home for us. We didn't have a baby until after we were married for 8 years! It took us and me a long time to come to terms with having a family. I had a tumultuous family life as a child, even though my mother always strove to be the best she could under the circumstances. She always gardened, sewed, and cooked. She also used to make these gigantic cinnamon buns from scratch and they were so good! I need to figure out to make them!

slsurface 10-10-2008 11:21 AM

I grew up in a rural area, so I learned many "homemaking" skills because they were part of daily life. I was also very active in 4-H, where I further developed many traditional “womanly” skills. I feel fortunate to have so many homemaking skills, because many of the people I know that are my age never even learned how to cook.

I want to agree with knittinany that working and homemaking are not mutually exclusive. I feel very much like a homemaker even though I work full time. I make 90% of our food from scratch, bake bread, make yogurt, keep a garden, knit, crotchet, sew & quilt, keep the house clean and decorated, make my own soap and cleaners, and nearly all of our Christmas gifts are homemade too. I agree that there is SO much satisfaction to homemaking, especially when you have an appreciative spouse! I love being creative to make special things for my family or save us money. It brings me so much :!

I also found a great book recently, but I can’t remember the exact title…something like “1001 ways to make it yourself to save money and the earth”. I’ll have to get back to you. The book has lots of great recipes for foods, home remedies, pet products, bath/beauty products, and cleaning products. I am loving it!

Can’t wait to here what other great things you creative mamas are doing! :

Ellien C 10-10-2008 11:34 AM

I guess I can join this one -

I've been in a medieval re-enactment group for 20 years so I know how to make a lot of stuff -

knitting, crotchet, sewing, weaving. I have a basic concept of quilting, brewing, drop spinning and soap making. I'm known for my cheese. I've dyed with weeds - ladies bedstraw at my house and woad at a friends house. I don't mind organizing - but right now I'm totally overwhelmed with a LOT of stuff.

Oh yeah - and on the weekends, we offer get together somewhere to make "something" and the kids often run free and whoever is around takes care of whoever is near them.

I'm not a stellar cook because it totally stresses me out - but I like cheesemaking and brewing is OK. I've yet to grow much successfully. The houseplants are doing OK. I'd like a low-maintenance potted herb garden.

I would like to work fewer hours per week but I've never had any desire to stay at home full-time.

I made Christmas bags a few years ago - we all have our own theme - teddy bears, flowers, snowmen. I was thinking that when I died, my DD would look back on the bags fondly. I'm starting on Birthday bags now.

Let's see - projects in the works: embroidery - decorative; camp-rope bed for daughter and I'll be taking a 6-board chest class soon. Oh - and I've got some stuff for a back-strap weaving project that just needs a little more work. I've got a short jacket for DD that has come off the loom and needs to be sewn up. It was a really cool pattern that had no waste. I really meant it to be longer but it didn't work that way.

Christine&men 10-10-2008 11:42 AM


I sew, knit, crochet (but DH does not like my crocheting work...), cook (from scratch, all these supposedly timesaving half-ready products are $$$), have a couple of herbs in my garden (and even harvested six beans!). But I really love to hear other peoples stories of what they do and how. Hip Hip Hurray to Mothering, it's such a great resource...

velochic 10-10-2008 03:53 PM

I'll join in. My father was raised on a farm, we still have farmland, and my father is (in my eyes) the king of self-sufficiency. He was a boy during the Great Depression, so he's up in years now, but he still teaches me something new every time I see him. When I quit corporate America, I decided to really get back to basics. My mother was a professional seamstress, and she lives with us, so we sew together often and I feel my sewing skills improve each time. My dd is almost 7 and can use the sewing machine with some help as well as she has pretty impressive hand-sewing and needlepoint that my mother has taught her. With my father (parents are divorced), we make our own soap, candles and I've learned a bit about wine making. I've learned open-fire cooking & baking, cooking with a wood stove, and baking with a wood stove (we have one) on my own (I am keenly interested in pioneer and Depression Era cooking) and I cook 95% from scratch. I don't grind all of my own wheat or corn meal, but know how and have a mill. I don't bake all of our baked goods and I take some help with things like commercial cereal. I can make my own butter, however it's more expensive for me than buying Costco butter. I put in a garden 2 seasons of the year and put up what we don't eat immediately. In the past few years I started expanding my canning to meats, stews, meals, etc. I don't have room where we live now, but we had animals growing up and I could probably remember a bit about animal husbandry.

I really think especially in these days it's important to get back to basics. Some of my favorite books in my home library that are fun to read and chock full of information:

Storey's Basic Country Skills
Country Wisdom and Know-How
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the infamous Carla Emery
Reader's Digest's Back to Basics

There is so much I don't know and the more I learn the more I realize I know NOTHING compared to people who are truly self-sufficient.

dancebaraka 10-10-2008 04:32 PM

I can sew (but hate doing it and am no good at it either )
I can make medicines and homeopathic remedies.
I can help a mama give birth.
I can treat someone with mental health issues.
I can inspire those that are surviving to thrive.
I can cook and keep a home.
I can make soap, cleaners, bath and beauty products.
I can defend myself from attacks.
I can cultivate food.

My Beloved husband can build a home and also a shelter in the woods.
Can hunt food & cultivate it.
Can defend us from attacks.
Can make furniture.
Can make anyone's home more energy efficient.
Can utilize traditional chinese medicine for health and healing.
Can train young people and anyone in martial arts.
Can skin a deer or other wild animal.
And can even make you a set of coasters from pine needles.

Love this thread! Glad I found ya'll!!

dancebaraka 10-10-2008 04:33 PM

I almost forgot...
I can certainly dance at your wedding or other event!

hollyvangogh 10-10-2008 08:11 PM

Originally Posted by tumblingstar View Post
Some of the books I read recently that spurred this were:

Back to Basics:
I LOVE Back to Basics. I want a copy of my own someday. It's awesome!

Also subbing.

And here's another your DPs know traditional skills (or want to learn) like carpentry, basic plumbing, car repair, etc.?

ilovebabies 10-10-2008 09:06 PM

Hi! Definitely jumping in here!
I LOVE being a homemaker! : I've been a homemaker for almost 16 years! I have my 5th child on the way.

I was definitely not raised in a home with a mother who was a homemaker. Being a homemaker starts in the heart and flows from there. I fended for myself most of the time. I was not taught how to do *anything. at. all* except make a box of mac n cheese. I knew I wanted more for my family.

Since I was not taught these things, I've had to learn on my own, or through friends or books or whatever. I can cook pretty decently now, and I got a sewing maching last year. I did learn to sew in school (home ec) but am having to re-learn since it's been so long. So, I can do a lot now and am continuining to learn more! I want to be the best homemaker for my family as I can be.

I am a SAHM and have not worked for 16 years. I homeschool my children so we are home a lot. I believe a home should be a sanctuary for the family, a place that's cozy and comfortable where my family wants to be and where others feel that when they visit.

Right now I'm working on little touches that make a home cozy and inviting. I have my fall decorations up and a vase of fall flowers on the table. I like to always have something baking (or just finished baking), coffee brewing or dinner in the crock pot. I think those aromas make a home so cozy and inviting!

I love what I've read so far in this thread! ::

marimara 10-10-2008 10:05 PM

My husband is interested in learning traditional skills too. He knows basic household carpentry, window work, auto repair. He is very much a DIYer and likes to learn new things. He is an excellent outdoorsman and is very experienced in camping, survival, orienteering, and basic field first aid.

He can't out-fish me though!

I also just put out my fall decorations and Halloween stuff, since I love this time of year so much!
I am hoping to get a bushel of apples next month and can some applesauce!

rhiandmoi 10-10-2008 10:10 PM

I love the home arts. I love to cook and knit, but I also sew a bit. I've been known to make preserves and bake bread too, but not too much lately.

marimara 10-10-2008 10:16 PM

Oh and I just took the plunge into cast iron cookware. My mom had a cast iron skillet when I was a kiddo but I've never cooked on one.

We just got a 12" skillet and a 8" skillet. I also got a 5qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven. All Lodge-pre-seasoned line.

Tomorrow I am making roast chicken, potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, etc. in the Dutch Oven for dinner for friends. Hope it goes well! Any tips for cooking with cast iron for a newbie?

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