I have a little book that was written by Mrs. Child in 1832. The American Frugal Housewife is surely just as useful today in many senses. The author almost lost me when she noted that coffee was not economical and could be avoided. Oh, she’s a strict one, that Mrs. Child. Her prose is clear and concise and the book is ever fun to read. Going on two hundred years old, it is a bit of history rolled into a gentle reminder that not that much has changed.
If you make a dollar, only spend eighty cents. If you make fifty cents, only spend forty. The original Dave Ramsey. Why do all the girls these days need the new bonnets from France when clean, proper dresses and a ribbon will do? Girls have no home education these days! In this book she covers everything from cuts of meat (she would wonder about me and my vegetarianism), to how to make custard, and Indian pudding. She discusses herbs for cooking and all their medicinal values as well. A new onion will take the pain out of a wasp sting. Every housekeeping gem that we housewives- even in the twenty-first century- could ever need are in this book. She would tisk-tisk me for sure. But in this time and age, I am not too bad. But there is always room for improvement. A simple, frugal life is a life of peace.
The gents installing the meters for the solar panels on our homestead were surprised at how little electricity we use. Now it can all be generated from the sun. When you walk through our gate, past the Pumpkin Hollow Farm sign, you will find yourself in a large yard. Under snow, it looks ordinary, but this spring you will find dozens, upon dozens, and dozens of medicinal and culinary herbs. This year, enough produce growing to last us eight+ months.
When you come in there is a wood stove and nice wood floors that are easy to clean. Plants and aloes and seed starts fill my home. We read by candlelight and oil lamps. Twinkly lights are the electric lights. Piles of books to read, board games, and a tuned piano supply entertainment. We rarely watch television. In the warmer months we will sit on the porch or go for a walk, all free things. And blessed time together.
In the kitchen, home cooked meals are made. I am finally getting used to not cooking for all the children. Just me and Pa and some left for the puppy. Our root cellar is dwindling but there are still over a hundred jars of produce put up. There are fresh eggs from the coop. Cups of herb tea steaming on the counter.
You will almost always find me in an apron. They are so practical and keep my long skirts clean. I make all of our own medicine, prepare our meals, create much of what we need. I can sew a quilt, make our own soap, brew some meade, put up green beans, bake sourdough bread, make antibiotics, save seeds, use the library, ride my bike, and if I make fifty cents then I shall save ten! More likely five cents, but we’ll get there.
Such a good life indeed.