Thursday, July 31, 2014

{ The Essence of the Homemaker }

Without a doubt, the most asked question I get, and emails I receive, pertain to my homemaking.

Why do I enjoy it so much, how do I get it all done with a smile on my face, and what is it about homemaking that I love.

I am by no means an expert on this subject, and I can't begin to even slightly represent homemakers everywhere.  I can only speak from my own experience as a homemaker and wife for the past 16 years.

One of the library books I picked up the other day, was also the one I dug into first.  "A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove" by Laura Schenone.

As I started leafing through the pages and browsing the different pictures and themes, I came across one that immediately stood out to me.  It talked about the essence of the homemaker, and what exactly that meant.

In 1615, English farming expert Gervase Markham tried to pin down the essence of a housewife in his magnum opus, The English Housewife. (A Thousand years over a hot stove) 
I found it interesting to look through the list he had compiled and to contrast it with our modern homemakers, or more specifically, with myself and what I do in the household today.

1.  She was a healer who, from her nearby kitchen garden, could concoct all sorts of herbal remedies and medicinal waters for the curing and prevention of sickness.

I wouldn't call myself a healer, but I do still concoct different things for the well being of my family.  Whether it be some rice water for an upset stomach, a cough and cold tea for the winter days, or a special tea for a sore throat.  I love herbs, I love reading about their medicinal attributes and how I can still use them in this day and age.

2.  She was a butcher and preserver of meat who could transform all animal innards, flesh and organs into roasts and bacon, salted meats, stews and minced pies.  She was comfortable sawing apart bones, reaching in for the treasured suet fat near the kidneys, and making good culinary use of all animal parts, such as brains and intestines.

Well, I am not a butcher, matter of fact I thank the Lord that I don't have to butcher any animals for the meat I need to feed my family.  I am not saying that if I had to, and our lives depended on it, I wouldn't do it, but I'm just glad I don't need to.  But I do make good culinary use of all the meat at my disposal.  We'll just leave the brains and intestines out though.....I will say that when I was 2 years old my mother would feed us sheep brains.  Excuse me while I gag.  So glad I don't recall actually eating that.  BLECH!!

3.  She was a dairy manufacturer who could milk the cows each morning, churn the butter, and transform cream and milk into cheese - including fresh curd dishes, as well as hard aged cheeses that would preserve treasured nutrients for winter.

I do make my own butter, I love buying raw milk and skimming the top for the butter.  I do make some homemade cheeses, and yogurt and ice cream and try again, to make use of everything at my hands.  I guess I could call myself a dairy manufacturer, minus the milking of the cows.

4.  She was a brewer who quenched her family's thirst with ale.  Before the arrival of coffee and tea, the English drank a weak alcoholic beer as their primary beverage - even for breakfast.  (Some have speculated that the alcohol killed harmful bacteria, making the water safer to drink.)

I guess this is where I differ immensely from the old homemaker.  You definitely won't find me brewing beer in the back yard, or drinking such beer for breakfast.

5.  She was a baker.  In those days, brewing and baking went hand in hand.  The "barm", or foam of a beer, was the chief leavening agent of bread.  Weekly, the housewife used the by-product of her brewing to make wheat, barley, and oats into risen loaves called manchets.

Wouldn't call myself an excellent baker, I think I'm much better cooking than baking.  With that said, I do bake every week, especially bread, so yes, I do consider baking a big part of my homemaking chores.

6.  She was an excellent gardener.

Well, not really.  I used to call myself the Thumb of Death for many, many years.  Over the past I would say, 4 years or so, I have become quite good with gardening and have been able to grow quite a lot of things, veggies and flowers and herbs.  Again, I do consider it a part of my homemaking life, growing herbs and veggies especially, contribute to the meals I prepare.

7.  She was a notable cook.  A wife could love and obey, but if she didn't know how to cook, she could perform only "half her vow".  Her repertoire encompassed boiling, roasting, and preserving all types of meat, fowl and fish, from mutton to pig to goose and mallard to pike, carp, and trout.  She new how to make a wife variety of sauces for these meats.  She knew how to make pies, puddings, and marvelously interesting salads.  She "conserved" berries and other fruits into jams.  She pickled cucumbers for winter.

Yes, yes, and a big YES!   My love for cooking grew from a very young age.  I've often talked about the huge impact that my greatgrandmother had on my life.  I would sit at her feet while she prepared the evening's meal, and I would beg for a little potato, for a pot, for water, for salt and pepper.  I was so happy sitting there pretending to make soup.
I've loved cooking ever since I can remember, I would say 5 years old if not younger, and it's something that has only grown over the years.

For me, it's one of the most important jobs in my home.  The ability to know how to prepare meals for my husband and children, and give them good nutrition.

Homemakers are effective and valued for their skills.  Or at least, they should be.

The husband works to provide the tools that will in return enable the wife to do her homemaking chores.  I think as a married couple, one can't live without the other, they are equally important to the family well being.

I take a lot of pride in being a homemaker.  I hold my head up high when asked what I do for a living, and I smile through each task I complete in a day.

Mundane, repetitive, sometimes boring tasks, the same thing over and over.  One could easily become frustrated and resentful, but I think it's up to us to embrace what we do and not be ashamed of it.

I found that the minute I started tackling each day with a joyful attitude and knowing just how important my jobs are in the home, that I started loving and I mean, really loving being a housewife.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

Now I ask you.....what do you think is the essence of a homemaker, and how do you feel about your own role in the home?

"Laura Schenone's Books." Laura Schenone's Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2014.


  1. Hi!

    What a fun post . . . who knew! I believe the essence of homemaking is love. I have been a homemaker for 40 years, and could not have cooked and cleaned for all those years, If I didn't love the people I did it for. You can learn how to anything, including cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc., but you won't do it well without a purpose.

    I can tell you love those you work with and for, the love for your family shines through in every post!

    I've had fun going back and looking at some of your posts, so much fun! Love your chalkboard wall, what a fun idea!


    P.S. I am related to Kathryn Howard, one of Henry the VIII's wives, one of them he had be-headed . . . just sayin'!

  2. What a fantastic post! Personally I'm not always the best at being a "happy" homemaker, but I do love being able to take care of my little family! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I loved, loved, LOVED this post! I've always said that I was born in the wrong decade and should have been a 1940's housewife! I love staying at home with my two young children, looking after them and the house whilst my husband goes out to work. I don't always do it with a smile on my face and I do have days where I grumble but deep down I wouldn't change it for the world :)

  4. This post had me pining for winter! Exciting and exhausting just to read all about the skills needed!

  5. Love this write up! I too would have been a better 50's housewife. I have friends who think I'm crazy for enjoying homemaking!

  6. A few years ago, I convinced my oldest daughter to take a dutch oven cooking class with me. Our teachers were in clothing from the war period, and we cooked everything over a fire. Our dish to cook was a bread. It did not list exact amounts and it turned out terrific. My goal is to have an outdoor wood stove some day.

  7. Your posts make me want to be a better homemaker. After 11 years as a wife and 10 as a mother, I still hate cooking and cleaning, but I'm always inspired by your posts to at least want to be better at it and enjoy it more.

  8. You should look into adding some essential oils to your home. I could see you actually using and benefitting from them.


Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Please be respectful of each other and my blog. Rude comments will be deleted.

Thank you for stopping by, hope you are having a blessed day!