Back to the basics

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.


Photo from sxc.hu

As a generation of mothers, there is a trend calling us back to our roots. There’s something in many of us that longs for a more traditional sort of homemaking — from scratch, and back to the basics.

Historically, the women’s liberation movement in the latter half of the 20th century threw the baby out with the bath water, and left a wide number of us wishing we had learned more of the traditional methods of home management.

If I had a nickel for every email I get from readers that sheepishly asks for tips on handling some of the most basic home management tasks, then… well, I’d have a lot of nickels. I think there’s a lot of us out there that would appreciate a 101-type course on home management.

Even if you’re a seasoned pro, I think it would be encouraging — even fun — to chat through some of the basic steps behind home management, and then share our favorite ideas that make these tasks work for us.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll share one post per week dedicated to the simple steps behind a home management responsibility — this series will be called Back to the Basics. Each week’s post will be featured on Monday, except for this week’s post, which will show up in your reader or email inbox tomorrow.

Topics planned for Back to the Basics are:

  • laundry
  • cleaning
  • menu planning
  • meal preparation (cooking in bulk, preparing scratch ingredients in advance, canning, and the like)
  • scheduling your days, weeks, and months
  • managing the routine family finances
  • nurturing your children in their different ages

There honestly won’t be anything new covered in this series. All the best methods and tricks have already been found — sometimes, though, they’re hidden beneath a guise of the latest gizmo marketed to help you do your chores.

Let’s uncover these methods, one by one, and pool our collective wisdom to create a place for both the newlywed and the new grandmother find what works for them.

But now I need input from you. What topic would you like to see covered in this Back to the Basics series?

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Comments

  1. I’m having a hard time figuring out cooking for two while I learn to cook as a newlywed! When I cooked with my mother, it was always high-fat food that my husband and I don’t want to eat, and in portions for our not very healthy family of five. Downsizing to trim gym-going couple-sizes and making things taste good is hard for me somehow. And when we have kids, should I just make a little more of whatever healthy thing we are eating?

    • You’re on track, Julie, with just giving your kids the healthy things you are eating. That way, they develop a taste for the good stuff, and not the things that come in a box with a lot of added junk. “First foods”, like avocado and banana, then little chunks of steamed veggies, get them started on the right foot! (That’s after a good, long time nursing, to get the benefits of the healthy foods that YOU have been eating.) :)

    • Julie, I had the same problem when I first got married. It was really hard to figure out how to cook a good meal for only two people without loads of leftovers. I ended up buying several cookbooks that are geared towards cooking for two. After making several of the recipes, I started to learn about the correct portion size for two people. I also started freezing leftovers in individual size portions. That helped for those meals when we really didn’t feel like cooking.

    • I was brought up by a Southern woman so I understand the desire to put healthy food on the table despite one’s upbringing.
      My husband and I love shopping at farmers’ markets, Whole Foods and Fresh and Easy.
      For example, we had Chicken Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Buns and cut-up veggies. Our teen has been raised on carrots, snap peas and celery as snacks.
      Congratulations. And I’m sure you’ll do well.

    • Thanks for all the encouragement nee, Gay, and Rona!

      The chicken sandwiches sound good! I hope I can raise any kids I have to be healthy eaters! :) Will kids really eat steamed veggies? That would be such a great thing to do for my kids to get them used to good food and its healthy taste!

      • We exposed Marcus to cooking lessons at the local cooking school, food samples at Williams-Sonoma and took him to local farmers’ markets in San Diego.
        He loved being introduced to new and exotic foods.
        He’s now a 17 year old who loves drinking Italian Sodas and having a couple of madelines from his favorite bakery. He’ll eat grilled asparagus and Japanese eggplant. And loves marinated salmon.
        You’ll do fine.

  2. I’m struggling with meal planning and wise budgeting/spending habits. Feeling a bit out of control in both areas, which breeds more stress in my life. I’m well educated, organized, and capable. Yet discipline in these two areas escapes me.

  3. I would love to learn how to make a light fluffy yummy tasting wheat bread. My Mom actually taught all of us kids the basics of home management, but she never mastered a light fluffy wheat bread. I’ve tried many recipes over the past decade and can’t ever get them to work. If I could figure out the bread I could save so much money, for our family of 4 (3 eating solid foods) we buy 3-4 loaves of bread a week.

    • Have you tried grinding your own wheat? Bought whole wheat is really heavy and makes for a bread that’s heavy as lead!

      debbie bailey´s last blog post…To Paint or Not to Paint?

    • Try this bread.
      http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/light-wheat-bread/
      I made a few adjustments to suit my preferences (upped the ww to 7.85 oz and double the fat to make a loaf that is moister and doesn’t stale so fast)

    • I’ve learned so much from Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. I’ve read it cover to cover at this point and have had success on many occasions making delicious 100% whole wheat bread that is not as hard as a rock. I’ve also heard good things about the Tessajara Bread Book and Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads. I save loads of money making our bread. And it’s fun too. Good luck!

  4. I second ( or third) the budgeting/finances aspect of home making. But I am really interested in the things other people do to make their house a home, to make memories for their families. For instance, I always spray lavendar linen spray on our pillows. This is something that my son has picked up on and says he misses when he sleeps somewhere else. :) Or my mom always keeps her eggs in a certain dish, for no reason except she wants too. Those small things make me happy, and I would love to expand on them.

    • My husband and teen love Tuesdays. That’s the day I change the linens. I always try to purchase the higher count sheets because these two guys love them.
      I make pancakes and waffles from scratch at least 2-3 times a week. If I don’t my teen complains.
      I think it’s great that you’re putting your personal touch in your home. They’ll remember it always!

    • We always try to have big breakfast on Sat/Sun everyone is home together we can have a leisurely breakfast and talk about what our plans are for the day. In summer it’s great we will eat out on the back porch with the sun shinning in. This was something we used to do at my parents home and I wanted to bring that to our home.

      Rana´s last blog post…Seperated but still together.

  5. Great idea – i am looking forward to gleanign a few new tips from commenters through that series.

    For me I have thos ebasics down pat, but struggle greatly with 2 areas:
    1. general motivation when there are no “real” deadlines as a SAHM. i pay bills on time of course etc, but if i don’t fancy baking on sunday i can put it off. except soon enough my planned baking session is 2 weeks overdue.
    2. balancing my needs vs. kids needs vs. husband’s needs vs. family needs. Mostly the issue is having enough time to give everyone attention (and yet get time on my own which i insist on). My husband works long hours and is gone most days from 7am – 7 or 8pm so the weekends are carved up with everyone’s needs…

  6. I’m struggling with meal planning right now. I have good intentions, but before I know it, we’re out of an essential and I have to run to the store without a well-planned grocery list. Then I just buy things. I make good use of those things, but I want to put a little more forethought into the entire shopping/food prep process!

    Shannon @ AnchorMommy´s last blog post…Patriotic Parfait

  7. avatar
    Jeannette says:

    Looking forward to canning info. I find it so intimidating and worry that I’ll end up giving us food poisoning!

  8. What a great idea! You might even teach this old dog a new trick!

    debbie bailey´s last blog post…To Paint or Not to Paint?

  9. avatar
    Marina D-K says:

    Meal Planning and how to coordinate shopping and food storage…Thanks for doing this looking forward to it!

  10. I want to know what I can do with the apples from my trees (mostly wasted right now) – don’t know how to make cider or jam or applesauce. I am also wanting to start sewing more: simple skirts, even “pads” (like Luna pads) instead of buying them online. Maybe some basic tutorials or resource links would be helpful here. I am also starting a twice/monthly baking day, soaking grains in advance, and involving kids in the process so discussion along these lines would be helpful (and inspirational, I’m sure). Thanks!

  11. Freezer meals! I really would like to stock up on food in my freezer, but I have no idea what meals can be frozen or how best to do it.

    Tianna´s last blog post…Food Co-op of Utah

  12. My mother fought against teaching us to be domestic types. She didn’t care for cooking and was never really very good at it, so it wasn’t until I went to work at a restaurant that I learned to make meals. My mother meant well, but it sure would have been nice to have a few tricks up my sleeve when I became a mom!

    Sugar Jones´s last blog post…Jones Family Camping Trip: Part 1

  13. This is such a great idea! I’m with Tianna – freezer meal information would be much appreciated.

  14. I need this post! I was raised by a loving, but full-time working single mother who order take-out nearly nightly and our home was always cluttered and confusing. When I became a SAHM, I didn’t realize that I’d need to be taught how to keep house. I’ve now got the cleaning and organizing mostly under control. But I don’t know how to cook at all and rely on a lot of expensive convience items. I’d like to echo the freezer meals and add in slow cooker meals. And also just basic meal prep-possibly a list of cookbooks for newbies? Thank you!

    • My first cookbook was Betty Crocker, when I got married. I think I’ve gone through 3 of them since then. Our teen is now learning the basics from it. I plan on giving him his own copy when he leaves the nest.

      • That was the cookbook my mom gave me for a wedding gift. Everyone needs Betty in their kitchen.

        Rana´s last blog post…Seperated but still together.

      • avatar
        Katharine says:

        I always use the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, or sometimes the website. It has lots of traditional recipes that are easy, with nutritional information, so I can easily figure up weight watchers points for recipes and helps me balance the portions. I always get compliments and I am not a cook! I just follow the directions : )

  15. avatar
    SarahMay says:

    YES! This sounds like exactly what my heart has been craving.

    How to determine priorities is my biggest struggle. When I DO have ten minutes to work on something, what should I tackle first? Laundry? Dishes? Read with the kids? Call a friend? I need an easy way to quickly prioritize so I don’t waste those little opportunities on things of secondary importance.

  16. Looks like you have hit the nail on the head…it truly is about getting back to the basics. :)

    Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam´s last blog post…Our Family Flag

  17. Your site is amazing! I’m totally hooked. I am very interested to see what ideas come up in the new series re ‘nurturing your children at different ages’. Will definately keep checking back! Thanks for a great blog!

  18. I would love to learn more about time-management! I know that it’s a little different for every family, but how much time should I spend playing with the kids, cleaning the house, taking care of myself etc… And how should I prioritize all those things that I need/want to do. Thanks!

    • I completely agree…some days when I do have a few minutes of free time, I waste too much time figuring out what needs to be done first! And then do I clean the house or take those minutes for myself (without feeling guilty about it).

  19. What a terrific idea for a series! I would love to know how to do basic canning – like making jam, for example. In a simple way!

    Jamie

    steadymom´s last blog post…A Summer Rhythm

  20. Excellent. I feel like I need a little work in most of the areas. Thank you!!!!

  21. This is a great idea– when I got married almost 14 years ago, I had the rude awakening of realizing I had grown up in a household where I had learned no homekeeping, and cooking was heating up convenience foods. I’ve spent the intervening years teaching myself how to “homemake,” and observing that most of my peers are in the same boat.

    Can’t think of a better site to educate on the basics!

    Missy K´s last blog post…Candles for Spaghetti Night

  22. Thank you for this! I gratefully became a SAHM of my two toddlers a few months ago but it’s left me feeling a little unqualified for the job! My hard-working single mom didn’t cover this stuff with me…looking forward to learning it!

    Bethany´s last blog post…Getting It Done

  23. avatar
    jennifer says:

    entertaining kids in an electronic age without batteries involved!

  24. avatar
    jennifer says:

    and helping them learn to entertain themselves….

  25. I love that you are doing this! My husband’s grandmother actually got her master’s degree in home economics. She truly knows how to manage a home, and (while I know it shouldn’t) it always surprises me that she and her home are always perfectly put together.

    Her home ec education covered everything from stretching a dollar, to high class entertaining, and decorating a home (things like the best height for pictures and size chandler for the table).

    Both she and my mother in law have been an invaluable resource for me, but as neither of them have children in the home anymore, time management is less of an issue for them than me.

    I could use some tips that save me time overall, like preparing meals in bulk.

    Gerwerken´s last blog post…Grosgrain’s Dress Giveaway

  26. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    I would love to be able to can foods, but I am so intimidated by the whole thing, pressure cookers, possible botulism poisoning, it is all so overwhelming. I know if you did a post on canning it would be very simple and straightforward :-)

  27. avatar
    Catherine says:

    Great! I’ve always struggled with many aspects of home management. It didn’t mean so much when I worked outside of the home as I outsourced what I could and didn’t have time to worry about what I couldn’t. Now that I stay home with the girls, I learned I need to manage my home better. My best friend has given me lessons on many things (keeping lists, keeping a calendar, cleaning) but I’m always eager to learn more.

  28. I’m struggling to find a good method for mopping the floors right now. I used to use a swiffer, but I can’t stomach the waste of resources and money to buy the refill pads anymore. I currently use the hands-and-knees scrub with a bucket and sponge method, but it’s hard work so I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. I’d love some other ideas that use as few resources and are as cheap as possible.

    Thanks!

    • avatar
      Calliope says:

      Hi Lauren!
      I used to have the same problem ever since I moved to a house double the size to my previous apartment. Very soon, I realized that I had to sweep/vaccuum/mop the entire 2 storey house every couple of days and that was too much for me!
      So, what I figured out eventually is that I shouldn’t let the dust pile up because it would be a lot harder later.
      Now, I sweep almost every day, usually after lunch is a good time for our family, and it only takes 5-7 min to having almost clean floors. I vaccuum only once a week (it helps that I don’t have carpets just laminate flooring otherwise I’d have to do it every other day) and I clean the floors with a mop – for pete’s sake do yourself and your back a favor and buy a mop! – every 2-3 days. It really depends on the activities, guests, etc.
      Overall, I spend 15 min per day for the entire house.
      Not bad, considering that I used to spend 2-3 hours once a week to do the same job to the entire house. Not to mention that it never ever was clean, apart from that hard day and maybe the day after!

    • I still have my Swifter mop but I use old rags, water and cleaning solution to mop the floors. No wasting paper.

    • I love the Vileda products for cleaning floors…the one I use has removable and washable cloth pads and an adjustable handle. It is fun to use, my kids even offer to mop the floors.

  29. I would love to learn more about canning and freezing. I have a small garden–not really big enough to do much canning or freezing–but I would like to take advantage of locally grown produce and put up some beans, corn, and fruit for the winter.

    Sandy´s last blog post…Neighbors, Community, Cookout

  30. I love this idea! I would love to hear strategies for keeping the house clean – not just straight – how often are you supposed to mop/dust/vacuum etc to keep it from getting visibly overdue? What are some ways to do a little each day and not feel like you are constantly cleaning ?

    • Yes, yes! This is the thing I need to know. How often am I supposed to be cleaning different things, and what is really involved. When vaccuuming, do you have to move the furniture and do the edges every time, or how often??

      I have my own weekly/monthly/quarterly checklist, but I can’t figure out if the frequencies are right or not.

    • Our floors get mopped at least once a week but now that we have a puppy we’re mopping 2-3 times a week. How do I get it done? The 6 ft 5 inch teen cleans the other days.

  31. I love this idea Tsh! Perfect timing because I was just thinking I am slacking on Home Management lately! My problem is too many things on the to do list, I start to feel so overwhelmed then nothing gets done! Thank you!!!

  32. Love this idea! I have a mother in law who handles everything around the house with complete ease (as I guess is to be expected after 38 years of practice!) while I somehow seem to be muddling through quick sand trying to get it all done. My mom went to work and did as little as possible around the house, so I need all the help that I can get. Thanks!

    Jamie´s last blog post…WFMW- Pre Cook Your Dinner

  33. I would love some tips on housecleaning. I have two small children and I never feel like the house is clean enough for children who play on the floor. Tips on carpet cleaning and mopping would be great.

    • I need this too! I feel like I’m constantly sweeping and vacuuming. I already mop at least once a week, but that doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

  34. avatar
    Calliope says:

    What a great idea!
    I’d love to share/exchange some tips or recipes for green cleaners/detergents. I’ve been green cleaning for 2 years now, ever since I got pregnant, and I’ll never look back.
    I’m very happy with the results to my family, my home , our budget! and eventually to the environment

  35. I would love to learn how to can as well. You may cover these in your laundry section, but sewing buttons, mending, and ironing would be great topics for me.

    • Yes, the basics of clothing care, maintenance, and mending would be so helpful! I avoid doing laundry until I have a mountain to clean and then NEVER iron. I am now married with a husband who will require ironed slacks and shirts as he heads to law school. I am a little scared for his clothes!

  36. For everyone looking for help with budgeting: use PearBudget! I found it after reading a post about it here at SimpleMom and now it’s my new favorite tool. Also, Charlie is fabulous and helped me figure out the best way to use Pear to suit my needs. Although I’m not a Mom (not even married yet!) I do have an interest in frugal and simple living, (homesteading for the urban set, etc.) and I love reading this blog; it’s super interesting and helpful, even for non-Moms!

    I’m really looking forward to the 101 series, my future family will thank you Tsh!

    • I love PearBudget! We started using last month and found out where all the money was going.
      Even though we don’t pay rent or utilities and make over $50,000 we needed help! This is the best tool for our busy family of three. Yes, our teen uses it too. He’s required to input his spending as well.
      Even the dog has his own catagory!

  37. I am looking forward to the new series! Thanks.

  38. i’m looking forward to this! should be great!

    Julia´s last blog post…this boy

  39. I need some tips on scheduling/ organizing. I feel my productivity as a SAHM is lacking and if I was working outside the house I would get more done. I would love to receive some advice of getting more out of my day, and still spending time with my two young daughters.

  40. also, i’m interested in learning how best to integrate my children into my homemaking routine–how to teach them to help, how to GET them to help without a fight, etc.

    Julia´s last blog post…this boy

    • avatar
      Kristen says:

      Julia,
      You should check out http://www.flylady.com, she has a plethora of great ideas for stay at home moms. If you are a visual person, this site will not put you at ease like the simplemom blog, but if you’re willing to explore a bit you won’t be disappointed.

  41. avatar
    Misc Jenn says:

    I’d love something on gardening, even if it’s as basic as “here’s how to get started… go to Home Depot/Lowes/ACE Hardware and buy—-”. I feel like we’re throwing money away with all the canned tomato sauce and peppers we buy, but I just don’t know where to begin. Containers? Dig up a plot in the backyard? eek!

  42. I think you’ve got it covered. I’m really looking forward to this series. We have a 13 month old right now and I’m expecting #2 here within the next few weeks. So, any and all advice, lessons, etc you can give would be most appreciated. ;)

  43. I have found with my busy schedule I get up an hour early and complete a load of laundry dishes, straighten up if needed and one household chore. It is done for the day and when get home from work or life, I can sit and relax! This is the easiest system and has kept my house spotless.

  44. Wow. This is so obvious and yet no one I know of has taken it on. I TOTALLY need homemaking 101. I didn’t even know what a flour sifter was or what it meant to “cut butter” into flour until I took home ec in high school. Thank goodness for the internet, b/c I constantly have to look up how to clean shower best, height to hang pictures, how to make bread, etc. My MIL is the domestic goddess of the universe, so it’s hard not to compare. I would love ANY lesson you could give.

  45. As one of those aforementioned hard-working, domestically-challenged single moms, I could use *all* kinds of help. Now I’m struggling with getting rid of hard water stains in the tub and toilet with green cleaners – they’re just not coming off. I’d also love tips on simple (vegetarian!) meals/meal-planning that is easy, healthy, toddler-friendly, and inexpensive. I have all kinds of questions about creating a clean, healthy, loving environment in a small space (apt) and whether or not I need to invest in a carpet steamer and/or Dyson vac – splurges to be sure, but my guy delights in ripping off his diaper and peeing on the carpet. Basic basics are great – I’m nowhere near canning; I’d like to make a dinner (or breakfast) a bit more substantial than air-popped popcorn. Thanks!

  46. Homaking done the right way is really an honorable thing. I’m not climbing a corporate ladder, but managing my home properly is very rewarding to me.

    I look forward to learning new things!

  47. Car care! I guess in the most traditional sense, it’s “man’s work.” But hell, I make him do dishes. I’d like to learn how to change the oil, what other routine stuff we can DIY, and how often to schedule maintence.

  48. avatar
    Canuck_grad says:

    Re: laundry, I’d like some tips on keeping clothes clean and in good shape, etc. I find my clothes often get “worn-looking” quickly, etc.

    I’d also love some tips on gardening. We have always lived in apartments and now we are living in a house. I’d love to grow some simple vegetables and herbs, but I have no idea where to start. I don’t know how to prepare the soil, what you plant when, if it matters if it’s shady or sunny, etc.

  49. can’t wait to for the upcoming posts! what a great idea. i always thought i was alone in wishing i had more home ec in school… i had none! any information you put out there will be greatly appreciated.

  50. This is a great idea. Maybe another would be ‘things you need and DON’T NEED for that new baby.’

    It seems that registries get longer and longer, when most of the ‘stuff’ doesn’t get used, or is only used briefly. Some items are better to get from a garage sale or just borrow from a friend for a few months (like a swing or exersaucer).

    Leigh´s last blog post…Sleep Time Special

  51. I’m excited about this series!!! I can’t wait to read more. I’d also like to see something added to the list regarding making our marriages a priority. I realize this is a series about “mothering” and that it’s probable that some of your readers are single, but for those of us who are married, it is vital that we place high value on our relationship with our husbands. It provides security for our children and stability for our families. Too many mothers put their husband’s needs on the back burner, ignoring the need for date nights and romance and they don’t understand why their home falls apart around them.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. :)

  52. I would love ideas on creating a more hospitable home…some inexpensive, non-time-consuming things to make my home inviting. My husband is looking for a job as a pastor so I plan on entertaining more often and to a broader variety of people.

  53. Sounds awesome!

    tacy´s last blog post…Monday Morning.

  54. I really would love some help with meal/menu planning because of our little family problem…

    I am vegetarian (ideally would love a vegan diet, but…) my family LOVES meat. My husband thought I was trying to kill him one week into no-meat-eating.

    I am new at the veg. thing myself, so it makes it even harder…

    I am preparing TWO meals at each meal time and it is killing our budget! and my energy/time….

    I need advice on some ideas that I can make for a week or two at a time that would taste great to satisfy both…i.e. we make tacos a lot so I can have beans and the rest can eat their meat. I am sooo sick of just eating salads so that isn’t an option long term for us (me eat salad while they eat a ‘meal’…

    please help!

    • Try a cookbook call Vegetarians for Dinner. The meals are awesome and complete without the meat but have suggestions for meat additions. My other half is a butcher and his all time favourite lasanga comes from this book!

    • avatar
      Johanna says:

      Hi Angel,
      I’d like to help you!
      I found a nice book in my library about veg + meat meals and I have typed the recipes I like in my computer, I could translate them if you have some patience.
      I could also share my other resources with you :)
      So if you want, let me know how to reach you!

  55. Love the new series! My problem is that I am great at the basics when it’s just me! :) But I have the hardest time balancing three small children with getting it all done. I still need more tips on accomplishing household tasks with small children running around.

  56. i would love to learn some type of traditional “handiwork” or needle work. I long to be one of the those women who are knitting something while on the plane, etc. but I hardly know what it is all called let alone how to do it or what I could even make! I would just love to know that “old fashioned” skill that sounds so romantic when I read Little House on the Prairie to my children. Is there some beginning sites similiar to “sew mama sew” that provides very basic tutorials?

  57. Wow, Missy K could have been writing for me! And I love the idea of learning more traditional ways of entertaining my 5 yr. old. I would also like info on keeping motivated to do all these new things. How did woman of the days before get everything done?

  58. Freezer meals are fun but my problem is meal planning. I often cook twice what I serve for dinner with the intention of freezing it but forget so we are stuck with leftovers that no one wants and no second meal. Getting into a planning habit, making things from scratch and not processed and keeping the basics around the house are all things I would love to focus on.

  59. ironing!

  60. Great idea! It really is about getting down to the basics & uncomplicating everything.

    Prioritization is important as someone mentioned above. Doing little bits here & there it a great way to keep on top of it. But what little bit to do? Could be a personal decision based on what bothers you the most or what has been severly lacking for a while!?

    Also, don’t forget hubby & ourselves in the list of those who need nurturing!

    And dare I throw in mangaging all of this while working full time outside of the home!! That’s my challenge!!

  61. Even though my daughter is only 2 it would be great to learn how to do these things myself but also to learn how I can teach my daughter when she is older. I’d like to know how to be more intentional, not just hoping that she will follow my example (which is a poor example at the moment!). Thanks! :)

  62. I already love, love, love your site. But, I’m really jazzed about this series! Great idea. Can’t wait to get some fresh ideas and new-found inspiration!

  63. This is such a fabulous idea, why am I surprised?? I’m not, actually. :)
    I would love to see more menu planning advice, and info. on cooking from scratch. These are two changes that I’m working to implement at my house, while continuing to work part-time, two 12 hour days a week. Help!

  64. I’m with those who want to learn how to make good bread from scratch. I’m planning on reading “Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois this summer, but I’d love to hear other tips and techniques.

    Meghan´s last blog post…sometimes

  65. I think this is a great idea! :) I would love to see some instruction on basic sewing as well as a little more advanced sewing. Also, please include some recipes for natural cleaners. I’m using mostly vinegar right now for almost everything, but would love to learn about homemade laundry soaps, dishwashing soaps (for those of us without a dishwasher), and overall cleaners.
    Thanks so much!!

    Candy M´s last blog post…Introducing…Desi!

  66. I would love to see the budget friendly meal planning as well as scheduled cleaning of the home. This are my two weakest spots at the moment. I look forward to the help.

    Mary´s last blog post…spicy~zucchini~pineapple bread

  67. avatar
    Maestra says:

    I am interested in other parents’ approach to raising teenagers. How to handle their “jumping hormones” w/o losing oneself, so to say… To remain calm and wise all the time…

  68. I would very much like a 101 on laundry. I grew up on well water, which was rusty, so we just never had any white clothes or towels…and now that I live in a suburb and have city water and a nice washing machine, I still can’t seem to figure out how to keep whites nice, or colors from running, or even decipher half the symbols on the labels. What does a triangle with a dot inside of it mean anyways? Which of the hundreds of laundry detergents and stain removers are worth having? What’s easiest on the environment and our budget?

  69. What a wonderful idea! I was fortunate to be raised by a mother who was a farm-raised gal herself. I was taught alot of the basics that I needed to know so that when I became a wife and a mother myself, I would have the knowledge that I needed. However, this old dog likes to learn new tricks, so I am very interested in the bread-baking ideas and I am always wanting to learn new ideas about most everything.

    I agree with Mary when she says : ” I would love to see the budget friendly meal planning as well as scheduled cleaning of the home. This are my two weakest spots at the moment. I look forward to the help.” If I had to pinpoint two areas that I would love help in, these 2 would be it! :)

    My husband’s mother, wonderful woman that she is, failed to teach her daughters the basics of home-management, and now, as grown adults with families of their own, they have very disorganized and chaotic homes. They will even admit that this is so and how they wish that their mom had taught them these things when they were still living at home.

  70. I would love a simple idea of gardening. I know NOTHING and am totally overwhelmed to do anything. My son wants a peach tree and I don’t know if it is possible in our yard or on our deck or where to get one.

    How do you balance housework/being with kids/teaching kids housework/getting together with friends? I get overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

    Thanks!

  71. bread making. sewing. time management!!! ideas for turning leftovers into new meals (i.e. spaghetti sauce for sloppy joes). water spots off shower doors!!

  72. I love your blog and think I’ll find something to apply to my messy little world on all the subjects listed.

  73. Perhaps this is covered in “scheduling”, but I’d like to see something on social planning, e.g., managing social engagements, sending out cards, remembering birthdays, party planning, etc.

    • One of the first gifts I asked for from my MIL was a book with the birthdays and other important days from my husband’s side of the family organized by month. She left spaces and I filled in the dates from my side. Once a month, using the list in the book, I prepare all of the cards and gifts I think I’m going to need for the coming month (addressing stamping, art from the children etc.). Then I mark in my calendar when I should send what so that it arrives at a reasonably pertinent time and I just drop stuff in the mail when my calendar says to do it. This is one of the only things I’m organized about, though. It seems like I spend all my time playing with my children and cooking. Our house is a disaster area. Things are everywhere, and I can’t clean because every surface is covered by something. Help, Tsh!

  74. I’ve tried and tried to grow a herb garden but always let it go – so maybe tips on time, care needed, etc. Meal planning would be awesome; especially being a working mom anything I can do ahead a time (by planning a week’s in advance or prep the morning of) would be awesome. Lastly, chores. A weekly list or helpful tips would be fabulous. My husband lost his job in Dec and we recently found out we are expecting #2 (with #1 being 15 mos right now) so the benefits of him being home outweighed costs of daycare, etc. and we are having a heck of a time managing our home right now – it’s a mess! I want to help out too and don’t want to nag him but we need some help :)

  75. I love your blog, and am really looking forward to this series. I’m struggling in the area of menu planning and cooking from scratch. Since I’ve had kids, I find myself relying more on convenience foods. I’d love tips on cooking from scratch without spending all day in the kitchen.

  76. avatar
    Michelle says:

    Great series idea! I could use help in all the areas mentioned. I’ll be anxiously checking my inbox daily. Thanks!

  77. I’m excited for this series. Thankfully I have my mom to call when I’m lacking some basic skill and thankfully she had a very resourceful mother who did pass down many skills. However (and my mom would be the first to admit it), she doesn’t know everything so this will be a nice primer

  78. I was one of those women who was brought up by a woman who hated beng a housewife. Thank goodness for my dad. He loved having a very clean house and I inherited his love of it.
    I read many books, blogs and watch TV shows dedicated to housekeeping. I actually love washing dishes, making beds and cleaning mirrors.
    I look forward to your series and will definitely share it with my blogging buddies.

  79. I’d love to hear about how to make sure to care for yourself!

    Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}´s last blog post…Parent Hacks admin: Stormy weather

  80. When I first became a homemaker, I soooo wished I had a series like this. My mom was a great mom, but not into the homemaking thing. I had to teach myself. I know this series will be invaluable.

    • I know what you mean! My mom refused to teach me to cook anything but brownies because I was smart enough to figure it all out. (her words not mine) so I had a panic attack the weekend I got married and we had several people help us move our stuff into our shared apartment and I realized that I was the one that had to feed these people.

      I still feel insecure about housekeeping in general and just want to have a good handle on it to teach my daughters. My mom’s method was canned ravioli and the only veg that we ever had was corn and potatoes…I was so amazed in college that there were other things out there that were healthy and yummy!

  81. I would love inspiration on cooking for the family. I meal plan but feel that I am stuck in a rut. I also need advice on how to get the kids to help out more in the kitchen.
    I love your blog, today I am starting my own task management planner. I am hoping to become more organized so I can stay more centered. This is also the month to start a family budget and envelope system.
    Thank you!

    shelle´s last blog post…June Harvest Totals

  82. avatar
    Danielle says:

    I would like to make one meal stretch into 2 or 3 – like a roast one nite then sandwiches the next from the left over meat. Any suggestions on stretching foods would be great!

  83. Having fun! Ways to have a great time without spending tons of money and playing into consumerism. Sometimes I forget how to fun if someone else isn’t telling me what fun is. Am I the only one?

    Erin´s last blog post…Jesselyn’s Baptism

  84. This will be a great series! Thanks. I am especially interested in the nurturing kids at different stages – most of what we read is regarding babies and toddlers. I would love to see some things about school age kids.

  85. Where to begin on the help I need??? :) Honestly, I feel like I “work” all the time at home–and never get a break. I’d love time-saver ideas, plus a sort of “master plan” for running a home, where you can get things accomplished then ENJOY the fruits of your labor without feeling like you’re working all the time! Anything “natural” or “earth friendly” especially for cleaning, would be appreciated!! :)

  86. I’d love a how to guide to meal planning for baby. I know they have different health requirements than we do, and nowhere can I seem to find a ‘here’s what to make your baby on monday, and how’ guide. Thanks for asking. :)

  87. I love learning about budgeting and family finances….I am so grateful to my mother for everything she taught me about homemaking…cooking, sewing, childrearing and gardening….but somehow budgeting and money matters got left behind….

  88. I also would like some help with meal planning. We’ve recently started trying to eat only whole (unprocessed) foods and I’m finding that most of my previous list of stand-by recipes no longer work.

    Also, as previously stated by other posters, I would like to learn how to incorporate daily homekeeping with the responsibilities of a baby. How to balance the time between baby and homekeeping; how to eventually involve baby; and how to entertain and train a baby at different stages. Right now when I run out of energy to entertain, or if I need time to clean, the baby gets parked in front of the TV (which I know is BAD!!! but I don’t know what else to do).

    Thanks so much for offering this series!

    • I love the cookbook Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Every recipe I’ve made from it (lots!) is easy, nutritious, and delicious. It also includes recipes and tips for feeding babies.

    • you don’t always need to entertain your baby… if you do they will never learn to entertain themselves. Need to cook dinner? Give your baby pots and pans and a wooden spoon and revel in their joy!

  89. I can’t wait. The basics are so fun… I love the great feeling of accomplishment when canning and can always use new ideas. Sewing/Quilting is so fun: so therapeutic and challenging. And just running the home and family…. old ideas that we haven’t heard for awhile will be wonderful. I am so excited to read these as we did ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’.

  90. I would love to know how to thread my sewing machine. I can sew with it if it’s threaded, but I have no idea how to do it, or wind the bobbin, even when I get out the book that came with my machine. I’d love to make my little girl some clothes but I think by the time I figure out how to do it she’ll be old enough to know they aren’t the coolest fashion.

  91. I’m so excited for this series! I’d love to read some tips on laundry, scheduling, and nurturing kids at different ages. I’m sure I’ll learn something from the rest of the topics too. They all look great!

  92. avatar
    Melissa L. says:

    Please teach me how to best take care of these things when one is living in an apartment? So much of the frugal/simple home keeping advice doesn’t fit easily into apartment living.
    I’m trying so hard to be simple, green and frugal, but when you don’t have things that are all yours (land to garden or hang clothes, a basement to store bulk shopping items or keep an extra freezer, my own washing machine to cut out disposable items ( I do cloth diaper, but I am not saving any money and it’s a lot more work than it would otherwise be). I have a boy nearly 3 and a girl 3 months sharing a bedroom (when they’re not sharing mine!) and I’ve been a SAHM for a year and I feel like I’m failing at it.

    • I’ve been there too and it’s tough! My husband is 6’4″ so I have to “hang” dry all his clothes so they don’t shrink. (I also do the same for my clothes) I can’t put them outside because they will end up smelling like car exhaust, sweat, and grass. BUT if you have trim above any of your doorways you can easily hang hangers there.

      Steph @ Dirt Won’t Hurt´s last blog post…Redneck

  93. How to do all that, and still nurture your sex life with your husband. Too many young wives are not nurturing their marriages. We older wives need to teach the younger wives to love their husbands. That means cooking, diapering, laundering, cleaning, scheduling, planning, educating and still making time to hit the hay with your husband.

    Amy´s last blog post…Two Atheists Speak Out About Becoming Pro-Life

  94. avatar
    Marteka says:

    Basic sewing and mending clothes/linens/bags/whatever.

  95. I need, need, need, this! I am a stay at home mom of 2 kids under 2. I have good intentions, but I could use some help with just about everything. I know organization is the key.
    My mom was/is a wonderful working momma and she taught me some great things, but basic homemaking skills were lacking in my childhood. It was basically you do it whenever you have time and all at once. Fast food was less stress, helping her and us have more family time.

    Steph @ Dirt Won’t Hurt´s last blog post…Redneck

  96. Bravo for doing this, I have an amazing grandmother-in-law who knows how to do everything, and was just thinking the other day how sad when she is gone if her posterity doesn’t preserve that knowledge! I wish I could just soak it up from her. There is a huge generational loss that is happening as modern life eliminates the need to know how to can, bake, sew, clean, etc.

  97. Yay! I can’t wait! I keep needing to plan meals and cook MORE at home. Yet, I don’t.

  98. avatar
    marissa says:

    As a newlywed, I’m so grateful for this new series idea! There is so much to learn even before I am a “simple Mom”.

  99. You have hit the nail on the head! i have been focusing on back to the basics this entire year…. my motto this year was to find true peace in my life and the only way to do that is to go back to the basics. i think i’m a victim of a generation of kids who’s moms had to go back to work and ran away from the home-making….my grandma was an amazing homemaker, but my mom was stuck in a bad marriage, had to go back to work and I never had the chance to really watch her be a homemaker. I’m so determined to make sure my kids learn the beautiful skill of being a homemaker. i’m so excited you are doing this!! thank you!

    Tara B.´s last blog post…Maddy Goes To Vegas!

  100. avatar
    Cathy G says:

    My additions to this list (all of which look really useful) are hemming/taking up trousers, and taking in waistlines; some simple ideas for home decor/interior design; deep cleaning carpets; and tips for starting to knit and/or crochet. Anything on these (particularly simple sewing) would be great.

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  1. [...] I hadn’t thought of it. I ran through my ideas with my husband a few evenings ago — all the great topics you guys suggested, and asked him what further topics he could [...]

  2. [...] I mentioned in the introduction to the Back to the Basics series, there will be almost nothing new mentioned. Going “back to” something implies [...]

  3. [...] of you mentioned that you’d like the topic of freezer meals and batch cooking covered in our Back to the Basics series. I’m definitely not an expert in this field, but it’s something I want to [...]

  4. [...] of you mentioned that you’d like the topic of freezer meals and batch cooking covered in our Back to the Basics series. I’m definitely not an expert in this field, but it’s something I want to [...]

  5. [...] Our family’s mission statement remains a bit pliable, and we’re open to tweaking it throughout the years. But our core values remain the same — live simply, grow, honor relationships, and celebrate These are embodied in our mission statement. This becomes your statement that keeps you going throughout the days, months, and years, so that’s why it’s the first task in going Back to the Basics. [...]

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