Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homemaking File Box

My mom and I are doing a Home Ec class this year. We’ve had several lessons and Mom has lots of fun projects planned to go with the lessons. One project was to make a homemaking file box. I can use this box to gather information about homemaking. As I grow up, I’ll learn about things that a homemaker does. With this box I’ll have a place to collect information about those things.

Like any other file, mom and I brainstormed subjects that might be included as general folders. The subjects describe things I’ll need to do when I have a family and a home. I wrote these subjects on the tabs for the folders. This is the list of subjects we came up with: food, cleaning, decorating, crafts, handwork, sewing, financial, family, children, hospitality, encouragement and health. I also have extra folders.

I had fun designing decorations for the folders. My mom taught me to make a design skeleton. This is a sketched plan for how you want a design to look. I decided I would make four basic designs.

I used scrapbooking supplies like stickers, borders, and punch-out elements to create the folders. You can find these supplies in all kinds of places like scrapbooking stores, hobby stores, even the dollar store. 

One design was a border across the top with something like a butterfly or a flower on it. I made four of these with different colors and details.

A second design was a group of elements in the middle of the folder. I also made a group of folders with three elements across the top. The fourth was like the first, except that it had a vertical border crossing the horizontal one, with an element in the corner where the two borders met.

I had fun doing the project and I’m glad that I have a pretty place to keep useful information. At one of my youth meetings I got a handout about food storage. It sat on the kitchen counter because I didn’t know what to do with it. Once I made the file box, I was able to file this handout in the food folder. So the file box is working already.

Respectfully submitted by Miss Abigail.

Shared on Raising Homemakers Wednesday link-up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Miscellaneous Home Ec Resources

 Leisure Arts has published an excellent set of three leaflet books on knitting, crocheting and quilting. The lessons are written directly to girls ages 8 or 9 to about 14. The material is presented well and there are lots of pictures to illustrate the techniques. Each lesson builds on the previous lesson, so the skills are learned in progression. I’m including these lessons in our course outline, without any adjustment. You can find these books here on

I also have a number (my husband would say this is an understatement) of miscellaneous books on other homemaking subjects that I want to include. We will probably run out of time because my outline is organized by lessons and subjects. It is hard to predict how much time Abigail will need to complete the projects, so we’ll just play it by ear. We can continue the lessons next year. These kinds of books are written for adults, so I will have to adapt the information and write lesson plans for these subjects. How much time I have to do this kind of organizing may end up limiting these extra topics anyway.

So, I have a plan. We’ve already started this year with some general devotional lessons on homemaking and a training lesson on organizing Home Ec materials and other information into a homemaking file. But I’ll let Miss Abigail tell you about that. She had a great time embellishing file folders and putting the file box together. Upcoming lessons are about using cleaning tools and making a tote, green cleaning and making recipes for natural cleaning products, and embellishing a cleaning apron. I certainly need to clean house soon, so these lessons should be particularly timely!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Ec Resources - "Future Christian Homemakers" Curriculum

Another core element in our Home Ec course is a cooking curriculum published by Future Christian Homemakers. This manual is really a great resource. The lessons are clearly outlined and easily followed. They are designed to be used with a number of girls in a homemaking group or club and I surely wish I had such a group for Miss Abigail! But, her friends are scattered and busy, busy with all sorts of other things. So we will just follow the lessons on our own. There is information about cleaning the house and recommendations for sewing resources, but the cooking lessons are the outstanding focus of this curriculum.

There are twelve cooking lessons beginning with eggs. Instruction in the egg lesson includes how to crack an egg, how to beat eggs, and how to measure liquids. There are recipes for two basic egg dishes and information on how to write a breakfast menu and working safely in the kitchen. Of course, Miss Abigail already knows some of this, but I like how the lessons are presented and just accept that some of it will be review. Additional topics are: introduction to baking with muffins, quick breads, yeast breads, cakes & decorating, ground beef meals, chicken meals, microwave meals, casseroles, fruit, vegetables, and cookies. Each lesson includes specific skills like measuring, using tools,  nutrition, handling the food and food safety. There are also suggestions and recipes for extending each lesson. I like the list of ingredients and supplies for each lesson, even down to whatever might be needed to serve the food after cooking it.

I’ve put these cooking lessons into my outline without adjusting them at all. You can find information and a sample lesson here. This guide is going to make cooking with Miss Abigail so much fun.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Home Ec Resources - "A Girls Guide to Home Skills" Curriculum

The Homemaker’s Mentor has published a marvelous curriculum called “A Girls Guide to Home Skills.” The instruction is organized around the various rooms in the house. The guide isn’t comprehensive, but has just the right amount of information to begin with. I think it is very useful for ages 8 or 9 through about 14 or 15. The author writes as if talking directly to a young girl and the whole thing has a kind of old-fashioned style.

Each section has a check list of skills to accomplish for that room.

 Each section has a list of daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks to learn, along with helpful instruction for learning to do each job on the list.

 There is information and instruction for other skills, in addition to cleaning, in each section and at least one project to decorate or enhance that room.

There are eight sections in this Girl’s Guide. The last two are still in production. When these sections are completed, I would predict that they will be combined into a book. For now, each section is sold individually. The sections come punched for a binder.

I’ve been really pleased with how easy this guide is to follow. I simply read the information with Abigail and do any necessary demonstrating. Then, she can practice the skill or make the project and we can check it off the list.

Except for cooking lessons, this guide could stand alone, but it would be completed in a fairly short time. It could work really well for a lesson scheduled once a week or so. I’m including quite a few additional lessons and projects, but “The Girls Guide to Home Skills” provides a nice sort of structure for our Home Ec course this year. You can find more information and a sample here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Home Ec

 Most of what I’ve tried to do with Miss Abigail, by way of teaching homemaking skills, has been accomplished by using different 4-H projects. These projects have generally been a good guide for us and Abigail is now quite competent at a number of things. I love 4-H and wholeheartedly recommend participation. (Ahh, there is that small reservation about competition and perfectionism, but I won’t go into that again.) 4-H has really been a fabulous resource for our family.

Abigail is beginning the seventh grade this year, I’ve been wanting to do a formal “home ec” type course with her during her school time. I loved Home Ec when I was in Junior High, and I think this is the perfect age to focus on these skills. I have good memories of learning to sew. An early yearbook shows a picture of me wearing a blouse I sewed. I was 14 years old. The knit fabric had a buttoned placket closure - not easy! Surely my mom must have helped me turn that placket. Even now I avoid patterns with a placket feature. I also remember being taught how to time the cooking of a meal - getting all the different dishes on the table at the same time. I often wish I had kept the recipe we used for Hungarian Goulash. I was in the eighth grade and remember it being so delicious. None of the recipes I’ve tried since match that memory.

So, I’ve been working hard lately at writing a Home Ec curriculum for Abigail. I have a good outline and have written several lessons to keep ahead of her. I have also found a few really good resources for our course. I’ll share these with you in the next couple of posts.

Do you have memories of Home Ec classes? Which skills have been the most useful to you? Please share! I would love to hear about what you learned.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In My Workbasket - more embroidered dishtowels

When I need thinking time, I like to embroider. Embroidery is very soothing to me.  This set of dishtowels is one current project in my workbasket.  I've lately been almost exclusively occupied getting our homeschool year off the ground. Because I don't use a prepared curriculum, this requires a LOT of thinking and planning on my part. So, I've been making some progress on this embroidery.

This set is one of Aunt Martha's, but I cut the days of the week off, and have substituted my own short sayings. This is a set of seven, and I'm currently working on number four. The designs are full of small elements and sharp curves, so they are not going quickly, but I am enjoying them. These will be for the hope chest,  and will fit into a larger set that Miss Abigail is working on. She began the set with this crocheted dishcloth, then stenciled a set of hot pads in the same green color, and is now working on the cross-stitched dishtowels you saw in the last post. I also made a matching set of my favorite hot pads and put an edging on a hand towel. You can see these in pictures at the bottom of this post. I'm hoping that Abigail will make one or two more dishcloths for the set. We have the fabric for an apron also.
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