Favorite Homemaking References

homecomforts A few weeks ago, I posted my review of The Lifegiving Home. As I touched on in the review, this wonderful book does have tips on how to implement the Clarksons’ ideas, but at its core, this book is really about the heart issues and goals of homemaking rather than a practical how-to manual. If you’re looking for encouragements and inspiration, this book is a great place to start.

However, after writing this review, I found myself thinking about the practical homemaking helps I’ve encountered over the years. For cleaning, I use the Flylady method and I’ve found a few other helpful sites out there as well.  However, many of my favorite home guides are books and I find myself returning to them again and again.  Here are some that I’ve liked:

  1. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping HouseWeighing in at nearly 900 pages, this colossal guide isn’t the sort of book that I’d sit down to read cover to cover, but it’s a wonderful resource to have on hand for answering all of those home-based questions. I’ve consulted it for figuring out how to remove just about every kind of stain known to man, for example. There’s helpful information in here not just on cleaning, but on many facets of home maintenance in general.  Whether you own or rent, this one is a true must-have.

Continue reading

My Top Reads of 2015

accidentalfem 2015 was a wild and crazy year for me, folks.  I started the year with my son’s major surgery and a week in the ICU, followed by long recovery. And then there were just all the ups and downs that came with being a first-time toddler mom.  Hint: All those things people say about needing routines and planning your time are 100% completely true.

In the midst of the chaos, I still got to read.  And I read some wonderful books. Here are my favorite picks, both fiction and non-fiction, from what I read this past year.

The Accidental Feminist by Courtney Reissig – I highlighted and underlined so much of this book!  In terms of belief, I would say that my husband and I are both “old school” complementarians. We believe that what Scripture tells us about the roles of the sexes is correct, and we don’t agree with many of the liberal teachings that run counter to these verses. Likewise, we don’t agree with some of the teachings we’ve seen in recent years that take biblical complementarianism, turn it into a new gospel, and then use it to denigrate women.  Courtney Reissig writes clearly and does a wonderful job of steering readers away from both of these problems. I’ve read a lot of the older books on gender roles, and I think this new book is important. It’s also a bit more relatable for people of my generation than some of the older books out there.

fromdustFrom Dust and Ashes by Tricia Goyer – I’ve reread this book several times and it occupies a permanent spot on my shelf.  This novel, set in the aftermath of World War II, is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and redemption. Goyer does a top-notch job of illustrating her themes without beating readers over the head, and the story itself is compelling.  Great fiction and great inspiration!

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould – I  find church history absolutely fascinating, and this book was a wonderful window into Huguenot life. I knew some of the cold facts of their persecution, but seeing it brought to life through the eyes of the characters in this book made a powerful impression on me.  An intriguing mystery and fantastic adventure as well. mybrotherscrown

Unshaken by Crawford W. Loritts, Jr. – Not only is it full of sound theology, but this book by Crawford W. Loritts, Jr. also gave me a much-needed boost of encouragement. Loritts discusses faith in ways that are well-grounded biblically. However, in addition to giving readers food for thought, he leaves us with great encouragement. And because it is so grounded in truth, I found that it hit me at a deeper place than some of the books of encouragement I’ve read in the past.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden – As a Virginia native, I’ve been on many trips to Washington DC.  At its best, it’s a very inspirational city and there is much to see and learn there. This novel, featuring a young Senator and a brave librarian, gives readers a glimpse into old Washington. The story itself is intriguing, and I loved seeing places such as the Library of Congress, seen now as a traditional institution, when it was in its formative days.

huttobook Inheritance of Tears by Jessalyn Hutto – Miscarriage is a painful issue for many, and it’s probably not a subject for many “Best of Year” book lists. However, this book is unique in that it provides solid reassurance for those who have lost babies as well as for those who care about them. Hutto not only provides reminders grounded in Scripture, but also opens up her own life and makes herself vulnerable and approachable with her readers. I found this a very healing read, and I suspect others will as well.

God Bless Our Fall by Hannah Hall – This is one of the most adorable books I read all year. My son loves the animal illustrations, and the rhyming text is cute without being saccharine. godmakeakitten

Only God Can Make a Kitten by Rhonda Gowler Greene – Another endearing read for children. Animal books are very popular in our house, and this account of a little boy’s chat with his mother is a sweet read for little ones.

It’s only 8 books this year, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to yield a much fuller list of wonderful, “not to be missed” reading.

My 2016? Accountable

I’m not a big New Year’s resolutions person. Never have been.  However, I did find myself getting pensive at year’s end and thinking about what I want for 2016.

I love God, my family, my church and my community, and I want to keep growing in service to them. And I love reading and writing. This past year, I’ve actually been quite good on the reading.  The writing?  Not so much.

And that’s where accountability comes in. So, here it is. I’m going to be bold and actually state my intentions out here where everyone can read them – In 2016, I am going to review AT LEAST 1 book each week.  And I’m also going to do a reading challenge and finish it.

For my reading challenge, I chose the 2016 Reading Challenge over at challies.com. This challenge has 4 levels, and there’s also a group dedicated to it at Goodreads. The old me would dive in and say, “I’m going to be an Obsessed reader and go to the max on this one.” However, the realistic me knows that I have obligations and relationships to nurture. So, baby steps. I’m going to commit to the Avid reader challenge.  That’s 26 challenge books, plus time for me to read and discover to some fine, new-to-me books that may not fit under the challenge umbrella.

And readers? Feel free to nudge me gently if I’m slacking off. Hold me accountable.

What are you all looking forward to reading in 2016?

My Summer Reading List – 2015

I’ve been having tons of fun reading other folks’ summer lists and getting ideas. Since summer officially starts in just a few days, I figure it’s time to look at my shelves and put together my own little reading plan. So, what do I want to read (or reread) this summer?

letmebeawomanLet Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot – I’ve read this book several times over, and all of the recent celebrations of this lady’s inspirational life have me longing to revisit her writings.  Originally written as advice for her soon-to-be-married daughter, this book overflows with wisdom on marriage, femininity, relationships, and how all of these properly form a part of our walks with God.

It’s a beautiful book, and I think it just might be time to reread it once more. I’m not acquainted with Mrs. Elliot’s daughter, but I do think her fortunate to have a mother who can give such wise, godly counsel.

Also available in a digital edition.



Continue reading