Tracie Peterson's Blog, page 7

February 8, 2014

Very few people are born as child prodigies or with such exceptional talent that everything comes easily to them.

From time to time, we hear of some pianist or gymnast or mathematician who completely stands out from everyone else.

My son, shooting the ball!But the large majority of people don’t land on the planet with extraordinary talent. In fact, some of us may have pretty slim pickings when it comes to natural skill.

And yet, when we combine determination to do something with a lot of hard work and passion, along with a great deal of time, we can usually begin to see a degree of growth.

For example, my oldest loves to play basketball. He started when he was nine years old and in fourth grade. He could hardly dribble a ball without it bouncing off his shoes. He rarely caught a pass without letting it slip through his fingers. And he struggled to get the ball to the rim, much less actually make a basket.

Needless to say, he didn’t get to play much that first year. As I watched faithfully from the sidelines, I despaired that his experience would discourage him and make him want to quit basketball altogether. Compared to some of the other boys his age on the team, he was thin, asthmatic, and slow. He didn’t appear to have an ounce of talent. He was a bright boy with giftings in other areas—particularly academics. But during those first couple of years of basketball, we didn’t see much ability when it came to sports.

To my surprise, my son didn’t give up on basketball. He enjoyed it. He loved being a part of a team and hanging out with his friends. And he liked the challenge that came with the game. So he stuck with it.

Not only did he stick with it, he worked his tail off over the past six years. He participated in summer basketball camps. He did daily ball handling and shooting workouts, and eventually added in lifting weights, running, and jumping rope.

During this school year, he plays both JV and Varsity, is a high scorer, is a versatile player, and one of the best on both teams. He’s come a LONG way from that gangly fourth grader.

So what’s my point?

Talent is over-rated. Sure it may help to have a little bit of inborn gifting to help you get going on something. Talent may help you progress a little faster and easier.

But . . . talent isn’t necessary to succeed.

In fact, very little talent is required. Just look at my son and how far he’s come with his basketball-playing ability.

There are some qualities that will get us further than talent. Whether in basketball or writing or anything, here are the traits that helped my son—ten qualities that can help us all:

1. Stay determined. Decide you want to do it. Then make up your mind to stay the course.

2. Don’t get discouraged (at least not for long). Don’t listen to the naysayers who don’t think you have what it takes (especially if that naysayer is yourself!). And if you are discouraged, let it push you to try all the harder.

3. Don’t give up too soon. Stick with it even when you know you’re not all that good yet. Remember that most don’t start out as super stars, that they have to work hard for years before honing their skills.

4. Surround yourself with friends who share and understand the passion. They enrich the experience.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others. While I may have compared my son to others, he didn’t. He always focused on what he needed to do and never worried about how he measured up to others.

6. Work your tail off. Go at it until you sweat and feel pain.

7. Practice daily (or at least regularly). Come up with a routine. Have a checklist (my son did).

8. Continually push yourself to improve. Once you’ve mastered something, then learn something new.

9. Keep the vision of what you can become. Always see the product of what you will accomplish if you work hard enough.

10. Most of all enjoy it. Find pleasure in the process itself, even when it’s hard.

These are the traits my son employed with basketball. Even during the school year, my son continues to go to the gym to hone his basketball skills and lift weights, in addition to all his practices with his team. He’s still working hard every day.

How about you? What's your passion? Are you relying too much on talent or are you doing the hard work necessary to achieve your dreams?

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Published on February 08, 2014 03:00 • 48 views

February 7, 2014

My stories often start with an object—a photograph, an epitaph, a news article, a button. I love to take the ideas inspired by something someone else might think of as “junk” and turn them into novels, and my office is proof that “things” inspire me. Thimbles and pin cushions, buttons and old photographs find a home with me when they make me wonder about the women who first owned them.

One of the things I admire about women from past generations is their frugality. So many of them truly abided by this advice published in the 1832 The American Frugal Housewife: “The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean the fragments of time as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be.”

I don’t know when I first saw a piece of furniture made from recycled spools, but I’ve always admired the creativity and the frugality of the first person who looked at this:

 and thought “furniture.” If there were an award for following the “frugal housewife’s” advice, this chair designer would surely have been in the running!

Last summer when I took my annual pilgrimage to Nashville with my best road-dog friend, we made all the usual stops at this quilt shop and that antique mall. I landed a wonderful (to me) piece of spool furniture that now occupies a place of honor in my office—right next to my ca. 1867 Weed treadle sewing machine.

It makes me wonder about the hands that crafted it. Over 100 wooden sewing spools put to very good use. I never would have thought to try it, but I’m thankful someone did, because it makes me smile.

Do you have a recycled something that you treasure? Does it tell you a story?

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Published on February 07, 2014 15:04 • 33 views

February 6, 2014

My favorite aspect of historical research is digging into the fashion of the different eras. As a society, we tend to define decades by many things - music, hairstyles, and of course, clothing. Think poodle skirts, Go Go boots, bell bottoms, and leg warmers. Here's a picture of me in the 80's - oh those high school years. How about that big hair and big earrings? At least this picture isn't as bad as the one I had in 6th grade where my hair looked a little too much like the cinnamon buns that Princess Leia sported in Star Wars.
Fashion in the 19th Century was much the same. Certain styles came to define certain decades. In fact, historians often use these styles to help them date old family photographs. I thought it would be fun to look at a few of these examples. My upcoming novel, Full Steam Ahead, took me out of my comfort zone of the 1880's and back to the 1850's, so I'll start there.1850 ..I modeled one of my current heroine's dresses after the one on the right. These models aren't wearing hoop skirts yet, just stiffened petticoats or crinolines to give the skirts their bell-shape. Notice the deep V shape of the bodice. This was very typical of the late forties - early fifties. The sloping shoulders with no definitive seam. And of particular distinction, note the wide sleeve hems with the white cotton undersleeves.. ...

1861 .Now you can think Gone with the Wind. Full hoop skirts have come into fashion. Also notice the short-waisted bodices. This Empire style waistline ended at the bottom of the ribcage instead of extending to the natural waist. The shoulders remained sloping in design and small, lace collars came into fashion....

1871 ..A drastic change occurred in very little time. As the 1870's dawned, hoop skirts disappeared, replaced by the bustle. Decorative emphasis moved to the back of the dress. Skirt fronts hung straight down while the backs were gathered over bustles with flounces that would drape over the underskirt. The sloping shoulders were taken over by more fitted designs. The bustle disappeared by the end of the decade to make way for the very slender silhouette popular in 1880. But watch how the bustle regains popularity and surges to crazy heights..

. 1880 - No Bustle 1883 - Small Bustle


.. 1887 - Outrageously Large Bustle
This one reminds me a little too much of those horse costumes where some poor soul is hunkered over in the rear end. It looks like each woman has a five or six-year-old child hiding under the back of her skirts!

Thankfully, the bustle's popularity finally died a true death. However, all that extra fabric had to go somewhere, so in the 1890's, they decided to move it to the sleeves. Ha! 1890's..

If you had to chose an era to dress for, which decade would you choose?
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Published on February 06, 2014 01:00 • 111 views

February 5, 2014

The cool thing about writers is that we're readers, too. We're drawn to write stories of intrigue and excitement, drama and romance because we were first inspired. Every fashion designer can think back to a moment when the form of a dress captured her heart. Every movie producer can replay a moment in his mind when a film swept him away and he left the picture different than when he arrived.
And I'm certain every writer can think of one book—one hundred books—when she turned the last page, closed the cover, and let out a contented sigh. And what was the emotion that stirred within? Hope.
Hope that true love can be found.Hope that wrongs can be forgiven.Hope that our own stories have a purpose.Hope that good wins on the final page.Hope that what seems like the end is really the beginning of a future greater than we can imagine.
Thinking back, books captured me when I was in the sixth grade. And the ones that captured me the most were the Little House on the Prairie series.
I didn't know my biological dad, and my stepdad was distant and aloof. Yet in “Laura's World” there was Pa. A pa who protected and guided and played his fiddle to drown out the howl of wolves and other scary things that lurked beyond the cabin walls.
I didn't realize how much that hope had embedded in my heart, but looking at the story I've written for myself I see that it had. I've met my biological dad, and I still try to connect with my stepdad, but one of my greatest joys is the man I married.
John is more like Pa Ingalls than anyone I know. He cares for his family. He protects and provides. He sweeps our little girls onto his lap and snuggles them often. He doesn't play a fiddle, but he does play the drums, and he's quick to tap out a beat as myself, and our three little kids, dance silly around him.
I found hope in the stories I read as a girl, and it changed my life.
Hope changed everything. And I'm so glad that I bought into it!
Hope that love could be found for me. (It was.)Hope my wrongs could be forgiven. (They were in Christ.)Hope that my life story has a purpose. (It does.)Hope that good will win on the final page. (It will.)Hope that what is the end of my life story here will only be the beginning. (I can't wait!)
Writing Christian fiction is a business, but it's also a ministry. Yes, it does help that book sales pay the bills, but at the end of the day what means the most is when we Christian authors get a note, email, Facebook post, or blog comment from a reader that says, “Thank you … your words made a difference. They gave me hope.”
It's then we know we did our job in “selling” hope.
And it's then that our own hope is stirred as we sit down at our computer and begin the day's work again … knowing we're making a difference.

So, what about you? What book first gave you hope? 
Leave a comment, and I'll give out an Advanced Reader's Copy of my upcoming book The Kissing Bridge to TWO commenters!

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Published on February 05, 2014 04:40 • 87 views

February 4, 2014

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Is there anything that smells as good as homemade shortbread baking in your oven? Oh so scrumptious, and a time-honored treat. 
Shortbread is just one of the many recipes included in A Beauty So Rare , the second stand-alone novel in the Belmont Mansion series. I made a batch of Eleanor's shortbread last week. 
Since Eleanor Braddock (female protagonist in A Beauty So Rare) is practical to a fault, she makes her shortbread in a cast-iron skillet, so I did the same. Gives you the best crunchy edges and buttery middles! Wish I could have shared some with you. But I'll do the next best thing–share the recipe.
Have you ever made shortbread? It's so easy.

Eleanor Braddock's Shortbread3/4 cup butter at room temp (1 1/2 sticks)1/2 cup powdered sugar*1/3 tsp vanilla1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, then spray a smaller (8-9 inch) cast-iron skillet very lightly with non-stick cooking spray. You don't need that much spray. Trust me, the butter in the recipe will take care of that.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Next, work in the flour. You can either mix the flour in with an electric mixer, or you can get into the 1860s way of doing things and knead the dough on an unfloured surface until it's nice and smooth. Press the dough into the iron skillet (or you can use a pretty shortbread pan too). Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes then flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board. Cut the shortbread into pieces while still warm. It "sets up" as it cools. Or serve it warm. Serves 10-12. And it really does. This stuff is rich and delicious. Hope you enjoy. 

I'll share another recipe from A Beauty So Rare next time. But until then, a bit of history…
*Did you know that in 1851, Oliver Chase (of NECCO Wafer fame) developed a mill for powdering sugar which he used in his candy making process? But if a cook wanted powdered sugar back then, refined loaf sugar was pounded into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. So much easier today, huh?

Lastly, in case you haven't read any of the Timber Ridge Reflections novels (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, Within My Heart), the ebooks are all on sale this month for $1.99. Here's the schedule for when they're on sale: 

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I'll leave you with several links to giveaways (hurry, some end this week), as well as the trailer for A Beauty So Rare. I'd love to know what you think of the trailer--especially the music we used. And…if you've ever made shortbread!


** A bevy of giveaways **(let me know if you're entering any)

Fountain Creek Chronicles Rekindled, Revealed, Remembered

Win a Kindle HDX and 12 autographed novels

A Lasting Impression on Goodreadsa Belmont Mansion novel

A $5 Panera Bread Gift Card (simply for sharing your opinion)

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Published on February 04, 2014 01:30 • 64 views

February 3, 2014

On the surface, my home looks neat and tidy—most of the time. But I have a few favorite closets and cupboards and crannies where I like to stuff things. You know, all those things you aren’t using but don’t want to get rid of, things you conveniently shove out of sight and promptly forget. Curious and unwary visitors open the doors to these hidden places at their own risk. And that’s the problem, you see. We’re putting our house up for sale in a few months and these are exactly the kinds of places that prospective buyers will want to peek inside—to see how much space they’ll have to hide all their stuff. 

Unwilling to risk an avalanche or a bodily-injury lawsuit, I’ve been cleaning out these catch-all places for the past week. For inspiration, I watched an episode of the reality TV show, Hoarders. It did the trick! I’m now motivated to clean house.

The TV show taught me to divide everything into three piles: the stuff I want to keep, the stuff I can give away, and the stuff that can be thrown away. This might seem obvious but it’s harder than you think. What may appear to be junk to an observer often has great sentimental value to me—like the crafty things my kids made for Mother’s Day. Or cards and keepsakes from loved ones. Or household items that I’ve had ever since I married, 43 years ago. (These last items come in lovely shades of avocado green and harvest gold and are probably antiques by now.)

But I have bravely set to work making slow but steady progress. The local landfill will be a little fuller this week. The nearby Bibles for Missions Thrift Store may earn a dollar or two from all my junk. And the trip I took down memory lane as I sifted through my possessions was sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking.

I feel lighter now, and freer. And that was the point. I’m moving into a new chapter in my life as my husband retires, moving to a smaller home and a simpler lifestyle. So while I’m at it, maybe it’s time for me to do some soul house-cleaning, too. I need to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” so I can “run with perseverance the race marked out” for me in the years ahead (Hebrews 12:1). I have a page full of New Year’s resolutions I hope to accomplish in those years, copied from the January 2014 issue of Indeed magazine. Among them are:

·        Have enormous dreams, visions, and goals.·        Give yourself to repairing and restoring His world. ·        Be relentlessly merciful.·        Seek and expect miracles.·        Speak life-giving words.·        Heal and comfort the brokenhearted.·        Be wildly creative.·        Never, ever give up.·        Dance, laugh, rejoice, live, love.

I can’t keep even one of these resolutions without God’s help. And that’s where my own, personal “house cleaning” comes in. I have crannies and cubby holes in my soul that are filled with junk.  Things I have stuffed out of sight so I can look good on the outside. Attitudes and habits that I know God wants me to get rid of but that I haven’t been willing to relinquish. Worries and fears that I've toted around for years instead of giving them to Him.

Sorting through these hidden places requires hard work and a lot of prayer. I've found that a good place to start is David’s prayer in Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Step by step, one item at a time, my soul-closet can be emptied and cleaned and filled with good things that can be used for His glory.

And now, back to work. I have some hidden faults that need to go to the dump. And does anyone out there need a lovely, harvest-gold fondue pot?
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Published on February 03, 2014 02:30 • 49 views

February 1, 2014

Do you enjoy reading historical markers along the highway as much as I do? My whole family loves discovering the often obscure tidbits of information we find on them, and we make it a point to stop and look at as many as we can while traveling. 

In fact, we make a habit of checking our road maps to see if there are any significant historic sites ahead that we should watch for, so we can keep track of the mile markers along the way. You have to appreciate those early Romans who came up with that concept of milestones, letting travelers know how far they’ve come…and how far they have yet to go. 

Speaking of milestones, my family is marking a number of them this year. Within the span of nine months, my husband and I, along with our son, my husband’s brother and his mother are all celebrating significant birthdays. The kind that end in a zero. (Rather than get too specific, I’ll just say the numbers range upward from 30 and leave the rest to your imagination.) 
My daughter is also marking a significant milestone, although hers doesn’t end with zero. She’ll be turning 18 next week. While I’m always ready to celebrate a birthday (mine or anyone else’s!) this one leaves me in a mild state of shock. Eighteen? Already?? Where did those years go?
It’s amazing how the simple act of crossing one day off the calendar marks our entrance into a whole new era. With so many momentous birthdays occurring this year, it seemed like more than an ordinary celebration was in order.
There are a number of instances in the Bible when God’s people erected some sort of monument to honor remarkable events. Remember the twelve stones Joshua set up after leading the Israelites across the Jordan? (Joshua 4) Or the stone Samuel named “Ebenezer” to commemorate the victory God granted the Israelites over the Philistines? (1 Samuel 7) In each case, something tangible was set before the people as a reminder of what God had done in their lives.
I really like that idea. While we may recognize the importance of an event at the moment it happens, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the flurry of life and let these historic happenings slip from our minds.

Yes, these are for my daughter's birthday.
No, I am not too lazy to make a cake from scratch.
This is the cake she asked for. Really.
When I realized our family would be celebrating a host of significant birthdays in such a brief span of time, it seemed to me we ought to create our own "monument" of sorts—something to serve as a reminder of all the blessings God has showered upon us. In fact, I’d already set plans in motion for a series of mini-celebrations all year long. Sadly, due to a host of unforeseen complications that involve  extended family members—health issues, job changes, and a major move—that won’t be possible. 
But a once-in-a-lifetime year like this deserves to be acknowledged, so I’m ready to move along to Plan B, something that will help us treasure this special time in our hearts. Trouble is, I’m fresh out of ideas. So I’m wondering—what ways have you found to mark a really significant occasion? Any suggestions on something we might do to make this noteworthy year stand out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time…

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Published on February 01, 2014 01:30 • 68 views

January 31, 2014

One of the joys of being an author is dressing the characters in your novels. Thankfully, books are no longer necessary to research character costumes.
Two years ago an artist friend of mine introduced me to Pinterest. It’s been rightly described as a feast for the eyes or visual ambrosia layers. I consider it the richest dessert! My concerns then were the copyright issues and also the time factor. But once I’d cleared those 2 hurdles and put up my first board I was smitten. I don’t tweet. I rarely read the Facebook feed. But I do love to pin!
Since I write historical novels set in the 18thand 19th-centuries, it’s been inspiring and educational to meet other history fans, authors, and reenactors on Pinterest whose boards are visually stunning. There are even such things as secret boards that allow you to dress you characters or work on novel ideas behind the scenes then share them when the time is right or a book releases.
My debut novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, was set in frontier Kentucky in the late 18th-century. Not a lot of costuming options there except homespun cloth though I do have a scene in which my heroine dresses up in a gown known as a sacque/sack back:

White lace lay pale and fragile as fallen snowflakes about the rounded neck and sleeves. Cut from rose silk, the gown’s bodice was embroidered with tiny flowers and leaves sewn with silk thread imported from England. “’Tis called a sack dress,” Lael told her. “On account of the back pleat.” She turned around to show Susanna the way the pleated fabric hung from her shoulders to the floor like a train.
When I moved to novels set in the 19th-century I found myself in the American Federalist period (Regency in England) with its very distinct style as shown in Love’s Awakening:

    “Ellie, how does this sound?” Mama’s dulcet voice returned her to the present. “A fitted bodice and wide waistband with a full skirt and overskirt of net, in a soft blue or this delicate shade of coral.”    "Coral,” Ellie said without thought, fingering the swatch of fabric.
Now that my next novel, Love’s Fortune, will release this fall, I’ve made another fashion leap to 1850 with its wide crinolines and tightly-laced corsets. Recently I went to the photo shoot for this next book cover and met the model and handled the lovely period gown she wore. Exquisite!

Mim began removing Wren’s wraps, unveiling the most stunning gown James had ever seen. The lush brocade with its silver embroidery caught the light of countless candles, matching the pearls with their silver clasp about her throat. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from telling her how lovely she was, his mind still reeling from her near mishap with the coach and all its implications.
Here’s a final pin for you Edwardian fans…

I’d love to see you on Pinterest! (Click to view Laura's boards.) If you’d like to connect there, please look me up and I’ll Do you have a favorite era of historic dress? Still wish we wore gloves, hats, and corsets?
Special thanks to Tamera and Writes of Passage for inviting me here today!
*Images from

Check out Laura's award-winning novels…

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Published on January 31, 2014 01:30 • 77 views

January 30, 2014

“The Lord’s lovingkindesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning … “ Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

If you’re like me, you promised yourself a few changes at the outset of the New Year. Regarding the “outside” of me, I measured (yikes) and weighed (gasp) and wrote down the horrible news—and promised myself that every single number will be different on 1-1-15. Bought a new coffee cup as a promise reminder.

As to the “inside” of me, the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning was especially dear at the beginning of the new year. At the rate I tend to fail, I’m very grateful for a fresh slate with the Master of the Universe every single morning. When I think on that, the specter of failure loses its hold over me.

Being raised in churches that were very rules-oriented has often reinforced my sense of failure; a feeling that, although I am saved, I remain a “[almost] in the hands of an angry God.” In other words I am just barely in right standing with God. I’ve never really understood Jesus’ promise “Come unto me all ye that labor and I will give you rest ... my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” because for me Christianity was neither an easy yoke nor a light burden. I’ve lived with the idea “I gotta do X or God will be mad at me.” I must perform well to keep God’s love and approval.

That changed when a comment at a women’s retreat sent me back to my room to re-read Romans 5 and Ephesians 1–2 and to highlight all the phrases about who I am in Christ. Suddenly, a new reality washed over me. I’m not some trick pony “created in Christ Jesus for good works and you'd better do plenty of them or else.” God loves me completely. He delights in me because of what HE has done in me ... not because of what I have done in myself by my own strength. Being “in him” means that I am credited with all that Jesus is. God’s approval isn’t because I perform well. It’s because I am “in him.” Because I am “in him,” God’s attitude toward me is all those things I highlighted in Romans 5 and Ephesians 2.

That is the easy burden and the light yoke Jesus was talking about—the reality that the amount of God’s love for me doesn’t change no matter what I do. That was new understanding for me. I’ve always felt that God watched me with a frown on his face, tapping His foot with displeasure over all my failures. Have I written over twenty books? Well, if I’d been more self-disciplined, I could have written three times many. Did I go to church Sunday? Well, I missed Wednesday night. Did I pray? Well, I should have prayed longer. Did I vacuum the house? Well, what about the mess in the basement?

Much of my Christian life has been one of feeling bad when I didn’t perform well enough; thinking I have failed … I should hang my head in shame, for such a worm am I. Based on what I highlighted in Romans 5 and Ephesians 2, I am beginning to believe that yes, while I am a worm, God delights over what I accomplish, and He doesn’t hold my failures against me. Ever. Ever. Ever. Why? Because I am “in him.” In Christ I am free, complete, whole. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, because life isn’t about what I can do, it’s about what Christ can do “in me.

Hearing Jason Gray’s “I am New” was the beginning of new understanding for me.

His “Remind Me Who I Am” encourages me when I’m tempted to return to the old ways of thinking God looks at me with displeasure, no matter how hard I try to win His approval.

Aside from the spiritual lesson I just shared, I also learned how to make a really good pineapple upside down cake.

What NEW thing did you learn last year?

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Published on January 30, 2014 01:00 • 54 views

January 29, 2014

“As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house.”
With those words Isabella Beeton opens the first chapter of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which offered authoritative advice to Victorian and Edwardian Women on a wide range of subjects including childcare, fashion, animal husbandry, medicines, cleanliness, frugality, economy, and the management of servants as well as a great number of recipes.
When I began researching my Edwardian Brides Series I wanted to learn more about the roles of women and how they managed their homes . . . so I consulted Mrs. Beeton.
I thought you might enjoy learning a little about this amazing woman. Isabella Mayson was born in London in 1836, the oldest of four children. Her father, Benjamin Mayson, died when she was young, and her mother remarried a widower with four children of his own. The blended family lived in Epsom, Surrey. 
With her four half-sisters, she had 21 siblings, a huge family even for the Victorian times. Being the oldest, Isabella honed her abilities in babysitting and general household management, which gave her the experience and confidence to write her famous book when she was in her early twenties.

When she was nineteen she met Samuel Beeton, a rich and handsome young book and magazine publisher. Samuel and Isabella were married in 1856. Nine months later Isabella gave birth to a baby boy, but he only lived three months. A second son also died when he was young. She later had two more sons.
But during their marriage, Isabella and Sam were a successful and prolific team. Between 1859 and 1861, Isabella wrote articles about cooking and household management for Samuel's publications, including a monthly column for The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine.
In October of 1861, the supplements were collected and published as a single volume. The book's official and complete title was: The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady's-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: With a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort, edited by Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Now that’s quite a title!
It became the most famous English domestic manual ever published, selling more than 60,000 copies in its first year of publication, and almost two million by 1868.
In the preface, Isabella explained why she wrote the book:
“What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife's badly cooked dinners and untidy ways. Men are now so well served out of doors -- at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses -- that, in order to compete with the attraction of these places, a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery, as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home.”
Isabella embraced the traditional roles of wife and mother and saw women as queens of the domestic sphere. She believed men were kings of the public sphere. Although the book contained hundreds of recipes, most of the recipes were not Isabella's originals. It was meant to be a collection of useful recipes and information. Mrs. Beeton's was the first book to list ingredients at the start of the recipe, and to recommend cooking times.
Isabella died at the age of 28 after giving birth to her fourth child in January of 1865. Her husband and subsequent publishers kept the news of Isabella's death quiet, and continued to publish updates to Household Management, as well as completely new books, under her name.
Would you like to see more interesting photos from life in England in the late 1800s and early 1900’s? I have several Pinterest boards on those topics. I hope you stop by and take a look. You don’t have to be a Pinterest member to view the boards. Click here.
Here is one of the recipes from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management that looks good to me.

INGREDIENTS. -- 6 apples, 3/4 lb. of suet-crust, sugar to taste.
Mode. -- Pare and take out the cores of the apples without dividing them, and make 1/2 lb. of suet-crust; roll the apples in the crust, previously sweetening them with moist sugar, and taking care to join the pastry nicely. When they are formed into round balls, put them on a tin, and bake them for about 1/2 hour, or longer should the apples be very large; arrange them pyramidically on a dish, and sift over them some pounded white sugar. These may be made richer by using one of the puff-pastes instead of suet.Time. -- From 1/2 to 3/4 hour, or longer. Average cost, 1-1/2d. each.Sufficient for 4 persons.
Have you ever heard of Isabelle Beeton before? Or her book? And what about baked apple dumplings?
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Published on January 29, 2014 01:30 • 74 views

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