Scrub hard, mix well, count blessings

Today, I want to share some “household tips”from the old days which I found in a precious, ancient St. John’s Church cookbook (from the rural Clearwater area) which had been handed down through the generations and is now in my possession.

It was fascinating to read those tips for happy homemaking from so many years ago. Technology has obviously changed since then . . . and so has the way we look at life as women.

The yellowed and stained pages of the cookbook are full of wisdom.

As a parishioner wrote, “we might complain about doing the laundry but our attitudes should shape up when we contemplate the rigors of washday in the past. I’m in awe of these ladies, who, in addition to all the many other duties related to feeding, clothing and caring for their families, also made their own soap, starch and other cleaning products. And then washing clothes on a board – and remember, no hot water and no running water. Many women remember doing laundry in this manner and their memories are not sweet.”

This set of rules was written in 1880 by a grandmother to her soon-to-be-married granddaughter:

  • Build a fire in the back yard to heat kettle of rain water.
  • Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in your eyes if the wind is pert.
  • Shave one whole cake soap in boiling water.
  • Sort things – make two piles, one pile white and one pile colored.
  • Stir flour in the cold water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water (this makes starch).
  • Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then boil.
  • Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then rinse.
  • Spread tea towels on grass. Put old rags on the fence.
  • Pour rinse water in flower bed. Scrub porch with soapy water.
  • Turn tubs upside down.
  • Go put on a clean dress, smooth hair with side combs. Brew cup of tea. Sit and rest and rock a spell and count your blessings.

And there was a very special recipe included. It was called “Life’s Recipe.”

The ingredients read as follows: one cup of good thoughts, one cup of kind deeds, three cups of forgiveness, two cups of well-beaten faults and one cup of consideration for others.

Then it said to “mix these thoroughly, add tears of joy and sorrow and sympathy for others. Fold in four cups of prayers and faith to lighten other ingredients and raise texture to a great height of Christian living. Mix well. After pouring all this into your daily life – bake well with the heat of human kindness. Serve with a smile.”

I find it wonderful after scrubbing so hard they could still count their blessings. And even though the recipe for life was from the 1880s, the ingredients still apply.

Scrub hard, mix well and count your blessings.

Instructions to live by.






Thanks for reading this article. content is free and never behind a paywall.
We believe in trustworthy, local journalism that is accessible to everyone.