I was thrilled when the Lynn Bowen Walker, the author of “Queen of the Castle: 52 Weeks of Encouragement for the Uninspired, Domestically Challenged or Just Plain Tired Homemaker” contacted me to read and review her book*. She took pains to tell me that although her book was on homemaking and not specifically frugality that there were several sections that she felt particularly would be of interest to my readers.
I was impressed that she had obviously taken the time to look around my blog and understand the types of topics that I write on. She has also since written me a note with a yummy sounding recipe for banana/orange sorbet (to use up those brown bananas) after reading my “Making Banana Pancakes” post-so she has come back and read, which is always gratifying.
Queen of the Castle is a Christian book, published by Integrity. The dedication inside the book is:
To all the women who are faithfully tending their homes and families. Do not grow weary in doing good. You are doing such important work.
This book is 304 pages long, but don’t worry if you are a frazzled mom, because it is organized into 52 “week” chapters, with each week’s reading being about 5 pages long (the thought being that even the busiest mom can probably fit in 5 pages a week). It is intended to be read starting the 1st week in January and continued through the year although you can read it straight through as I did.
Each chapter has a topic, but also includes on the initial page 2 new vocabulary words (Ululate anyone?). Sprinkled through out the topics are quotes in the sidebars from various other homemaking books. Several of these, although chosen for their relevance to homemaking, are also quite relevant to frugality and simpler living. For example:
Nothing feeds the center so much as creative work, even humble kinds like cooking and sewing. Baking bread, weaving cloth, putting up preserves, teaching and singing to children, must have been far more nourishing than being the family chauffeur or shopping at supermarkets, or doing housework with mechanical aids. –Anne Morrow Lindberg Gift from the Sea
Each chapter ends with a relevant Bible quote and a short prayer, again related to the topic (I told you, this is a Christian book). I must admit that since I was reading the book straight through, frequently 6 or 7 “weeks” at a time, I did not really internalize all the prayers but rather skimmed over most of them.
Approximately ever 4 or 5 chapters there is a “Chocolate Break”-a recipe for a decadent chocolate snack for the homemaker to treat herself or her family with. Obviously Mrs. Bowen Walker is a fellow chocolate lover. From a frugal perspective, most of these recipes are not bad price-wise. The Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies are all from scratch and regular ingredients any frugalite should have in the cupboard, and for holiday gift giving the Chocolate Truffles and Chocolate Butter both look delicious and reasonable.
There are also other interesting recipes scattered throughout-most of which are pretty frugal. The Best, Squishiest Salt Dough Ever; Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (mashed and then baked casserole style in the oven) and Delicious Make Ahead Gravy (for the Thanksgiving chapter); Red, White and Blueberry Pizza (you could reduce the cost by making your own sugar dough rather than buying it), Twice Baked Potatoes (with various filling options-yum), Japanese Sauce for Cold Noodles (the Memmi and Sesame oil are somewhat specialty ingredients-but this is a delish dish that is good for potlucks too), Quiche, and French Dip in the Crockpot.
Mrs. Bowen Walkers writing style is breezy and fun-like talking to a good girlfriend. Her chapters are full of personal anecdotes and real life situations.
I really like the way this book focuses on the Mother/Homemaker. Although Mrs. Bowen Walker was/is a SAHM, most of her tips, tricks and affirmations (ie “I am doing an important job by loving and serving my family. I am demonstrating to my family what love is. The service I am providing my family is priceless. I am helping my family members know they are precious and loved.”) are just as relevant to the Working Mom who is pulling her hair out trying to burn the candles at both ends while spending her evenings in the minivan toting kids around to soccer practice and dance recitals. (How’s that for a run on sentence? But that’s how your life can feel when you are doing both, like one big run on sentence!)
She emphasizes the time spent with the family over running around from activity to activity just for the sake of it. I particularly liked her chapter on planning for the summer-she brings up some really good points about making your summer the “opposite” of the school year (ie if you are running all school year, you may want a mellow unstructured summer, if your school year is not so hectic both you and the kiddos might be up for lots of planned and scheduled activities).
There is an entire chapter titled “Chore Time: Training the Children” which talks about different ways to motivate kids for chores, and the ways that she tried and failed with (or that worked in the short term but were too labor intensive to keep up with). Although chores are not specifically tied in to frugality, I have noticed that many people interested in conserving their financial resources are also concerned with raising children that help around the house and do not feel that everything is “owed” to them.
Flea markets, How Can I Make Dinner When I’m Always in the Car, Dinnertime Solutions, all of these chapters were interesting and worthwhile to the frugalite.
If you are a Christian Homemaker, especially a Stay at Home Mom or Homeschooling Mom I think you would really enjoy reading the book.
Normally I recommend getting books from the library-and this is an enjoyable and interesting book to read that way. But I think I may have gotten even more out of it if I had read it in the little bite sized chunks, a week at a time, digesting and thinking about each idea for a while. You really can’t do that when you have to return the book to the library in 2 weeks.
So you may want to check this out either in the bookstore, the library etc (so you can physically flip through the pages) and consider possibly spending the $11.99 at Amazon purchasing it or asking for it as a gift at some point. You could even be a good frugal friend and do s0 with an eye to passing it on to another frazzled mom you know after you are done.
I’d like to end with another quote from the book that I just plain liked:
“What’s missing from so many affluent American households is the one thing you can’t buy–the presence of someone who cares deeply and principally about that home and the people who live in it; who is willing to spend a significant portion of each day thinking about what those people are going to eat and what clothes they will need for which occasions; who knows when it’s time to turn the mattresses and when the baby needs to be taken out for a bit of fresh air and sunshine.” –Caitlin Flanagan Leaving it to the Professionals
DISCLAIMER-The only thing I received for doing this book review was a copy of the book. If you happen to click on the Amazon link to buy the book I do get some small percentage as an associate-but that’s not the reason I use the associate program. It is simply an easy way to legally get pictures of the book. My opinions are stated because they are truly my opinions, and I told Mrs. Bowen Walker when I agreed to review the book that I would give my honest opinion of it.