“Today’s Family,” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 91
Speaking in 1893 to the Women’s Auxiliary of the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Emily S. Richards said of Mormon women: “The whole world of science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, art, and literature is open to [Mormon] women, and they may wander in these limitless fields of knowledge when and how and to what extent they choose.”
It is possible that seventy-seven years ago Sister Richards, who represented the Relief Society at the National Council of Women, could not have imagined how vast and interesting and pertinent these words would be to the Mormon woman of the 1970s. Yet, she added, “Mormon leaders recognize the potent influence of women, especially of intelligent, educated women, and give full encouragement to whatever promises to increase her influence for good.”
The Mormon woman today is concerned about the physical conditions of the earth into which her children are born. She is interested in the mental and cultural climate in which her child will learn to handle his destiny. She is interested in the spiritual influences of his world.
Women today are deeply concerned about being women, because never has their role been of such vital significance. Much of the new information available to thinking people in these times has great meaning for women and the home: discoveries in drugs and medicines; findings in foods and nutrition; new fabrics and plastics; and technological improvements in performing household tasks and home care.
These matters will be treated in depth in each issue of the Ensign for the interest and benefit of the whole family. In addition to these longer articles on today’s living, we hope to bring to these special pages accurate information on consumer protection; the newest and oldest and the most exciting ways of homemaking as an art and a skill; ideas for implementing fun and family learning in the home evening; and the fulfillment of the woman herself in developing her personal attributes and extending herself in service to her neighbors and her community.
Today’s Family will be like a bulletin board of ideas in these areas. We invite you to share with our readers the things with which you are concerned and the ways in which you have made life more pleasant, workable, and profitable in your home. Every contribution will be considered.
Today, as never before, the earth is one earth; the problems of any one of the children of Adam are the problems of all; the hurt and the sacrifice, the want and the need of any one part of the world are concerns of the women in all parts of the world. Mormon women want to know about this. They ask what they can do about it.
This is for you, a place where the Ensign will give special attention to the Mormon woman in her home, her community, her church, and her world today.
Many homemakers have long bread baskets, the type made especially for serving the long loaves of french bread. But even french bread, no matter how well liked, is not served every day. How can these attractive baskets be otherwise used?
Have you tried one of these ways:
Filled and overflowing with fresh fruit as a centerpiece on the table.
Holding a row of plump doughnuts to have with chilled milk before the fire.
Spilling artificial flowers, gracefully arranged, on a small table, or suspended from an archway or a corner (with ribbon and thumbtacks).
Filled with green plants or potted flowers for decoration. (Chicken feeders to hold the water for the greens or flowers are exactly the right length to fit into the baskets and are available in many variety stores.)
When it is not in use, don’t try to find a corner in your cupboard to fit the basket. Use your imagination to make it an attractive part of your home.
—Louise Price Bell
With sincerity and depth, President Edgar Denny of the Bountiful (Utah) Stake told a quarterly conference of the closeness of his childhood family grouped at a round dining room table. Family activities centered around that focal point, whether it was at mealtime, doing homework, playing games, or enjoying family discussions. He asked reflectively, “I wonder what has happened to those old round dining room tables? Has family togetherness disappeared with their disappearance?” He swallowed hard and was silent for a long moment.
Marie, our youngest daughter, squeezed my arm and whispered, “Could we invite President Denny to see the round table in our family room? Wouldn’t he just love our room!” Her earnest eyes were alight with pride.
We had discovered Grandma’s round oak dining room table in a tumbledown garage, where it had been for years. About this time we received some ancient chairs from the home of a deceased elderly friend.
A Relief Society homemaking lesson on restoring furniture sparked the inspiration to refinish this furniture for the family room. It would take an expenditure of nothing but elbow grease and paint.
The table and chairs were stripped down to the bare wood. Then they were antiqued in white with gold detail.
Work? Yes, and the finished products attest to the endless hours of scraping and sanding by every member of the family, as we worked together, laughing and moaning and dreaming. We were all working toward a tangible goal—a table to gather around in our family room.
Every person had a hand in making that dream come true. Our children have learned a new appreciation for old things, for their stability and solidness. Their colorful pioneer heritage has come alive for them as we restored these choice heirlooms.
The round table is perfect for a summer meal in the cool seclusion of the basement family room. The table is perfect for games and puzzles in the winter months, and even for homework.
Around Grandmother’s old oak table the family meets for family home evening, for discussing the principles of the gospel, which were so precious to her, and for strengthening each other’s testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ.
Yes, there is magic in a round oak table in a special family room—magic that joins the past with the present and the future, a magic that we hope will cast its nostalgic spell on our children in those wavering moments, tying them close to home and the gospel ideals that it stands for.
It all started the day I ordered a thousand pounds of wheat. When we came home from church I said to my husband, “You know how we talked about ordering wheat to store? Well, today I ordered a thousand pounds of wheat.”
He replied, “I know we talked about that—but where are we going to put a thousand pounds of wheat?”
Then the realization of what I had done came to me. What indeed were we going to do with all that wheat? We have no garage, no basement, and just enough closet space for our clothing.
Even though this was going to be a big problem, I still felt good about acting on my determination to store wheat, honey, powdered milk, and salt. Rotation is a problem in food storage, but with these four items there is less worry. Wheat, honey, and salt will last indefinitely. Powdered milk may be rotated easily, with a great saving on the food bill by combining half a gallon of mixed powdered milk with a half a gallon of whole milk.
Our family will store other things, such as fruit, potatoes, peanut butter, and shortening, for a more palatable and interesting diet.
To get back to where we put that half ton of wheat: Fortunately it did not arrive immediately, and we had time to gather containers for storage. Our son Jim, who worked for a restaurant, brought home some three-pound cooking oil cans. We also purchased some metal garbage cans.
We purchased four shelf boards, and by stacking the three-pound cans we made a wall bookshelf. These we painted the same color as the wall. The total cost was seven dollars.
We have a lot of fun when friends compliment us on our new bookshelf. We tell them there is more there than meets the eye—food for the body as well as food for the spirit. They are amazed when we tell them about the 420 pounds of wheat stored there.
We made bedside tables out of the garbage cans at a cost for can, material, and board of $6.60 each.
To make the bedside tables: First take your can lid to a lumber yard and have them cut a round piece of finish lumber that will fit just inside the upside-down lid. Our choice of wood was mahogany, which finished up beautifully. It was 3/4-inch thick.
Next, fill your can with wheat, treated if you wish. Place the can lid on upside down and tape it firmly to the can. This will help seal the wheat against moisture and keep the table lid from sliding off.
Hem the skirt material for the tables and gather it at the top, placing it over the can and adjusting the floor length by pulling the gathers closer together, if necessary. Then place the pre-finished table top board inside the lid. The edges of the board will not have to be finished as the can rim covered by the material will be the edge of the table.
We have five bedside tables filled with wheat. We also have one 100-pound shortening can that is unfinished, in which we keep the wheat we are currently using. As needed, we empty one of the table cans or the bookshelf cans into this, and a rotation of our wheat is carried on.
Thus we found a place for our thousand pounds of wheat. We added to the furnishings and the interest in our home. We found great peace of mind in following the counsel of our leaders. And we had confirmed for us the words of Nephi:
“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne. 3:7.)