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How PBS Opened My Eyes

With Husby off of work three days last week and the beautiful ice/snow storm that came rolling in this weekend, we have had a lot of down time to watch some TV!  My parents took the boys the day Husby got his teeth taken out, so we snuggled up on the couch and began watching the PBS series from 2002, The Manor House.

manor house

Oh. My. Goodness.

I can't even tell you my obsession with this show.  There are 6 hour long episodes and we ripped through them as fast as we could and when it was over I was up all night researching the people and seeing what happened to them after the project. (When I really like something, I seriously become OBSESSED and have to find out every little detail.)

The premise is taking a modern day family and placing them in 1905, complete with a manor and servant staff - also volunteers for the show.  It's exactly along the lines of Downton Abbey, but with modern day people acting as if they were in the 1900's. Every single thing was like they went back in time - no modern conveniences allowed and they had very strict rule books.  It was absolutely fascinating how quickly these people fell into their "roles" and truly began thinking that they WERE a family of prominence and the lower staff feeling like they truly were "below" them.  Quite bizarre, really, but oh so fascinating.  Oh, and the butler?  He's the best.  You've got to watch it!  Read more about it here.

This past weekend, we watched The Frontier House, also a PBS series from 2003, and it was the same premise, only they dump three families in the deep mountains of Montana and they have to live as if it's 1883.


I went into watching this show whining to Husby, "I hate Little House on the Prairie stuff.  I only want to watch 19th century British shows....".  But, he told me I'd love it and boy was he right.  I am currently FASCINATED with the 18th century frontier life and want to live it myself!

I can't begin to imagine the struggle of living that life.  I told Husby I would be a complete WRECK out there, which, let's face it, I would be.  He'd be trying to build us a cabin, and I'd be asking him to come start my fire so I could cook something.  But he told me that after a month of it, he thinks I'd be great at it. Haha!  I told him if he has the faith in me, then I do, too!

These 3 families went into this thing floundering.  They had to go through a month of intense training to even be able to survive it.  In the midst of their 3 months there, they had many tough times, but all ended up crying when they had to leave because they fell in love with the way of life.  Even the two teenage girls who absolutely hated it most of the time didn't want to leave! Ha!

Aside from the excruciating work we would have to do on a daily basis, there's so much beauty in that life.  Simplicity.  No distractions or noise.  Family togetherness.  Building and creating with your hands.  Community.  Adventure.  Families being families and children being children!  I feel like my faith would grow by leaps and bounds being out in nature like that - living off the land, and depending so fervently on my God as I was surrounded by His masterful work.

Seriously, if PBS does another project like this, I'm totally applying!  I'm sure y'all would love nothing more in life than to see me try to survive the frontier, but I'm telling you, deep down inside the depths of my soul, I was made for it! :)  I mean, here I am trying to watch the Oscars (usually my favorite show), and all I can think about is how shallow everyone is and how I would rather be donning my frontier wear and building fires.  Hahahaha!

I think I'll do my own "project" for the year that we live in Pennsylvania.  I'm not sure exactly what all it will entail, but I'm in need of some change.  Some hard work, deeper dependence on God, a better understanding of mothering and family, and an all around better quality of life.  I think that will start with some serious purging of modern conveniences ... but I have to keep my computer so I can take you all along on the journey.

Who knew that spending so much time watching TV this past week ended up showing me how much I don't even need it?  How very ironic. Thanks, PBS! :)

I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


  1. I loved Manor House but didn't know there was Frontier House; glad I read this post!

  2. I'll have to check them out. PBS also did one back in 2000 I think called the 1900's house with the same premise. I loved that.

  3. If you are looking for a great place to start, consider getting rid of cable TV. Once you get used to life without it, there's a good chance you won't want to bring that back into your home again. You could also take all of the money you save on things like cable TV and other unnecessary amenities, and set it aside and use it for a big "family togetherness" activity like a vacation/ family fun day/ trip to a family camp in the wilderness where you have to do a lot of "frontier" type work/ etc.

  4. My husband was homeschooled and they'd have "prairie days" (no electricity, cook by fire, etc.). He loved it! Somewhat along those lines is a show on the Travel Channel called Castles Secrets and Legends. We also like the creepy Mystery at the Museum show as well. We have learned so much history and are absolutely fascinated!!! I need to check out these shows you mention because they are right up my alley.

    I personally love Call the Midwife on PBS, as well. The books were memoirs of a midwife in England and her stories were made into a series. I'm sure you've heard of it but if not check it out!!!

  5. I remember watching the Frontier House! I loved it! I love all things of that time period and have always loved Little House. :) I always think it seems so romantic but I know I would never survive living that way! lol CBS did a show quite a few years ago, can't remember the name, but it was the same type of premise only with kids. A group of 40-50 kids were dropped in an old "ghost town" and they had to learn how to get along and how to delegate the chores. I really like it, but there was only one season of that.

  6. I enjoy those type shows also. There was also 1900's House and 1940's House. I also found a cool series where families get to live in a bunch of different decades called Turn Back Time: The Family. I think they did a shop one also that can be watched on You Tube.

    I'll have to check out Frontier House.

  7. How stinking cool! I'll have to look up these shows, for sure. Thanks for the info!

    PS: I'm pretty new to blogging, so I hope it's okay that I stopped by. :)

  8. How do we find these shows to watch? They aren't on Netflix right?


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