Alumni News

Recipe for a Happy Home

BYU alumna writes Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide to help young homemakers.

Eager to impress her mother-in-law with her culinary skills, Elyssa Madsen Andrus (BA ’99) made a golden-brown bread pudding with raspberries for a family dinner. The Cedar Hills, Utah, mother of four knew cooking wasn’t her strong suit, but she was desirous, as she says, to tap into her inner pioneer.

Andrus failed to pay attention, however, to where she put her masterpiece. She placed it on a hot burner, and, within moments, the dish became an explosive bomb, shooting shards of glass—along with chunks of hot bread and raspberries—through the kitchen and into an adjacent room.

Clearly it’s not easy to become a domestic goddess.

Andrus had focused on her journalism career until she had children. “I realized it doesn’t matter how great a career you have—basic household skills are imperative,” she says.

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Authors Elyssa Andrus (left) and Natalie Hollingshead (right) create culinary crafts with their children. The pair hopes to help other young mothers develop homemaking skills.

She decided to apply her research skills and interview experts in many areas of homemaking. She also recruited Natalie Aldridge Hollingshead (BA ’05), a freelance journalist Andrus frequently employs in her role as a lifestyle editor, to cowrite a book. An Orem, Utah, mother of three, Hollingshead had embraced her mother’s zest for homemaking but was also interested in learning more about provident living and helpful shortcuts. The pair interviewed experts whose specialties ranged from budgeting and menu forecasting to organization and cleaning.

The result of their efforts is Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide, which sold out of its first printing of several thousand copies in a month. As the title implies, the book is primarily designed for young homemakers looking for doable ways to create a home. As Andrus explains in the book’s introduction, “This book isn’t going to teach you how to tile your backsplash. . . . or how to fold your napkins into swans for dinner parties. But it will explore basic domestic skills, including how to make a killer dish or two for said dinner parties.”

Happy Homemaking includes sections on finances, menu planning, cooking, food storage, gardening, clothing care, home design, and cleaning.

“These are basic skills to help you live well,” Hollingshead says. “We spend so much time in our homes, and most of us want it to be a beautiful, happy place. While understanding that the best ingredient for a happy home is love, we have offered many other ‘ingredients’ for a successful home.”

— Charlene Renberg Winters (BA ’73, MA ’96)