Barfield, Rhonda 1953(?)–

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Barfield, Rhonda 1953(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1953; married Michael Barfield (a writer, graphic designer, and artist); children: Eric, Christian, Lisa, Mary. Education: Graduated from Culver-Stockton College. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the piano.

ADDRESSES: Office—Lilac Publishing, P.O. Box 665, St. Charles, MO 63302. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Freelance writer; Lilac Publishing, St. Charles, MO, founder and owner.

WRITINGS:

Eat Well: For Fifty Dollars a Week, Lilac Publishing (St. Charles, MO), 1993, revised as Eat Healthy for Fifty Dollars a Week: Feed Your Family Nutritious, Delicious Meals for Less, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 1996, published as Feed Your Family for Twelve Dollars a Day: A Complete Guide to Nutritious, Delicious Meals for Less Money, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Fifteen-Minute Cooking, Lilac Publishing (St. Charles, MO), 1996.

Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of Twenty-one Families Who Make It Work, Fireside (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to periodicals, including Hearts at Home.

SIDELIGHTS: As a married mother of four children living in St. Louis, Missouri, Rhonda Barfield was struggling with finances when she and her husband decided they needed to move to a better neighborhood for their children's sakes. To save money, she devised strategies to cut down on their grocery bills. In this way, she shaved off two hundred dollars from their monthly expenses. The family saved the money and was thus able to move.

Deciding to share her techniques with others, Barfield wrote and published her first book, Eat Well: For Fifty Dollars a Week, which she self-published through her own company, Lilac Publishing. In addition to showing readers how to save money on buying food, the book includes recipes and tips on how to resolve problems such as children who are picky eaters or who have special dietary requirements. Patty Campbell, writing in Wilson Library Bulletin, called many of Barfield's solutions "creative" and enjoyed the author's "lighthearted approach," which "makes a challenging game out of cheap eating."

Barfield followed her debut with Fifteen-Minute Cooking and a revised version of her first book titled Eat Healthy for Fifty Dollars a Week: Feed Your Family Nutritious, Delicious Meals for Less in which she rewrote some of her information to emphasize healthier foods. In 2002, she reissued this version as Feed Your Family for Twelve Dollars a Day: A Complete Guide to Nutritious, Delicious Meals for Less Money.

Besides the health of their children, another concern among parents is providing a good education. Growing worries over the quality of public and even private schools in America has led to a dramatic increase in the practice of homeschooling. Barfield joined the ranks of parents taking on the daunting challenge of teaching their children at home. To help others make the same transition and ease some of the anxieties of becoming an educator, she published Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of Twenty-one Families Who Make It Work in 2002.

In Real Life Homeschooling the author interviewed parents who had taught their own children, then compiled suggestions and tips on such areas as how to select the best textbooks, how to instruct children on subjects about which the parent might not be an expert, and how to partner with other parents to share materials and save money. Recommending Real Life Homeschooling to anyone considering taking up this challenge, Library Journal critic Leroy Hommerding appreciated that the book does "not gloss over the hard work that homeschooling entails but [does] convey the idea that it is not overwhelming." Vanessa Bush declared in her Booklist assessment that Real Life Homeschooling is a "fascinating look at a growing trend among families disaffected with the education available" in schools.

Barfield told CA "My high school English teacher once suggested I think about writing as a career. It surprised me, but made an impression.

"I'm most influenced by the efficiency of 'how-to' writers' work for major magazines. I'm inspired by plain, straightforward writing that teaches. My own writing process usually involves finding the spark of an idea, then mentally talking it through. One of my college majors was speech, and I tend to think of articles as written speeches. I was astonished to discover how much work is involved in writing.

"Of all of my books, my favorite is Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of Twenty-one Families Who Make It Work, because I find it, personally, inspiring. I loved interviewing and getting to know the families included in the book and writing their stories.

"I hope my books will make it possible for women, in particular, to live better, happier, and more fulfilling lives by helping them to streamline, economize, and spend more and better quality time with their families."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of Twenty-one Families Who Make It Work, p. 1290.

Chicago Sun-Times, January 29, 1997, Babette Morgan, review of Eat Healthy for Fifty Dollars a Week: Feed Your Family Nutritious, Delicious Meals for Less, Food section, p. 1.

Library Journal, March 15, 2002, Leroy Hommerding, review of Real Life Homeschooling, p. 91.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 27, 1993, Esther Talbot Fenning, "Rhonda Barfield: Living by the Book," St. Charles section, p. 1.

Wilson Library Bulletin, October, 1993, Patty Campbell, "Alternative Routes," review of Eat Well: For Fifty Dollars a Week, pp. 100-101.

ONLINE

Crosswalk.com, http://crosswalk.com/ (April 18, 2005), "Homeschooling on the Cheap."

Lilac Publishing Web site, http://www.lilacpublishing.com/ (May 12, 2005).