Sunday, August 17, 2014

If All You Do...


There are such a lot of opinions about what women should be, or what they should be doing or not doing, that I wanted to drop by here and leave a brief message about it.  The  news media barrages us with the worries of the world, making it hard to really relax and be happy with the life and the duties that God has given us. We think we must occupy our minds with problems or that it is our duty to worry about the whole world. 

If all you do is make a cup of tea in a pretty cup and sit by the window with the sun coming in across your chair, you are doing something important and constructive. You are resting for a few minutes and thinking about your goals and dreams for your home and family.  You are doing enough, and you will find, with all there is to so, there is barely time for that.

One of the commands of the New Testament is that Christians should rejoice and be happy. These days we are made to think we are somehow hard and unfeeling if we attempt to get away from the pressures of the world and retreat to our homes to homeschool our children, paint pictures, sew, and take tea, be happy. 

 I love these old paintings depicting contentment, also a Biblical teaching. Even though the artists lived during a time of "wars and rumors of wars" they managed to concentrate on their mission, their work. While all the stress of their times is past and forgotten, these artists left something lovely and worthwhile. As the Bible says, people's works live long after they die.
When the cares of the world make you feel defeated, there are a few simple things you can do.  Remember that Titus  2 and I Timothy 5:14 give Christian ladies permission to focus on the home and family. It does not say they must scurry around solving the social problems of the world, but in being a homemaker, a woman does solve a lot of things. For one, she is not contributing to the chaos in the world. She is putting her house in order, teaching her children and being a good wife.  There will be less complaining and fewer troubled children for society to deal with. 

So, if all you do today is dress up for church, attend worship, and later have a simple meal at home, it is enough. Leave a memory of something good and lovely, and do something worthwhile in your home. Substitute a good thing for a worry.  Use stress as a trigger for getting busy making something better at home or improving yourself.

                                                             Dressed to Go Shopping 

If all you do during the week is dress in a beautiful way that inspires you, and if all you do is clean house and stand back and look at it with pleasure; if all you do is think on things that are lovely, you are pleasing to Christ and it is enough.  

Ladies sometimes worry that they are not doing enough ministry or charity, but if all they do is serve their own families and try to live lives of good example, it is a good thing and is very effectively evangelistic and charitable. 

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to make your home a lovely place to be and to serve tea to lift the moods of your loved ones (or yourself)be creative, have the teaching of kindness on your tongue.

Do not stretch your time and energies beyond your limits, because it can cause anxiety.  So if all you do today so try to enjoy prettiness, serve your own family and be thankful for the food set before you, it is enough.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Keeping House

Thank you all for such positive responses on the previous handshaking post.  Please continue to leave your comments.  They are very helpful.  Most of the time when something becomes a big trend, the voice of the rest of the people, maybe even the majority of well-mannered folk, is not heard. It is assumed that the new trend is normal, while the old paths, where the good walk is, (Jeremiah 6:16) are cold and unfeeling. A handshake has more warmth and meaning in it than it looks. Please check the end of the previous post for links to the art of shaking hands, and please leave more comments.

No matter how long you have kept house, or how much experience you have had, things change over the years when you move to another town, have a busy family, become a grandmother, or take on new activities.  You may find you need a different way of planning your housekeeping, from one stage of life to another.  Today I am showing you some of mine.

This is a book I like very much, which is a printed copy from the web.  I much prefer to buy a pre-printed book, as it is higher quality paper and well-bound, but this one was not available in that form. You can find it here   where there is also a house guide for boys that was quite well-done.

The qualities I enjoy best about this housekeeping book is the motivational pages and the step-by-step guide to cleaning each area.  As it is written to little girls, there is a calm sweetness that shows the love you can put into a task, making young people desire to be homemakers. It speaks to my heart when I need something more than a list!

It includes reprints of old household advertisements from the Victorian era and the early 1900's. I read sections of this book when I need to get my mind more focused on housekeeping, and when I find it difficult to start something. The instructions and ideas in this book is just one of the tools I use for homemaking, and it suits different needs.

I am including some posters you can print and frame for yourself. 

This pile, above, looks like a mess, but it is another one of my methods of getting some needed things done in a day.  I pile up the things that need to be done and either put them in a large container, or leave the stack on my bed to remind me. In this photo, the stack of things to do includes: 

-mailing out the church bulletin (I try to recycle my copy by mailing to someone who does not get one, and I always think that it is better news than the newspaper); 

-an order for Yorkshire Gold tea, which our family supplies for friends. I need to get the order ready today, so I have it on the stack and will be reminded; 

-sewing project, indicated by the folded fabric in the stack; 

-a box to sort and neaten and clean up so that I can find things in it more quickly--every day there is some kind of thing to clean out or sort;

- my Bible lesson that I have to prepare for ladies class;

-paper and rubber stamps to make a thank-you note to send in the post;

-a wooden swing seat that I want to decorate with paints, and hang up under a tree outside.

This is just one of my housekeeping methods.  I use it because I find I sometimes unknowingly bypass some item when it is written on a list.  I guess it is just not startling enough in print, so I have to put the actual item in plain sight.

Here is another notebook with a few housekeeping methods I use.

This one is the Sidetracked Home Executive card-file plan instruction, which you can print for free on the web. It comes from The Teaching Mom site here   Http://  

I like these plastic pages that already have the holes for the folder. That way, it prevents punching the paper, which sometimes cuts off words. Also, while using these pages, they do not get stained.

I began my homemaking life with that card file and if I had not abandoned it, would not have ended up be so behind in so many tasks today.  I had memorized the jobs and was doing very well, and then saw in the book that you could throw the cards away once you have started doing the jobs automatically without referring to the cards.  

A lady who joined a weight loss organization lost a lot of weight, and was advised to get rid of all her bigger clothes. The reasoning was that she would not be tempted to get overweight again. However through a few health problems when she was laid-up with illness, some of the weight came back and she had no bigger dresses to wear.

The problem of becoming disorganized again through moves or family events (company coming, trips taken, illness of family members, house rennovation, etc) is the reason I wish I had not thrown the original card-file away once I had learned to do the jobs without looking at the daily cards.  It seems to me like learning to acquire Christian conduct by reading the Bible, and then closing it and saying, "I already read the Bible. I have read it for years!" And never studying it again. By keeping some things, you have a solid foundation of information that once worked for you and you gain a better perspective of it.

I am busy now listing every task that needs to be done and then writing each task from the list on the daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally and yearly cards.  Having a card file with the daily work coming up prevents a sudden need to clean the fridge at the last minute when you are involved in something else. It makes you less crowded for time.

In the same notebook, above, I got a free print-out from the Martha Stewart Site, here There are some other lists you might like, too,mon that site and I printed several of them.

Here is a list I made of things that were on my mind that I felt were important.  I used this list to get my thoughts organized one day.

Everyone has their own method, as each home has different priorities and needs.  You can find a plan that suits you or you can make up your own. Put your plans and lists in a pretty folder and enjoy it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Will You Not Shake Hands With Me?

                      "Will you not shake hands with me?" ( Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.)

In this day of the "social gospel," the common courtesy of a handshake has fallen by the wayside. Everyone must be exhuberantly hugging, instead.  Will the handshake ever be recovered?  There was a time when a handshake was the sharing of something great and a high honor.  Today it seems to be considered too trivial, but how did the historical and dignified handshake ever become not good enough?

The titles of these two pictures, done on 1904, are "The Customary Greeting in Bulgaria," and, "The Customary Greeting in Norway."
Ladies,  I believe the handshake is a pure and dignified greeting.  I am very concerned about the amount of casual hugging that goes on in social circles.  Hugging is acceptable amongst close relatives and lifelong friends of the family, but it may be best to be reserved around others. 

 I have seen fragile old ladies, brought up on handshakes as the customary social greeting, overwhelmed and practically smothered by a big, hugging person.  One lady, caught by surprise, barely kept her cane steady while she extended her hand for the handshake, when the recipient chose instead to give her a big bear-hug.

When I was growing up, young, unmarried ladies did not hug any male person except her father, brothers, uncles and grandfather.  Young ladies actually preferred the propriety and safety of the handshake as a polite greeting.

Some of the "huggy-ness " between non-familial people was fostered in youth programs, both church and civic.  Youth were encouraged to have fun and to cast their built-in reserve aside in favor of hugging everyone. Hugging was considered more loving, and those who did not want to hug, were believed to have inhibitions and anti-social problems.  This attitude continued in other institutions and has become a societal norm.

The habit of young, unmarried ladies of hugging the young men and especially any handsome, married young men, is getting to be common, and I wonder if they know that it is better to shake hands with men they are not married to.  Hugs are more personal and can create a closer bond between people, and that can be a problem when close hugs ocurr between men and women outside the family who are not married to each other.

Some women are hurt when other women hug the the men but ignore the women. Why did that custom develop?  With the handshake, there is less distinction between male and female. No one seems to notice (or object) if a lady only shakes hands with men, but for some reason the hug seems too intimate for some people and can arouse suspicion as to motives.

Hugs between ladies seem to be quite alright, as ladies do not seem to object so much about this.  I have seen many hugs when ladies say goodbye at tea parties or Ladies Bible Classes and there seems to be no discomfort there.  I do feel a caution when the hugs become so casual that unrelated men and women begin using hugs instead of courteous handshakes.

Children should be taught to be reserved with their affection, in anything, in the name of safety, limiting it to their parents.  As adults have their "personal space" so do children, and no one outside the family should get too familiar or hug other people's children, especially if they can sense the parents reserve.  I know of children who have asked their parents not to let so many people hug them, because they are not comfortable with it.

I do long for the dignified handshake when I see that, in spite of this free and casual, lovey-dovey-ness where the majority of people embrace, there are some people squirming in discomfort under the unwanted hugs.  I have rarely seen anyone uncomfortable with a handshake.  A slight bow of the head might be an even more desireable common greeting if you didn't feel comfortable touching someone's hand, but in general, the good old-fashioned handshake is the most dignified, least intrusive and least offensive greeting.

In saying all this I am sure that those who are not keeping this subject in perspective will read this and make a quick judgement to the contrary.  Yet I do not object to hugs.  It is the constant hugging that is going on between members of the opposite sex that are not related, that seems to be a problem.

  I have seen really nice young boys and girls who are trying to be careful with their affections before marriage being caught off guard by impulsive, exuberant hugs from other young people who do not share the same sensitivity.

There are more ladies than the world realizes (because they are quiet, private souls) whose first hug with a man other than their own father or brothers, was their future husband.  I personally know several young ladies who want to wait and hug their future husband, rather than allow casual hugs from young single or married men to become the customary greeting. When I realized this, I considered that the common hug imposed on someone may not be received willingly.  We all have to be careful and not pull others into a modern trend that they are not wanting.

  Young girls have the right to be left alone if they want to save their man-hugs for their own man.  In a comment attached to this post, a lady writes that her husbands need for female hugs ended when they got married.  Whether people agree with that or not, it is wise to respect it.  A young man, also, may not welcome the familiarity of a female hug, wanting to reserve that affection for their future wife.

There was a time when parents and churches discouraged members from attending modern dances. It was explained that it was not right for someone to be in close bodily contact or have their arms around another person's husband or wife. Look how the hugging custom has gotten around that!

To be safe, a handshake is always a non-offensive and sincere greeting, and if rejected, it is not too offensive.  On the other hand, if you attempt to reject a hug from someone you do not care to hug, you may end up in an awkward type of wrestling match.

If you ever want to ward off a hug in favor of a handshake, hold one arm across your body and slightly away from it, to block the hugger, put one foot forward and extend your other hand toward their hand.  You will find their hand goes into an automatic hand shake and no one is hurt nor is any offence taken. I have seen this in action and thought it was very well-taken.

As per one of the comments, another  way to discourage huggers that catch you unguarded and suddenly wrap their arms around you or squeeze themselves to you, is to refrain from automatically bringing your arm around to simultaneously embrace.  If you stand there with arms at your side and do not in any way return the uninvited hug, they will not enjoy it and wont seek you out again (unless they feel a personal agenda to break down your personal space.)

It is sad to think of the future generations never being able to experience the sincerity of the formal handshake.  There used to be classes where "how to shake hands" was taught.  Students learned how to avoid too firm a grip, or how to avoid a fishy, weak handshake. There was an art in it. You learned to read people's personality, their strengths and weaknesses and their courtesy just by the way they shook hands.

The handshake has been a western custom for centuries. People sealed deals, surrendered,forgave, greeted and said good-bye with handshakes. In the 21st century the handshake does not seem to suffice. As a preachers wife, I prefer the handshake.  It was part of my upbringing, and hugs were reserved for more intimate relationships.  

Since hugging has taken over as a common greeting, the humble handshake is seen as cold and distant.  Those people who do not want to come into physical contact (or hug) beyond the touch of the hand or a bow of the head, are seen as stiff and unresponsive. 

Have another look at some of the  films done in the 1980's and 1990's (jane Austen, and  Elizabeth Gaskell novels) and notice the bowing and the handshakes. They carry a lot more meaning than is seen on the surface.  If these films had featured a hug for every handshake or bow, the tenderness and sensitivity would be lost.  Though there is some enthusiastic hugging and kissing shown amongst old friends and relatives, the other touches are highly prized, especially by the viewers. There is a lot of warmth in a handshake.

This is not to target any one person or any personal situation. In writing this, I speak to myself also, and  am looking more carefully at my own ways. It reminds me to be careful about my interactions with people and to be more aware of the way things look.

I can certainly understand how even handshaking can become too much for a person working in the public always greeting people, but the average person probably would not have to shake too many hands. Therefore, the handshake can be revived as a customary greeting.

Another observation: Has anyone a memory of churches before this present hugging-campaign?  Here is what I have noticed:

The churches had more members and though they all shook hands as a customary greeting, there was far more hospitality in homes, more friendly interaction after church services, and they didn't need gimmicks and entertainment or a big production/ show  or hugs to keep them coming.  The handshake was an easy greeting that threatened no one.  Today the hugs cause some people to leave early or shrink away or just not mingle as much.   Simply said, some people do not want to hug, and it does not mean there is anything wrong with them. There was more trust and ease between people when the handshake was the norm.  I am sure there were other factors causing the larger membership in churches,but during the handshake era there was a lot of genuine love and generosity and helping one another in churches.  People showed their love by their service to one another.

Read more about the power of a handshake here:

Friday, August 08, 2014

As The Day Begins


                              The rose of All Roses, by Wilhelm Menzler, German, 1846-1926

As the day gets on its way out here in the west, I just want to leave a note.  I am going to put up another post soon, about keeping the home.  I have a few more things to do around here, first but I hope to blog at the end of the day.

Here are a few pictures of my flower gardens in the front of the house...

...and an indoor floral.

I have been kept busy caring for the gardens, so it is like taking on a couple of more rooms in the house.  

I will see you all soon.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

More Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace is especially abundant this year. It limes the roadsides and and pathways like a thick foam. 

I found some very intricate embroidery of the flower. The part that looks like a wore birdcage is what the flower looks like when he buds have fallen off, and these pieces are just as pretty as the whole flower.

A book I got for the children a long, long time ago shows one way to draw Queen Anne's Lace:

 There is a demonstration on a video here:      

It makes me happy that this flower grows freely in uncultivated areas and anyone may have it. Brides are now using them in their bouquets, and the silk imitation is available, too.

The heat so oppressive and sometimes I think the sun can sunburn your mind and make your thinking a bit blurry.  I have found it helpful to wrap a cold wet cloth around the neck, or even a cold wet bandanna with a bit of ice rolled in it.  It really cools the whole body.  Pitchers and bowls of ice water placed around the house can help it feel cool indoors, as,even with an air conditioner, it sometimes is not cool enough when there is humidity.

Using a blue background and Polymer latex paints (also called Scribbles) I have made a quick copy of the Queen Anne's Lace in the art book:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Queen Anne's Lace


(Today is Friday, August the 1st)

Queen Anne's Lace is a fluffy flower that grows in poor soil, on roadsides, empty lots, fields and hillsides.

As I am trying to figure out a different blogging program, I have had some trouble getting a post up lately. The pictures I want to show are appearing at the end of the post, so you will have to scroll down to see the Queen Anne's Lace embroidery and crochet pictures.

  Queen Anne's Lace is also pictured on teacups and fine china.

We picked massive bouquets of this lovely lace when we were children, thinking it was the most luxurious blossom.

There is a little purple blossom in the middle of the flower.

I have been getting an outdoor area set up for a Queen Anne's Lace Anniversary Tea, but was waylaid by thunder and lightening, so I will post more pictures later. That reminds me of an old joke. When one of my cousins was getting married, he remarked that marriage was made in Heaven, to which his friend replied, "So is thunder and lightening."  I have come indoors quickly to view the lightening from the window.  It really is spectacular but I would rather be on this inside looking at it than out in it. 

My own Queen Anne's Lace bouquet on the table outside.

As I am getting used to yet another blogging program and have not mastered it completely, the pictures are added at the end of the post rather than exactly where I want to put them. You will have to scroll down to see the sky-scene, and the Queen Anne's Lace with the purple flower in the middle. Also I added the Folkwear Garden Party Dress, which I made 22 years ago and wore for an anniversary.  I am hoping to make an anniversary dress today, using a much easier pattern, with flocked muslin, that looks like Queen Anne's Lace. (Picture of fabric will appear at the end.)

This is a common scene around here. Queen Anne's lace thrives in the minerals provided by roadside gravel and sand.

Here it is in a bridal bouquet.  It is also available now in artificial bouquets, made of latex and silk.  I have seen it in stems and wreaths at craft stores.

I can hardly understand how I missed getting the Embossing Arts rubber stamp, above, and the Personal Stamp Exchange stamp, below, when they were in all the catalogs back in the 1990's.  At the time, they were quite an expense, but now are appearing in some of the thrift stores.

Below: the sky before the storm.

I hope to see you later when I finish the Queen Anne's Lace Tea.  This is our 42nd anniversary, and I know there are many of you ladies reading this who are also in your 42nd year of marriage. I am sure you all think they broke the mold after you got your husband!   

A sample of Queen Anne's Lace embroidery.

Pretty bridal bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace.  This is exciting because it is not expensive when you can pick your own from an obliging field.


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