Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Frosty Mornings

There was an impressive  crystallized frost on everything today. 

In a few hours the ground was clear again.

This is my vinyl "wicker" all-weather settee. I plan to bring it inside when the temperatures get very cold, as it really isn't made for a freeze.  It is part of my pretend "coach".

I got a cute wire reindeer, and though it is very lightweight and does not do well in the wind, it stayed upright long enough for me to get a photo of it supposedly pulling my "coach."

I didn't think the lighted wire deer looked very realistic, but a hunter dropped by to tell me it was deer season, and that I should keep an eye on it, in case someone tries to bag it.

A lot has been transpiring around here and I have been very busy, and hope that tomorrow I will get a little time to drop by here and write some more.
                                                       The Coach Ride 1888

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ploughman's Lunch

(Painting from Pinterest: Stephen Darbyshire. Check his online store for purchase)

Hello Ladies,

On Friday there was supposed to be a Ladies Tea here, to let some of my friends come and sing in lieu of our weekly Ladies  Bible Class. Because I knew that a couple of the husbands were coming, I decided to serve a Ploughmans Lunch instead of a delicate ladies tea.

It was actually good that the men came, because we loved hearing them sing the bass and tenor in the old hymns. 

You can read more about this kind of lunch, online or in English cook books or check on Pinterest. I think, in the US and Canada these are called meat and cheese boards, but I like the historical implication that it was a hearty meal suitable for a laborer. 

Generally, it is the kind of food a ploughman would eat after coming in from hard work in the field. It consists of very thick slices of home baked bread, and butter,  served on a wooden cutting board along with cheese, pickles, meat, and maybe fruit such as grapes and sliced apples.  It is delicious when taken with hot tea.

To eat it, the bread is buttered and the other things are eaten separately. I have given up on trying to get Americans to understand that the reason you can't make sandwiches from this meal is because the bread is supposed to be too thick. I found it falls on deaf ears, (because we are centuries away from British culture), so if they want to go ahead and make sandwiches from it, I don't mind; just as long as they do not ask me for mayonnaise. 

It is not too easy eating those thick sandwiches though, and to infinite my delight, the ladies didn't attempt it. They happily buttered the bread, sipped tea and helped themselves to every morsel of the accompaniments on the board.  I was right when I thought it would all go well with tea, because I filled the teapots several times with Yorkshire Gold, and the tisane ladies made themselves multiple cups of home made herbal teas. I have lemon mint, berries and a few other things.

One of my grandchildren had baked some French braided bread, and it was dense and hearty enough for Ploughmans Lunch:

One of the platters:

An individual serving:

I got the plaid plastic tray at a local grocery store:
That tea cup is a Grace's Teaware brand found at Home Goods, a "seconds" store of new merchandise with wonderful bargains.

I found that these paper doilies worked effectively to keep the saucers dry, amd it was much appreciated by the ladies. It's so annoying to lift up a tea cup that is wet.

Before I say goodbye, I want to share one of my mismatched cup sets that I used at the ploughmans lunch:
The cup is new (Grace's Teaware from Home Goods which is a discount store. Some flaws are usually on the cups. This one had no saucer and there is a black mark inside near the floral)  but the saucer is very old, having broken the cup that matched it. 
In another post I'll show you some of the mismatch combos that I have in my China cabinent. 
I like Grace's Teaware and Gracie China, because they are so hearty and  dishwasher safe.

I understand there are four of these in a set, with the outside of the cup being pink (the one I have) blue, yellow and green.  I got cup this for $3.99 because it had no saucer and because there was a small mark on it.   The prices on the new sets are astronomical so O was happy to get this one.  Gradually I am wearing out the tea cups I have, and am going to retire some of them and replace with Grace's Teaware and Gracie China.

In another post I will update you on my seasonal decor. I never join the blog home tours because I am too busy and can't make the deadline, but I will be happy to host my own tour.

Here is the recipe for the bread. We thought it taste a lot like the fresh pretzels they sell here.

I do not know what cookbook this is in.

Ploughmans Lunch from Pinterest:

Thursday, December 07, 2017

For Those Who Aren't Feeling Well

Hello Ladies,

Pictures today are from Pinterest, for those who don't get to access that site. If you want to see my Pinteresr collection, go the side bar and the left, where it says "please join me on Pinterest." 

Here at home when someone is sick, I like to scurry around making things comfortable and preparing  a tray of comfort foods or whatever their cravings are.

My mother always catered to the sick ones because it made us rest better, and helped with recovery. We were given a box that was like a bed tray, with any food or drink we could tolerate, some get well cards from the others at home, and a few old magazines to clip and paste into a scrapbook. Sometimes the other children would sit on the bed and play games with the sick person

When I don't feel well, it is so nice that my husband brings me a tray, or if he can't find one, simply uses a large dinner plate and puts a tea cup on it and some crackers and an assortment of herbal tea sachets.

I think the vintage wicker bed trays are very elegant and picturesque, but even the shallow cardboard box lined with a dish towel and laden with an old tea cup was so special to us when we weren't feeling well.

Making a sick person comfortable is a good skill to learn. When my children were growing up, I sometimes took them a tea tray to their room just for a treat.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Some Pictures To Emulate

For those of you who can't get Pinterest, here are a few saved to my Pinterest account. It's on the sidebar here.  

I like the above picture because I think we can do this with our own dear house in the background. Tea rooms are hard to find and often long distance.  I am going to try and emulate this!

Another one with a cottage in the background.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Living for the Moments

Hello Ladies,

A friend phone me today and she said she was very big on living for the moment.  Maybe she will write about it on her blog, but I am stealing her thunder right now.  

It was so refreshing to hear her talk about the importance of the moment, because sometimes there are some awfully sanctimonious teachings against living for the moment, which can discourage ladies from doing anything unless it is perceived as something important for the future.

There was also a time during our lives when we were warned about "instant gratification" and told to wait to do what would give you any joy.

We both concluded that we were all for the moment, because, with all the losses and tragedies around us, we may not have many future moments.

When Christ taught about not worrying, He was speaking about the future worries of food and clothing and other physical things. Just writing this makes me feel the urgency of this weeks meals and laundry, clothing, etc. There is always something ahead to prepare.

If we can create sweet moments and live for the goodness of each moment, doing things that bring happiness and yes, good pleasure, tomorrow's challenges seem brighter.

That is why I say to have regular leisure time, reading, tea time, soft moments of puttering about the house, and anything that interests us. Housework and deadlines need to be balanced by light activities that make you smile.

When considering how tense we can get, I always remember the poem "Hurry the Baby" by Nixon Waterman. People are too admired for what they achieve, than for just being our own family members, or being nice, good or happy.

There has to be a better perspective on the precious moments, or we will end up like the last line in that poem, which is a person who "wins" a nerve-wracking, health destroying and soul-deadening life of fear and depression.

I think we can do better than that.  We can live for each moment, and be happy. It makes for a better past and a more optimistic future.  

If you have assigned yourself too much to do, take a moment and do something less pressured, and you might find you get the serious work done sooner. 

 I think it is also important to do things when you are interested in doing them. We all tend to drag and feel more tired if we really don't have an interest in something.  I have put away sewing projects I just couldn't feel enthused about, and then gone on to something that pleased me more in that moment.  Instant gratification, if you want to call it that, is a way of making you feel encouraged enough to continue on things you must do.  That is why I think a phone call to a friend is instant gratification.

The fuel for the necessary tasks of your day at home might possibly come from taking a few moments just for relaxation and enjoyment before or after cleaning the kitchen, sweeping  or catching up on the laundry.

We need to also try and educate our children about the importance of a moment and teach them how to rest and relax; how to enjoy. You think about the details of having tea, for example, and the sound of the cup being placed on the saucer. You notice the steam from the tea and the way the shiny tea things sparkle in the light.  You consider the precious souls sitting around the table and appreciate their existence.   We used to deliberately create an experience like this, and then ask the children what all the saw, heard and felt during these moments.

There was another poem called "The Pleasant Land" (Sounds like a nice blog name) about how little drops of water seem so insignificant and small but can make up a mighty ocean, and little grains of sand make up a huge expanse of land.  So a moment,  lived happily for that moment, adds up to other appreciated moments to make a larger life.

In thinking back in time about people I knew, I noticed the ones that loved the moment, had less tension over the future, and the future took care of itself.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Style Worth Sewing

Someone sent me this and suggested I might already have a similar pattern. I like the stand-up back collar of this red outfit of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. I will be looking at all the etsy pattern people for similar, this next week, and today while I am out, I am looking for fabric.  My clothes have to serve me well in my varied life, so I usually sew a natural woven that washes and wears nicely. I like that the collar might be cut all in one with the jacket, instead of joining separately, which is a sewing time-saver.

I want to thank the blog reader for finding this pattern for me, because this is the one I am going to use.  Using only a picture I posted, without the brand and number, she located where it was sold, so I immediately bought it. So thank you to the ladies who send money, making it possible to make an impulse buy. ☺️The fabric is Waverly cotton, and I've told you before how it feels like silk in the skin.  The style is dated ( hey, I don't want to call it vintage because I remember when it was a new style) but it will suit my ample figure a lot better 😊

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bread That Gives Life

Hello Dear Ones,

Thank you for your patience while I summon up inspiration for posting!  Sometimes I will ask someone what will be a good subject, and then we will get to talking and discover some fairly good subject matter within our discussion.

Today I want to show a tea tray, which is a portable way of having a tea table.

I would prefer a metal tray, of stainless steel, amd am on the lookout for one. It withstands the drips and spills, jams and such, and wipes easily.  
My wood tray is quite chic but I have to line it with a piece of durable plastic. You can get this at Walmart in the sewing section on a set of rollers with different grades and weights and prices of plastic. This is $1.46 a yard. I cut it into useable squares to put on little tables or over delicate linens. I have used a piece of it over my cook book page to protect it from food splatters, and I like a piece of it on my night table since I have vintage furniture. 

Well, now that is said, let me go into the subject of bread.

You have probably read the words of Christ, "I am the bread of life," which was a figure of speech to emphasize His importance in our lives, daily. Bread and leavening were used often in the Bible to teach about life. Christ prayed in the Garden to "Give us this day our daily bread."

Bread was not always the cheap, de-vitaminized, manufactured product we find in stores today. It used to be sold daily fresh, as daily bread. Daily made bread doesn't have deteriorated ingredients.

 One ingredient I was recently alerted to is a product in most commercial  baked goods, an additive called Datem. Apparently it is an additive that can wreak havoc with your health.

Curious, I decided to read bread ingredient labels to find a bread without Datem.  I found two brands: Grandma Saginaw's old fashioned bread, and bakery croissants.  However, even without the Datem, these breads had too many phosphates and other additives.

Note: In Europe, Datem is not allowed to be put in commercial breads, but in the Americas, it is in everything.

Another product found in baked goods is aluminum.  You can solve that by buying non-aluminum baking powder or making your own from cream of tarter and soda bicarbonate, or a recipe you can find online. 

Since making my own bread products with 3 to 5 ingredients, we have felt more clear minded and grounded, and in a way, with less whirling thoughts, fewer mood swings, and generally  more even-keeled, balanced physically and mentally.  (Less insane?) We have no more chronic fatigue, acid indigestion, acid reflux, or any sense of anxiety.

There is always the concern that home made bread can cause weight gain, because it is so very good and so digestible, especially hot, with butter.  However there are ways to alleviate this.

Going for a walk twice a day, (maybe as the bread rises or bakes)  as well as putting only the allotted daily bread supply out for the day (and freezing the rest) will make it easier not to over-eat this delicious goodness. 

Because the ingredients you use will be so fresh and organic and pure, one slice of bread will satisfy you enough, as opposed to commercial baked goods, which can leave you unsatisfied and wanting more.  I use unbromated, unbleached flour, which is light, fine, and fragrant.

As for baking failures, let me tell you, everyone has their bread stories about the colossal mistakes they made when first baking bread, muffins, nut breads, in their album of bad memories. Having a cooking failure used to make me break down in tears. It was just so humiliating.   Don't be discouraged. Keep trying and move ahead with each attempt, getting better each time.

An 18 year old woman asked me what she was supposed to do all day at home.  I suggested taking one day  week for baking, because it takes time and good timing, and it takes you through a process you don't get from the grocery store. Other days can be marked for other things, but in general baking one thing, can take a few hours,  counting the shopping, preparation, serving and cleaning up.

The point I made to her was that making bread, packing her husband's lunches, collecting the ingredients, etc. answers the question about what there is to do all day at home.

The act of mixing and the raising involved in baking, prepares your senses.  It is like walking up a path to a door, entering the parlour, and being admitted into the main part of the house. Every step prepares you for the final destination, and if the architect and the landscaper have done a good job, the journey into the house envelopes the senses: smell, sight, sound, touch, and the anticipation is part of the process.

The baking (or any cooking from scratch) is an entire journey to the final destination. It involves a trip to the market, where you may judge between good, better and best products. It involves preparing the ingredients, stirring, and enjoying the aromas. By the time it is served in a plate, everyone's taste buds are well prepared. The sense of smell, followed by the mouth watering in anticipation, is all part of the digestion process.  

I don't need to go into having pleasant conversation because I have written about that before. Meal time and tea time are not the time for someone to stage a fight, lodge a complaint, aggravate others or make the meal miserable. It upsets the digestion and causes illness.

Moving on to the well set table with the nice plate and glass (even if only one or two of you there) you get a visual sense of the food that prepares your mind, which activates other parts of the digestion. Add to that the taste buds slowly awakening as you eat carefully with good manners, and you will find the meal process, beginning with the preparation (even if it is only a sandwich) can be more than satisfying.

If you are daunted by yeast breads, and are afraid to bake, there are quick breads you can try. Children are sometimes very good at yeast breads so allow them to try it. If you have several children, they can each have a bread recipe they specialize in. One can bake French braided bread, another brioches, another croissants....well...that is one I have NEVER been able to master.

In preparing yeast breads, the act of kneading bread is great for preventing tension and stress, which is a chronic suffering of women today, even those who stay home.

There is a book called, BREAD, that might have some recipes that you can be successful with. (You can also find quick bread recipe books). Remember with any recipe to substitute natural and better ingredients. For example, when it calls for salt, I use RealSalt, Australian Sea salt, or Himilayan pink salt. If it calls for oil, I Use light tasting olive oil. Sugar might be substituted with honey or raw sugar or molasses. 

If you think commericial tortillas are natural, read the ingredients on the package. I was surprised at the aluminum and other ingredients, because you can make these with only flour, salt, oil and water. They are practically melt in your mouth and aren't so hard on the teeth and don't take a laborious amount of chewing.

If you are just beginning in the process of making your own bread products, please do a web search on "ingredients you don't need in your bread" to find out more about the harmful additives in commercial bread.  

I am old enough to remember a time WHEN YOU COULDNT GET BREAD IN A GROCERY STORE  unless it was made by someone who baked it in her home and sold it to the store.  It seems like a sabotage of sorts, when our daily bread has been taken out of the hands of the woman of the house.

This was a time in my own history when people rarely if ever, experienced food allergies.

At first, the commercial bread was not so bad, but recently, even the so called health bread has all those chemicals and added things that cause more problems in your digestive system and your brain.

Read more here: https://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=post&id=57A345C5-12E9-AC6F-40C8-A9A27BDD8754

In the past and the ancient past, bread was a hand made product, as were many things we buy today.  I don't mind buying commercial products and I welcome the easy way of getting things without the time consuming labor, but a loaf of bread is not a hardship if you learn the process by heart.  

So today, children, we are going to learn about bread and then bake some.  While we are stirring the ingredients I am going to read all the passages I can find from the Bible about bread:

Here are two of them (among hundreds of verses)

2Th 3:8  neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you:

2Th 3:12  Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

If you are making a study of the word "bread" from the Bible, you can determine when it is used as literal bread and when it is used as a figure of speech or a comparison.


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