Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Another Painting

"Summer Time" by Carolyn Wright

This painting looks like my husband's childhood home place, where the home was more than the house. It was the path leading to the door, and the surrounding pastures and streams that gave it the full setting.

Celebrate Life

An earlier painting by Susan Rios from one of her first portfolios.

The colors are very intense and clear, much like most of the scenery here in the northwest near the coastal regions.

Outdoor furniture sets like this are no longer costly. You can get whole sets made of plastic resin for as low as $15.00 when they go on sale at JoAnn fabrics. In winter, they are useful indoors and make nice breakfast tables for small kitchens.

Check out Pierside Gallery on the web, for prints of this painting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Grason Videos

I recently received the two Janette Oke videos I ordered, "Love Comes Softly", which I mentioned in a previous article, and the follow up story, "Love's Enduring Promise," from a company called Grason, If you decide to order these films, whether DVD or VHS, I'd highly recommend getting them from this compay.

The study booklet that was included in the package, was very helpful. As I read it, I could just picture a teacher telling some younger women who wished to one day be married, some of the principles they needed to heed. "Instead of looking for the right person, concentrate on being the right person," it teaches. This is opened to discussion, as the single people discover their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of expecting love to "happen" like bombs bursting in air, as a "sign" that they've found their prince, it teaches the Biblical perspective that no matter who you are married to, when real love is applied within marriage.from 1 Corinthians 13), it can grow into something more powerful and solid, though it comes gradually or "softly."

So, what happens when someone marries someone they barely know, just for the survival of both parties? In this story, a man had a daughter who desperately needed a mother, and a woman was left completely alone, with child, when her husband suddenly perished. They married and began to work out their future together.

Careful attention must still be paid to the character of a potential partner. Observatons must be made of the person's character and attitudes. There is no sense marrying someone who lacks respect for his parents, and then hope to change him after. Good sense must be applied in all cases, but it is still possible, in spite of flaws, to apply the principles of love in the relationship.

It might come as a shock to some of you, who one day look forward to marrying, that nowhere in the Bible is there a mandate to be madly in love with someone when you set your eyes on them for marriage. There are strict admonitions, however, to love your mate after you marry them. How in the world can such a thing be done? In our culture, the opposite is portrayed: the madly in-love couple get married, face the hardships of life, the marriage loses its original lustre, and then deteriorates.

What is to be done? How is one to love someone they barely know, or have not had a chance to develop a feeling of love and affection towards? I Corinthians 13, and many other scriptures, have the method by which love is produced in relationships. Love is kind. Can you be kind to someone? Love is patient. Can you show patience? Love treats others as though they are better than themselves. Can you treat someone else better? Love forgives. Can you forgive? Love goes the second mile. Can you do something even if it isn't required of you? Love protects. Can you protect your marriage? These are some of the simple aspects of love. Try looking up the word "love" in your concordance, and see if you can list all the ways that you can show love to your mate. It takes years sometimes to discover that "love" is not a feeling as much as it is a good work. It is an action-word. Many people learn to love someone they are not inclined to love, by putting the love scriptures into practice.

Although this film has been out for a couple of years, I only recently saw it. I was touched by many things in it, and had been thinking on a number of issues related to it for several weeks after I had seen it. It brought to my mind many beliefs and practices of people that I grew up with during pioneer times in the part of the west that they settled. I'd observed that loyalty was a valued commodity, and that commitment was an honor. It was considered deeply shameful, and less than human, most degrading, to abandon someone or to neglect one's duty. People didn't follow the feelings of their heart as much as the training of their thoughts. That's how things got done in hard times.

I had just spoken to someone who was hoping to marry, about the reasons for marriage and the possibilities that marriage created, in one's spiritual life, when the films I had ordered, arrived. In the package, was a booklet that had a work/study text regarding the spiritual aspect of this story, for discussion and teaching. It contained much of the information I had already been talking about, regarding maturity in love, and the meaning of commitment. People change, but commitment does not. I was so excited to see practically everything I'd been trying to teach this woman, in this booklet when the video came. This is more than a nice, entertaining movie. It shows that mature love is an enduring one, and that though circumstances create problems, relationships can last if they are based on these foundational principles of real love and commitment.

Conflicts were presented in this film, as part of life, but with a purpose. They could be used as stepping stones for greatness. The teaching materials ask the students to think of conflicts in their own lives where God has shown his greater purpose for them. I immediately thought of circumstances in my own life as a teenager, when great changes were made beyond my control. My family moved from our childhood homeplace, to a foreign land with strange customs, where I had a great deal of difficulty adjusting. I wondered for years what the purpose was. This study helped me discover that purpose.

I've said before in articles on LAF that there are three stages of love: infant (I want you), adolescent (I need you) and adult (you need me.) I think that this story shows the adult love that is so needed to be developed in everyone today. Even pioneer children had to learn not to whine and cry and give up. The pioneers did have a tough time. Things, though often glamorized by movies, weren't always good. People lost their loved ones on the Oregon Trail, and their most prized belongings they had to abandon at various stages. Others suffered illness , tiredness and separations. Yet, through it all, many of them learned endurance and settled the west.

The real test of "being the right person" is how you handle loss and hardship, not the huge trunk of stuff you can bring with you into the home. Marty, the heroine, lost all her own things in a fire, and had to start over. Imagine what that would be like for you. Today, people would have to go into therapy for years or sue someone, in order to feel they could cope. But in any real tragedy, who a person really is, will shine through. We can be lifters, or we can be leaners.

Like Esther in the Old Testament, many of them felt a certain responsibility to do what they could do. The little study guides that were included in the package, emphasise the purpose of life's challenges, and the importance of developing the character to deal with them. I'd order it again just to get the study guides. You may not agree with every religious aspect that is presented, but it would certainly be a good teaching tool if you wanted to teach young people about the seriousness of relationships at home, future marriages, and parenting.

My great grandmother wrote a story called "Life in the Days of the Pioneers" which is not published (I think my aunt and I have the only copies) in which she described some of the same hardships. Yet when I look at her family photo, I see happy, innocent faces, despite the trials.

What are Family Values

Here is a set of values in the form of old-fashioned balance scales. The principle is to balance the item on one side, with the weights on the other side. This will determine the value of the gold nuggets or other objects. Each weight has a price on it, which is added up.

When this system was used, there was, on occasion, someone who would put what was called a "false value" on the value side of the scale. This meant that the person trying to sell his product, would have to put more and more on the other side of the scale, in order to balance the heavier weights that were put on the other side. Conversely, the other side of the scale could be filled with worthless products made to weigh enough to bring a good price.

Imagine spiritual values as a balance scale, with the Bible on one side, and your life on the other, to see if your practices and beliefs measure up.

We hear the term "family values" tossed about quite a bit these days. You may rent a film that claims to have family values in it, but find it doesn't match your values at all. What one family thinks is a family value, may not be so valued by another family. So let us have a look at what family values are all about. Just like the false values used on the scale to cheat people out of their rightful pay, false values concerning the family, abound. There is the popular "values clarification," designed by change agents, to re-define biblical values of honesty, trust, faith, goodness and obedience.

This is just my own opinion, and my own definition of "family values:" In general, family values are whatever your family values the most and is willing to preserve. Things that offend you, might be violations of principles that you value.

To give an example, my dream has always been to have a wonderful, strong, happy, and cohesive family. There seem to be forces that work over time trying to break that down. Some media or person will tell my children something that is contrary to what my husband and I want for them. They will be told that certain things just "don't matter" and that their parents just need to "get over it."

If you've ever watched "The Quiet Man," you'll see that things that Irish culture at that time valued, were being somewhat challenged by the quiet man who had just entered the society after a prolonged stay in America. He couldn't understand why it was so important to have the blessings and approval of the family before marrying someone. He couldn't understand why the dowry was important. It wasn't his custom, and he didn't value it like they did. Happily, in the end, the values of that family won out, and the couple seemed to be uplifted by honoring those beliefs.

Maybe the mother or wife values clean clothes. Maybe she doesn't like the members of her family to smell bad. Maybe she appreciates their shirts being tucked in, or buttoned. Perhaps the husband wants his tools taken care of and always put back on the hook they belong on.

The married couple might value order in the home, or eating meals at a set time each day. I particularly don't like 4 or 5 different people coming in at different times and trying to prepare meals or want meals served to them. My opinion is that if they missed a meal that was being served at our standard time (SST: Sherman Standard Time), they missed it. They don't get to mess up the kitchen and disturb everyone around them by rustling up some grub or wanting it rustled for them.

Some people want to have a family where anything goes. They view it as an escape from restrictions and rules. They think that casualness and rudeness are okay, since it is "just family."

When one of my children comes into the home, I want their speech to be decent, and I want them to pick up after themselves. I don't want them to trash the house or leave the sink dirty. That, to me, is a family value. I don't like anyone to bring people into the home who do not share my values. It makes me uncomfortable and nervous. Now, if they want to sit and listen to me and comply with some of my values, that might be another matter.

I don't like loud music, rock or classical, in my home. (I love classical music, but not played loudly.) That's one of the things I value. I don't like stern words to exchange between us. My husband doesn't want the grown children to be critical of him or his way of life. We like the yard to look nice, without trash in it or old pieces of equipment from a truck that was being fixed. We want people to respect our property. Those are our values.

Some other things our family values are: dressing respectfully, speaking respectfully, forgiveness for wrongs (not throwing past mistakes in your face), refraining from the worldly practice of "dating." We value homeschooling, and practicing good health habits. We like pleasant looking, well cared-for rooms in our houses, and we like afternoon teas with friends or with people who need encouragement. But, when they come to see us, we want them to respect our family values. We don't want the girls coming in immodest clothing.

I like my family to respect my house and the atmosphere of the home. When we share meals, I don't like too much silly talk. I like to have fun, but I want my family to have a special bond that the rest of the world does not share, so I want some of the things we exchange, to have some value and some depth. I want us to build each other up, by sharing information and insights that will help us overcome various obstacles, and live a life with wings.

I think that most people aren't aware of the techniques that are breaking down these values. Some of the family atmosphere is broken down by the way young people begin to live while in college dorms, or when away from home while rooming with others. They lose the sense of the family structure and the family values when their daily lives are without the parents and siblings. They may also drift from morning to morning without changing clothes, or having defined times for meals. Friends may drop by at any hour, and there is no protocol. Casualness sets in, and life loses its meaning, little by little. They may not spend their time wisely, using much of it just "hanging out" at someone else's house. They may rebel against bathing regularly. Sloppy clothing and sloppy living may become a habit, which they bring back into their own homes. This creates conflict, as they may attempt to break down their own family's stricter code of living, when they return home.

There is also the pattern of authority in the home. The owners of the home should rule over the activities and atmosphere and decor of the house. Yet sometimes, others, in subordinate positions, want to come in and break down that structure. There are things we all like or dislike, and when confronted with them, we weigh them against the standards we have developed over the years, or been taught from our own parents.

I find myself using this set of values often. Someone calls up and wants me to go to something, and automatically I'm weighing it against the list of personal responsiblities I have and the actual value of the activity. While the activity may be harmless, I'm considering things like time that may be lost, or whether or not it has enough spiritual value to warrant my taking part in it. We can use our set of values when shopping (do I need it, will it be in a garage sale a year later, could I save the money, will it be a valuable asset to the family, etc.) and we can use our set of values when considering how to best spend our time (will it put me behind in urgent housework, will it prevent me from attending Bible study later on, will it make me too tired, etc.) and we can use our set of values when it comes to our relationships.

Family values are the ideals and principles you value the most. Our family values may be different than other people's. What are some of your family values?

Monday, September 26, 2005


Here's an easy and beautiful craft that is also useful. It is a towel-cake for a bridal shower, but could be used for a regular gift. It comes from

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Your Family

If you were brought up in a Christian home, your family probably paid special attention to your spiritual growth, by watching for your soul. Mothers and fathers who really care about their children's souls will take the time correct bad attitudes, teach good habits, and guide them into worthwhile goals. Many children grow up and think that they are "self-made," but much of the credit belongs to the parents, and it is wise to honor them by living the values they tirelessly imparted to you.

What grown children are today, can be a reflection and continuation of their parent's ideals, especially if they were given the opportunity to have a Christian education and a rich home life.

If you, as a young adult, know your parents' hopes for you, and know what would make them happy regarding your conduct, then do not deliberately disappoint them. I'm not saying you have to become a doctor if they want you to become a doctor, but if you are kind to them concerning your relationships with others, and your respect toward them, it will be enough.

Family doesn't end just because a child has grown up. Adult children continue to give those who benefited their lives, a good reputation, by living up to the scriptural standards they were taught. Because time goes so fast, it is impossible to teach a child within the span of 20 years or so, what they need to know for life. Therefore, a parent tries to give the a set of values by which to measure their thoughts, decisions, plans and activities.

A list might look something like this:
1. Would this grieve my parents?
2. Would it give the church a good reputation?
3. Would it destroy my testimony about the Lord in my life?
4. Is it good, pure, honest humble or praise-worthy?
5. Will I be ashamed of it years later?
6. Can I use this situation to launch my profession as a Christian?
7. Will it influence others to honor their parents and those that care and protect them?
8. Does it inspire others to live a victorious life?
9. Would I want my son or daughter to do the same thing?

These are just a few, to give you an idea of how to develop a set of values. There are probably dozens more lists like this. If something doesn't quite balance or weigh-up, as good and positive, then it is best to set it aside and walk away from it. When unsure about something, we try to leave it alone until it can prove to be a valuable spiritual asset.

Their consciences should be ultra-sensitive to their parents and family's spiritual investment in them. How should they pay them back for the time and money that was sacrificed? By using these values in the choice of mates, and then reproducing these principles, laws, statutes, testimonies and examples they were taught from the scriptures, in their own children, in the churches they belong to, and in their own lives continually.

People worry about "getting somewhere" in their lives, but the most important thing to get, is the character that only a strong commitment to the laws and principles of the Lord, can produce. So, remember the time and the effort that was spent on you, and re-invest it back into your family and the church. If you haven't got a family yet, helping your parents achieve their goals in their lives (ministry, house, home, other family) is a tremendous blessing.

Inside the mind, there should be an imaginary little set of balance scales where you determine how to live. When you are presented with a problem or confronted for a decision about a belief or an action, your mind is trained to filter the problem through a set of questions or standards. These then help to eliminate anything that you should not do, and spur you on to the things you should.

I once heard that if you just taught a child to have a clear conscience (so that he does not do things which offend, and makes things right when he does), a feeling of personal responsibility (so that he does what needs to be done when he sees the need, and doesn't pass it off to someone else), a learner's attitude (he is willing to listen to wisdom, and seeks truth, and does not stop up his ears), and to be a minister's heart (that is, looking at all things--whether work, play, sympathizing, counselling, serving, etc. as a personal ministry) that they would be equipped for life.

A thorough knowledge of the contents of the Bible will develop the conscience so that it will be pricked when he does wrong, and prompted to do right. If it seems difficult to get into Bible study, just begin with Proverbs. Choose a chapter a day corresponding with the day of the month. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and most people say it is amazing how each chapter applies to their lives that day.

Being from a family is more than just being related to them. It is a bond of values that you share and uphold. It is honoring each other by not breaking that bond. Parents especially know that just because their children are grown, their spiritual responsibilites must still be exercised. They continue to be examples, pray, and be available to give good counsel. They didn't invest all those years in their children only to throw all care to the wind and abandon their offspring and let the world take over. There is still much to be done.

This is the most recent picture of our family, taken this year. Our daughter is married with 3 children, and our two sons, 22 and 30, flank both sides of my husband. We try to pass on good things to our grandchildren, and be best friends with our children. As a family, we bear one another's sorrows, and rejoice heartily with one another's triumphs. We continue to pray for God to be gracious to our sons and send them wives who will help bear the responsibility of having a strong marriage, home, and family.

You can comment to me at

Friday, September 23, 2005


Flax seeds are great for health but are better absorbed in the body if they are taken in a ground or powdered form. They can be sprinkled on a salad, a baked potato, or on cereal, but if one is cutting down on the amount of grains they eat, a tablespoon a day right out of the bag will do. Taken with a favorite tea or with juice, it isn't too bad to chew and swallow. It blends well with a morning fruit smoothie. It helps prevent or heal things like Crohn's Disease and colitis, and sometimes is recommended for fertility, pms and menopause problems.

Eating flax meal instead of certain breads and fats, can help with weight loss.

You probably know that flax meal is related to the flax that is grown for making the cloth called "linen." Some people might even have some of the plants growing outside if they have spilled any bird seed from their bird feeders, as sometimes there are flax seeds in the mix.

My favorite brand is Bob's Red Mill flax meal, and there is a recipe on the back of the bag for muffins. Flax can be substituted for the fat required in biscuits and pastries. Even though it looks like a flour, it actually bakes in the recipe just like oil or butter. I've tried with with scones and it makes them very flakey and light.

Look for a recipe for "Walnut Flax Muffins" on the web.

Flax Seed Cracker Recipe

flax seed
1/4 cup
50 mL
ground flax seed
1/4 cup
375 mL
all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups
2 mL
baking powder
½ tsp
2 mL
½ tsp
20 mL
margarine or butter, softened
4 tsp
125 mL
skim milk
½ cup

In a bowl of a stand-up mixer, add flax seed, ground flax, flour, baking powder, salt and margarine or butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. (You can also mix the dough by hand.) Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes. Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Cut into 6 cm (2 ½ inch) squares. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. Preheat oven to 160° C (325° F). Bake 20 minutes until crisp and golden.
Onion: 15 mL (1 tbsp) powdered onion soup mix.Cheese: 250 mL (1 cup) grated cheddar cheese.Italian: 15 mL (1 tbsp) oregano and 250 mL (1 cup) grated mozzarella cheese.
Yield: 24 crackers
Serving Size: 1 - 6 x 6 cm (2 ½ x 2 ½ inch) cracker

I believe the flax meal is better than the flax oil or the whole flax seeds.

Purple Grape Juice

Purple grape juice is a staple in our family. We love its cleansing benefits early in the morning, as well as the fact that it gives energy in a natural way. Unlike sugar-laden drinks , it doesn't "let you down" after the initial burst of energy. It is better than wine, for a healthy heart. Like cranberry juice, it helps prevent UTI's. In my opinion, this beverage works best for detoxifying, preventing constipation, and cleansing when taken upon rising, then waiting half an hour or an hour before eating anything else.

Make sure it is pure grape juice and not a grape flavored "grape drink" or cocktail, and buy it with no sugar added. This is a great weight-control food. Just don't eat sweets and sugars throughout the day, or pile on a lot of other carbs. Starting the day with grape juice has been a great health insurance program for our family. We haven't had severe or chronic health problems in many years, since we began taking this each day. It helps keep blood pressure normal and has many, many other benefits. A web search brings up a host of other things this wonderful Biblical fruit prevents or produces in the human body.

We have also found that a tall glass of this with ice in it is a great energy-giving drink throughout the day, when you need to have some steady stamina, to prevent your strength from lagging.

Tension Tamer Tea

This herbal tea contains peppermint, cinnamon, ginger, chamomile, lemon grass, licorice, catnip, hops and vitamin B6 and B12. If you aren't allergic to any of these things and need something for stomach pain, bloating, uneasiness, or just a feeling that your body is out of balance, this tea really has some great benefits. Just pour boiling water over a bag in a mug and sip it very slowly while lying back on a stack of cushions, and within a short time those aches and pains disappear. The cinnamon, pepperment and lemon scents are very reassurring when all around seems nervous and unsettled.

Benefits of Brocoli

I first learned to love the taste and health benefits of brocoli from Chinese food. I enjoyed the slightly crunchy green vegetable made up in a sauce with other things slightly cooked, like onions and mushrooms and tiny cobs of corn.

Most people who don't like brocoli have never experienced its true flavor, properly cooked. Unfortunately, people often fed it to their children cooked to a mush, and it loses all its flavor and color, exuding a most unwelcome scent.

A woman told me she included brocoli with most of her meals, and that she'd grown to like it so much she began to actually crave it. I observed that she never had a weight problem. Our family doesn't suffer so much from extra weight, when we regularly eat brocoli.

The best way to choose fresh brocoli is to find the heads where the little florets are tightly woven together, and darkest green, almost blue, in color. The closer together these little beads of green foliage, the freshest and youngest and sweetest the brocoli when cooked. It must be slightly cooked, even if you are eating it raw or in a salad, to release some of the nutrients in it. You can put it in a colander in a pan with a little water, and steam it til it turns bright green, just about one minute, and then remove it, for salads or dips. It will still be crisp, but a lot tastier and sweeter than raw brocoli.

Scroll down for my favorite way to prepare it, in Stir Fry Brocoli.

I've been told that brocoli has more vitamin C and Calcium than oranges and many other foods well known for these nutrients. From this site

I are a few facts and tips about cooking brocoli:

Broccoli is a hardy vegetable of the cabbage family that is high in vitamins A and D. It develops best during cool seasons of the year.

Store the broccoli, unwashed, in loose or perforated plastic bags in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Broccoli left unrefrigerated quickly becomes fibrous and woody. Wet broccoli quickly becomes limp and moldy in the refrigerator—so wash it just before using. Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Old broccoli may look fine, but it develops strong undesirable flavors. It tastes best and is highest in nutritional value when storage time is brief.

A member of the cabbage family and a close relative of cauliflower, broccoli packs more nutrients than any other vegetable. Broccoli contains large amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene which are important antioxidants. In the United States, broccoli has become the most favored cruciferous vegetable (cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, and all forms of cabbage). Researchers have concluded that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables should be included in the diet several times a week. Consuming foods high in antioxidants can reduce the risk of some forms of cancer and heart disease. One half cup cooked broccoli contains the following nutrients as well as many other trace nutrients and phytochemicals.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked fresh broccoli)

Calories 23
Dietary fiber 2.4 grams'
Protein 2.3 grams
Carbohydrates 4.3 mg
Beta carotene
Vitamin C 49 mg
Folic Acid 53.3 nanograms
Calcium 89 mg
Iron 0.9 mg

Wash broccoli under cool running water. Never allow it to sit in water as it will lose water soluble nutrients. Fresh broccoli is delicious raw or cooked. Trim and peel the stalk, it is high in fiber. Cut the florets into uniform pieces for even cooking. Overcooked broccoli develops a strong sulfur odor. Steam broccoli for 3-4 minutes or simmer in about one inch of boiling water for the same amount of time or less. Cooked broccoli should be bright green and tender-crisp. Overcooked broccoli turns dark green and suffers nutrient loss, especially vitamin C.

Herbs and spices that enhance the flavor of broccoli include basil, dill, garlic, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, tarragon and thyme.

Steamed Broccoli with Lemon-Dill Dressing
1 bunch broccoli (about 2 pounds)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 -inch strips
Lemon-Dill Dressing
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon, grated or minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon dried dill weed or 3 teaspoons fresh dill
salt to taste
Wash, trim stems from broccoli and peel, cut into strips the same size as carrots. Cut florets into small uniform pieces and set aside. Prepare carrots and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. (Or prepare the steamer) Add carrots and broccoli stems. Cook for one minute. Add broccoli florets and boil two minutes longer. Do not over cook. Drain, and rinse under cold running water, drain again. Place in a large bowl and gently toss with dressing. Serve immediately.
Makes six servings.

Broccoli Stir-fry
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 cup walnuts, broken or chopped coarsely
1/4 cup chopped green onions with tops (optional)
4 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup red pepper strips
2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
In a large heavy, skillet heat oil until hot. Add walnuts and onions and stir-fry for one minute tossing constantly. Add broccoli and continue to toss for three to four minutes. Add red pepper strips and soy sauce and continue to cook one minute longer. Serve immediately. Makes six servings.

Carla Chapman informs me that bagged brocoli salad is available at the Wal-Mart deli section. We haven't progressed to that civilized point out here in the wild west, yet, but I'm sure looking forward to our Wal-Mart expansion into the food department. Safeway has a wonderful brocoli salad in their deli, also, which is great for spur of the moment entertaining and always delicious. The dressing they use is a combination of Rice Vinegar and Olive oil. Mmmmmm good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Coast House

Here before you is another exquisite painting by Susan Rios, of Pierside Galleries. Good paintings depicting the values of home and family should be displayed throughout the house, especially when children are growing up. They will want to imitate what they see. If they are surrounded by posters of the coarser type, they will use those as their role models, instead of finer, higher ideals found in good art, scenery, and beautiful things like a vase of flowers.

This painting got me to thinking: is my home worth painting a picture of? I'd like to have a few corners that provided enough inspiring beauty that would inspire one to perserve a memory on canvas, or a photograph. Beauty contributes to a healthy mind.

I was invited to a home for sale on the coast. Inside was the most beautiful rooms I've ever seen. This woman had taken a small house and turned it into something so lovely, I didn't want to leave. I was so impressed, I asked her if I could "make friends" with her and get her to come and see me 70 miles inland, and tell me what to do with my house to get that same peaceful look and feeling to my home. I recognized that the things she had displayed or arranged were exactly the things I had in my own home, only I had not thought to put them that way. I've got a box of shells "somewhere," but she had them in a basket on top of her mantel. Her husband was a minister and her house reflected their devotion to God, with verses and sayings plastered on the walls in artistic ways, surrounded by painted roses and vines. I hope I get another chance to visit with this woman before the house is sold and she moves away.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Here is some more from the 1918 Mary Brooks Picken book, "Harmony in Dress".

16. If we could consider our happiness as a concrete thing, rather than an invisible something, distributed over many years, and then definitely see what means we must employ to possess and keep that happiness, it is certain we would set about to retain it. But, unfortunately unless we do obtain this vision, we get off the highway of happiness and travel the road of self-pity because we have lost the route book at the very beginning of the journey.

Impromptu visits with our friends are as necessary to a development of the soul as love itself. But how are we to acquire friends unless they are first attracted to us? A beautiful woman is rarely, if ever, as gracious as her homely sister, for she feels that her beauty gives her the right of way. But her sister knows that kindness and a pleasing consideration for every one she meets will help her to make friends; and if she applies to this an intelligent, persistent desire for attractiveness, she is sure to be loved and sought by children as well as grown-ups.

17. Developing Appreciation of Beauty. - We all know that the eyes are the "windows of the soul," and we know also that they are made to take in as well as to give out. Think of this the next time you see yourself in your mirror, and then ask yourself, "Am I dressed to please?" "Does my personal appearance repel or irritate?" Ask yourself this question, too: "What do the eyes of my family take in when they look at me?" Then answer it truthfully to yourself and start immediately to overcome the faults that an honest answer makes evident to you.

Appreciation of beauty is one of the main roads of civilization, and the best place to encourage and develop this appreciation is in the home, where love is the protector. Wives can help their husbands by keeping their attractiveness; mothers can win the admiration of their children and keep them nearer by being always pretty to see; and, grandmothers, who have in a delightfully dignified way kept the spirit--the incentive for pleasing--are a real inspiration, and their memory will live in the hearts of their loved ones like exquisite music.

(Above picture is a paint-by-number kit called "A Summer Stroll" available here

Comment: We'd be a lot further ahead if the young women and girls could be taught to immitate the beauty of nature, in their choices of colors and styles of clothing, rather than contradict nature. Flowers are just about the best example one can find in nature. Indeed, the dress itself was once compared to a flower, as one can see in many fantastic paintings.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Donna Dewberry

I've been posting some art here for the purpose of emphasizing how much loveliness is needed at home--especially at home. During a serious bout of illness, I was able to watch a public broadcasting station, and saw a great many art shows, cooking shows, craft shows and other interesting documentaries. Donna Dewberry's art became of interest to me because of her technique and also because of her life. She raised 7 children and has, I think 4 grandchildren! She said that after her children were in bed at night she would paint. She developed the "one-stroke" painting, which saved a lot of time shading and shaping. By loading a flat brush with a different color on each side, and sweeping it in a curve, she could make rose petals, bird wings, leaves, and many different things. She made the remark during her demonstration that she was always looking around her house for a surface to paint on--be it a glass jar, a piece of furniture, or a wall.

You can get instructional videos along with an art kit, in just about any craft store, including the craft section at Wal Mart. Her art has a very happy feeling. It has been featured in many of the art magazines that you can buy monthly at the magazine section of stores. You don't have to buy expensive canvas to paint on. You can use rocks, frames, old tea kettles, pans and dishes, lamps, and just about anything. I've found old wood, driftwood, and pieces of lumber that make great canvases.

You can read more about her here

Love Comes Softly

Among the "New Releases" selections at the video rental store, is a Janette Oake film called "Love Comes Softly." There was also a follow-up film, or "Part 2" which I did not rent. If you want to get away from the sour-looking women's fashions of the day, lie back and enjoy this film.If you don't want to rent it, you can purchase it in various places on the web, and here

To read about the quality of this film and the standards that it held to, go here: Winner of a Camie Award

Some might say it is a bit too sad (or sappy) (which I personally could have done without, but I'm often overly-practical and probably needed to shed a few pent-up tears!)but it is nice and clean and portrays a sincere man who actually prays and believes God will answer his prayers. Now, to those of you who think his sitting out on a rock in the wilderness overlooking a view and talking to God is a bit of a stretch, I'm glad I'm old enough to remember old men doing that! Yes! Some of them who took God seriously (mind you, there were some bad guys in the mix, in those days, too) used to hide out somewhere when things got tough, and cry out to God about their troubles). There is tragedy involved, but I think we have forgotten that the Pioneers endured a lot of troubles and sorrow and had to make the best of things. (In those days they couldn't sue anyone for wrongful loss ;-)

But, back to the clothing. Although it wasn't glamorous, (being in the untamed west of the late 1800's) it was feminine and it gave the women dignity. The cotton calico clothes looked like they could easily pass for style today. If anyone likes to sew, and wants a career, the costume business seems to be booming, as many these clothes are used in the movies of this type. Even at her poorest, in a rainstorm, sitting a muck of mud, with wet hair and tears streaking her face, the lady of the story is dignified, and the clothing , though shabby, makes the difference . If you want to see some photographs from the film, go here for a page of various shots.

Letters, Letters!

"White Radiant Roses" (a painting) by Brian Davis, available to purchase at Can you imagine an artist getting enthused about painting a rose (whether fat or thin) that has no form or beauty, or that is uncared for and turned brown?

Re: this comment: My husband was commenting on the looks of the elderly women in a farmer's market we visited today. They seemed to have no idea what their rear ends looked like with their pull-up pants and big shorts that looked like giant diapers.

You hit the nail on the head, Lydia. I have been wondering how to describe this ugly, ugly “style” and this is it. Combine this diaper-look with the nearly shaved hair of many older women and your word “creepy” is perfect. I cannot fathom why anyone would want to present themselves this way, even in the privacy of their own home, let alone in public. I’m sure you have been watching scenes from Katrina victims. I kept hoping I would see some lady fleeing the hurricane in clothes which looked presentable. Instead, the images I was presented were almost uniformly an ugly tee-shirt combined with these big shorts. Can you imagine having only those clothes on your back and nothing else? When will the women of our country wake up? No wonder marriages are falling apart.


Comment: What does the phrase "die with dignity" mean to us? We have let the modernists liberal define this for us, making it completely contrary to real dignity. I've heard people say "I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit." As a people, we used to be concerned with the impression and the influence we left others at our passing. I'm not suggesting we get all dressed up for a hurricane, but if those clothes which provide dignity and coverings are the only thing in our closets and the only thing available to us, we won't be caught in a storm with the big shorts, saggy tee shirts and flip-flops. Tragedies always bring scenes of ripped and dirty clothing, but I think it is very telling about our morals and values when we allow our women to trapse about in nothing but garments that would have been underwear a hundred years ago. What a sight we are presenting to the overseas telly-viewers. I'm so embarrassed that these scenes are perceived by Europeans who look up to our country and admire us, as representative of us!

People will buy what is available to them on the rack at the stores. Pray the manufacturers will quit putting this stuff on the racks, and that the stores will refuse to stock this junk. I stepped into a shop the other day that would have none of it. It was called "Maggie Rhoads" in Eugene, Oregon, and supplied April Cornell brand clothing, among other beautiful things.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Image Counselling

Can you believe this is a painting? It is called "Three Pink Dahlias" by Brian Davis, available at Pierside Galleries on the web.

There are some good things on the web, including before and after pictures, of older women. One such is here If I find any of clothing, I'll post them.

More Readers Respond

"Rose" by Susan Rios. Check out Pierside Galleries online for paintings by her, and other good artists.

Dear Lydia,I believe you have struck a nerve with your recent blog postings =regarding feminine dress, especially for "older" ladies (such as =myself!) =20

If some enterprising young people wanted to start a modest clothing =business that offered nice dresses, coats and aprons they would =certainly have my business, as long as there was something in my size.I laughed to see you describing the "nursing home look" that has become =de rigeur for so many elderly women. Since I've worked in long term =care for the last 18 years or so I knew exactly the look you were =targeting.

As a matter of fact, I can remember early in my nursing =career when it was a very common sight to see an elderly nursing home =resident still with her lovely long hair which we nurses would carefully =comb out each morning and help her to style in the manner she preferred. = Now all we see are those unflattering short, permed and frizzy =hair-dos, which some of us privately refer to as "cotton-tops". This =style is far more trouble to tend to than long hair as it needs constant =re-perming and clipping off of damaged ends. How this ever became =popular is beyond my comprehension!We must continue to do all we can to inspire others to transform this =alarming trend of ugliness!

I eagerly await your next posting on LAF.God Bless,Susan TynerBoise, Idaho

Comment: this style is nothing more than a popular youth style from the 50's and 60's, that soured when the people promoting it got old. While just about anything looks cute and trendy on a perfect, youthful body and face, it never looks as good on an aging woman. There are a couple of classic styles that look good all the time on any woman. The Victorians seem to understand the effect of clothing on age, and the younger women were dressed very similarly to the older ones. Look at photographs and notice there were neither youth clothes nor elderly clothes--just the classic white, pin-tucked blouse that flattered the neck and face, and the flowing skirts that were suitable from home to market, and were appropriate everywhere.

My husband was commenting on the looks of the elderly women in a farmer's market we visited today. They seemed to have no idea what their rear ends looked like with their pull-up pants and big shorts that looked like giant diapers.

The tops were usually ugly horizontal stripes in different shades or brown or gray, that reminded one of fallow ground with no color. Their short hair that was stickery and in clumps only made their wrinkled faces look harsher. The men look fairly normal, but the women----I just can't talk about it any more right now. It breaks my heart. Young girls grow up yearning for grandmothers that are the ultimate in femininity and grace, and these little girls look up to bare, wrinkled knees, dimpled skin, and thighs laced with blue veins. What a view to inspire the next generation.

How in the world do we expect a multi-generational relationship to occur with the younger generation being mentored by the older, if the older ones look so creepy that the younger ones avoid getting near them. The same could be said of the younger ones, who create a barrier by the way they dress, too. I have no idea what is to be done.

I suppose, in a small way, we ought to be the best example possible. Ask ourselves, "If everyone was as careful about they way they dress as I am, what would the women today look like?" In the religious world, we realize that we have a responsibility to draw others to our message of Christ and Biblical principles.

If we are careless and unattractive in our clothing, how can someone think that we will care about their souls? We may be creating a barrier there. We need to reflect the beauty of the Creation by our clothing.

This is the theme of the "Garments of Praise" video that we made and submitted to a film contest. We hope it will be available to everyone soon, and that it will be a great source of inspiriation. For sure, the feminists will make hearty fun of it, but that is to be expected of anything that is sweet and innocent or lovely.

I can't imagine any of these artists painting romantic pictures of these styles. It is still possible to dress femininely, though, as these paintings by Susan Rios are of fairly recent styles.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Readers Write

Good Morning Lydia,

I just finished reading your recent post on your blog. They were excellent! It would be wonderful to be able to do such things decorate the way one wants and have guests.

I love the artwork which you include in your posts. They are lovely. That was where my idea came from to include a picture on my e-mails. It make them look like stationary.

You mention decorating and how expensive it is to hire a decorator. I watch a show on Home and Garden TV called Design on a Dime. It is a show with a group of three who com into someone’s home and does low cost decoration for a room. They do it all for under $2000.00. They make a lot of the things theirselves and they do a wonderful job.

Well, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your posts. Keep them coming.


More Readers

I just wanted to write to you about your blog.
I think it's just....well, in a way, it's amazing. I love the sections about dress. I too struggle with dressing modestly, and would LOVE to have some NICE, MODEST clothes.
I am 17, and so all around me, the girls my age dress as if sex is the only thing that matters, and it's really sad. In our "American" clothes, we have become naked. Naked. Do we want to be naked???? I sure don't!
So, thank you for your blog, and keep up the great blogging!

Comment: Another painting by Susan Rios. It would be nice if young ladies would show some interest in fabrics, styles and colors, instead of going after the clothes that emphasize their sexuality. We can influence them greatly by the way we ourselves dress. Older women need to avoid what I call "The Nursing Home Look" and wear things that inspire the younger women. I have written an article that is supposed to be posted on LAF, called "The Trunk Showing" to give people ideas about how we can promote lovely dressing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Reader's Respond

Dear Lydia,
Thankyou for the time you spend to encourage other women. Your posts and articles in LAF have encouraged me and God has used them to give me a better vision of my mission at home. I would sincerly have liked to have a built in role model to demonstrate the activities and more importantly the heart attitudes of a keeper at home. I have not found a kindred spirit "in the flesh" to share and discuss with. My husband is understanding but his perspective is different:-)

The one comment that I do wonder about is "most young women choosing to stay home." I wish this were the case in my city but most young women are out pursuing their "dreams" or just getting by. Even in the churches where I live, there is no move to teach young girls to be at home. If this is the case where you live, then praise God, but this is one area where I have yet to see fruit. Here in Alberta, Canada, feminism is marching steadily along with few opponents.

Once again, thankyou for the time you spend. It is wonderful to log on and get rid of that Elijah feeling of being the only one. There are times when I wonder if the fight is worth it, and surely it wouldn't matter if I conformed to the pattern of this world in my dress, and activities around home. But my little girls need a mommy who is strong, or preferably, made strong by God. Besides, it's wonderful to hear my 4 year old comment "oh Mommy you look so pretty" when I've donned a cheerful dress. Ahhh, the babes don't lie.

V. J.

Comment: As people begin to see the loss of family life, in exchange for the pursuit of personal success and material goals, I think more women are making the commitment to be at home most of the time. That doesn't mean that they don't have occasional non-corporate jobs to make a little extra money, but that their main goal is the care of the family and the home. What is really sad, is to see that now-elderly generation of women, who are retired. They now have more leisure time, after years of working, but they have no co-hesive family to enjoy it with. Their children were put in the care of others while they worked, and now, as Cynthia said in "Wives and Daughters," 'If Mama had wanted me to love her, she shouldn't have sent me way to school at four years old!"

We Are Home--Now What?

Now that most young women are deciding to stay home, rather than pursue college, career, and the rat-race of the workplace, let us not leave them there, wondering what to do. Do we paint a glorious picture for them of the life at home, and leave them there to fend for themselves?

We might not realize that it is not as it was before: women learned from their own mothers and grandmothers at home, how to conduct their daily lives and it was natural to them. Now, we have a fresh batch of homemakers who have never seen a mother at home. Are we leaving them home to face possible loneliness and anxiety, which might cause them to leave their homes?

Here is something you can do: Plan a buffet style breakfast in your home and invite some young women. Some of them may be at home, and others may be considering it. Have a pleasant meal, and glow with the sunshine of enthusiasm, contentment and happiness, while you talk to them about how to function throughout a day at home.

This might work, in the form of a "Ladies Bible Study" where one inspirational verse and some prayer requests can be used to launch the lesson to motivate them in their home.

Home is a little different than the working world, because the homemaker is virtually on her own, without the feeling of teamwork, the pressures of time, and the cash rewards up front. However, you can get some good hints from the working world, that will help even more effectively at home:

1. Get up, and dress up, for the day.

Before you even come out into your working world (your home), make sure you are dressed and have your hair done, and the various skin-care you use, is applied. It makes you feel really put-together. Contrast this to the days you stumble out of bed and slog sleepy-eyed into the kitchen and start working. Somehow, the day never seems to become orderly and the accomplishments are not as visible, when you don't prepare for your responsibility of guiding, guarding, and caring for the family and house. Your appearance is your preparation.

Get yourself the best possible products that you need for your hair, your clothes, your shoes, and so forth. Don't skimp on these things. It is more motivating if you treat yourself to the things that help your day go better. Just because you are home, doesn't mean you get lax about your clothing and your standard of appearance. If you take care of your appearance first, you will feel dignified and approach the role in a professional way.

2. Each morning, whether the task is great or minute, develop a routine of washing the dishes, cleaning off the table and cabinet top, and making the bed.

Even though these rooms might not be too messy, doing these small things are little ways to get your body moving, and going on to greater tasks.

3. In an attractive little book, make a list of things to do for the day, which include correspondence (cards, letters, ordering, other types of mail), calls or phone calls to make, dishes, laundry, beds, and care of floors, and give yourself a sticker or check them off as the jobs are completed.

If you will take your "students" to the living room and let them sit in comfortable seats, you can accept questions about the rigours of home life, and counsel accordingly. When I was a new wife, I often longed for the older women at church to have a breakfast party or breakfast tea for the younger women, to help them get started on their day with joy and purpose. Most women at the time were fiercely independent and had their own minds made up about how things should be done, so the older women didn't feel they were needed. Now, after all this time, a new crop of young homemakers need this encouragement more than ever. They are longing for it and looking for it. If you are able, get a companion (your daughter, another woman) and plan a simple seminar for the younger homemakers.

Sometimes florists offer free flowers, if you promise to give them away. You could collect some freebies and present a perk-pack for these women. Check out the dollar store for candles, notebooks, and good homemaking supplies. Fill up gift bags with them and a personal note to each woman.

As your group grows, "franchise" it to other women you have confidence in, to continue the weekly or monthly devotionals and encouragement sessions.

Emilie Barnes suggests in her book, "The Spirit of Loveliness" that you prepare a gift basket, with each item representing something spirital: candles, notecards,a Bible, a book, a pictures, etc.


We Are Home; Now What?

Now that most young women are deciding to stay home, rather than pursue college, career, and the rat-race of the workplace, let us not leave them there, wondering what to do. Do we paint a glorious picture for them of the life at home, and leave them there to fend for themselves? We might not realize that it is not as it was before: women learned from their own mothers and grandmothers at home, how to conduct their daily lives. It was natural to them. Now, we have a fresh batch of homemakers who have never seen a mother at home. The role can be very bewildering. Are we leaving them home to face possible loneliness and anxiety, which might cause them to leave their homes?

Here is something you can do: Plan a buffet style breakfast in your home and invite some young women. Some of them may be at home, and others may be considering it. Have a pleasant meal, and glow with the sunshine of enthusiasm, contentment and happiness, while you talk to them about how to function throughout a day at home.

This might work, in the form of a "Ladies Bible Study" where one inspirational verse can be used to launch the lesson to motivate them in their home.

Home is a little different than the working world, because the homemaker is virtually on her own, without the feeling of teamwork, the pressures of time, and the cash rewards up front. However, you can get some good hints from the working world, that will help even more effectively at home:

1. Get up, and dress up, for the day. Before you even come out into your working world (your home), make sure you are dressed and have your hair done, and the various skin-care you use, is applied. It makes you feel really put-together. Contrast this to the days you stumble out of bed and slog sleepy-eyed into the kitchen and start working.

Somehow, the day never seems to become orderly and the accomplishments are not as visible, when you don't prepare for your responsibility of guiding, guarding, and caring for the family and house. Your appearance is your preparation. Get yourself the best possible products that you need for your hair, your clothes, your shoes, and so forth. Don't skimp on these things. It is more motivating if you treat yourself to the things that help your day go better. Just because you are home, doesn't mean you get lax about your clothing and your standard of appearance. If you take care of your appearance first, you will feel dignified and approach the role in a professional way.

Each morning, whether the task is great or minute, develop a routine of washing the dishes, cleaning off the table and cabinet top, and making the bed. Even though these rooms might not be too messy, doing these small things are little ways to get your body moving, and going on to greater tasks.

In an attractive little book, make a list of things to do for the day, which include correspondence (cards, letters, ordering, other types of mail), calls or phone calls to make, dishes, laundry, beds, and care of floors, and give yourself a sticker or check them off as the jobs are completed.

If you will take your "students" to the living room and let them sit in comfortable seats, you can accept questions about the rigours of home life, and counsel accordingly. When I was a new wife, I often longed for the older women at church to have a breakfast party or breakfast tea for the younger women, to help them get started on their day with joy and purpose. Most women at the time were fiercely independent and had their own minds made up about how things should be done, so the older women didn't feel they were needed. Now, after all this time, a new crop of young homemakers need this encouragement more than ever. They are longing for it and looking for it. If you are able, get a companion (your daughter, another woman) and plan a simple seminar for the younger homemakers.


Readers Write

DearLydia,Thank you so much for the articles that you have posted over the last several days. I have enjoyed reading them and thinking about how I can apply the things you talk about in my own life. Some of the business ideas you have are neat.

I hope someone takes up a few of those - especially designing feminine, comfortable clothing!Thank you also for introducing me to the Susan Rios paintings! I *love* them!Please keep up the good work.

Your blog and articles on LAF have been among the few places where I have learned to value beauty in every day life, to approach life with a positive attitude (still working on that!), and to love home.Sincerely,Helen

And, as the path of duty is made plain,
May grace be given that I may walk therein;
Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,
With backward glances and reluctant tread,
Making a merit of his coward dread--
But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown,
Walking as one to pleasant service led;
Doing God's will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine,
But in his strength alone!
~John Greenleaf Whittier

Comment: Helen, Susan Rios art shows a serious, yet sweet devotion to the home, in my opinion. I think we would all be blessed by purchasing them and hanging them to remind us of the gift of home and family. Young people ought to remove the posters from their walls and replace them with real art like this.These can be ordered from Pierside Gallery and other places on the web, inluding This one is called "Garden Window." It shows a sentimental and somewhat light-hearted love of God's daily blessings.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Reader Comments

(Note: the comment mechanism is disabled, due to those who try to ruin the blog. If you'll write to me, I'll post your comments myself.)


A friend and I read your blog and discuss the thoughts and articles shared there. I love your thoughts on the home. Many LAF articles I skip because I don't care to read distressing news items but I love your blog and find your comments very encouraging and....inspiring. went clothes shopping yesterday with a friend, looking for skirts in particular. I found two at ShopKo of all places. At other stores there were no skirts or dresses to be found, unless you were looking for business suit attire.There is a definite need! I don't know how to sew and don't have the energy to devote to learning how at this season of my life.How I wish someone would come along and fill in this gap and make clothing that is not only attractive and practical, but affordable as well. >Thanks for taking the time to write a blog.
a reader in Ca. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dressing at Home

Whereas in the past, there may have been more social rules and judgements regarding clothing a woman wore, I think today that it is pretty much up to each woman as to the mode of dress that suits her the best at home. Just about anything would be better than the sweatpants, tee shirts, jeans and flip-flops that pass for today's homemaker image. If there is a budding designer in our midst who is enterprising enough to come up with something beautiful and practical to fill this gap, it would be so appreciated.

In the meantime, looking at the paintings and photographs of the past, might give us a clue as to what women enjoyed wearing in their daily lives. Today's clothing is so uncomfortable and impractical and ugly, we can hardly feel superior to our Victorian forebearers for their taste and customs in clothing, can we? They seemed to do so much more, without machinery, in these gowns and wraps, than we do, with all our conveniences. Yet, I read not one word of complaint about the clothing, like I do today. I hear women in stores complaining about the styles and the choices, and in the weekly ladies Bible class and at tea parties, I get an earful about the travesty of fashion today.

Women are resorting to garage sales and second-hand shops to get their clothing. Someone ought to do something. A woman's clothing should be washable and the threads closely woven enough that it won't catch on things, even rough fingernails. It should be impervious to the stains and the regular wear and tear of the home.

As for how it should look, why do you think women watch the Jane Austen movies or the Anne of Green Gables series over and over, oohing and aahing over the clothing. It is because the cloth is beautiful and the styles are romantic. Today, women have to wait til a prom or a wedding in order to dress up and feel feminine, for daily clothes lack feminine inspiration. Scenes depicting women running and kneeling, working, taking care of the home and farm, entertaining guests, visiting, attending concerts, etc. indicate that they moved just fine in these types of clothing. They seemed even more active than we are today, with many things taking place out of doors in winter as much as summer.

Maybe God will raise up a group of designers for today's woman who desperately wants to wear something pretty at home, so we won't have to continue being held hostage to the junk we see in the stores. I wonder, if men's clothing was given the same radical changes as women's clothing, year after year, if they would put up with it. When a man buys a button-down shirt, he can wear it for years and years. If he goes back to a store to get a new one, he can often find one similar. In the case of women's clothing, one year there will be long skirts, and the next, they disappear from the market. Sewing seems to be the only answer. You have control over the design, color and modesty, when you sew.

I never read any historical account of women complaining that they wanted a change in fashion, so who decided that good clothing would no longer be available to the masses? Who took it upon themselves to change the look of fashion in America, making us all look like freaks in clothing too small, too tight and too short? I wonder if there is a conceit amongst certain designers, who try to prevent us from going back to the early 1900's ( or worse yet, the Victorian era) to develop our tastes in clothing.

What most of us need are some basic garments that we can add a jacket or cardigan to, according to the occasion. A person should not have to change all day long into different items for different tasks. This is where the over-the-head, long apron comes into play. It can be removed if one needs to sit down to dinner with company, or go out. One could even design skirts intended to go over a dress, using the top part of the dress as a blouse, if one were inclined. There is so much to be done in the area of fashion, and so few people to do it, that it seems a really wise person would capitalize on this problem! Already there are some pattern makers and seamstresses providing alternate, beautiful fashions for today's discerning woman: Wives and and We have sewn some of these patterns and enjoyed wearing them very much!

The "Linen Closet" table linens, tea linens, and a lovely site of pastel colors featuring tea items and recipes. beautiful bedding, sheets, and more. accompanied by soothing music--a must-see! care of linens

Friday, September 09, 2005

Visible Success Part 4

I read about a woman who lived alone back in the early 1900's. Her relatives never thought she had done anything remarkable with her life, but after she passed away, they discovered in her house, stashed in the spaces between the walls, hundreds of beautiful oil paintings. They did not know that she was an artist. She painted for her own pleasure, and apparently did not want anyone to know about it. I thought this was remarkable, since some of our lack of motivation to do beautiful things in life, is due to the fact that we think we have to have approval, encouragement, and guaranteed success. We are so conditioned to having others agree or approve of our lives, that we often fail to do anything at all.

This is another painting by Susan Rios, called "Spring Tea" which you can purchase as a print at I like her attention to detail in the rooms in which people really live. I think if young girls gazed upon paintings like this, they would grow up holding the home in high esteem, and want to be keepers of, guardians of, and guides of the home.

Color and light are so important if you are spending most of the day at home. Dark, dreary rooms can really cause depression. You should have at least one room in the house you can sit in that has the right colors for you. You can tell what colors , objects, and styles help improve your mood, by the way you feel when around them. If they make you smile and if they make your heart sing, you know they are for you. The same can be said of other personal things like clothing, table settings, views, music and so forth.

Visible Success Part 3

"The Sitting Room" by Susan Rios from Pierside Gallery online, is a great painting which in my opinion depicts the love of the home. Women who love their families and their homes, pay attention to details, such as the way a vase is placed on table, the choice of comfy cushions for one's back, and the co-ordinating colors.

There are many routine things that never seem to be completed, or long-term goals that seem impossible to attain, and that can be very discouraging. One habit that is good to have, is to give yourself little "success perks" throughout the day, so that, even if the major jobs are not finished, you've enjoyed small successes that will keep you from feeling defeated.

At the arrival of each paycheck of the family income, I would strongly suggest putting aside an amount for hothouse flowers for the month. I've heard of clubs you can belong to, whereby you pay so much a year to have the bouquet of the month delivered to the home. Such a living treat can bring great joy to the homemaker. If you don't like flowers, use the money for some other weekly enjoyment. Don't live in depression. Give yourself a present every day.

With so many women staying home these days, one of the most needed services, in my opinion, is interior decorating and organizing. There are now "organizers" that you can hire, to come and help you function in your home more efficiently. It would be nice if there were also people who would come once a month and help arrange and decorate or improve one area of your house, be it a pantry, the refrigerator, the desk, one wall, the coffee table, or anything else.

There are book clubs that base their success on their many free offers. If you join, you get 3 free art and craft books, provided you agree to buy 2 more, throughout the year, or something like that. Wouldn't it be great if someone would invent a nation-wide business of interior-decorating, with the same scheme: you get 2 or three free perks, provided you agree to pay for 3 more decorating, cleaning, or organizing jobs throughout the year, at an affordable price. It seems that the only people who can have re-decorating or decorating done for their homes, are the very rich. While keeping the prices within reason for the average homemaker, this could possibly be a profitable business for an enterprising person.

In England, there is a company that people can subscribe to, which sends out little gifts and helpful things to the homemaker, each week. I think this is a wonderful idea, but there is nothing wrong with rewarding oneself with something to enhance the home.

Visible Success Part 2

This picture is called "Sharing the Gift" by Susan Rios, and goes well with the theme of making room for wholesome, instant pleasures in daily life. Purchase this on the web at

There are some things that we can do daily to give ourselves and our families some instant success and feel like we are truly living life, rather than just hoping for something interesting or dramatic to happen "someday."

I believe that God daily provides simple pleasures for us to take that we, in our earnest quest to find something "important" overlook.

The easiest and most obvious place to begin to improve life, is in the dwelling place. Three simple things might help:

Clean it, decorate it, and share it. People love seeing how someone else has "done" their home. Home interior videos are sought after, for personal inspiration, and home interior sites are some of the most visited places on the web. You've heard of house tours. You can film "before" and "after" segments, and use them for future teaching. Young girls in high schools long for beauty and inspiration in their lives. You never know how your influence might spread and what cheer you may put in the heart of someone who needs it.

Simple, inexpensive ways to get the instant lift you need when you think you need something in your life at home are:

Light a scented several hothouse flowers and put them in a vase...drink from a pretty glass or cup...go to the dollar store and get a new frame for a photograph...paint one wall each day... clean up your yard...decorate the front porch and front a special laundry detergent...mop the kitchen floor with a berry-scented detergent...dress up even if you aren't going anywhere...write a poem...sing all the verses of a hymn...write a story of the fantastic day you would have liked to have...sketch a picture of something in your a good movie and invite someone over to watch it with you...send a "thinking of you" card or a note of appreciation to someone.

It isn't wise to go for long periods without success. To much disappointment can really dull the soul, so be sure to add instant success moments to your life. It reinforces the fact that life is good and beautiful and joyful, and worth living. As the writer, Thoreau said, "Do not despair of life. You have no doubt, force enough to covercome your obstacles. Think of the fox, prowling through wood...for something to satisfy his hunger. Notwithstanding cold and hounds and traps, his race survives. I do not believe any of them every committed sucicide."

In talking to a very depressed girl recently, who suggested it might be better to die than face the days ahead which offerred nothing better than dullness, I suggested that if someone should attempt to choke her, she probably would do everything in her power to resist! We don't have to endure daily failure. We can treat ourselves much better than we do. There are any number of things that can help relieve daily routine and give us the meaning in life that we are supposed to have.

One woman I met, years ago, sent an invitation to an "open house" at her own home. It was such a success, that the next year, others asked if they could have an invitation. She then began having one each year, much to the delight of those in her sphere.

See part 3

Visible Success (Part 1)

The painting here is from the site which sells Susan Rios paintings. The story that goes with it suggests that the house is ready for guests that will be arriving soon. While she is waiting, she gives the entry to the home a last minute touch. Visit for more of these wonderful paintings of homelife, which can be purchased online.

Most people live with lifetime plans and dreams always lurking in their heads. To some, it becomes pure frustration and torture when, year after year, their hopes and plans meet with failure. Sometimes, not only do our life purposes and desires fail to be fulfilled, but while we are hard at work to realize those dreams, other areas in our lives seem to deteriorate or get bleaker.

A person can experience some instant fulfillment of something in their life, through the often overlooked avenue of the dwelling place.

Most people have a place to live, and even those who do not own their own homes, have a place they call home, in which they are free to behave and live as they please. Our problem is, that sometimes we think that fulfillment and accomplishment has to happen somewhere else. We come home only when we don't have something "better" to do. What a pity, it is not the opposite--that home is the place we can think better, work better, and be nicer people.

This wonderful place, be it humble or grand, can be the source of great success right now. It is a place where you can be your own boss. It is a place where you can store your stuff. It is a place where you can think and dream and create without dictation.

The house is the easiest thing to re-create. You can always

Clean up the clutter,

Wash things, dust things, wipe the picture frames, and make things sparkle,

rearrange something,

set the table with the best you have, (whether a meal is being served or not)

bake something, and

invite someone over to eat it.

Goals like losing weight, rennovating, living in the house in the country you dream of, building a career out of your hobbies, or becoming a mentor can take loads of work, waiting time, patience, and persistance, but there are a lot of things that take place in the home, which can give you instant waiting.

See Part 2

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Distinctive Dress

From Mary Brooks Picken's book, written in 1918:

"In giving instructions to classes of young women interested in knowing dress in its highest sense, I have frequently found it helpful to suggest hat they dress up their friends, and you may do the same with profit. Take some member of your own family for instance, your mother, and design for her a dress that expresses her motherliness--her type. Then, choose a color that will help make her hair appear the softest and her eyes the kindliest.

Try this. You will find it easy to think of the color and plan the fabric, for, usually, the material most suitable for one's mother has a smooth surface, is soft in texture, and is subdued in color.

When you begin to consider her figure, you may find that the bust and hips are large in proportion to the height, that the hips are large in proportion to the bust, or that the back length is long in proportion to the front length. Then you have a problem of lines.

For many years, mothers who have acquired a little more flesh than is becoming have found it difficult to procure appropriate clothes.

Manufacturers of stout women's apparel have frequently said: "Camouflage the stout woman"; that is, get materials that have large figures and indistinct colorings in patches so that the silhouette of the body will not be in evidence and that the optic nerve will not be able to conceive how large the figure actually is.

But few would like to camouflage their mothers as regards dress. They would rather have a dress simple in color and design and plan it to hang from the shoulder--a dress that has a soft belt coming around in a way that will give length to the waist line and not tell every one precisely within one-fourth inch where the waist line begins and where it ends.

One girl who tired this method fo learning lines designed some dresses for her mother, who weighed nearly one hundred and eighty pounds and was only five feet three inches in height.

One of the most successful dresses that she made was of silk, a maroon-and-taupe stripe. The stripes were irregular, and there were two maroon stripes to every one of taupe. The dress was made in Russian-blouse effect, with a simple straight skirt, the Russian blouse coming almost to the knees. A long collar of flesh-color crepe was used for the front, coming down in a V. The sleeves were close-fitting, with a little plain cuff of crepe. The waist line was finished with a belt, the stripes encircling the waist, a maroon stripe in the center and a taupe one on each side. The belt, which was narrow, crossed in the back and looped at the left side front. It went around the figure twice--at the normal waist line and below it--and thus gave length to the waist line. Its crossing in the back took away the severe plainnes of the back, and yet did not interefere with the length.

The plain, straight sleeves did not emphasize the heaviness in the arm, and the crepe collar gave just enough coloring on the face. The line of the collar gave a long neck line, which helped avoid emphasizing the roundness of the face.

When this woman sat down in this costume, it was graceful and comfortable. The lower skirt fell gracefully down to her ankles, making it much more pleasing than if she had had a tight skirt that would draw up around her figure. This girl--this designer--knew that a dress should be as beautiful when the wearer is sitting as when she is standing.

So becoming was this dress for the mother that the daughter made some house dresses of chambray, gray-and-white stripe for one and blue-and-white for another. But she clung almost slavishly to this one design of dress. She gave as her reason, "I know it is best."

She did not cling to stripes, however, because I once saw her mother wearing a very dark-blue silk that was just as pretty as the stripes, but the lines of the dress were almost identical with the one I had seen made of the striped material."

Comment: If anyone will take the trouble to research the daily costume of Queen Victoria, they will observe that, although she was quite stout, she never resorted to sloppy clothing equivilant to the sweatpants, tee shirts, and flip-flops that many overweight women use as their uniform today. It is possible to dress well, no matter what your size. We need not add to society's woes by becoming lazy in our choice of clothing.

I recently learned from a friend, the story behind the "trains" that you see attached to the dresses in many of the paintings of women in previous centuries. The train is now usually only seen on wedding dresses. It was originally designed for the women in the nursing profession, so that they could bend over the beds of the patients, and do their various tasks, with modesty. That way, their legs would not be exposed when they leaned over. Interesting.

Clothing Distinction

From "Secrets of Distinctive Dress", written by Mary Brooks Picken in 1918

"There is a wealth of beauty in fabrics and they offer an excellent opportunity to express individuality and good taste in dres for the house, where so many people seem to think "it does not matter what you wear, so long as you are home." The simplest materials, such as the inexpensive cottons--voile, crepe, chintz, and zephyr gingham--lend themselves delightfully to home dresses.

I know a woman whose first-floor rooms are very artistically furnished in blue and gray, whose boudoir is in rose and ivory, and whose sewing room--"her workshop" she calls it--is in softest gray. This woman, with this attractive, agreeable home, finds it necessary to do a great deal of the work of keeping it up herself.

In the morning, she will come down with a little dress of unbleached, unstarched, smoothly ironed muslin. It may have a little cross-stitching of blue or a little soft lace collar, but it is so simple that it does not interfere with the surroundings, and no matter whether she is in the living room, in the dining room, or in the kitchen, she makes a pleasing picture.

In the afternoon, she may bein a little rose-colored or cream dress of soft voile, or it may be white, or it may be a light pink; but it is of a color sufficiently indefinite and of fabric soft enough not to conflict with the tints and shades and soft drapery effects in her rooms.

Comments: Homemakers today lead such full, busy lives, they barely have time to stop and think about what they are wearing throughout the day. To make things easier, I have an idea of wearing a basic and plain muslin A-line dress, or skirt-blouse combination-- or any non-iron, loosely flowing garment that does not cling or pinch, making movement easier in the myriad of tasks that must be done. At home, cover it in a colorful jumper-style apron that reflects your own likes and tastes. When going out in public, remove the apron and add a cardigan jacket that makes it look a little more formal or business-like. Later at home, when receiving visitors or relaxing in the evening, pull over a soft sweater, or exchange the skirt for one that is less practical and maybe more silky.