Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Everyday Things Made Beautiful

Here is another slide show, which will slowly appear (10 seconds for each picture) to enable you to copy the demonstration.

Also, for inspiration go look at these cottages


check out the other featured months on her site, as well!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Order in the House

How can the home maker keep an atmosphere of love and joy in the home so that when the husband comes home he can truly escape the mad dash of the world? One way to create that sense of relaxation is to put things in order.
The simple act of stacking things in order can put the mind at ease and make the home a peaceful place for the rest of the family.
When things are in order, working in that atmosphere can put you and others in the mood to create. Women are naturally creative, if given the opportunity, but it is difficult to think creatively in a place of clutter, noise and commotion.
Children function better at home when everything has a place and everything has a purpose. The painting of the old-fashioned kitchen says much more. It shows food preparation in an artistic light. The kitchen is being used for what it was intended, erstwhile remaining a lovely place. Cooking utinsels here are not just utilitarian. They are beautiful and sentimental. The cook would have just as much joy using them as she would washing them and putting them back in the shelf.
This kitchen has plenty of light and I can just imagine the pie-maker looking out the window to see if anyone is coming down the road or if the mail has just come. Maybe she has a kitchen garden growing close by and can look and see if there is anything fresh she can pick to add to dinner preparations.

The bathroom is the most used place in the house and much care has to be taken to give it a feeling of peace. Folding things neatly can add to the elegance of the room. Shelves and pictures add style to the home. When you add order and purpose to the house, every room can be a place of peace and beauty.
Homemaking is not just keeping house. It is paying attention to the over-all effect that each corner, each space, each nook and cranny has on you, the homemaker, and those who enter into it. A husband or father may not be able to tell his wife exactly why he likes it there so much, and may not even notice some of the details, but the combined effort will create a whole. This whole will be what everyone feels when they enter the room.
For new homemakers, I would highly recommend the following books:
For those young things sitting in cubicles with their laptops, who come across this blog and hate every word of it, and have not been married 20 years and raised children or cared for grandchildren yet, who have not cared for a house from one end to the other for many years, you needn't bother commenting. You have a right to remain silent.

These paintings are all by Erin Dertner, from Allposters.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Heart Shaped Napkins

Here is something that opens up a whole host of new ideas: What about doing it with a blue napkin, folded as a sail boat, a yellow napkin folded into a daffodil, or a white napkin folded into an envelope? We made the slide show move slowly enough that you can copy it as it opens.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Creating a Cozy Table Setting

Here's a silent slide show for you with a table setting idea. One is for broadband, and one for dial up.

I read several blogs today that warmed my heart:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Inspiring Quotes From Victorians

Quotes Passed Down From the 19th Century
When I was growing up we girls enjoyed buying autograph books. If we could not buy them, we made them out of paper and tied them together with string or ribbon. This was a tradition handed down from the Victorians, when there was available little poetry books from which to copy verses. These verses had many pure and noble thoughts, and rhymed delightfully.

Young women enjoyed each others' friendships and seemed to pass on encouragement to one another by sharing noble thoughts of whatever was lovely and good.
While the 19th century citizens had the poetry books to help them write in one another's books, my generation saw naught of them (there was no such thing) and had to rely on memorized sayings and poetry passed down to us from our mothers and grandmothers.
By the end of the 1950's, few of us knew any of the poetry and we were simply signing our names in one another's books, with words like, "Good luck."
The lofty poems of the Victorian society is being revived and a trend started amongst the young again, of writing such things in each other's books.

The clip art I chose because it is so similar to the commercial art of the Victorian era, and some of it is reproduced from the exact prints of the times. You can observe something about the kind of people they were, by their pretty art and the lovely quotes. Some of the poetry is from the printed poetry sample books that could be purchased in order to write in other people's books.

Dare to do right, dare to be true,
You have a work that no other can do.
Do it so kindly, so bravely, so well
That angels will hasten
The story to tell.

Careful with fire, is good advice, we know:
Careful with words, is ten times doubly so.

Remember me,And let's have tea.
Remember me,when this you see.

Other friends will be forgot,
But still will I forget thee not.
Live for those who love you
For those whose hearts are true
For the heaven that smiles above you
And the good that you may do.

Be not false, unkind, or cruel,
Banish evil words or strife,
Thus shall each day be a pearl,
Strung upon the thread of life.

It is no wonder that even the simplest poetry was filled with good thoughts designed to motivate friends to keep a high level of conduct. Many of the women of the Victorian era lectured and wrote the very beliefs reflected in common poetry. Here are a few:

Quote by Catherine Beecher, in a day when people were more impressed by good manners than by material success:

"Avoid all remarks which tend to embarrass, vex, mortify, or in any way wound the feelings of another. To notice personal defects; to speak disparagingly of the sect or party to which a person belongs; to be inattentive when addressed in conversation; to contradict flatly; to speak in contemptuous tones of opinions expressed by another; all these are violations of the rules of good breeding."

A quote from Queen Victoria (1837-1901) gives insight into her character as an 18 year old:

"Today is my eighteenth birthday! How old! and yet how far am I from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I'm some day to be.The courtyard and the streets were crammed when we went to the Ball, and the anxiety of the people to see poor stupid me was very great, and I must say I am quite touched by it, and feel proud, which I always have done, of my country and of the English nation.

"Lucretia Garfield (1832-1918), wife of President James A. Garfield:

One day Lucretia Garfield was kneading a batch of bread for her family, and feeling overwhelmed by the work, when an idea flashed through her mind: if she tried to make the best bread in the world, she might overcome her dislike of baking. At once her attitude changed.

"It seemed like an inspiration and the while of my life grew brighter," she recalled years later. "The very sunshine seemed flowing down through my spirit into the white loaves, and now I believe my table is furnished better with bread than ever before, and this truth, old as creation, seems just now to have become fully mine: that I need not be the shrinking slave of toil, but its regal master, making whatever I do yield its best fruits." - From "President's Wives" by Paul F. Boller.

Sarah Josepha Hale, another Victorian, said,"Swearing is considered so inadmissible in good society, or in the presence of ladies, that there is little danger of its being introduced in either. "

From a collection of 19th century quotes and inspirational comments put together by my mother in law, I share the following:

We mutter, we sputter,We fume and we spurt.

We mumble and grumble,Our feelings get hurt.

We can't understand things;Our vision grows dim,

When all that we need Is a moment with Him.

She clipped things out of the church bulletin, the small town newspaper, cards, and other things, that had been reprinted from "the old days" and glued them into a blank book.
If you have the type of poem or saying that comes from the Victorian era, or any noble thing to fill an autograph book, add the quote in the comment section and I will put it here when I get time.
Go here to see vintage autograph books and some close up photos of the pages and sayings
Perhaps, beyond what the "historians" tell us about our forefathers, the Victorians, more than anything, books like these, letters, diaries, paintings, photographs, hand crafts, plus the many inventions they left, tell us more truth about these energetic people.
I was reading about a book called "The Victorian Scrapbook" by Robert Opie:
"The Victorian scrapbook, a place where lovely thoughts and sentimental images were kept, is somewhat related to the quote book or autograph book. This was an era when social change and new technology heralded an indus-trialised economy. Sail was replaced by steam, the stage coach by rail and the motor car was just appearing. Cheaper printing and colour lithography led to a mass of material much of which has survived in remarkable condition."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Two Things For the Homemaker

Window Dressing II
Window Dressing II
Art Print

Warwick, Dwayne
Buy at

Dressing for the home is important, because it sets the tone for your day. When you aren't feeling well, it helps just to dress well. It seems to improve your mood and even your health. It is important to dress up when things are not going well. When the house is in chaos and the family is full of troubles, it is so debilitating that the homemaker may feel too low to dress up. Dressing up, however, helps you to rise above some of these problems. Even if the problems do not go away instantly, at least anyone who is troubling you, will see that you were not crushed by their remarks or their actions.

When the house is in disarray, it is good to dress up because it helps you approach the problem areas in a professional manner. You feel you are dressed for something important. You may be more careful and more methodical in what you are doing. It makes you less irritable if you will dress up. You can see a sample of feminine dress at It looks on the surface as though we are too dressed up but these are sturdy, cotton clothes and they withstand the rigours of housework, cooking, cleaning, and care of children.

All around you may be things you need to clean up or put in order. You may be making the problem worse by neglecting your appearance. If you have to go somewhere, you'll be prepared, if you are properly dressed. Jeans, racing pants, shorts, leggings or sweats just do not inspire me and do not make me feel ladylike or delicate and feminine, so I wear skirts and dresses even at home. I wear leggings underneath. Even if the day is going to be "ordinary" and no one is coming to tea, I try to dress up. If I don't, those nice clothes hang in the closet and go out of style and just take up room. I like to wear them out and then get something fresh and new. Dressing up for the day really helps me feel more organized.

Aria by FirelightAria by Firelight
Art Print

Gibson, Judith
Buy at

The second thing that helps the homemaker is the appearance of the home itself. When it is dark, dreary, messy, unclean, cluttered and lacking in beauty, it puts a damper on her mood. It makes it hard to get motivated and really keep house.

When women wanted to be homemakers full time, and the home was exalted as the most important element of society, the appearance of the house was of utmost importance. The decorator herself was considered even more important. She knew that the house would have an effect on a person's spirit. Life was more than just eating and sleeping. Everything was to be noticed--things in nature and in daily life.

The appearance of the home could ennoble or debilitate those who resided there. The way it is kept has a refining influence on people, and can have a motivating effect on members of the family. We recently visited an Italianate historical home and noticed that you could not go but a few steps before something beautiful or ornate caught your attention: a column, a ledge with carvings on it, a painted scene on a wall, staircase rails with raised work. Even the steps and porch leading up to the doorway--the doorway being embellished with interesting designs, evoked a feeling of importance. One did not just walk into this house. One's senses were prepared on the pathway to this house. The family name was carved into the bricks on the steps. The tree on the front lawn seemed to be reflected in the woodwork in various places on the house.

In the "less is more" culture, I sometimes wondered if I should keep the pretty things that made my home cheerful and evoked the memories of home for my family. A time or two throughout my homemaking career, I tried stripping my home of all the embellishments, but the house didn't feel warm and cozy. It doesn't matter to me that it means I must dust something once in awhile. After all, I am a full time homemaker, and that is part of the job: to decorate and to maintain it. A doll and a teddy bear, a vase of flowers, a few nice pictures on the wall, and a pretty lamp will not over burden me with house work. I remember when I first got married and opened up a wedding gift: a new set of dishes, all my very own. How I enjoyed using them and washing them. As I dried each plate I felt so rich and so excited to have them. They were so beautiful and I was more motivated to have company and serve up a nice meal.

During an upheaval, such as when moving or renovating, there can be little areas set aside that still look good. We have a lot of areas in our home that are just plain grunge, but I try to have one or two rooms that look good, so that I have somewhere to go that will evoke a feeling of rest.

These two things: personal appearance, and the appearance of the home, really help boost the homemaker's energy and raise her mood to a happy level.

I always appreciated the play, "When Queens Ride By," (see sidebar for link) in which a queen dressed in her finest and rode through town in order to reassure her subjects that she was still in control and all was safe in the kingdom. It squelched suspicion and rumors. When things look right, they right themselves more easily. When things are not right, dressing up yourself and dressing up your house lets you have some power and control in at least that part of life that will influence your family

Dressing for yourself and your family is reassuring to them. When there are troubles at home, dressing up can in some way put you in control. When I was growing up I was taught that the first thing to take care of is your appearance. You do not face others until you have put your face on, so to speak. That means to wash up, brush up, dress up, and look up, before appearing to anyone else, if possible. There are exceptions, such as the young mother with a newborn baby, or the woman with very small children, but she can still bathe and put on clean clothes and look refreshed to others. That too, is stabilizing to the children, and gives her some kind of power. Somehow, when you dress up, the day doesn't seem to escape from you as quickly and things do not seem to get out of control.

Sometimes when family members are out of sorts and disagreeable, just tackling a cleaning job, or making the table look nice, or getting the living area orderly, can send a message that something worthwhile can be done, and that you are making progress. The disgruntled people are softened when they observe the homemaker's careful attention to the details of her home.

Women at home just do not realize how these two things can help them and their families and influence outsiders who ridicule their decision to stay home. There is probably much to learn also, from homemakers of the past.


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