Monday, February 28, 2011


Giving Her Best

 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

Mark 14: 3-9

This woman gave her best to the one who meant the most to her. Our Lord has given us our homes and families, and we can give our best back to Him by guiding them and guarding them and giving our best.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Importance of Having Tea

Sunday Tea-Time

Sunday Tea-Time

by Stephen Darbyshire

Luxury Without Expense
Homemakers want to guard the home in a way that helps it prosper and keep it from poverty. It is important to have leisure time, or quiet time, and to enjoy activities that refresh the heart, but they need not have a high cost. Tea time is one of them. It is a luxury that is enjoyed by people of all ages and all walks of life. Tea is not necessarily expensive, either, and these days, letters race back and forth between friends, containing interesting flavors and brands of tea. Many hostess gifts these days contain whole boxes of fragrant tea.Using fruits and spices, some people make their own tea just by adding boiling water.

Crises Control
The Dame of Sark whom I mentioned in previous posts, boldly served tea to her own invaders (and gave them a run for their wits at the same time).  In a tight spot conversationally, the fictional Fanny and Emma, of Jane Austen fame, announced brightly, "Tea!"  It is not just the drinking of the liquid that is the point in all of this. It is the dignified atmosphere of the ceremony---even if just pouring tea from a teapot into a teacup--brings to those gathered around the room.  It seems to say, " We must not forget who we are. It is time to behave in a civilized manner."

Finding Time
By setting aside time during the day, along with all the other things in a to-do list, a homemaker can be sure to include this enjoyable moment in time. Children love the ceremony and eagerly look forward to it, but even those who live alone can include this elegant activity in their daily lives.

Choose your own time for tea. If your day begins very early, 10 a.m. is a good time for a tea break, and 2 p.m is perfect go-between between lunch and dinner.

Taking Tea in the Garden

Not a Matter of Wealth or Poverty, Nationality, Class or Status
Taking tea makes life beautiful no matter what the circumstances. Tea in the humblest of homes is often better than tea taken in the finest resorts, because it can include favorite recipes and tea cups, perhaps passed down by a great-grandmother. Tea is taken the world over. I found a lovely contemporary painting depicting Russian tea from a samovar, here.


An Affordable Elegance
Tea sets are so beautiful that it may seem like they are meant for show, but they are meant to be used. Although it is tempting to think they must be saved for a better day, when the sun comes out, when life is richer or when someone of prestige comes to visit,  this is really an every day activity prepared with beauty and elegance. 

Tea pots and cups, whether made of fine porcelin or heavier glass, must still be looked after. Store them carefully without stacking them too close together so that they do not chip, and wash them separately in a dishpan and then in rinse-water. When preparing tea, gradually warm the cups and pot with tap water until it is hot. Boil water in a kettle and then pour out the warm water and add the tea bag or tea ball, loose tea, or whatever you prefer. Let it set for a couple of minutes, and then pour into warmed tea cups. If you do not warm the cups and the weather is cold, it may crack them to have hot water poured in them suddenly.  

Serve whatever you have on hand: crackers, small bites of raw vegetables, a plate of different kinds of cheese and meats, small sandwiches using chicken, cucumber, avocado, tomato or any combination that you like,  or quick-breads made with raisins and other ingredients. These are easy to make and delicious hot with real butter or cream cheese.  Sometimes all one really needs is a hot cup of tea with a few apple slices and some cheddar cheese with walnuts.  Tea Time magazine, published by Southern Lady, is full of delicious-looking ideas for tea. 

A tea for one.

Thirty minutes a day to prepare and take tea allows just enough time to fully relax. If the tea things are prepared at the first of the day, ready to be served, it allows even more time just for the tea ceremony. A tea for one gives the homemaker time to make new lists or create ideas of things she would like to make or do. 

Make it Pretty
If no one else prefers tea, it is even more important to make a special area in your home where tea is taken, and to make the setting as cheerful as possible. Above is a needle-work towel done in gold threads, picturing a tea pot and tea cup surrounded by roses, set on a doily. It is placed beside the tea cup.

In Varying Circumstances
In times of financial hardships or uncertainty in life, it is even more important to continue an established tea time at home. None of us are going to get out of this life alive, so we might as well make the best of it and enjoy taking tea. From cottages to campers and tents, women can set out a tea tray and serve a favorite tea blend and some scones.  Even the Queen takes tea, and it is something everyone can participate in, no matter what their circumstances.  A lady I knew who had just moved into a new house set a tea table on the moving boxes and took a break from unpacking. Others find these tea moments give them more energy for the tasks that remain in the day.

Still snowing...snowing, but a great time for tea. The fields are white an the trees coated with snow, like icing on a tea cake.

A new tea called "White Chocolate Kisses."  Tuck a tea bag in a letter and think of the recipient enjoying the scent.  When you send a letter, your friend can make a cuppa and sip while she reads your pages.

Especially in Discouraging Times
These are the times when the act of doing tea are the most important and the most appreciated, so, even though it is easy to forget it until a better time comes along, it is best to take time out to pour tea, sit still and think or dream of everything that is good and lovely. In tense times when the subject needs to be changed, one can always offer tea. In sad times, one can offer tea, and in times when people are worried about the economy, tea can be served. In snowed-in times or on foggy days, tea brightens things up.

Tea cups through the generations

Since tea has been around since 200 B.C., there must have been many people who enjoyed its benefits, and people today can still enjoy it if they would only take time for it.  Sometimes it can be discouraging to find that a favorite tea room has closed down, but it gives people a chance to put tea-time into their homes and enjoy being in a place that  they truly love, in which they have put a lot of time and work to create a loving atmosphere.

Ladies Taking Tea Outside, 1898 Ontario

An unmatched tea cup saucer makes a bright plate on which to lay a little treat to eat with hot tea.

Photograph of Victorian Women Taking Tea Outside

Don't forget: WalMart has pretty sidewalk chalks, about a dozen for a dollar, which work best on chalkboards.

View a Tea Room in Victoria

The History of Tea---it dates back to 200 B.C.

Taking Tea in Period Movies

Tea Time Books

A Cute Tea Cup Card Craft With Instructions

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Washcloths and Towels from Terry-Cloth Fabric

On a Sunny Day  by Fasani

This is a simple project made by using the zig-zag or satin stitch on the sewing machine. Place an old washcloth on thin towelling fabric and cut around it. A fourth yard should yield several wash-cloths. I am making them in green and yellow and white, as well, but the above picture shows what I have finished.

 After cutting the cloth the size you want,  place your machine stitch settings at the widest and longest stitch, and as close together as you can without getting it tangled and bogged down. I used 1.5 , which is close to the satin stitch. I went around the cloth twice in the wide zig-zag and got good results.

Then I clipped a little rose from some other fabric, which you see, above, and stitched around it in the same way.

These make quick gifts and could even be used for napkins if you have a large family and do not want to buy paper napkins. 

Towels, using the same technique.

Other pieces of thin towelling, right, and a left over piece of calico on the right. I plan to cut out some of the roses and place them on the edges, as I did with the coral ones, at the beginning of this post.

This is the view from my front window which I see as I sew. I am not quite snowed-in, but it is getting close.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Iron-On Sewing Projects

This is something I have always wanted to try: an iron-on picture for a sewing project.  It is made by putting a special piece of paper through the printer, copying a favorite picture or clip-art, peeling off the back of the paper and ironing the image to fabric.  Directions are included in the package of transfer paper. I have used scraps of fabric that best match the picture that was ironed onto the muslin fabric in the center.

This little pillow was designed to cover a keyhole, but I am not sure what it is called. It keeps the drafts and the light out, and is used on the inside of the door.

This above towel requires a dollar store flour-sack cotton dish towel,( or make your own from white muslin),  and one sheet of transfer paper.

If  you do not want to part with your ink, it might be possible to take your picture and your special iron-on transfer paper to a print shop and get copies made there. At home, peel off the backing and put the tissue paper over the picture (face up) and press firmly. You have to use a wooden surface, such as a table or a wood cutting block, to iron this on, as the iron board is not hard enough.  Quilters like this technique for making heirloom quilts with old photographs. I like Catherine Kein, Amy Cross, Paul de Longpre and Joseph Redoubte  art for this craft.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rose Fabrics

News is out that cottons are going up in price quite a bit. There are still ways of getting discount cotton calicoes and quilted fabrics for making dresses.  Using a 40 percent coupon from the web, you can get a fairly good deal at JoAnn fabrics, and the WalMart stores that still have fabric, still have good cottons. Here are some interesting rose-prints from around the web:

Cottons are good for home sewing, and especially good for making your own dresses to wear at home, because it is a casual fabric with plenty of vivid prints or solids that make  garmentslook nice enough to wear to any occasion.

Here's a dress from April Cornell. The picture has a magnifier on the site so that you can look at the print more closely. This dress is quite expensive, but could be easily made for ten to fifteen dollars depending on what kind of bargains you can find at fabric stores. Any pattern could be used, provided it is for sewing wovens. This design would look nice with sleeves, or a blouse could be worn underneath.

Sweetness and Light in the Home

A Month of Beauty in the Home

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ladies Valentine Tea

Swan Cottage II

 Some pictures from the ladies tea and gift exchange this week: 


(Small hands helped set this pretty pink table)
Pink and white checked heart-shaped placemats with white cotton backing, and apple blossom pattern Acropal dinnerware, similar to Corningware.  The dinnerware and gold forks, knives and spoons all came from Wal-Mart.

Pink napkins for the tea/dessert table are tied in Victorian calling cards, lace and string of beads. Free Victorian clip art for crafts are available.

A tea serving table prepared with hand sewn table cloth and  little Victorian cards scattered on it, and several unique serving dishes. A young homeschooler crocheted those little drip catchers for me, from an old book called Workbasket.

Another table with a hand made table cloth and centerpiece bowl with decorative cards.

On the heart-shaped invitations, which were the Valentine cards you saw in a previous post, I requested that each person bring something from their home they did not want anymore, which would be suitable for a gift for one of the ladies there. Everyone got to choose what they wanted. Here is one of the gifts: a scented jar candle with a wax cherry, on a hand crocheted doilie. It is nice that some ladies are still doing that, and I intend to post a history of the doily sometime in the future. It was invented by a man of the surname of D'Oyley, who sought to make affordable placemats for people outside of the royal class.

One of the give-aways at the gift-exchange was a rose-shaped iron wall hook,

and an architectural-look wall hook,

and a magazine which was a gift to someone,

and this lovely artificial bouquet in a crystal-look plastic vase filled with clear pink floral marbles.

Each guest was given a hand made cinnamon ornament  tied in a wired chiffon bow.

Children made heart-shaped paper airplane gliders that flew beautifully!

Even a left over skein of yarn was an appreciated gift for someone.

Other gifts included heart-shaped tea balls, China Rose Tea, tea cups, and tea towels.

13 ladies attended this event and the group sang in harmony several songs:

The Love of God (is greater far)
It is Well With My Soul
This World is Not My Home

Someone read Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter about the faith of the Hebrews.

Food served was:
Chopped vegetable salad
Raspberry Dessert
Homemade cheese ball and crackers

The Tea Table contained

Tea: Sugar Cookie tea from Celestial Seasonings
Yorkshire Gold
Pink Cupcakes
Sliced Pumpkin Bread