Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Homemaker's Leisure Time

Tea Cup Snack Set
from Victorian Trading Company

This is one of the tea cup sets I recently acquired. When I have a tea buffet, and guests are going to refill their own tea cups and snack plates, I noticed how hard it was for them to handle the tea cup with saucer, and a plate with food besides. This little set solves the problem perfectly, for it holds both the tea cup in its own neat little place, and the snack in another place. Below is another one from Victorian Trading Company.

Myths about homemaking have always abounded, and one of them is that they do not need any rest or leisure time. Sometimes even religious people are guilty of oppressing the homemaker by suggesting that she keep busy every moment doing something productive.  However, it is important and necessary to have re-creation time, to avoid being overwhelmed.

Since preferences differ from woman to woman, not everyone will have the same interests, but everyone should have something they love to do when they are not washing dishes, preparing food, or cleaning house.  In years past, our mothers would get their work done as efficiently as possible so that they could work on their quilts or pamper their flower beds; personal interests that gave them pleasure and relaxation.

Art work of various types is an option for some, as well as crafts and needlework. Others might enjoy working with paper, and still others will have a passion for sewing or knitting.  Whatever the leisure time activity is, it should always be something that renews the spirit and the body, and not taxing or stressful. It should be something  the homemaker looks forward to and enjoys.

For those who like paper crafts, I have made a new envelope template and a sample of what you could do with it. You will notice that the flaps are not typical. It is designed so that it can be used two ways: vertical or horizontal.

First, select some paper (not cardstock and not heavy paper) from your paper collection, old calendar pages, magazine pictures, or whatever you have on hand. Your printer paper or children's construction paper works well for this envelope and letter paper project. This is thin scrapbook paper which is white on the other side, from K & C Company, an English scrapbook paper company which is available in various stores here.

Cut a template of cardstock or cardboard from the pattern I'm giving you, and trace around it with pencil. If you use quilters plastic template material, you can see through it and be able to see the design of the paper and center it wherever you wish.

On another area of the paper, trace your writing paper from the template and cut it out.

This is what it will look like after you cut it out, before you fold the flaps down.

 Crease the fold lines over the edge of a ruler or straight cardboard.


Put a strip of glue on each side of one of the flaps and press up.

The letter paper and envelope above is made from brown paper, rubber stamped and colored with crayon.

Here are the  yellow envelopes folded both vertically (left) and horizontally, and here are the templates:

To print, click on for larger view and then click "print." If you are unable to print things, take apart an envelope that you already have and paste it to a piece of cardboard. Cut it out and trace around it on various colors of paper and you'll never lack for envelopes.
If you have 8 and a half by 11 inch printer paper, you do not really need to print out this template. Just cut a piece of paper in half the long way and you'll get the right size for this envelope. Make a little stack of these for a hostess gift or a party favor, a birthday gift, or any other occasion. People sometimes find it hard to find really pretty stationery at an affordable price, and a gift like this would be appreciated. 

I have been enjoying some evening leisure time in fair weather in my clothes-pinned sheet tent, similar to the one I made last year. In it is a fold-away cot made into a couch by covering it with an old quilt and adding cushions.

You can easily make tents like this for children, by pinning a fitted sheet onto tree branches to make the ceiling, and putting the flat sheets on the sides for walls. I used an old rug for the floor. It takes about 24 clothespins to pin the sheets to the branches and to fasten the sides. Pinch in the ceiling sheet from the top, with more clothespins, connecting it to branches. The fitted sheets create a more billowing, canopy effect which is very pretty from the inside.

 Use bricks or large rocks to anchor the hem of the sheets to the carpet. If you use a cot, you can tuck the lower part of the sheet beneath the stands on both ends.

 Children love these hideaways and it is something anyone can do. If you do not have trees, you can use clotheslines to make something similar. They are great for making a shady place  to read, write or rest. Reading has been a favorite past time of homemakers, and a stack of books would be quite appealing in this setting.

Creative activities or leisure should be a regular part of a homemaker's day. I like to sit out here and listen to the distant train whistle in the late summer evening, and all the sounds that come with the end of the day.

(This one is similar to last year's effort.)

Clothespins, sheets or fabric, and an old rug is all you need. These are easily cleaned up and stored away, and you can add old quilts and cushions during the day. Remove blankets or cushions at night if your climate tends to be damp. That white iron gate is an old child's bed spring used as a morning glory climbing fence.

I cannot forget to show a pink one, made with clothespins, tablecloths, sheets and quilts:

 Here is a distant photo of the tent village. I'm going to make a dining room tomorrow if it does not rain.
Now for the "dining room":
The fitted sheet is used as a ceiling because it fits around tree branches and prevents the leaves from dropping all over the table or couch. The flat sheets or table cloths are hung as walls, with clothespins. I still have to add the side "walls" to this little scene.

If you really want to seem some great outdoor enclosures, watch the updates at Aiken House and Gardens,  (see my blog roll) on Prince Edward Island. It is a wonder that Victoria Magazine does not do a story on this pretty home and gardens!

Go here for more Sheet Tent ideas!


Lydia said...

The search area on this blog seems to be working now.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you that you bought the tea and plate sets. Their catalog is so very beautiful! I watched the older PBS series The 1900 house the other day. Tthe lady in the series was lamenting that all the women of that time had to think about was housekeeping day after day. She did not do any stitch work of any type or such activities. Ladies of that time had other activities as you have said. They also did things with other lady friends or had friends over to their homes. Naturally in real time...not a made up home for a series, life would have been different. I loved watching this series again but since reading your posts I see other sides to those times. The real life they had. Thank you again for teaching us the whole truth. Sarah

Anonymous said...

I really love your charming new pink snack and tea set. My favorite is the Rose Chintz set.
The summer tent is lovely and the carpet and cushions sure give it the Arabian tent affect. Really dreamy.
The children will love this. Me too.

Recently a family member finished her basement guestroom into a "wedding suite" for another family member who is getting married soon.

She took an old iron canopy bed frame and attached some wedding netting from each corner and gathered it in the center over the bed.
There she attached a mini chandelier to the ceiling with heavy fishing line and connected the gathered netting to it. Then she made the bed up with beautiful tapestry bedding and added several lavish cushions. She set two hanging lamps on either side of the bed for dim mood lights.

She purchased a chase lounge and set that in the corner of the room adjacent to the bed. A dresser and mirror were added. I just know this will thrill the newly weds. I wouldn't mind being a guest there myself.
The whole thing reminds me of your outdoor get away.
Thank you for sharing.
Mrs. J.

Mama Said No said...

As usual--a wonderful post, with good ideas. I especially like the sheet tent you show in your photos. I have an area in my yeard that I call my 'grove'. It's a small circle of trees with some large stones. I have always wanted to do someting with it, but never had any real ideas until now. I think i know how I'm spending some time next week. Thank you for the inspiration.

Michelle said...

We have tea sets like that from my grandmother! They were well used by the ladies in her day and we bring them out to enjoy now- something very special about those sets!

Suzanne said...

I most certainly agree, we busy homemakers do need to take a bit of time for ourselves! Charlotte Mason, the British educator called it , "Mother Culture". Karen Andreola expounds on it in her new CD I did a review of here: I would encourage anyone struggling with guilt over a bit of time for themselves to purchase it as it is a blessing! I think on the flip side I often talk to moms that want hours upon hours of me time. That won't happen with a young family still at home, and we should be content with the snippets of time we can carve out here and there:-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

You've once again given me something to think and write about. While I am far from your caliber, I also mentor women. You mentor me, and I pass it on. This week I've been contemplating the very issue you wrote about today. Thank you for helping me solidify my thoughts on efficiency allowing homemaking joy and personal pursuits.

I made the Simplicity dress the other day. Imagine, I've had that pattern in my stash since the last time you included it in your blog. Finally, I sewed it and discovered a wonderfully fitting dress that takes very little effort to sew. I found a South Carolina primrose print in blue. I feel like a regular lady. Yesterday, a man opened my door, because of my new pretty dress.

In the car on the way home, my son and his friend commented on the door opening and wondered why it offends so many women. I told them to stay far away from the type that don't want their doors opened but keep doing it anyway. The very survival of society depends on men being gentlemen and women being ladies.

Thanks for helping me understanding these things over the last few years. I've always taught my children the ladies/gentlemen doctrines but never really understood them. Not until I embraced femininity in a godly manner did it all finally make sense.

Lady Kara said...

Lady Lydia,

I love the Victorian Trading Company! I've seen those tea sets and think they're marvelous. The tent idea is fantastic. My cherubs would love that. Thank you for sharing.

God bless,

Lady Kara

Lydia said...

Leisure is re-creating for the body and the soul. It should be included every day.

In fact, take min-vacations, a few minutes at a time, throughout the day, to balance work.

If you dread getting up because you are so far behind in work at home, just plan some leisure throughout the day and you will find the work also becomes a pleasure.

Rightthinker said...

What beautiful tea sets you have found!

I just love all of your ideas, and yes, time spent relaxing and enjoying a few moments of the precious life God has blessed us with, indeed is not idle!

God Bless!

Lydia said...

Rightthinker, thanks for your comment. I do plan to include you and others in my blogroll when I get more time.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned you had been contemplating the same subject lately; I have noticed, since I started to subscribe to blogs on google reader, how often bloggers think and write about the same subjects around the same time-- I think sometimes timely subjects must be floating around in the air or something! Many times I ponder a subject and while I'm forming the writing of it in my mind, I'll turn on the computer and see someone has blogged it around the same time!
But it is good because our blogs reach different readers. I just find it interesting!

Anonymous said...

I like your idea of using snack sets. Not only are they practical and lovely, I imagine using them cuts down on the traffic to and from the buffet as well as on the amount of dishes to be washed afterwards.

The instructions for the handmade envelopes will come in handy and there are so many pretty papers from which to create them.

Your tents in the trees are so pretty and inviting. Would this be an example of country Victorian style? We have a small shade tree nearby which I enjoy sitting under on a warm day when I want to be outdoors relaxing with a good book or watching and listening to the birds. I will be heading out to it very soon!

Very refreshing and uplifting thoughts ~ to take time each day to relax and do something we love to do ~ even for just a little bit.

Thank you for sharing~

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

The cloths pinned sheet tents are so fun...I may have to give these a try!
My children would adore it!

Also thanks for the envelope templates.


Far Above Rubies said...

Lovely, Lady Lydia. Thanks for the idea.

Lydia said...

If people believe the lie that women in past decades did nothing but sit around, or that they did nothing but work all day in the fields, and had no leisure, then all they have to do is go to the antique stores and look at all the handiwork left behind from previous generations: tatting on edges of pillowcases, crocheted household items, embroidery, cross stitched table clothes, tapestry, and many other hand made items. Then look at the amount of tea cups and tea things that come up at estate sales and you will see the truth: women did values these things, they did use them, and they did take time out for tea and reading and other leisures. A house wife especially could do these things since she could budget her time to include time outside under a tree with a friend or the children, watching them play. Revisionists like everyone to think that no one was ever happy (unless they were rich and idle) before this present time, and that women are better off today because they have to work outside the home. Its ridiculous and silly to hear even the museam tour guides talk about how horrible the people of the past were and how bad they had it in life. While this may be going on record as official history, there are private histories that are coming forth, revealing the daily lives of ordinary people who did know how to enjoy life and still conduct the home with good sense. Remember it is the victor that writes the history, and there has been a cultural revolution that puts the past in the background and hopes that people won't notice how good they had it and won't want to copy it. One of the easiest ways to discover real, unabridged, un-altered history, is to look at the photographs of Victorian families and the Victorian era. Even the poor will have great posture and be fully clothed, and some of them stand proudly in front of their humble houses (a custom in those times was to have your picture taken in front of your home) to show a part of the earth that belonged to them. Even people not of royal birth had photos taken which show their innocent looks and their customs and families. Look at your own family album of that era and notice the families, the long marriages and the ages of the old people when they died. Go to the oldest part of the cemetaries in your town, the VIctorian ones, and see the ages of the people carved into the stone and there is a story to tell also. Also look at the tributes carved in those stones to the "beloved mother" or "beloved father" and the list of their children, and the scriptures chosen to imprint on that same stone. There is evidence all around us that they were not all unhappy. Still, the best defense is your own ancestry, if you can find it, through pictures, letters and passed down stories.

Lydia said...

When you embrace the old paths, where the good walk is, in the way of manners, speech, modesty, thrift, hard work, etc. you are honoring your parents and grandparents.

Anonymous said...

"When you embrace the old paths, where the good walk is, in the way of manners, speech, modesty, thrift, hard work, etc., you are honoring your parents and grandparents".

Well said Lydia!
I was just speaking to my new daughter inlaw and sharing some of these ideas with her and in so doing it brought memories back to her of her godly grandfather who just passed away. He gave his bible to her just before he passed and as she was remembering him and his ways, it was like having him back again. This reminded her of their relationship and things they spoke of and shared. It also reminded her of promises she made to him.

I was also able to share with her about our godly ancestors and how they prayed for us. God is truly opening the windows of heaven and pouring out blessing that we are not able to contain. I've embraced this girl and am delighted to have this child in our family, she is an answer to prayer and we love her so much.
We'll finally get to meet her for the first time in a couple weeks.

Thank you Lydia for all the truth you bring out. It encourages us.
May the Lord open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing on you and your family that you can not contain.
Mrs. J.

Blessed Homemaking said...

The envelopes, tea sets, and tents are very pretty! Thank you for the encouragement to be creative. Sometimes these creative pursuits get pushed aside or are seen as unimportant when amidst the busyness of young family life.

Lydia said...

Mrs. Q., You are right: some times the restful things are ridiculed as too trivial and are put down. For years, feminists have insisted that women should only be doing "intellectual" things or authortive things, or things that require years of going to educational establishments. In doing so, many women were robbed of the ability to do simple, relaxing things like crochet, or stitching, water color painting, crafting, decorating and many other pleasures and pursuits. Sometimes people get the idea that women at home do not deserve any interests or activities outside of keeping a clean house, but this is not true. Homemaking is a balance between work and relaxation, and if you have a passionate interest in some kind of leisure activity, you can be more motivated to keep the home in order. When I am straightening everything up in the kitchen or the rest of the house, I am making more time to sew or read or have someone come over for tea. Many women at home would like to do something besides keep house, or something besides washing dishes or preparing meals, but their time is all taken up on housework. So, if you can be a "clean as you go" person, picking up, straightening, putting in order every time you get up and walk past something, that frees up time for you to do things you like.

Lydia said...

To the lady that watched the 1900 house series: I saw some of that too, and while the producers tried to re-create the life of that era, they missed several points. One was the personal dignity, integrity, and privacy that people guarded more carefully than today. What they ended up with was the costumes and the house and the work of the era, but what they left out was the attitudes. Instead they allowed modern attitudes to come in: complaining, ingratitude, and a lack of looking around at the blessings that did abound at the time. You really cant put a person in that historical setting unless they have some kind of real spiritual depth to understand how life really is, and how to cope with it when it is not like you want it to be. In reality, women did not just work all the time. They did have some leisure, and even servants and maids (women) knew how to sew and make things. Everyone stopped for a cup of tea, even those who worked in professions. I halfway think the writers of this series really would have rather had a parody of the era, rather than reality. You could recreate such an era in your own home just by spending a day in history and living as they would have for one day, or maybe two, in your own home. There are some things in those kinds of series that they miss: for example, in the late 1800's and early 1900's there were a lot more conveniences and they found ways of doing things to make life more comfortable. The old houses show little nooks and crannies and gadgets that were used for convenient house keeping, that some of the films do not show.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love the little tents for children!

Anonymous said...

I love the tent idea but it is so dreadfully hot right now, even in the shade, I think it will have to wait for cooler weather. we can do much of our homeschooling work outside this fall in a tent and my daughter will love the idea.

I absolutely love the tea set at the top, with the bird on it. Need to start saving my pennies for that one!

Thank you for the lovely post.


Carolyn Knefely said...

An enjoyable post.

A box full of dishes like these were given to me by a lady who knew that I love hosting teas. They were her grandmothers. At first she took them to an antique store who was going to give her five dollars for the lot. Instead of pocketing the money she decided to bring them to me.

Ladies love the convenience. The beauty is so pleasing to the eyes, but for me, I think of the lady who first bought the treasures. I send up a thank you as I set them on the serving table.

There's no price that can be put on kindheartedness or a memory of a loved one. It's the passing on of simplicity and ease that makes for focused fellowship.

I look forward to your next post.

Keoni Galt said...

I had no idea that picture of the mu'umu'u had been removed from that old post of mine until you pointed it out to me. Thanks...and I now put up a new one at your request.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out more of the inconsistancys in The 1900 House series. I thought of some of them but had certainly not noticed others that were glaringly there when I thought back after reading what you wrote. My friends and their children have talked about this series several times. Now I have more to add to make the young ones understand how people were then and should be still. Sarah

Lydia said...

The people of that era did not just sit around waiting for the ease and luxury of the 20th century to come. They were very inventive, and looked for ways to make life more comfortable and efficient. In one historic house I toured, I saw a vacume cleaner and a fan which were hand operated, and there were many interesting things like the breezeway, to help air condition a house. Also they had insulation by building two walls , or double walls. They were particular about neatness and cleanliness, and neatness and decency of dress. They believed it was part of being dignified, and that to be careless or sloppy was careless and lacking in good character. Even the poor people wanted to be clean and neat, and the quickest way downhill socially was to be a drinker or a gambler or to be unwise in your choices of life.

Karen said...

You are absolutely correct about the comment regarding honoring your parents. This applies to the rest of the family as well. When a sibling leads a disgraceful life, it is a source of embarrassment to their brothers and sisters as well as their parents.

Raine said...

I love those envelopes. We save the seeds from heirloom plants in our garden for re-planting each year and those would make perfect seed packets both for out own use and to give to others.

Lydia said...

Raine: I've used them for seed envelopes, also. I cut a picture from a tear-off daily nature calendar page and glue it on the outside. It fits the size perfectly and looks so pretty. Some day I'll post a picture of it.

The Kitchen Witch said...

What a wonderful idea! I would never have thought about tents using sheets. I have many complimentary sheet sets and lots of trees in my backyard. I think I will use this for a ladies day before the weather turns fowl here. Thanks so much for posting it!