Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scrap Art Cards

This craft looks complicated but is quite easy. It is made using a paper heart doily as the base. It has to be pasted on cardstock because the paper doily is too flimsy to work with.  Paste it on cardstock or heavier paper (construction paper will also work well for this),  and cut it out, either around the scallop edges, or just generally. Add a picture from scrapbook paper either in the middle or off to the side. This is the picture or object you build the other objects around. After that, paste glittered foam hearts, diamond stickers, iridescent  table confetti, buttons, butterflies, and a rope of sequins. My theme for this card is "white," so I tried to find as many white bits and pieces as I could.  

 Here  it is being pasted on the cardstock to cut out.

A length of ribbon is applied with white glue and a piece of paper is put over it on the back to secure it.

You can also just trace hearts on pretty scrapbook paper from a large cookie cutter. These look pretty placed around the dining table on a white table cloth. This one comes from the paper stack below, $5.00 at Walmart:

Click for a detailed view.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Scrap Heart Cards

On a Sunny Day II by Fasani
Artprint from Allposters

Indoor projects can brighten the mood and lighten the load of housework.  I always look forward to getting out some bright materials and creating something with them.  Here you see a collection of heart-shaped cards made using paper doilies.  Outlines on the doilies are drawn with puff paints and glitter paints. You should be able to click on for a larger view, which really shows the brightness and the details. To save to your files, I think you have to click on first to enlarge, and then click "save."   The butterfly comes in a package of 3, in several colors, from Dollar Tree craft section.
A heart is cut from a decorative paper napkin and ironed on with saran wrap, to the doily in the center. Try using floral scrapbook papers for a similar effect.

First, glue the paper lace heart doilies to a cardstock backing of a contrasting color so that it shows through the lace.  After that, add a picture from a card, or some free Victorian printable cardstock images which you can find online. Use the picture as your center theme and then place the smaller pieces around it, being careful to use colors and shapes that enhance the image and make it stand out in a pleasing way.  If you do not have a key, you can always find a printed page of keys on scrapbook paper and cut one out, or, you can just trace around a key on some glitter paper, and cut one out of your own.

 Foam heart stickers are usually available at the dollar store, as well as stickers, novelty brads, diamond stickers, and other scrapbook and card-making novelties you see here. You can use things you already have in your collection of paper things, or you can get very reasonably priced things at JoAnns, Michaels and Dollar Tree. 

 If you do not have cardstock to glue the doily on to make a firm backing, try pink, white, red or black construction paper, which looks great if it is a contrasting color to the paper lace hearts.

These cards are not double-folded, but you can add a rubber-stamped or hand-written greeting on the other side.  If they are to be mailed, they should be sent in a padded envelope and weighed at the post office before adding postage. Ribbon or string can be glued between the layers before putting the doily on the cardstock,  to make hanging hearts.

I think it is important, especially on overcast days, to make something cheerful to keep or give away. I'm keeping these and future creations in a basket on the seat by the front door to give away to anyone who drops by and wants one.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Flood

I always wanted to have a view of the river, but I did not mean to have it this close to the house!

There are some roads that are covered in water, so I'm staying right here. If the water gets too high, I'll get what is the most valuable to me and sit on the roof, and chat with all my rellies and friends on Skype ;-)
 Technology is so great these days.  Yesterday I saw my father and mother on Skype, and showed them my flood, while they showed me their garden. My father, who is 84, told his eldest daughter, who is 60, (that's me)  not to get on a ladder and to stay off the roof. I said I would stay off the roof if HE would stay off HIS roof, even for repairs. He was not sure he could guarantee me that, so I said, "Well, at least, get over closer to the middle."

I think this serious song is very ticklish when heard in the situation. The words seem hilarious.

The Water of Tyne

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Confinement

Late Lies the Winter Sun
by Anders Anderson-Lundby from Allposters.

Climate, whether it be horridly hot or freezing cold, can confine a family to the house, which brings on an interesting set of problems.  Keeping everyone happy and content, and maintaining your  personal enjoyment of life,  is something I hope to address here.

It was common in my childhood to be snowed-in. That meant that the snow was too deep for the car or truck to drive out the homestead road, and we prepared ourselves for staying in the house.   Sensing that such weather was coming, we usually made a trip to town for fuel supplies and food, and  also  ordered from the catalogs, some things we would need in order to sit out the winters.

 Mother ordered cases of preserved foods, which we used only when the fresher foods were gone, and also included craft and hobby kits for herself and each of the children:  knitting books with the appropriate amount of yarn for a project, jewelry kits, art kits with instructions on how to paint with oils, model trains, planes, cars, and even miniature house-building kits. We had also stacks of books which showed how to make speeches, write letters and cook.  Fabric for sewing, and many other things were available through catalogs, and homesteaders usually had some of these handicrafts in their homes during winter. 

Fishing Boats in Winter Sunlight
by Anders Anderson-Lunby from Allposters.

There were those who got something known as cabin fever, who, growing tired of the confinement, would take it into their heads that they could walk a mile outside in the snow and freezing temperatures, inadequately dressed, with no transportation, hoping to get somewhere else and escape the confines of the cabin. This was a very serious malady, which none of us ever suffered, thanks to the creativity and contentment instilled in us.

A new snowfall, just beginning, seen from my front porch.

The materials you provide for your cabin confinement might include things you like to do and things you might like to do. If you have always wondered what it would be like to learn cake decorating or water-color painting, this is a perfect time to gather up your supplies. Find whatever free broadcasts with instructions on the subject are available on the web, and download them for future use.  When you are purchasing your food supplies from shops in town, look also for books which might help pass the time at home in a pleasant way.

Cabin Contentment can be increased by making plans for the coming spring. I showed in earlier posts how to plan your sewing wardrobe or your household sewing by sketching pictures and matching up swatches of fabrics. This would be a good time to cut out any summer clothes, aprons and accessories you need for the home.  When that first blast of snow comes, shut the door and turn on the sewing machine.  If you have a treadle machine, it is even better in inclement weather when the power may go down. Armchair gardening can begin with garden planning on paper, and ordering your plants and seeds.

A setting I created just after the previous snow, for those enjoying the snow too much to come in for refreshments.  Scone recipe is one that I use from the Anne of Green Gables cookbook.

Winter has its own type of blessings, because it forces you to cease your running about, causing you to stay in one place and do things you never seem to have the time for otherwise.  You might try to:

-Create beautiful stationery with paper and stickers or your own drawings on the borders, and catch up on your correspondence.
- Do your mending and sew on buttons while listening to a story, either read to you by someone else, or using Cd's of recorded stories, which are available commercially. 
-Organize one drawer or kitchen shelf.
-Do some spring cleaning each day, even if just a small area. When the weather lets up, you'll be free of some of the major house keeping and be able to enjoy life in other ways.
-Clean out one room or closet that you never seem to get time for.
-Start a household book where you list all the things you own and where they can be found. This is a daunting job that I have never attempted, but an energetic mind might enjoy doing this.
-If for some reason you are not able to purchase things, look at the boxes and containers that are usually thrown out in your kitchen, as art supplies. Use your creativity and figure out different uses for them in a beautiful way, embellishing them with things you already have. Altered boxes, bags and containers are a widely used art form these days.

Indoor days provide an opportunity to get more rest, so use it to your advantage.  If keeping warm is a problem to you, bring blankets to your couch and cover yourself while you make lists and plans, or organize a box full of mis-matched things. 

The Woods in Silver and Gold
by Anders Anderson Lunby from Allposters.

I believe that the art of pretending is very valuable in times like this. I am sure by now that my friends know of my love of sailing ships and boats, (my father was a Captain for many years and still maintains a keen interest in boats)  and understand why I imagine my house is a great ship and that we are all confined to it until the weather clears up and we can disembark.  The first thing I do in the morning is open the ship's galley and start cooking something that will draw wakeful passengers out of their beds. Later on we have rail-side walks, which are much like Jane Austen's reference to "taking a turn" in a room by walking  around the inside of the house,  as if going for a real  walk. Children love this because they have permission not to sit still. Think of Noah on the ark for many days with his family and all the animals. They must have had a special nobililty of character that enabled them to withstand the confinement within the ark, as they looked for better days and prepared for hardships.

East India Men in a Gale 
by Charles Brooking, English 1723-50

 We keep our white string of lights on all winter, and line the tops of shelves or other surfaces with them, to provide some brightness indoors. When winter darkness descends, the curtains are closed, so that we do not have to view the blackness through the window.  
Anders Anderson-Lunby

In some times of dreary weather when I have been unable to leave my house, I have arranged for my family (or friends, if they can manage to come out in the weather) to have some of the following activities:

- book reports
- speeches on things you know, things you learned or something you have done.
- show-and-tell parties
- plays (drama) either written by family members or from books
- live music by those who can play an instrument
- acapella singing and the learning and practice of four-part harmony
-name that tune and the composer, using classical music c.d's.
-dressing up for a formal dinner and having an after dinner speech
-house tours, where I present the family home as history and culture
-and fashion shows featuring costumes or sewing projects
-indoor garage sales and swaps
-art gallery shows where family members display their art, vote and receive prizes and home made ribbons.
-set up a dining area with small tables  in the living room, to provide a refreshing change.

These activities create a rich culture for your home, adds to your personal family history, and enriches your life. Memories which cannot be erased, will be created, even if all you do is sit in a comfortable place and catch up on your reading, or allow your children to have some quiet time where they are not required to do anything but enjoy the voyage.

I like to read stories of the sea, and one common thread in both historical and fiction stories is to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

To prepare for the worst, I would recommend purchasing emergency candles like these, from the camping section of your nearby store:

These are called "emergency candles.' Even in town, the electric sometimes goes out, and these types of candles I have found provide a brighter light than votive and decorative candles. An alternative is the plain white tea lights which are in a little metal container, and do not leave a mess. I have used them, and they do not give off a scent or have any unpleasant effects that I noticed.  The emergency candles you see above have a little metal cap on the end to stand them in, but will have to be placed inside a jar or bottle, in order to hold them upright.  In such good candlelight, I  have been able to write letters or read, when the electric is out. Add to this emergency collection a few battery operated heaters, and you could be prepared to make things comfortable for awhile.  

Some old books describe people of the past attending a lot of social events, even in country places that seem so bleak today. There was a round of dinners and get-togethers that kept people's spirits high. Some types of work ceased until the spring, so the winters were used for company or visiting. Indoors, people prepared for the season's usual celebrations, which did not
end with Christmas. Winter was a celebration by itself, with its own customs and memories.

The smell of food, and the presentation of meals will go a long way to building a sense of well-being in yourself and others in the home.  A slow-cooker is a way of having a meal in progress without always standing over a stove, and gives people a feeling of reassurance on dark days. I have one, and though it takes valuable space in my kitchen, it pays its rent by never being idle. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts can be prepared in the slow-cookers. Dinners can be arranged with the meat in the middle and the vegetables on each side, while they cook. The inside of the pot can be removed to the table and used as a serving dish. Winter is the best time for this kind of food, as it cooks slowly, filling the house with wonderful, soothing aromas.
Winter Sunrise by Carl Valente from Allposters

These days, there is not much to complain about in winter. We have access to communication and need not feel completely cut off from life.  We have materials and things to keep us busy. We have beauty all around us, for winter has its own glory.

If you found this post helpful and wish to print it for your notebook, please click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The River

All that snow, shown in previous posts, has melted, down from the hills into the field, forming a river. The width of it has increased each time I look out the window.  I could describe how the chickens have found a higher place to roost, or the neighbors have a boat in their pasture, but this song describes it much, much better:

This video also includes the old song "Suppertime."

Winter's Lease

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

View From My Window

I'll Have A Blue Winter
(view from my window)

Winter has its own pleasures. Unlike the frenzied pace of summer, winter gives you permission to stay indoors, and, while in, explore creative things or enjoy foods not usually served in summer.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Brighter Day Ahead

Victorian Lady 2 by John O'Brien

Don't tear your own house down.

Don't sabotage your own happiness

Don't thwart your purpose at home

Don't dwell on gloom and doom

Don't weaken your support structure

Don't give in to boredom

Don't be crunched for time

Don't neglect creativity

Don't forget to sing.  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Around My House

I am still trying to find the source of this lovely painting. It seems a little like Michael Humphreys paintings which I have posted in the past. I'll post the artist and particulars when I find it.

Mrs. Q., at Blessed Homemaking has such a beautiful post about some things very pertinent to wives and daughters and I surely hope some of you will send her a comment, as this lady has such a beautiful blog and such clarity of thought about issues of the home and true womanhood. I think it would be a good idea for men to read some of the excellent posts there too.

My young cousin, Mrs. A., has a pretty blog, too, and has given a nice review of my book about my childhood. Her blog is here. 

During these cold winter months I find more housework to do and more boxes and containers that are empty and need to be thrown out, so I want to share what I've done with a box or two that I have saved.  This one filled with crackers, given to me when I had a ladies tea here, and I covered it in scrapbook papers, to use later for a boxed "tea" for someone in the hospital.

The papers are positioned in a way as to get the best part of the paper, with the large roses, to show on the cover and the corners, and on the inside flap.

Just trace around it and cut out the piece . Swirl an office glue stick all over the box and press the paper up on it. You can remove and adjust the paper when you use that kind of glue.

I left the  cracker- shaped insert to use as a divider for those little crustless sandwiches and raw vegetable sticks, cheeses and fruit which will all be wrapped in waxed paper or put in tiny zip-lock bags.

Here is a treat that is quick and easy for children's tea on one of the cloudy afternoons.

A friend bought this jam  especially for me at a speciality shop, because she knew I would like the jar. The jam tastes like cranberries and worked really well in these little tea sandwiches. 

You can also use a scone recipe to make these little sandwiches, and when I get the chance, will insert pictures and more  instructions here. Just roll out scone dough thinly, bake in the shapes you like, and when it is cooled , assemble as sandwiches. Or, spread scone or biscuit dough on a cookie sheet, bake, and cut with cookie cutters the same way you would cut bread. 

Use graduated size cookie cutters to make the openings for the jam to show through, but if you do not have heart shape, just use a small round bottle or tiny round cookie cutter to make the inside.

Cutting some extra hearts from potato bread slices can use up quite a bit of the bread. the crusts and leftover pieces can be used to make salad croutons.

On one side of the bread, spread butter, and on top of that, a layer of peanut butter, if desired.

Put a load of red jelly or jam or preserves on top of one side of the sandwiches,

and this is what you will get. Children are delighted to help with this tea time preparation

Now here are the covered boxes that I will use to pack a tea for someone.

This is a clementine, or mandarin orange box. I like the way they are made with straight sides, almost like a little tray. You do have to trim off some things to make the sides smooth, before you cover them.

I used wrapping paper on this one, but am working on one using scrapbook papers, covering the inside as well. Uses for these boxes include sewing kits, card making supplies, children's toys, bath products, hair care supplies, or home made scone mixes with tea cups.

The box can be traced on all sides and then the piece cut out. It looks strange but it fits well. Just run the glue stick all over the side of the box, press the section on, and continue on the other sides.

I also wanted to tell you about a bag of flour I buy at Walmart that I use for scones. It is unbleached, natural, and fine enough to make the scones light and fluffy, like specialized pastry. I also make the communion bread with this flour. The bag is big enough to fill two large kitchen canisters. 

Finally, I bought just a small piece of two flannel fabrics at Walmart. I did not want to make the commitment of buying 5 or 6 yards before I had decided what to sew.  I brought the two fourth-yard pieces home to look at them in the light and go through my patterns, looking for skirts and vests or  dresses that might look good made up in this fabric. I think one could also use flannel for curtains and table cloths and little matching pillows, tea cozy, and other home accessories.

In  other news, Mrs. Hollinger of Country Diary blog , hosted a homemaking class in her newly built log home in Idaho, and invited me as a guest speaker over Skype. I loved seeing her beautiful home and she took me on a virtual tour with her laptop camera.  Over 20 women were there and I got to personally talk to some of them when they had their tea break, as each one would come up to the computer and introduce herself.  The lessons that Mrs. Hollinger used were from a set of records I sent her, called "The Art of Homemaking" narrated by Art Linkletter.   Because I no longer had a working record player, I had someone record the lessons on to cassette tapes for myself, which I can then record again on a disc on my computer, so I hope I may one day share some of the audio lessons on line. The segments she played to her class were just wonderful; so well spoken, clear, with great expression, and really came alive with meaning, talking about the important role of the homemaker and how she should view herself and her family.  

The January 2012 Victoria has a nature scene. Just inside the front cover, it greets you with this:

One of the articles inside the magazine shows this curious object below, called  a Reading Wheel from Victorian times. The columns of newspapers would be cut into strips and rolled around the wheel, for easier reading.

Weren't the Victorians  innovative, inventive and clever? And we think our computers are so brilliant with their scroll down and scroll up arrows. The programmers probably got it from them!

The Victorians were always looking for convenience, accessibility and more expedient ways of doing things. From that era came improved versions of wheelchairs, elevators, and even mechanical hands and things to help the handicapped.  

I often found the Victoria publication a valuable aid to my homeschooling materials, as they visited so many other countries, museams and historical places.

Here is something I've recently done to the guest room to keep the chill out. Although the window has a shade and a curtain, the wall faces a seasonal cold wind and  a driving force of rain, so just 3 yards of inexpensive dark green fleece from Walmart sale table in the fabric department, tucked over the rod, or fastened with clothes pins,  protects the room from the cold draft. A thicker or darker piece can keep the light out if you are trying to darken a room.