Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Please remember that the scripture references will pop up on the page when you linger your cursor on them.

The artists lovely painting of the path leading to the humble cottage makes me think of the importance of home life, and how the values we cherish must be guarded. These may include simple things like contentment and quietness, minding our own business, creativity, engrossing work, our family sayings and beliefs, our personal possessions and land, our lineage and the enriching history of our ancestors, or the love of beauty and the love of music.  I have pondered that a little bit today, and found a few things that might help maintain that "little piece of heaven on earth" which we call home.

A Thicket of Blackberries Against the Sky

Planning or pursuing moments of deliberate delight in a day can bring rest to the home. There has to be one place in the world that is free from anxiety. Observing something beautiful and thinking of something delightful each day, on purpose, results in tranquility that will be passed on to the family. This is where the little journal-art book can be used. Just one sentence a day with a little sketch or artful sticker can make you aware of the importance of a single day. If you are depressed or discouraged, try to pull from within your mind one good thing to write down. If this is not possible, find one good thing to say out loud. 

Forming a personal tradition of taking tea will encourage others to partake of the ceremony with you. It just has to be a cup of tea. I have also found that the walk is essential in the daily life of a homemaker, as a tradition to preserve. Walking to the mail box, to a scenic area, or to a place you like, can be one of your daily delights.  This and other things can be included on in your daily life and over the years will reap blessings.

  Mentally feed on the good, the pure and the lovely, and it will stabilize your mind in later years.  It is not too late for the over-50-age group to replace grim attitudes with be-happy attitudes or beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-16). This text shows the source of true happiness.

Leisure with the purpose of refreshing your mind and getting your thoughts sorted out is a type of relaxation that builds the body and mind. This can be in the form of sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, holding a child's hand as he walks with you on a meander through the garden, taking tea with a friend or by yourself, creating something of beauty,  and anything that gives you a sigh of happiness.

Boreas, by John William Waterhouse
English, 1859-1917

Speaking the positive when handling the negative. In another post, I have addressed the problem of the negative, naysayer friends who will seek your help. These people are always drawn to those who have consistent lives and foundational beliefs. They see your life and want it for themselves without having to endure the hardships or do the things that bring it about. They do not see each trial as a step to being an over-comer or being stronger. Wanting relief without solving the actual problem, they become a burden to friends and neighbors. 

 It is so important not to allow the fearful, negative speaking people to put a cloud of doubt over your life. It is also important to be kind and polite to them, but it is not necessary to let their moods dominate yours.  We have seen how so many homemaking blogs have put these people in their place by not giving them an inch into their blogs and not allowing them to poison the atmosphere with condemning, complaining, accusations, control, and other things that belong in the dark. While it is admirable to counsel such people from the good of your heart, I believe caution is necessary. I addressed it in this post.

Identifying the happy moments that were created for you by others.  It is very helpful to think back to the last time you were truly happy and content. Analyze the details. What kind of day was it? What were you doing? Wearing? Thinking? Who were you talking to? What was the atmosphere of your home? What were the scents, the scenes and the sounds?   Go back to doing the things you used to do when you were the most whole. For some people, it means getting out the knitting they were working on, and finding all the favorite books and magazines they were reading at the time. One woman recently told me of a small thing she did which helped her greatly to renew her mind and be at peace. She merely bought a  calligraphy doodling pen and a notebook, sat down to enjoy a cup of tea and just doodled. She was not trying to be clever. She was trying to relax, and enjoying it very much. With a relaxed, clear mind, she is more able to speak without the tense, impatient edge in the voice that besets some people.

Look back also on the happy events in your life before you became a homemaker, that were created by your own parents: a happy place in the house, perhaps, that was created just for you, a new doll, your first record player, and other small moments of delight. Transport yourself to the sunny days of youth when the cares and burdens were light. This is a good source of strength in times of uncertainty or stress.

by Susan Rios

Re-designing thought habits to reflect the determination to rise above things. We have had in each of our lives, public figures who have preached the happiness message. We may have a tendency to think the songs and sayings are cute and trite but they are very important. "Life is a gift: untie the ribbons," was one of these familiar sayings. Songs like "Keep on the Sunny Side," or the lyrics: "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again."  We have had poets and singers in our own times who spread the message of rising above defeat and  starting over. There is even a modern saying that God is the God of beginning again. So, there is encouragement all around us if we really want to find it. 

Minding the business of your home is essential in finding delight in life. It may require a change in what you listen to or what you worry about. It may require being a little more appreciative of the day's delights.  If you want to see the changes in yourself and the effect it has on your home and family, try keeping a journal for a few days in which you record things you have over come, or ways around obstacles or defeating a problem. You might record little moments of delight that helped distract you from something. If you are used to looking on the dark side of everything, you might find such a diary beneficial when you slip back into old thought patterns.

Queen Anne's Lace

The home is the ideal place to practice delight-living because you are not regulated by any government or workplace than your own. It is here you determine the schedule and life that is works best for you, so it is here that you can create spots of delight in a day's time. One lady I know who has small children says she enjoys her daily walk down the road from her house to the mail box. It is her re-creation time. 

In our world of mindless chatter and constant communication, let us not lose touch with the delights of ordinary life that was experienced by each generation before us. If you are home schooling, this might be a subject you could explore with your children, finding things to do or think about that are good, pure and lovely.
Sunday at the Shore
by Susan Rios

 Try also creating places of delight in your house so that each room or hall you walk past will have something in it you can appreciate: a plant in a pretty pot, a shelf of special books, a place setting at the table, a chair on the porch, a stack of letters you have received, a quilt on the back of a couch, and much more. Letter writing, picture drawing, picnics (the old fashioned kind), art, music, hand-work (sewing, etc) and many other things enjoyed by our great grandmothers can be revived to enjoy today and get the same results of tranquility in a rapidly changing culture.  In order to accomplish this, there must be a determined effort to put away fear and gloom and replace it with happiness.

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Enjoy the message of the song "High Hopes"

Handling the Negative People in Your Life

Roses by Alexander Du Brus

Allow your cursor to linger on the scripture references and they will pop-up on this page.

Critics and gloomy, negative people
  can put a cloud of doubt and depression on you  Now and then there will be people whose moods will dampen your love for life and make you lose a sense of yourself and what you are all about. The gloomy, morose people who never have a praiseworthy thing to discuss, can somehow damage your soul and effect your physical health. 

When beset by an emotionally needy person who has begun to depend on your spiritual support but never gets beyond the same complaints and fears,  you need to always point the way to Christ, through prayer and through His Word. You alone cannot adequately counsel a person the way Christ can. Offer a prayer, aloud, on the phone, each time this person has a problem, and soon you will see that they lose interest in discussing it with you.  You might try giving them an "assignment" of a good book to read that will effect their minds positively. Ask them to take some time to read Philippians 4:8 and dwell on it.  Remind them that after awhile  Christ expects them to grow up and rise above their problems. (Hebrews 5:12)
Rose with Raindrops by Frank Krahmer

 You may also consider asking: "Do you know it is possible to overcome pessimistic thinking by substituting a delightful though for a depressing one?  Think of something that would really make life better for you, and dwell on that." 

While I am speaking of "doomsday," I feel it is necessary to emphasise that it is not healthy to be "watching" constantly for the end of the world. The Holy Spirit speaks in Revelation 1:7 that every eye shall see him. No one needs to be looking toward Jerusalem, or waiting for the destruction of the country, or trembling in anticipation (unless they have not obeyed the gospel, or have not been faithful after being converted) because when the end comes, someone will be washing dishes and see him. Someone else will be minding their store and see him; others will be going about their daily jobs and see him. No matter what country they live in, they are going to see him. You can read the description of this by running your cursor over this verse: Revelation 1:7.
Beautiful Summer Flowers 
by Alexandre DeBrus

When the scriptures urge us to watch, (1 Peter 4:7) it means to live carefully and be watchful for your soul, for the souls of others, of the things you do and say to maintain a clear conscience and a right relationship with God.  We are supposed to be found working, not watching the news for reports of the end of the world. We are to watch ourselves or rather, examine ourselves daily, to see that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  That is the kind of watching we should be doing.  Those who are constantly wishing for the end to come lack a certain compassion for the people who are not yet saved. Instead of hastening the day of judgement, they ought to use every spare moment to convert their loved ones and friends.

Perhaps those who want the end to come are depressed people who feel there is no hope in life, and that they have nothing worthwhile to live for, or maybe they just do not want to endure trials in life, or maybe they just want to get out of working.  It is possible they do not love their husbands, wives or children, and enjoy predicting the destruction of the world. They may not really enjoy the life they have been given and do not want to live it to the fullest and be as productive as they can be in the cause of Christ.

 Whatever the reason for being obsessed with the end times, it is not a good thing for the family to be too concerned about the future. The Bible says the day  (today) has enough problems, and we are not to worry about tomorrow. There is an old song with these lyrics: "Will He wait a little longer?/There's so many out in sin/Will he wait a little longer/ give us time to gather in?"  (Read the lyrics here.) If you are raising children, they need to be raised in a positive atmosphere and learn how to love life and be grateful for each day and have a glad hope for tomorrow. Press here for the lyrics to the song "Great Is They Faithfulness."

Christ offers an abundant life (John 10:10) . The scriptures speak of living, of life, of long life for many people, and of protecting life. Instead of watching for the "end," (which will change nothing), a dedicated Christian needs to put on the armour of God, (Ephesians 6: 9-19) and  fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12). They need to study the Bible and be strong enough to handle the difficulties of life on earth. To be only wanting the end means to avoid the trials and things which give wisdom and understanding.

 Those who want to sit around worrying about the end times need to pray instead that God would give them another day to gather in a host of people that are lost in sin.  The fact that the earth still remains shows God's love and mercy toward us, yet, even before the end of time, we need to get things right with God and live according to His principles.  That way, no matter what happens, we are prepared.  Homemakers need to be 'found working" and keeping their houses orderly, serving their families, showing hospitality, resting, creating, training their children, and sharing the word of life with others. 
Old Roses in a Basket 
by Albert Williams

Although the apostle Paul was a prisoner of Nero when he wrote the letter to the Philippians in 61 A.D.  the letter is full of admonitions to think about love and loveliness.  This is a great treasure full of joy for all of our friends and kin who want to gripe and complain about life. "Whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things." (Philippians 4:8). In order to handle this problem, I have divided the situations into these categories, with possible solutions to helping them and getting free of the effect of their gloom. 
A Still Life of Pink and Yellow Roses
by Alexandre DuBrus

1.Suppress the negative and uphold the positive: While any Christian homemaker feels she should minister to other women and support them in their role at home, she needs to know what her limits are and how much she can take. If she has answered the phone and spent a few minutes listening to her friend, she has to keep in mind that she could be using up time and thinking ability that she needs for her home and her family.  By giving the person the tool that they need to become a lifter and not a leaner (Philippians 4:8), the person has the power to solve their own problems and go on to help others.  Sadly, we often enable the complainers and prevent them from rising above their problems, when we give them too much time on the phone.

Let me give you an example of cheerfulness in spite of the depressing circumstances. A young lady I know recently suffered from an illness that dragged on in such a way that she never felt she was going to recover to her old bouncy self completely. Her grandmother told her one day, "I believe if you will take a shower, get dressed and fix your hair, you will feel better." Though she felt she was not energetic enough to get up and have a normal day, she did what her grandmother suggested. She still felt sick, but she got a few minutes of sitting-up time, read her mail, had a cup of tea, then went back to bed. Using this method of looking on the bright side by dressing as though she was well, she was able to recover a little more of her life each day, until one day she was up all day doing normal things.
painting by Robert Walker

  Overcoming difficult circumstances does not always mean that the circumstances are changed. It means that you do not allow things outside of your control to drag your thoughts down into despair. It means you rise above them with strong mental exertion.

Realize that your personal ministry is on your own mission field in your home. Too much bad news or too many gloomy comments can demoralize your own people. In a sense, we at home are in a war and that war begins with demoralizing the troops. Once that happens, it is very easy to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the family members. Therefore, make sure your complainer friend or relative knows that you are not able to absorb too much negative news without it affecting your performance at home.
Woman Reading
by Mary Casatt

 We all know of the doomsdayers and naysayers who cannot muster up a good thought or good word about anything. Realize that the beliefs and thinking habits  of such people keeps them constantly in a state of agitation, which is contrary to the will of Christ. (Philippians 4:8)

Remember that you could be cheating your family of the very "best" of you
 when you spend too much time trying to lift up the spirits of the chronic complainers and the fearful end-of-the-world-watchers. We are not supposed to be thinking about doomsday. We are supposed to be thinking about today's loveliness and today's duties.   Do not allow the company of a complainer to dominate your life. I know that there are women who feel that their children have never seen their own mother happy and relaxed, enjoying them and the home, because there has always been another grown-up with emotional problems that they felt obligated to help. It is difficult to concentrate on home making when there are problems on your mind, and it is foolish to borrow someone else's problems.

by John William Waterhouse

List the people in that person's life that could already have tried to help them. Sometimes we think we are the only ones that can help a negative, fearful, gloomy person, but in most cases, that person has a  husband, another, a father, brothers and sisters whom God placed in their lives. A person who really wants to get over their problems will seek help through reading and researching, rather than burdening a young homemaker. Besides their own relatives, there are ministers available, often without charge. Find out if the person is attending worship services or Bible study, and suggest it as a solution to their problems.  Circumstances do not always change, but when a person learns to think of the circumstances in a Christian light, they feel much differently.

When pressed, a busy young homemaker may say something like, "I'm really busy right now but I can chat for a minute and then I must go."  That will not give enough time for the other person to enter into their tales of woe.  While we never want to appear callous or unsympathetic, most of these women are grown-ups and need to understand that the homemaker has a responsibility to fulfill and is not obligated to solve other people's problems.

Direct them to helpful books and beautiful magazines that stimulate the mind and work of the homemaker. Sometimes I go and visit an open-house show-home just to see what a house looks like that is clean, and though I realize no one yet lives in such a house, its spaciousness always inspires me to de-clutter and rearrange furniture when I get home. There are also other sources available to these people who want to have help. The web has a lot of things on it that will help. 

Avoid using the phone to counsel as it will interfere with your concentration on your life at home. Email is quieter and you can think more carefully about what you say. Include in the email the links you want her to look at. If she writes back, you can take your time answering, and include another link. Give the gloomy person links to homemaking videos, flower arranging, sewing, housekeeping, and good uplifting movies. Often a person just needs to watch something that will take them outside of their own problems. Positive reading can make complete turn-arounds in the gloomy minds of some people. Give her a friendly assignment via email that she can view silently.  Things like: paying a compliment to someone, getting dressed to look her feminine best, listening to soft music, sending a card to someone, finding a recipe online and following it, ironing her husband's dress shirt, cleaning out a book shelf, watch a series of videos such as How to Clean House Like a Pro.   Also, assign the memorization of scripture, such as the command of Christ not to worry about what will happen tomorrow, in Matthew 6:34.

Know that not everyone is "good soil" (Matthew 13:1-8) and will not allow good things to grow in them. They may have a sour attitude that makes it more difficult to absorb good instruction.  Some times the seeds of encouragement do not reach receptive hearts. Sometimes you can reach someone for a time and then they allow the cares and fears of the world to come back.  The homemaker may have to face the regrettable task of imposing time limits on conversations and visits.  The people today are no different than people of the past, and our great-grandmothers had ways of putting such people to work or enlisting their help, but they would not stand for too much self-pity for long.  We need to recapture that sensibility today and give the critics and the fearful something to do that is useful.

Move on quickly to something more productive, when someone will not apply the tools you give them to improve their lives. Jesus warned his disciples not to stay in a place where people would not listen, but to go on to the next place. (Matthew 10:14).  Behind this command of Jesus is a very good reason: if you allow too much discouragement in your life, you soon become disabled and discouraged, and  immobilized. The naysayers can  think only of the objections to your message, and not the possibility of success. So, Christ told his disciples to move on and find those whose hearts were receptive. Save your adrenalin and your energy for someone who will take the message and grow and teach others.
Painting by Susan Rios

 If someone's problem is robbing you of your health and your ability to function fully at home, you need to realize that it is not your job to rescue them. This is certainly not meant to imply that Christian homemakers have no compassion for people who are hurting, but that they have a great work to do in their families and that no one else can do it as well as they can. The future and the memories of their families lie within the actions of the homemaker. If a person does not receive the encouragement or the instruction and improve within a reasonable amount of time, Matthew 10:14 should be applied. Jesus knows that it is not only for the good of the one being helped, but for the one who teaches. It keeps the mind of the teacher and helper healthy and strong and alert, and not discouraged.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Relaxing at Home

Tea Time 
by Antoine Emil Plassan, (France) 1817-1903

Relaxing at home sounds simple, but it is easy to get too busy to take time to sit and collect your thoughts. To ease tension and tiredness, think back to a time when you were the most relaxed and happy. Replicate the things that you were doing in those days that gave you sublime feeling of contentment. Tea time might have been one of them. There was a time when taking tea was supremely important to the home maker. Today it is not a common custom, and so we must make a special effort to remember to stop and take tea. Those few moments can be relaxing and restoring and extremely luxurious.

The blackberry patch yielded a few ripe berries for blackberry tea. I am going to show one way of making this wonderful, health-promoting drink.

The berries were in various stages of ripeness, so I just took the black ones, which were very sweet, and left the others for later. The way to tell if a berry is ripe and sweet is that it will easily come off the vine when you pick it. 

I picked about a cup of berries for the pot of tea I was going to make.

First, fill the stove-top kettle, or tea kettle or a saucepan full of coldest water from the tap and bring it to a boil. Pay no attention to the noise the kettle makes, because sometimes it sounds like it is boiling but it is not. When steam comes out of it, and lifting the lid reveals a rolling boil, it is ready to pour. While it is boiling, you can get the berries ready for tea. 

You will need a fork to mash the berries, a tea pot and a strainer. This one fits nicely inside the tea pot.

Mash the berries to the consistency of a puree, making sure every berry has been crushed.

Insert the strainer into the tea pot. If you don't have this kind of strainer, put a tea strainer type of spoon over the top of the pot. 

Pour the blackberry puree into the mesh strainer.

Add boiling water from the kettle, filling your teapot as full as you want it. This berry puree makes a strong tea.

Replace the teapot lid on top of the strainer and let the berries steep in the hot water a few minutes, or until the water has turned a beautiful red color.

Lift the strainer and allow any liquid to drain, and then remove the strainer and replace the teapot lid.

Pour yourself a fragrant cup of blackberry tea. If the blackberries are ripe and sweet, no additional sweetener is needed. You can also do the same thing with strawberries or raspberries.  

Experiment with the flavor by adding a drop of honey or a few grains of raw washed sugar cane. Raw sugar,  has a wonderful aroma and taste, like molasses, only better.  It is sometimes labeled "turbinado" on the package, or "muscovado" or "demerara". Each one is slightly different in texture, taste and aroma and can be found in the grocery store or at a whole foods market.   This blackberry tea stands on its own, however, with not much need of sweetening, however, once fruit of any kind has been heated, it becomes more acidic, and need of additional sweeteners.

While at their peak season, indulge in blackberries for a nutritious snack or dessert. One cup of fresh blackberries has 62 calories, 1 gram of fat, 15 carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and only 1 mg of sodium. Here are the top 10 health benefits of eating blackberries:

1. Blackberries are one of the top ten foods containing antioxidants.

2. Blackberries are packed with polyphenols helping to prevent cancer and heart disease.

3. Blackberries are filled with anthocyanins (antioxidants which give blackberries their deep purple color) which help in memory retention and the risk of hypertension.

4. Blackberries are said to strengthen blood vessels, help fight heart disease and help improve eyesight.

5. The high tannin content of blackberries help tighten tissue, relieve intestinal inflammation, and help reduce hemorrhoids and stomach disorders.

6. Ohio State University found that blackberries may protect against esophageal cancer, a cancer caused by gastric reflux disease.

7. Blackberries have shown to protect against other types of cancers. They contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), a compound believed to play a vital role in preventing breast and cervical cancer.

8. Blackberries are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Manganese and fiber.

9. The high fiber content of blackberries help reduce risk of intestinal disease and the risk of developing diabetes.

10. Blackberries are a healthy food choice that kids and adults love. They are a great way to refuel after a hard workout and help aid in fighting obesity.

If you do not have your own blackberries growing, it is worth the price to buy a bush or two and plant them in a pot or in your yard somewhere. If they will not grow in your area, it is worth the price to buy them in frozen packages from your grocery store.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fitness at Home

Painting by Leopold Francois Kowalsky
Russian Federation (1856-1931)

I have been collecting some ideas and techniques for the non-Olympic women who want to be fit but still look feminine. I discovered through viewing 19th century photographs and paintings that women were quite active in golf, tennis, swimming, bike riding, hand ball, hiking and walking. 
Woman on the Top of a Mountain
by Charles Courtney Curran, American 1861-1942

 Most of the pictures I have seen of these people shows them to be a lot thinner than our population today, so I cannot say that the way the exercised was of no account. Many of the publications of the era indicate that women valued fresh air and walking in nature, and jogging was not mentioned. I suspect they were fit enough if they were doing normal housework at home or keeping their gardens.  Many of them were seriously interested in outdoor exercise, as you see in this old film from 1899 of women riding bicycles in formation.

Good health and a stable mind involves more than physical exercise. I believe that walking is a good type of outdoor activity if it is done with nature in mind. Observing the scenes in the distance, as well as the flora near the pathway; thinking about your life and what you'd like to do or not like to do, and connecting with the Creator, makes a person complete. Spending time alone thinking, or simply sitting to rest, is as important as making your arms strong. Walking, in the past, was considered an important ritual to "clear your mind."

Painting by George Dunlop Leslie, (English 1835-1921)

I personally do not think that exercise has to be a great strain on a woman or a big, time-consuming activity and I do not see any benefit to going to a gym.  At home, a woman can "look well to the ways of her household" while she exercises. Cleaning and other types of housekeeping require some stretching and moving that can still benefit the body. Exercising at home is a way of accomplishing a lot on your list (housework and other tasks) at the same time.

Indian Summer
by Carl Larsson (Swedish 1853-1919)

If you have small children and feel you need more exercise, carry your baby  to strengthen your arms.Stretch and bend to help small children clean up their toys. Looking in lower cabinets of your kitchen can really give you a work out, as well as carrying a load of laundry in a basket out to the line to hang to dry.

Bringing bags of groceries in the house to unload, or packing up a box of things you do not need anymore and taking them to the car are good weight exercises. Keeping busy can aid in personal fitness.
Exercise of the Intellect
by Jaques Wagrez
American 1846-1908

Making a bed, moving furniture in order to sweep under it, scrubbing a bathtub, mopping the floor, or cleaning the fridge, are all forms of exercise if not done too leisurely.  Tending to the various needs of children will keep you fit, too.

While the world is always focused on how thin and muscular you can get, it is important to remember how God views exercise. He uses it in various passages of His Word to describe the Christian life as a race to the finish, but cautions that "bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things." (1 Timothy 4:8) While keeping physically fit and healthy is important, there will be times in life when we cannot exercise. Wisdom and knowledge of God's Word,  acquired from study and life-experience will always be of greater value. "
by Ernest Renoux (France, 1863-1932)

When the widows mourned the death of Dorcas, (Acts 9:36-41) they showed the apostle Peter the garments she had sewn for them and for the poor. There are many things we can do that last longer than sports and exercise. The clothes you sew, the things you create, the pictures you paint, the quilts you make or the crocheted pieces you leave--even the diaries you write, will be appreciated for a long time. Do not think that "just being a homemaker" has no merit in the lives of future generations, for that is just the kind of woman they will be looking for in a world where women have forgotten their natural destiny in life.

In the book "Greater Health, God's Way," by Stormie Ormation, she lists things that are important to proper weight, and suggests that they all be used simultaneously. Instead of concentrating on diet, she combines it with proper rest, peace of mind, fresh air, good water, bathing, exercise, prayer, Bible study, laughter, and other things.  Our present era seems to focus only on food and exercise in controlling weight, but all these things are necessary in order to maintain good health.
The Fruit Seller
by Vincenzo Campi  (Italian 1536-1591)

As far as diet is concerned, I believe that too many starches and simple carbohydrates can causes weight-gain if you do not have a good amount of exercise to balance it. Proteins are more sustaining and do not make your body feel nervous or your stomach churn with hunger pains like sugary foods.

 My own diet consists of eating whatever I like for breakfast and lunch.  I find that breads and flour products such as tortillas, crackers or even flatbread, are delicious but the effect these kinds of foods have is to make me feel anxious and make my stomach churn with more hunger, so I eat very little of them now. If someone invites me to tea and offers little tea sandwiches cut in fourths, I will enjoy one of them. In general, I eat everything but take one small bite of things I know will cause weight-gain, rather than a huge plate full.  
The Poppy Field
by Leon Girann-max

 I try not to eat after the noon hour or 2 o' clock,  but if I grow very hungry by supper time, I either have some yogurt or a shredded lettuce salad with cucumbers, avocado and rice vinegar. Sometimes I make a dressing for that salad with rice vinegar, Italian seasoning (found for 50c in a bottle at Walmart, called "5th season" , full of basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and other herbs) and olive oil.   I drink plenty of my favorite teas. My favorite food is stir-fried brocoli and I use coconut oil to make scones and breads. I like food as close to its natural source as possible: fresh foods, then frozen, then dried, and lastly if all resources are exhausted, canned or packaged foods.

This way of eating may not be suitable for everyone, but if you are older and having a struggle getting extra weight off, you might try my method of skipping the evening meal and just eating some yogurt before you go to bed, or if hungry a salad with a half an avocado and some fresh baby cucumbers.  If you feel you must eat in the evening, avoid breads and sweets. Eat your crumpets, breads, and things of that nature in the mornings, before noon, and you will find they do not slow you down or add to your weight.

Fruit Stall, 1618-21
by Franz Sniders

Barbara Cartland, a prominent writer of novels and health books from the 1960's through the 1980's wrote in her health book that the nature of the English man changed when the national breakfast switched from the traditional breakfast of eggs, crumpets, butter, cheese, cream, fish, beef, home grown fruits and preserves, potatoes and other home-grown things, to cold cereal, toast and juice. She claimed that the  change from natural foods to highly processed foods made the English businessman angry and impatient by noon time, and after that, there was no rescue for his mood or his day.  She spoke of family problems and economical problems as being some of the results of this assault on the English diet.   Starting a day out with cold cereal, juice and toast is not very stabilizing to the body and will make a person jittery by midday. 

Those old-fashioned farm breakfasts, if low in sweets (pancakes and syrup not recommended) can take you through the entire day without hunger. All you have to do is maintain yourself with a light lunch and lighter supper. If you eat heavily at the front-end of the day, you will not eat huge amounts at the latter end of the day, and will not gain weight.  It is difficult to do this if you are not hungry when you wake up. You can't be hungry when you wake up, if you went to bed with a spaghetti dinner on your stomach. The solution is to have a bowl of soup, with no crackers or bread, or have the salad I mentioned or yogurt, at night. Ideally, do not eat after 4 or 5 o'clock. The earlier you quit eating in the afternoon or evening, the more likely you will shed a pound. Doing a quick round-up of clutter and putting the house in order before bedtime will give you the exercise you need to keep from gaining too much weight.

En Vacance

                                            by Marie-François Firmin-Girard  ( French, 1838 - 1921)

Aside from diet and non-exhaustive exercise, I think the element of peaceful living has a large impact on the human body. When there are quarrels, complaining, criticism, discouraging words, hatred, envy, and pessimism or other detrimental thinking habits at home, it can disrupt the digestive and nervous system and then affect your health. 

"Refuse profane and old wive's fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." (1 Timothy 4:7)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Sewing: Cotton Dresses to Wear at Home

A Thread of Love
by Eduard Niczky (German 1850-1919)

(Please note: You can move your cursor or finger over the scripture citations for a pop-up window of the complete verse.)

Last summer I posted a picture of this soft cotton print from the Wal-Mart fabric department.( By the way, Wal-Mart is re-establishing the fabric department in some stores country-wide.)  Since then, several ladies have written to tell me that they had purchased some of it, and included photographs of the finished garments.

  I also shared how to make a planning page with a drawing and notes about the garment you are going to make. Ladies have also been sending me these, to show. The one you see below was sent by a lady who also uses New Look pattern 6352 , adding a flutter sleeve and a ruffle at the hem. This is great for summer because it is loose and cool. This dress has no buttons or zipper but you could add a side or back zipper.

Another friend sent me this picture of a skirt and blouse made from the same fabric,

and this is what I have done with the same print: very similar to my e-friend's sketch at the beginning of the post, only I chose long sleeves. The dress is not that long; the dress form has very short legs! This pattern is very easy, but for some people may be too big, so trying making it a size smaller. Also, the neckline will need to be raised, and the shoulders will have to have additional inches added at the neckline.
The neckline fits better than it looks on the dressform.

The reason I use this pattern is that it is easy for the homemaker that has so much to do, and she can get it finished in a day.  After I cut out a dress, I take the fabric pieces I just cut out, and lay them on another piece of folded fabric and cut out another dress. Using the pre-cut dress as a pattern is much easier, as it needs no pins or weights to hold it down, so I always have a dress cut out that will be used for a pattern. This I do with other patterns and styles, also, if I like the way the dress turned out.

I will address a question that comes to my email sometimes about my sewing: What do you do with all the clothes and crafts you make?

If you sew with cotton, you know how wonderful it is to wear, and you tend to wear the clothes to death. Every last wear is squeezed out of these garments until it cannot be worn again, and then it is cut down into an apron. If you use the line to dry the garment, you might take something that seems like it has absolutely no wear left in it, hang it to dry, and then discover that the sun and wind added some more starch and body to the cloth, and you can get a few more wearings from it.

Homemaking being as active as it is, the cotton dresses will receive a lot of wear and tear, so I do not expect them to last for years. However, some of the ones that I made for out-of-the-house have lasted 15 to 20 years.

Since these dresses are not expensive and are made of cotton fabrics, they do not hang in the closet for years or go unworn, and therefore, are used up faster than other types of clothing. If it looks like my blog is full of dresses and you wonder how in the world I could wear them all, remember I dress this way at home daily, and I do not wear the same dress every day. I have at least 7 dresses so I can rotate them.  My newer dress just off the sewing machine will be worn to church (about 4 of them) and then as the older dresses wear out, I will use the newer ones to wear to Ladies Bible Class, Wednesday evening Bible study, or Sunday night church.  Eventually I will have several dresses to wear during the week, with newer ones to wear to other occasions outside of the home.  

The pillows, blankets, and other crafts get used up also. My family lives in our house and everything gets some pretty hard wear-and-tear, and I am not afraid to use the pretty ruffled pillows, because if they wear out, it is always exciting to make something else.     Smaller items get put in a basket by the front door to give away to guests or to take to someone I visit, or to be used as a gift when it is needed.

Hand sewn cotton blouses and skirts feel MUCH different than factory clothing. For one thing, they are breathable and do not cling as much, making them much more comfortable. Yes, you can get 100% cotton knit tops and you can get cotton skirts in stores, but it is treated with some different product, which will make it feel much different, even after it is washed, than the hand made cotton clothing.

Making your own clothes, or having a dressmaker, gives you a better fit and more control over the styles, the length or the color choice.  

My favorite fabrics are by David Textiles from Texas, which are stocked by Walmart. The Hawaiian dress in one of the previous posts is a David fabric.  

To plan your sewing, try making a list of things you do and places you go, and then sketching the type of clothing you need to wear. Such a list might look something like this:

Worship Service -  solid color dress and short jacket --make about 4 of them, and use them later when they are wearing out, for your daily wear.

Daily Wear At Home - 7 calico prints of various colors, with sleeves, and one white short jacket to wear over them when you have to go away from home.

Ladies Bible Study - several versions of a skirt and casual blouse (4 or 5 of them to rotate in wear)

Midweek Bible study - a casual dress (make about 4 of these to rotate in wear)

Special Occasions - one black dress with jacket and one white skirt and top, or more formal.

Away from home: vacations, beach, sight seeing, touring, and anything else: it is fun to choose fabrics to go with the activity you are anticipating, or with the scenes or climate.  If you are a "mood" dresser like I am, think of the colors you will see wherever you go, and choose your fabric accordingly.

I am looking forward to taking some time to demonstrate on this blog how to make this dress, with easy instructions. 

One good reason to make cotton dresses for the home is that they are a woven, natural fabric, which wear thinner as they are washed and hung out, and they will not hang in the closet for years and years, like some of the clothing made from oil and plastic products.  Cottons do not cling to body odor as badly as other fabrics, and if they are sewn by someone, rather than store-bought, they have a more refreshing feeling next to the skin.

Some manufacturers have been able to duplicate this in cotton garments. It is a matter of finding them to purchase. A knit cotton will not be as nice as a woven cotton, and a rayon will not be as comfortable as a cotton, even though it is a derivative of cotton.