Friday, November 30, 2012

Of Concern to Parents

Several people have emailed me about the United Nations attempt to rule over children and take away the rights of parents.  Just as I was composing a post about it, I noticed that someone on my blogroll already had made an excellent post, so I want to direct you to it here.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Enjoy a Cup of English Tea Link-up

If you have a blog and have a cup of English tea in the morning, Leslie  in England, a new blogger at Heart for Homemaking would love for you to join her.  Take a picture of your tea cup and put it on your blog. Then follow Leslie's link up instructions and we will all be able to see many teacups used by homemakers all over the blog world. I have added my link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Preparing to Sew

photo credit: BHG

Do you ever feel irritated because you just cannot get time to sew? If meals and clean-up and laundry are putting demands on you, here are some suggestions to free up your time:

1. Clean house the night before: Clear away all clutter, and get children to cooperate with you so that they too, can have a day to pursue a homey interest.  Catch up on the laundry and clean the kitchen.
2. Get the next day's meals organized in the refrigerator. Put the ingredients for the slow-cooker in a container so that you can pull it out in the morning and get it started.  Have sandwich ingredients in another large container or box in the fridge. For breakfast, try something that requires very little clean-up.  
3. During the sewing day, use paper plates and cups.
4. Get out your sewing supplies and prepare your fabric by washing it and ironing it if necessary.
5. Get up before the family starts to stir, and get yourself ready and dressed to face the day. Resist the temptation to be too casual, and dress your best. It will keep you alert and energetic.
6. If possible, cut out your sewing project the night before, so that you can easily sit up to the sewing machine and begin.
7. If you still have trouble getting started, you might need a day to go through your books, patterns, and fabric to assemble the ingredients for your project.
8. Insist that everyone clean up after themselves so that you are not more burdened after sewing. 
9. Avoid confusion while sewing.  Mark with colored chalk  SF for side front, and SB for side back, F for front half of sleeve. There is usually a single notch to indicate the front of the sleeve and a double notch for the back.  Sew up all seams you can first, and iron them all at the same time, including facings and ties and sleeves. Iron all hems in place. Once seams are sewn, start joining parts together: skirts to bodices, sleeves to bodice, back to front.
10. Stay organized by continually cleaning up your sewing space as you sew. 
11. Find a place to sew where you can keep your cutting table and sewing out, so that you do not have to gather it all up and put it away every time the room is needed for something else. I have mine in the bedroom, as it is not a high traffic area, and it is not in anyone's way. The sewing things and machine are on a table at the foot of the bed, so that it does not clutter the rest of the room. 
12.  Look at fashions in catalogs and online to get inspired for your sewing.  I found these at Australian online Targets and K-Marts, and have used the pictures to give me some ideas.  It is summer there now and these are some of the clothes that are being sold there, which can easily be imitated, adding sleeves or changing necklines, etc. to suit your needs.

This is from a US catalog called The Paragon.  

Look at a garment and then mentally add the things that would make it perfect for you: sleeves, collar, higher neckline, longer hem, and so forth.

After looking at some catalogs and pictures of designs, you might get more of an idea of what to make, and be able to make a decision about patterns and fabric.

When I teach sewing, I first show my student the catalogs and point out good features on a dress, to look for.  Then we go to a fabric store and look at fabric, feeling it and determining what would work best. After that we look at the patterns that are on sale for 99c or $1.99 and try to find something that will work with the fabric.  We may also do this the opposite way, by picking the pattern first.

Once you get a sewing area set up, you will find it easier to take a few minutes each day to sew.  Try taking time to sew one part of the garment, such as the bodice or the sleeves.  Each day's sewing will bring you closer to a completed item.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boost Homemaking Confidence

While there are probably many things that make up the ingredients of confidence in homemaking, here are two that you can easily do:

Make your living room or the room that is in view of the front door, presentable.  If the rest of the house is in neglect, cleaning this one room can give you a lot of confidence and make you feel like doing more.  The front room will be immediately seen by anyone who comes to see you. Whether it be someone delivering a package or a neighbor, the impression they leave with, is very important. It can depress them or give them a lift.  A clean living room will give you a big boost of confidence, and bring on a feeling of contentment.

A logical way to do this is:
1. Remove all items that do not belong in the room: clothing items, toys, books and magazines left out, papers and pens, dishes, food, etc. and return them to their places. Instead of taking one item at a time to its place, collect everything in a laundry basket. 
2. Straighten pictures, pillows, blankets and rugs.
3. Sweep and vacuume
4. wipe with a damp cloth all the dust from picture frames, table surfaces, lamps and tops of things, even books.
5. Add something bright and cheerful that gives you peace, to the room.

Having that one room sparkling clean and welcoming is is like getting a new lease on life.

In the Old House
by Childe Hassam   American,  1859-1936

Pamper yourself by dressing up as if you were going to see someone important or go somewhere important. If you are a Christian, the Lord is ever present with you in your home, and your family is important enough to dress for. Those who may greet you at your door need to see you looking well dressed and happy.  You will be amazed how dressing up and doing your hair will make you feel. It will change your attitude toward your housework, make you walk and act more dignified, and feel more elegant.

This can be accomplished by:
1. Getting up early enough to prepare yourself.
2. Taking a shower.
3.Dressing and taking some time with your hair and your appearance.
4. Having a cup of tea and making your list for the day, in the quiet before the rest of the household stirs.
Preparing yourself for the day is like getting ready to go on a vacation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

As happy as we all are, I think the date of Thanksgiving should be changed to October, closer to the harvest. By November, the harvest is over and most of the farm markets are closed for the winter.  Since the church members provided a huge Thanksgiving meal on the last Lord's Day,  I am having a simple Thanksgiving Afternoon Tea.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Redeeming the Time

Autumn Roses 
by Jean-Baptiste Robie, Belgium  1821-1910

Sometimes half a day or more is lost doing things that have nothing to do with home keeping. When you find your day slipping away and things that you strongly desire to do, not done, should you abandon all hope and just read a book, or is it possible to rescue the day in some way?  Over the years I've known some older homemakers who have given me some useful ideas on how to redeem the time.
Tea Time
by Janet Kruskamp

Make tea. I have laughed at this expression in the past, because it always came at a time when someone was trying to get out of a tight spot. Whether it was decision-making or working out some kind of furniture arrangement, stopping for tea was the immediate reaction when progress was at a stand still. I now see it as a good delay tactic that will allow the mind that is whirling with ideas or problems, to settle down and think more logically. This is a good time to survey the situation and simplify your ideas. 
Front Porch
by Janet Kruskamp

Write a list. This, almost more than anything, creates order in the mind and sets you on a path to success. List things you would dearly love to do, and then list the steps from beginning to end, that will help you accomplish this.  Listing is part of planning, and planning is half the job done.

Take time to breathe deeply and to pray.  One way to relieve stress is to stand up and breathe in slowly through the nose to the count of 10, and then puff your breath out through the mouth, slowly, to the count of ten. After doing this several times, you'll be a lot more relaxed and able to make plans to catch up with your work. Most people do not breathe properly and it has an effect on the mind's ability to handle stress. Go for a walk when you need some time to express your thoughts, your plans and the desires of your heart. His ears are open to the prayers of those who follow him. (I Peter 3:12)
Cottage by the Sea
by Janet Kruskamp

Dress up a little. Even if your day is shot, taking care of your appearance can give you a fresh new start, especially on days when the weather has driven you for cover inside the house. It can seem confining, but if you will dress up and take care of yourself first, you might redeem a little lost time. Dressing up gives your mind the message that you are about to do something important, and that you are ready for work.

Work a little faster than usual, if you have lost part of your time.  When you feel you have "all day", it is easy to slip into slow habits of dwaddling while folding things or washing dishes, preparing meals, but if you need to get caught up after having lost your morning, working a little faster can help redeem the time.

credit: HGTV

Do an extra good job instead of just "getting by".  Looking at a clean, streamlined kitchen or laundry room, seeing a sparkling bright bathroom, walking on well-swept floors and having things in order can also lift the heart and give you optimism and hope. A house that is not in order can cause discouragement, and discouragement can cause you to give up and then the house will slide further into disarray. The key to overcoming discouragement is to get something in order, even if it is a corner of the house or a part of the kitchen. When a small part is in order, you'll be stimulated to finish the job.

Credit: HGTV

Surround yourself with loveliness. Sometimes we get so practical we forget to add the soft, pretty things in homemaking that give the heart a lift.  After redeeming your day, consider planning and creating  a part of a room just for you; in a sense, a "parlor" where you have your favorite comforts, colors, style and design.  Most families have adequate cast-offs and old pieces of furniture that could be painted and re-covered for this purpose. This can be a welcome retreat when you need to collect your thoughts and get focused again on your home.

Do not pay any attention to dark skies.  There is no use in waiting for the sun to shine. Make your own sun shine by being the light of the home. You are the light of the home when you care for it and make it a lovely place.  Christians believe that Christ is the unseen guest in every home, and knowing how he is high and lifted up and holy, motivates us to keep house to His glory.  The creation is beautiful, and there are many things we can do in the home to imitate the creation.  When there are dark skies, create beauty in the house and think of brighter days. 

Prepare for Guests. Anticipating guests is very motivating if you have lost half your day. Most people experience more happiness when serving others through hospitality than when they are invited out.  Telling yourself you will plan to entertain a friend after you catch up with housekeeping, will help you get it done with more purpose and a better attitude. Even if it does not work out for someone to visit, your house will be in "viewer" shape and you'll be a lot more uplifted because of it.

credit: HGTV

Everyone should help . All members of the family should aid in getting the home in order. Everyone should rescue their own belongings from around the house and do their best to lighten the burden for the homemaker. They should all pitch in and try to get the house in order, especially if it is a great concern to the lady of the house. It is a good way to show honor and respect to the woman of the house.  When the housework has been neglected and the day is almost gone, the whole family can help gain back that time by pitching in and making it a place that they can be proud of.

Tour your home.  It is always enjoyable to walk through your home as though you were a stranger, and even more exciting to take your children through the house and show them where everything has been put, what has been cleaned, why things are arranged this way, and what sort of meaning you have put in the home.  You know how energizing it can be to go to a show-home where a group of new homes are open to the public for the purpose of selling them. Often these homes are professionally staged to put them in their most appealing light. Note the things you like about this kind of experience: the space, the light, the comforts, the orderliness, the feeling of warmth and happiness, etc. Do the same thing for your own home. Even if your day is nearly gone, there is still something that can be done before you retire for the night, and think of how delightful it will be to get up in the morning in a beautiful home.

Do one extra thing for yourself that you have been wanting to do when you are finished catching up with housework. Be thinking of a sewing project or maybe just a fireplace mantel arrangement you want to make while you are working. Get your housework out of the way as quickly and efficiently as possible so that you can work on the extra things you love. It is the way you reward yourself when a job is completed.
credit: HGTV

Either as a motivator or a reward, having something nice to read or look at.  Women used to go to a great effort to make picture books from clippings, post cards, calendars, photographs and other things, to place on the coffee  table for a time when they needed to be cheered up.  I like a favorite magazine, and sometimes just the picture on the cover will make me feel on top of the world.

If you'll choose one or more of these things to help motivate you to redeem lost time, you will find you have not only some time left over to pursue special interests, but you will increase your mental and physical energy.

To view or buy any of the beautiful artwork posted on this blog, please go to and type in the name of the painting.

Up From Demoralization

My title today comes from a book written by the son of a slave, called "Up From Slavery."  Booker T. Washington lived in an era of change. His mother told him at the time of emancipation that although she was very excited about this change, she also felt very apprehensive and sad, since her people had become so dependent on others for their care. She said they would have to learn to earn a living on their own, and find homes of their own to live in.  They could no longer depend on the generational work and homes that the plantations provided. 

 Booker began immediately thinking about what he could do to help make this transition from dependency to independence successful. He began Tuskegee Institute, a college to teach skills that would help his people create jobs for themselves or to be able to be employed in some of the new businesses of the times. Here was taught everything from financial bookkeeping to creating a business.  

He first brought himself "up from slavery" by working at small jobs of seemingly no significance, in order to learn how things worked in the world. He aided a school teacher in her classroom by sweeping floors and washing the chalkboards, lighting the lamps and building a fire for warmth in winter. He wrote in his book, "Up From Slavery" which you can read free on Google books,  that he noticed the school teacher was not content just to let him do all the work he was hired for. When she had finished looking over her lessons, if she had time to spare, she would work along side him erasing the chalkboards or cleaning desks, just to get the job done. She did not avoid work just because it was not her job, nor did she expect others to do everything, even if they were hired. When she saw something that needed to be done, she would do it, not thinking whether or not it was her job or if it was beneath her.  This work principle deeply affected Booker and he adopted it into the teachings he imparted in his school, the Tuskegee Institute.

  There, he taught from that experience to find a job and do it and to look for things that needed to be done and to work with willing hands. He said he realized that although a person might have no trouble knowing how to work, it was largely the attitude toward work that needed to be improved, so that the students would not only have skills for new kinds of work but also the enthusiasm and purpose for it.  His mother wisely warned that while liberation was an uplifting thing for an oppressed people, there was a danger of trying to be liberated from work, totally.  This was one attitude that Booker thought about  quite a bit.

Friday, November 09, 2012

About the Outcome

Painting by John Everett Millais, 1856

Father, Mother and Children Waiting for the Ferry
by James Tissot  (1836-1902)

Good News From Abroad
by George Smith  1713-1776

Friends have asked me to post something about the election outcome. I have a longer article in progress but have been trying to keep up housework and do some sewing
But I do have two things to say about politics. You are the most important and significant person in the political arena, for two reasons:

The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world....


The pen is mightier than the sword.

Regarding the first:  Knowing the influence of the teachings of parents on children, to train their minds into believers of God's Word and to live the principles therein, the education establishment has successfully taken many children under its government wing. There, they can teach children to depend on government and to elect leaders who will take the nation into their so-called socialist utopia.  Socialism is just a nice word for communism.  Every year the schools graduate a class of voter-age people whom they have educated to vote for the government programs and the tax-payer funded causes, as well as the liberal candidates who foster them.  Every year there is another graduating class that has been in the institution for 12 years, being coached and primed to vote for and work for socialism.

This has been known for a long time, so I wonder why people keep sending their children to public schools. Homeschooling has grown, and is a way for both the parents and children to be bonded to one another throughout their teen years and beyond. Children can grow up knowing the faith of their fathers. They can learn the Biblical standards of economics, how to develop their own talents and how to apply them, and how to raise a family.  The educators undermine this, because they believe that they should educate children for a new world order, and if the children are homeschooled, they will not fit in.  

As a side note, I wonder why, since homeschooling has been well-established and well-proven for the last 30 to 40 years in our nation, that the impact of it has not been felt in politics in a big way. There has been enough time for these well informed children to become adults and run for office, and yet I hear of only one or two that have done so. When I first began homeschooling in 1982 one of my first thoughts was that the homeschoolers would soon be in Washington, putting things back the way they should be.

As for the second point, the pen is a way to publish liberty throughout the land. The world would not have noticed the plight of political prisoners if it had not been for the publications  Alexandre Soljenitsyn and others. He brought greater awareness of the dangers of losing our freedom by continuing to speak and to publish after his asylum in the U.S. He warned the U.S. about the education system and its goal to remove the Christian teachings of parents.

There are no doubt other ways in which the individual has power, and these are two of them.  The Bible says that those who follow Christ have been "elected," and urges them to make their calling and election "sure" and tells how to do that in 2 Peter 1:5-10.

When you take a stand in the personal education of your children, and in teaching others through personal communication and publication (blogs, newsletters, etc) you cast a vote. If you follow 2 Peter 1:5-10 you cast a vote every day. (Just run your finger or cursor over the verse and it will pop out in full). 

In teaching your children and sharing your knowledge with others, it is important to know and pass on the signs of communism, socialism and marxism, which are very destructive belief systems and governments, bringing death and human suffering when they are perpetrated on people.  Though these belief systems claim to be compassionate,  many who lived through the misery of them will tell you it is a lie. Recognize the signs of communism and marxism and teach it to your children and others.  When I was growing up in the 1950's we were taught to hate communism and to be be cautious of adopting religious beliefs outside of Christ. We need women who will take these bold attitudes and pass them on, so that future generations will not inherit the evil that the so-called progressives are imposing on us.

You may glean something from the documentary "The Singing Revolution" about the way freedom and belief was taught the younger generation even under an oppressive government, helping a country to finally free itself of opression. They protected their ability to broadcast and to publish, and they regained their culture through the message of their national songs.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ruana Shawl

A Spring Day by the Seashore
by Rene Lelong

Lately I have been interested in the things that people are making with fleece, and the Irish ruana shawl caught my eye. The one you see above comes from Kohls and is nearly $30.00. I looked at a woven one in Walmart to see how it was made, and then experimented with 2 yards of 50 inch wide fleece. The 60 inch wide will work, also. A one-and-a-half yard length might suffice.  Here is how I made one of these ruana shawls.

To get the entire project in a photograph, I've just made a miniature sample to show on my blog.  First (above) you lay out your two yards of fabric. Make sure your cutting table is very clean if you use white fabric.

Next, I folded the piece in half, as you see, below.

Usually if you open your fabric up after you get it home from the fabric store, you will find there is a fold l down the middle, the long way, from the way it was folded on the bolt. That line will make it very easy to cut along. Just unfold the fabric and cut halfway up that line, to get the front piece into two pieces that you will use to put over your shoulders or around your waist.

After folding the fabric from one end to the other, fold it over from side to side, so that now it is folded four ways. If your fabric has a fold line that is already sort of pressed in to the fabric, you do not need this step.  

With colored chalk or a pencil, mark a complete line from one end to the other of this fold to cut along. (You will not need to do this if you just use the fold line of your fabric.) Do not cut through all the layers of the fold; only the outside layer. If you are using 50 or 60 inch fleece, all you have to do is open it up and cut halfway down the fold line.

Open the piece up again and lay it on the table and place a bowl halfway down the cut, and mark it with chalk for your neckline

Cut out the neckline, and if you wish, cut off the square edges so that the neckline area is more smooth down the front of the shawl.  You can roll the edges under and stitch the with a fancy stitch on your machine, or, you can use colored thread and any type of zig-zag stitch around the neckline and down the front, so that it will have a little gathered "curl."  The ruana shawl pictured above, has a ruffle on it. I may add a ruffle to mine later.

This is what your shawl will look like without any stitching on it. Although stitching is not necessary and makes it much quicker to construct, I would suggest making decorative machine hems on all edges.  Note: the sides of this shawl are separated and open, not sewn together.

Basically, you just lay your fabric down and cut it in the middle, halfway up, to make the front.  The back is not cut. also, you do not need to make the neckline, as it will work just fine with only the straight cut. I added the half circle for the neckline, but if you will examine the ruana shawls in stores, you will see that some of them do not have the curved neckline. So if you are not sure about doing it, you know that just a cut up the front will do fine.

Try on the shawl, placing the large unbroken piece in the back, and the rounded neckline on the neck. Then pull one front piece over one shoulder. There are many other ways to wear this, but I tried this one and it was very comfortable and does not fall apart even when going for a walk.  The cost of this is about $6.00 when you buy the very thinnest fleece. Fleece is quite warm, so you may not want to use the heavy fleece.

In the house, I hardly know I am wearing this shawl, as it is so comfortable and the parts you wrap around your shoulders stick to the fabric just fine.  It does not flop around nor get in the way during various activities of the home, and is perfect for times of sitting.

I will try to find some way to get a picture of myself wearing this, after I get the ruffled edge on it.

One thing that is so nice about this kind of garment, is that you can use the fabric later if you want to make a jacket or some other fleece project.

I like the fact that it is as long as a coat. Long coats are very expensive and this affordable project might mean you can get 2 yards of fleece in all your favorite colors and make wraps.  The thin fleece at WalMart is about $2.70  a yard. Fabric stores also sell reasonably priced thin fleece.