Saturday, August 31, 2013

Progress in the Country


This kitchen picture is from Kitchen Depot. I like the brightness and the simple light-hearted look, which is perfect for a country home or a country home appearance.

I am still in the middle of what is called High Summer, or Indian Summer. Outdoor activities are a priority, and there are plenty to choose from:

Care of these neon colored geraniums is a delight,and the colors glow in the evening.

There is still a lot of painting and sprucing up to be done on the outside of the house, but in the meantime I like to sit on the porch with my first cup of tea and write down the things that I need to do.

Blackberries are ready to be picked and put in a pie,

And I hope I can rescue some of these apples. Under the boughs is one of our grandmother's old step stool, which has been painted several times. When she was alive, it was in her kitchen, and she used it to step on to reach into her upper shelves. Other times, the steps were drawn under the seat. The children sat on the seat while visiting with her in the kitchen. These are available new, from catalogs, in many colors. I am not sure what the original design was intended for. Maybe it was a kitchen bar stool. This one is a good outdoor plant holder, when pots are on the steps and seat.


It is called a step stool chair. This one, above, is from Ginny's catalog.

This one is from Cosco
After my experience in packing up my parents things and moving my mother to a retirement place, I have decided to down-size, so I have been taking a portion of each day to put things aside for a shabby sale, with the proceeds going for my next trip to Australia to see my rellies. I have even painted a few things. I cannot mail any of this, which is why I am not selling it online, but I think some of you would love to have these cast-offs:
I have found it wise to go through posessions seasonally or yearly and make sure they are not taking up more space than is available, unless a person wants to build bigger barns.





Saturday, August 24, 2013

Organizing homemaking


I do not suppose any homemaker never gets behind in housekeeping. Some people mistakenly think that just because a woman is a full time homemaker, her house should be splendidly in order all the time, but there are many other things which can interrupt the order and efficiency of things:

Birth of a child

Return from a trip

Aftermath of hospitality

Extended company


Reconstruction of house

Extreme weather conditions

Family circumstances

Extreme tiredness from stressful occurrences

Too elderly to tackle some jobs yourself

Urgent seasonal responsibility

Important outdoor work

Unexpected demands on your time

Helping others


is there anything else?


Sometimes I am in all those situations at the same time. I like to find a picture of an orderly room that is also pretty, to get my enthusiasm going. The pictures also have to be pretty, not just practical.






I also take a hint from my early childhood observation of parents making lists of things that need to be done. Someone may say there is no need for a written list if you can see what needs to be done, but writing out a list also helps to see a plan. It helps to decide what to do first.


Taking before and after pictures can be motivating, as well as emailing close friends and relatives the evidence of progress.

I personally find that in crisis cleaning, where housework has become overwhelming, that it is a great starter to get prepare myself in the morning by dressing for company or as if I might be going somewhere, and putting on a fill size bib apron,

and making a list, beginning with what things matter the most and ending with a reward. Sometimes the reward of a clean room is enough, and other times it motivates me to invite someone to share it. Occasionally the reward might be sitting at a clean desk or table to write a letter, or getting out some cheerful project.

My routine for each room is to straighten and declutter, vacuume or sweep, wipe and dust, change or add accessories, look and be thankful. Write the start and end time next to the job on my list, take short rests between rooms to check the mail, get a refreshment, or some other thing. Sometimes I like to talk to someone while working, and the conversations are quite stimulating, whether in person or on the phone.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Yes, We Have Double Cream

I am thrilled to find that the cows in the US are giving us double cream, and always have. I had given up searching for this luxurious product, when I discovered something inside the cartons of organic heavy cream. It does not matter what brand it is, as long as the label on the carton contains the words organic and heavy.

I compared cartons in the grocery store by tipping them up and down to detect if they had a lot of liquid in it. i bought the one that would not shake and had no sound of liquid sloshing when I turned over the carton. Upon opening the carton when I got home, I saw an unmovable thickened, slightly glossy looking cream on the top

which I scooped out into a jar. In all, half the carton was double cream, and the bottom half was thick cream.

The spoon can stand up in double cream. It has a light yellow color and is shiny and spreadable. It will not harden in the fridge like butter does and for that reason it spreads a lot easier.You can see the more watery cream below the spoon, as I am scooping off the thick cream on top.

There was enough double cream in this carton to fill one of these jars.

See how it is thick and does not drip or run off the spoon.

Now to put it on this tasty scone. I used the Anne of Green gables recipe.


Our first plums from the tree are just right to chop and put on the cream and scones.

It could possibly be that the high summer is the time when the cows make double cream. I know nothing about it. There has probably always been double cream in this country, it is just that it isn't put in special jars labeled double cream.

I have split open the Italian plums and filled the cavities with double cream, and it is delicious. I have tried this with fresh figs from the fig tree too. Figs have a marshmallow like inside, a delicate scent.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

High Summer Scenes

A few scenes from the high summer days:


I like the red barn at the edge of the newly plowed field. The crop had been taken off and the soil is smooth and pretty.

It is interesting to view a scene through an oval frame created by the apple boughs.



This is a black wrought iron bench and arbor covered by grape vines where I have spent some time reading the homemaking book for girls. Taught in a gentle and simple way, it is helping me catch up on housekeeping. As a homemaker I occasionally go through stages where I seem to be treading water and getting nowhere, so reading up on it can be a bright spot of hope that eventually control will return and things will be done.

I will be glad when this author makes the book available in print-on-demand through Mag Cloud or some other printing service. It was a lot of work to print it and punch the holes for the notebook.

This is a decorative cushion i made a long time ago when I decorated a girl's room in a hat theme.


Lily Beth created the notebook by covering it with interesting scrapbook papers. Notice the handy inside cover with note papers and pockets.

A stock tank makes a very sturdy pool with enough water for cooling off in the heat of the day.


New Royal Albert Designs


The new royal Albert china sets are fresh and light-hearted in looks. It would be lovely to see what a table set with the dinnerware might look like and to think of the food that might be seved on them. (Sources provided soon) The colors are bright and clear and the art is realistic.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Courteous Conversation - Dealing With Rude People

I am about to have a chat with you here about conversation habits, which to some people, is a highly sensitive subject. We are seeing more bad habits in the public, and this can in part come from the kind of training wrought in the home. From business to politics, little restraint is practiced by some people. Yes, right now, it is only a few people who are at fault, but rudeness can become epidemic if it is not noted and self-corrected. Like disease, bad habits are easily caught and spread. Young people who are well brought-up may enter the public sphere and be influenced to adopt some of these bad conversational habits that make life depressing.

I will relate some things I recently observed in the public. The first was at the airport, where a female employee was sarcastically and sardonically addressing the passengers as they went through the check point. Instead of informing them of what they were to do, she would yell out, "Sir, where do you think you are going?" She could have saved her voice and said, "Over here, sir. This is where you have to go next." Instead of informing a passenger what to put on the conveyor belt for examination, she croaked meanly, "Well, well. What have we here?" She pointed to the woman's shoes. The woman had not travelled much, and this was her first flight in 15 years. The employee could have said, "You have to remove your shoes, Ma'am." I personally found the female employees to be the most hardened, sarcastic, brutal-voiced, bossy and pushy people. In any other business, they would have been justifiably sacked. These antics at airports ruin business on all sides, for who wants to pay for an expensive ticket and be treated so disdainfully and given sharp commands as if they were a dog. Their training does not require them to add the extra sarcastic remarks that silently say "You dummy, you."

There is also the problem of dealing with those who live around you, whether it be neighbors or family members. Sometimes people think that it does not matter how they act at home, because, after all, they are doing it on their own property, and it is no one else's business, but this is not entirely true. They way we live has a great impact on others for good or for ill. A neighbor in the country may be allowed to water his lawn, but if he lets the sprinkler spray his neighbors wash on the line, it is offensive. On the other hand, it is quite rude to complain all the time to neighbors about every little thing. It puts a barrier between you both and makes it harder to win him to Christ. While we may feel justified in saying many different things that are true, as in the case of the sarcastic woman working at the airport, it does nothing to win friends and influence people. Everyone in your life is a potential brother and sister in Christ, a potential customer for a future business. a potential family member, a potential helper or care-giver. You never know how you cheat yourself when you alienate people.
This second example is one where the owner of a hotel and the employees treat the customers as though they were a nuisance. We all know that this situation was the inspiration for John Cleese's brilliant series, "Fawlty Towers," in which the proprietor rasped through clenched teeth: "I could manage this hotel perfectly if it were not for the people in it!" The hotel, motel, campground, travel-trailer, and other vacation resorts are known as "the hospitality business." Those who are in contact with the customers should be aware that the customer is their bread and butter and treat them with pleasantness.

I have read a lot of customer reviews of several places where I had personal experience. You can read reviews of places before you go, on Trip The other customers almost always have the same bad experiences with rude hostesses, which include things like calling the customer a liar, charging more than the agreed price, sending them to a different room or spot than originally booked, misrepresenting the available amenities by not informing the customer that there was no water or cooking facilities, and on and on. One place I visited had added charges just for sitting in the cafe, before the customer even ordered. If I had read the reviews first, I would have been more aware and avoided the place. Some managers do not value the customer's business and will treat them with contempt, making their vacation miserable instead of relaxing, as it is intended.

For a few years I had a tea room and booked tea parties. I was so blessed never to get a bad customer, but it was partly because of my experience as a preacher's wife, knowing that if you treat people badly, you are out of business and so is your husband. To every complaint I was compliant, cheerfully offering a remedy for any known wrong, as well as not getting offended by smart remarks or innuendos; taking everything in stride and enjoying people. For the Christian, this is extremely important, because our ultimate concern is to win them to Christ. Once someone is offended, it is nearly impossible to get them interested again in the Lord and the body of people that are His disciples.

There are, however, people who are chronically rude, who drive away family members and church members by their jaded, critical remarks. The Bible says to avoid those who cause division. Sometimes we think we can work with such adults and we imagine that our own gentle ways will rub off on them, and that they will change their manners and become more like us. I have found that this is more often not the case. We would like to be valiant rescuers of those who are lost in the foolishness of this world, but it is better sometimes that the rude people learn by the impact of not being in your inner circle. I have seen many Ladies Bible Classes ruined because people insisted that certain rude women be allowed to come. After all, their soul is at stake, and Christian women would tolerate the disruptive arguing, bossing and criticising, hoping to keep them coming to Bible class and eventually "win" them. In the meantime, the person discourages others in the class who really need the fellowship, by making the session so uneasy and unpleasant. In my experience this only works if you get someone young enough to train them in good manners; someone in their formative years who will easily mold to the teachings offered.

Parents need to be careful not to let rude visitors disrupt their home lives. While all families have a certain amount of commotion and noise, sometimes unruly visitors think it is kind of enlightening to expose them to loud arguments about temperamental subjects like environment, health, politics, refinement, propriety, marriage and child-rearing. The disruption is extremely unnerving. The first time it happened in my home, I was entertaining a couple with children, and during dinner, the Mr. Guest began yelling loudly about submission and other things, making the mealtime most unpleasant. I was so stunned I responded in silence and could not eat another morsel. I did not respond back in kind, but grew more silent, until the family departed. They were never invited again, and although I never told them anything, I tried to adroitly and politely avoid them in church and other places.

This is another thing that needs to be explained: when you have found someone who is unbearably rude, you may do better not to announce to them that you find them too rude to associate with. Just do not associate with them. As a preacher's wife, I learned to be careful about saying something like that, because it would be told and re-told and it did no good to my family. It is best to be an example rather than to mouth off what you are thinking. Avoid the trouble makers and the rude people. Seek peace and pursue it, as the Bible says. It is often not even wise to work it out with such rude-mongers, because their rudeness controls them, and they cannot be reasoned with, nor are they caring about others. Just leave them alone. They will have to learn by impact, and the impact of being left alone is the best thing for them.

Rudeness is not just contained in harshness, sarcasm, mean-spiritedness or shouting. It is also sometimes cultivated by people in a subtle and quiet way. I knew a man who would never answer a greeting unless you called him by his name, first, if he was sitting with a group of people. He would never participate in conversation but was quick to correct people who spoke. He never liked pronouns or antecedents (he, she, her, him, they) and insisted that names of places and people be used at all times, even if you had to repeat the same name several times in a sentence. If you were talking about your home town and named the home town but after that referred to it as "there" or "downtown", he was apt to ask, "Of what are you speaking?" This is what I call the "teacher" person who feels an obligation to correct and teach everyone in his association. That kind of rudeness does not draw all men unto you.

I will now mention rudeness in the home. Snappy comments, impatience, and harshness will poison the atmosphere of the home, as bad food will put acid in the stomach. The husband will not acknowledge that his wife has just spoken to him, so she repeats the question or comment. He then tells her she is repeating herself. A wife will answer her husband's question but do so with a hard edge to her voice. Children talk over the end of their parents sentences, answering abruptly without waiting to hear the end of it. They often reach wrong conclusions. I remember watching a mother with her 13 year old boy whom she loved very much. She was talking to her other son about a trip they had taken before the children were born. She said how lovely a certain town was. The older boy walked in on that last sentence and assumed that the family was going to this town, and he said, "I don't want to go!" He had jumped to conclusions. The Bible talks about the fool that does not listen to a matter before he makes a judgement. Children need to be taught the art of polite conversation.

Another type of conversation flaw is not answering and not acknowledging someone when they tell you something. It is easy to be rude to a child, too, when they ask the same question many times. I hear mothers say, "I heard you! You said it three times!" I believe that is very rude. Modern parents might think it is okay for a child to refuse to come when he is called by his mother, and then respond with the same words, "I heard you! You said it three times!" but those words are just not, and never have been polite. Would you say that to a school teacher, an employer, a deacon in the church, a preacher, or someone you are doing business with? Sometimes we think our families can be treated less politely than those we meet in public, but that is not the case. True manners flow from the home, from the goodness we show to one another. Once those are practiced with our parents and brothers and sisters, they are impossible to shake, when we start dealing with the public.

Another item of rudeness which I feel must be addressed is the habit of telling-all about your family. Children should be taught that all families have faults and that they must not go around telling people that their brother or sister said a bad word (especially if they were corrected by the parents and it was taken care of at home) or that their father got mad at their mother. Sometimes young couples think it is healthy to be transparent and tell other couples all the problems they have, including financial and social and physical and who-knows what, but this is rude. I have known couples in the Lord's church who were married 60 years or more and one thing I noticed about them is that they never criticized each other to other people. They always presented the good side of one another. They did not self-criticize their family but always built them up.

There is a problem today with criticism, in that it is sometimes taught as a habit to cultivate; that every fault must be noticed and if there is no noticeable fault, one must dig until they find a sore-spot and then bring out the worst, the sordid, the shameful in a person. In the Christian life, we do not do that, and in the Christian home, we love each other and want to bring out the best in one another so we look on the good side. Parents of course, must teach their children to speak politely and behave properly; it is not criticism to train up your children or correct them. What I am speaking of is the adult habit that comes from the world and enters our homes and churches where such things ought not to be.

You can be kind and loving to people without letting them disturb you and your family. Just remember to firmly but politely decline to be engaged socially with them or to avoid too much conversation with people who are not polite. It is very bad for the nerves and for your health. One thing that benefited me was realizing that the less we say, the less trouble we get in. Most of the time you can over look rudeness. If you try to correct rude people, you get double the stress: first, the rudeness itself can shake you to your core, and then, the backlash you get from the rude person when trying to correct them. Learn to let a lot of rudeness flow over you like water off a duck's back. Avoid those which cause stress, and cultivate politeness in your life.

One thing that perhaps you might not have considered, is that the television shows and radio chat shows are full of loud rudeness and arguing. Maybe those are not good for us. I've seen women get in to arguments on some of these films, loudly trying to drown out one another's words, using smart remarks and sardonic expressions. These are not the kind of women we want to mentor us. We need to avoid them. They are not the kind of people we want our daughters and sons to be around.

Finally, when responding to what you perceive as rudeness, find out if the perpetrator really intended it. It is possible that you can react to something just because you personally feel pressure, tiredness, or your teeth on set on edge for some other reason. I have often been surprised to see two people talking when suddenly one of them blows up at the other over some sensitive, little thing. The other person is left speechless, not even knowing what he said.

In general, there is a type of rude bluntness going on in public and at home: things you would never say to your own mother when you were growing up are being said to people on the street, and to people at home. The free enterprise system will make judgements on people who are rude in business, and that is for certain. We probably do not even need to correct the public rudeness ourselves and can save our nerves. Customers will take their business elsewhere, and the rude shopkeepers and hospitality workers will be no more. Rudeness in churches is another matter, for we cannot allow a rude person to run the church members or potential church members off. Such people must be taken aside and spoken to clearly and gently. Tell them you know that they do not intend to be rude, but that their manner of speaking, pushing, their harshness, etc. puts people off and can cause harm.

Many ladies and gentlemen reading this will remember in the "old days" at the start of electronic communication, the message boards and emails. Christians quickly learned what words and phrases were designed to enflame people and cause online disagreements. It is interesting to note how people policed themselves until they got rid of the dissenters and the rude people who wanted to destroy peace and happiness of others. There was first the technique of isolating the person and not allowing them to communicate with you if they were rude on your message board or email. Eventually people began to identify signs of rudeness and potential flare ups so that they were not tempted to "friendship" the person engaged in such tactics. Today, I find the web an easier place on which to dwell, but it always helps to be vigilant on these matters. People who are careless in their manners at home will eventually take them to town and spread them around, blighting the public with them.

The result of bad manners in the home is even more severe than in any other sphere, for they infect a future generation and the bad habits are acquired and passed down, sometimes unknowingly, to the children and grandchildren.

I realize we cannot change the whole world, but I believe that we can correct our own manners and those of our family members if we implore them to present a better representation of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, to them.

I hope many will comment on this post and share experiences and insights. If you have trouble posting due to the fact I disabled anonymous comments (I had too much spam) please email me and I will paste in your comment: