Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One Overcast Day


We are enjoying the noise of rain here and although the skies are clouded, I manged to get a picture. This creature was quite attentive.

We are so very connected to the past and the future with scenes like this! We can identify as much with the shepherds in the fields when Christ was born, as with the caretakers of sheep in the fields around us today.  We are just as  affected by the past as we are the future, for there are many things that never change.

I hope everyone is having a lovely day.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tea at the Empress

In our homeschool studies, we used to find out everything we could about a subject. History and Geography yielded a host of things from customs and food to national clothing and celebrations. Nearly every land had some kind of tea time, and we took advantage of that fact by finding foods and drinks as close to the national ones as possible.

With the festive season all around us, today we wanted to go to the Empress hotel for tea and enjoy the accompanying flavors of the season. The distance and the cost was quite high, both for the travel and the tea, and we decided to set up a similar tea here at home. Besides, we needed to be back by this evening, because of our obligations the next day. The "owners" of the "tea room" laid out the table while we went outside for a walk. When we came in the front door it felt as though we were somewhere else. (A pleasant walk can change your perspective on everything!)
In all our homeschool years we took many trips this way. One mother I know whose children are now grown, had an interesting custom of sending her children outside with their lunch boxes and books, to walk down the driveway and back so they could come to the door and enter as though it was a pioneer country school room.  The chiildren sometimes wore historical type clothing and theor Mother was the School-Marm who greet d them at the door, helped them hang their coats and hats, and let them stan near the fireplace to get warm before they began their lessons. She rang a little bell, which belonged to their grandmotherWhat delight the now-grown children have in relating this memory!

Above: Returning from our walk, we entered the tea room where we heard the music of the season and were led to our table.

Throughout the years our home became many things: a train, a cruise ship, a cabin in the woods, a resort on the beach, a lodge in the snow-country where we went on a sleigh ride, a ranch on the desert, and many other places too numerous to list here. We visited the library (our book shelf) here and checked out books using our library cards. We learned to make speeches, play music concerts, attended dinner theatre with our own acting troupe, had historical fashion shows, and went to cooking school. We dressed up for dinner and practiced our manners. 

We greeted customers, served food, provided country tours, attended lectures about people, places and things, became a repair company and a construction crew, as well as a travel agency and a delivery company.

We packed our suitcases for a stay in a bed-and-breakfast. We paid our bill and bid farewell to the proprietor and then planned another trip, for which our house was quickly revamped. Sometimes we traded the dining room for the living room and enjoyed a change of place with a different scene.

There was no end to the things  we could do at home with children which were equally as interesting to the adults in the family. We did go to real places when we had  opportunity, but the travel from home was so much more. Sometimes we changed the furniture around to make a room feel like a different place. We learned how to welcome customers and make transactions in our store, where we sold everything we had to each other, just for the experience. We practiced introductions when we arrived at the chateau for dinner, and practiced polite conversation, learning how to find things to talk about with ease. 

These things did not all go on contunuously, but often enough to make life interesting. I learned some of this at home with my own Mother, who came from hard times on the Prairies in Alberta in the 1930's. Today there are marvellous trips and amusements, but to live so many ways at home is a great privilege to a child, and yet enriching to the adults.  

Can you remember dull, dark days when it was impossible to go anywhere, and restlessness was about to take over your mind? Reading a book would lift you out of the doldrums* and take you away. I can still feel the effect of getting lost in a story, whether fictional, historical or biographical. Reading made the burdens of life lighter and gave my siblings and me a sense of optimism about life. We would emerge from a book ready to really live better. 

At home, our innovation was not tethered, as we had our library, our music room (a corner where we kept our instruments and record player) our writing desk, our theatre and our restaurant.  The ones who made this possible for us were our parents: our Dad, because he spent a lot of time working to provide for us, and our Mother, becaise she stayed home with us and guided our play and our thinking with good values. To a child, a house is many places, as it is the source of rest, learning and playing.

*doldrums:- a placid place near the equator where the ships could not move because the wind was not forceful enough to push the sails.  Later, being stuck and unable to do anything, or bored, was referred to as the doldrums.

Below: Afternoon Tea at the Empress.  Many things we long to do are so far away and we are constrained by local job obligations, weather problems or finances, but we can use our homes as settings for many enjoyable events, creating happy memories for the future.

Below: These tea cups are used in the Empress Hotel, and are also sold there.  Sometimes you can find them in thrift stores. They are called Fairmont tea cups and are replicas of the ones used when The Queen of England first visited The Empress Hotel, shortly after she was married.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

True Happiness

A Summer Shower by Charles Edward Perugini 1888

Personal happiness has been a big concern in our culture. Our forebearers, however, would have been surprised at our focus on happiness. They would have, instead sought to do the things and make the sacrifices that result in peace of mind and personal satisfaction. The idea of trying to do good in order to feel good is something each generation has to be taught. 

While searching the scriptures for references to happiness, I was interested to find that things relating to happiness are not exactly easy or pleasant.

Consider the Beatitudes in the gospels: Each one begins with the word "blessed", which in the Koine Greek is "happy." When you use the word "happy" in place of "blessed", it brings out the meaning in these verses in Matthew 5:

"Happy are they who mourn..."
"Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake..."

These are just two of the verses that seem like contradictions to we moderns who have a shallow understanding of happiness.

"Happy are they who mourn" - Do you tend to hold back tears, not wanting to indulge in grief or sentiment? Consider Acts 20:37 when the Apostle Paul was departing: "And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him."  We know these people can shed tears in moments of trial and pain, amd yet still have deep happiness. 

Happiness comes from things that do not always bring about giggles and smiles: reverence, chastisement,  endurance,  suffering,  reproach,  labor,  wisdom and understanding-- these are hard things!  One does not automatically think of them when they hear the word "happy".

Happy is the man who is always reverent.. Proverbs 28:14

Behold, we count them happy which endure.. James 5:11

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: 1 Peter 3:14

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;  1 Peter 4:14

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth:  Job 5:17

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Psalm 128:2

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Proverbs 3:13

It can be reasonably concluded by the study of these things, that a person under adverse circumstances, who is going through disappointments, can still be happy. Sometimes we judge a person who is always smiling and laughing as being happy, while a person who has a pensive look on his face is not happy, but the opposite can be true.

 If you have ever raised children, you know there were times when silliness had to be quickly corrected because it was the result of foolishness that could endanger the child both physically and spiritually. Mature parents need to be alert and recognize the sound of pure, good laughter and derisive mocking and sarcasm. It is good to laugh, and laughter must be for the right reasons and in the right spirit.

Teach your children to strive for personal happiness that comes from self control, willingness to learn, doing jobs well, and being polite. These things will result in a feeling of well-being. The pursuit of "feeling good" has been so strongly promoted that few people today understand what true happiness is.

The scripture references to happiness makes it a great deal easier to understand what our Founding Fathers meant by the words, "the pursuit of happiness."  It means we can gain happiness by the hard work that it takes to reach a worthy goal.

Today I think many people who have not carefully investigated the word "happy" believe they have the right to do as they please if it makes them happy, but a careful study of the concept of happiness will make it clear that happiness is something that comes from things like faithfulness, perseverance, and contentment.

Certainly, much more can be said about the subject of happiness. I have not written in detail of the way these various hard things contribute to happiness, but perhaps you may define and analyze them with your children. They need to understand how the qualities of endurance, perseverance, labor, amd suffering contribute to their happiness.

People who really understand happiness can get through the ups and downs of life without despair or bitterness. Like the spider, they start all over each time the rain washes out their work.  True happiness is derived from a deep spiritual desire to do what is good and right. We must train our thinking so that when we hear the word "happy" we know what it is really made of.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sunny and Bright

It is sunny and bright here, although my camera doesn't quite catch it, and it is not like winter at all. 

So this morning I am sharing some festive color with you. 

We are getting ready for the Ladies Bible Class, where we always have teatome afterward.

That Holiday Bliss magazine was brought to me by someone and I am looking forward to reading it.

If some day you want to come to the Ladies Class, you may do so on Skype by contacting me first.

Also, if you need personal encouragement in your life as homemaker, I would be happy to start a Skype class for that. I also teach a class that began in the 1970's by Gwen Webb, called Training Up a Child, which is by far best teaching I have ever heard.  It outclasses anything written since then!

Please click the contact tab on the left and let me know if you would like to have a class. It can be limited to just a few sessions, or it can go on longer.

God bless you all.


Here is an idea for  some light on the table: wrap one of those dollar store led-light necklaces around each charger or placemat, and around the centerpiece.

The chalkboard bag and scarf are from Dollar Tree, as well as are many other items in this post. Some of them were purchased in previous years, so may not be available this year.
Those are Victorian boots from Goodwill, but they look like they have not been worn. They fit me fine and I wore them to the outdoor winter wedding in the previous post.

Skinny trees are very much in demand these days, as they fit nicely in corners and do not take up so much floor space.  I have admired the ones at Hobby Lobby but did not want to spend the money or accumulate too many seasonal things.  Many years ago when Walmart had layaway,  I got this pre-lit artificial tree, but have not enjoyed using it because it requires shifting furniture around to make room for it.  This year as I pulled out the box in which it came, it occured to me that the box was quite thin for such full branches. The tree was always squashed down to fit in the skinny box, so I discovered there was already a skinny tree--I just did not fluff out the branches.  Maybe you have a skinny tree in your collection, too! 

Since the tree was already quite old, I felt I could alter it a bit, so I took it outside and spray painted the outer part with flat white paint, which also covered the lights, giving them a softer glow when plugged in.  To eliminate any leftover paint oder I got some of those pine scented ornaments.  I am really enjoying this much better this year, as it did not require so many ornaments. Arent those cameo ornaments nice? They are plastic, from Walmart.

I do have a  small tree  which my grandchildren decorated. I pressed the wired tree limbs downward to make another skinny tree, and also spray painted the flocking on this one. Those cute skate ornaments are from Dollar Tree, two for a dollar.