Monday, January 30, 2017

Tuesday Tea Time: Letter Writing

Greetings Ladies,

A reader was asking for names of good correspondence instruction books. Letter writing is something sorely needed today, and in a moment I will tell you how important it was in the past to write letters when your loved ones were far, far away. 

 In spite of the rapid way of keeping in touch today, it is disappointing that people do less communicating. Ladies of my acquaintance complain of phones that never ring, inboxes with no personal email, mailboxes near the house with no letters, no text messages, no skype or other video conversations, no one answering personal invitations to tea, no one dropping by for a visit and no one stopping to chat in the shops or even the post office.

 To make it easier for people who find it hard to correspond, I sometimes ask them to simply text me a smiley face or object from the emoticons on their cell phones, to keep in touch,  but  even that, it seems, is too time consuming. 

One reason we need to restore letters is so folks will know what to do when they receive them. A friend of mine sent letters to friends and found months and months later they had not even opened them to read. When we received letters and packages we had to avoid the temptation of tearing them open too fast and destroying part of the contents, in our excitement. 

There seems to be less real communication, and so those of us who remember how our parents wrote letters and valued them, really have a big job ahead of us. We need to restore letter writing in the same way in which tea time, dressing up, and home education was revived. 

The above book, published by Victoria magazine contains a few things you might find useful if you are interested in writing letters. It shows examples of old letters from past centuries. The book covers friendship letters, invitations, thank you notes, sympathy letters, compliments or complaints, and more.

Now as to the extreme importance of letters in the past:-  I truly would have benefitted from some stern lectures about keeping in touch via letters, but in the past, letter writing was a relaxing pleasure, and it was considered a free-will offering, so our teachers and parents did not make the subject too strict. 

Our parents took care of serious correspondence to their parents, and we enclosed notes to them in the same envelope. It would have helped if they had read aloud to us what they had written, and also read aloud the letters they received. This may have educated us as to how  letter-writing was done. 

We did observe people spending more time writing letters. It was the ONLY way to keep in touch in places that had no phones. If you did not live in a town, there was no word-of-mouth information from neighbors. Folks depended very much on the mail for news from home and from children who had moved away. Letters were very serious business because they were used as records of life. Often a letter would alert someone of a need, resulting in a care package being sent.

Letter writing had a special time-slot in someone's life. It was equal billing to laundry, meal time or grocery shopping. It held a high place of importance and young people dreamed of a desk of their own with a proper pen and bottle of ink. You might have guessed I was born before Bic, Papermate or Pentel.

My mother in law spent every Monday (after loading her washing machine) writing to her sisters and her brother, and her husband's sister and brothers. She sat at the kitchen table with a box of stationery that had two little drawers: one for stamps and one for envelopes, and wrote letters while listening for the washer to finish its cycle. 

My parents wrote a lot of letters to their parents who lived whole countries away from them. These letters not only kept the bonds between them strong, but lifted one another out of ordinary toil into another kind of life.

Men and women courted with letters. Their handwriting was their identifying mark. In fact, clear writing was once considered a sign of good character, showing careful attention to detail, and thoughtfulness.

Had I known of the future decline of letters, I would have saved a lot more of the ones sent to me as a young person, tied  them in bundles and kept them on display. Had I known the enormity, the value, the impact and the greatness of  the custom of letter writing, I would have emphasized more to my own children that their grandparents were super important and their letters were a way of mingling their lives, sharing their history, and being part of them. 

I would have said, "Children, do you see this letter that just arrived? It is from a great person in your life. It is better than a letter from a President, because it is a grandparent God put in your life. Writing to your grandparents is a sacred and serious task and it will earn interest in more ways than I can explain. It will give you a sense of who you are, where you came from, and help you know why they value you. Your existence is hugely important to them."

Children, even when fully grown-up, once greeted their Mothers in letters with the words, "Darling Mother."  If you are still raising your children, try with all your might to teach them and encourage them to write letters expressing love. Let them pour out their love, and let them be expressive. Avoid banal letters that appear to be written merely out of duty.

It is a comfort to older people to receive intelligent, entertaining, lively letters from the young, full of information and ideas.  The aged benefit from the ideas of the youth, and the youth benefit from the stability and knowledge of the olders, and this can be partly achieved with letters. As an older person now, I can tell you, life would be no fun if everyone was my own age. That is one reason why the ages must mingle.

I am afraid most of us did not teach letter-writing seriously, because the relatives and friends may have all been living in the same community and there did not seem to be much opportunity to practice it. Later, when the children removed from home, they were not conscientious about writing letters and did not understand how deeply important letters were.

If this is your situation, create cardboard mail boxes or large pockets for letters, attaching them to the doors of bedrooms. Children can post letters to each other and to their parents all day long, and have an enormously great time. It teaches a wonderful form of communication. 

In the past, our parents set us up with pen-pals (cousins, children of their friends) so we could experience the world of letters. "Write as though you were speaking aloud" we were told. We usually began a letter by saying we were very glad to receive their letter. After that, we asked of their welfare. Then, it was very important to comment on every thing the other person wrote. That is why it was called "answering" a letter.

Naturally I am lecturing myself as well, for I have a stack of unanswered cards and letters which daily I pledge to work on.

In other news, I spent the day cleaning the kitchen, and of course a clean kitchen Makes it tempting to create something. Since I had been wanting to try the wafer papers from Fancy Flours, I made a half recipe of cookies: just enough to fill a regular size cookie sheet:

As you see, I 
am a messy cook, (I would rather be sewing) and many of my dishes look more like mud-slides but they are always full of flavor. I do not make picture-perfect meals and my food is very old fashioned and plain. Lately I have decided to learn to cook, so I am taking an online French cooking course and enjoying it. I will write more about that, later. 

Cookies are not my expertise, (I would rather be sewing) and I do not make very neat and tidy looking ones but these taste good. I made them because I was curious about the edible wafer papers which are supposed to be replicas of old postcards.
What a mess...but at least I did it and the house smelled good for awhile.
I want to find some of these prints in real paper, to use for card-making, because cards last a lot longer. Its a shame for such pretty art to be used up so fast.

Here are some cookies from Pinterest that are much better-looking, which I am using for inspiration and ideas in making greeting cards:
This one is from Fancy Flours. This what the cookies are SUPPOSED to look like. Maybe since they are model cookies they have been airbrushed.πŸ˜‰

If you go to  you can watch three very good videos about cookies like these, from their current January issue of Victoria magazine. 

Below is one of the cards made by my daughter, inspired by this cookie art. You can see more of these cards on her blog, The Pleasant Times, on my blogroll.

Here is the information from a comment:

Download pdf.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Something Lovely

(Picture from Pinterest)

Hello Ladies,

We have been big on tea-time here at Homeliving. This has been a cold, dark winter in the northern hemisphere.

In spite of the recent political excitement, the things that really should concern us are the things Christ said in his last will and testament: the duties of Christians. Ladies especially are concerned about having a home that not only is orderly but displays a good influence, comfort, safety and good values so that children and future grandchildren and people around us wiill desire to know and live by truth.

I was recently looking through an album of photographs, letters and things of my own ancestors dating back to the 1800's and noticed the Presidents and political events of their times were not mentioned as much as what their parents their children were doing. It is also significant that their religious heritage was included in these old albums, such as when they were baptised (immersed) into Christ and where they attended worship services.  I also have some of their sewing and crochet and teacups. I can discern from the letters, photos and household items, quite a lot about their values.

It occurred to me that we spend a lot of time thinking and reading and listening to political things , but when our loved ones want to find out something about us after we are gone, they will be most interested in who we are and where we came from, in what we believed and some of the things we did while here on earth. They may also be influenced by our ways. It probably will not matter to them who the President was.  But it will matter to them who we were and what we taught by word and example.  We should have not only photos to leave but written things with good teaching.

It is important not to allow your life to be too shaped or too influenced by the events of the news, but to have an agenda and interests of your own, creating your own history and your own future, guided by the principles of scripture.

At home, I use tea time for a chance to stop and sit still and rest.  Otherwise, I would keep going and doing. I am a believer in rest, because it adds energy to your body and clarity to your mind.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Powder Blue

Hello Ladies,

Thanks for your emails admiring the light blue dresses in the last post.

For those of you that do not use Pinterest, here are some things from a powder blue collection of pictures for the home:

My Sister by Sandra Kuck.

Tea and Thoughts

Good Morning Ladies,

It is ennobling to ponder these words from the song America the Beautiful. If you are teaching your children, these lines should be picked apart, analyzed and the words looked up in a reliable Bible and dictionary, as well as finding life examples:

God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

In summary, a citizen of any country can excercise another citizenship, a spiritual one, by adopting the attrubutes in these lines! 

Ask what these words and phrases mean in the family conduct at home!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Vintage Dresses

"Art and Dreams" by American Artist Robert Vonna, 1858-1933

Hello Ladies,

The comments about the color of the Inauguration dress got me thinking more about fabrics and dresses in that color.  The ones pictured here are vintage Laura Ashley dresses. 

I have added a few more comments here: what these dresses do not show is the way many of us used to raise the neckline by pinning a dollar store doily or a piece of lace in the front just inside the shoulders. Do you remember that? I am going to start doing that again when I have  not had time to alter a neckline on a commercial dress or to raise the neckline on a home made dress that still was not high enough. I hope to put a dress on the dress form today and demonstrate how we added the folded doily to our necklines. 

Below is some blue fleece for a jacket and Waverly cotton called "China Blue" from Walmart. I enjoy Waverly because it has a glossy surface and linen-like weave and feels so luxurious and is such a nice fabric to work with while sewing.
If I ever get a dress sewn with this fabric I will get a photo of it next to a blue tea cup.

I hope the Inauguration dress will create an interest in ladies clothing with higher necklines. There appear to be darts at the neckline in this dress, but it may be just decorative seams. I have attempted a few sketches of the jacket and dress, and wondered if pattern companies are going to publish patterns of it.  If so, I would have to alter the pattern in other areas but would definitely like to know how to make the neckline.

I found this 1950's vintage pattern shown in an Etsy store:
I typed in "vintage dress patterns with high necklines" and this was one of the few that showed up. There may be some in the current sewing catalogs at fabric stores, as they are reviving these styles.  I will have to say, having lived through 1950's fashion, the clothes of that era were not as comfortable as the 1980's styles and didnot fit the majority of women very well. I am still collecting Lanz, Gunne Sax and Laura Ashley sewing patterns from the 1980's and 90's.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Today's Tea Time


I have stopped for a cup of tea and gathered my thoughts that were flying around in my mind. It occurred to me that we can create substitutes for some things. Some of my friends who sew, like textiles and clothing designs, are disappointed in the Inaugural ball gowns. As we do not have royalty here, the inauguration was one of the posh things we looked forward to seeing, and so we were let down by our expectations.

In place of this we decided to dress up have our own events at home, or sketch and paint a portrayal of the gowns and tea time.  

This is the kind of thing we did on the old homesteads. I cannot tell you the amount of playing, writing and drawing we engrossed ourselves in that made the heavy dark winters seem light.  From catalogs we clipped and pasted room scenes into those dull scrapbooks made of brown paper that were the only things we could get at the time. We made paper dolls and learned to trace around them on colored paper for fancy dresses. In extreme poverty ourselves, we could have paper dolls with unlimited wardrobes, houses and furnishings. It absorbed our mimds so much that we forgot our circumstances.  Boys did similar things by cutting out pictures of cars, pastimg them on cardboard, creating stands for them, then playing with them on hand-drawn roads a d countrysides.

We dressed up in whatever we could find that seemed elegant, wrapping fabrics, scarves and old lace around us for our parties. Entertainment was a cinch when we provided our own speeches. It was not difficult to create a tea party, because in those days the cups and saucers were all made of fine china, even the ones used every day. I tell people I lived before the beaker or mug era 😌 because I remember almost to the day when the large mugs and coffee cups came in and the porcelain teacups went out.

Re-creating events to our own liking is creating our own memories and photographic moments for our personal histories.

The three pictures below depict tea on the Royal Scotsman, a luxury train:

Trains were a favorite playtime subject when we were children. We remember setting up the chairs and tables to resemble the i side of a train, made especially realistic when setting a row of chairs by the window and asking the passenger if he wanted a window seat. 

Below: we are in the middle of a rain and windstorm here. That tea on the train seems more appealing to me than going somewhere else!

Getting out yellow tea cups makes it feel more cheerful but it is quite a contrast to have hot tea in a comfortable place by a window looking at the fierce weather!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Dress

Here are a few pictures of what appeared to be a wool dress with a bolero jacket, in pale blue.

A side view of the jacket and gloves, and what is called "messy up-do" on the hair style blogs, which withstood the rain and cruel weather.
Lovely long gloves and matching shoes were both worn in a slightly lighter shade of blue than the dress and jacket.
A closer look at the jacket:

Below: Reviewing the troops that were in Colonial uniform.

Below: without the jacket: dress has long sleeves and darts which stitched from the high neckline.
The above photo was from the Inauguration Afternoon Tea which was preceded by a prayer with these words from First Timothy; instructions for Christians to pray for all those in government:

1Ti 2:1  I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2  for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.

Prayer is more effective than trying to fix everything yourself, especially when it concerns rulers and magistrstes. There is a tendency to be anxious about politics, but Christ gave us the perfect solution in those two verses from First Timothy.

Stan and I watched the Inauguration in the morning and appreciated the respect it gave to his fellow-man and God. A transcript will be included here.

I hope to share a picture of what I wore and had for tea, later.

An opportunity to have a closer look the dress (I like fabric, sewing, patterns) in this photo of Melania pausing for the prayer at the Inauguration lunch.

I will post Michelle Obama in her dress, as well, as it was very modest and I appreciate that it was longer.

Here is a transcript of the speech:
Donald J. Trump was sworn in this morning as the 45th president of the United States.  the full transcript from the speech, which Trump claims to have written himself:
"Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world, thank you. We the citizens of America are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.
"Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people. For too long, a small group in our nation's capitol has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation's capitol, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
"That all changed starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today, and everyone watching, all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.
"What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
"At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens a different reality exists. Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
"We are one nation, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We've defended other nations' borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuddered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world, but that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future.
"We are assembled here today issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power, from this day forward, a new vision will govern our land, from this day forward, it's going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, ontaxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again, winning like never before.We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders.
"We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels, and railways, all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules -- buy American, and hire American.
"We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example, we will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite  the civilized world against radical islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
The Bible  tells us, how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
"We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again. We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the ies industries and technologies of tomorrow. New national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions. It's time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.
"And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator. So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny, and your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
"Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud when it. We will make America safe again, and yes, together we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you."

I also want to show the dress and matching coat ensemble Michelle wore at the inauguration. The length was nice.

I tried to see what the back of the bolero jacket looked like and this was the only photo I could find. You can see the over-stitched seam on the collar, and almost see the hem of the jacket.
It is good that our forefathers created a system where an administration changes and gives other people a chance to serve. I had heard that the current president will not be taking the usual salary, but have not confirmed that. Whatever the case is, please remember that besides taking a stand fkr what is right, the most powerful thing you can do is offer prayers for these people.

As for the inaugural ballgowns, they were not remarkable or distinct, imo. It is an unhappy fact that I did not get my designs ready early enough to be considered πŸ˜‰

Yes, it was a Tea, after all, that the President attended, and here you see Vice President Mike Pence with a tea cup 😊

Officials and staff respectfully bow their heads during prayer at the Inaugural Tea: