Monday, January 26, 2009

Joyful Hours

"The silent influence of books, is a mighty power in the world; and there is a joy in reading them known only to those who read them with desire and enthusiasm. Silent, passive, and noiseless though they be, they yet set in action countless multitudes, and change the order of nations." ~Giles

Dear Reader,

A joyful Monday morning to you! We decided to take some time to dust and rearrange our parlor bookcases today, and Audrey was the lucky one whose turn it was for dusting, so the task fell on her capable (though a tad unenthusiastic) shoulders~~

Unlike Fanny Dashwood, we love the smell of books! Old books that are musty, new books that are inky; ahh, perfume as sweet as the earth in spring.

We have quite a library of moldering, unwanted books that we've collected through the years (Thank you, eBay), and have wonderful plans of re-binding them someday! There are old histories, texts of articulation and elocution, tomes on women's health (very intriguing), with a few classics (Such as a tiny "Lady of the Lake") sprinkled on for good measure. For now they rest on the very tippy-top bookshelf, so as to keep them safe from the ravages of little book worms, but we dream of having a beautiful display case (with locking glass doors) to house them in.

And then there's the bookcase (or two or three) full of Mother's books which are housed in her bedroom (We're still trying to find a way to suspend a few cases from the ceiling :) )~~~~Full of lovely, inspiring, feminine books and magazines, to help encourage and uplift, and give refreshment to her weary soul~~

Another project-covering these utilitarian slipcases with something rosey.

And let's not forget the family room's more family-friendly board books, nature magazines, school books, etc. etc. (We hesitate sharing a picture of THAT collection with the whole world, however!)

And hopefully we will have time in the next few months to gift the world with our first book, "Little Folks Companion, a Treasury of Tools for Buildling a Happy Home", which is a compedium of lovely homey advice which we've gleaned from Victorian and vintage magazines and books over the last several years, with a few of our own poems, songs, etc.

Not sure why these are side-ways~~ I think I've finally gotten down drawing people-Hooray!
This is one of my favorite pictures of Frankie and me.

(Note to self: No more attempting detailed portraits on a 4"x6" sketch book!)
May you be inspired to share a favorite book with your family, or to pick up a new old treasure at an antique or thrift store, and be lost in the wonders of the written word.



"A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors." ~H.W. Beecher

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mother Culture and Air Castles

Dear Reader,

Just when we thought it was spring, we were gifted with four inches of snow in the night!

The poor chickens are back to sadly wandering around their house, wondering what to do with themselves.

I told them to be grateful that at least they had a few weeks to be out, but I'm not sure they listened.

While reading Mother's Magazine, May 1909, I came across this interesting article, which I found amusing, as I thought I had invented reading while nursing a baby!

"No one gets less time to read than the mother of little children, yet no one needs more to read. She needs to be informed about the special duties before her; she needs recreation; she needs uplift. Necessarily tied at home as her body is, her mind needs the more to roam abroad. Most young mothers feel this so intensely that the hunger of their minds torments them like an actual physical craving.

How funny that Audrey took this picture of what I was reading the other day!

To one such woman I suggested that she should read to herself while she was nursing the baby. But she told me that she had several times tried it, and found that the book or magazine so attracted the attention of the baby that he stopped nursing and tried to catch at the leaves and to put the innutritious book-cover in his mouth.

Now, the trouble in her case was that she did not begin soon enough. In the very early days, when the baby is only a few weeks old, he will not notice the book at all, and by the time he is ready to notice it will have become so much a fixed accompaniment to the nursing-hour that he will pay no attention to it. By reading at such times the mother gains two or three hours a day in which to enrich her mind, and refresh herself."

I suppose that the only reason they did not mention reading in the bathtub until you were water-logged and lukewarm was due to the lack of heated bathrooms in those days! The article continues:

"Once a young mother wrote to me that she was given to what she called the pernicious habit of 'building air castles.' Now, I don't think that a pernicious habit at all; I think it a most valuable one. Not only does it make the builder happy, and keep him out of mischief, but the right air castles tend to come true.

~LDS temple, Rexburg Idaho (Not an air castle!)~

Remember this when you are building them, and be careful that they are really the right air castles. I have known wives to build air castles about their own death, and the effect it would have upon their cross husbands; or to calculate the power of invalidism to bring forth a kinder response and more consideration. I have even known angry mothers to smack imaginary lips over imaginary punishments which should befall unmanageable children. Sentimental women sometimes think to add to the poignancy of their love for their children by imagining how they would feel those same children were taken away ; or conceiving an old age without them; or life as was before they came.

Such air castles, like happier ones, also tend to come true if they are held too steadily in mind. They lower the mental tone, and so weaken and pervert the will as to make a happier state of things every day more unlikely.

~The castle that my sister made for her garden~

Build good air castles, then, as you go about your daily work. Build them high and spacious, and equip them with every beautiful thing. Imagine them as intensely as you can. The clearer you think them, the surer they are to be realized."

Last night, as I was swooning my way through the Thompson and Morgan seed catalog (while freezing in the bathtub), AnnaMarie gave up on my coming in for dinner (Really, I was almost done!) and brought mine in to me. On my plate was half a baked onion, with the skin partly removed. Lo and behold, it turned into an oriental poppy! Maybe that's an omen that this year my gardening air castles will come true!

Speaking of AnnaMarie, she is becoming the maven of braidin', with the help of a doohickey called the "Easy Braid" that holds your hair in place while French braiding. Soon she'll have to hang out a shingle!

Tasha's 'doo (Excuse the airing Elvis jumpsuit and rumpled towels!)

And of course we wouldn't leave dear Frankie out of the hair-styling fun!
Have yourself a beautiful day!



Unheeded Joy

Could we but think to put away
Life's little troubles and annoys,
How much of welcome, day by day,
Our hearts might spare to passing joys!

~Eugene C. Dolson

Monday, January 19, 2009

Of Birthdays and Things

Dear Reader,

We're so glad you've come by today-It's beautiful outside, and we'll be headed out soon to air dry our laundry (At least some of the way, it's still cold!), but we thought we'd drop a line here first.

We had a fun pre-birthday party for Evangeline on Saturday, who will be a big four-year-old tomorrow. Her Grandma Graham made her an adorable Amish dress and apron, and matching doll, which she will not part with for love or money!
Her sisters made her a lovely cake, made from berries, bananas, coconut, cashews, and dates. Yummy but oh, so rich!

Her other grandma came out and gave her a purse full of goodies, and her uncle gave her some fun books. We've been so blessed to have her sweet little spirit in our home and lives these past few years.

Happy birthday, Rosebud Dolly Doodles!

Cowboy Frank received some new duds for an early birthday present.

It's a rug, it's a mop, it's a poodle!

Now that we've had our party, it's back to fun and learning (And cleaning~Audrey found this heart in her mop water)~~~~

And learning how to work marionettes (Like all Tasha Tudor afecionados, we harbor marionette show fantasies!)

And practicing our drawing, so we can illustrate that book we've been working on for the last three years!

And taking time to enjoy a good read (With a built-in homeschool lesson on bees!)~~

And just being ourselves (in various incarnations)!

Well, "Hang clothes while the sun shines", as they say~~~Thanks again for visiting, and we pray that you and yours will be blessed in whatever your day holds for you.




Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sacrifices of Joy

"And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord."
~Psalms 27:6

Dear Reader,

While playing "scripture roulette" (Flip the pages at random and open to a passage) this morning, this passage in Psalms struck me as never before. How fitting for David to mention the "sacrifices of joy"; for sometimes we would rather indulge in our black moods, wouldn't we? Being always joyful can be a real sacrifice for some of us, myself included. But what more beautiful sacrifice can we offer to the One who has given us all good things?

May I remember to offer a "sacrifice of Joy", the next time I encounter things such as:

1/3 bottle of organic ketchup used in one sitting~

And an entire roll of toilet paper emptied into the tub at bathtime!
May you have a blessed Sabbath,



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tip-Sharing Tuesday: Homemade Paint Recipes

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting us today!

Before you know it, warmer weather will be here, and with it the urge to clean and paint. Why not try something new this year, and in lieu of chemical-based paints, make some of your own?

I myself have not attempted it yet, but have a few recipes that I'll share with you, that I plan on referring to once it's warm enough to send the little ones outside so the paint stays where we want it! And since we didn't have any pictures of paint to show you, we'll show you some of the reasons why we don't want to use chemical paint~~~~

Our chickens love paint-They peck it off the house.

(Extracted from the book "Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis' Cook Book"):

Lime Paint

"A mixture combining the qualities of paint with those of whitewash may be made with slaked lime as a basis by the addition of various materials, as milk, whiting, salt, alum copperas, potash, ashes, sand, and pitch, with or without a small proportion of white lead (ed. note~hopefully without!) and linseed oil. These mixtures are more durable than whitewash, but have less finish that white lead and oil.

Heavenly Homeschooling

To prepare lime paint, slake lime with water (ed. note~Slaked lime is readily available today) and let dry to the consistency of paste. Thin with skimmed milk to the proper thickness to lay on with a brush. Add coloring matter as desired (ed. note~We have heard that powdered Rit Dye works well for coloring.).

Or slake 4 ounces of lime with water to the consistency of cream and stir into it 4 quarts of skimmed milk. Sprinkle on the surface through a sieve 5 pounds of whiting (chalk). Let this gradually sink, then stir and rub together thoroughly and add coloring matter as desired. The casein or curd of milk, by the action of caustic lime becomes insoluble and produces a paint of great tenacity suitable for farm buildings, cellars, walls, and all rough outdoor purposes. Apply with a paint brush. Two or three coats will be necessary. The above quantity is sufficient for 100 square yards."

And here are some recipes for fireproof paint, for all you adventurous souls out there~

"Mix equal amounts of powdered iron filings, brick dust, and sifted ashes. Grind the whole to a find powder. Prepare a warm glue size by dissolving 4 ounces of glue in 1 gallon of water. Stir into this the powdered mixture, to the proper consistency, and apply with a paint brush. Two or three coats will render woodwork fireproof.

Or slake stone lime in boiling water, covering it to keep in the steam. Reduce with water to the consistency of cream, and to each 5 gallons add 1 pound of powdered alum, 12 ounces of carbonate of potassium, and 1/2 pound of common salt. Stir in these ingredients in the order mentioned. Add coloring matter as desired. Mix well, bring to the boiling point, and apply while hot. This is a suitable paint for the roofs of farm buildings and the like."

And here is how to keep your paint fresh:

"Any paint left over after using must be sealed. Or it may be kept fresh in an open can or pail by merely filling up the vessel with water. When the paint is again needed the water may be poured off. But take care that the water does not evaporate, as in that case the paint will be ruined."

There now, that should give you some fun projects to work on, although I would suggest using an old stock pot for boiling that paint on the stove (And just make sure that noone mistakes it for blanc mange!).



"Simplified Spelling"
Mother's Magazine, June 1916

"What have you learned at school today, Richard?" asked his father.
"I have learned how to spell horse," was the reply.
"Very good. How do you spell it?"
"H-O-R-S-E," spell Richard.
"And now can you spell colt?" inquired his father.
"Yes," was the prompt reply, "you spell it just the same as you do horse, only you use smaller letters."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gardening for Freedom, Gardening for Joy

Dear Reader,

At this time of year, after the festivities of Christmas and the New Year, it is time to look forward. As the mailbox attests, planning for this year's garden cannot begin too early!

And this is just some of them!

I have only recently begun to garden earnestly, as I was a "city girl" for quite a while before marriage, and we lived in apartments for the first few years of marriage. But, "What's bred in the bones will come out on the skin", as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Ma would say, and my biggest dream now is of growing the majority of our fruits and vegetables on our own land (And being most of us raw vegetarians, we go through an AWFUL lot of produce!). I have so much yet to learn, and I frustrate myself by overtaxing myself while having small children each year, but at least I have learned to never give up! Gardening makes an eternal optimist out of one (This year we'll finally have that garden!).

We only had two full ears off of this corn-There's always next year!

I believe that now, perhaps more than ever, a call to gardening on a large-scale basis is necessary. I wonder, as I study our nation's history, what has happened to the government urging its citizens to plant food gardens as a patriotic act? Just listen to this quote by Woodrow Wilson, dated 15 April (Which happens to be my birthday), 1917: "My fellow Countrymen: . . . .Every one who creates or cultivates a garden helps, and helps greatly, to solve the problem of the feeding of the nations. . . . every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation. This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance. Let every man and every woman assume the duty of careful, provident use and expenditure as a public duty, as a dictate of patriotism which no one can now expect ever to be excused or forgiven for ignoring."

Somehow I can't picture President Obama giving a similar speech, can you?

I have been intrigued by the campaign of Kitchen Gardeners International, who are seeking to petition Mr. Obama to plant a kitchen garden on the White House Lawn, as an example to his fellow Americans. I hope that their plan will be successful, and that you will take a few minutes, as I have, to add your support by following the link on my sidebar to vote for this action. Just think what would happen if only half of the American population dug up their lawn and planted a garden! Did you know that we as Americans spend as much money on lawn care annually as we do on books? Think of the fuel that would be saved, and the health that would be gained, if we did what our ancestors have done for thousands of years, eating seasonally and locally-grown food. Disease would be reduced greatly, as we stopped poisoning ourselves at every meal with processed, unpronouncable ingredients.

And if every citizen grew just a few vegetables on pots on the veranda, or lettuce and radishes on the windowsill, perhaps we would see a revolution of peacefulness, as there is something very therapeutic about watching something grow that you have planted, and then an almost spiritual feeling of ingesting that same food. The following video demonstrates some of that feeling~~

Perhaps if everyone gardened, we would see armies exchanging cuttings instead of bullets!

I have fallen in love with the French style of gardening, for it is practical and beautiful. They plant vegetables right along with their flowers, and the effect is just as lovely as the most costly, chemical-laden landscape.

If you do not have plans for a garden yet, I urge you to prayerfully consider how this might be a blessing to your family. Grow something, anything you can, and you will be amazed at the transformative power such a seemingly small act can have on you and your family. Oh yes, please include your family in the fun of planning, planting, caring, and harvesting. There are loads of gardening magazines and books available used on eBay for a very reasonable amount, and the library always has plenty of information. Rodale Press is my favorite. I have not read all of their books, but I trust them generally.

One of the other biggest influences for me and gardening is my beloved Tasha Tudor. One of her favorite sayings was that gardening and goat's milk kept her going, and it was really true. Watching her Take Joy and Take Peace videos, one is filled with a longing to walk beside her and learn from her many years of experience. I recently encountered a beautiful video made in Japanese, which appears to have been filmed shortly before her death (Maybe some of you know more about this?). I would like to share it with you here.

May you be inspired, whether you have ever planted a garden or not, to make this year the one where you study and learn all you can about gardening, to bless not only yourself and your family, but untold others, for years to come.



Garden Magic

This is the garden's magic,
That through the sunny hours
The gardener who tends it, Himself outgrows his flowers.

He grows by gift of patience,
Since he who sows must know
That only in the Lord's good time
Does any seedling grow.

He learns from buds unfolding,
From each tight leaf unfurled,
That his own heart, expanding,
Is one with all the world.

He bares his head to sunshine,
His bending back a sign
Of grace, and ev'ry shower becomes
His sacramental wine.

And when at last his labors
Bring forth the very stuff
And substance of all beauty
This is reward enough.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dream Big!

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high and hope and work remembering that something noble once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone, will be a living thing, reasserting itself with ever-growing insistency."

~Daniel H. Burnham

Dear Reader,

AnnaMarie has made for herself the lofty goal of making 100 quilts to give to the hospital (She has a special sympathy for hospital patients, having been one twice in her short life), and so we have our year's work cut out for us! We are going to try to do 50 hospital bed-sized quilts and 50 baby quilts by the end of the year. This means we'll have to make as many as possible before gardening season hits, since we don't have much time for sewing when it's lovely outside (I guess we COULD take the frame outside. . .)!

We have been blessed by so many neighbors, family, and friends this past year, giving us gifts of money, food, etc., that we feel "Because we have been given much, we too must give. . . ". While money might not be abundant in our home, fabric is, so we're going to use what we have to try to repay the Universe what we've been given.

First Quilt

Second Quilt

Tasha pitching in to help.

Quilter's Road Blocks
Of course, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, so we'll be sure to include plenty of tea parties along the way, during the Year of the Quilt!

May you give yourself some lofty goals this year, and may you have help sent you to achieve them.



"January 1

Our twelve months go round and round,
The same months every year.
And January starts them off,
The first day ice-clear.

Arise before the orange dawn
In morning's blue is lost.
Arise, enjoy your window panes
That glow with panes of frost.

Enjoy the black trees lined with snow,
The meadow smooth and white
In last year's haggard countryside
That dazzles since the night.

Begin this year as though you too
Were really not the same--
Like every January first,
Brand-new in your old name. "

~Marnie Pomeroy

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Counting our Blessings

"When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, evr'y doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in Heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all.
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

~Johnson Oatman, Junior

Dear Reader,

Frankie and Evangeline were having fun, playing with molasses and milk (almond) this week-

I was about to get angry with them, when I discovered that they weren't being messy, they were only doing their own geography lesson!

Hmm, let's see, Kasakhstan? Mongolia? Russia?

Evangeline says: "Be sure to take lots of blackstrap molasses for iron this winter!"

Luckily, we had a good clean-up crew to help tidy up.

And here is our popcorn/sunflower seed/bread crumb team~ ~ ~Always willing to lend a beak.

We were truly surprised the other day, upon closer investigation of the beautiful smell emanating from the parlor, to find our night-blooming jasmine (from Logee's) in bloom! We had given up on it completely.

Nose candy?
If you've never heard of Logee's greenhouse, I highly recommend them (The fact that Tasha Tudor was a customer doesn't hurt!) for both healthy, beautiful houseplants and wonderful, natural fertilizers for those plants. I'm sure their catfish emulsion (odorless) was the reason our jasmine bloomed so beautifully (And why the fiddle-head philodendron is leaping from its pot!).

Thank you for visiting with us today; we count you as one of our many blessings,