Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Will Survive (or Springtime Will Come at Last!)

Dear Reader,

How nice of you to stop by today! We are enjoying watching the tumbleweed races going on in front of our house, as well as occasional snow flurries (I used the word "enjoying" tongue in cheek just there!). But we will not complain, for we know that there is a reason for everything, and it is just the kind of day that it is meant to be. Right?
See the snow in the distance?

At least we have nature to enjoy; even if it is just a little cat-face spider that decided to take up residence in our bathroom (Woebetide the fungus gnats in the plants!)~

Between Adam and Eve (Can you see her there in the middle?)!
And we can always look at our nature collection parked in the entryway!

So we'll stay inside and do some home learning, book and otherwise;

And try to not act like we have cabin fever!
Before you know it, it will be the end of another day in our little home, where the most important things ARE the small things, after all.

Love and blessings to you,


"Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter-and the Bird is on the Wing."

(From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Invitation to Our New Blog

Good morning, dear Reader,

We are excited to launch a new little blog here from our home. If you've been here a while, you would have seen a post about "Wildlife Wednesday", which we were going to do weekly. We decided it would be better and more fitting to start a whole new blog; so that's what we've done!

I am glad to be able to honor my father, who was a real outdoorsman and nature-lover in every way.

We've just gotten started, so it's a little rusty yet, but here's the link:

Feel free to pop over, and give us any feedback you would think would make the site more enjoyable.



Flower in the Crannied Wall

Flower in the crannied wall
I plucked you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower-but
if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

~Alred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tip-Sharing Tuesday: Care of the Hands

Good morrow, Dear Reader!

We hope the day finds all well with you and yours. Do you know that we think of you often, and even pray for you, that you will be blessed with whatever challenges you may have?

Today we'd like to share a few vintage hints on taking care of the hands, again quoting from our "Household Discoveries" book (If you ever spy this book anywhere, be sure to snatch it up!):

The Hands

Nothing betrays lack of daintiness in personal care more than neglect of the hands and nails. Of course it is more difficult for some women to keep their nails clean and their hands soft, white, and free from blemished than for others. But in the care or the hands immaculate cleanliness is imperative. They should never be washed except when it can be done thoroughly. Constantly rinsing them in cold water grinds the dirt in and ruins the texture of the skin, making it rough, coarse, and red. When exposed to hard usage, as in the routine of housework, instead of frequently washing the hands in water, a few drops of oil should be rubbed into them. They should then be dusted over with talcum powder and wiped with a coarse towel. This will cleanse them and protect the flesh from growing callous. Lemon juice will remove stains.

The hands should always be washed in tepid water, and a good soap is an absolute necessity. It is also important that the water be soft. Avoid washing the hands frequently with cheap laundry soap, washing powders, soft soap, or other powerful detergents. They tend to roughen, redden, and chap the skin. The best soap is none too good for the toilet. Any hard, white, pure or neutral soap is suitable for the toilet. Hence it is not necessary to purchase special toilet soaps, which are usually expensive, however desirable they may seem to be. To test soap for toilet purposes, apply the tongue to it. If it contains free alkali, it will have a caustic or burning taste and should be avoided (ed. note: You may wish to not be in the presence of others while testing your soap!). Otherwise it is not likely to be injurious.

In cold weather or when the hands are very dirty rub a little pure lard or cold cream over them, and afterwards wash them with soap and water in the usual way. This has a tendency to keep the skin from cracking or chapping. The use of gloves, especially when gardening, driving, or walking in the sun or wind, helps to preserve the softness of the hands and keep them clean. Sprinkling the hands with orris root or talcum powder before drawing on the gloves will counteract excessive perspiration.

Redness and Burning. -These troubles are caused by defective circulation. Attention should be given to the general health, and as a preventive measure the hands should be protected from exposure to the weather-especially in the winter-by the use of a muff or by fur-lined gloves. Or two pairs of gloves may be worn, which will be found warmer than one pair lined. After the hands have been exposed to the cold they may be prevented from tingling by washing them in very warm water, and drying them carefully on a soft towel. The after effect will be a feeling of coolness, whereas the use of cold water causes a glow.

To Remove Stains From the Hands.
- Substances recommended for removing stains from the hands are lemon juice, the juice of ripe tomatoes, or vinegar.

To Soften the Hands.-
Keep on the toilet near the near a dish of oatmeal, and rub it freely on the hands after washing. This will cleanse and soften the skin.

Or use cornmeal in the same manner.

Or a pair of white kid gloves may be turned inside out and brushed over with cold cream or any melted mixture of wax, oil, lard, or other unguent. These gloves may then be drawn on the hands and worn at night.

A small quantity of bran boiled in a linen bag softens the hands. Put both the juice and the boiled bran in the washbowl, add warm or hot water, and wash the hands with or without soap. This is perhaps the best and simplest treatment for the redness, dryness, and roughness caused by housework and exposure. After washing, the hands may be rubbed with a few drops of honey.


We do hope that you have picked up a tidbit or two that you would like to try (Some may be easier to explain to family members than others); We certainly did!

And lastly, here is another something from the "Housewife Magazine", June 1906:

About Our Cares.

Look about you and think whether or not your friends who have no children are care-free. A so-called old maid friend of our family, with never occasion for worrying about the affairs of any human being near her, adopted a cat long years ago; and now this decrepit pussy exacts the same amount of care and thought of this estimable lady as would serve to bring up at least two romping children who might go out into the world to do it good. So it really seems that we must have cares of one sort or another. The cares of a family of beautiful children (All children are beautiful in a way their parents may see, if others fail to) differ from other kinds in the compensation offered in return; for do we not get it all back- the love and solicitude, the labor and the thought-and with interest, before we die? There are few but think so, deep down in their hearts.

Nevertheless, we often allow petty trials to impress us too strongly; so that they color our life, and find expression in our tone and actions. We must forever guard against an awful habit, alas! too prevalent; that of scolding, that brings a black throng of hard words, with apparent reason and as often with none.

A Mother's Reward
By Martha Shephard Lippincott.
How would a mother stand her life,
With all its load of care,
Did not the blessing of sweet love
Spread sunshine everywhere,
And brighten up the dreary days
When mothers are so tired?
How could they ever bear the load,
If not, by love, inspired?

'Tis that which brings the joyous smile,
Instead of discontent;
And what a blessing it has been
That God this treasure sent.
For such a burden cares would be,
Were not the thoughts of love
E'er nestling in the tender heart,
To lead the soul above.

And teach us to forget life's care,
In dreaming of its bliss;
And sweetest pleasure wives will find
In love's fond, tender kiss.
It takes away the weariness,
And many trials of life,
To feel you are a well beloved
And most devoted wife.



Monday, February 23, 2009

Belated Birthday Wishes to the Father of Our Country

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by today.

My, it was a busy weekend, starting Friday night, with the wallpapering job of the century! We were so busy that we forgot to celebrate Washington's birthday yesterday (Besides it was Sunday, with its attendant Sabbath-day duties, you know). We plan to spend this week reading stories and poems about Washington, and for our copywork we have chosen "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive" by Scott. This is to help us remember that honesty was Washington's policy!

Why is Frankie laughing? Could it be he's remembering . . .

How much fun it was to watch everyone (and everything) get covered in wallpaper paste?

And Mother's stylish bandana and apron?

And Tasha's hair, that wishes it had a bandana on?
I must say, it was quite the experience (One for the books!); I hope I remember the next time I put up heavy vinyl wallpaper to make the paste extra thick, and perhaps I'll even iron the wallpaper before applying it, to get rid of all the little waves that refuse to go away!

I'm sure that making the wallpaper paste will stick (pun intended) in everyone's memories, though!

If we manage to get everything cleaned up (And our muscles unstiff) after this mess, er, project, we'll be sure to post pictures of how pretty the finished wall looks!

On a different note, we purchased a "new" periodical from eBay, the June 1906 "Housewife Magazine", which is a real gem! We'll share a few articles and notes with you, starting with this one (Which somehow seems fitting at our house right now!):

Don't Talk of Your Health

If you are not very well don't talk about it.

To do so only exaggerates your consciousness of physical discomfort; also it casts a shadow of gloom over other people. They grow hesitant about asking you how you feel. It gives them cold chills to be continually told that you are "not very well" or "not so well" or "about the same."

Do you know that a good deal of this is imagination? If you braced up and told people cheerily that you felt tiptop nine chances in ten you would feel tiptop pretty soon. You'd forget the ailing habit.

Don't let yourself become a slave to such a miserable little absorber of health and happiness as the perpetual habit of "not feeling well."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Blessings of "Counter Culture"

"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"
~Colossians 1:16

Dear Reader,

We have been enjoying some "end of winter blahs"-beating movies and books lately, which have made us truly grateful that there are people out there willing to make lovely, godly movies which make us forget the evil times in which we live.

Some of our favorites have been the following:

Miss Potter

The Secret Garden


Wives and Daughters

These movies (And books) all seem to have something in common: a love of the outdoors and/or drawing!

We have been learning from a book called "Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You" , by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. This book is a great addition to any library to help instill a love of life-long journaling, and being close to the Lord's creations. One does not have to be a great artist to jot down a few notes about the weather, birds at the feeder, etc. and sketch something wherever they go.

Tasha and AnnaMarie have been inspired to examine various and sundry items under the microscope and record them in their notebooks (Without my suggesting it, wow!).

"Hmmm, let's try cat hair!"

Drawings of magnified objects
Now, if we could get Frankie interested in something besides plugging in every electrical cord he can find around the house, before he electrocutes himself!

Thank you for stopping by, and may you have a beautiful day!




"The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

~William Wordsworth

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tip-Sharing Tuesday: Homemade Pastes and Mucilage

Good morning, Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting us today, wherever you are in the world!

Since we have some wallpapering to do, and were going to make our own paste (For the first time), we thought we'd share a few recipes given in the good old "Household Discoveries" book that we refer to so often.

Here's the wall we'll be covering.

Here are a few that seem the most interesting:

Flour Paste. --Ordinary paste is made by mixing wheat flour or rice flour with water, with or without boiling. It may be improved by the addition of various other adhesives, as rosin, gum arabic, and glue, and also by the addition of alum.

A detail of our "Thrift Store Romantic" wallpaper we'll be putting up.

To make simple cold flour paste, mix one tablespoon of flour with one teacupful of cold water. Add a few drops of carbolic acid or other preservative. Or, for library paste, dissolve half ounce of alum in one pint of warm water. Stir in flour to the consistency of cream, carefully breaking all lumps. Add one teaspoon of powdered rosin and five or six cloves, or a few drops of oil of cloves and boil until it thickens. Thin, if necessary, with a little hot water. Put in an earthen or glass vessel, as a glass fruit jar tightly covered, and keep in a cold place. Soften when needed with warm water. This paste is suitable for scrapbooks and similar articles and is better for such uses than a paste or mucilage containing gum arabic.

To soften library paste, add a few drops of water and melt the paste with gentle heat.

Or add one heaping teaspoonful of flour and one half teaspoonful of pulverized alum. Rub smooth with a little cold water. Mix with boiling water to the consistency of cream and boil until it thickens.

To Preserve Flour Paste--Add to each half pint of flour paste not containing alum fifteen grains of corrosive sublimate. This prevents the formation of mold and preserves the paste from the attacks of insects and vermin. Also a few drops of oil of lavender, rosemary, or cloves, or any of the essential oils, and a few drops of carbolic acid.

Paper Hanger's Paste--Mix four pounds of flour, one fourth pound of powdered alum, one fourth pound of pulverized rosin. Rub up this mixture with a small quantity of warm water until smooth and free from lumps. Mix with boiling water to the consistency of cream and boil until it thickens. Or use cornstarch or wheat starch or rice flour instead of wheat flour. To use this paste, spread it freely on the paper, then lay or fold the pasted sides lightly together. This assists in distributing the paste evenly and also in handling the paper. After the upper end has been attached, the lower part may be unfolded as it goes on the wall. The wall should first be coated with a thin glue size made of about four ounces of glue to one gallon of water.

Or make a glue size by dissolving ten ounces of glue in two and a half gallons of water. Mix nine pounds of bole, an earthy substance resembling clay, with water to the consistency of cream, and strain off the water through cheesecloth. Add the moistened bole to the glue size and stir in two pounds of gypsum. Strain through cheesecloth and dilute with boiling water. This is an excellent paste for old walls covered with one or more coatings of whitewash.

Rice Paste or Japanese Cement--
Mix powdered rice with a little cold water, rubbing until smooth and free from lumps. Add boiling water and boil, stirring constantly, until it thickens. This is an excellent library paste, suitable for scrapbooks and all kinds of fancy paper work.
Or it may be used to paste strips of transparent paper used to mend tears in valuable books, as it is nearly transparent when dry. For all fine paper work, it is much superior to paste made out of wheat flour.

Flour Cement--
A paste of wheat flour and cold water worked with the fingers into a stiff dough is a useful cement for attaching the metal tops to glass articles and other similar purposes. It requires two or three days to harden.

Flour Paste with Sugar--The addition of one tablespoonful of sugar to one quart of flour paste increases its adhesiveness and tenacious quality.

Well, there you have them! You might want to keep a copy of them handy, just in case you can't get to the store someday and have some pressing items that want pasting.

May you have a happy day,


Monday, February 16, 2009

A Lovely Time Was Had by All

Dear Reader,

We wish you a happy President's Day, and hope that you had a restful weekend! We're so glad that you stopped by today. We had a family-centered Valentine's Day (Which is much more fun than sending the little ones off to Grandma's and going to a crowded restaurant, let me tell you!) on Saturday, and would like to share with you a little of the goings-on.

My mother came out and brought a few treats for the children, including (Of all things) dinosaurs, which were a big hit with everyone except Frankie, for whom they were intended! She also brought out some pink rosey wallpaper for our dining room, which we were going to put up, but forgot we didn't have wallpaper paste!

We moved the china cabinet into the parlor to make room for the future wallpapering project.

The girls had so much fun with the dinosaurs that they didn't want to put them away yesterday. They ended up having "Dinosaur Church", which lasted most of the afternoon (Pity the mothers of little dinosaur babies!).

We had planned to have tea at 4:00 p.m. to hold everyone until dinner, but it was a little difficult to feel relaxed and refreshed while my mother was digging treasures out of our couch cushions at the time (Sorry, no photos were taken of the proceedings.)!

At 6:00 we all dressed up and had a Valentine's dinner, at Chez AnnaMarie, a very posh restaurant located in the dining room. AnnaMarie designed the menus and planned the meal. She even made the beautiful dessert, which was a frozen raw banana and berry pie with a hazelnut/almond/date crust. Scrumptious!

The beautiful, creatively set table. Not bad for an eleven-year old!

Some of us chose less formal attire.

After the meal, it was off to the parlor for a short box-step lesson (One- two- three, One- two- three) and free-style dancing for young and old. As you can see, a good time was had by all!

When everyone's tootsies were ready for a rest, we exchanged valentines and watched the video of my husband surprising me with a "Phantom of the Opera" valentine, thirteen years ago when we were first engaged (He did a post about it on his blog here.). We then headed off to Dreamland, with many happy memories of another family Valentine's Day!

We hope you enjoyed sharing with us this day of love. How glad I am to have my little family, and to be able to enjoy simple homely pleasures with them, my sweet loves. I'm very grateful to have been inspired by the book "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions", by Sarah ban Breathnach. It convinced us to make the day special for everyone, not just Mother and Father.



A Goodly Life

"To be honest, to be kind-to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make, upon the whole, a family happier for his presence-to keep a few friends." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Reader,

We wish you love and joy on this special day: Love for the Savior, Love for Your Significant Other, Love for your children, love for your pets, love of nature, and for every one whom you meet!

Audrey's getting really good at rosey pencil shavings!

Evangeline would love to be on a warm beach right now!
Wishing you a happy day!
We were shopping yesterday, and heard a mother call her daughter "Victoria". It made me feel a little sad, knowing that I would never have the honor of calling my daughter (Who died at birth) by her name while shopping, or anywhere else. I am so grateful to know that there is more to life than this one. Thank the blessed Lord for His atoning sacrifice, which makes the resurrection and restoration of lost loved ones possible. May I live my life worthy of that sacrifice.

May we hold each other a little closer, for life is so fragile and fleeting.



Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:-
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never write, nor no man ever loved.

~William Shakespeare

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Take Our Hats Off (Er, on?) Today To. . .

Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Dear Reader,

May we all stop to remember and honor one of the greatest men our nation has ever known, on this historic day. How sad and shameful that this day is no longer remembered as a national holiday, and that Lincoln means no more to most people than the face on a coin. Let us seek to re-gain the feelings of indebtedness that we should all have for those who have made our freedom possible!



"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." ~Abraham Lincoln

"I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life."
~Abraham Lincoln

"God is the silent partner in all great enterprises." ~Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wildlife Wednesday

Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming by our little Merry Hearts Cottage today! It's always a treat to have you stop by, and hope that you will be blessed by your visit.

I want to share with you, each Wednesday, a few of the articles that my botanist/ecologist father left as his legacy to his children. My sister entrusted them in my care to be copied and given back to her, so I thought I'd "kill two birds with one stone" and type them up to share with you! I hope you will enjoy them.

The first article is entitled "The Friendly Tree Swallow", and was written with the intent of being published in a newspaper or nature magazine.


The Friendly Tree Swallow

by Lou Jonas

The tree swallow seems to be the most willing of all birds to cooperate with a young nature-lover. All the boy or girl has to do is build a house five inches square inside, with a 1 1/2 inch hole six inches from the bottom (sic), and place it on a pole or in an open-branched tree in early spring, so it will be ready when the swallows return, about the time the first mosquitoes show up. House sparrows will try to claim it, usually, so Dr. Cliff Davis advises putting it rather close to the ground. The sparrows tend to avoid the house then, while the swallows will still be happy to accept it. The house should be on a steel pipe or post, if very low, so a hungry cat can't remove the residents by jumping to the top of the house and waiting for them to emerge.

Audrey's drawing

Dr. Davis once put out a string of six houses on fence posts, to provided homes for bluebirds, in the hope of helping them to return to their former numbers. The bluebirds didn't find them, but four of the six were taken by tree swallow families.

AnnaMarie's drawing

The male is usually the first to appear in the spring, and he flutters and twitters for some time near the new house, apparently being a little wary- not eager to enter a hole where a red squirrel or weasel may be waiting to welcome him. He flies to the top of the house, sings a little, flies away, returns to land at the hole and cling for a few seconds, perhaps listening for menacing scratches inside. Then he flies away, but soon returns. Perhaps this time he will stick his head in the hole, and then quickly flee. Eventually he dares to believe that here is a fine new home with no strings attached, and he enters, to merge soon, and perhaps fly to a phone wire to sing. If we dared to be romantic, we would say that the swallow is thanking us for his house, and he acts so friendly toward us that it is apparent that his gratitude is long-lasting.

After he brings his mate to the new home, they spend a great many hours, and make many trips, carrying grass for the next, and white feathers, if available, for the nest lining. Soon, three to eight white eggs are laid, and the male assists in brooding them, as he does in bringing the many thousands of insects which the young will consume before they leave the next. Occasionally, the pair both relax on a nearby phone or powerline, to sit side by side preening busily, and using their feet to scratch the spots which can't be reached by their beaks.

Their human neighbors can work with electric drill or other tools only four or five feet away, without disturbing them. The sharp concussion of a hammer blow may make them jump, and perhaps fly away, but they soon return.

Though the song is so quiet one must listen closely to hear it, the attentiveness is rewarded by a pleasantly liquid tune. The actions suggest that they are singing more because they enjoy it, than to declare a territorial boundary.

Food is no problem in most parts of Montana; there are great enough numbers of mosquitoes and other insects to keep an infinite number of swallow families alive. However, many of us bird-lovers were worried when the heavy snowstorms covered most of Montana in May of 1965. We wondered how the swallows would make it through the three or four days of cold weather without their usual food. We were relieved and jubilant to see our old friends about their business as in normal years, the day after the snow had melted. They had evidently "holed up" and subsisted on stored body fat.

The steel-blue back and white belly of the male, along with the general clean-cut build of its body and wings, make the tree swallow one of our most handsome birds (The female's back is more brown, but this difference may be hard to detect unless the pair is sitting side by side.) The square-cut tail is another mark which makes the bird easy to identify. The tree swallow is called a martin by some folks, but the purple martin is much larger, its uniform blue-black color both above and below make it easy to distinguish.

We consider the tree swallow a valuable friend, and are always a little lonely each year, when the young have grown up and entire family seem to grow more distant and cool toward us. It's reassuring to know that next April we can look forward to seeing the first tree swallow of the year, and to renewing our mutually beneficial association.


Thank you for sharing a bit of my father's legacy with me,