Friday, February 26, 2010

Cottage Life and "Marriage and Its Real Purpose"

Dear Friends,

A merry Friday to you, today! Thank you for coming over today; we might even have a bit of sunshine to share with you!

Let's see what's been going on around the cottage~ We would like to introduce two "new" members of the doll family; Meriweather and Fauna, who have been to the big, big city and have just been reunited with their big sister, Annabelle (Who is feeling a little quite the country bumpkin next to their fine clothes).

These two dolls belonged to my mother's younger sisters back in the early 1950s, and Annabelle for many years reigned supreme at the head of my grandmother's bed. So you can see that they go way back! I was very thankful that my mother trusted me to keep them here (on the very tippy-top shelf, of course).

And here are two Godey's plates that we tried to resist buying, but when they were marked down to $2.50 each, well. . .
See how much Grandma's old Dutch girl likes them!

AnnaMarie and I decided that instead of painting over this, ummm, lovely wallpaper that used to greet the eye upon entering the kitchen, we would wallpaper over with the same wallpaper we put up in the parlor three years ago~

It looks SO much more pleasing to the eye, that we wonder why we did not think of it sooner! And of course, it was very economical, coming from the thrift store :) .

We hope that you do not tire of our sharing little tidbits from our old books and magazines~ this little article jumped out at us so that we thought we'd finish off with it today (We will leave to our married friends to arrange sharing it with their spouses):

Marriage and its Real Purpose

"Real marriage, ideal marriage, should mean the union of a man and a woman, living their lives together, and spending their entire lives learning to know each other." This is the statement of John Arthur Graves in one of his recent essays. "The man who has been married a week, a month, a year or five years, and who imagines that he knows his wife, is a man to be pitied.

"Each human soul represents the development of thousands and thousands of years back of us. Even the simplest human creatures cannot be really known except by years of study, lasting over a lifetime.

"The man and woman really married, and happily married, are the couple that each day and each week and each year find new attractions, new and charming characteristics, in each other. Nine-tenths of the troubles of married life are due to the fact that the average husband neglects to study his wife, fails to realize her beauty of character--ignores the wonderful gift that has been bestowed upon him.

"A woman gives herself, her entire life, everything that she has, to a man, staking her happiness upon his intelligence and appreciation, and expecting him, as the years pass, to study and know her as she strives to know him, until a perfect union of soul has been completed between them. This is real marriage."

~The Mother's Magazine, April 1908

Until next time, dear friends,



Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming by today, and we hope you had a lovely weekend. We DID survive ours, and everyone made it home safely, thank the Lord! Now the house is nice and noisy :) .

The girls took a few pictures for me so I wouldn't miss out on their trip to Utah~would you like to see them?

Cousins, cousins, and more cousins!

They even brought back these Raggedies that Mr. Graham's grandma made him when he was wee.

Today we have been having fun coloring pictures of George Washington, telling the story of the cherry tree, and making other various and sundry patriotic crafts.

We wish you a wonderful week, dear friends~Thank you as always for your sweet comments. Now we shall head out for some fresh air, and leave you with these words of wisdom from "The Perfect Woman" (which we have not become yet, sadly)~

Fresh Air Tonic Better Than Medicine

Too much cannot be said of the benefits derived from exercise in open, pure air and deep breathing. As a tonic, it is better than medicine. It gives tone to the appetite, aids digestion, and lends vigor to both mind and body. Invalids who suffer from nervous prostration or from uterine diseases should live much in the open sunshine. Outdoor life reinforces the strength, increases the appetite, repairs the blood, quiets the nerves and gives new life and health to the body. The great physicians are good water, sunlight, deep breathing, and exercise in pure air.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

From the Stillness. . ..

A happy Saturday to you, sweet friends!

It is a beautiful, yet chilly day here at Merry Hearts Cottage, and we are spending the day ALONE! Mr. Graham and the children have all gone to visit in another state, and I shall be spending two days to myself, which I have not done since being married. Let me tell you, it's a little quieter around here! A little TOO quiet!

It has already been a blessing for me, though, to be able to appreciate just how wonderful it is to have the noises, little and big, each day of my life. The laundry, the dishes, and the books and bits of paper around the house have even been comforting things, reminding me just how much love there is contained in this little house, and how blessed I am to be at this point in my life.

May I remember these things the next time I feel overwhelmed with the little daily annoyances and interruptions!

I have been recording a tape of poetry for the children to listen to while they go to sleep at night, from a very old book I was blessed to find at the thrift store yesterday. I have made a few tapes here and there of books, poetry, and song, for the times when I cannot spend alone time with them, and they really love them. Some of my most treasured possessions are a few cassette tapes that my father made while dying of cancer, with his life story and the cowboy songs he loved to sing.

If you can spare a little time, I would encourage you to record your life history in your own voice, for your posterity, and make copies to keep in a safe place~ And to record the older members of the family, before they pass on to where we can hear their voices no more. You will be glad you did!

I have also been reading a book printed in the early 1900s by Dr. Mary R. Melendy, called "The Perfect Woman". Maybe I'll be perfect by the time everyone returns tomorrow evening, if I'm lucky ;) !

Here is an excerpt that I think you would like:

"Woman's Love Stronger Than Death"

Woman's love is stronger than death; it rises superior to adversity, and towers in sublime beauty above the niggardly selfishness of the world. Misfortune cannot suppress it; enmity cannot alienate it; temptation cannot enslave it. It is the guardian angel of the nursery and the sick bed; it gives an affectionate concord to the partnership of life and interest; circumstances cannot modify it; it ever remains the same to sweeten existence, to purify the cup of life on the rugged pathway to the grave, and melt to moral pliability the brittle nature of man. It is the ministering spirit of home, hovering in soothing caresses over the cradle, and the death-bed of the household, and filling up the urn of all its sacred memories.

Isn't that beautiful? May we strive to be true to the standard which the Good Lord has given us as women and homemakers, or whatever our lot in life.

A blessed weekend to you,

From the quiet cottage of

Marqueta :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

It Was a Merry Valentine's

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming by on yet another snowy day, and for all of your dear comments that truly lift our spirits and put a smile on our faces. How nice to know that we are loved :) .

Our Valentine's celebration, which was Saturday, consisted of making and sending LOTS of doll valentines, as well as the girls' annual in-house restaurant dinner for Mr. Graham and me. This year is was Chinese stir-fry, complete with chopsticks! We must say that we enjoy eating foods that have had love cooked into them, as opposed to being prepared by someone who just sees it as a job :) .

The table was beautifully decorated by AnnaMarie and Audrey~
with place cards and menus for all.

Evangeline did her own decorating with the left-over Baby's Breath~

After dinner was a little dancing time~

With a twirl for every girl (Unfortunately, it was nap time for Master Franklin)!

Mr. Graham kindly ordered these for me, after just a few hints :) ~

And we found a Mother's Magazine for only $5 on eBay, too! So much better than the $20 most folks want for them~

Today has been a "How do we go back to normal after having so much fun?" day, with lots and laundry and dishes, ad infinitum, but after re-grouping and getting some fresh air, we feel ready to "Do our best and leave God the rest". And having it sunny for just a few hours DID help, too!

We'd like to leave with you a gem found in our "new" Mother's Magazine (This month's theme seems to be laughter), which we REALLY needed to read today~

The mother who laughs and teaches her children to laugh bars the door against a host of unwelcome intruders. If you want to see what gloom does, go down into some cellar and watch the pale sprouts of things reaching pitifully towards the light--spindling, unnourished, unwholesome. Note the dead-looking stalks and bulbs lifted from the garden in the fall and laid there to keep from growing. Then come up to the radiant sunshine-flooded bay-window in the sitting-room or library and see what light and cheer are good for. Don't make your family live-metaphorically-in the cellar.

The mother who laughs makes an atmosphere of courage for everybody to live in. The great thing that everybody is wanting, anyway, is courage. The father wants it, for out in the world where he lives mostly, discouragements fly thick as midges in August. The big boys and girls want it, for the lightest-hearted and most buoyant among them have their heavy moments when dark thoughts of the universe seem the only possible ones to entertain, till the drear mood passes. The very servants and house-helpers need it, for the clouds of household emergencies are big with trouble, till somebody laughs and scatters them. And oh, the little ones, they live on joy and laughter. 'Laugh, and say, "No matter!"' begged a little fellow who had broken something; and the sensible mother did laugh for love and pity.

~Mrs. A. B. Bryant



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's is Coming~

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for visiting us today~ we welcome anyone that might be new here and hope you enjoy your stay.

We are grateful that February is such a short month, since it is such a wintry one! But in fact, it's hard to believe that the month is almost half over. Tomorrow we'll be celebrating Mr. Lincoln's birthday with a little tea party, and then Valentine's of course marks the middle of the month. The dolls have already begun sending their cards out, so we'll have to get busy and send some in return~ Tasha's "Kitten Post" will be busy, indeed!

We've been enjoying (or trying to enjoy) lots of snow storms lately, but thankfully we have not had the amount that other parts of the U.S. have been blessed with! :)

It's never too cold to play with dolls~ although we think that Kathleen's toes will be quite chilly!

The backyard~

And beyond the backyard~Wolverine Canyon is out there somewhere!

I don't think the poor chickens found any bugs outside today~
At least they could take a few dust baths!

We finally managed to finish the china shelves Mr. Graham made last February (hee hee), complete with curtains to hide the more prosaic items on the lower shelves~

All this pretty china came from thrift stores~as did the tea cup fabric!

We've been having fun getting ideas for Valentine's parties in the 1909 February edition of "The Mother's Magazine", although we're not sure we would survive inviting twenty children over for tea, as one article suggests! There are so many fun and interesting things in these old magazines; we grab them up when we find them at an economical price. :)

May you find joy in the tasks that each day brings, and find time to celebrate the little things that add up to mean so much.




"A novel and exciting auction was held previous to the supper. Each girl had provided a valentine of some sort. These were offered at bargain prices to the young men by Madge's brother Bob, who cheerfully offered his services as 'auctioneer', gratis. No one was allowed to bid after one valentine had been knocked down to him, and many and laughable were the bids--a pound of candy, an escort home, constant and undivided attention one, two and three months, and proposals without number, and many too nonsensical to mention, appealing only to those directly interested."

~from "A Journey Through Valentine's Land", Mother's Magazine 1909

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Homemaker's Duty to Herself

Good morning, dear friends!

A happy Monday to you, whatever you do! We at Merry Hearts Cottage love to collect old home economics books (the older the better), to glean from them the wisdom of the ages. Here is a little bit from the "Household Science and Arts for Elementary Schools", dated 1912~

The Homemaker's Duty to Herself

"The duties of the average housekeeper who does her own work are so many and so varied that it is often hard for her to know just where to begin. She is frequently busy from early in the morning until late at night, taking care of children, preparing meals, cleaning, scouring, and many times she adds washing and ironing to her other labors. such a woman finds hardly a moment's leisure during the day, and if, after the evening meal is finished, dishes washed, and children put to bed, she has a minute to sit down, she must take up a piece of mending or sewing. Is it any wonder that such women, weary, tired, and overworked, break down?

A woman in this position often wastes much nervous energy by fretting over unaccomplished work. She grows nervous and irritable in the useless effort to get things done which are quite beyond her strength. Then, too, when the night comes on, the other members of the family do not always return from the day's work with a cheery and helpful spirit, but bring home with them the perplexities of the workday world outside. But the mother or home maker is expected to be unfailingly pleasant, cheerful, and patient, and to smooth out all difficulties, no matter how worn or tired she may be.

Now this home maker should not forget that she has a duty to herself. She should learn to plan and save strength and energy by having cooking utensils near the cooking table, and the table near the sink and stove; by sitting down when preparing vegetables and other food, and, in pleasant, mild weather, by doing such work on the back porch, in the fresh air; and if she could learn to take a few minutes' rest during each day, by lying or sitting down, if for but five minutes, completely relaxing, or, in other words, "letting go" muscle, brain, and nerve, she would find that she would be refreshed and strengthened for her work."


May we all take heed of these timeless words of wisdom, my dear homemaking friends!



Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sabbath Bell

Dear Friends,

This beautiful poem was published in 1850~We thought you would enjoy it.

The Sabbath Bell

Peal on, peal on, I love to hear
The old church ding-dong soft and clear!
The welcome sounds are doubly blest
With future hope and earthly rest.
Yet were no calling charges found
To spread their cheering echoes round,
There's not a place where man may dwell,
But he can hear a Sabbath bell.

Go to the woods, when Winter's song
Howls like a famished wolf along;
Or when the south winds scarcely turn
The light leaves of the trembling fern,
Although no cloister chimes ring there,
The heart is called to faith and prayer;
For all Creations' voices tell
The tidings of the Sabbath bell.

Go the billows, let them pour
In gentle calm or headlong roar;
Let the vast ocean be thy home,
Thou'll find a God upon the foam;
In rippling swell or stormy roll,
The crystal waves shall wake thy soul;
And thou shalt feel the hallowed spell
Of the wide water's Sabbath bell.

The lark upon his skyward way.
The robin on the hedge-row spray,
The bee within the wild thyme's bloom,
The owl amid the cypress gloom,
All sing in every varied tone
A vesper to the Great Unknown.
Above--below--one chorus swells
Of god's unnumbered Sabbath bells.

~Eliza Cook



p.s. Does your church have "Sabbath bells?"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Of Bird Song and Elegant Economy~

Good morning, dear friends!

Last night must have surely worn out Mr. Jack Frost, for he has covered every hard surface with beautiful, though sharp-looking crystals. The other day he did the same, and the sun came out and transformed everything into a beautiful fairy-land. As we drove into town, we felt that we had quite literally walked into a story book! I was certainly glad that there was no one else on the road, as I was most definitely not focusing only on driving :) .

I wanted to share with you my beautiful breast pins that were hand-crafted by my dear friend Lynn, of A Mother's Journal~

This one I bought from her brand new Etsy shop, A Bit of Bird Song~

And this one she sent me because she loves me :) .

Aren't they just perfect? Lynn has been quite busy, crafting sweet birdies, pins, and other magical things! I feel very blessed to have come to know her and her family through her blog.

Have you had a chance to watch the BBC's "Cranford" and "Return to Cranford", on PBS' Masterpiece Classics? The girls and I watched them both online, since we don't have television access. We have all fallen in love with the story, and the many little happenings of the simple, gentle folk of this small, fictional English town. I ordered the book by Elizabeth Gaskell and have been enjoying reading it, very much.

One of the things that I loved the most was learning the term "Elegant Economy". I believe that words are very powerful, and can change our perceptions of things. The ladies in Cranford are for the most part "of reduced circumstances", but all of them practice what they call "elegant economy", being careful with their funds, yet genteel and refined. Here is how Mr. Webster defines the words "elegant" and "economy":

elegant: Polished; polite; refined; graceful; pleasing to good taste; as elegant manners.

economy: A frugal and judicious use of money; that management which expends money to advantage, and incurs no waste; frugality in the necessary expenditure of money. It differs from parsimony, which implies an improper saving of expense. Economy includes also a prudent management of all the means by which property is saved or accumulated; a judicious application of time, of labor, and of the instruments of labor.

Isn't that wonderful? From now on, we shall be putting into practice "elegant economy" when we shop second hand stores and yard sales for beautiful, useful household goods and clothing, and when we reduce, reuse, and recycle! :)

Here is wishing you a most beautiful day,




" 'Elegant economy'! How naturally one falls back into the phraseology of Cranford! There, economy was always 'elegant', and money-spending always 'vulgar and ostentatious'; a sort of sour-grapeism, which made us very peaceful and satisfied." ~Elizabeth Gaskell

Monday, February 1, 2010

By a Lady Update~

Hello and happy February, dear friends!

I just wanted to let you know that I've put something new on my poor, neglected "By a Lady" blog :) . It's a song I wrote for my mother, who is a great lover of watching the sky.