Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dress Up

Painting: A Stitch in Time (1915) ~ William Henry Margetson 

This has to be one of the top articles on clothing I have read! The owner of Edelweiss Patterns has explained the concept of dressing up so well, and trends vs. classic clothing, that I think I'll never have to write an article about it myself:)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Revised McGuffey's Eclectic Readers

94284: McGuffey"s Eclectic Readers                      Primer through the Sixth Reader 7 Volumes McGuffey's Eclectic Readers Primer through the Sixth Reader 7 Volumes

It's not often that I even remember that The Pleasant Times is an affiliate with but I had to just let my readers know that the delightful McGuffey's books I grew up with are now being reprinted and sold at CBD! A set of slip-cased hardcover McGuffey's Eclectic Readers are just the thing I need to replace the softcover ones I had, which are falling to pieces from over-use (they're teaching a second generation now!). This is going on my book order list!

By the way, there are differences between the revised readers and the originals (obviously). There are still passages from the Bible in the revised set, though not as frequent as in the originals. Most of the stories are different though there are some brought over from the original set. Also the illustrations in the revised are much better than the old woodcuts in the originals, and capture the child's imagination much better. I have used both in teaching my children at home; personally I prefer the revised because of the illustrations and engaging stories, but he originals are worth studying as well!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ever wonder why you live in a County?

When studying history, we often come across interesting bits that demand that we go on a rabbit trail. We enjoy discovering the origins of words, concepts and objects that we are still familiar with today. While studying about the Franks in the 6th century, we gained insight into why we, in the 21st Century USA, live in a "county!"

"The provincial, as distinguished from the central, government of the Frankish realm was exercised by officers who bore the names of Count and Duke (comes, dux, Graf, Herzog). The whole realm was divided into countships. In the purely Teutonic half the unit was the old tribal district, which the The counts Roman called Pagus and the Frank Gau. A count was appointed to each of these tribal units. In the Romano-Gallic half of the kingdom the countship was composed of the civitas, or city with its dependent district, which had survived from the times of the Western Empire, and often represented the original Celtic tribe. The count was both a military and civil official. He administered justice, led the armed levy of his district, and saw to the raising of taxes.
"Several countships were often united and placed under a single official of higher rank, the dux, when the counts had to follow and obey. These unions of countships were most common on the frontier, where a strong and united defence against foreign enemies would be needed, and where it would have been unsafe to leave the charge of the border to half a dozen counts, who might or might not co-operate willingly with each other. In Provence and Burgundy the dux was also known by the Roman title of Patrician...
"The provincial governor, count or duke, was assisted by a deputy, or vicarius, whom he nominated to fill his place during his absence at the court or the wars, or while he Local was engaged in some specially absorbing task at Government, home. The minor administration of the countship was carried out by centenarii, or hundred-men, called also on occasion tribuni. The countship was divided into hundreds, and over each of these there presided a hundred-man, who was appointed by the count to act as a police magistrate in time of peace, and to head the men of his district in time of war. Petty law cases came before him, but at stated periods the count went round all the hundreds in his countship, and administered justice at a public assembly of the inhabitants." - The Dark Ages, Charles Oman, Page 124

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
c.1300, from Anglo-French counte, from Late Latin comitatus "jurisdiction of a count," from Latin comes (see count (n.)); replaced Old English scir "shire."

We also spotted a clue to where we get the word "vicarious." 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Loving Old Houses

When I saw the post on this blog, it brought back a lot of memories.

A long time ago, and far away, before digital cameras, I lived in a little old house out in the country. It was probably a slapped-together old farm house, and probably not exceptional from many little old farm houses built in the Victorian era and added to in every decade since. But it was a new experience to me, who had only lived in modern city houses, and I relished every antique detail of the place.

I remember very fondly the paneled doors-- each one was different from the other, the doorknobs, the old-fashioned key that locked them, the chimney-hole cover with the field of wheat painted on it, the pantry with the floor boards made out of old fruit boxes with the labels still on them, the old screen door with the rusty spring that had such a satisfying slam (not for my parents, I'm sure!). I loved every bit of that old house. I thought it was so neat that the weighted windows had real panes (that were loose and popped out sometimes!), that the floor boards were warped under the 70's carpet (I was sure there was a beautiful wood floor under there), that all the doors had trim inside and out (even in the closets), and that the outlet plates (probably from the '50s?) had embossed wreaths around them. The glassed-in back porch had an old rusty sink for washing garden produce in it, the old white porcelain sink in the kitchen had molded-in drainboards on each side.

There was an old brick well out front, with a board on top of it so no one would fall in. There was a brick walkway with "1900" stamped on the bricks. I unearthed another walkway around the side of the house when I was trying to plant a garden. The old gate to the pond had a post leaning over, and the gate was all gray and crooked, but it was charming.

Ah, me. If I had only had a decent camera in those days! I'm not sure it would have occurred to me to take pictures of the door knobs and bricks and details, though, since back then you had to buy film and pay to have it developed. With only 36 blurry or grainy photo opportunities in a cheap kiddie camera, usually I did not think of taking pictures of hardware. A blog sure changes the subjects of your photos!

In the above link, please pay attention to the inside of the hinges. I toured an old Victorian house a few years ago, and noticed that the inside of the hinges were intricately etched (even more than the ones in the link). Can you imagine a time, when someone would care about what the inside of a hinge looked like? Does that not go along with William Morris' oft-quoted "golden rule?"

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Why not have both?

[the house below is not my old house, but it sure is similar]

Rural Home with a Screened Porch
Rural Home with a...

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Beautiful Brahms Intermezzo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dream Banner

I saw this idea in a shop a few months ago. Instead of just buying the thing of beauty, I said to myself, "I can make that!" I'm sure I'm not the only one that says that to herself while shopping!

Of course, I can make a lot of things, but I can't always make time.

For months, a sticky note with a scribbled sketch of the banner floated around my craft desk. Yes, it was there so long that the sticky note lost its sticky.

But here at last, is the banner! And, I do believe it is my first ever banner. Not as pretty as the one I saw (which was a lot pinker than mine with better letters and more texture!), but I am glad I tried it. To my surprise, as soon as I had put it up, I had some little admirers, who thought that the "Dream" banner was beautiful, and it made them very happy!

There is a fellow who works at our local dollar store, and he always asks the customers, "what is your good news today?" He says he likes to make people think about the positive in their lives. Of course, the Gospel is a good answer!
Maybe we all should be in the habit of thinking about what the good of the day has been, instead of dwelling on all the disappointments. I was in that store tonight to pick something up, and I thought I'd better have something ready for when the fellow asks his question. So the good news for today is,
that we are all able to do beautiful things to make people happy. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The New England Fireside

Excerpt from A New England Girlhood  by Lucy Larcom. 

Primitive ways of doing things had not wholly ceased during my childhood; they were kept up in these old towns longer than elsewhere. We used tallow candles and oil lamps, and sat by open fireplaces. There was always a tinder-box in some safe corner or other, and fire was kindled by striking flint and steel upon the tinder. What magic it seemed to me, when I was first allowed to strike that wonderful spark, and light the kitchen fire!
The fireplace was deep, and there was a " settle" in the chimney corner, where three of us youngest girls could sit together and toast our toes on the andirons (two Continental soldiers in full uniform, marching one after the other), while we looked up the chimney into a square of blue sky, and sometimes caught a snow-flake on our foreheads; or sometimes smirched our clean aprons (high-necked and long-sleeved ones, known as " tiers ") against the swinging crane with its sooty pot-hooks and trammels.
Maine - Interior View of a New England Homestead, Woman by the Fireplace
Maine - Interior...

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The coffee-pot was set for breakfast over hot coals, on a three-legged bit of iron called a "trivet." Potatoes were roasted in the ashes, and the Thanksgiving turkey in a "tin-kitchen," the business of turning the spit being usually delegated to some of us small folk, who were only too willing to burn our faces in honor of the annual festival.

There were brick ovens in the chimney corner, where the great bakings were done; but there was also an iron article called a " Dutch oven," in which delicious bread could be baked over the coals at short notice. And there never was anything that tasted better than my mother's "firecake,"— a short-cake spread on a smooth piece of board, and set up with a flat-iron before the blaze, browned on one side, and then turned over to be browned on the other. (It required some sleight of hand to do that.) If I could only be allowed to blow the bellows — the very old people called them "belluses " — when the fire began to get low, I was a happy girl.
The Three Orphans, 1860
The Three...
Frederick Daniel...
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Cooking-stoves were coming into fashion, but they were clumsy affairs, and our elders thought that no cooking could be quite so nice as that which was done by an open fire. We younger ones reveled in the warm, beautiful glow, that we look back to as to a remembered sunset. There is no such home-splendor now.

When supper was finished, and the tea-kettle was pushed back on the crane, and the backlog had been reduced to a heap of fiery embers, then was the time for listening to sailor yarns and ghost and witch legends. The wonder seems somehow to have faded out of those tales of old since the gleam of red-hot coals died away from the hearthstone. The shutting up of the great fireplaces and the introduction of stoves marks an era; the abdication of shaggy Romance and the enthronement of elegant Commonplace — sometimes, alas! the opposite of elegant — at the New England fireside.
Afternoon Pastimes, 1917
Evert Pieters
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Have we indeed a fireside any longer in the old sense? It hardly seems as if the young people of to-day can really understand the poetry of English domestic life, reading it, as they must, by a reflected illumination from the past. What would the "Cotter's Saturday Night" have been, if Burns had written it by the opaque heat of a stove instead of at his
"Wee bit ingle blinkiu' bonnilie?'

By the Hearth, 1894

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ornaments or Favors

Dear me, I meant to post this at Christmas time! These ornaments were made in the Cuttlebug using Nestabilities cutting dies. The idea can be used to make decorations for a Christmas tree, though I made these as tea party favors for an Autumn tea last year. 

The cutting dies come in graduated sizes. I used the Die Cuts With a View "Mariposa" Matstack, and some sparkle paper, and cut different sizes of my shape out.

Then I used mounting tape to put them together.
With the convenience of pre-printed in color, pre-glittered and embossed papers, and stickers, these can be whipped up fast! 

For the one on the right, I used a tea-cup sticker that had the same Autumn-y colors in it. On a couple I cut out smaller butterflies and mounted them on the last layer. I didn't put ribbon through them, though for hanging it would be a nice touch. These were laid by each tea setting, to add an extra decoration to the table.
 For ornaments that might be displayed on a tree, you can make these double-sided (The top one in the photo is actually double-sided, I didn't have a picture of the other side, sorry!). Done in pastels, these oval ornaments could be pretty on an Easter tree or as favors for an Easter tea! Hmm... maybe I should get out the hearts and see what I can do for Valentine's day...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not Missing Out

Still Life with Fruit and Champagne

I hope my readers had a Very Merry Christmas! And now New Year's Eve is coming! I have been enjoying all kinds of tasty treats-- and drinks. With all the delicious, sweet, and sparkly juices on the market, I wonder why people think they have to have alcohol to make an occasion special. With good company, good conversation, and some delicious food, one cannot fail to have a good time-- no drunkenness required. 

It disturbs me to see Christians partaking of alcohol socially, just because they say they can, when it is not in the least bit necessary. We live in the 21st century-- there are so many more beverages to choose from. Why would a Christian want to dump such stuff down their throat and dull their brain, when they could keep their mind extra sharp so they can enjoy and edify others? If you take one drink of that junk, you are one drink drunk. Best not to get in the habit of taking any.

If you feel that you are missing out, that is no excuse. One can find fancy glasses to serve juice in to make the dinner table sparkle; and any juice is delicious well chilled. A plus of keeping your table sober is that the whole family can be present at a party where no alcohol is served. Children can benefit from seeing that adults can have a good time in their right mind, and that glasses of juice, pop, or mugs of cocoa are for keeping your throat from going hoarse when you are having so much fun talking with one another. Life can be enjoyed without spirits or substances.

If certain kinds of beverages are kept for special occasions, they will be special to your family. Sparkling grape juices and apple juices are abundant at holiday times, and fancy cocoas will do as well. If your family does not regularly drink soda pop, that can be a treat in a fancy glass over ice.

If you feel like you need to serve something different and rare, why not serve guests ultra-fresh juices? When did you last enjoy the sweetness of fresh squeezed and clarified orange juice (I mean the kind you make yourself)? Or gourmet juices and waters from the fancy food markets? I knew a fellow who was taken to a fancy restaurant as a company trip. While everyone else from the office was busy getting drunk, he ordered a tall glass of very, very expensive and gourmet fresh-squeezed orange juice (probably hand-squeezed by some famous international chef). He thought he had the best drink of anyone there!

Set for Coffee

Those with a craze for coffee can find fancy coffees and coffee makers, and that brew is a strong enough one for anybody.

But let's not forget tea!

Set for Tea

If you are going to stay up to see the New Year in, you need a good strong cup of tea. Drinking from a thin bone china teacup, exquisitely painted, which contains perfectly brewed tea (made with boiling water), served by a gracious hostess in her right mind (not drunken) is a superb pleasure in life.
Set for Display

And remember--Tea cheers and invigorates, but does not inebriate.

Perhaps, if people feel the need to serve or take alcohol at parties and special occasions, they need to examine the company they are keeping. If you think you need a drink to relax, then maybe your company is too stressful. If you think you can't have a good time with your friends unless you are all drinking together, or if the guests are so dull or insipid that you have to get drunk in order to talk to them, enjoy them, or endure them, you need to find new friends. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Paper Birdhouse Tutorial

Here is a tutorial for the shed-roof birdhouse on the Christmas tree. 
I've drawn out the pattern and you may print it if you like, and use it as a guide:

From one piece of card stock you can get two birdhouses-- a tall and a small.
The + on the template marks the spot for the hole. I ran mine through the Cuttlebug with a die, but you can see if a punch would work, or trace something round to get a round hole, and cut it out by hand. Or you can cut a Christmas tree shaped hole, a square hole, a star shape, a snowflake... or you don't have to cut a hole at all, but just draw one and color it in.

 Fold along the lines, and then connect the little narrow fold with glue or tape to the other side, to make it like a box. 

The one on the right has also been run through a device to make it corrugated before being put together. 
These birdhouses do not have a bottom. That way you set them over LED tea light, or in my case let the lights from the tree illuminate them.

If you wish, you can put some bird clip-art on the back wall. Put a bit of glitter on your clip art bird, too!

Now you can see who lives there. Glitter around the entrance of the birdhouse.

For the roof, just cut a rectangle about the size you want. You may want less of an overhang than I had. I don't remember this measurement but I'm guessing mine was 5" x 8" or thereabouts. I used glitter paper and also corrugated this piece to make it look like a tin roof. If you use regular card stock, you can glitter it after you assemble the birdhouse. The glitter paper I was using was not stiff; for a birdhouse roof that doesn't look like an old warped tin roof, use a heavier weight card stock or glittered card stock. 

Leave enough to fold up and connect to the back:

Glue the roof to the back of the birdhouse.

Here comes the hard part: you have to reach in and tape that roof down, from the inside of the birdhouse. Here I have put tape on the inside, and am folding it down as I'm folding the roof down. It still needs adjusting from the inside. If you want to try and glue it, use a tacky glue and put some on the top edges of the birdhouse, then press the roof down and let dry thoroughly. 

Here is one of my finished houses, with its old tin roof! I noticed I had cut the heart-shaped hole slightly crooked, so I was pleased to find a sticker that was just right to cover up the mistake.

Here I've put a bird behind the sticker, to show you another way to decorate it. However, I like the hole that you can see through to the inside. 

I hope you all have fun making a sparkly birdhouse!

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration and What It Did

After our trips to the hardware store to see their Christmas trees, I was eager to try out some things on my own. 
My mother said I could decorate her tree, so some of our Interns and I gave it a try. 
She had all the ornaments sorted by color, in boxes, and gave us permission to do it up how we liked it, and then left to run some errands. 
That may or may not have been a wise idea. 

As I looked over the choices of ornaments. I realized that, silly as it sounds, I needed more ideas! 
So, after all these posts I had done on Christmas trees on my own blog, I ended up on the Internet looking for yet another tree to inspire me. 

And this is what I found. I liked the way this lady had colors in her house decor that were the same as the tree--either the tree pulled the house colors together, or vice-versa. Well, there was something candy-jar exciting about the whole thing.

My Interns were a bit skeptical.

I looked around at the light pink walls, the white trim and furniture, the sea-foam green cushions on the couch, the coral pink throw, the bird cage collection and the silver accessories, and decided I would do ALL the colors. 

Fortunately, I remembered once in a while to take pictures of the decorating process:
First I added globe-lights to the already pre-lit tree. They gave an extra dimension to the lights. Then I put on iridescent white garlands. Then the interns started loading the tree with Christmas balls. Here, we have dark pink, sparkly white and really light sea-foam green balls. If we left the tree at this point, it would have been fine. 
I wanted to really cram it full of ornaments, though. 

After more balls, we put in little white sleds, sparkly white poinsettias, and birds. Some single ornaments went on too, including a glittery pine cone. 
If we had left it alone here it would have been fine.

Then I really went to town and started adding giant candy. One of my helpers started to get nervous and to object strongly-- it was too over-the-top! It was getting  a bit cluttered, so I edited it. We retained the blue birds, the pink birds, the words, and the pink and white icicles, though.

And here is the final result. My mother really was surprised, but it turns out, she likes it!

I noticed that we ended up with a bird theme going on, which wasn't planned, but it was too hard to resist all those sparkly cute birds. (Interestingly, the lady whose tree I used for inspiration recently posted another tree, which also has a bird theme!) 

I really wanted to try putting something large and unexpected in the tree, though. Just to see what it was like.  I looked around wondering what to do.  I was still nervous about putting heavy things in the tree, wired or not. 

 I remembered the little birdhouses in one of the hardware store trees. Maybe we needed some houses for all those little birds to live in.
So far, the only new items purchased for this tree were the poinsettias for the top. I thought instead of buying more items, I would make my own light-weight birdhouses out of card stock. 

And here they are. Quite unexpected.

I'm not sure I like it. 
But it was fun to make all those birdhouses!

Here are some close-ups of the other ornaments:

One of the birds

One of the poinsettias

One of the birdhouses. I did several different shapes, just freehand. This was the easiest one to do. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree Inspiration part 8: Starry Night

Now I do remember the name of this tree-- Starry Night. 

It was hard to decide between the Sage tree, the Gold tree, and this tree, but I think this one was my favorite. 
It is simply full of snowflakes, stars, and ice. It does remind one of a very cold winter night! But a cold winter night with the Christmas lights reflecting in the snow from a nice, warm house. 

Here is "Starry Night" during the day. A silver mesh ribbon runs through the tree behind the ornaments. The tree seems simply to be one color theme-- but is it white, silver, clear, or iridescent? All of it combined makes for an interesting display! In the day you see more white, but at night the tree glows almost golden and has purple-blue reflections through the snowflakes. 

I don't know what to call these picks-- but they stick quite a ways out from the tree and had cascading jewels on them. Kind of strange, but it added to the winter-icy feeling of the tree. 

Hanging up next to the tree were these huge paper stars. 

I like to pull out some ideas from these trees, which I know are being used as fancy store shelves to sell the ornaments, that can be used at home. 
One is the wide ribbon garlands with bows here and there,
another idea is the use of stuffed animals in the tree, 
another is the idea that you can wire in big items for unexpected tree decor. 
The ornaments are of all shapes, 
some round, some long, some cascading, 
and lots of snowflakes and flowers in the mix. 
Add different shades of golds and silvers to whatever the theme color is. 
I haven't ever used picks before in a tree, but I am willing to try it this year. The hardware store guy showed me how long the picks they used were, quite a bit longer than the ones I have seen in the craft store. 
A tree can have a theme, even if not all the decorations on it are exactly of the theme. Ornaments that are family favorites can still be used, along with the other theme items. A color can tie everything together, or the addition of "fillers" such as stars, snowflakes, candy, snowmen, or flowers. 

And that concludes this year's tree tour!  I hope you all enjoyed it!
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