Friday, August 31, 2007

Need Something to Do This Weekend?

Reading by the Window Hastings

Reading by the Window Hastings

Art Print

Lewis, Charles...

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How about a good book? Did you know that the book, Just Breathing The Air is not only available as a full-color book, but also as a download for only $12.50? Folks who read this book say that they are sorry when they come to the end of it! Why not read it for yourself today!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gathering Roses and other Beautiful Ideas for the Home

I would like to share with you some things that encouraged my homemaking today. Blooming roses and a "just window shopping" trip take my mind off of the heat!

Spring, Picking Flowers
Spring, Picking Flowers
Art Print

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I have enjoyed filling the house with roses from my brother's rose garden. This second round of blooms have been more abundant than the first a few months ago. I have discovered that cutting them just as they come out of the bud stage (when the petals are still a bit tight) works well for me, as there are less bugs hiding inside the rose, and they bloom very nicely indoors with proper care. Though I used to prefer them for their impressive size and fragrance, I now leave the fully blown roses on the bush for the bees!
Picking Flowers for a Posy

Picking Flowers for a Posy

Art Print


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Sometimes I end up with roses that have too-short stems. I found my mother's glass reamer worked very well for these poor buds! And when they bloom they fill it out very charmingly.

Today was grocery shopping day. To make the trip to town a little more interesting, my Mother and I went to a "fun" store to look at pretty things for the home, a nice little break from the mega-grocery store experience.

In the Homegoods store (TJMaxx) we saw several beautiful things, and some in particular caught my eye. Various goblets from Italy with golden rims and beautiful colored glass (wouldn't it be fun to set them out at Christmas dinner?); charming lamp-shaded nightlights with fringe and a cameo in pink or very pale green; Terry towels with machine embroidered flowers on the lower edges, and of course lots of interesting boxes (such as a box of greeting cards that looked like a book) and a miniature pink toile wing chair for a little girls' room.

Roses in a Dish, 1882
Roses in a Dish, 1882
Giclee Print


The embroidered towels really impressed me. Years ago, women embroidered their linens for their hope chests, and for their homes, and for gifts. I am fortunate to have my grandmother's embroidered pillowcases, and her embroidered "days of the week" towels done by her sister-in-law. But just think of the luxury of decorating the bath room with lavishly embroidered towels!

We seem to be too busy to embroider our linens- let me rephrase that- we are too busy! But it is nice to know that these types of things are available, although they cannot represent the value of having family-made items. The Guiding Hand
The Guiding Hand
Art Print

I'm sure those who are fortunate enough to own an embroidery machine must enjoy the pleasure of making these items for their home more beautiful.

Arranging Daffodils
Arranging Daffodils
Thomsen, Carl
It was very inspiring to look and see what is out there. I do hope that there is a trend for more of these beautiful items for the home. Though the budget will not allow for any new pretties right now, I feel very rich just having access to a real rose garden to adorn the house with fresh flowers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Rag Rug"

This is how I made the scrappy rag rug featured over at Homeliving
If you know how to crochet, you can make a rug like this. All you need is a 'Q' sized hook (the biggest you can find) and a really strong arm!
I do not have any step-by-step instructions for how many stitches to take, but any basic flat crochet work instructions will do, such as a placemat, for instance. A pattern will give you the number of increases to take for rectangular, round or oval shapes so things do not get out of whack and look funny. Something simple with single crochet is good. I also found some helpful tips on the web at this site.
I cut up old cotton skirts and fabric scraps, and it is best to cut on the grain-line. Strips that will fold to 1/2 to 1 inch will be easier, but if you want something really thick( and difficult to crochet!), cut the strips wide and fold them to 2 inches.
Sew the strips together (flat) at the ends, and roll into a ball, or sew as you go. You can iron all the edges folded in (similar to making bias tape) or you can sort of fold them in with your fingers as you go. You will end up with some frayed edges if you choose the last method, but if you like a real old-scrappy-this has been here for a while-look, it should be fine.
Crochet loosely and it will work better for you, and be easier on your arm.
I experimented with making fleece rugs a couple of years ago. Fleece is so wonderful for crocheting rugs because it just slides right through the stitches, and you do not have to do anything about the raw edges. It makes a really nice warm soft rug. Cut on the 'grain' with fleece! I had cut strips of bias for one rug and it really made the rug stretchy!
I found that sometimes fleece blankets on sale are less expensive than yardage, though there are some good fleece sales to be had at the fabric stores.
There are more beautiful cotton crocheted rugs to be seen, it was quite a popular hobby in the mid-1990's where I used to live. I remember seeing heart-shaped rugs with scalloped borders of contrasting colors, done in polished cotton big floral prints and solids to match the decor of the home.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Mother's Joy

A Mother's Joy

A Mother's Joy

Art Print

Gutmann, Bessie...

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Advertisement- On My Bookshelf

85088X: Princess Ka'iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a PeoplePrincess Ka'iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People

By Sharon Linnea / Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

"On March 1, 1893, Princess Kaulani, the seventeen-year-old crown princess of Hawaii, stepped onto the pier at New York City. She was greeted by a crowd of reporters and onlookers who knew that, in many ways, she stood at a crossroads in history. Fully aware of the significance of her visit, she prayed that she could help persuade the American government to return her beautiful islands to the Hawaiian people."

Yes, even The Pleasant Times must have an advertisement once in a while. I enjoyed this book very much, it excited my interest in Hawaii and its history. I appreciated seeing the many photographs (which I like in history books) that brought the story of Princess Ka'ulani to life. I found the story of this young woman to be an inspiring example of courage-- there are big things going on in the world that we cannot control, but as feeble as we may seem, we should try to do something rather than nothing, and use what we have to influence others to do right.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Have a Heart

A link has been sent to my email inbox, I'm sure anyone who visits this heart page will be gasping in admiration, and perhaps inspired to try their own.
Painting above: "On the Threshold" by Leighton, from Eras of Elegance

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid, part 2

By the Pleasant Times Resident Etiquette Expert
Intimidating Questions and Remarks
Sometimes people say things that make you feel inferior. I have to say that it is difficult to write examples of intimidating remarks, because some can only be implied by the tone of voice. A phrase such as "haven't you ever been bowling before?" might look quite innocent on paper, but could by the tone of voice become something worse. In person, it is easy to tell whether these are nice remarks or not by the tone of voice used.

Intimidating remarks are especially the kind of thing that makes young people feel bad (Of course, the perplexed and hurt feelings that come from intimidating remarks are not limited to youth). They can be said in such a way as to imply that you have been missing out, cheated, or restrained unfairly in your short life. I received some of these kinds of remarks when I was but 17 or so, and unmarried, staying at home minding my own business, and trying to be as happy as I could be at the time.

In conversation, we are taught that it is polite to inquire about a person's well being, and about things in general. However, as a young lady I was frequently cross-examined with such questions as:
"Why are you still at home?"
"Don't you have a job?"
"Don't you have a boyfriend?"

One day I had confessed that I had little knowledge of skiing. My companion said "Haven't you been skiing before?" in a "what is the matter with you?" tone of voice. Personally, I believe that not everyone has to do everything before the age of 18; I wanted to save some things for later.

If you will notice in the above examples, there are some words and phrases that usually preface an intimidating remark or question: "haven't you," "don't' you," "why." Also, these remarks are spoken in the "you sure are a dummy" or a "sneering" tone of voice. They often make you wonder what the unspoken meanings are.
"Haven't you ever been bungee jumping?" (everyone goes bungee jumping!)
"Why is your dad so weird?" (you are going to end up just like that unless you can give a good explanation about your strange family)
"Don't you want to go and do this or that?" (when they know that you do not do this or that, have not done this or that or your family does not approve of this or that.)
"Why do you always wear a dress?" (you are especially odd because you don't look like the rest of us)

Some intimidating remarks sound like innocent questions, but in the olden days we were taught not to ask such things:
"How much do you weigh?" (you are too fat/skinny)
"How much money does your father make?" (you are too poor/rich/ought to ask for more spending money)
"So do you have any plans for your life?" (this one can be said in a sincerely kind way, but depending on the person and their worldview, it can also mean "are you going to stay home and be an old maid leaching off of your parents?")

Other intimidating remarks are prefaced by the "you should" phrase, and may be said in a way that sounds polite, but makes you feel as if you are not in style enough or rich enough or popular enough:
"You should get a new house."
"You should cut your hair in a different style"
"You should lose weight"
"You should go to college"
These remarks leave you explaining things in greater detail than you want to. Perhaps you cannot afford a new house, and don't want to plunge in to your financial problems. Or perhaps you know you need to lose weight, but are having a difficulty.

Then there are the very obvious and downright rude intimidating remarks:
"You are too skinny"
"You are too pale"
"You are missing out on the world"
"Your parents are too strict." (you need more freedom)
"You should quit having children"
"I just don't agree with you"(because your opinions are inferior)
"That is stupid"
"That is ridiculous"
"You're insane"
"You need to be locked up"
"Somebody needs to put you on medication"
"You need to see a therapist"

Now, here is what you can do when you encounter the unhappy experience of a rude remark:

  • You can ignore it and talk about something else.

  • You can give a short, polite, and definite answer, and quickly change the subject. "Yes, it would be nice to have a new house/lose weight/get a makeover. How is your garden doing this year?"

  • You can turn around and give the person a shocked stare, and say nothing because you are so dumbfounded.

  • You can smile and say, in your most sophisticated British accent, "Why, James, you ought to know better than to ask questions like that!" or "Why, James, we don't say that in Polite Society!" or "James! I am shocked at you for saying/asking such a thing as that! I shall not answer such a rude inquiry."

  • You may just have to say politely, "I have to go now."

  • Or, if all else fails, you may have to resort to the old standby, "Because the birds fly south for the winter."
Our Resident Expert was previously a writer for the short-lived local newspaper, in which her column once appeared next to Ann Landers.
Editor's Note: The examples put forth here are all made up, and are not actual quotes.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid, part one

By the
Pleasant Times
Resident Etiquette Expert

I would like to give some examples of things people say that often do not make any sense, and are better left unsaid. These things might not all be considered "rude" in this day and age, but they can unknowingly hurt the feelings of others.

"Dumping Cold Water" Remarks.

Girl With a Water Can

Girl With a Water Can

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Sometimes people feel the need to dump cold water on your projects, your hopes, your dreams, or even your small positive-sounding observations about things. Perhaps these people are not even aware that they are doing it. Here are some examples:

You are showing enthusiastically someone your new kitchen paint job, it is your favorite color of apple green and it goes with your apple themed dish collection. Your neighbor comes over and says, "it looks real nice. But my husband would never let me paint my kitchen green, and my son hates apples. But that is nice for you." (this is different from the friendly, "I wish I could do that too" kind of remark.)

You share your dreams of becoming a world-famous pianist with your cousin. They reply, "Yes, but you don't realize how much hard work it is to practice the piano that much. And you would have to travel all the time and that would too expensive"

You are finally enjoying your retirement, picking up your favorite hobby, and telling a friend how happy you are. They in turn say something like "well, not everyone gets to stay home. The rest of us have to work."

You are wearing your favorite shoes, your pretty summer sandals, to the store, and meet an acquaintance from the country. "Those shoes would never work for the farm chores," they observe.
Kid Catastrophe

Kid Catastrophe
Giclee Print

Potthast, Edward...
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One wonders how to respond to these kinds of remarks. It takes a while to even understand how they are meant! You may wonder if you did or said something wrong. What do these people want to hear, anyway?
"Oh, your son hates apples! I'll make sure to hide them when he comes over."
"I'm sorry that my staying home and enjoying my hobbies must be an offence to others! I'll just go out and start another career."
"You are right! What could I have been thinking to want to ever improve my musical skills!"
"I'll never wear sandals again! How stupid of me!."

Obviously, those would be equally wrong things to say, which would require another article on rude and mocking responses.

Or perhaps your enthusiasm was taken the wrong way. Perhaps when you were smiling at your green kitchen, your neighbor thought you were proposing that all kitchens everywhere should be apple green, or that by wearing sandals to the grocery store you were advocating sandal wearing as the only right way to dress.

Or perhaps a little more conversation could reveal whether the person meant to put you down, is jealous of you, or if they just could not think of anything to say and the cold water remark was the first thing that popped into their head. But, do you really want to know?

It is best to ignore the remark, and gently change the subject.

Greenaway Children, II

Greenaway Children, II
Art Print

Greenaway, Kate
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It can be easy to slip into the habit of being a cold-water-dumper, so we need to be careful to think about what we are saying. If someone is enthusiastic about something, we should respond in an appropriate way, and share in their joy. If someone likes to decorate their living room with bright pink flamingos, and shows you proudly, then you can always smile and say how bright they are, or how you can tell that they really make the other person happy. Inwardly you may be thinking that you could not stand to look at that all day, but since you don't have to, there is no harm in keeping that thought to yourself! Or, it may be the kind of situation that does not require you to say anything.

Won't You Have Some?

Won't You Have Some?

Art Print

Morgan, Frederick

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Editor's Note: The examples put forth here are all made up, and are not actual quotes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Art of Eloise Wilkin

Little Golden Books: Eloise Wilkin Stories

Sitting down the other day to re-read a Little Golden Book to one of my children, I again enjoyed the paintings of Eloise Wilkin. I grew up reading "Baby Dear" and "My little golden book about God," and I remember taking in the details of the illustrations of chubby-cheeked children and roly-poly babies with creases and dimples. Mrs. Wilkin was a wife and mother of four children, and her children and grandchildren were models for her illustrations.

My Little Book About God, Board Book

She illustrated several books written by her sister, Esther Wilkin, who wrote "Baby Dear." Mrs. Wilkin even had dolls produced that were taken from her illustrations. "Baby Dear" was a popular book, and Mrs. Wilkin had her grown daughter, Deborah, pose for the mother, and Deborah's little son was the baby in the story. It is such a delight to know that the illustrations that I enjoyed in this particular book, where the mother is taking such loving care of her precious baby, and the big sister is doing her best to imitate her mother by caring for her doll, is actually a family affair! To be illustrating her own daughter and grandson must have given Mrs. Wilkin great joy.

Prayers for Children

I was delighted to learn a bit more about Mrs. Wilkin, through an interview I found , with her daughter Deborah. This is a recording of a phone call interview, and can be a little fuzzy at the start. Admirers of Mrs. Wilkins' art may be interested in the rather long interview. Parts two and three are found on this page:

Here is a place to purchase some of the books that are still in print:
Books Illustrated by Eloise Wilkins

Here is a list of books by Mrs. Wilkin:
Here is a page about the Vogue doll from "Baby Dear"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Homemaker's Architect: Laundry Rooms

Ivory Soap Girl Washing

Ivory Soap Girl Washing

Tin Sign

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I think that there should be a Homemaking Branch of Architecture. Since Homemakers do so much repetitive work, I think we should have better spaces and tools to work with. I think a lot of my readers would have a few suggestions for such an architect, and for the appliance designers. Here are my suggestions for my Dream Laundry Room.

Some houses have a separate room for the laundry, but most have just a laundry closet, or a garage or basement. I propose a room off of the kitchen, with a separate entrance to the back yard (to get to the clothesline) that is not used for any main family traffic.

This room would be a good, useful size, with big windows for ventilation and a window in the door as well. The door would be wide enough to walk through with a laundry basket. A porch off of this room would be lovely. There would be space inside for several laundry bins or sorters, to keep as much of the floor visible as possible. Sorting laundry is a complicated business: space is needed to divide lights, darks, light delicates, dark delicates, really dirty jeans, baby clothes, bath towels, dish towels, etc.

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes Art Print
Leslie, George
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There would be room enough in front of the washer and dryer to put a large laundry basket. A built-in rod for hanging clothing straight out of the dryer (high enough to hang up dresses), a retractable indoor clothes dryer for winter drip-drying, and of course handy shelves for detergents would all be very nice. Perhaps some people would add a space for folding laundry as well.

Since this is my "dream" laundry room, I'll just dream big and add an extra washer and dryer. I would like a super-sized front loader, large enough for blankets and comforters, and a small, stackable set for those really small loads. I would like to be able to run them all at the same time, and be on their own water heater so that someone else could be washing dishes or taking a shower without having to share the hot water. And I would like a little generator to run it all if the electricty fails.

I would like the washers and dryers to be really simple, and not computerized. It would be nice to skip the repairman and just have my husband be able to replace a part or tighten a screw. Or maybe I could even fix it myself! Therefore they need clear instruction manuals.

I would like to have the final rinse of the washing machine re-routed to a big laundry tub, where it could be used again as a pre-soak for some of the very dirty jeans before it finally drains. I wish that the draining water could be routed to water the lawn or the rosebushes.

The dryer would be deluxe sized, for that big comforter or the extra large load of towels. But most of the time I enjoy using a clothesline, for that free sun-bleaching and wind drying.

I'm so glad my husband found a deluxe "solar dryer" for me at the hardware store: a retractable clothesline that screws into the house wall. When I need it, I pull it out and hook it to the post, and there are five lines on it. My son said he couldn't find me in all the dresses I was hanging up on the line!

Here is an idea for a clothespin holder: I had made a cloth purse from a quilt shop pattern, and am re-using it as a place to keep my extra clothespins as well as sunglasses.

Recently I heard some ladies talking of the "old days" of doing laundry, when they hung their laundry out on the line every Monday morning. The ladies talked of how the laundry was organized on the line; one did not want one's underwear and socks exposed to the neighbors! So those items went closer to your house, and the towels and sheets were on the public side!

There is a lot to learn about laundry, there is even an art to putting laundry up on the clothesline. I recommend Cheryl Mendelson's book, Home Comforts, or her book called Laundry, for an interesting read about the ways to do laundry. Mrs. Mendelson even has illustrations of how to pin laundry on the line for the most effective drying.

Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House

By Cheryl Mendelson / Simon & Schuster Trade Sales

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Make your own Laundry Detergent

If you have ever been curious about making your own Laundry Detergent, here is a link to a recipe:
Laundry Day

Laundry Day

Art Print

Shannon, Kay Lamb

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