Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The Seamstress Or, Young Woman Working
The Seamstress Or, Young Woman Working Giclee Print
Duparc, Francoise
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My great-uncle used to carry a card that he passed out to everybody he met, and this is what was written on it:


He is nothing, he can do nothing, he can achieve nothing, fulfill nothing without working.
If you are poor-work. If you are rich-continue working.
If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities- work.
If you are happy, keep right on working. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears.
If disappointments come-work. If your health is threatened- work.
When faith falters- work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead- work.
Work as if your life were in peril. It really is.
No matter what ails you-work. Work faithfully, work with faith.
Work is the greatest remedy available- for both mental and physical afflictions.
-James M. Cowan.

I think about my uncle's work ethic when I remember that I once gave my great-uncle a "worry stone" (a smooth stone you can rub with your fingers) and he told me he wore a hole in it. I don't think it was from worry, I think he just worked at it too hard!

This was pasted in my grandmother's scrapbook. I do not know who wrote it, but it looks like it was in a church bulletin:


How true it is when I am sad
A little work can make me glad.
When frowning care comes to my door
I work a while and fret no more.
I leave my couch harassed with pain,
I work, and soon I'm well again.
When sorrow comes and vain regret,
I go to work and soon forget.
Work soothes the soul when joys depart,
And often mends a broken heart.
The idle mind soon fills with murk,
So that's why God invented work.

Quotable Quotes (also from Grandma's scrapbook):
"The best way to leave your footprints in the sands of time is to wear your work shoes."
"If fifty million people do a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Caffeine in your Tea

There is an interesting article here about the caffeine in tea, including the caffeine found in the different types of tea:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sourdough Bread

Written By Food Editor Bessie Baker Cook

 Ms. R. shared a recipe with me years ago from her friend Mrs. C., for sourdough starter. I will share it here, with my variations.

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups warm water

Combine all ingredients in a 4-6 cup plastic or glass pitcher, using a plastic or wooden spoon. Cover with cloth and sit in a warm place free from drafts. Let ferment 2-3 days, stirring several times each day. 

Refrigerate with the pitcher lid on, feeding every ten days with equal amounts flour and water (usually 1 cup). Before making bread, leave the starter out overnight, take out what you need in the morning, and put the starter back in the fridge. 

I made this years ago, and had the starter for a long time, but did not keep it up. In the interest of frugality I got out the recipe again and made a new starter. I calculate that I am saving $250 a year (possibly more) by making my own bread. I have a one-month-old starter now, and as I found that I was making bread every day or every other day, I left the starter out on the cupboard. Also, I fed it a little more so that I could make a double batch of bread every once in a while. It is alive so far, and my children and I make several batches of beautiful bread every week. 

I take out the starter I need when I make bread, then immediately stir in flour and water to replace the amount I took out. 

Above: a beautiful mixing bowl can work for your starter, keep a plate or a towel over the top. I have recently switched to a pitcher I ordered from Pampered Chef that has a "plunger" in it; this enables me to stir it frequently without the messy spoon.

The Bread

First you make the sponge:
Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into bowl. Add 1 teaspoon yeast and stir gently. Add 2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, and stir (I have used molasses in place of the sugar, and even left out some of the salt, with good results). Pour in 1 cup starter (1 cup ricotta cheese is optional, for a moist bread). Add 1/2 cup oatmeal and mix well. Add 3 cups flour, one at a time, and mix well. Put uncovered into oven (oven should be off!) and let rise for an hour. 

Then the dough:
After an hour, gently stir sponge down and stir in 1cup flour (you can also put in flax seed meal, or other favorite grains). Put 1/2 cup flour on the table and turn out bread dough to knead. Knead 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide into two and roll out with a rolling pin. Roll up into loaves and up in greased loaf pans. Let rise 1-2 hours. Bake a 350 F. for 35 minutes.  

I rarely roll my dough out for loaves; I use the "squish" method, which works just as well, but perhaps the top is more lumpy. I do many different things with the dough, as a matter of fact. As my starter is souring but not yet really sour, I even make cinnamon rolls with it. 

Here's a baking tip: I cover my small table with freezer paper, shiny side up, and tape it around the edges. It makes for easy clean up and provides a giant protected work surface for when the children help!
Above: Here is my one-pan method of baking for the family. Dinner rolls, bread sticks for the evening stew, and a loaf of bread for toast at breakfast. I made enough dinner rolls so that everyone could have one fresh out of the oven. 

Above: after the rising; below: after the baking. 

While on the subject of bread, this book makes for an interesting read- Bread: The Breads of the World and How to Bake Them At Home by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
I am enjoying this book, and learning a lot about the history of bread and the art of bread making. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"We are enlightened now..."

Tea Party
Tea Party Art Print
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Some tea-lover was telling me about these new Boston-style Tea Parties that are cropping up here and there. She thought it a grand idea to join in by having a cup of tea as a protest (you have to understand about tea lovers-- they will take any excuse to have a cup). 
"Wait a minute...." I said, "didn't they throw the tea overboard into the sea at the Boston tea party?" 
"Yes," she replied, "but we are a lot more enlightened now, and we drink the tea."
The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party

Giclee Print

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Braided Trim- and Something For Dolly

Above: Some braid made of wide ribbon, with pastel pony beads braided in. This trim is the handle of a purse...
...that is made of bright butterfly fabric that has some sparkle to it. It is a nice little bag to store some necessities for dolly, such as a bottle or change of clothes. 
Above is a bit of "home made" trim on dolly's new dress. 

Here are some dolly accessories (clockwise from hat): crocheted beret, muff, and booties. 

The muff and booties were easy to make. They were just quick single-crocheted rectangles slip-stitched together at one side to make a tube (for the muff) or at the side and bottom (to make the booties). Ribbon bows make them charming. 

(Above: the underside of the dolly beret) The hat is a scaled-down version of a beret found years ago in a Leisure Arts publication. If you know how to crochet in the round, this is very easy. For the top of the beret, you simply alternate rows of crochet and increases, keeping your work flat. When your top is deemed big enough, start decreasing for the underside of the beret. Decrease until  you reach the head size you are trying to fit. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 
(Tit 2:11-14)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Braids

I have been fingerloop braiding more trims:

From left to right: embroidery floss in three colors (pinks and white), embroidery floss in spring colors with buttons, 1/4 inch wide ribbon in two colors, 1/8 wide ribbon with two strands bead trim, ribbon with contrast embroidery floss. These are shown flat side up. Below is the other side of each braid:

The little buttons were strung on one loop before braiding. This might make a nice trim for crafts-- such as scrapbooks or home decor. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cinnamon-Almond Rolls

Old-Fashioned Baking
Old-Fashioned Baking Art Print
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By food editor Bessie Baker Cook

I have enjoyed puttering around the kitchen trying to make a new "twist" on cinnamon rolls. One of my favorite variations on the traditional cinnamon roll has been to use almond butter in place of real butter. 

You can get almond butter in a jar, or in some stores there are nut grinders that you can use to make your own.  If you have the right kind of juicer, or an attachment to a heavy-duty mixer, you can make your own at home, which is what I did. 

Make a bread dough, and roll out as you would with your favorite cinnamon roll recipe. Do not use butter. Instead, use your almond butter. This may be difficult, as it is not very soft. My method was to dab-and-spread as much as possible, but not every bit of dough was covered (just remember you are going to roll this up on itself, so every serving will get some almond butter). You do not want it in thick globs, of course. 

Now, instead of sugar, use honey. If you do not want to mess with spreading it, just drizzle it all over. Now use a generous amount of cinnamon over that, and sliced almonds on top of that, if desired. It is not necessary, since you have so much almond already, but it does add a slight crunch and looks nice. If you want, you could add raisins. 

Roll up the dough, slice, and place on greased baking sheet to rise. Then bake as you normally would. If yours turns out the way mine does, it will have an intense "almond extract" scent and taste delicious!

Note: This is a good recipe to make for those who do not eat dairy, if you make the dough without dairy products. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Make your own trim: Fingerloop Braiding

A friend of mine was over to a St. Patricks' Day tea, and taught me how to do fingerloop braiding, a very old technique. I was surprised at how much fun it was! The resulting braid (in this case, 10 stranded-braid) done in different materials, can be used for corset lacing, cording, or trim. 
Above: using a chair and learning fingerloop braiding 
First, we needed a place to make a loop of strings. The top of this chair worked well. This is demonstrated using yarn. Go around until you have five strands. Knot the ends together. 

The resulting strands of yarn, in a large loop. 

Now you need a place to anchor the loop so you can work with it. The back of the chair worked for us! Put the middle of your yarn behind a rung. 

Pass one end of the loop through the other (it is tidier if you pas the un-knotted end through the knotted side)...

...and slip one side down so that all the strands are anchored and now available for your hands.

Put your fingers through the loops, as above. One side will have two loops, and one side will have three. Keep your index finger free on the two-loop side. 

Now, working with the two loops, reach your free index finger and thumb through the very top strand, and send the index finger over to the other side (the three loop side) like a hook to grab the very bottom strand. Pull that bottom strand through your top strand. 

Now you ought to have three loops where there were two, and two loops on the other hand. 

You will notice that one of the loops on the two-loop hand, is over your index finger. You will need to carefully pass down the loops of yarn on that hand so you have a free index finger. Put the loop that is around your middle finger on your ring finger, and then pass down the loop that is on your index finger to your middle finger. Now you are ready to go. It really is quick and easy, trust me!

Now start all over again, putting your index finger and thumb through the top strand, and grabbing the bottom strand of the opposite side and pulling it through. "Step down" your two loops and start all over. 

Between each turn, you should stretch your work out so that the braid gets cinched up and tight. 

Here are my first attempts and experiments. The top one you can laugh at-- I tried it with eyelash yarn. It looks like some strange creature of the deep, but it sure is soft, and some cat will think it is fun. Below that is a green braid made of satin ribbon. The next two are done with crochet cotton thread, some strands green and some white thread. Then there are two examples using a ribbon yarn from Lion Brand yarn. 

There are many variations that can be done with this braiding technique. My teacher showed me how to braid in a buttonhole, how to make a round braid (the braid above is flat on one side, rounded on the other), and as you see I "went to town" and tried it out with different materials. 

Longer braids can be had, but you will need an assistant to help you cinch it up, or use your pretty little foot:)

Below you see something else my teacher wanted me to learn: Netting. Here she is beading a hair net for a re-enactment. She will use the fingerloop braid on the edge of the net to tie around her hair. Maybe next time I will go for it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Society Page

Scenic View of Bay at <span class=Wilsons Promontory National Park" border="0" height="263" width="350">
Scenic View of Bay at Wilsons Promontory National Park Photographic Print
Edwards, Jason
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The Editor has been looking at this beautiful bay every morning in February. She was sorry to have to leave it when March rolled around. 

Mrs. S. hosted a ladies' luncheon at her home last week. The ladies in attendance enjoyed each other's company, and the tea of course. 

The Misses S. and their Mother brought a green-themed St. Patrick's Day tea to Mrs. H's house last week. Shamrocks were everywhere, and the girls dressed in green. A pleasant time was had by all. 

In the pioneer days, the women that lived deep in the woods would have been afraid that a bear might be out in a tree in their back yard. Nowadays there are certain women in the neighborhood who are afraid that a bear might be out in a tree in their back yard, hanging there to be processed into bear jerky and bear sausage. There are some women who do not wish to eat bear, but some men who think it would be a great treat. Fortunately some men did not shoot their bear this year. 

There are so many computerized things in these modern times, that you rarely get a live telemarketer on the phone anymore. And the computers that tell you they will remove your phone number if you press 3, are lying. 

When we got our new hymn book at church, we were disappointed to find some of our old favorites left out. It is nice to have the new songs, but we did not want to forget the others. So the song leader sings out of both the old and new books. If we pay attention, we might be able to make this work! "Number 17 in the red books. Number 1,100 in the blue books"
Here are some that were in our old books: 

By the way, this is a good site for printing off old hymns. 

The Editor has learned Fingerloop braiding. She says it is serious fun. 

It is said of George Washington, "No company ever withheld him from church." Whenever he had company on Sunday morning, "...instead of staying at home, out of false complaisance to them, he used to constantly invite them to accompany him." (-George Washington the Christian, by Wm. J. Johnson, pg. 56)

Great Uncle Jim said, that there are some folks who start at the bottom and work their way to the top. Then there are some folks who start at the top and work their way to the bottom (He was referring to young folks who bite off more than they can chew when they are "just starting out."). 

The expression "on tender hooks" comes from the textile industry. It is actually referring to "tenterhooks, " on which fabric was attached and stretched during the manufacturing process. That is why some of the yardage we buy at the fabric store has little holes in the selvege edge. 

-Reported by Lillibeth

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What Baby Does

Busy Day in Dollville

Busy Day in Dollville

Art Print

Gutman, Bessie...

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WHAT BABY DOES.  What does Baby do on Sunday?  Baby sings and sings to Dolly.   What does Baby do on Monday?  Baby washes Dolly's clothes.   What does Baby do on Tuesday?  Baby irons Dolly's clothes.   What does Baby do on Wednesday?  Baby makes a cake for Dolly.   What does Baby do on Thursday?  Baby goes to walk with Dolly.   What does Baby do on Friday?  Baby makes a dress for Dolly.   What does Baby do on Saturday?  Baby plays all day with Dolly.   What does Baby do on Sunday?  Baby sings and sings to Dolly. 

From Here. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Little Things

"It's so wainy, I can't go out, and evwybody is so cwoss they won't play with me," said Maud, when Polly found her fretting on the stairs, and paused to ask the cause of her wails.

"I'll play with you; only don't scream and wake your mother. What shall we play?"

"I don't know; I'm tired of evwything,'cause my toys are all bwoken, and my dolls are all sick but Clawa," moaned Maud, giving a jerk to the Paris doll which she held upside down by one leg in the most unmaternal manner.

"I'm going to dress a dolly for my little sister; wouldn't you like to see me do it?" asked Polly, persuasively, hoping to beguile the cross child and finish her own work at the same time.

"No, I shouldn't,'cause she'll look nicer than my Clawa. Her clothes won't come off; and Tom spoilt'em playing ball with her in the yard."

"Wouldn't you like to rip these clothes off, and have me show you how to make some new ones, so you can dress and undress Clara as much as you like?"

"Yes; I love to cut." And Maud's, face brightened; for destructiveness is one of the earliest traits of childhood, and ripping was Maud's delight.

Establishing themselves in the deserted dining-room, the children fell to work; and when Fanny discovered them, Maud was laughing with all her heart at poor Clara, who, denuded of her finery, was cutting up all sorts of capers in the hands of her merry little mistress.

"I should think you'd be ashamed to play with dolls, Polly. I haven't touched one this ever so long," said Fanny, looking down with a superior air.
Beth Dresses One of Her Dolls
Beth Dresses One of Her Dolls Giclee Print
Gray, Millicent...
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"I ain't ashamed, for it keeps Maud happy, and will please my sister Kitty; and I think sewing is better than prinking or reading silly novels, so, now." And Polly stitched away with a resolute air, for she and Fanny had had a little tiff; because Polly wouldn't let her friend do up her hair "like other folks," and bore her ears.

"Don't be cross, dear, but come and do something nice, it's so dull to-day," said Fanny, anxious to be friends again, for it was doubly dull without Polly.

"Can't; I'm busy."

"You always are busy. I never saw such a girl. What in the world do you find to do all the time?" asked Fanny, watching with interest the set of the little red merino frock Polly was putting on to her doll.

"Lots of things; but I like to be lazy sometimes as much as you do; just lie on the sofa, and read fairy stories, or think about nothing. Would you have a white-muslin apron or a black silk?" added Polly, surveying her work with satisfaction.

"Muslin, with pockets and tiny blue bows. I'll show you how." And forgetting her hate and contempt for dolls, down sat Fanny, soon getting as much absorbed as either of the others.
Lady Sewing
Lady Sewing Art Print
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The dull day brightened wonderfully after that, and the time flew pleasantly, as tongues and needles went together. Grandma peeped in, and smiled at the busy group, saying, "Sew away, my dears; dollies are safe companions, and needlework an accomplishment that's sadly neglected nowadays. Small stitches, Maud; neat buttonholes, Fan; cut carefully, Polly, and don't waste your cloth. Take pains; and the best needlewoman shall have a pretty bit of white satin for a doll's bonnet."

Fanny exerted herself, and won the prize, for Polly helped Maud, and neglected her own work; but she didn't care much, for Mr. Shaw said, looking at the three bright faces at the tea-table, "I guess Polly has been making sunshine for you to-day." "No, indeed, sir, I haven't done anything, only dress Maud's doll."

And Polly didn't think she had done much; but it was one of the little things which are always waiting to be done in this world of ours, where rainy days come so often, where spirits get out of tune, and duty won't go hand in hand with pleasure. Little things of this sort are especially good work for little people; a kind little thought, an unselfish little act, a cheery little word, are so sweet and comfortable, that no one can fail to feel their beauty and love the giver, no matter how small they are. Mothers do a deal of this sort of thing, unseen, unthanked, but felt and remembered long afterward, and never lost, for this is the simple magic that binds hearts together, and keeps home happy.

You can read the book here.