Friday, April 30, 2010

Cream Scones

It is always a pleasure to visit the Anzac Tea Parlour! Here is a detailed video on how to make Australian Cream Scones. (Double Click to see the bigger screen on YouTube)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Good Idea: Homemaking Journal!

Visit here:
Ribbons and Lace Cottage: Homemaking Journal

Having recently been doing "scrappy" cookbooks, this looks to me like the Next Great Scrapbook Idea! All of the schedules, encouraging articles, and beautiful scrapbook materials in one spot to look at every day. What fun it would be to make one of these up for yourself or a homemaker friend!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Spring Photos

I do not have the best camera for this type of photography, but I cannot resist trying to capture some of the beauty of God's creation on the one I do have!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I love the violets in our lawn! Such sweet signs of spring!

These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Imaginative Decorating

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What if you liked the look of Victorian "roses & lace" but needed to consider someone else's taste in your decorating? I know some women are reluctant to decorate "Victorian" when they have a house full of men, and feel that they need to make their decor more masculine. Is it possible to decorate in such a way as to satisfy everyone? I was thinking about that as I was looking at this wall. With a little imagination, someone could turn this into a "western" or "cowboy" theme without losing the feminine Victorian touches. I'm not good at computer drawing over photos, so you'll have to use this photo as reference and go on a little imaginary trip with me!

Can "Western" and "Victorian" styles live together? They can!
There were a lot of women living out on the range in the Victorian era. I imagine that they did not abandon all the niceties of a refined life, even on the plains, but used as many as they could in their homes. Certainly with the Montgomery Ward and Sears & Roebuck catalogs coming in the mail, decorative items were available to them even if they were miles from a shopping center. Perhaps if a new lamp was needed, the lady of the house would have chosen to order a colored-glass one from a catalog, prettily etched and softly shaped. Many of the items made in that era were embellished, such as carving on chairs and tables, and pretty scroll-work embossing on tins and metal items. Even the smallest items, such as combs and keys, were designed in a beautiful way.

Take a trip to a pioneer museum, and see how many items were brought from the East, or ordered via catalogs, and shipped on the new railroads out west. You'll find that the families back then had a lot of "pretty" things in their houses.

After that trip to the museum, you have a historical basis for your Victorian touches to a western theme.

For starters, keep the wallpaper. It is a neutral tone-on-tone vine print, quite harmless to the western theme. Vines grow in a lot of places. As a matter of fact, so do roses. Wild roses can be found on many ranches, and in the ditches of many counties. Other borders could be found, but I think the roses, especially ones as unassuming as the ones in the border here, could work with a western decor. You could replace the painting above the fireplace (Sir George Clasuen's "Two girls arranging roses") with something like the one below:

The colors are gorgeous, and can go with many things. You might find some greenery like the ivy above the frame, that is more compatible with the painting. Or, you could add a lasso over the top of the frame, or a tin star.

On the side of the picture, you could add some wrought-iron sconces instead of the white ones shown.
On the mantelpiece, the "Country" sign is certainly compatible with a western theme, as is the clock. I'm sure cowboys needed to know what time it was, and since they did not have ugly plain plastic clocks back in the real "old west", it would have been a nice looking clock. One could use a "gone with the wind" type lamp instead of the beige one, and some other object, perhaps a horse sculpture to echo the painting, could replace the bird house. There is nothing wrong with a doily or pretty runner for the mantle. The woman of the house no doubt added her touches about the place in the old days. Isn't that what lonely cowboy bachelors wanted on all those old western movies? "This place needs a woman's touch."

The floral swag on the mantelpiece could be replaced with something regional, or again, something from the painting. Wildflowers abound in the west, and florals add fullness and splashes of color.  The wild west is so beautiful, so bright, so full of color! The huge blue sky, the green grass in spring, the wildflowers like Indian Paintbrush and Black-eyed Susan, the colorful and sweet-sounding birds like the meadowlark, the creeks with the wild grapes growing up the trees, the red cows.... why, it is enough to turn a tough cowboy into a poet or a painter!

If florals won't do, nice carved frames with black-and-white photos of the family, or even cowboy hat could go on the mantel. A braided rug can be a very western touch. Western-style rooms can look dark, with all the leather and wood and wrought iron, but so can Victorian rooms with their deep hues, so if you like dark, the two styles are similar there. My personal preference is for "light Victorian," which I think can combine with Western as well. 

If a trip to a museum and these changes in the decor do not convince the men of the house that it is "western" enough, have them watch some more old movies. Make sure they aren't just looking at John Wayne's hat, but at the interiors! And remember, all those Victorian-era cowboys had mothers, and probably grew up in a household that had a "woman's touch" before wandering out west.

Here is a photo from the archives of Manitoba: Please note all the knick-knacks on the mantelpiece, and the rifles on the wall. See, they can live together. There is even a pretty skirt on the sink to the right.

Here is an interior of a Ranch in Nebraska. I like the clever bookshelf in the wall above the sofa (hidden by curtains). Note the deep Victorian wallpaper border, and the rather nice oval frame.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Tea

Today was stormy, the perfect kind of day for a hot cup of tea and some good company!
Fresh produce of the season, such as these delectable organic strawberries, were included in the menu.
The March/April issue of Tea Time magazine provided some tasty new recipes to add to the menu, such as Potato Latkes with Chive Sour Cream and Turkey-Avocado Finger Sandwiches. For the little ones in attendance, PB & J sandwiches were served as well.
Flowers fresh from the garden, in a favorite soft color combination, made a delicate centerpiece.

Pleasant Times Spring Tea Menu

Cream of Celery Soup (make your own fresh*)
Potato Latkes with Chive Sour Cream (from Tea Time magazine March/April 2010, page 28)
Turkey-Avocado Finger Sandwiches (same Tea Time issue, page 51)
Carrot-Chive Sandwiches
Fresh Strawberries and Orange Slices
Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouline rolled wafers

Yorkshire Gold
Celestial Seasonings Vanilla Strawberry Rose
Celestial Seasonings Cherry herbal tea

*To make your own cream of vegetable soup, saute onions and vegetable (celery and cauliflower were used in mine) in butter or olive oil. Put a lid on and steam until soft. You may add a bit of water to help steam them. Put softened vegetables in a blender and puree, adding liquid as needed. Add a bit of cream, or milk, to the puree and blend until fluffy. Season with salt & pepper. You can make a cream soup with asparagus, broccoli, squash, etc. or for a family supper, use leftover cooked vegetables!

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Greetings

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
-1 Peter 1:3

Graphic from Karen's Whimsy

Friday, April 2, 2010


There is an Easter dress in my stash somewhere.... but I don't think it's coming out this weekend!

I need to finish some things up first. I had a few worn-out dresses I wanted to try to "re-purpose" into aprons. I especially needed a Regency apron.

Below is my version of a Regency apron , made from a gown that was no longer in service. I like the back detailing of a Regency dress, the buttons and gathers, and so I wanted to save that part. I suppose it is more of a grown-up "pinafore" than an apron. I cut off the sleeves, and cut down the side seams, and hemmed up the edges, saving the existing side ties of the gown:

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Below is another apron, made from a Regency Jumper that didn't work out for me as well as my beloved pink one did. (By the way, I was glad to see all the Regency-style jumpers on the new Emma movie. They really are so comfortable and good-looking! I hope to make more someday.)
On this jumper I had tried a side closure that was not comfortable, so after wearing it as much as I could stand, I decided to convert it to an apron. Because the front skirt was straight and not gathered, it is a bit too narrow for an apron skirt, but it'll do.

I cut off the offending side closure, and cut down the side seams, and hemmed them. I added ribbon to each side to fasten. I saved the back of this garment, too!
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Here is another apron from a worn-out summer dress. I did not save the back to this one! I did save the zipper, though, for other uses! I cut the back and sleeves off, saving the side ties intact. I made a new back piece from the skirt material. The sleeves to this dress were puffed 3/4 length sleeves with lace trim at the edge, and now they are puffed pockets.
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Another project recently completed: 1820's style corset. I used the pattern from here, and was pleased with how easily it went together. I had to enlarge the pattern, of course, which was very fiddly to do. The actual sewing wasn't hard at all. There is nothing "authentic" about this except the pattern! I used completely modern methods, but I would be hesitant to use...
... all those metal eyelets again. They came off almost as soon as I put them in. It would take longer, but be better in the long run, to hand-stitch my own eyelets.

I wasn't going to wear this thing if I had to wriggle into it each time, so I made a side opening with hooks & eyes, so I could leave the laces just so, and get the corset on and off easily. It is not exactly "easy" to fasten hooks and eyes on the side, and would have been ideal to have them in the front, but I wanted to use a busk (aka plastic shatterproof ruler!) with this stay in the center front.

To make the new opening, I cut through the side piece, sewed bias tape on the raw edges, and then added hooks & eyes.
The stay is not boned, I did cord it, but just a little bit. I found that the flat-felled seams were so stiff, it didn't need extra help! I think this corset very comfortable, even when I have the "busk" in (a good reminder to stand up straight!).