Friday, January 1, 2010
It is worth every man’s while to study the important art of living happily. Even the poorest man may by this means extract an increased amount of joy and blessing from life. The world need not be a “vale of tears,” unless we ourselves will it to be so. We have the command, to a great extent, over our own lot. At all events, our mind is our own possession; we can cherish happy thoughts there; we can regulate and control our tempers and dispositions to a considerable extent, we can educate ourselves, and bring out the better part of our nature, which in most men is allowed to sleep a deep sleep; we can read good books, cherish pure thoughts and lead lives of peace, temperance and virtue, so as to secure the respect of good men, and transmit the blessing of a faithful example to our successors.
The art of living is best exhibited in the home. The first condition of a happy home, where good influences prevail over bad ones, is comfort. Where there are carking cares, querulousness, untidiness, slovenliness, and dirt, there can be little comfort either for man or woman. The husband who has been working all day expects to have something as a compensation for his toil. The least that his wife can do for him is to make his house snug, clean and tidy against his home-coming at eve. That is the truest economy, the best housekeeping, the worthiest domestic management, which makes the home so pleasant and agreeable that a man feels, when approaching it, that he is about to enter a sanctuary; and that when there, there is no attraction that can draw him away from it.
We are not satisfied merely with a home. It must be comfortable. The most wretched, indeed, are those who have no homes—the homeless! But not less wretched are those whose homes are without comfort—those of whom Charles Lamb once said, “The homes of the very poor are not homes.” It is comfort, then, that is the soul of the home—its essential principle, its vital element.
Comfort does not merely mean warmth, good furniture, good eating and drinking. It means something higher than this. It means cleanliness, pure air, order, frugality; in a word, house-thrift and domestic government. Comfort is the soil in which the human being grows, not only physically, but morally. Comfort lies, indeed, at the root of many virtues.
Wealth is not necessary for comfort. Luxury requires wealth, but not comfort. A poor man’s house, moderately supplied with the necessities of life, presided over by a cleanly, frugal housewife, may contain all the elements of comfortable living. Want of comfort is for the most part caused, not so much by the absence of sufficient means as by the absence of the requisite knowledge of domestic management.
Comfort depends as much on persons as on “things.” It is out of the character and temper of those who govern homes that the feeling of comfort arises, much more than out of handsome furniture, heated rooms, or household luxuries and conveniences.
Comfortable people are kindly-tempered. Good temper may be set down as an invariable condition of comfort. There must be peace, mutual forbearance, mutual help and disposition to make the best of everything. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
Comfortable people are persons of common sense, discretion, prudence and economy. They have a natural affinity for honesty and justice, goodness and truth. They do not run into debt, for that is a species of dishonesty. They live within their means, and lay by something for a rainy day. They provide for the things of their own household, yet they are not wanting in hospitality and benevolence on fitting occasions. And what they do is done without ostentation.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
At this very special time of the year, may we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year!
Please do visit us again on January 1st, when we will again be sharing "pretty thoughts and little observations of life" with our dear friends and acquaintances!
Blessings From our House To Yours!
The Wisdom Family
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It’s good to have the trees again, the singing of the breeze again,
It’s good to see the lilacs bloom as lovely as of old.
It’s good that we can feel again the touch of beauties real again,
For hearts and minds, of sorrow now, have all that they can hold.
The roses haven’t changed a bit, nor have the lilacs strayed a bit,
They bud and bloom the way they did before the war began.
The world is upside down to‐day, there’s much to make us frown today,
And gloom and sadness everywhere beset the path of man.
But now the lilacs bloom again and give us their perfume again,
And now the roses smile at us and nod along the way;
And it is good to see again the blossoms on each tree again,
And feel that nature hasn’t changed the way we have to‐day.
Oh, we have changed from what we were; we’re not the carefree lot we were;
Our hearts are filled with sorrow now and grave concern and pain,
But it is good to see once more, the blooming lilac tree once more,
And find the constant roses here to comfort us again.
~Edger A. Guest
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Society at present suffers far more from waste of money than from want of money. It is easier to make money than to know how to spend it. It is not what a man gets that constitutes his wealth, but his manner of spending and economizing. And when a man obtains by his labor more than enough for his personal and family wants, and can lay by a little store of savings besides, he unquestionablly possess the elements of person and social well being. The savings may amount to little, but they may be sufficient to make him independent. There is no reason why the highly paid wormman of today may not save a store of capital. It is merely a matter of self-denial and private economy.
The question may be asked: Is it possible for a man working for small wages to save anything, and lay it by in a savings bank, when he requires every penny for the maintenance of his family? But the fact remains, that it is done by many industrious and sober men; that they do deny themselves, and put their spare earnings into savings banks, and the other receptacles provided for poor men's savings. And if some can do this, all may do it under similar circumstances, without depriving themselves of any genuine pleasure or any real enjoyment.
--Passage from Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them
Saturday, May 2, 2009
With perseverance, the very odds and ends of time may be worked up into results of the greatest value. An hour in every day withdrawn from frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, enable a person of ordinary capacity to go far towards mastering a science. It would make an ignorant man a well-informed one in only a few years. Time should not be allowed to pass without yielding fruits,in the form of something learned worthy of being known, some good priciple cultivated, or some good habit strengthened.
Daguesseau, one of the great chancellors of France, by carefully working up his odd bits of time, wrote a bulky and able volume in the successive intervals of waiting for dinner, and Madame de Genlis composed several of her charming volumes while waiting for the pricess to whom she gave her daily lessons. Eluhu Burritt attributed his first success in self-imporovement, not to genius, which he disclaimed, but simply to the careful employment of those invaluable fragments of time called "odd moments." While working and earning his living as a blacksmith, he mastered some eighteen ancient and modern languages, and twenty two European dialects.
The practice of writing down thoughts and facts for the prupose of holding them fast and preventing their escape into the dim region of forgetfulness, has been much resorted to by thoughtful and studious men. Lord Bacon left behind him many manuscripts entitled "Sudden thoughts set down for use." Erskine made great extracts from Burke; and Eldon copied Cok upon Littleton twice over with his own hand, so that the book became,s as it were, part of his own mind. The late Dr. Pye Smith, when apprenticed to make copious memoranda of all the books he read, with extracts and criticicms. This indomitable industry is collecting materials disinguished him as "always at work, always in advance, always accumulating." These note-books afterwards proved like Richter's "quarries" the great storehouse from which he drew his illustrations.
--Passage from Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The true wife, he says, should possess such qualities as will tend to make home as much as may be a place of repose. To this end, she should have sense enough or worth enough to exempt her husband as much as possible from the troubles of family management, and more especially from all possibility of debt.
The true wife takes a sympathy in her husband's pursuits. She cheers him, encourages him, and helps him. She enjoys his successes and his pleasure, and makes a little as possible over his vexations. If a wife cannot make her home bright and happy, so that it shall be the cleanest, sweetest, cheerfulest place that her husband can find refuge in--a retreat from the toils and troubles of the outer world--the heaven help the poor man, for he is virtually homeless!
--Passage from "Happy Homes And The Hearts That Make Them"
Sunday, April 26, 2009
What a happy man must Edmund Burke have been, when he could say of his home, "Every care vanishes the m oment I enter under my own roof!" And Luther, a man full of human affection, speaking of his wife, said, "I would not exchange my poverty with her for all the riches of Croesus without her!" Of marriage he observed: "The utmost blessing that God can confer on a man is the possession of a good and pious wife, with whom he may live in peace and tranquility--to whom he may confide his whole possessions, eve his life and welfare." And again he said, "To rise betimes, and to marry young, are what no man ever repentts of doing."
--Passage from Happy Homes And The Hearts That Make Them
Sunday, April 19, 2009
One of the most beautiful and inspiring books I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and whose subject matter is so near and dear to my heart, is a lovely old book entitled "Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them." Written in 1883 by Mr. Samuel Smiles, this exceptional volume is filled with timeless wisdom and eloquently detailed descriptions of how to have a joyful and peaceful home and is truly a delight to read! Because we believe this book should be in every ladies book shelf, we will soon be offering this priceless volume in the coming months, but until then, we will begin posting some of our favorite passages for our dear friends to peruse and enjoy!
Blessings From Our House To Yours!
Mrs. Kari Wisdom
To live happily, the exercise of no small degree of art is required. Like poetry and painting, the art of living comes chiefly by nature; but all can cultivate and develop it. It can be fostered by parents and teachers, and perfected by self-culture. Without intelligence, it cannot exist.
Happiness is not, like a large and beautiful gem, so uncommon and rare that all search for it is vain, all efforts to obtain it hopeless; but it consists of a series of smaller and commoner gemes, grouped and set together, forming a pleasing and graceful whole. Happiness consists in the enjoyment of little pleasures scattered along the common path of life, which in the eager serach for some great and exciting joy, we are apt to overlook. It finds delight in the performance of common duties, faithfully and honorably fulfilled.
The art of living is abundantly exemplified in actual life. Take two men of equal means, one of whom knows the art of living, and the other not. The one has the seeing eye and the intelligent mind. Nature is ever new to him, and full of beauty. He can live in the present, rehearse the past, or anticipate the glory of the future. With him life has a deep meaning, and requires the performance of duties which are satisfactory to his conscience, and there therefore pleasureable. He improves himself, acts upon his age, helps to elevate the depressed classes, and is active in every good work. His hand is never tired, his mind is never weary. He goes through life joyfully, helping others to its enjoyment. Intelligence, ever expanding, give him every day fresh insight into men and things. He lays down his life full of honor and blessing, and his greatest monument is the good deeds he has done, and the beneficient example he has set before his fellow-creatures.
--Passage from Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them
Thursday, March 26, 2009
To the Victorians, domesticity seemed as instinctive as breathing, because their first allegiance was the home--creating it, perfecting it, revering it, and, above all, instilling its spirit in the next generations. Since women largely dispatched this duty, home was called "the empire of the mother." Motherhood lost its deepest meaning and its most exalted domain when we lost the Victorian sense of home.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Art of Composing
~A Well Written Letter~
I love to write to you—it gives my heart a holiday and sets the bells to ringing.
—Emily Dickinson to Minnie Holland
In earlier years, ladies held very particular ideas about the propriety of their letter writing and correspondence,and often observed the standards prescribed by favored etiquette manuals and lady’s periodicals of their day. Still considered the height of good manners, the following suggestions are as timely today as they were a century ago.
Letter writing… is a very different affair. Its beauty consists in its simplicity, ease, and freedom from formality. The best rule that can be given for letter writing is, to imagine the person present who you are addressing, and write just what you would say in conversation. All attempts at effort, in letter writing, are out of place. The detail of particulars, such as your correspondent would be interested to know, and the expression of your own feelings, are the great excellences of this kind of writing.
—How To Be A Lady, 1850
When composing a handwritten letter, ladies often slipped away to a quiet location, either seated at their writing desk or an amiable cushioned chair pulled close to a cozy fire, allowing them peace and solitude with which to gather their thoughts and to translate them onto the pages of their writing papers. A balanced and comfortable writing utensil was always chosen, allowing them to inscribe in their loveliest penmanship, and a cup of hot tea was kept close at hand to refresh them between “pretty thoughts and friendly salutations.”
Thank you for my dear letter, for the love it bore me, and for its golden thoughts, and feelings so like gems.
—Emily Dickinson to Susan Gilbert Dickinson, February 1852
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
Friday, March 20, 2009
Sweet Dreams In The Making
~A Dream Pillow~
It is a delicious moment, certainly, that of being nestled in bed and feeling that you shall drop gently to sleep.
Valued for their soothing and tranquil properties, fragrant herbs such as lavender, chamomile and hops have long been regarded for their ability to nurture the senses and to induce a peaceful nights sleep. To add to their fragrant charms, a measure of cinnamon and cloves are used to enhance the herbal aromas, with a touch of lemon verbena added for a fine and refreshing scent.
½ Cup fragrant rose petals
½ Cup dried chamomile
½ Cup sweet hops
1/3 Cup lavender buds
1/3 Cup catnip, lightly crushed
¼ Cup dried peppermint leaves
¼ Cup lemon verbena
3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
2 Tablespoons whole cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons orris root or sea salt
In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and allow them to “steep” overnight or for several hours. Prepare a small muslin bag, fill with the ingredients and slip inside a decorative pillow. Hang the pillow upon the bedpost to impart its delicate aroma’s and to ensure a restful nights slumber!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In earlier days, the hearth was a symbol of home and the comforts and joys found within it and stood as an emblem of enduring graciousness, hospitality and repose. With the changing of the seasons, the lovely mantle, serving as the crown jewel upon the magnificent stonework, showcased a treasure trove of seasonal riches, following the advise of an 1889 homemaking manual to “make a beauty of economy,” and to bring a touch of nature to the indoor décor.
During the months of spring, a lovely collection of flowering bulbs were often placed upon the mantle, along with sprigs of lilac, blossoms of peony, lily of the valley and flowering forsythia. Topiaries of variegated ivy, signifying “fidelity, loyalty and undying affection,” stood among the treasures, along with little clay pots filled with velvety green grass and abandoned birds nests made from tiny twigs and downy soft feathers.
In the summer, the mantle was arrayed with pink roses growing in sweet and elegant perfection, symbolizing by their presence, a home of “perfect happiness and contentment,” mingled with lavish displays of purple hydrangea, foxglove, scented geraniums and favored old begonias.
During the fall, wreathes made of gleaming red bittersweet hung above the noble hearth, mingled with sprigs of red and golden maple leaves, dried ears of corn, tiny pumpkins and pretty colored squash. Dried flowers and fragrant herbs were often used to garnish table tops and to nestle in little nooks and crannies around the home, while “tall sheaves of tasseled corn, and bundles of nodding oats and swaying wheat” stood along side the stately hearth to celebrate the harvest.
In the winter, the mantle was draped with luxurious velvets and rich brocades and laid with garlands of sumptuous pine boughs, sprigs of holly, boxwood, and laurel. To add to the elegance and beauty, pots of chrysanthemums and Christmas roses mingled with eucalyptus berries, bay leaves and sprigs of baby’s breath, filling the home with a glorious wintertime fragrance, while beeswax tapers in silver candlesticks glowed with a charming and luminous brilliance.
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In regard to home amusements…one of the most useful and important, is the cultivation of flowers and fruits. This, especially for the daughters of a family, is greatly promotive of health and amusement…It would be a most desirable improvement, if all schools for young women could be furnished with suitable grounds and instruments for the cultivation of fruits and flowers, and every inducement offered to engage the pupils in this pursuit. No father, who wishes to have his daughters grow up to be healthful women, can take a surer method to secure this end. Let him set apart a portion of his ground for fruits and flowers, and see that the soil is well prepared and dug over, and all the rest may be committed to the care of the children. These would need to be provided with a light hoe and rake, a dibble or garden trowel, a watering pot, and means and opportunities for securing seeds, roots, bulbs, buds, and grafts, all which might be done at a trifling expense. Then, with proper encouragement and by the aid of a few intelligible and practical directions, every man who has even half an acre could secure a small Eden around his premises. In perusing this amusement children can also be led to acquire many useful habits. Early rising would, in many cases, be thus secured; and if they were required to keep their walks and borders free from weeds and rubbish, habits of order and neatness would be induced. Benevolent and social feelings could also be cultivated, by influencing children to share their fruits and flowers with friends and neighbors, as well as to distribute roots and seeds to those who have not the means of procuring them. A woman or a child, by giving seeds or slips or roots to a washerwoman, or a farmer’s boy, thus inciting them to love and cultivate fruits and flowers, awakens a new and refining source of enjoyment in minds, which have few resources more elevated than mere physical enjoyments.
—The American Woman’s Home
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
As are the conceal'd comforts of a man
Locked up in woman's love. I scent the air
Of blessings, when I come but near the house.
What a delicious breath marriage sends forth . .
The violet bed's not sweeter.
I HAVE often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity.
Nothing can be more touching than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and support of her husband under misfortune, and abiding, with unshrinking firmness, the bitterest blasts of adversity.
As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs; so is it beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.
I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest affection. "I can wish you no better lot," said he, with enthusiasm, "than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you."
And, indeed,I have observed that a married man falling into misfortune is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world than a single one; partly because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence; but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas a single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin like some deserted mansion, for want of an inhabitant.
These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of whichI was once a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune, but that of my friend was ample; and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex.- "Her life," said he, "shall be like a fairy tale."
The very difference in their characters produced an harmonious combination: he was of a romantic and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her the delight; and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him, as if there alone she sought favor and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall manly person. The fond confiding air with which she looked up to him seemed to call forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness, as if he doted on his lovely burden for its very helplessness.
Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity. It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his property in large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him, and he found himself reduced almost to penury. For a time he kept this situation to himself, and went about with a haggard countenance, and a breaking heart.
His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news. She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs, and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness.
She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek- the song will die away from those lips- the lustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow; and the happy heart, which now beats lightly in that bosom, will be weighed down like mine, by the cares and miseries of the world.
At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situationin a tone of the deepest despair. When I heard him through I inquired,"Does your wife know all this?"- At the question he burst into an agony of tears. "For God's sake!" cried he, "if you have any pity on me, don't mention my wife; it is the thought of her that drives me almost to madness!"
"And why not?" said I. "She must know it sooner or later: you cannot keep it long from her, and the intelligence may break upon her in a more startling manner, than if imparted by yourself; for the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond that can keep hearts together- an unreserved community of thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it feels undervalued and outraged,when even the sorrows of those it loves are concealed from it."
"Oh, but, my friend! to think what a blow I am to give to all her future prospects- how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by telling her that her husband is a beggar! that she is to forego all the elegancies of life- all the pleasures of society- to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity! To tell her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness- the light of every eye- the admiration of every heart!- How can she bear poverty? she has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence. How can she bear neglect? she has been the idol of society. Oh! it will break her heart- it will break her heart!-"
I saw his grief was eloquent, and I let it have its flow; for sorrow relieves itself by words. When his paroxysm had subsided, and he had relapsed into moody silence, I resumed the subject gently, and urged him to break his situation at once to his wife. He shook his head mournfully, but positively. "But how are you to keep it from her? It is necessary she should know it, that you may take the steps proper to the alteration of your circumstances. You must change your style of living- nay,"observing a pang to pass across his countenance, "don't let that afflict you. I am sure you have never placed your happiness in outward show- you have yet friends, warm friends, who will not think the worse of you for being less splendidly lodged: and surely it does not require a palace to be happy with Mary-"
"I could be happy with her," cried he, convulsively, "in a hovel!- I could go down with her into poverty and the dust!- I could- I could-God bless her!- God bless her!" cried he, bursting into a transport of grief and tenderness. "And believe me, my friend," said I, stepping up, and grasping him warmly by the hand, "believe me she can be the same with you. Ay, more: it will be a source of pride and triumph to her- it will call forth all the latent energies and fervent sympathies of her nature; for she will rejoice to prove that she loves you for yourself.
There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom is- no man knows what a ministering angel she is- until he has gone with her through the fiery trials of this world."
There was something in the earnestness of my manner, and the figurative style of my language, that caught the excited imagination of Leslie. I knew the auditor I had to deal with; and following up the impression I had made, I finished by persuading him to go home and unburden his sad heart to his wife.
I must confess, notwithstanding all I had said, I felt some little solicitude for the result. Who can calculate on the fortitude of one whose life has been a round of pleasures? Her gay spirits might revolt at the dark downward path of low humility suddenly pointed out before her, and might cling to the sunny regions in which they had hither to revelled.
Besides, ruin in fashionable life is accompanied by so many galling mortifications, to which in other ranks it is a stranger.- In short, I could not meet Leslie the next morning without trepidation. He had made the disclosure.
"And how did she bear it?" "
"Like an angel! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mind, for she threw her arms round my neck, and asked if this was all that had lately made me unhappy.- But, poor girl," added he, "she canno trealize the change we must undergo. She has no idea of poverty but in the abstract; she has only read of it in poetry, where it is allied to love. She feels as yet no privation; she suffers no loss of accustomed conveniences nor elegancies. "
When we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry wants, its petty humiliations-then will be the real trial." "But," said I, "now that you have got over the severest task, that of breaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the secret the better. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it is a single misery, and soon over: whereas you otherwise suffer it, in anticipation, every hour in the day.
It is not poverty so much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man- the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse- the keeping up a hollow show that must soon come to an end. Have the courage to appear poor and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting." On this point I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride himself, and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to their altered fortunes.
Some days afterwards he called upon me in the evening. He had disposed of his dwelling house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few miles from town.
He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The new establishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind. All the splendid furniture of his late residence had been sold, excepting his wife's harp. That, he said, was too closely associated with the idea of herself; it belonged to the little story of their loves; for some of the sweetest moments of their courtship were those when he had leaned over that instrument, and listened to the melting tones of her voice. I could not but smile at this instance of romantic gallantry in a doting husband.
He was now going out to the cottage, where his wife had been all day superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interested in the progress of this family story, and, as it was a fine evening, I offered to accompany him. He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and, as he walked out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing. "Poor Mary!" at length broke, with a heavy sigh, from his lips. "And what of her?" asked I: "has anything happened to her?"
"What," said he, darting an impatient glance, "is it nothing to be reduced to this paltry situation- to be caged in a miserable cottage- to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation?"
"Has she then repined at the change?"
"Repined! she has been nothing but sweetness and good humor. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her; she has been to me all love, and tenderness, and comfort!"
"Admirable girl!" exclaimed I. "You call yourself poor, my friend; you never were so rich- you never knew the boundless treasures of excellence you possess in that woman."
"Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over,I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of real experience; she has been introduced into a humble dwelling- she has been employed all day in arranging its miserable equipments- she has, for the first time, known the fatigues of domestic employment-she has, for the first time, looked round her on a home destitute of every thing elegant,- almost of every thing convenient; and may now be sitting down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty."
There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay, so we walked on in silence. After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded with forest trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look.
A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front. A small wicket gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music- Leslie grasped my arm; we paused and listened.It was Mary's voice singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond.
I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel walk. A bright beautiful face glanced out at the window and vanished- a light footstep was heard and Mary came tripping forth to meet us: she was in a pretty rural dress of white; a few wild flowers were twisted in her fine hair; a fresh bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles- I had never seen her look so lovely.
"My dear George," cried she, "I am so glad you are come! I have been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them- and we have such excellent cream- and every thing is so sweet and still here- Oh!" said she, putting her arm within his, and looking up brightly in his face, "Oh, we shall be so happy!"
Poor Leslie was overcome. He caught her to his bosom- he folded his arms round her- he kissed her again and again- he could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me, that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has, indeed, been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicity.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
~Beauty of Spirit~
Cheerfulness is a Beauty which every body admires. A cheerful spirit is a continual feast. It smiles its way through life. It wins crowns for its possessor. It makes and gives happiness. All sunshine and flowers is a cheerful heart.
Agreeable manners is another Beauty of spirit which charms every body. It is the product of a kind heart and a refined taste. We can not describe it, though we all know what it is. It is one of the charming graces of cultivated womanhood. All who will may possess it, but they cannot do with it without effort, culture, and constant watchfulness over the impulses and habits.
To possess agreeableness of manners they must have a correct taste. This is an inward Beauty of rare loveliness. It grows out of a good judgment and an informed mind. Ignorance and awkwardness are usually found together. Every young woman may inform her mind, enrich her judgment, and thus correct and discipline her taste. She may read; she may think,; she may act; she may imitate the good and wise; she may restrain her folly; curb her impulses; subdue her passions; awaken good aspirations, and thus by persevering effort she may acquire a correct taste.
Then she may cultivate kindness of heart. She may seek to do good to all, to feel for their sufferings, pity their weakness, assuage their beliefs, assist them in their trials, and breath everywhere the spirit of a kind heart. Thus she may make herself beautiful in spirit.
--Ladies Periodical 1854
Monday, February 23, 2009
These are my treasures, and I love them all…they fill my home with mirth.
—George E. Davenport
Filled with delicate treasures and cherished objects of sentiment, the ladies keepsake box often contains her most priceless and endearing possessions. From a favored book of poetry with flowers pressed between its leaves, to a silken ribbon from a long ago trousseau, and cherished photographs in dainty silver frames, the box overflows with favored keepsakes and precious tokens of remembrance that wraps one in the warmth of fond old memories, and bridges every measure of distance or time.
Among her most valuable belongings, a collection of handwritten letters from distant friends and loved ones often serve as a woman’s most dear and beloved treasures. Overflowing with sweet missives and heartfelt expressions of affection, these precious epistles grow more dear with every passing day and often contain sentiments too precious to be forgotten.
To care for her handwritten letters, a letter opener is always used to gently open the envelope and to keep the contents in excellent repair. After the letter has been read and savored, it is always slipped neatly inside its envelope and then carefully tucked away with her most cherished keepsakes and sentimental trifles.
Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person. Having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
—Dinah Maria Murlock Craick, 1866
Sunday, February 22, 2009
~Tell Me The Story of Jesus~
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”
Thursday, February 19, 2009
~Letter Writing and Correspondence~
The thoughts contained in a letter, the kind, unselfish, pretty thoughts of friendship, remain forever in the heart and mind of the person for whom it was intended.
--Book of Etiquette, 1922
During the 19th century, ladies often presided over the affairs of the home, performing the many duties of a social administrator and penning beautifully written letters of correspondence to dear friends and loved ones. In those days, it was considered the mark of a well-bred young lady if she possessed the ability to compose a well-written letter, as the quality of her “hand” revealed much about her social status, education, and upbringing. Many friendships were cultivated through hand written letters, and oftentimes these dear epistles were considered a suitable and proper method of courtship as well. Because letters were, for the most part, the only means of communication between distant friends and would-be suitors, they were fondly cherished, with each and every word being savored, and read again and again. Oftentimes, handwritten letters enabled one to express thoughts and feelings that one may not express in person, as well as afforded the author time for quiet reflection and creative expression. Because quill pens were used in that day, great care was taken when writing a letter of correspondence as an inkblot on a letter indicated carelessness and negligence on the part of the writer. Therefore, much time was spent on cultivating one’s penmanship and of using a quill pen.
As in days of old, the handwritten letter is still the most revered and time-honored method of communication, and is without exception, the most personal and favored means of commemorating birthdays, holidays and special occasions; for nothing can convey a heart felt sentiment better than a handwritten letter, and no store bought card could ever replace true words spoken from the heart.
When you write to your friends, make your letters
so beautiful in form and text that they
will be read, re-read, and cherished a long time
after as a fond memory.
—Book of Etiquette, 1922
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
For centuries, the old fashioned woman has lovingly tended to her herb gardens, not simply for the delicious flavor they impart or for the healing medicinal properties they possess, but for the delicious fragrance herbs lend to her linen cupboards and clothes closets. In old homes where romance still lingers, the pleasure of setting glorious bouquets of fragrant herbs and scented florals among lovely white linens is still a revered and beloved tradition, and is favored by those who take pride in deliciously feminine touches so redolent of days gone by.
Cinnamon and Cedar Potpourri Blend2 Cups cedar tips
1 Cup rose hips
2 Cups small mixed pine cones
1 Tablespoons sea salt
1 Cup whole cloves
10 drops Bayberry or Vanilla Essential Oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and place in a crystal jar or pretty compote!
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
Monday, February 16, 2009
~The Old Time Kitchen~
The front door stood hospitably open in expectation of company, and an orderly vine grew at each side; but our path led to the kitchen door at the house-end, and there grew a mass of gay flowers and greenery, as if they had been swept together by some broom into a tangled heap; there were portulacas all along the lower step and straggling off into the grass, and clustering mallows that crept as near as they dared, like poor relations. I saw the bright eyes and brainless little heads of two half-grown chickens who were snuggled down among the mallows as if they had been chased away from the door more than once, and expected to be again.
--The Country of The Pointed Firs
Perhaps no other room in the house so perfectly captures the essence of “home” as the old-time kitchen. From the herbs gathered in bundles, hanging from the rafters, to the braids of garlic and baskets of shallots and onions gathered from the garden, the kitchen overflows with goodness, spilling from every corner the sweet fruits of mother’s labor. Plentiful cupboard shelves and pantries, lined with mason jars carefully labeled, are filled with home-canned peaches and pears, while antique crocks of sweet pickles fill the air with the delicious scents of cinnamon, allspice and clove. A collection of hand woven baskets with a simple old fashioned elegance about them are hung on wooden pegs for fetching vegetables from the garden, while larger, sturdier baskets set about the room, overflow with apples and squash ready to be taken to the root cellar for winter store.
Everything within the old-time kitchen speaks of home and the warmth and comforts found within it. From the fragrant scents of mulled spices simmering on the stove to the crackling of a fire in the hearth, the kitchen is a cozy haven filled with all things delightful and delicious, and where homespun goodness is always found in plentiful supply. In this room, so full of character and charm and brimming with old fashioned treasures and antique wares, joy can be found in every nook and cranny, and time worn furnishings extend warm hospitality and a cordial welcome to all.
All throughout the year, the kitchen is astir with homebound pleasures and bustling with pleasant activities and old fashioned cooking is always at its delicious and flavorful best. With a wealth of country abundance and a full and overflowing larder, meals are prepared using such things as freshly churned butter made from the richest cream, farm fresh eggs gathered from the hen house, and fragrant herbs picked fresh from the garden, all blending together in delicious harmony, and serving as a source of pleasure and pride to the homemaker who delights in cooking the old fashioned way.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
--Edith Wharton, 1897
Although many believe the library to be the most suitable quarters for one's collection of favored books and leather bound treasures, others subscribe to the notion that book collections are most pleasing when placed throughout the home, grouped companionably together with favored objects of beauty and sentiment, believing it is the loveliness of little things that imparts substance and life to the home. In the 19th century, books were highly esteemed possessions, particularly by those of literary persuasions, with one writer describing the era as:
An age of supreme elegance when no personal belonging was considered trivial, every object--no matter how modest--was treasured.
For those possessing a sizable book collection, whether they were new or old and leather bound, the well appointed library contained a vast array of stately bookshelves with which to keep them tidy and in order. Oftentimes, the volumes were categorized by subject matter, while others were placed in alphabetical order or simply grouped together by a common author.
To care for these treasured volumes, certain methods of handling were always observed to preserve their integrity and to keep them in excellent repair. One such method to ensure leather bindings remained intact was to always retrieve a book by firmly grasping with the whole hand, rather than pulling on its spine. Books were faithfully kept from areas of excessive heat, which tended to make the pages brittle, as well as excessive humidity, which could cause mold and mildew to form. To inhibit dust from gathering, shelf guards were often employed, made from wood, tapestry or other suitable material, and allowed to extend three to four inches from the shelf above to keep dust from collecting on the books below.To keep one’s books in pristine condition, a lovely bookmark or ribbon was always used to mark the page the reader was perusing, rather than turning down the corner edge. To signify the owner of a book, bookplates were commonly used and often reflected the personality of the owner by displaying a symbolic design, and always pasted in the center of the front inside cover of the book.
When a book was given as a gift, an inscription was customarily made on the front free endpaper, which is the first blank page of the book, as the title page was usually reserved for the author’s signature, particularly if that page contained only the title of the book.
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
For a particularly fragrant scent that speaks of home and holidays, this delicious blend will fill the air with an aroma of ‘Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice.’
3 sticks cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon allspice berries
Rind of an orange or lemon
2 Quarts of fresh water
In a small kettle, combine the ingredients and allow the mixture to simmer over a low fire, adding water now and again as needed.
--The Riches and Treasures of Home
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Sermons We See
I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advise you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.
One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Time For Home
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
Contentment must first be learned at home. If a girl is not content at home, she will not find contentment for very long in any one place. Contentment is having a deep, abiding sense of well-being and happiness, even when things around you are not ideal.
One way to gain the ability to be satisfied with life is to have a steadiness of purpose. Although it may rain when you wanted it fine, you are able to quickly find a substitute activity that will be useful and beneficial. Contentment sometimes depends upon your ability to be resourceful, a trait which can also be learned by substituting things when you do not have what you need. Being resourceful means finding different ways of doing things when other plans fail.
Steadiness can be achieved by sticking to something until it is completed, even if it cannot be done all at once. If this is not practiced, it may be more difficult to stay dedicated to other kinds of duties which require more commitment.
Many women are restless and unable to understand that there will be an end to some trying times in life, and they will not put up with any inconvenience or any boredom or any hardship. If they learn at home, they are much better prepared for life's ups and downs, and can be content, even when others around them are undependable, disloyal, rude, or ungrateful.
Contentment also means being able to accept where God has put you in your life. Are you a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother? Do not run away from it and try to alter your life unnaturally. Contentment means to make the best of whatever you are, in whatever place in life you are.
Discontentment brings on uneasiness and instability. Discontent makes it difficult to settle down or concentrate on worthwhile things. Contentment means waiting out the boring or sad times, but staying to the same course you set out on. Many people, in moments of discontent, abandon their families or their interests, and go off in pursuit of happiness. Happiness is achieved by getting through those times when your life does not seem to be "going anywhere."
If you will learn contentment, you can save yourself and your family a lot of grief. I know some young ladies who live at home with their parents, and they are a great help to them. Although they have friends who are always changing addresses, changing room mates, changing mates, changing jobs, and in general living a life of continual turmoil, these girls can always be depended upon to be the same.
Although they reside in the home of their childhood, these grown daughters are by no means uninteresting. They find interests in many different things, such as helping the elderly, letterboxing when they have free time, rearranging the furniture at home, and decorating seasonally for their mother, entertaining, sewing and cooking, all which take enormous amounts of time. They have no want of money, because someone is always gifting them for a service they provided or for making something for them.
One of these girls raises sheep and collects the wool for felting. Her felted projects are so colorful and it is interesting to watch her do it when she visits us. These girls have learned to do so many things and sometimes take on new interests, but their basic relationships remain the same. They have a stable and predictable family loyalty that they will not violate by being discontent.
Some of their friends are restless girls who do not know what to do at home. They would be better off to be content and help their parents, who put a lot of effort into raising them, than to spend so much time and money pursuing things that are worthless and bring no tangible results.
Here are some scriptures that define contentment:
Philippians 4:11 - We are to be content in all circumstances, both when we have abundance, and when we do not.
First Timothy 6:6 - Godliness with contentment is "great gain."
First Timothy 6:8 - Two things we should be content with are food and clothing.
Hebrews 13:5 - Be content with what you have.
I think we can easily say, that these verses show that contentment is pleasing to God and that he blesses us even more when we are content. When we are content, we are careful with our possessions, careful with our bodies, careful with our relationships. That brings manifold rewards, in due time.
Being discontent is being out of step with the creator and the creation. Discontent is a false leader and has led many people away from the stability of their families. A foolish woman is discontent, and can cause the loss of her own home.
One reason that some daughters do not want to stay home and apply themselves to becoming creative home keepers is that they have not learned contentment. When they do not learn how to be content, they become restless, and unable to take home living seriously.
Contentment has to be developed by good training. A young woman can train herself to be content, by finding a need and filling it. She can look around and see many things that need to be done, and do them in a beautiful and personal way that reflects her love and her creativity. Gradually, as she learns to do things that make home life happy, she will develop contentment.
If the outside world is constantly tugging at her and she is listening to the voices of those who say that she cannot be fulfilled at home, she will become discontent. Once she begins spending more time away from the responsibilities of the home, or from her family, she becomes even more restless and detached. She will attach herself to other people and other things not meant for her.
Contentment is productive. It finds things to do that are constructive and not destructive. The discontented person is also destructive in that they waste time, waste money, waste talents, waste personal possessions, and waste life. The best thing to do is to become oblivious to the voices that call us away from the important work of the home and concentrate on the tasks available to you.
When young women develop contentment, they can have satisfied minds, free from disturbance and inner conflict. Women who sew or cook or putter around their homes, crafting and creating, tend to be more content at home.
Evening at Home by Edward John Poynter, 1796-1886
“So far as this world knows or can vision, there is no attainment more desirable than the happy and contented home."