tisdag 25 januari 2011

Lessons in patience

Roland stood with knitted brows considering.

'Who makes the winter?' he asked. 'Does the devil? Because God only makes beautiful things, doesn't He?'

Old Bob raised his hat, and looked up into the grey autumnal sky with a smile.
'Nay, little master, the devil wouldn't have wished to give us such a lesson as winter teaches us. 'Tis God Almighty in His love that gives us winter, to try our faith and patience, and teach us hope's lessons. If we had no winter, we should have no Easter, and 'tis well worth the waitin' for!'
................ ... From Bulbs and Blossoms
................................................. by Amy Le Feuvre
Yes, patience is necessary this time of the year — but the days are getting longer, which makes the winter bearable. Today the sun was up between 8:34 and 16:01.
I don't know when I'll be back here, my mother has some health issues that need to be taken care of. hopefully it won't take too long.

onsdag 19 januari 2011


True Tales of the Year 1806.

On a cold winter's afternoon, in the year 1806, the little crowd that had been attending a sale of furniture at the chief auctioneer's in Wolverhampton was slowly melting away, for the few lots still left to be sold mostly consisted of worn-out saucepans, broken towel-rails, and some shabby chairs, and such-like worthless articles.

Very poor people, however, cannot be too fastidious, and a few buyers still remained who were glad to bid for such things, and amongst these people was a respectable-looking widow, in threadbare mourning, with a boy of about thirteen years old by her side.

'Lot 213!' said the auctioneer, with a yawn; for the excitement of the sale was over, and he did not waste professional jokes except on well-to-do hearers. 'Rosewood armchair, upholstered in best wool damask! Now, then, what offers?'

His assistant meanwhile had hoisted on to the table the very shabbiest chair that had ever occupied so prominent a position! No doubt it might once have been a good piece of furniture, but now the rosewood was so encrusted with dirt that it required much scrutiny to say what the wood really was; and, as for the 'best wool damask,' that must have existed only in the auctioneer's imagination, for the chair looked as if it were upholstered in a ragged, colourless canvas, with the stuffing sticking through in numberless places.

Some of the little audience laughed and jeered as the chair was placed before them, and one man said, derisively, that 'it wasn't worth breaking up for firewood.'

The little widow's eyes, however, brightened, and she whispered to the boy, 'That's the chair I told you of. I saw it yesterday. I could clean it up, and make it comfortable for your grandfather. I can't bear to see him sitting on that hard chair of his, with his rheumatism and all. But I'm afraid it will go for more than I have.' And she clutched the leather bag, with its solitary half-crown, more firmly in her hand.

'It's a big chair,' said the boy; 'but it's all to pieces, mother.'

'I could settle it, if only I get it,' said the widow, anxiously, still looking at the chair.

'Now! What offers?' repeated the auctioneer, looking impatiently round. 'Come, make a bid! A good rosewood chair, upholstered in damask.'

There was silence. No one seemed to want such a wretched piece of furniture, except the widow, who longed for it so earnestly that the power of speech seemed to go from her.

'George,' she gasped, as she pulled her boy's sleeve, 'say you'll give a shilling. I can't make him hear me.'

'A shilling!' shouted out the boy, and the auctioneer turned in his direction at once.

'A shilling for a rosewood chair, upholstered in best damask!' he said, in a voice of scorn. 'And this in the respectable city of Wolverhampton!'

The spectators laughed, but no one bid any further sum, so the auctioneer, who wanted to get home to his supper, banged his hammer on the table, and to her surprise and delight the widow found that the chair was hers.

With her boy's help she got the chair home, and cheered her invalid father by telling him 'his old bones should ache no longer. She would have him in an easy-chair by the following day.'

She was up at daybreak, and immediately after their frugal breakfast she dragged the chair into the yard, and began ripping up the fusty old lining.

'Let me do that, mother. I can rip finely,' said George, taking the knife out of her hand, for there is a certain joy in tearing and cutting that appeals to a boy.

'Very well,' said his mother, 'then I will get a pail of warm water, and we will scrub the rosewood, and get all this black dirt off it; and when that's done I'll begin the upholstering. I'm going to cover[Pg 55] it with my old red cloak. It will be fine and soft for your grandfather, and I don't wear colours now, so that I can spare the cloak. But, first of all, I will put Grandfather in the window-seat, so that he can see all we are doing. It will amuse him; his life is dull enough, poor dear old man.'

She went indoors, and George continued the ripping, enjoying the clouds of dust he raised in the process.

The little woman had just settled her father comfortably on the wooden settle, where he could look out of the window and see all that went on in the yard, when they were startled by a cry from George.

'Mother! Mother! Oh, come!'

'He has cut himself!' said the poor woman, turning deadly pale, as she flew out into the yard.

But George was unhurt, though he looked dazed and half stupefied.

'Look here, Mother,' he said, pointing down to the ground, 'this chair was full of gold pieces. No wonder it was so heavy to drag home!'

'Gold pieces! Oh, no!' she said, shaking her head. 'You must have made a mistake, my boy.'

'Look at them!' said George, stooping down and picking up a handful of guineas from the mass of dust and dirt and horsehair that was strewn on the floor of the yard. 'They're guineas right enough; they came pouring out like water when I got to the middle of the chair.'

'They look like guineas,' said the poor woman, trembling with anxiety. 'Oh, George, if they should be, and if they are rightfully ours, then Father could get to Bath and be cured, and you could be apprenticed to a cabinet-maker, like your poor father before you.'

'They are guineas,' said George, stoutly. 'Let's show them to Grandfather—he will know; and if they are—and I know they are'—he repeated, 'some of the money must be spent on you, Mother; I won't have it all go to apprentice me. If that ever comes off, you must have a new gown and cloak to sign my articles in,' and George got up from the dirty ground and gave his mother a hearty hug.

Grandfather gave his verdict: the guineas were real, and had the effigy of George I. stamped on them, and there were just a hundred of them, all told.

Of course, the news of the widow's lucky find was soon known, and the auctioneer claimed the money, but the clergyman of the parish supported the widow's claim, and though the auctioneer went to law about it, he lost his case and had to pay the costs.

Later on in the year a happy family party went to a solicitor's office to sign George's indentures.

Grandfather was there, erect and well, for the Bath waters had done wonders for him. His widowed daughter hung on his arm in a fine new dress and cloak, and George, looking very important at the thought of being apprenticed to the first cabinet-maker in Wolverhampton, had everything on new from top to toe, and all this was the outcome of the purchase (for a shilling) of 'the old rosewood armchair.'

S. C.
Another story from Chatterbox, 1906.

tisdag 18 januari 2011


H' what a terrible mistake!'
Cried Mrs. Brahma Hen;
'I'd set my heart on yellow chicks,
And these are black again!'
She ran at once to Dr. Goose,
'What can I do?' cried she.
'My charge for giving good advice
Is fifteen worms,' quoth he.
It was such hot work catching them,
It nearly made her faint:
And fifteen worms'-worth of advice
Was 'Buy some yellow paint!'
............... ......... A. Katherine Parkes

You should see our drive way today! It's a wonder that I made it to the mailbox and back to the house again. I let the dust balls grow, fed us leftovers and spend most of the days in Gutenberg's company. I found the poem about the disappointed hen, in "Chatterbox, 1906" and the pictures in "Ozma of Oz" by L. Frank Baum with illustrations by John R. Neill.

fredag 14 januari 2011


The winter is ruling our lives also this winter. The temperature goes from very cold to mild in a few hours, which means that our drive way is more suited for coasting than driving.
Perfect weather for indulging in books — and since the computer is full of books, thanks to Project Guten-berg, I have no problems to pass time.

When Bess gave her Dollies a Tea, said she,—
"It's unpolite, when they's Company,
To say you've drinked two cups, you see,—
But say you've drinked a couple of tea."
From "The Book of Joyous Children" by James Whitcomb Riley with illustrations by J. W. Vawter

My darling is not a great reader, but he enjoys to be read to, so while he makes himself comfortable in the window I read to him from books like "Life and Adventures of Poor Puss" by Lucy Gray.

lördag 8 januari 2011

Tea with Gutenberg

Five O'clock Tea, 1883
Julius Leblanc Stewart
A cup of tea at this time of the afternoon is usually gratefully accepted, and one is disappointed if it is made so badly that it is not drinkable. The young lady who presides at the tea table at an afternoon reception has sometimes a difficult task if the tea is not prepar-ed with a bag (as directed on page 550), but for the unceremonious social cup of tea with the friend who drops in at this hour it is easy to have it just right. After the proper preparation of the tea (as directed on page 549), the attractiveness of the table and the delicacy of the china are the next things to be desired. Tea does not taste as well taken from a coarse, large, or heavy cup. The taste and refinement of the hostess are easily recognized in this very unceremonious, but very social, function. The cloth may be as elaborate as one wishes, but it must above all be spotless, un-wrinkled and dainty. The cups may all differ from one another, but each one should be small and thin, and the steaming kettle, which lends cheerfulness to the occasion, should be highly polished, whether it be silver, brass, or copper. A dry biscuit or a thin piece of bread and butter is usually offered with the tea. Fresh unsalted butter is preferable, but any of the fine butters may be used. The butter is spread very evenly on the loaf; the bread sliced very thin and doubled like a sandwich. It may be cut into any shape desired, such as strips, diamonds, or triangles. It is attractive stamped into circles with a biscuit-cutter of about the size of a silver dollar. Three kinds of bread may be used—white, graham, and Boston brown bread, and all may be served on the same plate. This simple dish is carried into the esthetics in some English houses, where the bread and butter is described as tasting of roses, violets, clover, or nasturtiums. The flavor is obtained by shutting the fresh butter in a tight jar with the blossoms for several hours. Butter very readily absorbs flavors and odors, indeed it is the medium used for extracting perfumes in the manu-facture of those articles. The flavored butter is spread in the ordinary way on the bread, which has been treated also to a bath of flowers. Butter sandwiches must be exceedingly thin and shapely, and have no suggestion of mussiness. They should be laid in a folded napkin to keep them fresh. Any sweet wafers may also be used, but as this is not a meal, nothing should be offered which will take away the appetite for dinner, which follows shortly afterward.

Take one tablespoonful each of flour and powdered sugar and one half saltspoonful of salt. Sift them well together. Beat the white of one egg just enough to break it, and add as much of it to the flour and sugar as it will take to make a creamy batter; flavor with a few drops of almond essence. Grease the pans lightly and flour them as directed on page 464. Drop a half teaspoonful of the paste on the pan, and with a wet finger spread it into a thin round wafer. Bake it in a very moderate oven until the edges are slightly browned, then, before removing from the oven door, lift each wafer, and turn it around a stick. They stiffen very quickly, and the rolling must be done while they are hot.

The water. You cannot have first-rate tea or coffee unless you use freshly-boiled water. Water that has been boiled for an hour or more lacks life, and gives a dull taste to the decoction. Draw freshly filtered water and let it come to a hard boil before using.

Scald the pot and immediately put into it the tea-leaves.

When the water boils hard, pour upon the tea-leaves the required quantity of water. Shut down the cover of the tea-pot and let it stand just five minutes before serving.

Proportions. To give the proportions of tea and water is impossible, as such different degrees of strength are demanded. One teaspoonful of tea to a pint of water, steeped five minutes, makes a weak tea. Two teaspoonfuls give the color of mahogany, if an English breakfast tea is used. Oolong tea does not color the water very much, so its strength cannot be as well judged in that way.
Steeping. Tea, to be perfect, should not steep longer than five minutes; it may continue to grow stronger after that time, but the flavor is not as good, and if the leaves remain too long in the water the tea becomes bitter.

The Russians, who are reputed to have the best tea, prepare it at first very strong, getting almost an essence of tea; this they dilute to the strength desired, using water which is kept boiling in the samovar. Water removed from the kettle and kept in a pot where it falls below the boiling-point, will not give satisfactory results in diluting a strong infusion.

The tea-bag. Where a quantity of tea is to be used, as at receptions, it is well to put the tea into a swiss muslin bag, using enough to make a very strong infusion. Place the bag in the scalded pot; add the boiling water; after five minutes remove the bag. Keep a kettle of water boiling over an alcohol flame, and use it to dilute the tea as needed. The tea will then be as good as though freshly made. If, however, the leaves are allowed to remain in the pot the tea will not be fit to use after a short time, and no matter how much it may be diluted, it will still have an astringent taste.

The tea-ball. Silver balls are convenient to use where one or two cups at a time only are to be made for the friend who drops in for the afternoon cup of tea. The ball holding the tea is placed in the cup, water from the boiling kettle poured over it, and the ball removed when the water has attained the right color.

Russian tea. Various preparations of tea are made by adding flavorings.
Tea punch. The so-called Russian tea is made by adding sugar and a thin slice of lemon to each cup; tea punch by soaking the sugar first in rum or brandy. These, however, as well as milk, destroy the flavor of tea and change the character of the drink.
Iced tea. Iced tea is a very refreshing drink in summer. It is served in glasses, with plenty of cracked ice, and should not be made very strong, or it will become clouded when the ice is added. Iced tea is improved by adding lemon. One tablespoonful of lemon-juice to a glass of tea is a good proportion.

One of today's finds is "The Century Cook Book" from 1901 by Mary Ronald. A book that goes into detail about most everything that has to do with cooking and serving the meals.

torsdag 6 januari 2011


"Why do you take such pains in cutting out these little figures?" asked Winifred of her brother Ernest.

"I will tell you why, sister," replied Ernest. "I take pains because my teacher tells me, that, if a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well."

"Did he mean that we should try to do well even in trifles?" asked Winifred.

"Yes," answered Ernest, "because, as a great man once said, 'Perfection is no trifle.'"

Winifred sat looking at her brother, as, handling a pair of scissors, he carefully cut out figures of horses, dogs, pigs, and various other animals.

Three years afterward she remembered this conversation; for it happened at that time, that, her father having died, her widowed mother was left almost destitute with a family of seven children to support.

What should the poor woman do? At first she thought she would take in washing, then that she would try to keep a little shop. While she was hesitating, Mr. Mason, a brisk old gentleman, came to the door, and asked, "Where is the boy who cuts these figures and faces in profile?"

One of his grandchildren had brought him home from school some specimens of Ernest's skill; and Mr. Mason saw at once that they were the work of a gifted and painstaking artist.

"You must mean my little Ernest," said the mother. "Poor little fellow! He little dreams what is coming. I shall soon have to take him away from school."

"Why so?" cried Mr. Mason. "Take him away from school? You shall do no such a thing. I'll not allow it."

"We are destitute, sir, and I have no means of support," said the mother with a sigh.

"No means of support! Nonsense! With a boy in the house who can cut figures like that, do you say you have no means of support?" exclaimed Mr. Mason. "Good woman, I will insure your boy good wages every week for the next year, if you will let him come between school-hours, and cut pictures under my direction."

The rest of my little story may soon be told. Ernest became the staff and stay of his family. The little talent he had cultivated so carefully and diligently was the means of giving him not only an honest employment, but a liberal support. He rose to distinction; and his productions were much sought after by all good judges of art.

............................................ Emily Carter.

onsdag 5 januari 2011

Winter magic?

How to Make Mary and Her Lamb
Cut out the two double figures. Fold on the dotted lines marked A A A A so that the upper part of each of the four figures projects forward as shown in the small picture X. Fold on the lines marked B B where the figures join each other so that the colored surfaces face outward, and then, beginning at the feet, paste the front view of Mary to the back view of the lamb as far as the dotted lines A A. In the same way paste the front view of the lamb to the back view of Mary—as far up as the lines A A. Now paste together the front and back of the upper part of Mary. Then paste together the front and back of the upper part of the lamb. Cut off the letters A A A A B B.

Now if the lamb is held by the feet and turned inside out, Mary will appear, and vice versa. MAKE ALL THE OTHER CHANGELINGS IN PRECISELY THE SAME WAY.

The Changelings will stand alone. If they do not stand firmly after you have turned them, pinch them slightly along the dotted lines that were marked A A A A.

Look carefully at the finished Changeling in the front of the book. It will help you to make all the Magic Changelings

One of my recent Gutenber's find is "The Twelve Magic Changelings" from 1907, by M.A. Glen. I really like the pictures, but have to admit that I'm not sure where to look for the magic part. Spoiled modern child?

I did print a few of the pictures — they are very small, so I suggest that you enlarge them if you want to look for the magic.

I'm sure some people would call our winter landscape magic — even if I'm not among them. It's been snowing a lot the last 24 hours, and if the sun comes out now, I might consider calling it magic as long as the temperature doesn't drop.

måndag 3 januari 2011

Woolly thinking

Interior, 31 Mornington Crescent
Spencer Frederick Gore
We don't have as much snow this winter as last winter, but the cold has us in a stranglehold again — just as the previous winter. It's only -15°C (5°F) today, but it has been between -20°C (-4°F) and -30°C (-21°F) for quite a while. Since you can't change the weather we bundle up in winter woolies and all the blankets and shawls we have, and stay close to the fire. Sitting there like stuffed cabbage rolls all you can do is talk, listen to the radio or your CD's — and of course read. And drink tea, if you can disentangle an arm to reach the cup. For some reason, hot drinks doesn't taste good when you use a straw.
As for books, I've mainly kept light goods at hand, as my brain dislike the cold and lay dormant in winter.
I've reread a couple of Betty MacDonald's books, as well as some of Agatha Christie's. I know for sure that I've read more than that, but the titles are stuck somewhere in my dormant convolutions.
I just started reading a Gutenberg find: "Dorothy Payne, Quakeress, A Side-Light upon the Career of 'Dolly' Madison" by Ella Kent Barnard printed in 1909.

Dorothy Payne Todd

söndag 2 januari 2011


No. 1.—The pattern, full size
No. 1.—A new style of Head-Dress. Worked in the second size crimson chenille, with No. 4 gold thread.

Take a card-board of three inches deep and fifteen inches long, and fasten to the edge of it eleven strands of chenille and gold thread placed together; leave a space of one inch between each strand; the length of the gold and chenille thread must be twenty-four inches. Take the first two threads from the left-hand side, pass the two next under them; tie them in a knot, the two outer over the two centre threads (chenille or gold thread, as may be), and then pass them through the loop formed on the left, and so on till the last row. The shape is an uneven triangle, nine inches from the top corner to the centre, and seven inches from the middle of the front to the centre. When finished, cut off the board, and sew round two sides of the work a fringe of gold thread, which is to fall over the neck.

No. 2.—A portion, full size, with fringe
No. 2.—Another style of Head-Dress. With white and pink second size chenille.

This is made nearly in the same manner as No. 1, with chenille, one yard long; but, after having made the first knot, pass a pearl bead on each side, and then make the second knot—the measurement of the meshes to be three-quarters of an inch. When the work is finished, the whole will be twelve inches square. Pass round it an India-rubber cord, which will form the fastening. The ends left from the work to be separately knotted together with silver thread, to hang down, forming a very large and rich tassel.

No. 3.—A portion of the pattern, full size
No. 3.—Head-Dress of blue and silver. In chain crochet, silver cord No. 5, with second size of crochet chenille, light blue.

Eight chain stitches, the last of which is plain crochet, and so on continued. In the two middle stitches of the chenille take up the silver, and in the middle stitches of the silver take up the chenille, each going in a slanting way, once over and once under each other, as the drawing (No. 3) will show. The chenille is worked one way, and the silver goes the other way, contrary to regular crochet work. The whole is worked square, eighteen inches in square; and, when finished, every loop is taken up with fine India-rubber cord, to form the shape. Put round it a silver fringe one inch and a half deep.

lördag 1 januari 2011

Winter Fashions

Figure 1.—Promenade And Morning Costume
Heavy, rich textures of silk have taken the place of the lighter stuffs used at the beginning of December. Brocards, satin princesse, antique moires, Irish poplins, and heavy chiné silks, such as were worn by the belles who saw Washington inaugurated, are now in vogue. The latter material is called by the French camayeux. It is made of all colors, such as light violet upon dark violet; or, what is more beautiful, large white roses, hardly visible, and partly concealed by light green leaves upon a ground of dark green, forming an ensemble at once coquettish, brilliant, and extremely elegant. Plain poplins are much worn; also royal Pekin or black damask, trimmed with two broad flounces of Cambray lace. Instead of a corsage, a petite corsage of the same material is worn, wide open in front, and closed at the waist with two double buttons, or a large bow of ribbon.

Figure 2 represents this style of corsage. The edge is trimmed with lace or fullings of ribbon, the sleeves three-quarters long and in pagoda form. The same figure represents a very pretty style of head-dress. The cap is composed of plain tulle of the lightest description; upon one side of the head, partially covering the ear, is a bunch of roses, or other flowers, pendant.
Fig. 2.—Head-dress And Corsage
Figure 1 represents a promenade and a morning costume. The Promenade Costume is a high silk dress; the waist and point long; the sleeves three-quarter length and wide at the bottom; the skirt long and exceedingly full; five volants are set on full, each being trimmed at a little distance from the edge by a narrow guimpe. Manteau of light brown cashmere, trimmed with velvet of the same color; closed up in front by four large brandebourgs. Bonnet of a very open form, trimmed entirely with plaid ribbon.
Fig. 3.—Bonnet.
The Morning Costume is a jupe of blue silk, very long and full, trimmed down the front with rows of velvet and small silk tassels, the form of an acorn. A cain de feu, a sort of jacket, of blue satin, of a darker shade than the jupe, the small skirt of which is of the Hungarian form. It is trimmed round with velvet and has tassels up the front to correspond with the skirt; the sleeves come but little below the elbow, wide at the bottom, and cut like the skirt. These are likewise trimmed with velvet. Cap of black lace, trimmed with a broad white ribbon, edged with pink.

Figure 3 shows a new style of plain velvet bonnet, of rich green. It is made very deep; trimmed with velvet. Satins are made in the same form, of a dark color, the interior of the fronts lined with white, rose, or any other fresh color. These are ornamented with branches of flowers of velvet, or nœuds of plaid ribbon, half velvet and half satin, the colors harmonizing with the bonnet.

There are small bonnets of white or pink plush, having for their sole ornament a single bow of satin ribbon, or a ribbon velonté at the sides. This style is very elegant, and particularly adapted for very young ladies, especially when trimmed with a deep fall of rich lace. Those made of pink satin, and trimmed with blonde, forming a bunch upon the side of the exterior, the interior being filled entirely with rows of narrow blonde, are exceedingly graceful.

A new style of fringe for ball dresses has lately been introduced. It is extremely light, and composed of a mixture of white and gold, which forms a splendid trimming when placed upon a triple skirt of white tulle. It is also made of pink and silver, which has a beautiful effect upon a dress of pink crape; splendid bouquets of beautiful flowers being arranged so as to loop up the skirts on either side.

A new and greatly admired style for Evening Dresses, called d'Adrienne, has lately been brought out in Paris. It is made of the richest materials. The corsage is extremely low, and forms a very deep point, its ornaments being placed en cœur upon the centre of the front. The skirt is open, and is ornamented upon the two sides with streamers of ribbon and nœuds of pearls. The under-skirt of satin is enriched with an echelle of lace or a triple falbalas, the two extremities of which are disposed so as to join the nœuds upon the upper dress.

An elegant addition to a lady's toilet has been recently brought out, which recalls the mantillas worn by the Maltese ladies. It consists of a kind of pelisse, fulled into the narrow band around the throat, which is concealed by a small collar, having for ornament a volant or frill of Chantilly lace. The lower part of the pelisse, as well as the sleeves, is encircled with four rows of Chantilly lace, surmounted with rows of narrow velvet or watered ribbons, forming a pretty heading. This little garment is extremely elegant for places of amusement, made in pink, blue, or white satin, and trimmed with Brussels or English point lace.

Fringes and Cambray lace will be much used this season in the decoration of dresses. Feathers will be much worn, some in touffes, and others si5mply the long single feather, passing over the entire front of the bonnet.