Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tasha Tudor

I’ve always loved the art of Tasha Tudor.  Before I was born, my mom bought me A Time to Keep, and many of Tasha’s books were among our favorite childhood read-alouds.  Her illustrations draw you into another world.

That’s not to romanticize Tasha or her way of life.  She herself said, “The past wasn’t as romantic as people seem to think.  There were many hardships, especially for women.”  She also said, “People have a rose-colored lens when they look at me.  They don’t realize I’m human.  They don’t see the real me.  As Mark Twain said, we are like the moon, we all have our dark side that we never show to anybody.” 


I grew up on a farm—not quite as primitive as Tasha’s, but moving in that direction—and there was bad along with the good.  I experienced 5AM births of wide-eyed fuzzy calves, drank milk fresh from the cow, gathered warm brown eggs from beneath hens, and picked produce from our huge garden.  Many nights we sat down for our family supper and everything on the table came from our farm.  But…Animals die.  Drought kills crops, gardens, and flowers.  Accidents happen with equipment.  And probably the biggest negative, animals can come between the farmer and human relationships, for if there’s no responsible stand-in, their daily care keeps him from travel or spending much time away, even evening engagements.  They always come first. 

So that’s a consideration for those longing for this kind of life.  It’s the main reason I haven’t pursued it for myself.  For me, people need to come first.  Unless it’s an issue of life and death, I never want to have to choose between spending time with the people I love and caring for an animal.  Maybe one day I will find a way to strike some sort of balance, but for now a lifestyle is not worth the sacrifices I’d have to make in my relationships. 

Still, Tasha’s life and her work are a sort of rustic fairy tale, an escape from the rigors of daily life to a state of charming pastoral perfection.  I adore her books.  They inspire me to pursue my passions, embrace femininity, spend time doing things with my children.

I didn’t have time to post on Tasha Tudor Day, but I did steal a few moments in the midst of a busy weekend to page through The PrivateWorld of Tasha Tudor.  Over the next day or so I hope to read some of Tasha’s books with my children.

Thanks to Clarice and Suzanne for hosting Tasha Tudor Day!  I enjoyed every post!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Tyranny of Too Much

My husband recently returned from a trip to South America. He took pictures of the homes of his friends there. Although they were not in extreme poverty (they had enough to eat and wear), they were still poor by American standards. Their homes were nicely built and spotlessly clean, but completely austere. Very little furniture, nothing on the counters, tables, desks, or floors. There was no clutter anywhere. My husband said this was the rule, not the exception.

I have to wonder if there might also be a cultural component. Even the poor in many places (India comes to mind) sometimes live in clutter and disarray. Perhaps there is a cultural expectation of tidiness and austerity, alongside a simple lack of possessions.

In any case, my husband was struck by the simplicity that comes from not having excess possessions. We have been moving in the direction of simplifying this year, but not earnestly. Well, I committed to reduce the possessions in my jurisdiction by 50%, but I have not made a lot of progress in awhile.

I have taken last week and this week to work on a marathon declutter. It feels so good to see empty shelves. I can tell already that this will simplify my homemaking. Lissa at Keep it Simple, Keep it Fresh mentioned this once. Of course, cleaning experts like Flylady and Don Aslett say the same thing. The less you have to care for, the less time it takes. Why do I hang onto this stuff anyway?

Today I'm working on my kids' rooms. I cleaned them out recently, but I realized, not enough. They are often overwhelmed by how much stuff is in their rooms, especially the room shared by 3. Hopefully this will be a gift that will help them not feel so overwhelmed, especially as we begin a new homeschool year. Everyone wins! That is my goal, anyway!

History of a Cheap Dress

This fun article on Etsy confirms what I wondered about in my last post!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Clothing Care Then and Now

My mother was of "advanced maternal age" when she had me, the first of her 5 children--so she's quite a bit older than the moms of other girls my age. She had an attitude toward clothing that...Well, I've wondered if it's her own little quirk or if it's indicative of how society viewed clothing and care of clothing in the 50's and earlier.

We didn't have a huge number of clothes. Maybe 5 or 6 outfits. And we frequently wore the same outfit the next day if it wasn't dirty. Growing up in the country, I often wonder how we managed to keep our clothes clean enough to wear for 2 or sometimes even 3 days, but we did. (My kids can't seem to manage this living on concrete.) If the clothes didn't look or smell bad, we neatly hung them in the closet to wear again the next day.

We had 2 pairs of shoes--play shoes and "school shoes" which is a laughable moniker since we were homeschooled. Our church shoes were white sandals in summer and something like saddle oxfords in winter.

I have noticed in older books (such as Grace Livingston Hill stories) that the wardrobes seem quite limited compared to what we have today. However, there was a greater emphasis on quality. There was also a great deal of emphasis on taking care of clothing properly. I suppose most people didn't have as much money (or credit, ahem) for clothes as people do now? Or maybe I'm supposing wrongly. Maybe it's just the lower-middle-class circles my mom lived in as a youngster that influenced her thinking for life.

What about you? Do you notice differences in how generations view and care for clothing?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sewing Slipcovers

~::~sorry, don't know the image source...but my slipcovers are supposed to look something like this!~::~

I stayed up late last night sewing slipcovers for our dining room chairs. My awesome husband just recovered the cloth seats and I scotchguarded them liberally, but with my rowdy crew I knew they needed an additional cover.

I've read about so many cool projects using painter's drop cloth, so I decided to give it a try. It's durable, already "distressed," and somewhat spill resistant. Besides, I can get a 9X12 for $25. That beats buying fabric by the yard!

Of course, the one night that I forgo doing dishes, laundry, and picking up in favor of sewing, and then get up and put on scruffy painting clothes, is the morning that my sweet, gorgeous friend calls bright and early to say she's dropping by with a gift of fresh fish! Well, the good thing about that is that we got things picked up in record time--and then she didn't even come in! So funny how that seems to work out.

I finished all the edges, hemmed the ruffles, and stitched the gathering threads. Now I can gather and pin the ruffles in the evening when I'm talking to my husband or watching TV. Hopefully I'm on the home stretch! This has been a much bigger project than I anticipated. Pictures to come.

Now I'm off to prime and paint a giant bunk bed! If anyone's reading, I hope you are having a happy, busy day too!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beautiful Bicycles

While I'm posting pictures of bicycles, how about these beauties I stumbled on at
Katie's Rose Cottage?

Oh my...Total perfection...

I had a bike that got ruined...We moved and I didn't realize that it had gotten left in the rain and humidity for several months until it was too late...I was so crushed. I have been pregnant or with a new baby for so much of the past few years that I hadn't been able to ride much anyway, but I was excited about being able to again. These photos have me scheming...I'm pretty sure there is a bike in my future...Somehow!

P.S. These images apparently originally came from the BEG bicycles site.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Becoming an Artist

~::~Ginger Rodgers~::~

I remember the day that my thinking changed about art and what it means to be an artist. Until that day, I thought an artist was a painter or someone who drew, who sold their art for money. I suppose I thought most people who could be considered artists were famous, like Monet or Normal Rockwell.

Then in the early days of blogging I stumbled upon an odd little blog by a Jewish-turned-Presbyterian free spirit sort of woman who wore tiered skirts she’d thrifted one on top of the other, wrote zines, and called herself an artist. She made a lot of different things, including altered books which I didn’t and don’t understand. I don’t think she really sold her art. She didn’t have an Etsy shop or a booth at a craft fair. Yet she called herself an artist. I was fascinated and read her entire blog in a couple days, many months’ worth of writing. I turned this idea over and over in my mind that an ordinary person could be an artist, that perhaps I too could be an artist.

~::~vintage girl on bike~::~

For many years I said that I was not creative. My sisters were creative, I said, but I only copied what I saw other people do. I was really very unoriginal. I loved to create but none of my ideas were my own, so I didn’t feel as if I could claim them. Something happened, though, as I copied others. It took a few years, but after awhile I started getting my own ideas. At first they were pretty lame, but I was trying. Now I am full of ideas! Especially when I have a little extra time and my schedule is less pressured, creativity flows through me in a torrent, so many ideas for things to write and make that I sometimes can’t even sleep.

I fully believe that all people are made in the image of a creative God and that his creativity resides inside us, just waiting to be unleashed. For most of us, though, that creativity is stifled. Maybe we’ve been tightly controlled and haven’t had the opportunity to spread our creative wings, maybe our educational environment stifled creativity, or maybe we have been conditioned to be takers of the creativity of others (such as through recorded music and television), not contributors to the creative world.

~::~Elizabeth Taylor~::~

In any case, I now know that I’m creative. As for calling myself an artist—well—I don’t know. I don’t really think of myself as an artist, but I do think of myself as someone who makes art or wants to make art. This can take many forms, from a craft project to arranging a room to blogging to learning to take pictures. I love the concepts of beauty and design, but I find that I am very halting in my own expressions. I find myself saying things like, “Blogging helps me become a better artist,” so maybe in my heart I already know that I am!

What do these bike images have to do with being an artist? Nothing whatsoever. I found them all at Riding Pretty.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pink and Gray

{photo source unknown}

The next couple weeks leave me with a little "extra" time, not that this busy mama ever has time that is truly extra. But a bit more expendable time than usual. I plan to redo my girls' room--fingers crossed and all goes well. They have waited a long time to have a pretty room. We have yet to find the magical method of keeping their room clean, but I want them to have a space they are proud to keep in order. I found a beautiful vintage platter that is our inspiration piece. I'll post a picture soon. Their colors are pink and gray with a touch of green. I want to paint all the mismatched furniture white. My oldest required some French-inspired touches.

I made a trip to Lowe's today for paint samples, and to Hobby Lobby for some items to get started. I was pleased that nearly everything I bought was either on sale or clearance, or from the thrift store. I still need to purchase the paint and one or two items, but that will have to wait till the weekend.

The photo above is the inspiration photo that we all agree we love. The girls already have pink comforters, so the room will not look the same as the picture--in fact, it really won't look anything like it. But the color combo and the soft, romantic look is what we are after. Pictures to come!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


In church Sunday I was challenged to think about worship.

Where do I spend most of my time?

In my home, taking care of my house and children.

This is my calling. I do this because I love Jesus and this is the job he’s given me. My little ones are my primary “mission field” right now. And I love it.

But it’s easy to begin to worship the calling instead of the Caller, the home instead of the Door, the family instead of the Father.

If all this were stripped away, would I still be happy? If my calling changed, could I give this up? What happens when surroundings change and the nest is empty? Am I empty too?

Has it become The Most Important Thing, the thing I worship? Or have I reserved that place for God?

Things to ponder.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Functional Beauty

As I’ve collected inspiration pictures, I noticed that every living room picture I loved had white furniture. I mean EVERY one.

I know people talk about how easy white is, you just throw it in the wash.

I wasn’t convinced. I could just envision pricey white slipcovers, stained in a week.

I tried an experiment to see if I was mistaken. At the little camp we own (just a teeny cabin—our dry spot) I covered the futons with white sheets.

again, from paige

Nope. We are only there a few weeks out of the year, and after a couple visits they already sport evidence of art projects, contraband snacks, and brightly colored play-dough. I wash them several times a week when we are there. Five rowdy children will do that, I guess!

Still. I adore white and as I slowly decorate our home, I try to incorporate it in other ways.

But in spite of my dreams of white couches, I’m learning to love more family-friendly ways of decorating too. (If your family can sustain white furniture, then bless you. Mine can’t!) When I looked at this picture…

I thought…I really love our living room! Although it’s not very evident, my patterned couch and jewel-toned books are in the background. It’s warm and cozy. And there are touches of the white I love.

In my last post, I talked about what I wanted to get out of blogging. If I collect any readers, here is the encouragement I want to share, the gift I want to give to you…You can have a lovely home in spite of a houseful of little rowdies! We don’t all have to have few/grown/perfectly trained children to surround ourselves with beauty!

My kids are a work in progress, just like my home. It’s far more important that I invest in my relationships with them than worry about a stain on a white slipcover.

My house is a long, long way from being the way I want it. And although it’s the perfect size for our family and very functional, it’s as ugly as all get out on the outside and some of the inside. Lots of blog fodder, I hope?

So I hope you will join me as I create a nest for my family, in a way that’s most helpful and encouraging to them.

May you be encouraged too!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blogging as a Homemaking Tool

I had a home blog for years, first at Blogger, then Wordpress. Then I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it and I closed my blog. Now I feel I “need” it again. Not need as in it’s some necessity of life, but I find an artistic outlet very helpful. A blog helps me to see my home through the eyes of others, thus helping me to make it more appealing to my family. It gives me an extra boost to tackle those household projects I’ve been trying to get to. And it reminds me to value beauty in my home.

Christians talk about calling or vocation, basically the idea that God has destined for them to fulfill a particular role. My calling right now is wife, mother, and homemaker. (I know this isn’t everyone’s calling, so don’t misunderstand. We all don’t fit into the same mold, and that’s a good thing.)

I weighed whether or not I have the time to take, upload, and edit pictures (to my limited ability), to write posts and manage comments. Blogging can take over one’s life, and I certainly don’t want to fritter my days away before a glowing screen, living through an “outlet” or vicariously through the artful lives of others. But ultimately, at this time, I think blogging will be a valuable tool in my quest to be a more creative homemaker.

The world doesn't need another homemaking blog, but I need the discipline of blogging!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hydrangeas in Summer

Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. Until last year, I've never successfully grown them though. Probably because I procrastinated planting them until they were dead. My sweet family put this one in the ground for me, and it thrived. I was so excited when I saw the gorgeous blossoms the other day.

Then I went out to take some pictures and saw that heat and dry weather had almost gotten the best of my beautiful hydrangea! I hope I got it watered in time.

I know you aren't supposed to cut them until the third or fourth year, but I cheated and snipped just a few blossoms. There's not much I enjoy more than fresh flowers in the house.

Especially fresh flowers in milk glass. Beautiful!