Archive for the ‘Celebrations and Holidays’ Category

Recently, while at a friend’s house, I couldn’t help but notice how welcoming her African violets looked in various tea pots with an array of purple flowers painted on them. Flowers and dishes just go together. And purple anything is splendid.


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French African Purple Violets Tea Cup and Saucer

I have decided this pattern is the one I want for my fine china for very special occasions. And thank you to the kind reader who helped me locate the pattern name.

Secondly, these are lovely:


Coffee, tea…even milk and beer taste better out of purple.

Thank you to my kind reader for locating the name of this next pattern. It is: Maxwell Williams Cream Pansy Bone China.

Here is a link (also by way of my Kind Reader), which shows this pattern and many others. (One could spend one’s life at this site, enjoying dishes.)

Then, too, we mustn’t forget the way other dishes-type items look about the home:

I’m not much for large vases, but this one has charm, and I could see it for forced-bloom arrangements.Lilac Painted Vase


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In the mansion I built in my mind when I was a child, these were the dishes I used at my long dining table:

And for a snack or small meal, enough variety for everyone to choose which scene he liked best:

The whole house had a somewhat genteel, fox-hunty feel, designed to be at once comforting and stimulating, with here and there a satirical twist in a painting or child’s toy or the arrangement of some small corner. I am thinking of a painting I clipped from a magazine while in grade school, depicting an elegant dinner, peopled by foxes. On the wall behind a very proper-looking fox couple, absorbed in conversation, hung a mounted hound’s head. I laughed until I choked.

Then, when as a teen I met my husband, and it quickly became apparent that he was a hunting enthusiast, not limited to a particular species, this china pattern seemed like the only obvious choice. Now, of course, I have broadened my horizons a bit, but I still admire these dishes, and find they satisfy my sense of beauty. Acquiring a set is on my Someday-When-I’m-Prosperous list. Not sure where I’m going to put them, since the mansion isn’t built yet. A glass-fronted case for dust-free storage of said dishes is on that same list.

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I often daydream about what it would be like to have a home clean and organized enough to have some appreciative friends over and do things like as presented here…or do them just because I want to, for myself and my family:

Doily Table Runner

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While I’m at it, I’d like to be just as cheerful and fun-loving as Snow White seems to be, making everything lovely for her “family”:

Snow White puzzle

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Will gave me one of the nicest surprises just now. He is a wonderful scavenger, and when on a construction or handyman job, has a good eye for noticing what is stored in other people’s Quonsets and barns. At a recent job, he noticed a small, Swedish-style wood heating stove, new in the box. He bartered for it (he loves bartering). He installed it while I was gone, and when I came home, we had a cozy bedroom for the first time ever.

Wedding and Family Camp 007

(My apologies on the drowsy lighting of the photo.) It is a Vogelzang brand…not particularly high quality, but serviceable. It is a sweet-feeling little stove (you can see by the size of the bricks and fire shovel that it is not very tall), and, like most wood stoves, has a temperament and personality. In spite of the appearance that one can effectively cook and or heat a pot or kettle on top, most of the heat radiates out the sides. (This picture was taken some months after installing the stove, and you can see where the sometimes extreme heat has faded the paint.) This stove takes a bit more babying on the draft creation, during ignition, than some do, and doesn’t burn heavy logs particularly well…but is a steady little workhorse, all the same. It tends to be a heavy feeder, and the fact that it does not shut down air intake as completely as many stoves do, can be a drawback when burning lumber with much sap (southern yellow pine makes an inferno). The slide on the front is the main air-intake, and if one needs to limit it further than the closed slide allows, a coin (quarter) or similar object can be placed over the hole on top of the slide. The cleaning process is easy, though it can be messy removing the firebricks lining the bottom of the burning chamber. (The bricks that are beneath the stove on the floor have since been removed, as they turned out to be unnecessary – not much heat goes out the bottom, even with a moderate load of wood.)

We burn mostly elm and pine scrap lumber here, and this means that the fire may need coaxing and feeding three or more times a night, as elm doesn’t burn well above a smolder on its own, and other available woods tend to disappear rather quickly. But this is doable.

All in all, I am happy with my beautiful little Christmas present, and am comforted by the fact that I can have a quiet – and warm – place in mid-winter to play my violin.

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The breaking waves dashed high

On a stern and rock-bound coast,

And the woods against a stormy sky

Their giant branches tossed;


And the heavy night hung dark

The hills and waters o’er,

When a band of exiles moored their bark

On the wild New England shore.


Not as the conqueror comes,

They, the true-hearted, came;

Not with the roll of the stirring drums,

And the trumpet that sings of fame:


Not as the flying come,

In silence and in fear;

They shook the depths of the desert gloom

With their hymns of lofty cheer.


Amidst th storm they sang,

And the stars heard, and the sea;

And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang

To the anthm of the free.


The ocean eagle soared

From his nest by the white wave’s foam,

And the rocking pines of the forest roared, –

This was their welcome home.


There were men with hoary hair

Amidst that pilgrim-band:

Why had they come to wither there,

Away from their childhood’s land?


There was woman’s fearless eye,

Lit by her deep love’s truth;

There was manhood’s brow serenely high,

And the fiery heart of youth.


What sought they thus afar?

Bright jewels of the mine?

The wealth of seas, the spoils of war? –

They sought a faith’s pure shrine!


Ay, call it holy ground,

The soil where first they trod;

They have left unstained what there they found, –

Freedom to worship God.


– by Felicia D. Hemans, from The Family Book of Best Loved Poems, ed. by David L. George

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Here is an interesting article I ran across while exploring the possibility of making mincemeat for my family (something I’ve often thought about but never actually done). I have read of women of the past making over 60 mincemeat pies over the holidays, which they stored in an unused bedroom or other cool room in the house, to be used over the winter. I have seen recipes for mincemeat cookies, and all sorts of tasty treats beyond pies. So here goes! Wish me luck! (Though I’m not going to make 60 mincemeat pies this holiday season. One or two will be a good start.)

Here’s the article, with recipe variations. Tell me what you think, and you can tell Patty (the author), too. She’d appreciate it.

To me, mincemet belongs in that somewhat mystical place along with headcheese and homemade cider, shelves full of sewn-up, buttered cheeses and barrels of homemade beer. It comes from a place I’d love to visit, and see how everything is done, and taste and touch and smell, then go home and duplicate the most pleasing parts for my family.

If you wish to share your thoughts about mincemeat, or your favorite recipe for mincemeat, my comments section is open.

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I’ve always wanted snowdrops. The Lord knew this, and He gave me some! They are growing just to the south of the house, almost under my kitchen windows.

(I apologizie for the terrible photos, but it felt so good to be out in the sun looking at flowers, after such a long winter.)


I am eager to see what other surprises are in store for me here. Violets, maybe?

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