Saturday, 2 June 2012

Flowers Of Thought

I have had a lovely peaceful time today.  Little Bear has been out at her job in the town, and Papa Bear and Cubby have been out fishing!  So I had a whole day by myself to do as I pleased ... well, after I had finished my chores, anyways!  I didn't have too much to do today, it being Saturday, so after I was done, I decided to get on with a couple of things that I have had planned for a while now.  The first of these I hope to share with you in more detail when it is printed out.  I have got it nearly ready, but Papa Bear is going to have a look at it and see if he can get the pictures all lined up for me.  For a while now I have been thinking how nice it would be to have in print some of the lovely free e-books and pamphlets that you can get on the internet nowadays.  But I wanted to go one step further, and not just print it out, but illustrate it too, using some of the beautiful images that I have seen but can't share here on the blog because they are not for public use.  So I picked out some of my favourites, and this afternoon I sat down and spent 2 hours illustrating this pamplet.  If you follow the link there you will find a wealth of Christian reading!  When it was done and all ready for Papa Bear to finish off for me, I was so pleased with how it looked.  I shall enjoy reading this when I am having my quiet times in the evenings. 

I also set to work and made a whole big platterful of these - cookie dough truffles.  I wasn't planning to - but I have had a big pot of my home made granola cooking in one of my slow cookers today, and I knew that the delicious sweet smell of baking which would greet my familys' noses when they came home tired and hungry from their busy days, would be very dissapointing for them unless there was something yummy for them too!  Cookie dough truffles are a real treat - they are very, very moreish, and full of things we shouldn't be eating too often - so I don't make them very frequently for that reason!  They are probably my most asked-for treat however, and I did not want to make actual cookies, as it has been warm here recently (though not for much longer, the Jubilee celebrations are set to be rained upon for the next couple of days - but then, what could be more English, than celebrating in the rain!) so they would not be so welcome as a chilled treat, which these are.  I must confess, if you follow the link to the recipe, that my cookie dough truffles look nothing like the ones in the picture!  For one thing they are rough, not smooth (I use real dark chocolate to coat them, not cake covering as the recipe suggests, as we think it tastes much nicer) and for another, they are much larger!  I shan't admit just how few I make, out of the recipe - certainly nothing like the 5 1/2 dozen suggested!  My family adores them so I knew they would be delighted to be greeted with them - and they were!  Not quite all of them have been eaten just yet - but quite a few!

One of the other things I did, which I really enjoyed, was looking through those 2 magazines that you can see pictured above.  I've been thinking recently about our Queen and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations that are taking place here in England this long weekend, and I was minded of these 2 "My Home" magazines that Grandmama Bear gave me, quite some time ago now, and which I have kept, as they are a wonderful archive of life in times gone by.  One of them is dated 1947, and the other is from 1942.  Scanning through them is such a revelation - how our world has changed since then!  I love the advertisements in the back of them, many for items that we can still buy in England today - Dettol disinfectant, Oxo stock cubes, TCP antiseptic ointment, Bovril beef extract (used as a drink - it is quite nice, but very salty.  I keep a jar to use as a seasoning in dishes such as shepherd's pie or beef casserole), Chivers jellies, and Wright's Coal Tar bar soap (which you can still buy in our supermarket, and which smells very strongly of disinfectant)!  There are some adverts too for things that thankfully, you can't buy any more too!  "Dr. Niblett's Vital Renewer" is marketed as a "nerve sedative" - it doesn't say what is in it, but I can't imagine it would do anyone any good, and "Eno's Fruit Salt" sounds disgusting, but it's supposed to be taken every moring for "everyday fitness and health"!   They represent an era which is sadly now gone - when women stayed at home to raise their children and care for their homes, and men worked hard to support the family - and bravely defended their country when it was at war.  People fulfilled their God-given roles, and were happy to do so - almost half of all people in England in the 1940's were regular churchgoers, compared with only 10 percent now (source).

Here are some pictures of the insides of the magazines ... apologies as usual for the poor quality of the images - but I did manage to get the words the right way around this time!

Adverts for all kinds of things including "Dairy Junket" which was a kind of milk jelly.  "Parozone" is a brand of bleach still available in supermarkets today.

I like the book which has been written by "Lady Troubridge" (a regular writer for the magazine) on "Etiquette And Entertaining" - a forgotten art these days, when sitting around the TV eating a takeaway pizza is considered to be good hospitality! 

Here are some pages featuring designs for your home, including what would have been considered state-of-the art gadjets such as a fridge - and an electric kettle that could be heated without being placed on the stovetop or over the fire, a real luxury -  as the magazine points out ...

"Everywhere these days the housewife strives to simplify matters to save time, fuel and labour.  A fireside electric point is a special blessing.  Then with a kettle of streamline design like the "Creda" which boils very quickly, tea is no bother at all.  Everything is attractively set out on trolley or tray, the filled kettle just needs the turning on of the switch when you are ready.  In a few minutes the water boils, the tea is made, neither electricity or time is wasted.  Another point about this kettle is its safety device which cuts off the current if you are called away and the kettle should boil dry".

Imagine being able to appreciate something in this way, that we nowadays take so much for granted that we do not give it a second thought!  Just before I started writing this post, I had in fact made myself a cup of tea - by boiling our electric kettle, and it didn't occur to me at all to be grateful that I have the facilities and provision to be able to do this, whenever I feel like it, without any trouble at all.  How lucky we are!

The magazines also feature lots of cookery and crafting projects - but these are presented from a practical viewpoint, rather than as pleasurable passtimes as we enjoy them today.  Suggestions are made for frugal ways to make your clothes go further - making a little girl's dress out of one she has outgrown, and using mackintosh fabric to create skirts or jackets.  In the 1940's it was assumed that all women could use a sewing machine, knit and cook from scratch.  No one needed to be taught these skills - they were handed down from mother to daughter.  Without them, life would have been very difficult indeed, especially during wartime, when food and clothes were rationed. 

Here's an example of a knitting pattern for a woman's short-sleeve cardigan.  Knitting wool was also rationed, so short sleeves would have been popular because they used less wool!  Doesn't the lady in the picture look elegant?  I might have a go at knitting this cardigan - or the wee bolero which is featured in the other magazine.

The sweet dishes in the picture on the left look fancy, but they are made out of simple, easily obtained ingredients like semolina, golden syrup and custard powder, and the servings would have been smaller than we are use to today. The right-hand picture shows a study or sitting room - with the caption "The Home You Hope To Have Sometime".

What I especially like about these magazines is their focus on the role of their female readers as homemakers - wives and mothers with a calling to care for their families and make the most of a very difficult situation.  Even though they were living in extremely challenging circumstances, women in the 1940's still managed to look elegant and feminine, to create clean, orderly and beautiful homes with very limited resources, and to provide wholesome nourishing meals and a caring environment - from very little at all.  In the priveliged world of today, it seems so tragic that we are not still able to achive this now.  The priorities and goals of society today seem to be so distorted now - so far removed from God's plan for us, and from the teachings of Scripture.   There is only one way in which we can change - by seeking the guidance of our Father God, and understanding His teaching - by embracing this, and seeking to become His servants, heartfully pursuing a life which honours Him and which fulfills our true goals.  In the "My Home" magazines there is a regular article entitled "My Scrapbook", which is described as "A word That Gave You Courage, A few Lines Of Verse That Express Beautifully A Remembered Joy Or Sorrow - Flowers Of Thought We Gather For This Page".  Here are two examples that I especially liked -

"Thou has given so much to us, give one thing more, a grateful heart, for Christ's Sake"  - George Herbert.

"It fortifies my soul to know
That, though I perish, truth is so;
That howso'er I stray and range
Whate'er I do Thou dost not change.
I steadier step when I recall
That, if I slip, Thou dost not fall" - Arthur Hugh Clough

Today my "flower of thought" shall be that, just as this sweet wee verse says, even if the world around me is changing - so rapidly it seems, that none of us truly seem able to keep up - one thing will always remain constant in our lives - our Saviour, His love for us, and the beautiful gift of Salvation that awaits us.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. (Hebrews 13: 8).