Monday, May 29, 2017

A Shocking Lack of Denim


Dear Ladies,

This is a very "materialistic" post. There is a shocking lack of denim in these parts. Goodwill had no long denim skirts and the short ones were in very short supply, making it impossible to use the fabric to make an adequate denim skirt to work and play in that would provide the great protection that denim always does so well.

We used to cut denim jeans apart and make skirts but there was a shocking lack of denim jeans in thrift stores, Goodwills and Walmarts. 

Some of you remember how people kept denim clothes until old and torn and faded and then still kept them, because denim is such a comfortable fabric when washed and worn to softness.  Later on the fashion industry imitated the worn, torn look. I suppose it was one way they could get denim-lovers to buy more. Otherwise, they are usually content with worn-out denim.  

Denim began as a fabric suitable for men working in the mines in the 1900's, because it did not easily   puncture or tear. The homesteaders and farm workers liked it too, and it made the fashion scene through catalogs where it was marketed with gingham shirts and bandanas.   We wore it all winter and by summer it was thin enough for warmer temperatures.

Those of you who are familiar with the ending "lack of satin" remark in the 1995 movie "Emma" will understand the title of this post. 
The fabric stores yielded nothing, and catalogs like Blair, Chadwicks, the Paragon and others had nothing left in denim clothing for ladies.

I mentioned fabric for possibly sewing,  but prefer factory made denim clothing because the industrial machines do a good job on the flat-felled seams and other doubly sewn areas. 

Denim is a western staple, so I hope we aren't losing our denim.  It is the most adequate fabric for just about everything:- travel, house work, western-wear and ranch work,  errands, outings and innings! A comfy cotton, which takes years to wear thin, it is makes very protective garments for the home and garden.  

When my friend Roxy of Living From Glory to Glory Blog came to see us, she wore a cute denim jacket and she looked so very chipper and youthful! Denim makes you feel young, for some reason.  I remember the fabric stores used to sell denim in other colors, even pink, but most of us prefer blue denim. 

The thing we are all very weary of is the jeans. We get tired of seeing the torn jeans, the bleached jeans, the ill-fitting jeans, the jewel encrusted jeans.  It is time for a design change in the jeans department.  However we are really missing our denim skirts and jackets. The fabric of these garments is so sturdy it can be worn for decades, and the skirts do not show up as cast-offs and donations in the thrift stores.  

Here is a skirt from an older Spiegal catalog. At the time it was dreadfully expensive but it would still be a classic style today.  Denim skirts and vests were a very feminine look when paired with cotton lace blouses; a pretty contrast of rough and refined. A skirt or vest looks particularly good with a white cotton eyelet blouse.

I have seen floral printed denim and other types of denim. Chambray, a thinner cotton similar to denim, seems to be getting scarce too.

It would be good if this outfit was reproduced and made available. The jacket is so nice.


When I get my sewing room and supplies more orderly you may see some garden aprons and other garden garments here (at least I hope).  

It is Memorial Day and so may people are now using it as a remembrance of all families in the past. Many people have fought battles on the Homefront, both spiritual and in a physical way building homes and livelihoods. We honor the sacrifices of parents and grandparents who have done more than they were ever given credit for.  People usually have a family and friends lunch and activities at home this day.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Today's Scenes and a Little About Conduct of Outsiders in the Home






Good Morning Ladies,

It is looking quite wild around here and yes, I will try and paint that (below) fence this year.







The wind has wreaked havoc with anything not nailed down, so Mr. S. has secured the metal swing to the trees with you-know-what. Eventually I am going to find some camouflage stretch chords for projects like this.
Of course, the tree could always fall down, but for now we think the swing is stable. It just doesn't look very photogenic. 

I found this little rose tea pot at Goodwill and thought it looked good parked next to the Paul deLongpre yardlong print I got from the same place last year :
Also from a little antique store that recently opened in our town, I found these crocheted trivets which were made by a local woman on commission. We actually USED these kind of things for hot pads on the table back-in-the-day, as they were commonly available, but over the last few decades I haven't seen many of them, so I was delighted to find these. I won't be using them as I do not know if the next generation of women will even be making them!


Also I wanted to share something about the atmosphere of the home.

A lot has been said about how home life should be a peaceful place of refuge.  Recently I have had conversations with other ladies who have experienced people coming into their homes--maybe friends, relatives, neighbors, who engage in loud outbursts and rude, accusing conversation. 

We have talked about the way it poisons the atmosphere of the home. After such people leave, there is an unsettled feeling as though something is missing. It is like the peace and joy fled.  We discussed how it takes some time to recover from the experience and feel "at home" in your own house again. There is also the problem of regaining your confidence afterwards.

In the case of younger people, it could be a rude husband or wife who has not learned the harm in disturbing the home. One of them may have grown up in a home where they thought there should be regular outbursts and constant criticism. They may have thought that is healthy. But there is a segment of society that finds it more harmful than good, particularly the ladies who have dedicated themselves for years at home.

While rude remarks and outbursts would get a person dismissed at work, or perhaps be reported as threatening behavior in public, there are those individuals who (lacking wisdom and knowledge) think it is doesn't hurt  to speak rudely in someones's home.  I suppose they know that no one will write them a ticket or a written warning for public disturbance. There will not be any complaint filed or fine levied against them.

Years ago I did a little searching through old books and magazines to find out how the Victorians viewed the verbal desecration of their persons and well-appointed homes, and found out that even the least wealthy familes had ways of preventing it.  Word would get around about some habitually rude visitor or caller (a caller was someone who just dropped by for a few minutes), and before the said person could make the mistake again in someone else's home, they were stricken from the guest list.   

This was in the day before instant messaging.  It is amazing how fast a report could circulate among a network of people, even from town to town, and without telephones. Overnight, a home wrecker was blacklisted and banished.

No one felt sorry for them, either. 

They allowed them to suffer the consequences on their actions because it often taught them a lesson and helped them to see the mistakes that were hurting their social life. Some would learn from it and be admitted back into the fold of good company. Others who would not reform were simply left out, but it was their choice, just as it was the hostess choice not to include them in polite society.

Because most people had a built-in guard for good manners (due to a well-formed teaching in decency), they responded automatically,  changing the subject, motioning the perpetrator into another room for a private conversation away from people with delicate sensibilities, or escorting them out the door and  verbally giving them the rules of conduct.

It is interesting because today we feel obligated to patiently listen and allow them to "vent". The Victorians were all for free expression but drew the line at disturbing someone in their home,the church, or places of business. Anyone who "lost it" would be so embarrassed they would not want to show their faces to anyone for a long time, and wouldn't accept an invitation if they got one.

Today many women have to sit and listen helplessly to someone's outbursts because they are trying to be understanding and patient. If they claim to be Christians, they feel a double burden, because the perpetrators have an unreal expectation that a Christian is obligated to allow people to speak rudely and create a disturbance.

If the anger or accusations are very intense, it could be worse to try and stop them in the middle of their performance. It is like tangling with a bear. I remember how the homesteaders were very careful not to wound a wild animal, because it became even more dangerous. 

So today I am going to share some things you can do to diffuse the situation, should your home ever become disturbed by someone coming to vent all their resentments.

-Silence.  When someone is angry they are in "the far country" as my husband calls it.  They have gone into a mental state where they cannot be reasoned with. Every response you give them only fuels their anger. Your words also give them more material and evidence against you.  That is something people try to tell you when dealing with the law: even the most innocent remark can be twisted by someone to be used against you. 

-In such a mental cloud, these people do not even recognize or accept any apologies or attempts to make things right with them. In fact, some people do not want to make things right because they enjoy making you feel unsettled. 

- As Christian ladies, we are not able to function well if we know someone is upset with us, and so we attempt to get it straightened out.  However, there are some people who really do not want people to make things right. They enjoy keeping others in a state of emotional uncertainty.

-Be careful about peace offerings. Some ladies have suggested when tension increases to offer Tea.  That is not a good idea when dealing with a wild animal in the far country.  They could ruin a perfectly good tea set. If you still insist on tea to diffuse a bad situation, at least use your tin campfire set of cups.

-Cellphones are abundant these days. I have known a few people who asked permission to make a video of the outburst "because I want to remember what you said and be accurate" only to find the other person gets quiet very quickly. They probably do not want to see themselves on a family movie night in such a condition.

-Avoid trying to appease them with gifts and hand-outs, freebies, or compensations.  Make rudeness a loss and not an advantage. Small children engage in trantrums  hoping to get something they want. Make sure any adult tantrums result in not only no advantages or gifts, but send them home with less privilege. We used to call that "taking them down a notch or two" because they would have to work hard to regain your good opinion or be let into your fellowship and "good graces."

-Since most rages begin with a rude remark or criticism, you might be able to diffuse it early by thinking, "this person does not have the knowledge, experience and training that I have been blessed with. They are not able to reason in a polite way." When you realize their disadvantage, you will not be able to argue with them. You feel they are like a little child still growing up, having temporary glitches in their maturity.

-These people should be doing something helpful and useful and lasting (such as fixing something or cleaning something) instead of wasting time disturbing someone's equilibrium. Sometimes they get you in a conference where they attempt to go over a long list of points against you. This is a waste of good time. They need to do something useful they will be remembered for, such as repairing a squeaky door or cleaning a room.

I feel I need to mention that all the ladies who have ever brought this subject up usually say their own parents and grandparents and they themselves, never attempted to disturb the home with rudeness.  It was considered a sin against God, and a blight on your soul that you would have to repent of with much agony and tears and great effort to make things right with your brother. It was never a good feeling knowing you had offended God and no one was quick to repeat the offense.

 "Well,"  they say, today,  "What is wrong with that?  There is nothing wrong with venting as long as I apologize and ask for forgiveness!"

Let me remind you of the Lord's warning not to to be so casual with sin just because of His grace is covering it all the time. We are told not to use grace as an excuse.  "My father will pay for it!"  says the careless person.  This is what many preacher's term "crucifying Christ a-fresh," meaning disregarding the supreme sacrifice of Christ and showing disrespect for Him by willfully offending.  (A great study if you ever want to explore this!)

There are many parables, stories, and legends told over the centuries to emphasize the folly of rashness and rudeness.  In short, while you may indeed be able to recover from the pain you inflict on someone, that "someone" will always be cautious around you and never fully trust you again. 

They need to understand the maxim of leaving a bad taste in someone's mouth. It means they will be remembered as sourness and bitterness.

When we were growing up we were shown the illustration of shaking the feathers out an old pillow and challenging the children to gather them all up and put them back in the bag. Of course it was impossible, and that is like rudeness. It is impossible put words back in your mouth once they are let out. 

The home is such a blessed place, and so different than the market and the institutions around us. We cannot have the same atmosphere in the home as those places. They may be free to vent and undercut and demoralize others in the public sphere, but the home has a completely different set of values. At home, we build one another up. We rejoice with those who have success, and we empathize with those who are discouraged.  We help one another with goals and dreams. We protect one another from their own folly. We do not run each other down. We do not shout at elderly people. We do not criticise our parents.  The people in our home are too special and too important to expose them to diatribes and rages.

In such cases as these, there needs to be one person who is not angry. Let that person be you. Watch the other adult as though you were seeing a bad movie and do not let anything they say while they are in "the far country" stick in your mind.

Though this post is far too long, I cannot resist relating a particular incident in my own home when my children were quite young.  We had met another young family and invited them to eat with us in our home. During meatime conversation the subject of history came up, as to how it effects us or if it even is important in our lives today.  The husband and father who was our guest began to shout. He loudly emphasized that history was of no importance, that it did not matter and had no use for anyone today. 

As he was so loud and was not allowing any air space between his comments to enable anyone else to insert their thoughts on the matter, we were unable to participate or make any remarks one way or the other. We had not resisted or disagreed, or shown any argument, and yet he was shouting as though attacking us. I have since noticed other people doing this in conversation, as if to imply we were against them. Then they start arguing against their false perception of us.

 While we might have been agreeable on the subject, we felt a resistance to him because of his rage. He may have been correct on some points, but we did not want to reward him for his rudeness in any way so we were silent. It was very embarrassing for all of us, but I noticed his wife was just shrugging it all off as though it were a normal thing, and she was not sitting in stunned silence or unable to eat, as my family was.  When the meal was over we avoided the usual retiring to the living room because we didn't want them to get too comfortable and perhaps stay the rest of the evening. 

We never again invited them, and when we saw them in public made sure not to linger too long with them.  I am not certain they ever knew how shocked we were or why we were not cultivating a friendship with them. I felt they had done quite enough damage exposing my young family to such rude behavior and was not able at the time to be an influence on them. My duty was to look after my own family and not raise other adults or teach them manners.  I did, however, discuss the man's' behavior with my children to let them know we didn't practice such things in our home.



-





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pressing Forward



(image from Allposters.com)


Hello Ladies,

I have a few plans for blog posts and wanted to tell you I have not forgotten.  I still think a blog has unique feature over and above social media.  Blogs are like classy magazines you want to use again. 

Today it is on my mind to talk about some things older women have been telling me about the roadblocks they encounter in showing a light to the younger women.

Titus 2 teaches the older women to help the younger women know about the home.  That is a daunting prospect, and as we grow older we feel intimidated by our own inadequacy and our blunders and embarrassing moments in our youth. But as I have been discussing with friends, it does not disqualify the Christian woman if she has overcome adversity, overcome sin, and overcome foolish decisions.
woman can rise above past blunders and build a good reputation.  I have talked to many older women who feel they have no spiritual or emotional help to give to anyone, because they were not successful in areas of their lives, but what is important is that we use God's word as the standard for our values today. What is important is how you are living right now, not what you did in the past.

While we all blush in shame and mentally beat ourselves over words that should never escaped our lips, unwise friendships, and serious sins, beyond sincere repentance, heartfelt sorrow, and conversion to Christ (which is a daily thing for the Christian woman) we can only forge ahead, looking for opportunities to do well. Perhaps it can be our own housekeeping or personally forgiving those who have offended us or caused us trouble.

This is what the apostle Paul said about the subject of forgetting the past:

"Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.

"Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I doforgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 

" I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 3:12-14

When a runner enters a race, he may get a slow start or make some bad moves but he hasn't got time to kick himself for it. The race only lasts a short time and he has to concentrate on the finish line.  He does not look behind him.

The audience is also looking at the goal, but not at each other. They are intent on the progress the runners are making. They don't look around at each other but straight ahead.

We can't get distracted by our own sorrows or by failures of our dreams.  Sometimes homemakers feel stuck in place, unable to make progress. In that case, make dreams smaller and goals more achievable so you can see progress each day. In a previous post I wrote about the concept of making your hopes and achievements portable. 

A friend gave me this helpful hint. She said when she feels discouraged she takes one hand and moves one small thing,  and little by little she gets the energy and the motivation to do a lot  more. It helps to make tiny, achievable tasks so that you can progress an inch at a time. A room in shambles can be put aright a square foot at a time.  

While the title of this post is Pressing Forward, do not keep the future in mind so much that you cannot enjoy the little moments of the present.  It seems we homemakers are either looking at the past or the future. Let us create a few moments each day to think of the present and of our gratitude for being here right now.

I do hope to have another episode of Housewife Radio and some videos, perhaps with Mr. S., if I can get him to slow down. I do not know what it is with these older men. They just find more to do!

Field of Flowers by Daniel Ridgeway Knight (from Allposters)

* This blog is registered with Allposters as an affiliate.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Important to Relax


Today I am continuing be theme of making a house feel homey. All pictures on this post are my own and Pinterest-able.
The Lily, which I received many years ago on Mother's Day, has bloomed this year. We have discovered the solution to plants that won't bloom is to leave them in Mr.S.'s office where they are neglected!

Our gnarled old swing makes a pretty picture today...

...as a prop for pink Columbine...

...and an unused gate painted light green looks good propped against a shed.

These colors, light blue and coral, are an an unusual combination but look good together drying on the line.


I recently bought a new towel and picked this one because of the colors. Interesting how towels are being manufactured these days with designs on them.  Before this, housewives were adding fabric borders and trims to towels.  

Here is my utility wagon. Various people have attempted to abandon this wagon and have it hauled away. Each time, Mr. S. Has repaired it back to working use. It has even painted at various times in other colors.
Though quite green out here, it is overcast.


Sewing news: I am interested in the patterns we used in the 1960's and 70's. Here is a picture of one I found on the web but it was sold. During the mini-skirt era there were patterns for longer dresses. I am trying to sew front buttons and zippers these days, and will try to post instructions on how to convert the pattern to button or zip in the front of the garment. I have read that you add inches to the front and eliminate the seam allowance in the back. It seems easier to use a pattern already made the way you want it.




My thoughts today on the home are concerning the pressure and tension that wells up in the homemaker sometimes within minutes after waking up. On reason for that is, her work is right there at home. Her work is all around her. The bed she sleeps in must be made, the sheets laundered. The place she sits to gather her thoughts and sip tea is a place of work. She can't ever really feel completely relaxed because there is always some work to do. The homemaker's husband generally goes somewhere else for his work and comes home to rest or at least to his own work and his own interests.

                 "A man's work is from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."

I have several suggestions for how this can be alleviated.

First, for the ladies who are home alone, do not get into your work right away.  If you can, do your errands in town bright and early, and then enter your home with a renewed mind.

My mother was rather isolated in the homestead days but she went outside in the morning and walked around, sometimes taking her cup of coffee with her.  

When you sleep and wake in the workplace, you can lose your sense of balance. Going outside for a little while and then coming back home puts time lines in the day that distinguish work from leisure.

Some thoughtful men provide  their wives gazebos, parlours or rooms of their own where the women can withdraw from the sight of housekeeping for a little while each day.  19th century publications urged husbands to make sure their wives had time out away from home, and encouraged men to take them on regular outings.

We all wake up to work.

This can become discouraging but it can be alleviated by interspersing regular times of relaxation. 

While we love being home, we have to be careful not to allow the work to become all consuming. There are stages in life where things will be jumbled (moving, house repairs, illness, loss) and it will make you feel inadequate and stressed.   Homes are to be "kept" but they are places where real life is lived;  where we get out our supplies and pursue our interests. 

Discouragement can easily occur if you wake up thinking of all your work. 

Allow no one to intimidate or pressure you regarding your work. Homemaking has to come from the heart. It is a combination of inspiration, creativity and love. When someone pushes you, it robs you of personal desire and motivation. Remind others to give you the freedom to approach housekeeping the way that helps you the most. 

Call a friend and encourage each other to get ready for the day. ( A very patient and tolerating friend).

Plan rewards for yourself.

Put away money each day if you can.

Homemaking is self-employment and that requires totally different dynamics than the way the corporate workplace operates.  

What would motivate me?

I would like a newspaper with pleasant news, to have time to write a letter, to try a new recipe and a new sewing project, new dish towel and dish cloth ( hand made would be nice)  a daily reward of some kind (like a homemakers perk), a call from a friend, a visitor, someone to visit and drop off a basket of goodies, a kind word from someone, prayers. 

One friend told me she would like to get up in the morning and open the door to a surprise. No, not a car or anything like that, but a simple basket of plants or fruit, a container with something personal or some free groceries. 

Because this won't normally just happen, the housewife has to be self motivated and give herself her own rewards. Sometimes the reward is simply the satisfaction and pleasure of being in an orderly home.  

It is very good to be thoughtful of other homemakers, give them a call and some encouragement.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Making it Home



Pictures today are from Pinterest

This post is addresses a request by some readers regarding making a shabby house fresh and cozy.

The painting above, by Susan Rios, is her free printable Mother's Day card. She has many paintings of rooms you may like, pictures which make me remember of the way homes used to look without high-end interior design and commercial furniture.
It helps to think back to the  way our grandmothers and great grandmothers furnished their homes. 

In most homes there was a braided or rag rug, a rocking chair, a painting on the wall (usually scenery by a family member), embroidered or crocheted cloths to cover backs and arms of chairs, a table and chair set (colonial style was most prevalent),  curtains, a few lamps, a small book shelf, and a few other things. 

The floor, or scatter rugs were not sold in stores but created from old sheets torn into strips, or from fabric or old clothing.

Each rug was unique to that little house, and there was none like it anywhere else. A lot more could be found about these carpets by asking people who remember using them. More than a utility and beyond a decoration, they absorbed water dropped on the kitchen floor and bathrooms, covered cold, floors, and softened the sharp sounds of footsteps. 

 The threadbare textiles of the family were tightly woven or braided together for their most hardy use yet, before the final discard. That is the way I saw it. 

If you are a stitcher, you may have yards of fabric you need to put to use, which can be cut into long strips to crochet or braid into foot rugs, providing a colorful and homey look in a home. 

  It was not that long ago that rolls of fabric could be purchased and huge crochet hooks to make these rugs. These materials might still be available to crafters.

If you have a rocking chair, it works best in a corner, as the curved legs can be a problem with people tripping over them when walking behind the chair.


 Most homes had rocking chairs.  A rocking chair soothed people from getting too stressed, and when someone was irritable it was said they were "off their rocker." Maybe his mother didn't rock the child long enough, or perhaps an adult skipped his after dinner time in the rocking chair. It was thought that rocking may aid in digestion, as well. Many people believe a rocking chair is very important to relieve tension, balance the mind, and soothe the body. 

This recliner-rocker is the best, because the legs are covered, protecting people from tripping on them.

Most homes had a little wooden caddy beside the rocking chair where they kept books they were reading, or maybe their knitting. I personally didn't like them as magazine holders. In my observation they didn't really work that well. The magazines flopped over and didn't keep their shape. 


Paper flowers were the artificial flowers most used, and we learned to make them from tissue wrapping paper, stretchy crepe paper and construction paper.  They were eventually thrown out and new ones made. In summer, any free foliage from pussy willows to wild geraniums were put in the dining table in any vessel that could be found. 

As life changes from era to era, different needs arise in homes and other things are no longer of use. Today it is important to many of us not to have too much to look after in the house. If you find yourself always moving "things"  or always putting things away, you may want to streamline your household possessions to include only what you want to handle every day.

For those who are not concerned about "decor" here are a few things that help make an ordinary house look better:

-hide electric cords behind tables and shelves. Lamps look good when the cords are not showing.
-keep tables as bare and empty as possible so they can be used when needed.
-remove sticky notes from surfaces and gather papers into a container. 
-in general the arrangement of the house should be what you are happy and comfortable with.
-do not over-accessorize. These things become more to look after, and though they may look nice in a photograph, can be come tiresome to live with. 

When you are just beginning to establish a home, by all means furnish it with the newest and best you can possibly afford. New things are very uplifting and I am not suggesting you "put up with" broken down things in your home. If you need a new couch or table and chair set, by all means, spoil yourself and get it. The purpose of these last few posts was to offer ideas for ladies who needed ideas on how to get through the rough phase before being able to re-furnish their houses.







Friday, May 12, 2017

From Shabby to Chic - Making it Homey


Above: a florist bouquet from Pinterest. I always go first to the floral department when visiting the grocery store, because the colors and nature gives me such a good feeling.  However my little granddaughter brought me a bouquet from the lawn just before Papa cut the grass. She also brought flowering plants considered weeds, and I must tell you how nice they looked in her little clenched fingers. Vases do not do such offerings justice!
 I have a fond recollection of my own little boy with a bunch of wildflowers from a Texas field, and thought how pretty they looked in his hand as he walked toward me, swinging the trailing stems and roots of Texas Evening Primrose:

These little picks are one of the things that make the house homey. Besides that, they look nice in a tin or jar or small container of any kind. You don't need fillers or a special way of arranging them because they are just fine looking wild and askew without proper balance and color combos.

This week the white lilac bloomed and I was looking for fabric with a white lilac print. This one is from Liberty of London, but we don't have those fabrics here, and I won't be ordering it on the web. It would be nice if the background were blue or green, as that seems more in keeping with its natural setting.

Sometimes I wash a blanket that looks pretty outside on the line and let it stay there when I am expecting visitors. It is a nice thing to see from the dining window. My truck is still there and this year I am putting a homemade canopy on the back to create an interesting picnic spot. The view from the truck bed is very nice too, should anyone with an artist palette wish to record it whilst sitting under the canopy

The shabby furnishings do not matter as much as the acceptance the family members feel in the home. I have seen many shabby homes where the parents seem under less stress and are kinder to their children and to each other.  In one house the quilts on the beds were so worn, the cotton batting was showing, but the blanket was clean and smelling of fresh air and sun from being dried on the line. Made by a loved one, there is no way anyone would discard it. It was spread without wrinkles, proudly displayed with favorite cushions and dolls.

Those of you who have been here know my home is quite shabby but I have overcome some of it with paint and various embellishments to cover flaws. However, even without that, the way something is displayed or arranged can take the attention off the imperfect walls, windows and floors.

Below, you see removable wall stickers used to cover the area around the kitchen door handles. This area gets soiled the most, and the stickers can be removed.


After covering Grandmother's chair with a quilted blanket, I did not  want to remove it for a "shabby" before picture so you will have to believe the chair upholstery is worn, and it has to have an extra cushion on the seat.  

I found that a heavy cotton quilt with a little stiffness in it is a lot easier to keep its shape on a chair without having to straighten it out every time you get up or sit down. A commercial quilt stays tucked in better. I got this at Walmart years ago when it still had the lay-away program.

You remember when Mary Crowley, the sister of Mary Kay, created the Home Interiors and gift party selling company. The products were quite expensive back then, but recently are surfacing in the thrift stores and Goodwill stores. While these wrought iron candelabras used to be over $20.00 in the Home Interiors catalog,  they are now sometimes about $2.00. I have painted this one with a spray paint that is combined with a primer, and collected the stemmed glass votive holders from various yard sales or thrift stores.

Painting old baskets give them a fresh new look,  and if they have memories connected to activites you have had with your loved ones, it is just fine to keep them the way they are.

A lady I know showed me how she has a tea time travel kit she keeps in her car. She uses fabric and bubble wrap under it to cushion her tea cups, allowing the cushy materials to fold around the cups and make indentations to protect them.  She adds a layer of bubble wrap on top of the dishes and then pulls some of the fabric over the top.
That's a little tea bag holder, called a tea wallet, someone made for me.
While the picnic basket above looks charming, you can't carry it by the handle because the tea cups and pot should not change positions and should be laying flat, so I actually found a regular basket with an upright handle works better. Just put it in the back seat with the seat belt around it.
Now here are some more things you can do to shabby furniture. I won't be able to show you what the old couch looks like because it is too much trouble to tuck in the quilt and get it all smooth again, but the couch is an old wicker piece with a foam seat. Underneath the blanket on the back of the couch  are two cheap bed pillows to give the back some softness. You can get these new at reject stores and they are quite good. However, what I would suggest you do, is use the old worn out pillows for the couches (put them under the blanket coverings to boost the seating area and backs of chairs and couches)  and buy new pillows for your bedroom.

That is Grandma's crochet covering she used on the head area of her chair, to protect it from stains. It has two matching arm chair pieces for the arms of the chair.  I put a thin piece of clear shiny plastic covering purchased at the  fabric store. That way I can just wipe the dust with a damp cloth.

The piece of furniture below really needs to be painted but it is such an involved project I will not be doing it yet. In the meantime, I place a tin flower vase with colorful umbrellas next to it to brighten the corner.


Below: another shabby chair covered with a commercial quilt. The other side of the quilt is a lot more worn out and This side is arranged in a way that none of the shabby areas show because I draped them around the back of the chair.

Someone made this cotton dish towel for me and insisted it was for me to use every day in the kitchen. There is no way I am going to use this yet. The last time I got a set of hand embroidered  towels was way back in my youth. These are newly made but they are still a rare treasure and they look great on the back of this wicker chair.
Above and below: cushions made from decorator fabric at Walmart.  In showing this, I am by no means assuming to be any kind of decorating expert. I have instead, discovered some things about being comfortable at home while living with worn furniture. 
 One other way to make it homey is to use things your children made or used.

It is important not to be distracted by things that are being commercially promoted. There was a time when people viewed everything that was promoted, with attitude of skepticism. Myself and others lived before furniture stores for common folk. We had things handed down or hand made. It was rough but we covered the seating areas with quilts and blankets over pillows, and the tables and end tables with squares of cloth, and we hung pictures made with pages of scenery from magazines. I think one of the problems of being content with the shabby things is seeing the trendy things being promoted. 

That being said, if you can afford it, new things are not fixer uppers and will be easier to look after. My problem was being able to afford one piece, and it was worn out by the time I could afford a matching piece. Eventually I settled for the shabby chic style, which is what we did back in the 1950's when we gave furniture a fresh coat of paint or crocheted a new blanket for the old couch. Our first couch was the back seat taken out of an old car but we were awfully glad to have it since it was a lot more comfortable than sitting on a wood box!

Another settee padded with pillows and draped with a woven blanket. Many a child has stretched out in this wicker settee to read a book. I use it outside in good weather. Queen size blankets cover everything on normal size couches. You might need a king size or oversize blanket for an extra long couch. 


Gather things that clutter and place them in containers for color and freshness. 
Now the question comes to getting the feeling you want in your house. Just observe mentally what you tend to notice the most and what gives you a feeling of well being. Sometimes you may just need to clean house and then you don't mind the shabby furniture, especially if you add simple bright spots here and there.

I read in Helen Andelin's book in her homemaking chapter, to make your dreams portable. She explained that if you got stuck with an unmoveable idea of the perfect house, you would never be able  to find contentment. One way to make your ideas and preferences portable is to have furnishings you can use in any room. You can move a dresser to the living room, a chair to a bedroom, and you can even trade rooms, by switching the living room to the dining room.  

 Rearranging things and cleaning things can remove the feeling that you are "stuck" in a house that is not your dream house. As you know I wanted a Victorian House. I found ways to add hand made things, the way our grandmothers did. The only frustrating thing to me was the modern Windows that have no sentimental charm. I solved that with curtains that kind of make a shape over the big windows and frame the view in a soft way.

There is someone who lives not far from me whose house seems to be in shambles all the time but her children love the place for the belonging and comfort they felt while growing up there. They care not how shabby everything is, and the family never stresses over it nor attempts to re-do or paint. Family members like to be there at meal times because it is their family. If you will reassure your people regularly of how special they are to you and what a miracle it is to have a family, they will feel the same and will think there is something homey about the house.

The best things are the words that are spoken to encourage each other and build one another up.



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