I chose the quote (above) from today's study section because it transported my memories back to the many, many years of mothering toddlers (I had seven of them) and how a trip to the toilet was often the only place I could go to catch my breath and have some space. Of course, little fingers would appear under the door along with illegible crayon sprawled scraps of paper whilst I sat alone. Oh, and the chorus of "Mummy, what are you doing?" "Mummy, open the door." "Mummy, can I come in too?" "Mummy, she took my doll/biscuit/shoe/ribbon...!"
Did you have moments like that?
LUXURY, the title of the chapter we've been reading through these past two weeks, will have many different aspects depending on your stage of life, responsibilities, free time, finances or creativity. When I first discovered time-out for myself in the toilet the idea seemed quite ingenious and I wondered if any other mother was doing the same thing. During the many conversations with mummies during our homeschool years I discovered this was indeed practiced far and wide.
Anyhow, let's move on with the final part of this chapter...
"Why are ribbons so lovely? Why is the word so attractive...light, fluttery and carefree." (page 188)
"I am particularly keen on wide sashes on old-fashioned dresses, satin ribbons on huge boxes of chocolates and richly coloured, deeply tactile, velvet ribbons. In fact I love the idea of ribbons almost as much as I love ribbons themselves." (page 188)
Jane indulges in the purchase of ribbons, small lengths which don't break the bank, from makers who have an artistic and whimsical style.
"...and every time I touch one, I feel I am holding a valuable and delightful little treat." (page 188)
CHOCOLATE BOX QUILT
Inspired by the love of be-ribboned chocolate boxes Jane decided to design her first quilt to look like the inside of many luxurious boxes of cream filled chocolates.
"This is the very first quilt I designed so it had to be simple...I had great fun filling the boxes with cherry, rose, raspberry and other pink creams...(and) decided it was worth the effort to 'fussy cut' the fruits, icing and flowers..." (page 190)
On chocolate - "Once upon a time you could indulge your cravings and not worry about the feminine guilt issues. Now though...the eating of chocolate simply for pleasure and a taste of luxury is overlaid with anxieties about lack of willpower, whether dark is healthier than milk...I hate to be stereotyped (so) if you like chocolate, eat some." (page 190)
"I love the old theatrical tradition of taking a fancy box of chocolates wrapped with a pink satin ribbon to the ballet...I have happy visions of the box in a box and plenty of contented sighs at the tutus and chocolates. And nary a guilty conscience in sight." (page 190)
TEA AND LUXURY
Whether tea at the Ritz, Claridges or the Savoy, just uttering those phrases will often conjure up visions of whispy floral dresses, flattering feminine hats, beautiful china tea pots and cups, tiered cake stands abundant with the prettiest and most delicious cakes, petit fours and crustless finger sandwiches.
"Afternoon tea is a lovely institution...I think we should all be calorie millionaires every so often and enjoy the deep refinement and traditions of afternoon tea." (page 192)
Growing up, morning tea and afternoon tea were absolutely normal. Unlike most children today we didn't snack all day long, but adhered to the breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner routine quite as a matter of course...I followed the daily rituals my Nana had followed, and which her own mother and grandmother before her had practiced.
When we were homeschooling those morning and afternoon tea times were opportunity for the children to relax between the academia of maths, grammar, science and other deep-thinking subjects. These were times I read to them from the most wonderful living history books, shared poetry, art, music and delved into God's amazing and life giving Word.
Some favourite treats for these morning and afternoon teas were fruit cake, scones, honey cakes, crackers and dip, fruit platters, cheese...and large pots of tea. As you saw in this post last week, Blossom and I still hold to our tea time tradition and now we share this wonderful habit with her two little girls.
Jane also creates afternoon tea times for her own family and though much easier when the children were young and all came home from school at the same time, she learned to take advantage of any opportunity when they are all home together to relax and indulge in this simple and quite relational luxury.
Just as I do for many tea-times with my husband and family, Jane has a love for scones.
Her recipe is very similar to mine, though I use buttermilk for extra fluffiness and I never add sugar to the dough because to me that's just not right...the jam is your sweetness. However, everyone has their own recipe and that's the beauty of scones - from a basic recipe you can tweak to your delight!
Here's my buttermilk scone recipe...
Preheat oven to 220C
2 ½ cups self raising flour
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk
Sift the self-raising flour into a large bowl.
Rub the butter through the flour with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix the egg and buttermilk together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter, and pour in the buttermilk/eggmix.
Use a flat blade knife to quickly mix the ingredients together – don’t over-mix.
Scatter some flour on the bench before dropping the scone mix out onto it. Knead swiftly into a ball and flatten out to a 1” height.
I make a rectangle and divide the scone dough into ten sections but you can use a scone cutter or small glass to cut circles out of the dough if you prefer the classic look.
Place the scones onto a greased tray, each scone just touching the other if you’re making round ones.
Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes until golden.
Serve with fresh cream and jam.
TIME AND SPACE
"Domesticity, by its nature, is made up of many tiny, separate chunks of time and space. Cooking, tidying, ferrying, shopping, washing, wiping, husbands, wives, offspring, friends, family, work, commitments, and responsibilities, all make claims and demands that mean that it can be very difficult to capture even the smallest particle of time or space for oneself. For many busy domestic artists, time and space alone is a true luxury." (page 196)
"I trained myself to do something creative or enjoyable in the short spaces of time when Tom and Alice were quiet when they were tiny. I learned to expand and contract my plans according to the opportunities and to keep something ready to pick up (knitting, reading) at short notice...my life is still fractal, but one made up of many different, contrasting facets, and one in which even the shortest time-space opportunity is a domestic luxury to be enjoyed to the full." (page 196)
Our next book study post will be on Tuesday 10th September and we'll begin the next chapter, Sharing, reading pages 198-210.
If you've just come across my book study for this year we're reading through "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" by Jane Brocket (2007) and links for all the study posts can be found here.
* How do you make personal time amidst the busyness of domestic life?
* What do you serve for afternoon teas?
* How long since you've sat around the table with family or friends and enjoyed a morning or afternoon tea feast? Is it time you did?
* What do you keep handy to pick up and relax with when short periods of rest fall in your lap?
* Through this chapter we have discovered inexpensive luxuries for Jane can be a length of pretty ribbon, a few unusual or vintage buttons, a small cut of fabric, an old classic to read, or a block of good chocolate. What small luxury can you give yourself this week?
So far I've shared 23 study posts from The Gentle Art of Domesticity, covering nine chapters (with three to go) and as it's at least a six-hour process to bring each one to you there's a lot of personal investment of time involved - almost a full working day.
But I've enjoyed it, enjoyed thinking outside the box of what most of us consider domesticity to be. Over the past eight months I've learned a lot about myself and increased my already passionate love for this gentle homemaker life which I embrace.
What about you? Has the study thus far grown you as a woman, homemaker, domestic artist (I love that description of us), reader, crafter, grandmother, baker, forager, collector, wife, friend, adventurer??
Can I encourage you, especially if you've never done this before, to leave a comment on this post so I can receive the blessing of hearing about your own journey, epiphanies and delights.
And you know, you'll bless others too.
God bless you precious readers! Though we've probably never met, you are a big reason why I write, why I pray over what is shared here, and why I choose to share both the highs and lows of walking this path of life each and every year.
I've been blogging on Elefantz now for 11 years...and yet it seems like it all started yesterday. Blossom was 14, the baby of the family, and now she's 25 and a mummy to two toddlers. I'm so glad this blog exists because it's a record of our life for well over a decade, and in times when trials and disappointments came our way (as they do) this blog record reminds me that we overcame by the grace and love of God, and we were strengthened by the experience.
Seek first God.
That's where I began and that's what I still do.
The greatest luxury in my life was a free gift.
But I also enjoy chocolate, new threads, a pot of tea, freshly ground coffee, raspberries, crusty home-baked bread, a Miss Marple mystery on the telly and swimming alone each day in the pool under the poinciana tree.