Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dressing To Impress Or To Offend?

I want to draw your attention to the article by Theodore Dalrymple called Slobbery as Snobbery. The article is quite old (it was originally posted by Taki Mag on June 15, 2014), but I only read it yesterday as some other blog I visit linked to it.

The article makes some very good points and coincidentally, it's about the author's trip to Amsterdam and how he was shocked by the horrible way people around him dressed. (My countrymen certainly won't win  the European Prize for their sense of fashion, though I'd say that what I've seen in England was not always much better). However, Mr Dalrymple also makes general observations about the state of things in the West concerning dress and manners (the comments were well worth reading, too, all 500+ of them:).

He starts by saying that there are very few well-dressed people around which he partly attributes to the mass production of clothes, but then Mr Dalrymple points out that there is also a deliberate act of will on the part of people in general to look like slobs:

Practically everyone now dresses not merely in a casual way, but with studied slovenliness for fear of being thought elegant, as elegance is a metonym for undemocratic sentiment or belief. You can dress as expensively as you like, indeed expensive scruffiness is a form of chic, but on no account must you dress with taste and discrimination. To do so might be to draw hostile attention to yourself.

I personally find it a very astute observation. It's true that the majority of people nowadays, both men and women look as if they are afraid of being accused of looking too well. Heaven forbid you put some thought into the way you dress, it's almost as if they desire to look as slovenly and unkempt as possible. Some sort of trashy chic, I guess. The objective seems to be to look as if you bought most of your clothes at Salvation Army charity shop (though I personally bought good quality stylish clothes at a Goodwill type of store).

Mr Dalrymple notes that even expensive shops (and those in Amsterdam can be very pricey indeed) offer clothes which hardly can be described as elegant. It's interesting that when a discussion like this begins, people will tell you that nice clothes are expensive, and they can't afford looking better than tramps, and yet, as the author of the original article points out, they do have money for tattoos and piercings:

Is it not odd that in an age when more people have a large discretionary income than ever before, and are prepared to pay thousands for such adornments as tattooing (some one in five American adults are now tattooed), almost everyone should look as if he or she had just rolled out of bed and picked up a pile of clothes from the night before that was lying crumpled on the floor?

People in the West aren't really that poor that they can't afford to own some decent-looking garments. Mr Dalrymple admits that when he was younger he thought that dressing well wasn't important at all, however, as he grew older, he changed his mind. That's actually a normal process called growing up, though a lot of adults nowadays seem to be stuck in the perpetual adolescence.

Mr Dalrymple is correct in pointing out that slovenliness in dress is nearly always the result of laziness. However, he is probaly right in stating that it's more than laziness which causes moderns to look as horrible as they do: the conscious desire to offend others, to express your contempt for their opinions of you:

The problem is not merely absence of self-respect, it is active hostility to self-respect, replaced entirely by self-esteem. The former says, “I will keep myself looking good in the eyes of others;” the latter says, “What is good enough for me is good enough for everyone else, and if they find me an eyesore they can jolly well put up with it.”

The author describes a fashion show he witnessed in one of the shops in Amsterdam where the female models paraded around with an expression of hatred for people around them on their faces. I quite often buy sewing and knitting magazines which feature pictures from catwalks and I noticed it, too. Instead of trying to look pleasant, female models have a look of universal contempt for those around them.

In short, as Mr Dalrymple sums it up: This is the first age in which people do not dress to please others, but dress to displease others...

I believe he is right, too. We went from teaching our children to dress well to please or impress others to letting them dress in deliberately offensive manner in order to express themselves or some such nonsense. Our whole society is oriented towards the worship of Self (think of the obsession with selfies). So here is the challenge: if you want to change things for the better and to save Western civilisation you can start by making a conscious effort to dress elegantly and to look well at all occasions and teach your children to do the same.

Let's all try in our daily life not to look like the people featured in those pictures:
People Of Walmart

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Links

I'd like to draw your attention to the two new links I have added this week. One is to the blog called Mias Landliv which I mentioned several times. Mia is a talented craftster who lives in Norway. She blogs about her life in the country and all the beautiful things she creates.

Another link is actually not a blog, but a site called Knitting Pattern Central which has a collection of free knitting patterns and is regularly updated. When you click on the link, you can go to Free Pattern Directory and browse by category. It features baby and children's clothing as well as vintage patterns. You can also submit a pattern of your own. If knitting is your hobby, that's the site for you!:)

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Short Personal Note

I'll be away from computer for a couple of days. Regular posting will be resumed as soon as possible

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tired Of Waiting For The World To End

Some time ago I was asked to write a post about how news can influence a homemaker for the worse, so here it comes:)

I've had it with the mass media. Not only the so-called MSM (mainstream media), but the alternative media as well. No, I'm not going to live like a hermit, but I'm planning to seriously restrict the amount of blogs and forums (fora?) which I follow. The reason is that I'm getting tired of all the doom and gloom.

We all know that MSM is liberal and sensationalist, that it often censors the dissenting opinions and spreads progressive propaganda and sometimes downright lies. Journalists often use scaremongering (global warming) to increase support for the liberal cause. The alternative right media, on the other hand, are often the mirror copy of MSM, heavily engage in "despair p0rn" and are busy with promoting their own end-of-the-world scenarios.

MSM predicts that Christianity will soon disappear and we will all live in a "brave new world." Christians often agree and in general, exhibit an attitude best described by the phrase "why polishing the brass on a sinking ship."

MSM talk about global warming, alternative internet sites discuss global cooling, the coming new Ice Age and how we'll all subsequently die from hunger after the next major volcano eruption. Sometimes I sincerely wonder how one manages to get through life with this attitude without hanging himself first thing in the morning.

MSM are full of feminist propaganda. Men bad, women good. Women are always victims. Patriarchy, bla bla. Anti-feminists talk about how men are always innocent victims of women and how everything bad what happens in the world is the fault of the weaker sex. Women apparently lurk at every corner planning how to screw another hapless male victim. They only marry so that later they can divorce a man and rob him of his savings. Women bad, men good. Gynocracy bla, bla. See the similarity?

 And so it goes. Now we are having a new global scare - Ebola. As of now, there are reportedly about 1200 people who died from Ebola in Africa. It is supposedly a crisis of world proportions. On the other hand, according to WHO, 3000 children in Africa die daily from malaria, and yet we hardly hear about it. in 2010, about 300 000 people world wide died from cholera, and there was nothing in the news about it. Add to this plague, typhoid fever (190 000 deaths in 2010), and the like and you start thinking what is all this hype about.

This world we live in is full of dangers. There is always something happening somewhere. If you are going to follow it all, you'll have no life. There is also little use in getting all upset about something we can't change. I noticed I'm feeling the happiest when I'm on vacation because I don't read, hear or watch the news. Then I can just concentrate on the little things that matter, instead of the latest outrage.

In short, I finally got tired of waiting for the world to end. I took a decision that since now on I'm going to simply enjoy life, day by day. It's always the little things in life which matter most, your child's first smile, a sunny day after the storm, a fresh-baked apple pie, an evening walk with your husband. A homemaker should try to create a peaceful atmosphere in her home, which is next to impossible if we spend all our time worrying about the news.

Monday, August 18, 2014

No-bake Danish Apple Cake

Or at least, my variant of it. I noticed that my recipes are much less popular than my rants, though I'm personally more proud of my cooking than of my ranting:)

Anyway, this makes for a great dessert.

You will need:

1kg apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pices
150g sugar
8g gelatin
100g butter
150g bread crumbs (I wasn't sure how much it was, so I used 6 slices of bread; 4 white and 2 wholewheat. It was enough for the size cake you see in the picture, however it wasn't enough to fill the round baking pan as the original recipe suggested. You will need to remove the crust and cut bread into small cubes)
100g jam ( I used red berries jam, and it was more than 100g, in fact, I used nearly the whole jar)
1c whipping cream

First, you need to make apple compote. For this, cook apples together with some water and 75g sugar until the pieces become very soft,  then mash them, add soaked gelatin. and let it dissolve. Let it cool completely

Whip the cream together with 2 tbsp sugar, very stiff. In a skillet over medium heat melt the butter, add the bread crumbs + 50g sugar, cook and stir until  brown.

Next, assemble the cake. First a layer of  crumbs, then apple compote, then jam, top with bread crumbs. Now spread whipped cream all over and refrigerate. You will have to eat it during the next 2-3 days, as the whipped cream tends to turn sour, even in the fridge.

Crazy Toys

Start your working week with a smile:

New in the toy department: a musical toilet bowl! Makes different sounds when you press the button, toilet paper included. I wonder what will they think of next?:)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Links

Lady Lydia on handshake vs hugging:
Will You Not Shake Hands With Me?

What's Wrong With Equal Rights reviews I Love Lucy:
A Personal Reflection on "I Love Lucy"

An interesting article about a retro couple:
Living Like in the 1950s Saved Their Marriage

Reflections on daycare:
Why Child Care Will Always Cost Too Much

One woman describes her journey to homemaking:
An Escapee From Engineering

Gluttony kills:
Obese woman suffocates on food

Christianity and Leftism:
Whether Leftism is a Christian Heresy

Darla Shine on career mothers:
Women going back home

Mothers at home improve quality of life for everyone, including neighbours:
Norwegian study shows the surprising benefit of a stay-at-home mother

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tarte De Cambrai And Other Things

First, thank you all who responded to my latest post and who prayed! I took it down because of privacy reasons, since it concerned the third party.

And now on to the more pleasant things. Last week, I tried this recipe:

It's a quick, easy and budget French variant of an apple pie.

To make it, you will need:

1c (150g)  flour + 1tsp baking powder
4 TBSP powder sugar
1pkg (8g) vanilla sugar
salt to taste
2 eggs
6 TBSP milk
3 TBSP butter, melted
2 big apples (or 3 small ones)
3 TBSP sugar
50g butter

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, powder sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. In another bowl, beat together eggs, milk and butter, then add to the flour mixture, stir until combined. Transfer the batter to a greased 28 cm round baking pan.

Peel and slice the apples, arrange on top. Sprinkle with sugar and top with butter cut into small cubes. Bake at 200°C for 1-2 min, then at 175°C for ab. 35-40 min or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Makes for a great dessert.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Anonymous Comments

After a discussion with my husband, I have decided to allow anonymous comments.

A word of warning to would-be trolls: though you may post as an anonymous, I still can see your IP address, and if you are very annoying, may just decide to make it public.

Further on, for all new commenters, please check the blog rules and pick a handle. Anonymous comments without one will be summarily deleted. Sock puppeting is forbidden, see above about the IP address. Since I have no time to moderate comments, if things go out of hand, I'll return to the previous commenting mode.

your blog mistress:)

spamming is forbidden, too. If you don't stay on topic, your comments will be deleted. My blog is not a place for free advertising of your business.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

How To Destroy Your Marriage

As illustrated by the movie Timbuktu, which my husband and I watched yesterday. This is a review of sorts, though it contains spoilers. Timbuktu is a 1959 advernture/love drama which takes place in French Sudan in 1940. A French colonel recently transferred to Africa has to deal with jihadist insurgents trying to use a local religious leader as their tool. The colonel has a young pretty wife who falls for a double-crossing American adventurer Conway.

Conway is planning to sell stolen French machine guns and ammo to the insurgents but gets a change of heart for an unclear reason and starts helping the French. The colonel, knowing full well that his wife is basically in love with the American, uses her feelings to deceive the emir, who is the real leader of the jihadists, to achieve his own objectives.

The plot is entertaining, but what really got my attention was the conflict between the three main characters (the colonel, his wife and Conway), and the way it was solved. The colonel and his wife haven't been married for a long time, but their marriage is already on the rocks. In my opinion, it was more the wife's fault as she obviously belonged to the type of  woman who is in need of constant entertaining, and totally lacked sympathetic understanding.

She was the same sort of woman who nowadays would divorce her husband because of feeling bored. In this she is contrasted with the other female character, the wife of a young lieutenant, who is her exact opposite. On the other hand, though one can admire the colonel's sense of duty, one wonders if it was really necessary for him to prostitute his wife. He also nearly totally ignored her which is rather unwise. Women appreciate small romantic gestures as they need to know that they are loved.

The movie also highlights the communication problems between men and women. When Conway first starts his advances, the lady is more amused than in love and one of the reasons she tells it to her husband is probably to make him jealous. She miscalculates badly as the colonel, being a very proud man essentially feels that their marriage is over. From that moment on he cynically keeps pushing his wife into the arms of the rival.

Conway is a very interesting character, too. He reminded me of Han Solo from Star Wars. In the beginning, he states that the only thing which motivates him is self-interest (and his love for money), yet he changes his mind later on, though it means risking his own life for the cause of the French, which is not his own. While love is the obvious reason, it goes deeper than that. He is obviously influenced by the scenes of cold- blooded murder, when the emir kills the religious leaders who refuse to side with him.

This is the changing point in his career, and he is further motivated by the behaviour of the French lieutenant who withstands torture and dies, though he could save his life by bertraying Conway. It's noteworthy, that the emir says that the young Frenchman has been the only man so far who didn't talk, which shows that Europeans were not always famous for their decadence, but for other character qualities which made even their enemies admire them.

As the story progresses and Conway's life is in danger, the colonel's wife expresses disgust with her husband, who is, in her opinion, a coward, but then her feelings change again as she finds out that he was risking his life, too, and is ready to do it again to save Conway and the holy man whom the latter concealed from the murderous emir. At this point, it's rather unclear which man she will choose, but luckily for Conway, the colonel dies in the path of duty, so that the two lovers can unite.

I don't know if it was meant as a happy end, but I keep wondering if a woman can really be happy with such a man as Conway. He obviously lacked the moral principles, though he was occasionally motivated into good behaviour by the example of others. I'd rather stay with a man ruled by the sense of duty than by self-interest.

If you are interested, you can watch the movie over here:


UPDATE (Off Topic)

Some time ago I wrote about my experiencing problems while trying to comment on my own blog. I seem not to be the only one, as I received an email the author of which complained about the same thing. I tried to reset the blog settings but it doesn't work and I'm unwilling to allow anonymous comments. If you have trouble commenting (Blogger keeps deleting your comments), first login into your account, then try posting a comment. This should work.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Importance Of Beauty In The Home

In our pragmatic times, housekeeping is often reduced to keeping a minimal standard of cleanness (like vacuuming once in two weeks) and comfort (some Christian blogs suggested serving dinner on paper plates so that there would be no need of washing the dishes).

The result of this philosophy is often that women are either told there that there is nothing to do at home, hence they should seek paid employment outside of it, or (in the case of more traditionally-minded people) that while being at home, they should invest all their time and energy into home businesses.

Thus, both liberals and (some) conservative Christians denigrate homemaking and put money-making activities above everything else, including health and beauty.

In less enlightened times, folks actually used to value a clean and well-organised household much more than they do now. Cleanliness is next to godliness, states an old proverb. However, cleanness alone is not what makes a house a home. A really good homemaker adds what the author of Fascinating Womanhood calls feminine touches to her housekeeping.

Feminine touches include things like "...gingham curtains, a basket of fruit, soft pillows, a cozy rug at the door, flowers, a row of plates above a cross beam, cheerful wallpaper...cheerful tablecloths, pretty dishes and delicious aromas." (F.W., Bantam Books 1992, p.229).

We all like to watch the pictures of beautiful homes, hence all the magazines about interior design and decorating. I believe that most women have an innate striving for beauty which modern  society based on utilitarian principles does its best to eradicate. It didn't start right now, of course, but as the 20th century progressed, architecture became uglier, female clothes more masculine and approach to life more pragmatic.

You can especially notice it while reading the mid-20th century homemaking books which kept mocking more ornamental style of previous decades and suggested industrial standards for an ordinary household, not only in the way it looked, but in the way it was run. One book I own actually states, that a household should be run as a factory. Then, in the 1970s the majority of married women went to work, and it all went downhill afterwards. Luckily, the tide started to turn and modern women have regained interest in domestic arts.

To make a house really feel like home, one should invest a lot of time and effort into it. It's not just a question of keeping it reasonably clean and uncluttered. A home should have a certain feeling about it, which is only possible if there is someone whose daily duty is to take care of it.

Most of my readers have probably heard about Cheryl Mendelson and her book Home Comforts which became a homemaking manual for the modern woman. That's what Cheryl writes in the first chapter of her book:

"...what a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive, was not dusting and laundry. Someone can be hired to do those things...Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home...her affection was in the sofa cushions, clean linens and good meals; her memory in well-stocked...cabinets...; her intelligence in the order and healthfulness of her home; her good humor in its light and air. She lived her life not only through her own body but through her house as an extension of her body; part of her relation to those she loved was embodied in the physical medium of the home she made." (H.C., Scribner, 2005, pp.9-10).

To use an old-fashioned expression, the traditional housewife made home her career. And to enjoy any career, you will have to go an extra mile, not only doing the bare minimum, but going above and beyond the call of duty, so to say. While a well-run household should be uncluttered and organised, which will often mean simplifying things, there should still be place for beauty in it and for that special feminine touch which only a really feminine woman can add.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Victorian Consumer Goods

From my vintage ads collection:

 A Victorian stove (works on gas!)

Washing machines (aren't they darling?)

Wall-to-wall carpeting

A room heater (have you noticed how sweet and soft the lady's features are? Manjaws on women weren't popular yet).

19th century instant coffee (in a brandy bottle, was it really coffee??)

And some miscellaneous stuff...(I wonder how much alcohol there was in that cordial?:)

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Pacifist Cat

Today while cooking dinner I have witnessed a very funny scene. It's still quite warm around here, so that the balcony door is open the whole day long. My cooking activities were interrupted by screaming, and when I went outside, I saw the neighbours' cat called Poes lying in the garden, while another cat, a big black-and-white one, kept screaming at him at the top of his lungs.

Poes ignored him and looked another way. After about ten minutes, the other cat became rather tired and started sounding more pitiful than quarrelsome. He chose another tactic to provoke Poes, and literally got into his face. Poes started growling quietly, but still didn't react. I missed the moment when it came to the actual confrontation as I was busy baking hamburgers, but Poes kept the territory and the other cat left.

I only wish our Frodo had as much sense as this, he keeps on fighting nearly every day, plus 2 days ago he caught a birdie which my husband saved just in time. Frodo was preparing to start his dinner when he was deprived of his prey, it was a large dove and when my husband saw that he was still alive, he brought him to the forest and left over there. The dove seemed to be all right.

Today we are going to buy a new bread-baking machine, finally, hope this one works. The one we had ordered on the net a month ago broke the first time I used it, so we had to send it back. Next time better, I guess...