Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Odors have a power of persuasion

stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will."  ~ Peter Suskind

With the winter season about take over much of the area, not to mention the flu and other medical issues, we might want to take a look at history and aromatherapy.  Candles smell better on a winter day.  Cinnamon and ginger work better under 50 degrees.  There is something about 90 degrees and the pumpkin spice smell that does not work for me (no offense, Florida!)

Both men and women wore scented bags in ancient Chinese dynasties.  Although men did move away from wearing the bags, they did use them as ornaments and to absorb sweat, repel insects, and ward off evil spirits.  By the 17th-19th centuries, China created scented sachets for love tokens.
Medieval times saw the sack...sachet...become a plague-bag.  They were worn around the neck or dangled from the waist.  People thought they would provide protection against parasites and miasmata (bad air).  These contained a mix of sweet powders - from balsam families...calamus, benzoin, storax, galingale(ginger), cloves, herbs and flowers.

Queen Isabella of Spain used fragrant sachets a dried roses, carnations, orris and calamus roots, along with powdered coriander seeds to scent her dresses.  Wonder if she gave one to Columbus to tuck into his suitcase as he boarded his ship? 

The Brits kicked it up a notch with sachets filled with hops.  Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer although hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.  George III and Prince Albert used the Pulvinar Humuli - hop pillows - prescribed by the doctors when sleeping meds did not work.

The sachet pillow still has some therapeutic uses...lavender sachets will calm...sachets with dried moth-repellent herbs like wormwood, southernwood, costmary, lavender, pennyroyal, lemon verbena rosemary, rue, sage and tansy are called "moth bags."

We have beautiful sachet pillows for gift-giving...from an American company-Votivo...these make unique gifts for "Secret Santa"  or hostess gifts.  Memorable tuck-in for a package that is traveling across the miles.  Always nice to open a box and have a wonderful scent waft through the air.  Let the holiday aromatherapy begin!


“We are all human, and our senses are quicker to prompt us than our reason. Every man gives off a scent, and that scent tells you how to act before your head does.”
          ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, October 19, 2014

“Everyone that steps on to the ladder of success

must have hope. Without it, no one is able to reach the top.”  
                                    ~Ellen J Barrier

This week in my Composition 101 class we have been reading essays in a chapter titled "Generation Recession."  These college freshmen have quite a challenge ahead of them climbing that ladder of success.  Out here in the decorative world though, it is all about ladders and repurpose.  One Pinterest page has 155 "pins" about repurposing ladders!  Holding up the Christmas tree is creative...I had a picky Persian cat who was able to bring down the tree one year all by herself.  This idea might have come in handy!
 The night stand has a nice urban feel...
 A collage of ideas...
 A plethora of climbers outside!
But, we have a round of some nice ones for whatever pin suits your personality.  The green one is extra heavy, but I love the ladders with a history of work "engraved" on them.  Of course, you can always repaint!
Never sure that the smallest one is for since I hate to admit it, but I would climb on a chair first!
Then there are the tall ones...and those do give me pause...this one in the shop reaches to the rafters...but it is good for display! 
A ladder is depicted in a Mesolithic rock painting that is at least 10,000 years old, depicted in the Spider Caves in Valencia, Spain.
The painting depicts using a ladder to reach a wild honeybee nest to harvest honey. The ladder is depicted as long and flexible, possibly made out of some kind of grass.
The step ladder is perhaps the most popular model. In an important development, in January 1862, an American named John H. Balsley received the first patent in the US for this type of ladder. The step ladder is so named because the rungs are set in a stepped rather than a runged configuration. Before the patent, the step ladder was not foldable, but Balsey’s model was designed with hinges at the top that allowed users to fold the ladder for easy storage. Also called an A-frame, the step ladder is now used all over the world.
From a UK site, some information about sizing ladders for "real" use... it can be difficult to determine the correct height for a ladder because the entire length of a ladder cannot be used safely. So, you need to consider what’s called the usable height of the ladder. When using a straight or extension ladder, avoid standing on any of the top three rungs. This rule effectively eliminates two to three feet of height, so buy accordingly. An extension ladder needs three to five feet of overlap between the sections to ensure safe use. When using an extension ladder to reach a roof, it’s important that it extends three feet above the surface. In addition, remember that a straight or extension ladder must be leaned, and this reduces the ladder’s usable height. 
 “Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure that it is leaning against the right building.” ~ Stephen Covey 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Instead of buying local,

go a step further and buy personal." ~Jeff Haden

That opening line in a business article caught my attention.  We are at the Jersey shore, and now that the summer season is an instagram memory, folks are stopping by to say goodbye as they close up cottages, houses, condos for the winter.  Being in a tourist area, we do get a summer seasonal benefit, and, as Richard Moe commented in another article: “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.”

But, there are people who live in this area -- or in any small town America -- year round, where we shop, where we eat and have fun -- all of that makes our communities home.  This time of year brings the craft shows, the artisans' open houses, the street autumn days...and chilly November weekends are perfect for exploring the small shops or shows in your neighborhoods.  The big boxes are always there with stuff on shelves.  Why not explore the "small" boxes?

With the holiday season soon to become a whirling dervish, studies have found that for each $1 spent at a local business, 45 cents is reinvested locally. Many of the people who set up at local shows or have small shops or booths in co-ops try more to please and work harder than the CEOs of the Walmarts or the Targets of the world.  Sure, we love the 24/7 convenience, but what about stopping at a local florist for a display for the holiday table.
We got a new car the other day, and, because I have been going to this dealer for years, it was nice to be a known customer not merely a dollar sign.  I got a big hug from the Service Manager who had not been there the last time I had service, but he was working, and it was good to see him.  It is a bit of the Cheers mentality - where everyone knows your name--the buy personal as well as local!

I have fall d├ęcor from a neighbor...not a Chinese factory... I know the person who made these signs...

So, just think about buying local...Walmart's fiscal profit was 128.08 BILLION...there are many folks out there in small shops and co-ops or who are doing seasonal craft shows who would be grateful for $128.08 period!

"When you buy something made by a person, there is something special there, and you do feel it.  The consciousness with which a thing is made is often more important than the things itself."
         ~J. Donald Walters

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles...

 if the result is twins. ~Chinese Proverb

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Grace Harlowe book series, and I realized, after bringing in some more of these types of books, that I never really knew who the Bobbsey twins were.  For some reason, I had never read these, and I do not remember the series in my children's lit courses either.  So, here is the scoop on this series.
Once again, the author is a pseudonym.  Laura Lee Hope never existed.  The first was written in 1904 by Edward Stratemeyer - the purveyor of so many of these book series.  He then turned it over to ghost writers with outlines.  In researching him, I found that he did write The Rover Boys under the pseudonym of Arthur M. Winfield. There were 30 volumes, written between 1899 and 1926. The Bobbsey Twins series was next and is the oldest "surviving" series, extending to 72 volumes, written between 1904 and 1979. Tom Swift, attributed to Victor Appleton, began in 1910, and there were 40 volumes before the series ended in 1941. (There was also a Tom Swift, Jr. series.) The Hardy Boys (85 volumes from 1927 to 1985) and Nancy Drew (78 volumes from 1930 to 1985) are the other best-known Stratemeyer books.

Original writers included both men and women: Lilian Garis and Howard Garis, Elizabeth Ward, and Harriet Adams, Andrew Svenson wrote from 1904-1948, and then June Dunn, Grace Grote, and Nancy Axelrad were writers from 1953-1972.

From another source, the family is described as living in the "eastern city" of Lakeport, which is clearly in the Northeast because it snows a lot there, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey is a prosperous lumber merchant. Mrs. Bobbsey is a housewife. Bert and Nan are the older twins, and Flossie and Freddie are the younger set.  They also had a "Negro" cook and critics label them "upper middle class."

The books are never impacted by current was good in Lakeport!  The Bobbseys never age. Bert and Nan in the first book (1904) are about 8 years old and Freddie and Flossie are about 4. According to some summaries I read, the first few books are written in "real time," which is to say that the action of one follows immediately after its predecessor. The Bobbsey Twins takes place during a school year, The Bobbsey Twins in the Country concerns the first half of the summer vacation, and that vacation concludes in The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore, then The Bobbsey Twins at School. During those books the Bobbsey twins aged normally. Stratemeyer must have realized that his twins were soon going to be too old for the books, for suddenly they stopped aging. Over the years Bert and Nan grew to be twelve and Flossie and Freddie became 6, but with all the years that went by, the family never grew older."  (Maybe we should all be Bobbseys! )
Maybe this winter you might want to pick up one of these old books just for giggles and grins...
as C.S. Lewis wrote, 
 “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”