Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Tried


Well, I tried my best to post every day in October, but, unfortunately, family responsibilities had to come first. While it is always difficult for me to not accomplish a goal I've set for myself, I will just have to try, try again!
I will be back tomorrow...

(Posted from my IPhone, so let's hope this is legible!)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tea and Madeleines

The last few weeks I've had the pleasure of my mother visiting.  She has been an absolute angel helping me do my fall cleaning.  Every day we put on some lovely music and busy ourselves about the house.  We hum along at a good pace until 4 o'clock when the mantle clock chimes, calling to us like a siren's song.  We drop whatever we may be doing and have tea.  I find even the most dreary of chores can be finished with the lure of afternoon tea as a reward.  But, what is tea without one of our favorite treats?   

Madelines are lovely sponge cakes, its tender crumb is a beautiful little addition to tea. The curved, fluted shell shape, dusted with a hint of icing sugar, always have a subtle hint of delicate orange flowers.

While there are many wonderful recipes calling for lemon or orange zest, my family's preference has always been for the original French recipe dating from the mid 1700's.  It does call for food grade orange flower water, which is available for purchase on-line or at your local Middle Eastern market. The recipe is quite simple and the orange flower water is, perhaps, the only ingredient not readily at hand. 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
6 eggs, beaten
1 Tablespoon food grade orange flower water
1/4 cup icing sugar, for dusting

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
~ Butter and lightly flour Madeleine molds.
~ Sift flower and baking powder together; set aside.
~ Cream together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.
~ Add eggs to butter mixture; beat until well combined.
~ Add orange flower water.
~ Sift flour mixture into butter mixture; stir to combine
~ Spoon batter into prepared molds and bake for approximately 10 minutes.
~ Cool on a wire rack
~ Once cool, lightly dust with icing sugar before serving.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


I had hoped to write earlier today, but life got in the way.  My daughter had a minor car accident and the day got away from me.
Thankfully, both drivers were fine and insurance will take care of everything. 

Car accidents are truly ugly, so I will leave you with this lovely quote...

"In the South, the breeze blows softer...neighbors are friendlier, nosier, and more talkative.
This is a different place. 
Our way of thinking is different, as are our ways of seeing, laughing,
singing, eating, meeting, and parting.
Our walk is different, as the old song goes, our talk and 
our names. 
 Nothing about us is quite the same as in the country to the north and west.  
What we carry in our memories is different too, and that may explain everything else."
~ Charles Kuralt

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Southern Lady

A dear friend recently drew my attention to a specific Youtube channel that is supposed to exemplify Southern women.  While I understand that the channel is meant as comedy, I, also, know that far too many people truly believe all Southern women behave in such a way.

It simply breaks my heart to consider the modern idea of Southern womanhood.  The depictions on television and in movies are of graceless, foul-mouthed, unintelligent women, created by people who have (more than likely) never set foot in the South.

It is so, so disrespectful to true Southern ladies.  Unfortunately, far to many Southern women buy into this stereotype and not only support it, but mimic it.

As time goes by, my fear of fewer Southern girls being raised in the traditional ways, is being realized as they turn to this cheap version as a role model. They have no real understanding of the difference between a lady and a woman.

The true Southern lady is pious, modest, respectful, and dignified.  Her virtue and accomplishments bless the home.  Her intelligence and good taste is cultivated.  She bases her beauty on femininity.  She chooses her role-models based on the biblical version of womanhood.

It is my dear, dear wish that we restore the old virtues of the Southern lady and return our culture to what is great and true.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Dying Art of Penmanship

There was a time when beautiful penmanship was considered a true art form, with lessons created by master pen men and exercises in motor-control, pen placement, and proper line and curve methods.  Because there was a desire to create in society a standardized penmanship, the lessons were incredibly elaborate and detailed. Artistic calligraphy of today was once the penmanship of small schoolchildren. Penmanship has such a lovely history.

By the 1700's penmanship was being taught in earnest in the United States. At that time, your age, gender, profession and societal rank would be revealed by your penmanship. 

English copperplate, also known as English Round Hand, became the standard writing style upon the publishing of George Bickham's copybook, The Universal Penman, in 1743.  It was the script of the upper-class colonist.

With the publishing, in 1791, of The Art of Writing, by John Jenkins, English Copperplate gave way to American Copperplate.  Its distinct American style was based on English Copperplate and became the writing style from the colonial to the antebellum period.

By 1840, American Copperplate was on the decline as it was replace by a modified round hand known as Duntonian Script; created by Alvin R. Dunton.  It was a style that well suited for young children, which coincided with the increase of regular school attendance. 

The Spencerian method was created in the early 1820's and, while it was taught during the same time period as the Duntonian Script, it's popularity would eventually make it the longest taught of the American writing styles.  Created by Platt R. Spencer, it broke down letter forms into easily reproduced elements, which could be combined to form individual letters.  While the Spencerian method was fairly easily learned, it was also beautifully ornate. 

A. N. Palmer would, in 1890, create the handwriting system that would eventually replace the Spencerian method in schools and businesses.  The Palmer Method, as it was known, did away with the majority of the ornamental flourishes previously seen in the early writing styles.  It was a much plainer script and could be written quickly; it was considered business writing style.

Unfortunately, penmanship has fallen by the wayside as computer use has become more prevalent.  It was a sad day indeed when many public school systems decided to drop cursive instruction altogether, as increased testing takes more time and resources.  My own daughter has said that, in her high school, teachers prefer students to print their homework rather than use script.  One result of this absence in education is young adult who are unable to sign a check or a legal document because they simply do not have a signature...cursive was deemed obsolete.

So much of our history has been documented only through cursive script; if this decline in penmanship continues, a large part of our cultural history will be lost and the ability to read important historical documents or even letters from ancestors long past.  Children will grow up never knowing the sense of achievement after finally working their way through each and every letter of the alphabet.

I, for one, long for a return to a life of thoughtful beauty and wish for a society based on requirements in excellence.  I believe traditional penmanship standards fulfill a functional need while, also, focusing on excellence and beauty.  Cursive script provides us with a link to our past, a connection with our present, and a portal to our future.
 Master Penman Jake Weidmann...can he save his artform?

"Writing is, of all arts, universally admitted to be that which is most useful to society. 
 It is the picture of the past, the regulator of the future, and the messenger of thought."
     ~ Motto of the International Association of Master Penmen,
 Engravers, and Teachers of Handwriting