China Flower Holders Table Trimming

This is the fourth article in February of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Feb 28, 1904, and is a very short article on dressing tables with china flower holders.

School for Housewives – China Flower Holders Table Trimming

The hostess who likes to entertain informally and often will welcome the little table centrepieces in china which the shops are offering of late.

Thanks to these, it is now possible to arrange the flowers for a luncheon or little dinner in fives minutes’ time.

When a number of entertainments are given during a single season, anything that lightens the labor of preparation without detracting from the daintiness of the feast is of real interest.

This is especially true of hospitably inclined households where but one maid is kept.

Almost any variety of flowers can be suited in these new dishes. There are tall effects designed for chrysanthemums, iris or American Beauties; vases of moderate depth for carnations, narcissus and their ilk, while shallow basins, having just the necessary depth, suggest a decoration of violets or lilies of the valley.

Many of the new ornaments include human figures, those, for example, of nymphs, shepherdesses, fauns and children.

Sometimes the figures support baskets, basins or vases, which form the flower holders.

Other models are made up of blossoms, rocks and different natural objects, without human figures of any kind.

The illustrations show a number of the new dishes appropriately filled.

An especially pretty idea illustrated is that of the boutonniere centrepiece, to which many of the new ornaments lend themselves especially well.

A number of little bouquets, intended for distribution among the guests, are attached to strands of ribbon, and arranged in the dish. The ribbons fall over the sides, and escape contact with the water. At the conclusion of the feast each member of the party pulls a ribbon and obtains a bouquet.

Marion Harland

The Easiest Table Decorations to Make

This is the fourth article in February of the School for Housewives 1905 series published on Feb 26, 1905, and is a short article on table decor.

School for Housewives – The Easiest Table Decorations to Make

No matter at what season of the year you elect to give a luncheon, roses are always to be had, and trim a table in the prettiest and most varied of ways.

A white luncheon may be given, with the whitest of roses gracing the centre, or those with just the merest touch of shell-pink tinting them. Or if pink is to be the color, a “wealth of exquisite blossoms come in the softest shades of pink; white for a red luncheon come buds and blossoms that make the cheeriest of decorations.

In June rose-luncheons are really the only seasonable ones to give; and then you might give a rose-luncheon every few days and have it different, using tiny June roses one day, wild roses another, and moss-roses, tea-roses, fragrant yellow briar-roses, and the delicate old-fashioned tea-roses – gathered from your own flower-plot – for the different days.

If expense doesn’t have to be considered, china with rose-patterns is extremely effective; and, as it snows skillful shading and coloring, it blends with almost any color of roses.

White is used almost entirely for table-linen – lace sets being highest in favor; but occasionally you see a rose-luncheon with a centrepiece embroidered with roses in their natural color.

A pretty decoration of roses – like that illustrated – was a central vase of cut glass (in the fashionable Colonial pattern) filled with pink roses and ferns.


The luncheon was for six, and set at intervals around the table were six little vases, each with its roses and ferns. At each place was laid a rose, apparently dropped carelessly there.

Candlesticks add greatly to the genera effect of a table, and a great many women get shades and candles of three or four colors, changing them according to the color of the luncheon they are giving.

Pink shades make, perhaps, the softest, most becoming light; red and green shades the most striking, but both red and green should be set closest to the centre, so that their direct light may not fall on the guests seated. Both lights are too strong to be becoming if they are close.

American Beauties make a most imposing luncheon. One was given with a tall vase full of the long-stemmed beauties for a centrepiece, wile from the base, raying out to each place, was a rose – the blossom coming just to the “stay-plate,” or beside it. The effect was stunning, and after the luncheon the hostess picked up the one nearest her, and every guest followed suit.

Pink roses in the centre, with bunches of great, single violets at each lace – each bunch having its long violet pin struck through the stems – make a pretty color-scheme that is accentuated when all the guests pin the violets on, before the first course is served.

For a spring luncheon, daffodils and violets are charming; and daffodils and mignonette the most spring-like combination imaginable.

Marion Harland


I’m well on my way to typing out the 1902-1905 articles I have of Marion Harland’s School for Housewives. I hope to have them put up weekly following the days that they were originally published in newspapers over 100 years ago. A number of these early articles are actually drawings with very little text to them. It has made me rethink how I should go about typing her column as I might add some of the pictures that were originally included in the paper article. I didn’t want to upload the whole newspaper page itself as Marion had other articles occupying the same page such as recipes and an advise column. Furthermore, an image of the newspaper page itself is not searchable for keywords although if someone would like a copy of the article I am more than willing to send it by email.

I have completed all the Today in the Dauphin Herald articles for 1910! These can be accessed under The Dauphin Herald and 1910-1919 list. If you are looking for a particular name or event you can also try the search function or tag cloud. I have tagged family names, cities/villages, illnesses (by illness, sickness, name of illness), as well as accidents, deaths, and Mossey River Council minutes. If there are other tags that you wish to be added to the list please drop me a line. I am now working on 1911 and 1912, however I had problems with these when I was in the Manitoba archives and the collection I have is incomplete. I have access to the Dauphin Herald from website though going through to find each column takes a long time on their system and the search function is hit and miss.

As you may be aware Library and Archives Canada has been digitizing the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) records of veterans from the first world war. This is a wonderful project as it provides so much more information than the attestation records by themselves. The completion of this project is still some time away (1916) but as of Feb 17, 2015, there are 125,954 of 640,000 files are available online via our Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.

Go check it out!

My present job has provided me an opportunity to visit Ottawa at the end of May and since I am going to be there for a short while I am thinking of visiting LAC to obtain the CEF files of a number of the Mowat and possibly Mossey River veterans. I am going to call the archives and see the feasibility of getting these records.

My Knitting Work and the Day Dreams That It Calls to Mind – A Peaceful Reverie

This is the second written article in February of the School for Housewives 1902 series published on Feb 23, 1902, and is a longer article on managing the household.

School for Housewives – My Knitting Work and the Day Dreams That It Calls to Mind – A Peaceful Reverie

Just now it is a couvre-pied of shaded crimson, a gift for a dear old friend who, having everything that money can buy, will appreciate the tender memories of a forty years’ intimacy wrought into the warm-colored web. Her initials are to be embroidered on the central strip as a sure seal to set upon the sweet assurance that it was designed for her, her only.

If the gift will have its story for her it has a hundred stories for me. Dickens tells us how the demoniacal Madame Defarge knit the names of the victims proscribed by the Republic into the work that went with her to the shop, the market place and the guillotine. A series of home-pictures glows under my eyes as I unfold, one after another, of the strips that will presently be crocheted together with rope-silk, after which the rug will be heavily fringed with shaded wools and silks. The setting and background of all are the same. The long, low library, lined with books; the rich glow of firelight and lamp, and on the other side of a Chippendale table that once belonged to Martha Washington, the reader whose well-modulated tones have given me within six months Lecky’s “Map of Life,” Justin McCarthy’s “Reminiscences” and “History of Our Own Times.” Just now we are deep in his “Four Georges.” It is a habit that goes well with the soothing continuity of knitting-work, to improve our acquaintance with out chosen author for weeks together. After many evenings of this close communion, we know him forever.

My couvre-pied is better than a chronological table to me, an album of “snap-pictures,” visible to me alone. I could indicate the vey inch that grew into being under my fingers while Bradlaugh’s six months’ struggle to take the oath of membership was in telling, and the long, bright scroll on which is stamped in (to others) invisible characters the pathetic lingering of Queen Caroline’s last hours.


I learned to knit golf stockings while on the Scheldt, while our steamer was becalmed by the stillest, stickiest, thickest fog that has visited Holland in a century. We lay

“As idle as a painted ship,
Upon a painted ocean.”

for three mortal days and nights, our dreads of famine imperfectly allayed by the purser’s assurance that we were victualed for a fortnight. An English matron, fair of face, ample of figure and low-voiced, was knitting golf stockings for her university son, and cordially offered patterns, wools and needles to me. Being English, she did not see the faint humor of the “situation” when I remarked that the transatlantic athlete would wear the stocking I had begun (if we ever saw land again) was 6 feet 2½ in his stockings, and that I expected to finish one pair before we got to Antwerp.

I sent to London from Florence for pattern book and materials, and wrought six pairs than winter. They are written all over with scenes from “Romola,” “The Makers of Venice,” “The Makers of Florence,” Jamieson’s “Legendary Art” and Villari’s “Savonarola.” As they stride past me on bleak winter days, or when November stubble is russet brown. I have sometimes a queer constriction of heart and throat that means nostalgia. I could declare that I smell the violets which overflowed our table from October to March, and the roses so riotously abundant that black-eyed Lelinda strewed my chamber floor two inches deep with the damp petals to lay the dust before sweeping.

Some woman, Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz, I think, once wrote a poem to her knitting work – “My Companionable Kitting Work” the called it in her verse. Mine is solace, and sedative, gentle diversion, and effective guard against ennui and impatience, the confidante of restless discontents and of unspoken dreams.

Forty-odd years ago I was guilty of the vanity – pardonable surely in a girl who prided herself upon making all her presents – of displaying the results months of happy occupation that never approximated toil to “a superior woman.”

She praised judiciously and satisfactorily, if more gravely, than I had expected, and when the last article had been inspected laid her hand upon my shoulder impressively:

“Dear child, do you know what I have been thinking of while this display was going on? That by rights all these things should be dyed as red as blood – the blood of murdered time!”

Stunned as I was, I had the presence of mind to offer a word of extenuation, as I would have raised an arm to ward off a blow.

“But I have done it all in the gaps left by other things – real duties, you know. I began them more than a year ago. They have been what grandmamma called ‘holding pieces.’ If I had been busy with them I should have been doing nothing in the ‘betweenities.’ When I was hearing my little sister’s lessons, and waiting for the rest to come in to prayers or meals, and chatting with girl callers, and entertaining father and the boys in the evening, and in the long summer days in the country, when it was too hot to practice or to write or study. I have always had a bit of work in my basket that I could catch up at any minute. I can’t feel that I have murdered time. I have only used up odd quarter and half hours instead of keeping my hands folded.”

She pursed her lips and shook her had.

“The ‘betweenities,’ as you call them, might have been filled with better things, my love. But I was not born ??? the world right. Each of us must account for herself for the talents committed to her. Only – the napkin is a napkin even when covered with the finest of needlework and edged with lace!”

I hope – and I try to believe now – that she meant well. She bruised my feelings terribly at the time, and left a raw place on my conscience that was long in healing. As I gained in life’s experiences I worked my way out of the fog she had shed about my perceptions of good and evil, and set up for myself a theory as to “fancy-work” utterly opposed to my mentor’s, and, to my apprehension, quite as dignified.


Because it has a dignity of its own to keep up, I object to the compound word just used. The dainty devices that have grown under women’s otherwise idle fingers for a thousand generations merit a nobler classification. I do not speak of professional tasks done for money. That is labor. As soon as the work element informs the needles or crochet and netting hook, the graceful play ceases to be recreation and a benefaction. She who appoints for herself a certain number of rounds or a given space to be covered within a set time at once loses the best good of her diversion. But for her “holding piece” many a woman would have gone mad under the pressure of sorrow, the gnawing worry of sordid cares, the racking of suspense. Fancy-work lightens dark days and infuses poetry into the commonplace that but for this “maybe” would be one inexorable “must do.”

Ah, the stories that are tragedies, stitched into the holding pieces bequeathed to us by our grandmothers and maiden great-aunts; the comedies, love-stories and poetry laughed and cried over and lived, while we fill in the blessed “betweenities” without which life would be all unparagraphed prose!

Men and moralists who decry fancy-work as frippery and wasted time are ignorant of the sedative properties it possesses, so long – upon this I insist – as it is not allowed to degenerate into a task. The flash of the kneedle, the swish of the silk, the click of the knitter’s slender steels, the dart f the crocket hook in and out of the gossamer web it is weaving – symbolize mental and spiritual conductors. They carry off and dissipate harmlessly electric charges from nerves and heart.

To secure similar ends our husbands smoke and play billiards, and – if rustic – whittle. Better a plethora of golf stockings, slippers and afghans than nicotine and shavings.

Marion Harland

Return of The Russian Samorar

This is the third article in February of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Feb 21, 1904, and is a very short article on the samovar. Considering the eastern nature of many of the immigrants who moved to the west it would not surprise me that one or two samovars made the journey over for those who could afford the item and space.

School for Housewives – Return of The Russian Samovar

Among the various Russian and Japanese belongings which acquired a sudden vogue by the first rumors of war in the east is the Russian samovar.

This picturesque urn is so little seen in our country that many housekeepers have at best a very vague idea of its nature.

The accompanying picture will consequently by of general interest.

The photographer has so far conceded to American prejudices as to include a cream pitcher among the various articles of the outfit whereas your Russian tea drinker considers sliced lemon the only correct accompaniment.

With this single exception Russian tea drinking in America is carried on in true Muscovite fashion.

For the sake of those to whom the outfit is totally unknown, it should be added that the samovar is a copper urn used in Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and elsewhere, in which water is kept boiling for use when required in making tea.

The heat is produced by filling a tube, which passes up through the urn, with live charcoal.

Marion Harland

Providing For “Pinch Time”

This is the third article in February of the School for Housewives 1905 series published on Feb 19, 1905, and is an article on fruits and winter fare.

School for Housewives – Providing For “Pinch Time”

The Period between Seasons When There Is Little in the Market for Any but the Wealthy

The term was as well known in Old Virginia as the name of any other season. It signified the weeks separating the dead of winter from the first advance of spring. Housekeepers looked forward to it with dread born of experience. Hardy vegetables which “kept over” from autumn to spring were losing their freshness. Potatoes had a bilious tinge and a rank “tang” to the palate; turnips were pithy; beets were hard; apples began to wither, toughen and rot.

To cap the climax of discontent, appetite were jaded by the monotony of winter fare and cried out for tempting variety.

Like conditions prevail to this day although in a mitigated degree, in families where forced fruits and vegetables are not to be had for money, or where money cannot be hard for the purchase of them. Growing children crave sweets, and account that meal a failure where these do not follow beats, bread and butter and the invariable potato. The longing is a law of nature. The saccharine which, the child says, “takes the greasy taste out of his mouth,” changes in the stomach to a digestive acid, acting beneficently upon said fatty matter. It is when these work upon an empty and tried stomach that they are injuries. With young people and mature sweet-lovers in my eye, I shall, today, talk of certain inexpensive methods of preparing dried fruits for the table that may cheat pinch time of its severity and lessen the grip upon the housewife’s purse that adds bitterness to the season.

By selecting dried fruits, pass by barrels and kegs of apples cured in the evil old way, to wit, in the open air, exposed to dust and bacteria and mold, to bees, ants and wasps. Took often, as our disgusted memories will testify, the hurdles of drying fruit set in the hottest sunshine temped the ease-loving cat to a siesta and chickens to picking and stealing. Our mothers, mindful of these things, washed dried fruits in several waters before putting them to soak. One housekeeper, a notable member of what in the blunt speech of the day was known as “the nasty-particular school,” used to wash her “cured” apples, peaches and pears with soap, trusting to many rinsings to remove the taste left by the process.

We have changed all that. The least “particular” of country housekeepers dries her fruit under mosquito netting raised a foot or so above the hurdle, to allow a free passage of air. All the same, unless you have put up your own fruit, buy the evaporated, desiccated in kilns and so quickly that flavor and juices have not time to escape.


A compote of dried applies will find instant favor with the youngsters as a sequel to a bread-and-butter and milk supper.

Wash a cup of evaporated apples, drain and soak for three hours in clean water enough to cover them. Stew tender at the end of that time in the water in which they were soaked. When cooked soft they should have absorbed all the liquid. Turn out; sweeten well and run through a colander or vegetable press. Set away until cold. A stick of cinnamon, cooked with the fruit, flavors it pleasantly.

A conserve of dried apples. The fruit is washed and soaked as in the preceding recipe. Drain dry, then put the liquid thus strained over the fire; bring to a boil and add a cupful of sugar to a pint of the juice, also a handful of sultana raisins, washed to two waters. Cook gently for an hour; let the syrup get almost cold; put in the apples and simmer half an hour, or until a straw will pierce them easily. Be careful not to let them break. Take out with a perforated spoon and put into a bowl. Boil the syrup hard one minute and pour over the fruit. Eat cold.

Dried apple and raisin pudding. Wash and soak the fruit as directed; cook tender as for the compote; lavishly sweeten; mash smooth and for each cupful allow half a cupful of seeded and halved raisins. Flavor with mace and cinnamon, and let the mixture get cold before adding a cupful of breadcrumbs soaked in one of milk, and two eggs beaten light. Lastly, stir in a half-teaspoonful of soda wet in a little boiling water. Beat all together very hard, and bake in a buttered dish. Send to table in the bake dish. Eat with hard sauce.

This pudding is nice boiled in a covered mold and turned out upon a hot platter.


A dried peach pudding is made in the same way, but the raisins are omitted.

A compote of dried pears and rice. Wash and soak the pears for four hours. Cook tender in the water in which they were soaked. Take out with a split spoon and lay in a bread platter. For each pint of the liquid left in the saucepan allow a cupful of sugar, and boil until it begins to thicken. Pour now over the pears; cover and let all stand together until lukewarm. Return to the fire and simmer for half an hour.

Having ready in a heated deep dish a mound of rice boiled so that each grain is separate from the rest; pour he hot fruit and syrup over it and send to table.

A charlotte of dried figs. Separate the figs from one another; wash them in three waters, rubbing each to make it pliant and lump. Soak for three hours in enough water to cover them well; stew in the same water until tender; add a cupful of sugar for each pound of figs and simmer slowly for half an hour. Turn out; cover closely, and when cool set on the ice or in a very cold place. When ready to serve them, put into a glass dish and heap high with whipped cream. They will be found delicious.

A prune charlotte. Sew a dozen and a half large prunes; when cold, remove the stones and chop fine. Whip a pint of cream very stiff with three tablespoonfuls of sugar, then whip the minced prunes into this. Line a glass dish with lady fingers, or thin slices of sponge cake, and fill the centre with the prune cream. Set in the ice box until time to serve.

A prune soufflé. Stone and chop eighteen stewed prunes. Beat the yolks of four eggs light with two tablespoonfuls of sugar. Cook together in a saucepan one tablespoonful of butter and two of flour, and when they are blended pour upon them a scant gill of hot milk. Cook, stirring, to a thick white sauce; beat this gradually into the yolks and sugar, and add the minced prunes. Beat hard for five minutes and set aside to cool. When cold add the stiffened whites of the four eggs, beat for a minute and turn into a buttered pudding dish. Bake in a hot oven for half an hour.


The sauce to be eaten with this pudding is made by heating the prune liquor, adding to it sugar and, when this is dissolved, a dash of lemon juice.

An Italian charlotte. Shell and boil Spanish chestnuts, remove the skins and rub the nuts through a colander. Sweeten to taste and neat to a soft paste with a little cream. Form the mixture into a pyramid in the centre of a chilled platter and heap sweetened whipped cream around it.

Marion Harland