The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. TAKE JOY! ~Fra Giovanni
WELCOME to the Take Joy Society. We are a group of ladies who first met because of our love of Tasha Tudor's art and lifestyle. We are broadening our focus to include other artists/writers/people of interest who embody Tasha's philosophy to Take Joy in all the good that life has to offer. Here you will find a record of our get-togethers and resources to help you see that the gloom of the world is but a shadow so that you, too, can Take Joy!
If you are a gardener and live where there are four seasons, you're probably like me in February--itching to get your hands in dirt. Along about now I find myself longing for color. It helps if there is snow on the ground to cover all the brown, but after a while that doesn't even help. So this morning I found myself looking through my Photo Library where I collect the photos I've taken of my garden through the years. . . . I planted my first garden when my youngest was two. He would be my last child and I knew that nurturing a garden would help me let go of my children as they grew up and left home. Over the last 26 years I've dug, and hauled, and planted, and weeded. I've enjoyed walking through others' gardens to get ideas and perusing garden centers for plants. Each year I look forward to Spring when the perennials begin to poke through the earth again. I'm eager to discover what has made it through the winter. Some do not survive, but this gives me an opportunity to start over.
Designing my garden beds is intuitional for me. This is the part of gardening I love the most. It allows me to express my own sense of beauty--putting textures and colors together. But, like life, gardening has it's struggles. Sometimes it can be disheartening when after a beautiful Spring, Summer brings heat and humidity to decimate my garden. Colors fade, leaves shrivel, then the bugs and powdery mildew have a field day!
This is why I take photos. They remind me, like memories, of the best part of gardening and give me hope for Springtime. . . .
For best viewing, click right corner for full-screen
Several members of the Take Joy Society gathered at Cindy's quaint stone house this month to make Valentines. She shared the house's history with us:
The farm I live on is called Montpelier and the land first belonged to Evan Shelby whose son became the first governor of Kentucky. He had a wooden home and we do not know where it was located. Then it was purchased by John Thompson Mason and his wife Elizabeth. They built the houses that are here today and are buried in a small graveyard on the hill behind my house. The house I live in was the slave master’s house and it was built in the 1750’s. The next owners of Montpelier were the Barnes family and upon their death they freed all the slaves. The next, and last owners, are the Seiberts. My children are the 7th generation of the Seibert family to live on the farm.
Cindy comes from a long line of watercolor artists. Here is her watercolor of what the house looked like before they added on to it more than 30 years ago. . . .
She has other artistic talents as well, like these welded sculptures. . . .
Before we began our craft we had a delicious Apricot Cake and Dollie's Tea Room's special blend tea. . . .
Scherenschnitte means "scissors cutting" and was introduced to Europe in the 16th century. Cindy wrote it out phonetically for us and showed us samples she'd prepared. . . .
She gave us patterns to trace, but you can draw anything you'd like. . . .
Then she showed us how to place the pattern in the fold of a piece of paper and trace the design on the light board (or you can use the light from outside by placing it on a windowpane). You want it in the fold because you will be cutting one design through two pieces of paper that you'll unfold when you're done. This way both sides of the design will be identical. Then she used an exacto knife--or you could use the special small, sharp-pointed scissors made for papercutting, to cut out the requisite spaces. Finally, she used scissors to cut around the outer outline of the design. . . .
Here we are cutting out our designs. . . .
Some of us chose to color ours. If you're brave enough (i.e., confident in your handwriting skills) you can write words along the outside like Cindy did in the samples. The bottom right piece is the one Cindy worked on while we did ours. It is not quite finished, but you can see how intricate you can make them if you have the patience to cut out all those little spaces. . . .
Here is a short video that goes through the steps (this is not our Cindy ☺︎). . . .
Mary Mason Campbell writes in "The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac" (illustrated by Tasha Tudor), "The long darkness of night is shrinking, and day is stretching after its winter rest. . . " We had 27 inches of snow last week so it looks very much like winter in our part of the world. I love looking out my window at all the white as opposed to the alternative--brown. But I must say I'm loving that when we sit down to dinner in front of the bay window at 5:30 each evening I can once again see outside. Living further south and west of New England gives me more daylight sooner and I love that.
Mrs. Campbell also gives us some history on the first uses for tea in this country. She writes that it was first introduced to New Englanders in 1670 and that "no one seemed to know just how to prepare or serve it. There was no such thing in this country as a teapot. . .it was boiled, then the liquor was thrown away and the tea leaves eaten, sometimes with salt and butter, sometimes with sugar and milk." She tells of an old Nantucket book that describes the first tea party there. . ."the hostess put a five-gallon bell-metal kettle of water on the crane, poured in four quarts of tea leaves and the whole was boiled for an hour, then the dark bitter liquor was drunk from silver porringers. Since this did not produce a very palatable beverage, the hostess entertained a practical suggestion that it had not been properly prepared and the liquor had best be used to dye woolen yarns." Mrs. Campbell includes this recipe, among several, to serve at today's tea parties. . . .
Tasha Tudor found ways to celebrate February indoors. Making valentines, especially for the dolls, was a wonderful way to spend the still-dark evenings. Last year the Maryland Chapter of the Tasha Tudor Museum gathered to make their own valentines along with a Sparrow Post mailbox. You can read about it here. I've been reading a lot about Beatrix Potter since the first of the year in preparation for a monthly post on Morning Musings about her since this is the 150th anniversary of her birth. I know that Tasha was one of her devotees so I would not be surprised if Tasha had gotten the idea for her miniature letters and post box from Beatrix who had done the same years before. . . .
"A Time to Keep" by Tasha Tudor
Tasha also liked to celebrate George Washington's birthday. Her great-great-grandfather Colonel William Tudor had been a friend and aide to George Washington and had helped form the Society of the Cincinnati. He studied law under John Adams and served as the first judge advocate general of the United States. I'm not at all surprised that she would encourage her children to put on historic costumes and re-enact our nation's history. . . .
"A Time to Keep" by Tasha Tudor
But I think she probably loved Valentine's Day the most because she was a romantic at heart. . . .