24 Jun 2010

Great Sponge Battle Attempt 3

So here is this week's sponge cake attempt. It is better than last week's offering, but is still not perfect. For this challenge I used an oven thermometer to heat the oven to exactly 180° C and cooked it for exactly 18 minutes. It still had a smaller-than-last-week-but-still-there soggy spot in the middle. Next week I will try 20 minutes. Or maybe 19.

The icing was better though. I mixed passionfruit pulp from the freezer with icing sugar and heated it in a saucepan on the stove. It seemed to stop it running. At least I have mastered something during this process!

Jo Princess Warrior told me yesterday that cooking is one of the Gentle Arts, along with such things as needlework, gardening and homemaking, and pointed me to a post by her sister about a book by blogger extraordinaire, Jane Brocket entitled The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home . It is now on my wish list!!

I like the gentle arts. Flower arranging, pottering in my garden, cooking, homemaking, interior decoration, and my more recent passions of knitting and crochet give me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. Even trying to perfect the sponge is fun. Frustrating, but certainly fun.

Edith Schaeffer, Susan's Mum and Francis' widow, in her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking defines hidden art as the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life. Each person has, she believes, some talent that is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being - a talent that could be expressed and developed, fulfilling and enriching their lives.

Unsurprisingly, Edith approaches the hidden arts from a Christian perspective. She suggests that:
a Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator.
It is rare to find a book that validates the womanly interests in things like clothes, interior decoration, flower arranging, food and writing. You should see my husband when he hears me talking to my best girlfriend, Kerrie. "How can you spend an hour talking about such drivel!" he exclaims. "Because to Kerrie, finding shoes to wear to her business meeting is not drivel, darling, and searching out the perfect cushion for her new sofa is actually very important." Lots of eye rolling happens about here.

Now you'll notice that I don't put clothes down as one of my likes above. I don't really keep up with fashion like Kerrie does, and I don't like clothes shopping. Book shopping is another matter! I do like to dress neatly and appropriately though, and I don't like looking dowdy.

Francis in her chapter on clothing says this:
Surely the question of a Christian living aesthetically, artistically and creatively comes into the area of clothing too, does it not? Is it not important that a Christian represent in his clothing the One in whose image he is made? Spiritually, we are clothed in white linen robes which are the righteousness of Christ, and that is more important than fashion. But is there any reason why a child of the One who designed, created, brought forth and clothed the flowers should set out to look ugly and drab? Are we representing Him by looking unattractive?
Somehow I think that the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 would be far from dowdy with her household clothed in scarlet and her clothing of silk and purple.

Now I'm starting to waffle. I'm good at that.

Back to the Gentle Arts. Do you practice them? Is homemaking important to you?

To me these things are what I do to make Our Peaceful House into Our Peaceful Home. I like to make my little part of the world more orderly, more artistic and more beautiful. I like to make it more yummy too.

What do you think? What's your favourite Gentle Art?

Back for Battle with the Sponge 4 next week.


  1. Hi Jeanne,
    A great post on the gentle arts! I am reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking at the moment and am going to use some of it for our next Ladies' meeting at church. I love Edith's writing, it is so beautiful - she writes creatively!
    Your sponge looks delicious, by the way!

  2. It is a long while since I have read The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I think, if we are to be keepers of our homes, these gentle arts are gooing to be our number one love!
    I reckon Mrs P31 is a snappy dresser, too, but I am afraid I have not a lick of fashion sense. Did you guess that about me, Jeanne? Even when I want to look snazzy I seem to look dowdy :-(
    My home is not well co ordinated either because of this total lack of creative flair. (Yes, of course I have the sister that can just throw this with that and it looks fabulous!)So I go for the homey, welcoming theme :-)
    I dream of one of those make over shows where they come and redecorate your house!
    Having said all of that I absolutely agree, provided we do not become proud or make an idol of it, that we should pour as much energy and creativity into making our homes homely, nic, welcoming as possible.
    Re the husbands and our seemingly trivial conversations. Mine can talk for HOURS about cars, motors,parts, fuels, politics, conspiracy theories blah, blah, blah. He will still tease me if I talk for ten minutes about a recipe, a baby, an outfit. Priorities I guess?
    Sorry about the post length comment. Rae is working with he boys and I am enjoying some down time on the computer.

  3. That sponge looks delicious and passionfruit icing is my favourite.

    I brought Edith Schaeffer's book 'Hidden Art' for $1 second hand over year ago and I just found it yesterday, no joke, after cleaning out under my stairs. That's amazing! Mine says 'Hidden Art' published in 1971! I'm pretty sure it's the same!

  4. Edith Schaeffer's 'Hidden Art' inspired me years ago - not that I've lived up to it as much as I'd like. I like most of the gentle arts - but time for them all is lacking esp. when for example - I've had to undo the jacket I'm knitting several times to fix up my errors! Gardening is probably my favourite and I like finishing something (sewing/knitting) and saying 'I made that'. Usually I like cooking too - though often there is little time to appreciate it before it disappears. I'm terrible when it comes to dressing - at 41 I still feel like I haven't quite found my style but often if's because I don't feel I can justify the expense or the cost to someone somewhere who possibly didn't get paid to produce things that are more affordable. I always have more projects in my head than I will ever have time for........

  5. 'Good to the Grain- Baking with Whole-Grain Flours' by Kim Boyce and Amy Scattergood is a book I recently borrowed from the library and may be one you'd like to look at. A couple of us here keep drooling over it. As a person with coeliac I've had to adjust the receipes to be gluten-free but so far we've made our version of the 'Honey Hazelnut Cookies' and the 'Ginger Peach Muffins and was inspired to make a receipe for Buckwheat Apricot Pancakes - all of which were yumm.

  6. I would love to knit. I honestly don't have the time yet, but one day...yes. In the past few months I was reflecting on why it is so lovely and peaceful to sit and be in the same room with someone doing a handcraft type thing. It allows space to just be, or talk, and the repetition of the work is very peaceful. In the days of old, things like sewing and knitting would have been chores. There are many chores that we do now (dishes, ironing, folding clothes) that are repetitive and I think we can in fact see them as we see knitting or embroidery, and that is they can be done in a peaceful, enjoyable sort of way.

    Do you gather what I'm trying to say? My brains a bit tired at this time of night.

  7. Nothing makes a home more peaceful and homey than baking! You are inspiring me to bake something other than brownies.

    We're taking a break this month from homeschool while the kids do swim team, but I can't wait to get going again in July. They get stir crazy in the hot afternoons so it's a perfect time to read.

  8. I love Edith's book, but also love the "other side" of the story--her son Frankie's story. Especially his novels based on his childhood--blasphemous, but darned funny.

    I thought down in Oz when cakes fail you throw custard on them and call it trifle or something? lol! It looks YUMMY no matter what you say!

  9. Just dropping in to say hello, and catch up with your blog.

    The gentle arts. I could really do with some these days. Hopefully soon. :)


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