Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The End of the Beginning

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      I didn't think I would have time for a post today, because bright and early tomorrow we start our road trip to Pennsylvania to attend get my brother's academy commencement and bring him home for the summer.  But, I think today is too important a day to pass up.  So, this post is going to be short and sweet.

     Today, though rather quiet around the house, was a big day for me.  Today I graduated from high school.  Unlike many teenagers, I didn't have an awards ceremony, I wasn't handed a diploma, I'm not partying with my friends.  I didn't go to senior prom with my class.  I don't have a class.  It's just me.

     The past twelve years I have spent in my parents home, studying at the dining room table mostly, with my mom as my teacher, and yes, my dad as the principle.  Every autumn I would get so excited when the big cardboard box would arrive at our doorstep, brimming with fresh books for the new school year.  And then I remember reaching the middle of the second semester and wishing it would all just end.

     Now it has ended.  However in a way, it hasn't ended; it has really begun, for a whole new chapter lies ahead, full of blank pages.  Though I have been in the process of making some big plans, there is still so much unknown out there that sometimes it feels a bit daunting.  Whatever God has in store for me, I pray that I will be able to fulfill His amazing plan to the best that I can. 




   Lastly, I just want to take a moment to say how much I appreciate all of the time, work and love my parents have put into my school years, and to thank them for the amazing education they have given me, all in the shelter of our home. They will never know what it has meant to me. Thank you Lord for giving me the best parents in the world!


God bless,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rose in Bloom...

The flowers around the house at last opened their beautiful faces to the sunshine, allowing me to take many portraits of them in the wee hours of light we had this morning before the rain began to pour.  

The bushes along the path to one of the side doors have seemingly burst into bloom overnight with bright peach toned blossoms, which were lightly laden with raindrops from the previous night.



You may recognize this photo as similar to one in this post which I did last spring with some shots of the flowers around the property.  Only back then I only had a cheap little pocket camera. :)


We just recently filled all of the window boxes!


Farther from the house are the shrubs of peonies which never fail to surprise us with their beautiful color variations.  This one looked so perfect...


I liked the sunlight on these little flowers...




So thankful for this beautiful weather He has blessed us with!

Yours truly,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Homestead Diaries | With Needle and Thread


Goodness, another whole week has blown by already!  How time is flying this time of year.  Today was a busy one at the farmhouse.  It started early in the morning when I baked some cornbread for tomorrow's corn presentation.  They do a corn event every year and tell people about how important corn was back then and all the things you can make from it. 


While that was in the oven, I got to work doing some sewing on the hand crank machine.  We got out a few machines so we could all work on some nine patches.


I worked on a Pfaff model from the late 1800s.  It was really a unique experience sewing on such a famous name brand, only it looked quite different, and prettier, than Pfaffs today.  These machines were touted as being the "latest, quietest machines", making very little noise other than a calming, metalic rhythm spurned with each turn of the wheel.  Of course, the invention of the hand crank provided a much more portable machine than the old treadle powered models.  One advertisement even suggested bringing your machine to the seaside for a relaxing afternoon of sewing on the shore!


Interestingly, these old machines cannot stitch backwards, so if you want to reinforce the beginning or end of your seam, you have to lift the needle out, bring the fabric back a bit, and sew over it again at the end.  Usually I don't though, because most of the seams are sewn over again in other places which overlaps the ends.

Each machine does its own stitch.  We had two straight stitch machines and one chain stitch machine out.  One bonus about the chain stitch machine is that taking out seams is super quick!  Just pull the thread and it all comes out like a row of crochet stitches.


There is the nine patch I made today.  I think I will make it into a pillow, since I am not at all a quilter, nor do I have the patience to make a million more and sew them all together.  I do like the way it turned out though.


Right there is the quilt that the quilter's club works on a little each month.  We keep it in the sitting room with a cloth over it for protection.  The pattern is very pretty!

And there's the cornbread that was baking while I was sewing.  It was pretty tasty, and it cooked well in the skillet.  I am getting more used to cooking in cast iron and I like it.


It was cloudy in the morning, but after our noon meal it brightened up into a muggy, damp afternoon.  The air smelled like wet grass, soft mud and fragrant flowers growing around the farm...

Hope you are having a lovely day!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Best Day

Since Mother's Day was just this week, I thought it appropriate to share this song with all of you.

"The Best Day" by Taylor Swift


This song makes me cry every. single. time. I listen to it.  Perhaps it's because I can relate to each and every word.  I love my mom so much. :')


(Dear me, I just hit that play button again and now I'm a sniffly mess!)




Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Ramblings

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day with your mothers!  Ours was wonderful.  It started in the morning when my sister and I woke up early and prepared a breakfast in bed for Momma.


Sorry, I had the plate over it to keep it warm and didn't think to take it off before I took the picture. :)

After celebrating in the bedroom and presenting our humble offerings wrapped up in brown paper and ribbon, we proceeded to get ready for Mass.

After a beautiful Mass we headed to our friends house for most of the day.  I had made Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes the night before which, alas, I did not get pictures of.  But apparently they were popular because by the time the girls and I returned from the airsoft war they had all vanished into thin air!  Oh and yes, you did hear me correctly.  I played airsoft practically the whole afternoon.

Normally I would have been absolutely horrified at such an unladylike sport, but when the boys called for reinforcements, and the other girls begged me to come with them, I decided that for this one afternoon I could throw being ladylike to the wind and have some fun.  It was very.... interesting, considering I absolutely stink at shooting anything, and most of the time I was just trying not to get shot (those things hurt really bad!), but overall I did have a great time.  Countless two-man airsoft wars in our own woods with my brother have at least made me somewhat familiar with the game.  However, I did come home with some sunburn.  I looked in the mirror later that evening and, to my sorrow, saw a nice pink stripe starting at one end of my cheek, skimming over my nose, and ending on the other side.  So much for preserving my complexion this year.  In all the books I read, a lady always makes every effort to keep the sun off of her face, so as not to tint her features, as that was considered very uncivilized.  So, each spring I get so determined that during the warm months, I'm going to wear a hat or bonnet and sunscreen whenever I go outside, to keep the sun off my face.  But each year my failure is epic when, on that one spring day (like today), it just sort of happens, and then there it is for the rest of the summer.  So here I am, an unsophisticated redskin from the backwoods.  Well not quite, but that's how I feel.

Well somehow I went from talking about Mother's Day to getting a sunburn in one post.  Sorry for my very random ramblings!  But then again, I did warn you in the title of this post.

Happy day after Mother's Day! :)

God bless,




Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Homestead Diaries | Ginger and Molasses

Well here I am with the second official Homestead Diaries post!  I got a lot of enthusiasm in the comments on my first post, so it looks like you all want me to go ahead with the series!  Alrighty then.  Let's get started.

Today, I did my first ever baking adventure with the wood stove.  After browsing the old cookbooks, I decided to try a simple ginger snap recipe dating back to 1890.


I got the stove roaring, and waited for the oven to heat up.  It usually gets to be between 350 and 400 degrees, depending on how big your fire is.


Checking to make sure it has enough wood...


As the stove was heating, I gathered all of my ingredients together and began preparing the dough.  The molasses was in the cellar, so I had to brave all those little spiders who have made their threadlike homes down there and grab the molasses and run back upstairs. *shivers*


 After some elbow grease I at last got the dough to the right consistency.  There were no mixers back then!




I cut them out with a simple, jagged edged round cutter.   There were a bunch of other shapes, but I wanted them all uniform. :)


 And then into the oven they went!  With a wood burning stove you have to gauge how long you have had your food in, and turn it around halfway through or else one side will be doughy goop and the other will be fried within an inch of its life.  And yes, I'm speaking from experience.  You do not want to see how the first pan came out. :)

 

Set some dishes to soak while I was waiting for my cookies...


Pussy wants to come in!  Sorry Sarah, no kitties allowed in the house!  
She's the sweetest little thing....


It looks like they're done!  Perfect!  Now we'll just get a trivet out and let them cool somewhere where little fingers can't reach them... :)
 

I just have to say I am so stinkin' proud of myself that I successfully baked something in that oven.  Of course, the other homemaker and I couldn't eat all those cookies ourselves, so I brought some to the ladies at the country store, and then turned the rest of them over to the ever grateful, ever obliging fellows at the blacksmith.  They told me they were delicious. :)

Now, I want a wood burning stove for myself.  I am definitely going to use one in my future home!

Oh yes, I almost forgot!  The recipe!
 
  
Ginger Snaps 
 (1890)

2 eggs well beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp soda
Enough flour

Mix in order given.  Turn out on a floured surface; cut into shapes.  Bake in a quick oven.


Now, don't panic.  You have to remember that this is a very old recipe, which dates back to a time when women were in the kitchen much more often, and thus knew what they were doing.  Which means that recipes were a bit vague, especially with amounts and baking times.  We will take this one step at a time.

Beat the eggs, stir in the brown sugar, molasses, and baking soda.  Add some flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough holds together and is able to be rolled out on a floured surface. When I made it I think I used about 3 1/2 cups in the end, but be your own judge.  Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/4" thickness.  Cut into shapes, and place on a greased cookie sheet, about 1 1/2" inches apart.

And now, we have the oven situation.  In the old days there was no set oven temperature which you could work with.  You could fluctuate the temperature a bit by how hot you had the fire going, but that was it.  So if you are using a modern oven I would suggest bringing it up to 375 degrees and baking the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until set.  My first batch was done in a flash, but by the time I was putting last batch in, I had let the fire go down a bit so they took longer.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
 

Lovely!  Now you know how to make ginger snaps the way they did in the old days.  I hope you enjoyed the post. :)

God bless,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Life

Once upon a time, nearly eighteen years ago, there was a young woman who realized that she was going to have a baby.  This girl realized she was not able to care for this baby herself, and knew she was going to have to make a life-changing decision, both for herself, and for her child.

At the same time, states away, there was a young couple who did not have any children of their own.  This couple wanted a little one very badly, and prayed faithfully, every day, for God to bless them.

Then one day, through God's amazing plan, that couple was at a hospital where that young woman was bringing her child into the world.  Within minutes, that baby was in the arms of that couple, making them, at last, a father and a mother.


That couple was my parents.

And that baby, was me.

  


That young woman chose life, and every day I thank God that she did.


Choose life!




Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Homestead Diaries | My New Home

Some of you may know that I have recently begun spending my Saturdays at an historical 1880s working farm.  My duties consist of cooking meals on the wood-burning stove, cleaning dishes and pans, pouring over old books, keeping my apron clean, spinning yarn, shooing the cat out of the kitchen..... basically running a home the way they did in the late 1800s.  Let me tell you that on my first day, I honestly thought I had died and gone to Heaven.  This is definitely the life for me, and I'm just sorry that I only get to live it one day of the week.

Anyways, today I thought I would begin a new series of posts here on the blog: "The Homestead Diaries".  In these posts I will share what I have been up to lately at the farmhouse, as well as lots of pictures.  So, for today, allow me to walk you around my home. :)


 The kitchen is where the homemakers hover most of the day.  We cook meals on the stove, wash dishes, make tea, sit and chat.... It is the warmest room in the house, and I'm sure you can guess why.


That's the head homemaker.  She reminds me so much of Tasha Tudor.  She made that apron she's wearing and is helping me draft my own pattern to make one for myself.  Here is the image she used as a reference, which we found after digging through some old fashion books from the late 1800s. (I know, a seamstress's dream come true, right?)




Such a cozy little kitchen!  I wish I could live here all the time.

 



Irons are kept on top of the stove to keep them hot for pressing clothing.

Below are some shots of the pantry.  In there we keep most of our cooking and baking supplies, lots of canned goods, and flour, sugar, etc.  The water pump and sink are also tucked back here in the pantry.










 The pump is the only supply of water in the house.  Just fill up one of the blue basins and start rinsing off dishes!  We usually keep a pan of warm water on the stove for washing dishes in.




The parlor is where we spend the afternoons after most of our work is done.  You can sit and crochet, write a letter at the desk, or perhaps spin some yarn.  This is the wheel I got to spin on today.  It's the Ashford "Elizabeth".  Can you guess why I like it so much? :)


 The view from the parlor window...






You can also do some mending on the treadle machine, or sew an apron, bonnet, or even a dress.



Well that is all for now.  If everything goes well I will hopefully have a Homestead Diaries post each week, but we'll see.

Have a lovely evening!  (or afternoon, or morning, or whatever it is in your part of the world :)

Other posts of interest....

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