Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful! Well, it is getting there, but the wind and snow are almost unbearable!!! It is so cold. Makes me want to hole up inside and never go out!

Here is what it looks like in Indianapolis -

The wind is extremely strong today. In fact, the snow looks like it is going completely horizontal because of the wind.

I know there will be colder days and more snow than this throughout the rest of winter. However, I do not plan on going out in it!
It looks pretty, the world all in white. As much as I hate being cold, it will be nice to see snow a few times this season. Plus, it will be priceless to watch Brenna play in the snow for the first time in her new snowsuit. Seeing snow through Brenna's eyes, especially since it will be new for her, makes me enjoy the snow a little more.
For those of you who have not had the joy of the first snowfall this year yet, don't worry. It will come. Think of snow through someone else's eyes this time to try to enjoy it more. Also, keep warm while doing it!
I see hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, warm blankets, and fireplaces in my future. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Layer Away!

Now that it's December, we can pretty much say that it is winter, and that it is pretty much cold outside - well, at least colder. So that means more layers!! I love this time of year when I can wear warm tights with a cute skirt and a fitted turtleneck sweater, feeling comfy warm yet look really nice, too. It is also the time of year when curling up under a nice warm blanket in the corner of the couch with a good book or movie and a cup of hot coffee seems to be calling my name, too.

Let's face it - we are in the holiday season. It's winter. It's cold. It's December. It's almost Christmas. I don't really like the cold as we head farther into winter, but with the cold comes fun family activities, sometimes more travel, and some wonderful events that hopefully, bring us closer together in friendship and love.

I don't know about anyone else, but I love snow...when I can leave it behind when I have had enough of it. This is the first week that snow has been in our weather forecast here in Indiana, and I am excited and apprehensive. As long as I don't have to get out in it, and I feel warm and safe inside, then it will be fun watching the first snowfall of winter. I can't imagine going through a long, cold winter like pioneers did in their breezy log cabins! The drafts would freeze me, for sure!! However, if I had been of that time, I am sure I would have coped like everyone else. I would layer, layer, layer and quilt like there was no tomorrow!

Right now I am working on finishing up a couple of quilts I started awhile back that now just need to be hand quilted. I thought about tying them, but I just thought that I would like the look of them better if I did them right - the old-fashioned way. So, like many-a pioneer woman, I am trying to spend my cold winter days hand quilting so I can be warm the rest of the winter.

Here are a couple of swatches from one of the quilts that I will hopefully be working on. I like the neutrals, especially tans and browns.

If you don't quilt, then perhaps try knitting. Scarves are easy and don't take too long to make, and they really make a difference if you are cold indoors. They can also be a fashion accessory!

Try to stay warm, my friends!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

The last couple of days have not been as productive as I would have liked. It seems that all I get done is mundane household chores. Not too exciting to write about on a daily basis, but very authentic for today and the 19th century. It is what moms do, even when we don't really want to!

While I was doing all of that necessary "work," I did happen to make an Apple Crisp with the help of my lovely daughter.
She does love her apples!

Apple Crisp is such an easy thing to make, and it tastes sooooo good, especially during beautiful, fall weather! Take any type of apple (I used Galas and Granny Smith to have some sweet and a little sour) and add Cinnamon and a little flour (so there will not be just juice from the apples but rather a thicker sauce). Mix up some oats, brown sugar, and a little more Cinnamon. Cut in Smart Balance Light (or butter if you can eat it) to make a nice topping for the apples. To make it really good, put some small bits of butter on top of the apples before putting on the topping. Top the apples with the oat mix and bake. So simple and soooooo good!!!!

Women today, just like in the pioneer days, loved having some things be simple and easy. There never is quite enough of the "easy stuff" when it comes to running a household. Little special treats like Apple Crisp every now and then spice up life and hopefully bring family closer together.
Remember, not everything has to be hard!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Full Day

Today was a full day. We got our new couch this weekend, which inspired us to finish cleaning and going through the living room. We even had our carpets cleaned! Well, we did not intend to do that, but it turned out that the company I called was owned by a man whose daughter goes to the school my mom works at. My mom knew his wife and daughter! So, we ended up getting the living room and hallway done for a great price! If you ever need your carpet or upholstery cleaned, contact Eco Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning.

Anyway, after all of that excitement, it was time to think about dinner. It was suggested that we have Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, but no one wanted it if it was made with jar Alfredo sauce. So I made it all from scratch. My family said it turned out great! You can't go wrong with cream, butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. My soon to be brother-in-law said it was as good as Olive Garden!

My mother made two pumpkin pies today, too, which means we have to have homemade whipped cream to go with them! So I made a big bowl of whipped cream for the warm pumpkin pie that the family had after dinner. It was a wonderful dinner!!

Homemade dinners are fun to make, especially when they are appreciated. It is a rare thing that families sit down together and eat a homemade meal anymore. Most of the time, members of families grab something processed to eat as they are rushing out the door (or they skip meals altogether). Families in the 19th century ate almost all of their meals together as a family, and they were definitely homemade! They didn't have all of the "convenience" in meal prep that we have available today. They made everything from scratch, and I am sure it was soooooo good!!
If you haven't made something from scratch in awhile or at all, then give it a try! You will remember or learn how wonderful homemade food really is!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Purging, Re-arranging, and Variety!

The past couple of days have been purging days, at least for me. I have been trying to go through things here that have not been used in ages or that we don't need anymore. Believe me, it's easier said than done! Since I have been away for quite awhile, I do not have the attachments to things around here anymore like my sisters do. It is easy for me to say, "Oh, you don't need that anymore." They do not find that amusing after they hear me say that to more than half of their stuff.

Actually, they have been pretty good about getting rid of things. In fact, each of them had more bags to give to Goodwill than I thought I could get out of them. So, today we loaded all of the stuff for Goodwill into my van (which was packed to the max!), and my sister dropped it off on her way to the school. It was a beautiful, sunny day today for us to be outside accomplishing a good thing. There is now a small corner of the garage that we can move around in as we go through the rest of the garage and purge some more!

When I get on a purging kick, I sometimes carry that over into rearranging. My excuse is that I need to move furniture around to be sure that I am not missing something that could be thrown away or given away. In all honesty, I just like moving furniture. So that is what I did, as well. The new layout has proven to be a success. My family has commented on how much they like it. We are hopefully soon going to get a new couch since ours is very old and falling apart. Then I get to rearrange again! Yay!!

Now how does all of my ramblings about purging and rearranging furniture relate to the 19th century? Well, given that houses were a lot smaller than most of ours today, families during that time did not have much space to just store things they did not use regularly. As children outgrew things, they were either passed down to the next child or remade into something that could be used. If that wasn't the case, then once something couldn't be used anymore, it was gotten rid of. Another good point to make here is that children did not have all of the toys and things that children of today have. They had much fewer belongings. Again, the space issue and not a lot of money for "extra" things.

The mentality was also different during that era. Material things were not as important. The family had what it needed and maybe a little extra, but it was not consumed with stuff. As the mother of the house, she was constantly trying to keep things in their place or get rid of them so they had room to eat, sleep, learn, and spend time together. There probably wasn't much rearranging of furniture, given that they didn't have a lot of pieces nor a lot of space in their small houses. However, I bet women sometimes got an urge to just change things up a bit for variety's sake like I do. It might be in our nature. Well... at least I think so!

You know what they say - "variety is the spice of life!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ironing and Tips

Since I do not iron as much as many women do or 19th century women did for that matter, I thought I would show you what I did iron today. Not too exciting, but I am lengthening my mother's slacks. So, I had to iron a new crease in the bottom before I sew them.

This is what they looked like.

You can see the old line where the bottom crease used to be, and hopefully, you can see where I made a new crease a quarter inch above the serging. Needless to say, my ironing for the day consisted of two pant leg hems.

Here's a couple of tips on how to iron certain fabrics.

1. When ironing wool, use a thin piece of cotton fabric to lay over the wool, then spray with water to make steam. Never iron directly on wool! It will turn shiny.

2. When lengthening pants or skirts and trying to get the old crease out, make sure your iron has water in it so you can create a good amount of steam. Depending on the type of fabric (i.e. cotton, wool, or synthetic) and how long the item has been washed, ironed, and worn at that length, the crease (or line) may not completely iron out. Steam is one of the best things to try.

3. With synthetic fabric, remember not to have the heat turned up too high. The fabrics will melt!

And last but not least, here is a simple homemade starch recipe that also makes your clothes smell nice, too.

Lavender Linen Starch

Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 pint cold water. Add 6 drops of lavender essential oil (or whatever your favorite scent is). Place in a spray bottle and shake before using.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Infamous Wash Day

The dreaded wash day is upon us. After that wonderful, relaxing Sunday day of rest, it is now time to get back to the daily grind. Many people don't mind doing laundry, but to some of us it is a chore that seems to be unending. I can't even fathom how women of the 19th century dealt with all of the laundry, washing it the old fashioned way. I think it takes long enough sorting the different colors, putting one load in the washer at a time, waiting to switch it over to the dryer, all the while starting the next load. Then folding everything and putting it all away.

Now I have no reason to complain since I don't have to boil water and scrub my clothes by hand or with tough soap such as lye. Nor do I have to wait for the outside air to dry all of my clothes. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell of clothes freshly dried in the sun, but choosing to do that and having that as the only option are two different things!

Here is the before and after of my day's laundry.

- The dirty clothes pile
The clean clothes pile -
I am still folding and putting away the clean laundry. No nice, neat folded stacks of clean clothes for me. Not when I have the loving help of my 10 month old. No excuse compared to 19th cenury women. They definitely had it harder - the process, the space, the help, and so on. Since we don't have it as hard as those women did (and we don't have a specific day to do laundry on), I think it is safe to say that at least the laundry is clean and my baby is happy!