Saturday, March 27, 2010

1860s Hospital Event

Today I participated in a Living History event focused on what a southern home-turned-into-a make-shift-hospital would've been like March 1864.
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I was one of the laundresses working out-of-doors, and our jobs were to wash the bandages and linens of the wounded men inside. Keeping the fire going, chopping wood, & hauling fresh water were a few of our chores.
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In the Outdoor kitchen,
a woman was sewing ticking fabric scraps to make a pillow case (to be later filled with cotton)
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A peek inside the window...

Washed bandages being put up on the line to be dried...

1860s Medicine cabinet
A friend of ours {who is a Historian} put together this impressive collection of 19th century remedies. So much research goes into this; more than you'd think!
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Laundresses would often wear wooden clogs since leather shoes couldn't handle getting wet so often. So yes, I clip-clopped around in them lol! It was an uncomfortable experience, but actually I got used to them :) ...heh, somewhat.

While I was in the Cookhouse with the older women, I was asked about what I do at home--It was a wonderful opportunity to share with them about my faith and lifestyle, especially using this time productively as a stay at home daughter until marriage. It was exciting to share that participating in these 19th century events (that incorporate open-hearth cooking, natural/local/homegrown foods, and back-to-basics skills) go perfectly with what I'd like to learn to do at our little homestead.
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The yoke being used to haul water...
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Inside, a young woman writes a letter to loved ones, as others pass by.
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During this event, not only can I share facts and interact with the public, but gleaning wisdom from the older generation is always a blessing. As I washed the clothes, older couples would stand around, reminiscing to when they used to do these very things "back in the olden days".
I find that although they praised convenience, many still acknowledged that "things were simpler back then" and many of these skills just aren't a priority anymore.
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I'd love to hear your thoughts on this,
and hope you all are having a pleasant weekend!





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cooking--from "Scratch"


When we shop at the grocery, I love looking for different spices, sauces, vinegars etc. to spice up our variety at home. Well it never fails that I go through this situation:
I automatically read the back label, stare in disbelief at the ingredients, narrow my eyes at the high price, hold up the jar and declare to the innocent bystanders on Isle 9,
"I CAN MAKE THIS!!"
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Ok, I'll admit I don't do this, but if anyone glanced my way, I can guarantee my facial expressions would say it all :) lol
But I'm always amazed how easy it is to make your own condiments though. I thought I'd share what I made this week.
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Homemade Mustard
(This is the Number 1 condiment I take for granted...I never know we have it until it's gone!)
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*3 TBsp dry Mustard powder
*1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
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*3/4 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp mixed Italian spices
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Mix up the spices....
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Add 1/2 cup white vinegar
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As you combine it, make sure to press the clumps w/ your spoon until even and smooth.
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In a separate bowl, I added 2 organic eggs
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1 cup of sugar (Don't skimp--I promise this isn't too sweet!)
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What it looks like after being mixed...
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Pour both the egg mixture and spice mixture in a small saucepan.
Cook on low heat until thickened. Stir, and make sure it doesn't get too hot/near boiling. You *really* don't want scrambled eggs in there :)
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After about 15 minutes on the stove, it had thickened up enough for me. I poured it into a pint jar, then I later used some on our sandwiches for Lunch. Be sure to keep it refrigerated.
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The consistency? Like a really thick BBQ sauce...definitely not thin and vinegary.
The taste? Sweet and spicy..very flavorful and mild.
The verdict? If you've only tried store-bought, try this. I thought I didn't like mustard until I made it myself. There's a huge difference in taste, which was surprising to me. Anyway, my family really enjoyed it, so I'll make it more often now.
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Homemade French Dressing
This simple recipe is a staple at the Cottage, since we love salads!

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1 cup Ketchup (here's my homemade recipe) , 1 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp pepper.

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I pour all the ingredients in a quart jar, screw on the lid, then shake and serve!

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Variety ideas: 1) Use raw honey instead of sugar for "Honey French" 2) Use apple cider vinegar and apple juice instead of the white vinegar and water 3) Add fresh sage, oregano, even sauteed onions and garlic!
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A few snapshots...

My Mother hanging her beautiful spring dresses on the line to dry

(lol our cats love to get involved in whatever we're doing outside)

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There is something beautiful about the simple nature of attire and linens being slowly air dried on a line. When the gentle breeze blows the fabrics, fragrancing them with the soft aroma of nearby daffodils--gratitude for simply being at home, and not missing this moment, makes me smile.

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My sister helping to weed the rows...

I go behind her, collecting up the uprooted weeds, and then go between the plants. Then we switch jobs for a while.

(Oh, our collards survived the winter, and they still taste great! )

My brother & Mother went through a few of our *many* pictures to choose which to display on the wall or refrigerator. Are we the only ones with boxes of un-organized photos? It seems like we can never quite go through them all! lol

This is interesting. I was just telling my Dad and brother about how I'm going to be building a clay oven for the summer. I've been researching, and its a wonderful idea, especially since I plan on using our own GA clay of course! Well, my brother just decided to make his own, so it's somewhat a "stove"...but it does indeed work well!! He just used clay & bricks.

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Well, I'm going out-of-doors to enjoy the weather, dig a plot for my potatoes, and maybe start a project or two. Here's a photo of our faithful Ol' Yeller dog :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Days


"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
- Charles Dickens
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"Each leaf, each blade of grass vies for attention.
Even weeds carry tiny blossoms to astonish us."
- Marianne Poloskey
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Yes, my cat loves attention.

I thought my sister looked lovely today. This shawl she's wearing she just finished crocheting. She didn't use a pattern, which amazes me! But I guess I'm the same way when it comes to not using a recipe when cooking (hehe). So we're even!...yet, so different :)

~Pear blossoms



My dad pruned both the peach and pear trees, so this summer I'll be diligent to thin the fruit the correct way so we'll get a good harvest!


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Weeding
This is our "Monkey grass" (or do we only call it that in the south? ) Well, we had to uproot quite a bit so that the grass will grow in it's place!
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I had to hold this branch still while the honeybee pollinated the bloom. The bee pollen on its back legs is amazing isn't it? ...well, ok it's not that great, but I'm just excited that there are bees around, so that I'll have a better vegetable yield in the upcoming garden, lol!


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My Mother and I moved about 6 roses into new areas, planted over a dozen new ones, and I've also moved many other plants (from last year) into the front. It's been alot of work, but we're motivated by the agreeable weather :)

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Remember my red onions?
Well, it seems like the more rain we get, the faster they grow!
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Did I ever show you our cotton? Well, this is about how much we had blow in on the road this year (last year was double the size) Even though it isn't cleaned, I can still use it as decoration or bring it to Living history events...
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I decided to make "newspaper pots" for my plants. That way, I can just put the pot straight in the ground w/ out disturbing the roots.
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You just cut 5 in. strips of newspaper (no color ads though) use a soda can or cylinder container to wrap the paper around. Fold the bottom and use glue/tape etc. to hold the fold together.
Slip the formed pot off, and fill w/ moistened soil and seedlings.


Tomato seedlings
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Mom's english peas
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Peach blossoms. They've finally opened!

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Oh. I am *so* excited.

My father went in on a bulk order and purchased 20 blueberry bushes! They're about 3' tall, so I'm guessing they are 2-3 years old. Anyway, we dug a row of deep holes for the plants, but then it started to rain. and thunder. and lightening filled the sky. SO....

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We had a problem.

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If the holes fill with water, it will take days for that GA clay to absorb it all, and you know me, I couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't wait that long to get those *wonderful* plants in the ground. So we all ran outside in the pouring (I'm talking buckets) rain, and scrambled around for things to cover the holes. I laugh in amazement that we were dragging 8 ft. pieces of tin, large boards, plastic bags, anything to cover the holes in record time.
After it was all done, we went inside to rest. Well the next day, I checked on the holes, and what do you know, they were all filled with water. And I mean to the brim. why me?

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When dad came home, he was determined to get those plants in, so he scooped out all the water out of the holes, dug them deeper, and mixed in peat moss.

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In Conclusion (lol) the bushes are finally in, the sunshine is out.

And I'm never digging a hole before a storm again! :)
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After the rain...
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The fields are now clear, anticipating Spring's planting
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'And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
By clear shining after rain.' 2 Samuel 23:4
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"Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD."
Ezekiel 1:28




Friday, March 12, 2010

Transition to Simplicity...our story



There was a "Simple Living" competition a few months ago, and I wrote our personal story as an entry. (No, I didn't win, lol!) Quite honestly, I'm so glad I wrote this out anyway, I found it lovely to remember "how it all started". It doesn't cover all the details, but I thought y'all might like to read it :)

ps) I know it's been a while--I'll be posting again on Monday!

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I'm the eldest daughter of three children, happily living out in the country with my family. Only five years ago, I would never have guessed we'd be where we are today. As I sit here listening to the restless rain pounding on our cottage roof, I reminisce back to my previous goals just those few years ago...

Independant and determined, I wasn't content to be at home; I basically followed the crowd, and anticipated the year I'd turn 18. To be out of the house, on my own & in college--that was it. I didn't care to be an 'example' to younger girls, or a good daughter/sister, and I certainly didn't focus on homemaking or gardening.(which my parents were already doing at the time)

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A year later my Fathers job moved us south (from the big city of Atlanta) and we began a new chapter in our lives.



Moving to a quiet neighborhood, we established our own little "homestead" on only 1/4 acre! My Mother had a clothesline for all of our clothes, we did "square-foot organic gardening" and reaped varieties of tomatoes, peas, peppers, lettuces, sweet potatoes, greens, and even peaches!

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Because of the lack of distraction, together we learned the value of family. We went through many power-outages, so we experienced how to live without electricity temporarily. Our water heater shut down and we went without hot water for months, and went the entire winter without central heat!

All these things seemed to prepare us for a simplified way of living. And we loved it!

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The last month of 2008, through an amazing turn of events, we were able to purchase a small, abandoned cottage out in the country! To the neighbors it was an eye-sore, but we saw the potential. It came on an over-grown 4 acres, without central heating/air conditioning, & with well water. We've now been here for (almost) a year...and can now live our dream for simple living! We've canned wild dewberries, started a garden, raised and processed chickens, and I try to dress old-fashioned as often as I can! By next year we hope to have more farm animals, a home-based business, and continue to meet other kindred spirits who pursue this way of life.

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My heart is at home. It is here that I'm able to rest and enjoy every day, as together we continue to grow and learn on this Transition to Simplicity.



*Mia