Monday, October 25, 2010

Life in a rural village

I just returned home from spending most of the week in a working class 1860's town...
We stayed in the original homes, were given local/seasonal food rations to prepare, and were to remain 'in character' during the entire event!
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Mule cart traveling up the dirt road...
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Ladies on the front porch
As neighbors, we were encouraged to enhance the sense of community by bartering and borrowing. So when we planned to bake a {birthday}cake for a young woman in the household, I was able to trade with a neighbor a few extra vegetables in exchange for baking powder :)
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Local residents gathering at the General store...
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An October evening by the warm hearth


Gone are the lavish dinners and fine dresses...

Many households struggled to make the most out of the frugal menu, as drygood prices continued to rise. For us, flour got so scarce to come by, it was priced at $10 for a little over 2 cups! Suffice it to say, we were able to get creative using the abundant cornmeal!

Inside the Mercantile
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The carpenter hard at work on a project.

The town continues to operate the best way it can despite the present hardships.
~A handmade quilt in a simply furnished room.

The house cook & I prepared, cooked, & served all the meals for our home group,
which was about 20 re-enactors. Cooking and baking over the fire was a bit difficult at first, especially to keep the fire going at the desired temperature. We learned quickly though!
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In front of the Courthouse
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Down by the Homestead...
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The women hand-washed, starched and ironed the clothes as a paid service.
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As refugees (aka Spectators) came by, many questions were asked.
One young girl asked what I (as a house servant) would have to do.
I told her, "Anything that needs to be done!" Cooking, cleaning, washing dishes/clothes, running errands, accompany the ladies to town, hand-sewing/mending etc. Not to mention continuing to keep the fire going all day!
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Preparing the batter for a honey cake, using "The young Homekeepers Friend, 1859"
The reciept calls for enough flour" to make a stiff dough" lol
ah, the days before exact measurements.... :)
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A woman at the farmhouse washing clothes
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One of the young women of the household volunteered
to help slice vegetables for supper that evening...
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A country lane
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The Lady of the house {on the right} with her relative, about to go into town.

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As the afternoon sunlight shined through the tree's shadows,
you could see the wood smoke swirling through the air.
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One of our neighbors washing dishes

A bowl of fresh-churned butter next to a jounal with a few handwritten reciepts.
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Table setting for the residents of the house
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Cooking sweet potatoes with our butter, cinnamon and molasses rations :)
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Ladies in town
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Due to the food shortage and desperation, many townswomen protested to the authorities-- Winter is soon approaching, and they fear they may run out of food if things don't change.
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Men talking outside the courthouse
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News, events and other information is posted
outside the Mercantile for the residents to read.
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Horses and mules were a constant sight throughout the town--
an important part of transportation.
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I have learned so much this week, and am exhausted!
I hope you enjoyed the pictures, I wish I could've taken more--Due to the authenticity aspect of the event, camera's are not appropriate to show! So many of these photos were from the last days of the event.
ps) It was an added pleasure to meet blog readers in the village
(who are fellow re-enactors as well!)
What a small world :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gentle Living

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air." - N. Hawthorne
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Roses against the fence...
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Last night we sat around the fire, then camped in the backyard!
In the morning, the blades of grass were frosted with dew :)
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Bringing in fresh cut Zinnias..
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Autumn has finally arrived
The crisp cool air rustles the blooming flowers and the sunshine adds a warm hue to nature. It's rays touching the meadows & gardens--enhancing their beauty. I'm encouraged to use everyday profitably, not to take this all for granted!
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My brother has kept himself busy chopping wood.
It comes in handy now that the weather is cooling down!
~My sister joined me as we walked together to the back of the property...

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My Dad was given a day off work, so when he came home, we finished (and began!)
new projects around the house.

Speaking of projects...

My sister completed her crocheted vest she's been working on :)
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It's simple, and the color is perfect for the season!
ps) she created the pattern/style herself, so I don't have a written pattern..lol!!
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~My new FAVORITE easy easy easy bread recipe~
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Many thanks to "Artisan Bread in five minutes a day" by Jeff Hertzburg
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*6 cups lukewarm water (make sure its not too warm..this is important)
*3 TBsp active dry yeast (I use rapid rise/bread machine yeast)
*2.5 TBsp sea salt
*13 cups flour (I use 8 cups white, 5 cups wheat)
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Pour water in large bowl, add yeast and salt.
Add the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix..Kneading is NOT necessary!
Cover bowl.
This whole process takes 5 minutes! yes!
Let rise for 2 hours.
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Get about a 'grapefruit sized' piece of dough...
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Lightly roll it in flour, tucking it into a ball.
Place bread dough on a greased pan/dish...
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Let rise for 45 minutes...
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{I sprinkled ground flax seed on some of the loaves}
Dust with flour & slash the top, so as it rises it gives a more rustic look :)
ps) this recipe makes 6-7 small loaves
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Important element: Baking w/ steam.
While your loaves are rising, place a small casserole dish filled with water in the broiler, so as the oven heats up to 400 degrees, the steam will give the bread a beautiful crust!
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Bake loaves for 30 mins.
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{Delicious-- the crust is perfect, and the texture inside is soft and flavorful!}
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Fresh herbs make their way into most of our meals! Here are our staples:
Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Cilantro.
~An abundance of peppers...
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My cat decided to spontaniously climb this tree as soon as she saw my camera...
hmm..I think I've taught her to pose, lol! :)
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So far we're growing Turnip greens, collards, kale & swiss chard.
(More pictures to come)
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These are younger plants (collards) my Dad began to transplant.
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My recent project has been this half apron I hand-stitched. In proper 19th century style, I *tried* to do tiny stitches, so it's taken me all week to sew. All I have to do is the hem..I'm so ready to be done! ;)
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Due to reader's request, here's a peek of the (unfinished) back of the apron.
All it needs is a wood or gourd button!
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Hope y'all are having a great week--Stay Encouraged!


Your friend,

Mia