Sunday, September 28, 2008

She Looketh Well To The Ways Of Her Household

September is almost over and you can feel the difference in the weather as Winter prepares to make its debut. The mornings are chilly and we've had a fire a few times already to dispel the cold. The days warm up nicely, and it feels good to be outdoors soaking up the sunshine and, of course, cider pressing is one of the delights of the season!

As always, when Winter is near, I feel the overwhelming urge to "prepare". I'm not sure if that's an outworking of being agriculturally oriented or what, but I'm very in tune with the seasonal changes. My friend, Mrs. R, calls this Autumnal feeling "nesting" and I suppose that is as good a term as any. It's the desire (urge?) to make sure you have enough food put by for the Winter but it also entails the need to sew and spin and knit.

It's a very real need to know that you have adequately prepared your children for the upcoming season. I'm not sure if you'd have this feeling if you primarily bought your food and clothes. Is it only for those who have taken the tasks upon themselves? I don't know.

So, I'm busily stitching garments to keep the children's elbows and knees covered and I'm yearning to sit down at the spinning wheel and listen to its rhythm and feel the sensations of wool becoming yarn as it slides through my fingers.

I have a long list of garments still to be sewn including wool coats for the girls and some warm dresses. I'd like to do wool flannel petticoats but I'm not sure if that will come to fruition this year or perhaps it will wait until next year. Mr. G and the boys are cutting additional firewood now to add to what we already had so when the snow flies, we will be ready.

Monday, September 22, 2008


We go pick up apples at a local orchard every year and dry them or press them into cider. The owner lets you take for free all that you want of the windfalls. Today was the first time we went this year and this is what we came home with. The orchard owner told me the varieties but I've forgotten; there are 4 different kinds anyway. We will go again on Wednesday to get some Grimes and more Yellow Delicious and maybe press some, although I was going to wait a few weeks. Those apples will give about 10-15 gallons of cider and we *love* ciderptation is great to get these pressed, but later apples make better cider. We'll see.

I really love the Autumn. How it smells and how it looks. It makes me happy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Unexpected "blessing"

Upon coming home from Church the boys discovered where one of the missing banties has been, she went broody in the barn roof overhang and hatched out 6 babies. The children are happy, Mama is not. Chicks in September mean potentially freezing to death in the winter, plus, we were trying to thin down the flock so there won't be so many to feed. Anyway, they're here and that settles it. The children have spent the afternoon holding them and could only eat lunch in shifts so that somebody could "babysit" at all times.

Two happy girls. They didn't even change their dresses before racing for their turn to hold the new arrivals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Root cellar progress, new chairs & birthdays

The root cellar is coming along nicely. Aleks and the boys work on it pretty much everyday. With all the rain we got it flooded, so they had to bail out the water and frogs that had taken up residence there. ;-) You can't really tell how big it is, but it's about 4 feet deep (so that's 2 feet under the frost level) and about 8 feet long. The doorway will go about where the shovel is now. Aleks dug it by hand and only uses hand tools for all his work. It is such a good feeling to see your children embrace your values and ideals; I couldn't be more pleased!

Below are the chairs that I kept forgetting to take pictures of. I have had these for years and finally this year they got re-upholstered. They date to the 1920's which is an era that I find really pretty, furniture-wise. My sisters had just dropped off the bedframe in the background, BTW.

Levi and Micah's birthday was August 29 but we didn't celebrate it then as we were all sick. We gave them their presents yesterday; Levi wanted a box trap and Micah wanted a knife. Knives are really expensive, *way* more than I thought they would be, but it was all he asked for and I know he'll take care of it, so we bought him a nice bone handled one. They also got a DVD of Buster Keaton's The General, we're in a silent movie phase right now and had rented this fron the library before. They think it's hilarious. ;-)
For those of you who find birth stories boring or nauseating, you might want to skip this next part. I was going to give a recap of the twins birthday on their birth day but better late than never.
We lived in Yanceyville, North Carolina at the time (1996) in a log cabin. It had heat and running water but was pretty quaint and primitive. There was no bathtub or air-conditioning so I took about 3 showers a day to deal with the heat. I knew I wanted a homebirth as we had one with Katie and it was wonderful but I wasn't overly concerned about going preterm because I had followed the midwives advice and eaten a lot of protein to give the babies the fuel to grow. So, we get to my due date. We get a week past my due date. In August. In North Carolina. With twins. Enough is enough already! The midwife brings me castor oil. She isn't sure about the dosage so she brings me 6 ounces of the stuff of which I manage to drink 5 ounces. As a side note, that is WAY too much castor oil, a regular dose is a tablespoon or two. So, the castor oil does its job and I'm thoroughly cleaned out but the diarrhea keeps coming. Hours worth of racing to the bathroom to go and all there is is an oil slick in the toilet. OK, I know that is too much information but remember, you were warned! I feel horrible. We go to bed around 10 and I get back up at 10:30 to go to the bathroom and my water breaks. I call the midwife and say in a *very* whiney voice "I can't do labor NOW, I'm so sick!" She gets there about 11 or 11:15 and contractions have started, we fill the pool because I'm having a water birth. I get in and it feels really relaxing. The midwife checks me at one point and says that I'm at "6" so I jump out of the pool to go fix my hair remarking that it's almost transition so I better hurry! There were 5 midwives there and 1 accompanies me to the bathroom, I'm not really sure why. At 1:19 Levi is born, he weighs 6 lbs 14 oz. I hold him in the water and he looks at me and all around for about 5 minutes and then I don't want to hold him anymore. A midwife takes him but his cord is really short so she doesn't go far. The midwife checks me again and she feels the other baby's cord prolapsing. She says we have to get the baby out NOW! So, I stand up and push and push and push. With contractions and without. Micah is born quickly and weighs 7 lbs 15 oz. At the time they were my biggest and littlest babies. They both nursed like champs though I never got the hang of nursing them together; they were weaned at 16 and 17 months respectively. And now they are 12. How did that happen?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last of the potato harvest

After lunch today we all went out to dig the rest of the potatoes. Aleks is digging a root cellar to store them in, that's a dream come true for me! Katie took some pictures of the boys especially, since they haven't been in my blog before. This is Levi below.And Micah, Levi's twin. ;-)

And, greatest wonder of all, here is me! I don't think I've ever posted a picture of myself before because I almost never look good. Anyhow, that's me looking about as good as I'm able.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A new pinafore for Abby

I found this apron check fabric hiding today and decided to whip up a pinafore for Abby. She needs a whole stash of these so hopefully I can get her some more made up soon. I think she and Elisabethe are going to wear the same size aprons, which is good as they can share! I sewed this while Daddy was in Columbus this A.M. so when he got home Abby went out to meet him and he noticed right away that she had something new. He's *so* good that way; always notices the new things that the children get! ;-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hearty lunch and a new pinafore

Today for lunch we had Hearty Corn Chowder and Cheddar Herb Picnic Biscuits. It was so good! The soup recipe takes dried corn, which is how I am preserving our corn this year. Home frozen corn beats store bought hands down, but dried corn is sublime! Here is the chowder recipe:

  • 2 cups cream

  • 2 cups milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups dried corn

  • 1 cup diced onions

  • 1.5 cups diced potatoes

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley

  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat over medium heat until potatoes and onions are soft. Dried corn is preferred because the sugar in the corn carmelizes and makes a mouth watering treat, but if you must use store bought frozen corn then add some brown sugar to the chowder. My only other advice is please follow the recipe as closely as you can. You won't get a decent chowder using margarine, soy milk and tofu chunks! ;-)

The Cheddar Herb Picnic Biscuits are a recipe I developed to enter a recipe contest. They won first place and are a nice compliment to the soup.

  • 4 cups flour

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

  • 1.5 cups milk

  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese

  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • .5 cup oil

Combine dry ingredients then blend in wet ingredients. This makes a very stiff dough. Form into balls and place on greased cookie sheet; bake at 400 for 12-14 minutes. Makes 3 dozen big biscuits. I get over 5 dozen gem sized ones.

After removing from cookie sheet dip biscuits in this mixture:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon Italian blend seasoning

  • 1 stick melted butter

I finished Tabitha's pinafore after lunch. I used rick rack instead of bias strips so it isn't really period-correct but it is cute! I love little girls in pinafores!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Recent sewing projects

I've already posted most of these on the Sewing Academy, but for those of you who haven't seen, here are the most recent projects I've been working on.

Elisabethe and Abigail's brown dresses were first in line. Elisabethe's has a yoked bodice and bishop sleeves with shirring at the upper arm. Abigail's has a smooth bodice and coat sleeves. She also has growth tucks in the skirt. Right now these are their Sunday dresses.

Next, was Rebekah's 1840/50's fan front dress. I wanted to do a fan front after looking at Sarah Elizabeth Craft's dresses. The fabric is a reproduction fabric that dates from 1825-1850 so it matches the era I was attempting to replicate. It has flared sleeves with 2 self fabric ruffles and the skirt has 3 half inch growth tucks.

A close-up of the fan front.

Sarah Elizabeth Craft was born in July 1841 and died in
December 1852. After her death some of her clothing and possessions were packed in a trunk, this trunk was auctioned off in May of 2008. Among its contents were 2 dolls, letters, needlework and a silk Easter bonnet that she never lived to wear. Very sad and unfortunately, very common. The picture to the right shows
2 of her frocks.