Sunday, September 20, 2009

What a great treat!

Friday my dear sweet husband surprised me with a secret trip away for the weekend. "Where are we going?" I asked. He would not tell me. My kids knew of the plot but they would not budge either. After a morning of anticipation, we headed out towards Kansas....then turned south and crossed into Oklahoma. I was completely stumped. There was nothing in the area that smelled of civilization. I thought he was taking me camping. So, after about two and a half hours and one small town after another, we stopped in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I was very surprised. It was not a place I had ever thought about visiting. We checked into our hotel and headed out to get ice cream. We didn't make it very far before we heard the sounds of drums beating. We parked the car and headed towards the noise. Wow, we were surprised... there were crowds of Native Americans dancing in their tribal dress. It was the Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival. We sat down and just watched and listened to the music and the dancing. This morning, we headed out for breakfast and found a wonderful coffee shop. It is called Judes Coffee. I had a Carmel Truffle. YUM YUM.... I loved the taste and I can tell you that this girl has NEVER had froth art on top of her coffee. It was so pretty that I just had to take a picture of it. We had a wonderful day of exploring the town of Bartlesville. We went thru the museum as well as visited the home of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum. We, then headed out to a small town close by called Dewey for the Western Heritage Festival. There were gun fights re-enactments as well as long horn cattle that were herded down Main street. If you are ever in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, stop in and check out Bartlesville. It is quite a happening place. What??? You are wondering about the blue bison sculpture? It is a project being worked on by a local artist to raise money for a local foundation. There will be a total of 15 bison. Right now there are only five completed. Well, thanks for reading.
Until next time ~

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I feel like an ant.

Today we were up early and headed out to a local Amish farmer who had picked us 50# of beautiful Roma tomatoes. We pulled into the farmer's house and met his lovely wife and Trigger, the little Jack Russell Terrier. He was definitely guarding the house. The young woman just smiled and apologized for her little dog. I told her not to worry because I love dogs. I tried to make friends with this little guy, but he would have none of that. After paying for the tomatoes and beautiful red pepper that she also had for sale, we packed our items in the trunk and off we went back home to start putting up these vegetables in preparation for the coming winter months of soups and spaghetti. Looking at our two boxes of tomatoes, I realized that 50# of Romas are quite a lot, but I knew that it would make up several quarts of tomato sauce, so we started in. It was wonderful to work together with my kids. It was like the ant, preparing for winter. My oldest son spent most of his time coring tomatoes, while my youngest son chopped tomatoes in the processor. I remember working up produce with my mother and grandmother. I am so glad I am able to do the same with my kids. I just wish we had a lot more to do. Maybe next year.
Until next time,
~Happy Blogging.

Monday, September 14, 2009

An article by Grandma Fern

I recently had someone tell me that they would like to read one of Grandma Fern's articles, so I decided to post on of my favorites. It was really hard to choose just one and I might just post another one sometime, but here is one that I really enjoyed.

I Remember Grandma's Kitchen *
Fern Christian Miller
All we grandchildren loved Grandma's big farm kitchen. Partly it was because we were always made entirely welcome by the smiling face of our little grandmother herself. But, no doubt, it was also, the fragrant, delicious foods she prepared that provided a part of the kitchen's come-hither magic!
I think of those custard, rhubarb and raisin pies in the early spring; cherry, blackberry, strawberry and gooseberry pies in the early summer; peach, apple, apricot, damson caramel, cream and chocolate pies of the later summer and autumn; then, as winter came, pumpkin, squash, dried apple, mincemeat and canned fruit pies of all descriptions. For our gentle, small grandma was noted for her delicious pies. The grandchildren were her most appreciative tasters.
Then the bread and cakes! It makes me hungry just to remember the fragrance of that brown, yeasty, light bread. The warm "heel" spread with sweet home-churned butter was surely the best taste in the world. And the cinnamon rolls and fresh gingerbread with milk! Remember? The applesauce and carrot cakes spread with thin caramel icing, the black layer devil's foods, the tall fluffy angel foods, the mincemeat and fruitcakes were quite out of this world. (No wonder Grandpa was a bit heavy!)
Besides the baking, the meats produced on the farm were always being cooked either in the oven or in a big black iron pot. Grandma didn't think too much of fried meat, unless it was chicken in deep fat, or young squirrel in the spring, or sausage or bacon for breakfast on a cold winter morning. Vegetables and chow chows, piccalilli and apple butter were all cooked to perfection on the big black range. It was a wood- or coal-burning stove called Round Oak. Many were the festive dinners eaten at the long dining room table that were prepared in that beloved kitchen.
Actually the big northwest kitchen was quite modern for that day. A large gray enamel sink with a drain, and a pitcher pump (which had to be primed each morning to bring the water up from the cistern well just off the back porch), stood against the west wall. A long shelf was above the metal-topped kitchen cabinet with its flour and sugar bins and its pull-out breadboard. On the shelf stood the family lamps, a clock, a matchbox, a neat row of cookbooks, and the clipped recipe box.
The stove had a warming oven, trivets for the flat irons, and handles, an a large water reservoir, which was always kept filled. Painted cabinets for dishes and counters were a light, clean sand color, and the linoleum was blue and tan checked. On the west and north were windows with narrow, starched, white curtains tied back to give sun and light to cheery house plants. By each window stood a comfortable hickory chair with bright patchwork cushions and back pads. Grandma always sat down while she peeled potatoes or apples, or cleaned vegetables. Her knitting bag hung on one chair post, and a box of mending sat under the house plants. Grandma knitted, mended and rested while she kept an eye on her cooking.
Opening off the kitchen at one side of the north window Grandpa had built a lean-to pantry. It screened ventilator vents left open in summer, closed and covered with old pieces of rungs in winter. This dark, cool little room was used to store supplies other than those kept in the cave and meat house. Under the eaves of this unsealed "magic closet" hung strings of onions, red peppers, dill, sage, tansy leaves, sassafras bark and root, and cheesecloth sack filled with dried apples, corn, peaches and raisins.
Big covered stone jars and crocks held dill pickles, corned beef, fried-down sausage, honey in the comb, and sorghum molasses. Canisters with tight lids sat in a row on a shelf, all labeled in Grandma's neat writing: rice, cornmeal, flake hominy, popcorn, oatmeal, coffee beans, brown soup beans, navy beans, crowder peas, and brown sugar.
This aromatic lean-to was kept tightly closed except when Grandma opened it for supplies. She kept mouse traps set in the corners, although I never saw a mouse in her home. On very cold winter nights she banked the range fire, and opened the pantry door a crack so the onions wouldn't freeze. Milk, cream, butter and cheese were kept in the ice chest. Apples, potatoes, turnips, extra pumpkins and squash, all canned food were stored in the cave. The yams, or sweet potatoes, kept best scrubbed and wrapped in newspaper, and stored in the warm attic over the kitchen. A stepladder enabled one of the boys to scramble through the attic door in the low kitchen ceiling. This attic had been partly floored and sealed for extra storage.
The other grandchildren and I loved best of all to sit on the high-backed bench at the long table in the kitchen's center. We missed nothing of the talk or food preparations here. The oilcloth was white with blue clusters of flowers. Usually a blue bowl of apples or other fruit sat in the center. Here the family ate when there wasn't company or "hands". Here all the good food was dished up before being taken to the dining room on festive occasions. The older grandchildren often ate at this kitchen table when the entire family gathered. Here, after all the dishes were done in winter, we youngsters played checkers, dominoes, jacks or Flinch, colored and cut pictures, depending upon our ages.
Yes, I remember Grandma's kitchen. It was important in my learning, for Grandma loved being a woman and making a home just as I do. When I read articles on women's liberation I feel slightly ill. Perhaps women's place is in the home; otherwise, what is going to become of homes?
I just love this article, because it is a wonderful example of how a kitchen is the center of the home/family. I can't think but wonder what she would think of the American home today. So many kids coming home to quite homes with out a mom there to greet them. The family dinner table is a thing of the past in many homes. That is why it is so important for me to keep my dinner table a very important part of the day. Again I am blessed for having these articles to pass down to Grandma Fern's great grandchildren. Thank you for reading this article. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me. My only regret is that I never got to meet Grandma Fern. She definitely has a presence in her family to this day.
*This article was written in the Kitchen Klatter magazine May 1972.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Her legend continues

Many years ago while spending time with my husband's family, I learned about my father in law's mother, Fern. She has such an incredible legacy that it is as if I knew her personally. I have spent many hours listening to stories about this woman, all from admiring children and grandchildren. She was a descendant of people from the Isle of Mann,which is a little island in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. My husband and I took an ancestral trip a few years back and we were blessed to visit there. We were able to see the actual place where the ancestor was martyred and we stood on the land that belonged to him. It was an amazing trip... but that is another story. My husband's grandmother loved to grow flowers and garden. She raised six kids, east of Windsor, Mo. In her young years, she was a one room school teacher. She was also a writer, and wrote for the magazine Kitchen Klatter. We have a few of those articles, but not many. Sunday a lady at my church came up to me and told me that she had several magazines that I could look at. I took them and found five articles written by Fern. What a treat! It is wonderful to sit and read to your children words written by their great grandmother about things she remembers from childhood. Tonight we read an article she wrote talking about an era that I only wish I could be experiencing. It was titled I Remember Grandma's Kitchen. In it she talks about when her grandmother would bake pies from the berries in season. She described what her grandmother's house looked like on the inside. She talks about family gatherings at the house... it was just a wonderful walk down a lane of family history for my children. How many people can say they can read about what their great -great grandmother did or how her kitchen looked? It was a time of hard work and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. There was one thing she did say that I found to be profound. She closed her article saying, " Yes, I remember Grandma's kitchen. It was important in my learning, for Grandma loved being a woman and making a home just as I do. When I read articles on women's liberation, I feel slightly ill. Perhaps women's place is in the home; otherwise, what is going to become of homes?" I want to raise my daughter with the same beliefs that her great grandmother had. As a strong woman who is very resourceful, yet gentle and motherly. I want her to see the importance of being a mother and wife. She needs to learn that she will have to go against the grain of society, because society will tell her that she has no credibility as a mother, and be a woman of virtue. I want her children to rise up and call her blessed. I pray the Lord will continue to show me how to do this. I have wonderful stories about my own grandmothers but I will write about them at a later date.

Until next time...

~Happy blogging.

It is finally finished!

Well, after a long rehab period, we finally finished my daughter's room today. She was so proud of it. The pink flowers are gone and the chice pink and brown toile is in. We put the fabric with a brown and pink polka dot. The vallance has this really cute beaded trim... that was as much as the fabric. OUCH! We painted, we stenciled, we sewed, we glue gunned, and we hammered. Everyone got into the action. All that is left is hanging some ballet pictures and putting up her tea pot collection. We started out painting this very large wall chocolate brown color. Then we stenciled this pink swirl on that wall. The pink was PINK! I had to tone it down a bit by feather duster painting a lighter pink over the base coat. We decided to add a little bit of green into the pallete to give some contrast. Too much pink is not a good thing. It is amazing how a can of paint can change the look of a room in just an afternoon. Now I have a list of rooms that are needed to be renovated. Seems when you start one, the rest follows. I have been asked by my boys to paint their room and paint a wall in a camo motiff. Any suggestions?