Thursday, March 28, 2013


Greetings to you all,

With sad regret, I have decided that for the time being, I will not be making any new posts on this blog. I have been very busy (overly so) since I began work on The Farmer's Wife Quilt book in May of 2007, and I  simply need to slow down my life. How long will this break last? Weeks, months, years? I don't know!! But I hope to be back posting again someday. Thank you all for your support and kind words.

P.S. I will continue to answer any email questions that you have. Good-bye for now...

God bless you,



Apparently in times past, not every Girl Scout was a part of a "Troop." This article was written for the many "Lone Girl Scouts" living in 1926.

Every Lone Scout will, I hope, take her younger sister or older brother or neighbor, or visiting cousin, out this summer to spend at least one day "in camp," in some lovely spot not too far from home--probably right on the farm, but seemingly very far away.

Those who have already had the delightful experience of camping out for a day or more by a lake or river, or in the mountains, or down by the creek in a corner of the orchard (away from the house), will never forget the rich flavor of a crust of toasted bread, or the tantalizing smell of bacon cooked on a sharpened stick over hot coals!
I look back with great satisfaction upon the memory of days spent on grandmother's farm. We youngsters used to cook out-of-doors a great deal. Almost always we went down to one certain pasture where there was a lovely elm tree and a creek.

My grandmother always had plenty of tomatoes ripening in a row on the kitchen window sill. The dish we prepared most frequently was stewed tomatoes. We skinned and quartered the tomatoes, brought them to a boil, and then stirred in, for thickening, a little milk and flour mixed into a thin paste, some salt and pepper. When done we served them on toast. Buttered toast, if you please. Our bread was home-made and was toasted on sharpened, forked sticks before the fire. Sometimes we spread the bread with butter before we toasted it. This made it toast delightfully brown and taste particularly delicious.
I wonder if any of you have tried anything like this? A fork, spoon and cup, a small frying pan or a quart-sized stewing pan, and a pocket knife, are all the equipment you really need. You, too, can cook tomatoes, or you can toast bacon on peeled green sticks and scramble or fry eggs. If you are quite ambitious, you can try pancakes, with brown sugar syrup. It doesn't matter what meal you go out to cook. Simple dishes are best any way.

As far as I am concerned, I still think there is nothing on earth more fun than getting up when everything is dusky and dewy, and going off to cook a breakfast of bacon and eggs as the sun rises. Do try that sometime. Again, try gathering your equipment and food supplies together for a noon meal. Make a list the night before. See if you can get everything all ready before you start off so you won't have to go back for a single thing. Check with your list in hand. Then, leave the house promptly at ten o'clock and go down into the orchard by the creek for the day. Plan where you are going to put your things so they won't get messy. Here is a nice stump, or there a flat rock that will do for a table. Plan to gather your wood, build your fire, set your "table" and get your lunch ready by twelve o'clock.

After your fire has been going steadily for several minutes, put your skillet on with two or three strips of bacon in it. When the grease is melted out, lift out the bacon and drop in your eggs. Baste the eggs with the sizzling bacon grease. That will make them turn white on the top. I leave it to you to judge when a perfectly good fried egg is done, and to finish it by serving it on toast or making an egg sandwich.

After lunch, clean every dish and pot, and prepare to leave no trace of your occupation behind you. Burn all fruit or vegetable skins or papers in your fireplace. Girl Scouts are clean campers. Before you leave, see that your fire is positively out. One spark left might cause inestimable damage.

Now, lie down awhile on your back and watch the clouds go by. What shapes are they? Have you ever read any poems about clouds? How many colors do you see about you? Any birds? Walk over to the top of a knoll for a lovely view, if possible. Wade a bit, if the brook is shallow. Look closely at a handful of wet sand. What is it like? Model a little skillet or a bird out of clay, if your soil is clayey.

When it comes four o'clock, gather up your equipment and start home. Arrive home by four-thirty and put your equipment away in a suitable place, all clean and ready for next time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


We live on a small farm, and I had tried various ways of money making, none too successful. While we usually had plenty of vegetables, chickens, fruit, and milk for our own use, and some to spare, we found no steady market for our surplus, and were often obliged to bring back our produce from the little town near home.

Last summer, my sister-in-law, who lives in a good-sized town, was telling me how disappointed she was at not being able to visit her parents in a distant city. It was not advisable to take her three step-children, and if she left them at home, she would have to pay some one to look after them, and leave her house to the mercies of an extravagant cook. Suddenly an idea popped into my head.

"Judy," I said, "would you like for me to board the children for a month? Then you can go."

I can't begin to tell you how delighted she was. She left on her visit, satisfied that the children were well cared for.

In this way our surplus of farm produce was taken up. The expense was nearly nothing, the work being the thing. True there were times when my nerves would get ragged at the racket those three children made, added to my own two.

The farm furnished most of their amusement. An occasional trip to town was provided for them, but they seemed to care very little for that. The old pasture was an excellent place for Indian forts, and many were the battles fought there. A ride on the old mare or wading in the brook was fun enough.

There was no coaxing of finicky appetites when mealtime came. All did full justice to the meal, usually consisting of vegetables, fried chicken, green salads, desserts of fresh fruits, or often ice cream, made from our generous supply of milk, leaving plenty to drink.

The night before they were to leave, the littlest one laid his head against my arm, as we sat in the swing.

"Auntie," he said, "I've been to the mountains, and to the seashore, but this is the best place of all."

I have had several mothers ask me to take their children while they go away for a vacation this summer, and I'm laying my plans to have "children boarders" most of the season. A little advertising would help, but I have not found it necessary. I charge $5.00 a week for each child. This gives me a good profit, paying me for my trouble. It also pays the mothers. They don't have to worry over the clothes problem, or taking children to expensive resorts, or staying at home with them.

A genuine love for children, patience to settle the little difficulties that have to be settled, the right amount of bedtime stories in reserve, and this venture will be a success.

This post has been shared with Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Early spring is moving time in the Midwest and all of us will have new folks in our communities.

Last year the Bryants moved in down the road a mile, but at first the roads were bad. By the time the roads were good, I was spending my time quietly at home awaiting the arrival of our new son. After that I hated to take four small boys to visit at the house of a stranger. She might not like children.

Later we heard they were attending the public dances which, in our community, are not desirable social affairs, and we thought perhaps we wouldn't care to know them.

This winter my husband traded work with Mr. Bryant, and I finally made my belated get-acquainted visit.

I found Mrs. Bryant a friendly, busy person. She likes children and never minds how much little folks play at her house. She and I like ever so many of the same things--sewing, reading, new recipes, psychology, visiting and not gossiping.

I learned that, in the community they came from, the whole family went to dances. When they found out the type of dances we have here, they stayed at home.

Already we are on the way to one of those rare "mutual benefit" friendships; it is my fault we wasted all these months.

This year I am going to call on all the new neighbors as soon as they are settled and no excuse.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A HOUSEKEEPING PLAN IN 1907; by Aunt Hannah

First, for the day's routine:

1. Before leaving your room in the morning open the bed and the windows.
2. Light the kitchen fire; put the breakfast to cook, fill teakettle with water, and place on kitchen table the things needed to prepare breakfast.
3. Sweep the sitting room.
4. Set breakfast table, make coffee and finish and serve breakfast.
5. Clear away breakfast, sweep dining room and kitchen and wash dishes.
6. Dust sitting room and dining room.
7. Make the beds and put sleeping rooms in order.
8. Do any special work, baking, ironing, washing or cleaning.
9. Prepare the noon meal.

When washing is to be done the boiler should be put over the fire before sitting down to breakfast, and the dusting and sleeping rooms may be left until after the washing is finished. Do not try to make washday cleaning day also, which is liable to greatly overtax the strength of the average housekeeper; wipe up the floor on washday with as little labor as possible, and give it a thorough cleaning on some other less trying day.
The Latest Fashions in 1907

The routine, which can be easily followed by the average housekeeper, will result in a well kept, orderly home, and leave the afternoons free for sewing, mending, shopping, visiting, reading and resting. The care of little children will, however, often overturn all plans, and the housewife must then just do the best she can. At our house the regular days for special work are: Monday, putting house to rights after the Sunday rest, getting the washing together and putting the most soiled articles to soak; Tuesday, washing; Wednesday, baking; Thursday, ironing; Friday, cleaning; Saturday, baking.

 As children grow old enough, teach them to open the beds and windows before leaving their room, and assign each such share of the household tasks as they are capable of assisting with or doing alone.
The Well-Dressed Girl in 1907

Very little tots, of two and three years, may learn to pick up and put away their playthings, to assist in clearing away the table, doing the dishes, and may sweep up with their own little brooms any litter they make in their play.

The mother should be queen of the home, but if she has no system her sovereignty will be unhappy and troubled, and her subjects will be restless and quarrelsome if she does not learn to rule them wisely and firmly, though lovingly.

This post has been shared at Simple Lives Thursday.