Monday, November 30, 2009

A Knitter's Prayer

While visiting my aunt recently, she gave me A Knitter's Prayer, something she had cross-stitched years ago. I thought I would share it with you, it seem like something Laura or Mary would have made.

A knitters Prayer

I pray when risen from the dead
I may in glory stand;

Perhaps a crown upon my head,
But four needles in my hand.

I never learned to sing or play
So let no harp be mine

From childhood to my dying day,
Plain knittings been my line.

And so as close the trumpets call,
I have not fame or riches;

But sweet contents knit in my soul
A million happy stitches.

Simple Play

The Christmas fliers have been out in abundance over the last two weeks, full of talking toys, computers and remote controlled cars.  Even the doll houses have lights that works and sound cards that make the family talk! Wii and it's games of virtual imagination are big on the scene and what toddler wouldn't like a tractor with flashing lights and real motor sounds?

But what I long for as a mom is a house with home grown imagination and occasional moments of piece and quiet!
Mary and Laura had very simple play toys, made from the natural resources around them or toys that imitated adult responsibilities.

Here is a little list of toys and games that I find quiet, educational and fun for my children.

Wooden train set - we have a battery powered plastic set, but for children under 5, it is difficult to put together, trains crash as they run at different speeds depending on the battery power, and the pieces break when a parent accidentally steps on one hidden under the laundry.

Our wooden set though.....fits perfectly with any building block set, can be cheap or expensive (Thomas verses store brand) and can be put together in any order by any set of cute chubby fingers that is willing to try!
I always enjoy hearing  the gentle "chugg chugg whoooo" from my littlest family member

Cloth Dolls - I get so tired of dressing Barbie for the umpteenth time, because her limbs are so stiff for DD to get her dressed. Rag dolls, Waldorf inspires dolls or cloth and wire dolls such as doll house dolls or  the Pony club or Only hearts are "girl shape" inspired and easy for young fingers to dress on their own.  One rag doll can become a baby, a sister or a best friend at play time, and can be as much fun as any barbie if given with a generous wardrobe.

Books - The window to the imagination, almost any kind will do! Finding books that are age appropriate and easy to read for the child is a good idea.  But also having books that you can read as a family can inspire great moments together. Offer to read a new book to a child in your life!

Paper, Ribbons, Scissors and Glue-  My childrens favorite Holiday gift is when Uncle B raids the dollar store paper and craft department.  I personally avoid paint and markers, but I have no issues scrubbing up glue off my table! I have had some very interesting pictures, creatures and "items" created at our table from little ones imaginations without prompts or suggestions.

Just Like Mom: (or Dad!) - Let your children help with chores by providing miniatures of your tools, such as little aprons, small squirt bottles with vinegar and water, little dusters and mini cookie cutters. Let them use playdough when you're baking.
I am all for plastic work tools and hard hats as well, so they can be fixers like Dad.

Out door Fun- Today we had our first snow, and there are two snowmen in my yard! The sleds are out and the skates cleaned up, ready for the local rink. In the fall they made pretend camp fires from pruned scrub, pretended to be birds in nests with the leaf piles. And in the summer they spent  hours throwing rocks in the lake and building sand castles and motes. And last spring the loved jumping in the puddles and planting and watering seeds in the garden. There is always lot's to do outside, even without buckets of toys. Head outside and explore and see what Mother nature has left for us to play with!

Toy Tip: Let the batteries wear out and don't replace them! If a toy can be "used" without the batteries, leave them out and let the children start using their own imaginations again.

by FineandFancy

And to You a Cozy Winter!

'Tis the season for preparing for the long cold winter ahead. For making the home cozy and warm, for reflection and planning for the coming year. I think of the "winterizing" done during the pioneer times (stacking straw against the house for warmth, putting up preserves, stocking pantries, attics and cellars) and I compare that to what we do now. Some still can and preserve, stock pantries and cellars with food they have grown and harvested.

I turn to making the home cozy with Christmas decorations, prepare for time indoors as we are not able to get out to play like we were able to all summer long. Reorganizing toys and books, rearranging furniture and bedrooms. Decluttering and minimizing what we have, but also adding the cozy items, like blankets on the couch and warm touches like throw rugs in front of the doors. Placemats and tablecloths come out too in the colder months. It seems the textiles just warm the place up.

For me, this time of year brings out the crafty side as well. Combining the warm textiles and craft makes this a very exciting time for me. I want to make table runners and coasters, placemats and candle wraps. Felted bowls filled with goodies. I'm not a big fan of cross stitching (doing it, I mean, though I do appreciate the craft!), and I'm not a very good seamstress, but I so enjoy the simplistic beauty of the crafts I found at the Pilgrims & Pioneers Primitives website. The stitching on the items is inspirational--and maybe a bit deceptive, as it makes me think that even I could do that!

These acorn napkin rings by Betz White are adorable and inspirational as well. Poinsettia napkin rings made of felt? Adorable. Santa ones? Reindeer? Mittens? The possibilities are endless, and I think I could pull these off.

Repurposing things is included in this spurt of craftiness. Using felted sweaters, I've started creating scarves, coasters, mittens, flower pins, bracelet cuffs, cowls/gaitors, mug cozies, my list went on and on. This site  and this site  were terrific inspiration, as well as searching for project pictures.

I like to think of crafting that I can do and involve the kids. I imagine sitting by the fire (we don't have a fireplace, but one can dream) sitting on the floor with my kids and cutting and creating and using these decorations in our home. The sense of pride and accomplishment they feel! I cherish the warm memories of sitting and creating with my mom and I hope this is a tradition I can carry on with my family.

This winter season I wish you find warmth, in your home, in your heart, in your crafty soul. 

by bethanyg

Great Aunt Bertha’s Woodstove

Aunt Bertha Harper -mid to late '60's

Aunt Bertha was a wonderful cook, considered the best in the family. Almost all of the old family recipes in my recipe box came from her. None of them are secret for she always gave such things freely. Besides, her “secret ingredient” wasn’t something you could buy at a store; it was her expertise at cooking on a wood stove.

Food cooked in that old wood stove was just better. Of course, back when she was a girl, learning to cook from her mother, everyone had a wood stove. Even when those new-fangled electric stoves became available she insisted on keeping her wood stove. Several decades of experience made it as easy for her to cook with wood heat as we do with gas or electric. She simply KNEW how much wood to add to achieve the heat needed. When enough time had gone by for the fire to heat up the oven box, she’d wave her hand in to feel the temperature. When it was right, in went the cookies. A kettle of water always sat on the stove-top ready for tea or hot chocolate should anyone stop by for a visit. Neighborhood children were sure to stop in after school to see if she’d been baking that day, amongst them my Mother and her siblings who all lived next door. It was a sad day when Aunt Bertha’s grown children, concerned for her safety, finally convinced her to switch over to an electric stove. She was never truly satisfied with her cooking after that –it was missing the “secret ingredient.”

Knowing this family heritage of baking, I was so pleased when my grandma commented that my sugar cookies were the closest she’d tasted to Aunt Bertha’s. I know it wasn’t the stove, but it may have been the other ingredients that have changed since Aunt Bertha’s time. Farm fresh eggs with rich orange yolks, and fresh, raw goat’s milk really do make a difference. Now if only I could switch out my oven for a wood stove!

Aunt Bertha’s Sugar Cookies:

2 c sugar
1 c lard
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 c milk (sour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
5 c flour

-Cream the sugar and lard together then add the vanilla, eggs, and milk
-Mix in the baking powder, soda, and nutmeg
-One cup at a time, mix in the flour
-Spoon out onto a greased cookie sheet and press in the middle to make a well; put jelly in the well
-Bake at 350 until the bottom edges start browning.
This is also a good recipe for rolling out & using cookie cutters; it’s not too sweet so it’s just right when frosted.

by SarahJayne

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Read Along: Week 20- The Wolf Pack

When I was in first year college we had required course during reading week called intersessions, where we each chose from 5 destinations to do hands on volunteer work.
I went to a small first nations village in the extreme North of Alberta with 20 others where we shared two hunting cabins with no electricity, cell phone service or plumbing. We had a hunting guide and access to 2 rifles for protection and kept warm by pot bellied stoves.
It was the middle of February and all our ruckus pretty much scared away the local wildlife. But one night we heard a commotion outside our cabin. We figured it was the boys staying in the other cabin playing pranks on us, we had heard them howling from their cabin and then we heard them digging around and running around our cabin. The guide was staying in our cabin, and looking back, I think the idea that this was a prank was his suggestion, to keep all us women calm.
When we went out the next morning we saw wolf prints all around our cabin. The leader of the 3 wolves had a paw print as big as our guides hand. No one ever had the urge to use the outhouse through the night after that!! We also found out that the guys in the other cabin had figured out there were wolves out side and were “concerned” through out the night (my guess is “FrEaKiNg OuT!”)

This weeks activities:

Research your local wildlife. Even if you’re in the city wolves coyotes and foxes probably inhabit the country side of your County. bethanyg has found a great link for wolf watching
When you are camping, or even hiking or picnicking carnivore animals are the reason you must store your food and garbage properly. Read here about choosing and packing and storing food for eating in the wilderness.

  •  make a crafted wolf to go with your cabin and wagon and dolls. Here are some different versions
sewing (although it is technically a scotty dog, in wolf colors I think it would still make a nice wolf
sewing, advanced
knitted puppet
And speaking of wolves, I always think of Little Red Riding Hood! You could design a red cloak for your rag doll and with your new wolf project, tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood!
Here is a link to a really cool paper project as well for story telling
Little Red Riding Hood

  •  mmm…..tastes like chicken!
Laura and Mary enjoyed their supper of prairie hen drumsticks. What are your favorite poultry recipes…care to share? Email us the recipe and we will add it to a recipe section!

by HatsFineandFancy with research assistance from bethanyg

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