Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Old Fashioned Activities for Pioneer Week

Pioneer Week: November 3 - 10, 2008Since one of the many guidelines for Pioneer Week involve low-tech entertainment, I thought I'd provide some ideas for keeping the kids busy that come straight out of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Making butter - Yep, I've discussed this ad nauseum before, but in the Little House books, Laura's mom would grate carrot into the milk while she was heating it to give it a yellow color. I suspect the milk was heated probably for home pasteurization. Raw milk foodies may disagree with me on this one.

Anyway, now's your chance to make butter again, this time with an authentic yellow tinge to it - just make sure you strain out the carrots and let the milk return to room temperature (about 65 degrees) before making the butter. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]

Making apple studded cloves - No, this isn't another reference to greening your sex life. This is the fall alternative to making clove studded oranges around Christmas time and the process is mostly the same.

Basically, take an apple and a jar of cloves. Using a toothpick, prescore the apple with holes for placing the cloves. You'll want to do this to save your fingers from being shredded by the clove heads. Now push the clove stems into the apple skin, making sure you completely cover the apple. For a more modern interpretation, you can make spirals, stripes or the visage of Sponge Bob.

Now take your studded apple and place it in a bowl with about 1/4 cup of your favorite dried ground spices such as cinnamon, ginger, orris root, allspice and nutmeg. Roll your apple around in the spices. Leave the apple in its bowl with the spices for a few weeks in a warm, dry area of the house. A couple times a day (maybe when you brush your teeth), roll the apple around again.

When it is completely dried out and shrivelled evenly, your apple is done. You may now tie a ribbon around it and hang it in your homestead. Apparently, these cloves scented orbs were used as natural moth repellents. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]

Making sugar snow - I know some of you are already getting snow, but the rest of us will just have to fake it using ice put in the blender or food processor.

Heat a cup of maple syrup up to 245 to 255 degrees F. As soon as the syrup reaches temperature, pour or drizzle it immediately, without stirring, over packed snow or shaved ice, making "circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things" as Laura and Mary did.

Because the mixture cools so rapidly, the supersaturated solution does not have a chance to crystallize and forms a a thin glassy, taffy-like sheet over the snow/ice. Traditionally, sugar snow is served with sour pickles to cut the sweetness, and saltines or plain doughnuts. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]

Making dried apple sauce - Who knew you could make applesauce from dried apples? Well, I certainly didn't. Put about 8 ounces of dried apple slices in a saucepan and cover them with boiling water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes or until they are tender adding additional water if necessary.

Once the apples are tender, remove them from the water and mash them with a potato masher, adding sugar and cinnamon to taste. Simmer the applesauce over low heat for about 3 minutes. May be served warm or cold. Applesauce should be stored in the refrigerator. [From By the Shores of Silver Lake]

Making rag curls for little girls - Skip the curling iron or other torture devices and add a little curl to your girl's hair by using rag curls. The concept is relatively easy.

Taking strips of fabric one inch wide and about 8 - 12 inches long (depending on length of hair), roll sections of damp hair (starting at the ends) under towards the scalp. When you reach your scalp, tie the ends of the rag together. Let dry and remove. Voila! Curls. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]

Related posts:
Living like Little House on the Prairie
Hitch up your wagon for Pioneer Week
Getting outfitted for Pioneer Week
Frontier House (the movie discussion we never had)


Heather said...

Ah, yes. Rag curls. We did that to my hair for Pioneer Day at school when I was about 8. Inspired, I believe, by the Little House books. It took **forever** (who knows really how long - I was 8, after all...), and was hugely lumpy and uncomfortable to try and sleep on. I had (still have) waist-length hair, but I don't imagine it'd be much more comfortable with less hair, maybe just a bit quicker. I thought I looked very fetching, but was never willing to go through the torture again to repeat the effect.

Doing your hair in lots of little plaits (not as small as corn braids, but maybe about 10-15 plaits, ideally all coming from a single part) makes your hair come out neatly crimped and is ever so much easier to sleep on. That was my subsequent choice for all such pioneer occasions.

Anonymous said...

I'll pass on the rag curls! They were so uncomfortable! Growing up my mom would do that for me thinking it added body to my very long straight hair. My daughter did it once and never agian.

We'll try the apples and the apple sauce though!

Maeve said...

I have a recipe book that calls for scalding the milk when using it in bread recipes. Maybe it's for stopping enzyme processes, rather than pasteurization?

I love rag curls! I loved sleeping on them. It was like extra pillow. My mom used strips of an old terry cloth bath towel. She didn't do it very often, because it was really time-consuming to wrap all the hair. I have only done it a couple times in the years since, because it is not only time-consuming, but really a bother to do on your own head. The curls are gorgeous though!

Something else fun to do is to make paper chains. There are books, and sites online, that show how to fold your paper, make the snips, and then you have a long row of little people, or snowflakes, etc. Can be used to decorate the house or the holiday tree (some families put up their tree on Thanksgiving weekend).

Humble wife said...

Here are a few more ideas for the kids...have the girls make corn cob dolls and the boys whittle.

memorize the preamble or the likes and have a spelling bee/memory night...we are on the America's Creed in my house so that is what we will use, in addition to the spelling bee.

have a checkers playoff and at the end of the week give out a handcrafted Pioneer Week ribbon...

go to Gutenberg press and find old cookbooks and bake one traditional item per day...

write a letter to an extended family member(instead of phone or email) get in the mind set that you have not spoken to them in months if not years and really share the happenings of your this is a dying craft.

forgive me for getting into the spirit...just that we are on the path to simplicity and reducing and reflecting and rekindling a more simple time has been our direction for a few years...thanks for the fun week idea, as it is a positive way to see the slowing down!!

Farmer's Daughter said...

For those of you who don't have snow yet, maple syrup on vanilla ice cream makes a great sundae.

My family's creamery at our farm market sells a "Sugar on Snow" sundae.

Hannah said...

Thanks for the ideas! Also on our family list: practicing the dulcimer and recorder, dipping candles, learning to quilt, starting a cross-stitch sampler, and trying to get a sourdough starter going.

We're using this as a big homeschool project and plan to read the Little House books as well as the Sarah Plain and Tall books aloud that week as well.

Chile said...

Why not old-fashioned games like cribbage, dominoes, and cards?

I tried to make a clove-studded orange once. I found out that I hate the smell of cloves. It made me dizzy and I didn't even get a quarter of the orange done. I still dislike the smell of cloves and only use it in pumpkin recipes.

Who put Palin in charge of the word verification? bibles

Carpe Diem said...

I never read the Little House books as a child. Lately, it seems that I have been seeing them referenced everywhere. So, of course that prompted me to read them... I'm on "The Long Winter" right now. I AM HOOKED! What wonderful documentation of a simpler time.

I can't wait to start some 'low tech' activities this month!

Greenpa said...

Long ago, Spice and I set out to re-create a "Little House" cookie. The books mention cookies. But no recipes or even descriptions, alas.

So we started with "what did they have?" I don't think there's ever a mention of oatmeal. Certainly no chocolate, nor peanut butter. So, you can narrow things down.

They had flour- probably white, but not definitely. Sugar- certainly brown, for cookies; the white sugar was rare and very special. Butter.

So we worked on a brown-sugar shortbread. It's not that difficult, and wow, is it tasty. Plenty of mixing necessary, where a little Laura or Mary could help out a lot. It works!

Robj98168 said...

I think I will pass on the rag curls.
Making the butter is fun and easy, easier done in my mixer but well they didn't have mixers in those days. Pretty sure they didn't have jars with plastic screw on tops-
Will have to try the dry apple sauce

camp mom said...

We are doing what we would normally do for entertainment..dominos, checkers, period playing cards. Checkers and Dominos have several versions going way back. Along with some reading. We are deciding on what book we we like to read out loud still. Something that would have been published at the time Laura and Mary were young. We did find in a book of stories of the Little House a piece of music "Pa" played on his violin. Our daughter is practicing that and hopes to have it down for a performance during the week. Along with similiar music she's learned over the years.

We also planning on making butter and our own breads. We dug thru some old historcal society cookbooks for recipes to use. Have some quilts that need repairing and it will be the perfect week to do it...forcast calls for rain all week.

I've pulled out a sampler I started that I put aside when spring planting came along. Was so busy all summer that I never did finish it. There may or may not be enough time to work on it!

e4 said...

For whatever it's worth, the milk from some cows is naturally yellow. We've got a mostly grass-fed Jersey cow, and the butter comes out *vivid* yellow. Even the milk is cream colored. (Which makes sense, if you think about it. I mean, I always wondered why cream wasn't cream colored. Just depends on the cow...)

On the other hand, I bet the carrots add some good nutrition...

Anonymous said...

We've been brainstorming today and I think we have come up with some fun ideas. We plan on keeping a daily journal to post on my blog.