Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1944 Cook Book

At an antique store last weekend, I found an interesting Cook Book(let) from January 1944.  Books are one of my favorite things to look for at antique stores, especially ones pertaining to cooking and other household subjects.  They can be such an interesting view into the history of the time and a peek into a housewife's life.

The front cover:

"Health For Victory MEAL PLANNING GUIDE" - a booklet with menu plans, recipes and information about creative ways to use food in the most efficient and nutritious manner without waste, and thereby supporting our troops and our country during World War II .  The inside of the front cover shows a woman sitting at a table writing a shopping list with the quotation "I hereby resolve to make war on Waste!"

A few recipes that made me chuckle (and feel very thankful I don't have to serve them!):

Bologna Sandwich Filling:  (to stretch your bologna further!) Mix ground bologna with chopped pickles, mayonnaise, minced onion, pickle juice, 3 hard-boiled eggs, salt, shredded carrot, and chopped celery.  Spread on bread for 15 - 20 sandwiches!

New Ways to Serve Stewed Tomatoes!:  Serve them cold once in a while instead of a salad; add seasonings to personal taste or even chopped vegetables.  And also - "Tomatoes are so versatile it's not surprising they've been called 'the cook's blessing'. From cocktails to the salad course, 'when in doubt, use tomatoes!' "

Fried Parsnips:  Boil sliced parsnips, then fry slices in heated drippings in skillet.

The back cover:

There are plenty of tasty sounding recipes as well.  One of them just might end up on our table someday soon! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who Was Saint Valentine?

Did you know that Valentine's Day was not originally a Hallmark holiday? (I always thought it was!)

Several weeks ago, in our History curriculum, we learned about the history of Valentine's Day.

Although there are differing accounts, most commonly agreed is that Valentine was a Christian man who lived in or around Rome in the 3rd century.  He was martyred for his faith on February 14, 269 A.D.; possibly because, as a priest, he performed secret, "illegal" Christian marriage ceremonies. (Some historians also say there were two different men named Valentine who both were martyred).

At that time, there was a Roman festival of love and the coming of spring (called Lupercalia) that was held on February 15th.  The feast and festival honored both Juno, the goddess of woman and marriage, and Pan, the god of nature.  Also in this celebration, Cupid (god of love) was believed to be involved in the random pairing of couples from names drawn out of a box.  A shot from one of Cupid's arrows supposedly caused a couple to fall in love.

Almost 200 years later, in 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius decided to declare February 14th as Saint Valentine's Day in an attempt to replace the pagan festival of Lupercalia, and to honor those believers who had died for their faith.  

At some time later in history, it became custom for  people to send cards to those they loved on Valentine's Day.  And then sometime even later, sales and marketing geniuses turned it into the over-hyped, commercial holiday in which everyone feels pressure to impress the one they love with cards, flowers, candy, and even jewelry and diamonds - Saint Valentine, and others who stood up for their faith, long forgotten.

We don't really get into Valentine's Day in our family. But I'll look at Valentine's Day differently from now on - thankful for God's love that has stood the test of time, and overcame all those old, pagan, superstitious holidays and practices.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If I lived 100 years ago . . .

Put on your philosophy cap for a minute and consider something I ponder from time to time . . .

If I could switch lives with a mother and housewife from 1910, what would it be like?  Would I think her life was easier?  Simpler?  More difficult?  Would I be healthier?  Would I feel trapped by social limitations as a woman?  Would I feel content?

What if that woman from 1910 could live my life in 2010 for a few months.  What would she think?  Would she feel that I "had it made" because I had so many more opportunities and conveniences than she'd ever had?  Would she love my house with indoor plumbing and electricity, a refrigerator, dish washer, stove, furnace, air conditioner, washing machine, TV with countless channels, and a computer?   Would she feel free, fortunate, and empowered?  Or would she just be overwhelmed and confused?

In 2010, I have unending options and opportunities.  I'm not bound by the limitations that women used to have.  I can choose whether to stay at home with my children, or go to work in any field and pay someone else to care for my children.  I can drive myself almost anywhere I want in a safe car on nice concrete highways. I can easily buy clothes that I didn't have to sew myself. I can get nearly any food I want from the grocery store - even meals that are already prepared and only have to be heated.  I can also stop and pick up dinner at countless restaurants and not have to cook at all!  Shouldn't that make me feel free and fulfilled?

But I'm also flooded with so many choices.  Too many options - so that I get stressed out and confused on a daily basis trying to make multiple decisions.  Except for birthing babies, I can barely tell the difference between the purpose of a man's life versus a woman's life in 2010.  I can run myself ragged by taking advantage of the unending opportunities that are available for me, my husband, and my children - classes, lessons, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, community clubs, church activities, meetings, health clubs, groups to support any lifestyle possible, and on and on.

What about the huge number of ways to stay in contact with people - phone calls (on cell phones even, so you can call anybody at any time, no matter where you are), email, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blogs, and maybe even by a hand-written letter sent in the mail (we hardly know what that's like anymore!) or seeing each other in person, face-to-face.  We aren't isolated in a house miles from neighbors, without a phone and without easy transportation.

And then there's the health issue. Life expectancy was much lower in 1910.  Antibiotics and many other life-saving medications and medical procedures were not yet invented.  A large number of foods from other parts of the country or even the world wasn't available, so food variety was often limited.  But in 1910, there weren't the mass amounts of chemicals, pesticides, and other toxic things in our food that currently endanger our health.  Food looked like food; it wasn't fake stuff masquerading as food.  There was less cancer, less diabetes, less heart problems, less chronic health issues; but those who did have health issues had very little help.  In 1910, electromagnetic fields were unheard of.  Today, they're everywhere, inescapable, and probably affecting our health is ways we don't yet know.

If I could go back to 1910, would I want to stay?  If the woman from 1910 could live my life, would she want to stay in 2010?  I kind of think both of us might like to have a combination of both our lives.  We're so fortunate today to have the knowledge, conveniences, and advances that we do.  But we're overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices and opportunities that overload us daily.  Life in 1910 has far fewer options; survival ran our lives. We wouldn't have water if we didn't go get it from a stream or well.  We wouldn't have food if we didn't grow it, raise it, or hunt it ourselves. 

Back then, I would need to rely on God daily for help just to survive.  Today, I need to rely on God daily to weed out all the bad choices, even good choices, to find the BEST choices that He wants for me and my family.  And I guess that's what it all comes down to - God was, and is, and is to come.  But still, "what if?" I can't help thinking.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homeschooling Preschool & Kindergarten

We have never used a lot curriculum for the early years of homeschooling.  I think that most of a child's learning at a young age comes through play, being read to, enjoying nature, and just experiencing life.

A typical school day for my youngest, currently in Kindergarten, consists of completing 2 - 4 pages in a Rod & Staff workbook series, which he started in Preschool last year, snuggling up with me on the couch while I read to him, and having "table time" where he plays with a variety of educational toys and puzzles.

These have been favorites of all our boys from the preschool years and beyond.  They've been well loved!

This is a set of Mini Motors Counters - soft rubber counting/sorting vehicles - train engine, bus, fire engine, boat, airplane, and truck.  I've been amazed at how many different ways my boys have found to play with these.

This bunch is a combination of 2 sets similar to the vehicles - farm animals and backyard bugs.

Ninjas vs. Bugs!

These wooden pattern blocks are great.  You can make countless designs, shapes, and little buildings out of them.  We had to buy a second set after too many of the first got chewed (by our dog) or lost.  Adults have been known to enjoy playing with these too!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bird's Eye View

I feel kind of like these guys . . . is Winter over YET??

Regardless of what the famous meteorologist Punxsutawney Phil says, we're tired of winter here in Michigan.  The boys are getting wild inside and missing our trampoline and their bikes.  We haven't even had a good, heavy snowfall for a month.  There's still a couple inches of old snow on the ground, but no new snow that could break up the monotony and give us a fresh blanket of snow so it looks all pretty again outside.  For now, it's just boring and gray.

To make things brighter for me though, I had two great weekends in a row.  First was a weekend away with 3 friends for scrapbooking.  I didn't get as many pages done as I had hoped to, but then again, I never do!  This annual weekend is always a refreshing time away from home and responsibilities, lots and lots of talking and catching up, good food, and even some TLC or HGTV while we eat our meals or take a break.

This past weekend I went to a local homeschool conference Friday night and Saturday.  The two speakers (Steve Demme and Sally Clarkson) were very interesting and encouraging.  I came home with renewed motivation in the middle of the school year and reminded about how important my job as a homeschooling mom is.  I also came home with a few books and other purchases from the vendors there, of course! (and thankful for an awesome husband who took care of the kids alone while I got to enjoy some time away!)

Two more months of winter in these parts.  But in the meantime, I'll make fires in the fireplace, drink some coffee, try to get a little more caught up on my scrapbooks, read a good book, and get started on various craft projects that I have in mind.