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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

15 Pounds of Coffee

I'm finishing up a book project entitled 'Switchel, Sack Posset and Shrub' and in my research, I came across a fact I've probably read a dozen times before:
"The allowance of provisions for each grown person, to make the journey from the Missouri River to California, should suffice for 110 days. The following is deemed requisite, viz.: 150 lbs of flour or its equivalent in hard bread; 25 lbs. Of bacon or pork, and enough fresh beef to be driven on the hoof to make up the meat component of the ration; 15 lbs. of coffee, and 25 lbs. of sugar; also a quantity or saleratus or yeast powders for making bread, and salt and pepper." The Prairie Traveler: A Handbook for Overland Expeditions [Applewood Books, Bedford MA] 1993 (Originally published as A Hand-Book for Overland Expeditions, Randolph B. Marcy, Captain U.S. Army, [Harper & Brothers:New York] 1859)
Did you catch it? 15 POUNDS of coffee. Per PERSON.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Making Homemade Laundry Detergent/Soap

After eating all that prairie ice cream, it became apparent that my younger kids, especially, had created a subsequent need to do a load of laundry. God bless ‘em!

As luck would have it, however, we had run out of laundry soap and no one had mentioned it to me.  So, I had to make laundry soap before I ‘got’ to do that load of laundry!

It's actually pretty easy and doesn't take a lot of time. The result is a laundry soap that is tough on stains and good for all washing machines, including front loaders, low water, HE, and low-suds machines. I read somewhere once that we are trained to think that lots of suds means good cleaning, but that isn't true. Plus, it is ridiculously inexpensive compared to the bought brands. At only a few pennies per load, you are probably going to be hooked, like I am!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dutch Flat Isn't

Looking downhill along Main Street
I live in a town called Dutch Flat.  Funnily enough, it is neither flat, nor was it founded by Dutch people. It’s a tiny mountain community in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it’s mostly comprised of ridges and valleys, with only sparse sloping bits sprinkled in. (Here’s the Wikipedia entry, if you want to know more).

The origins of Dutch Flat are in gold mining, which then morphed into timber. Now, modest amounts of tourism and a tiny bit of retail are about the only industries: most people are either retired or commute 20 miles down the mountain to work. At its peak, 6,000 people called this hamlet home. Today, only 333 people remain. I’m pretty proud to be counted among that small number. It’s a wonderful place to live.

It’s here that my British husband and I, along with our four kids, decided to try to carve out a life after over eight years living in England. We had a finite pot of money, and it would buy a larger home in town or a smaller one on acreage. We held a family meeting and it was unanimous: mountain living!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Prairie Ice Cream

Did you ever wonder how the heck anyone on the prairie even HEARD of ice cream, let alone had ever tasted it? Given their rather frugal, minimal diets, you would have thought ice cream was a bit of an unrealistic luxury. Apparently, it wasn’t as rare as I would have thought. With either an ice house or a summer hailstorm to hand, as well as the family cow and a little sweetener, the treat was only a little effort away!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Leaning Toward Light

When trolling the net today (not for inspiration or information or anything in particular), I came across a blog with a name kind of similar to ours . . . Our Prairie Home. I often hem and haw about whether or not to click through when I see such names. We’re a dodgy lot, us prairie people.

Our Prairie Home blog homepage
Sometimes, those blogs can be fan sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Little House on the Prairie series, both of which I love to my tippy toes.  Sometimes, they are wonderful homesteading sites with how-to’s on canning and making fab stuff from scratch.  And, sometimes, they are cute names for serious doomsday preppers, complete with tutorials on how to skin squirrels and build sustainable micro-systems out of plastic bottles and peat moss.  Nothin’ wrong with any of those options, but I didn’t know what I would find.  Whatever I expected, it sure wasn’t what I found!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Making Stuff from Scratch

We crack ourselves up around here. . .it's kind of sad, really, what gives us the giggles.  And it doesn't just have to be the first time we hear something, either.  Some jokes never seem to get old to us, and this one is no exception:

'I wish I had stock in the Scratch Company!'
'So much stuff is made from it!'

Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Bordering on pathetic, isn't it?

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