The Special Room

santa visit

Since 1972 I have celebrated Christmas with a tree in this room.  The room has changed slightly over the years with a hardwood floor we put in, a bay window, new ceiling, and narrowing of the entrance, but the structure is the same.  I could not imagine a Christmas without this room.

This was in the early 1980’s with my siblings.  My dad always handed out the gifts while my mother directed him who it belonged to.

1980s

Our trees have always been decorated with many handmade ornaments.  As kids we painted wooden ornaments or made pasta ornaments in school to hang on our trees.  My children have carried on that tradition and most of the decorations on our tree are made by them and some from our friends and family.

This picture was from 1990 after my sister married and I had moved out.  That is my niece enjoying the tradition of my dad playing guitar with my mom singing Christmas carols in front of the tree.  This is how we celebrated Christmas every year until adulthood.

1990

This room has a special place in my memory and I love that my children will have the memory of their childhood in this room with their special trees.

kids

And the aftermath of opening their gifts just as I did

aftermath chance hat

And at night when all is calm and everyone is asleep, I get to enjoy our beautiful tree with the simple ornaments in the special room filled with memories.

santa

Advertisements

Little Red Farmhouse

IMG_1134

This is our home. I took this picture last evening.  I love our house in the snow!!

Some people long for the big, modern, majestic homes, but I am not one of them.  I can drive through a modern neighborhood and not notice a single thing about a house.  I feel nothing.  Put me on a country road with 100+ year old homes and I can tell you the character I feel from each house.  These houses have a history, they are a part of a different time; a time I wish to have known.

We have kept the cedar shake shingles on our home as true to the country red it was when it was first painted.  I could never picture any other color on this house.  The red is a statement to me boasting of the farming homestead it was created for so long ago. (You can see pictures of updates to our home here:  Little Red House)

We planted a burm of blue spruce trees in front of our property.  When they are snow covered they make the house even more beautiful!  It’s like a Christmas card scene to me.

IMG_1136 IMG_1135

Here are some of the other pictures I took Thursday before the snow came and again last night while we were getting a nice dusting of snow.

IMG_1113 IMG_1116

We place 6 fake Christmas trees throughout the property and enjoy looking out at night at the sparkling lights in the open.  Thursday was the day to set them up as the ground was not frozen and the temperatures were moderate.  The night picture is 4 of the trees in the back.

IMG_1131 IMG_1133 IMG_1132

And last night the snow came and the trees were beautifully lit.

We had a nice amount of snow falling throughout the day and night yesterday.  After barn chores were done, I decided to pay a visit to the cute little snow bunnies all cozy in their house for the night.

IMG_1138

This is our home.

Generation to Generation

IMG_1046

This picture speaks volumes to the lifestyle we are trying to lead and the traditions we hope to pass on.

During my childhood I spent time collecting wood and helping stack it for my family.  This is my daughter working with her 2nd cousin (my nephews son), Rohan.  Rohan is 3 and spends as much time as we can have him at our house.  He came over the other day and saw I had let the fire burn out as it was warmer outside and I wanted to clean the stove. We also needed to restock the wood storage on the porch from the woodshed.  The first thing he did after coming into the house was ask where the fire was. For all of his 3 little years he has become accustomed to the wood heat like the rest of us and it’s expected.  I told him I was cleaning the stove and we needed wood.

The tween queen said she would load the 4 -wheeler and start bringing up the wood.  She too has been doing this all of her childhood with us (helping her dad this fall stock the porch).

 photo 1-8 photo 2-8

Rohan could not get his boots and coat back on fast enough!!  He knew exactly what needed to be done as he has helped in the process since he was old enough to walk and hold a small piece of wood.  So they set off to the woodshed

photo 2-7

It was not long before they were back with the logs and kindling and Rohan was happily helping stock the porch.

IMG_1045 IMG_1044

The first load was finished

IMG_1047

And after a few more loads a fire was started and the world was right again.

fire

Someday he will share the stories of helping his cousins and great aunt and uncle at their farm!

Lemon Chess Pie

IMG_1069

Years ago (to many to admit) I met an old Polish woman who was a boyfriends grandmother.  She told me about her grandmother who was from England and would make a pie called “Chess Pie”.  She told me it was named chess pie because it was a pie that was kept in a pie chest in a kitchen which was a cool dark area used to store food before refrigerators.  They looked something like this:

chest

Not only did they store pies but breads, meats and other food items. I do not know if the history she gave me is correct as I’ve been told over the years this is a Southern pie.  I can tell you for certain….this is a fabulous pie!!

It was in Sonia’s little kitchen the first time I had a Lemon Chess Pie.  Lemon Chess pie is a very sweet pie.  The lemon filling is so full of flavor and almost a light pudding consistency.  This quickly became one of my favorite pies.  I, like Sonia, loved lemon meringue pie without the meringue.  I do not like meringue at all on anything.  The lemon chess pie was a great alternative to scraping the meringue off.

IMG_1070

The ingredients are very simple as shown below. You can even use a store bought frozen pie crust as I did as I used all my homemade crusts from the freezer and didn’t have time to make one and freeze it.

(BAKING TIP:  ALWAYS CRACK YOUR EGGS INTO A BOWL BEFORE ADDING THEM TO YOUR BATTER IN CASE ANY SHELLS SLIP IN)

IMG_1054 IMG_1055 IMG_1056 IMG_1057IMG_1058

The longest process of making this pie is grating the 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest you use.  You will use the juice of 2 large lemons which give you enough zest also.

IMG_1059 IMG_1060

The batter is running and very pretty in color

IMG_1061 IMG_1062

This makes one 9 inch deep dish pie.  You need to cover the crust as you cook this for 45 minutes so the cornmeal rises to the top and browns along the edges giving this a rich flavor.  If you do not have one of these crust covers you are MISSING OUT!!  This is one handy gadget for baking pies!!

IMG_1064

The pie will be very dark and seem a little runny in the center when you pull it out but it sets as it cools. You can see by the color the crust looks very well done but because it was covered it has a great flavor.

IMG_1066 IMG_1068 IMG_1067

This is a family favorite at our house.  Super easy to make and impressive in taste.  Give this a try at your next dinner party and see how quickly it becomes a favorite in your family!!

Lemon Chess Pie

2 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon Flour

1 Tablespoon fine yellow cornmeal

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice with any pulp that gets squeezed in

1 unbaked pie shell (9 inch deep dish works best)

Heavy cream optional for whipped cream on top

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl mix the sugar, flour, and cornmeal thoroughly

Add the eggs and mix

Add the milk and mix again

Stir in the melted butter, lemon rind and lemon juice mixing well

Pour the filling into the pie crust and cover the edge of the crust carefully so as not to touch the filling

Bake for 45 minutes removing the crust cover to brown edges after 35 minutes

Cool and serve or refrigerate.  If refrigerating, let sit for a bit to room temperature before serving.  Optional to top with a dollop of whipped cream

1955 Prestige Silverware Set

Prestige 1955

Today we had lunch with the man of the houses parents.  We then stopped at their house to pick up a silverware set his mother purchased before her graduation day from High School in 1955!!!

Every year “grandma Ruth” (the man’s mother) always asks us for Christmas gift ideas.  It was hard for her at first to understand my requests at Christmas.  I am a very practical person.  Sure, I love the finer things, but when someone is willing to spend money on me, I will choose something practical that I want and that I would love to save the money on buying for myself.  Some things I have requested are:  muck boots, black dress socks, leather driving gloves, a toaster and last year I asked for a toolbox with a few tools and different size nails I could use in my barn.  The first few years she would beg me to pick something different and now 16 years later, I think she knows me well enough to realize these are “gifts” to me.  Awesome gifts!!

So when she asked me the other day what I would like I was quick to tell her “silverware”.  Our set is now missing many things (I am sure the kids removed them at some point to dig outside or to take fishing in the creek).  I would like to have service for 8 again on all pieces.  Ruth then said to me, “you know I have a set I purchased before graduation from high school sitting in the basement” and before she could finish I said YES!!

deco

You see these are not just silverware pieces.  These are special pieces she purchased as a young girl to take into her future with whoever her husband to be was and for the family she was certain to have.  These pieces were hope of a wonderful life and future.  These pieces were part of the mans childhood.  Through the years she has kept this set perfect.  This set means more to me than she will probably ever know.

box

The box has been carefully stored through the many years only making an appearance at a few very special family gatherings.  In my 16 years, I had never seen them.  Yet today opening the beautiful box they were delivered in so many years ago, these pieces are in perfect condition.

IMG_0738

The certificate of registration of this hand picked set is in the box.  All the original paperwork and receipts are gently folded inside.

IMG_0739 silver

The silver etiquette book with complete instructions and pictures for the use and care of the silver is included laying gently on top.

IMG_0741

There are many different serving pieces included.

I can hardly wait to use these at Thanksgiving when Ruth will be here to enjoy the future she chose and purchased so many years ago.  I will cherish this set and we will use it often with the same hope Ruth had for it so long ago.  I will save the paperwork and pass this set onto my children who I can only hope will cherish it as much as I do.

 

 

Melville Reuben Bissell

Bissell5

Melville Reuben Bissell was born today, September 25, 1843.  Melville Bissell created the first carpet sweeper.

Following a financial breakdown which caused the Depression (Panic of 1873), Melville realized inventing something would offer financial security and set to work on creating the carpet sweeper.  He patented his product in 1876.

bissell3                                             bissell2

In 1884, a fire destroyed his plant.  But he rebuilt and actually expanded his business.  Sadly in 1889 Melville died from pneumonia.

The Bissell name and business was carried on by his wife Anna.  Anna Bissell became the first woman to hold the position of Chief Executive Officer in America.

bissell                                                                       bissell4

 

 

 

Historic 19th century village

post office  Read about the Brooks Grove Post Office

THIS PLACE IS AWESOME!!!  IT’S AN ACTUAL WORKING/LIVING VILLAGE!!

In June my daughters class took a field trip to the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

I have to get this out now….I should live in this village!!!  This is the way/time/era I should have been born in for sure!!

This little village is an actual working village.  Volunteers live there or close by year round and the village works as far as growing food (all sorts of food) animals, actual 19th century kitchens being cooked in every day, the only 19th century brewery still brewing beer from their homegrown hops and barley, etc.  Women dressed in clothing from a long ago time are spinning wool, sewing, cleaning, gathering eggs and making stone ground bread from wheat grown in the village.  The food is picked up a few times a day and sent to a local military base.  They also have a restaurant that serves the food grown, butchered, and prepared here.  You can enjoy that with a homemade mug of beer.

These buildings had been carefully moved here to restore and protect them.  Most of these are the original structures!!  I attached some links and you may have to scroll down to find the history but it’s worth the minute to scroll!

I was so in awe, I barely took any pictures.  But you can read about each building and see the pictures of them here

 

school house schoolchase legs

punishment lol Read about the School House

The first building we entered was the school.  My daughter is tall and could barely fit in the seats.  There was an old school teacher who held a “class” for a few minutes.  The building was so neat with a wood burner right in the middle for warmth and the boys were asked to bring in a piece of wood.  He chose my daughter to give an example of how children who were unruly were disciplined.  They had to stand in the front of the class and put their nose on a dot on the chalkboard for long periods of time.

the girls

Next up we visited the Drug Store.  This is all the girls in her class.

old store

We visited the mercantile store.  My heart was racing in this building.  I would gladly have this whole wall in my kitchen!!

john mckay library

Next up was John MacKay’s home.  You could feel the history in this house and the housekeeper was so helpful in touring the girls around and sharing the story of this wonderful family from long ago.

old church

A quick stop at St. Feehans Roman Catholic Church.  Not as colorful as churches today but I liked the simplicity of the church.

cool  The Hamilton House built in 1870.

I had to force myself to leave this house.  This could/should be my home.  This house was built after the house we currently live in.  The main part of our house was built in 1838.  But I really liked, ok LOVED, everything in this house.  This building is so grand, elegant, country, and historic.  I could feel the history of this house all around me.  It was fascinating to find out this was an Italian inspired house.  Being Sicilian, maybe that is why I loved it.

This Village is an hour away from where we live.  We were only there for a few hours but I am taking the kids back in a few weeks as you need an entire day to tour this village and talk to all the volunteers (and some paid) staff.

If you are ever coming to this area,  Niagara Falls, Toronto, Syracuse, Rochester or New York City, this is a must see attraction!!