31 December 2011

Resolutions, Part 2

I just wanted to share here a follow-up to last year's post about New Year's resolutions.  Last year I said that, although I'm not much of one for New Year's resolutions, I would be trying for the third time to read through the Bible in one year.

Well, I did it!  I'm super proud of myself.  How many of us know the guilt of going however many years as a Christian without having read the whole Bible?  I think I started having that guilt when I was about 12.  (Although to be fair, I was attending an Evangelical Christian school at that time...)  I'm glad to have that behind me, and I look forward to many re-readings in the future.  Although not in 2012.  I need a breather.  I think instead I'll try to get through the Apocrypha and a book about how the Protestant canon came to be.

[I looked a little like this sometimes...]

I guess I wanted to mention two things here.  One is the manner in which I finally accomplished my goal.  Since my daily Bible reading was coming to my Google Reader via an RSS feed, I decided that my rule would be that I couldn't read any posts in my Reader before I read the Bible reading for the day.  This gave me some leeway (I could go several days without doing my reading if I needed/wanted to), but also some urgency to get the readings done eventually (I didn't want to get too far behind on my favorite blogs!).  It was the perfect mixture and the perfect motivator.  I think the furthest behind I ever got was 5 days and 300+ blog posts, but I eventually caught back up.  So, I'm not saying that method will necessarily work for everyone -- it's definitely one suited to my particular personality and interests.  But I am saying that you should keep trying to reach your goals using different methods and incentives until you eventually get there.  Never stop starting!

I guess I also wanted to share a bit about what reading the whole Bible has meant to me and some of my thoughts about it.  I'm certainly not going to write a book review on the whole thing or anything!  And a year is a long time to hold anything in one's head, but I had some general impressions as I read:
1.) I was often surprised to read what it actually said, without all the commentary and preconceptions and opinions swirling around the text.  A lot of the time I found it to be a lot more straightforward than people act like it is.
2.) ....and other times I had to admit that I had no idea what was going on.  None.  Now, I'm a mystic (as defined by my husband on his blog -- check the link), so I'm more okay with that than some others would be.  But people have opinions and commentary and preconceptions about those parts too, which also surprises me, since the text is so seemingly inscrutable.
3.) ...so as a result, yeah, I think I'm more liberal than I was at the beginning of the year. That's a weird sentence to type.  But honestly, I think that's partly due to the fact that I've also been reading Rachel Held Evans's blog all year, and...
4.) ...the most specific observation I had about the Bible was... ::drumroll:: .... Yahweh was upset at Israel because they were cruel and unfair to orphans, widows, immigrants, and poor people.  That seems to be His most common indictment against them.  Second would probably be engaging in religious sex rituals.  But, yeah.  Dang.  That observation really got to me.  How often do I think of treating poor people with kindness and justice as even in the top 10 of things I should work on in my spiritual life?

So anyway, there ya go.  Bible read.  Goal achieved.  Marathon finished.  I win!

11 December 2011

Jessie Lyman's Journals, Part 6

I previously introduced you to my great-great grandmother, Jessie Lyman Eckert.  You can read the first post here, and subsequent post are filed under

Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.


Sun, Oct. 24 [1897]

We went to church and saw Forest. I took his overcoat and patching. Rob sold his horse yesterday for $47. Forest was pleased to get so much. It is more than he paid for her.
Mr. Emmett Scott came this afternoon. After chatting a while he suggested that we take a drive. We had a lovely time. It was dark when we got home. He came in and we ate a lunch, and he stayed till 9:15. I enjoyed his call very much. We are going driving again, and he is going to take me skating too. Oh I see some fun ahead.
While we were out, John Wilson and his sister came. I was sorry to have missed their call, as I have been expecting them for a good while.  John is a good skater too.
I do hope I will hear from Herman tomorrow.

Mon, Oct. 25th

Aunt Mary was taken sick this morning, and Logan came for Aunt Florence. We got along the best we could for breakfast. I left all the work and when I got home there was plenty to do. I went to work to get supper, and clean up. I made baking powder biscuits, with great fear and trembling. I was frying rabbit when Aunt Florence came bringing the children. She helped me finish. My biscuits were fine.

Tues, Oct. 26th

Nothing unusual happened today. Aunt Mary is much better, and I got a letter from Herman.

Wed, Oct. 27th

The children came over again today because Aunt Mary's head ached so badly. They will stay till Uncle Willie sends for them now.

Thurs, Oct. 28th

The boys went for hickory nuts yesterday, and today Clarence went to a sale. It is quite cool this evening.

Friday, Oct. 29th

This ends my second month of school teaching.  I have just finished making out my report.  I will get some money this month that I can buy some necessary articles with. I will get a hat tomorrow.
I got two letters today, one from Mamma and one from Nettie Munsell.

Sat, Oct. 30th

We went to town today and got my money. I bought a hat and pair of shoes.
I saw Jehu Wilson in town, and Emmett Scott too.  He talked quite a while as I was waiting in the buggy for Aunt Florence. I afterward saw him on the street, and he followed me into the book store and asked me to take a drive with him tomorrow.  I accepted with pleasure.

Sun, Oct 31st

It was raining this morning, so we just mailed some letters, for Forest, and came home, instead of going to church. Forest likes my hat very much.
Mr. Scott came in the afternoon and spent the evening. As it was raining, we didn't go driving. I had a very pleasant evening. We had a religious talk.
Mr. Scott seems to have a very high opinion of me. He surprised me this evening by some of his remarks on my character, nature, etc. when this was only the third time I have met him. I must be a little on my guard. He complimented my hat, and spoke highly of my taste in selecting it.


Oooo, drama!  How exciting.

I've been trying to figure out why she abbreviates every day of the week except for Friday.  The best I can figure is that there has historically been some superstition surrounding Friday -- it was considered unlucky, apparently up into the 1900s, if this source is to be believed.  Anyone have any other thoughts on this?

Also, and I quote, "Jehu is not in the top 1000 male names for any year of birth in the last 131 years. Please enter another name." Ha ha! Not so surprising.

05 December 2011

Jessie Lyman's Journals, Part 5

I previously introduced you to my great-great grandmother, Jessie Lyman Eckert.  You can read the first post here, and subsequent post are filed under

Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.


Tues, Oct. 12. [1897]

This was a beautiful morning and I wore my blue shirt waist.  It was the first time since I came here, that I have worn it.
I got a letter from Mamma and one from Emma today.  Mamma writes such good letters.  Emma is a case -- a freak of nature.

Wed, Oct. 13.

Arah and I took a horse back ride this evening.  It was quite dusky when we got home.  We had a great time.  I never laughed so much.  Old George is awful hard on the trot.  I had lots of fun out of him anyway.  We want to go Friday afternoon.  I will have Old Annie next time.  She is a great pacer.  Lovely color -- white with chocolate spots.

Thurs, Oct. 14.

I got a jolly letter from Muriel today.  She is a case.  School went off very well today.
I must answer some letters.

Friday, Oct. 15.

I had a very pleasant day.  After recess, I read a story to the children, and recited for them.  After school I ran another race with Clara Spilman and beat her.
Arah and I took a ride.  I went on Old Annie, and what a time we did have!  Annie certainly is a beauty.  That "side pace" of hers is a curiosity.  I don't care, she "rides easy."
Arah laughed heartily at the figure I cut.  We got home just at dark.  I am very fond of riding.  I wish I had a horse of my own.

Sat, Oct. 16th.

I wanted to visit some of my pupils today, but Arah couldn't go with me and show me the way in the morning, and I expected Uncle Wallie in the afternoon, so I didn't go.  Aunt Florence and I took a walk over to the percimmon tree in the afternoon.  Uncle Wallie didn't come after all.

Sun, Oct. 17.

It was raing [sic -- raining] this morning, so we didn't go to church.  It began to clear off about noon, so Francis and I started over to Aunt Sallie Lenore's.  The horse got lame, however, so we just went to town and mailed some letters.  We spent the afternoon at Uncle Wallie's.
In the evening, Francis and I went to Midway to the Epworth League.

 Mon, Oct. 18.

This is Forest's 21st Birthday.  He is going to live in town after this as it is so far from here to school.
I have a sore throat.

Tues, Oct. 19.

My cold is very bad.  I dismissed school at 3, and came home to get doctored up.  I think I had a slight chill in school.

Wed, Oct. 20.

Aunt Florence gave me medicine all night last night.  My cold is pretty bad, but I can get along at school if I don't get any worse.  Clarence took me to school this morning.

Thurs, Oct. 21.

My cold is pretty well under control now, thanks to a stitch in time.
I haven't had a letter from Herman this week.

Friday, Oct. 22.

Aunt Florence had company all day, but I was so late as to miss them.  Mrs. Hultz [?] and her sister, however, called on me after school.
Francis and I went to call on Pattie Scott in the evening.  We found her in bed, but she finally made her appearance.

Sat, Oct. 23.

We had company again today.  I finished Forest's patching before they came, however.
After they were gone, Francis and I went to town.  I forgot to wear my Ivak, and to take Forest's patching.  We went to see Forest, and he put his over coat around me.  I didn't get a letter from Herman today either.  I wish he would write.

I am 98% certain that the word there is indeed "Ivak", but I have no idea what that means.  I must therefore assume that it is a brand of coat that has somehow avoided internet detection.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, because I know I was: Arah.  Also, according to the Social Security baby name database (a fabulous resource), Arah was the 818th most popular baby girl name in 1882.  Their records only go back to 1880.  The variant spelling Ara was in the top 1000 baby girl names from 1880-1918 skipping only a few years.  I was assuming this Arah was male, but reading back over it, Jessie doesn't use ANY pronouns to refer to this person!  Looks like odds are it was a girl.

02 December 2011

My New Diet Plan

Hahahahahahahaha... OK, not really.  I'm just trying to eat a little better and move a little more.  I had an epiphany the other day, which was that if I want to have another baby, I'd better lose this extra weight I've got hanging on before I get pregnant, or it'll be as good as stuck there for a while.  I got back down to pre-baby weight at some point during Lucy's life (it was at that point that I finally got rid of my old pants -- if they didn't fit then, they weren't going to!), but it has crept back up.  This wouldn't bother me so much, except that I know I don't move around nearly as much as I should, and I eat my own version of junk food all afternoon, every afternoon.

So. The moving around problem I hope to remedy by buying Lucy a semi-expensive balance bike for Christmas, so I'll have put so much money into it that I'll feel compelled to take her on walks with it all the time. (Using the normal human misunderstanding of sunk costs to my advantage.)

And on the food front:

Yes, that it as extra large pill box filled with chocolate chips.  You see, lately Norman and I have been going through a 10 oz bag of Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips every week by ourselves.  And that's reining it in to only one bag a week.  This cannot be good for me (especially when I'm so sensitive to caffeine and sugar).  So I now have my daily allotment in the pill box.  It's working pretty well so far -- I haven't cheated, but I did get a little snippy one afternoon.  But in my defense, it turned out to be a really bad week to cut back on the chocolate, reproductive-system-ly speaking.

I will leave you with this, which is on my refrigerator above my list of approved snacks:

This is the real reason I'm so strict with food, so it helps to be reminded.

(Here is the article in which Drew Carey said that.  I highly recommend it -- he is wise and inspiring.)

27 November 2011

Jessie Lyman's Journals, Part 4

I previously introduced you to my great-great grandmother, Jessie Lyman Eckert.  You can read the first post here, and subsequent post are filed under

Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.


Wed. Oct. 6th [1897]

Aunt Florence came by the school house on her way to Mrs. Jacobs' for butter.  I went with her and was very glad of the lift.
We stayed about an hour at Mrs. Jacobs' and had a very pleasant visit.  Carrie wanted me to stay all night, but I couldn't do so very conveniently.  They all invited me very cordially to come whenever I could.
I got quite chilly before we got home.  The boys had a good fire going and it felt good.

Thurs. Oct. 7th

Francis and I went to the percimmon [sic] tree again this afternoon.  There were none on the ground, but Francis climbed the tree and shook them down.  I picked up about a quart.  I wanted to send some to Mamma.

Friday, Oct. 8th

Aunt Florence went to Callaway Co. again today, so I will be house keeper for a few days.
I had to punish two [to]day -- Logan Russell and Henry Jonas.

Sat. Oct. 9th

We got up at almost six o'clock this morning.  I got breakfast as fast as I could, but we were so late that Forest didn't try to get to his 8:30 class.  Francis went to town and did not get home till late.  Clarence went to Huntsdale, so I was here all afternoon by myself.  I spent the time in darning Forest's socks.
After supper, Francis and I had an old time tussle.  He had disgusted me with his foolish talk, so, telling him that he was as soft and mushy as one of the percimmons we were eating, I threw one and hit him in the face with it.
Deeming it no longer safe for me to remain in that part of the house, I ran for the porch.  And none too soon, for as I went out the door a percimmon whipped past me.  Then came dashing of water in my face while I cuffed his ears, and smothering me with a comfort [?] while I belabored him with a shoe box.
We finally came to terms and went to bed peacably [sic].

Sunday Oct. 10th

We got up late again this morning.  I got breakfast and cleaned up the house.  By that time Uncle Wallie came over, and stayed an hour or two.  Soon after dinner Aunt Florence drove in.
I am feeling a little lonely today.  I miss going to church on Sunday.  It seems so strange not to expect Herman in the evening.  I wonder if Emmett Scott will come this evening.  I wish he would bring his buggy and take me to church.  It looks very much like rain, however, so I'm afraid he won't.  It could take my mind off of Herman.

Mon. Oct. 11, 97.

It was raining this morning, and Francis took me to school in the buggy.  The sun was shining before school was out however.  Aunt Florence was at Uncle Wallie's as I came by, and we walked home together. 
I got a nice letter from Herman.


Ya know how when you learn about something for the first time, or something comes up that you never think of, then it just keeps coming up all around you suddenly?  Or is that just me?  In any case, I pretty much never think about persimmons, especially since I don't really know what they are, and I've never had one, so I don't know what they taste like.  But last week I typed up Jessie Lyman's first story about the persimmon tree.

Then, at church this morning, one of the ladies brought like 4 big boxes of persimmons to church to give away because her persimmon tree went crazy this year!  So I took 4 of them, with instructions from various church ladies to wait until they're quite mushy before either eating them or making baked goods out of them.  I can't wait!

26 November 2011

A Great Deal that I Just Had to Share

I just found this great deal over at VitaCost.com!  You shop through this link, you get a $10 coupon for anything on the site!  Seriously -- no strings. 

I moseyed on over there and picked up 4 packages of these fancy rice crackers that we always buy for Lucy.  Well, they're cheaper at VitaCost than they are at the store here anyway, but I put 4 in my cart: $11.64 + $4.99 s/h - $10 coupon = $6.63.  That's $1.66/package.  They're like $3.50 here, and that's on sale!

Yep, it's as easy as that.  Check them out.  They sell supplements, teas, formula, organic snacks and convenience foods, etc, etc (including LARABARS which are the tastiest, healthiest snack bars ever).  If you click the link I have here, you get $10, and I get $10!  Heck of a deal!

25 November 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Another Thanksgiving, come and gone. This one was perfect for us homebodies. (And by "us" I mean Norman and me -- I don't think Lucy could ever be misconstrued for a homebody.)  It was just the three of us, but enough food to feed... 8?  10?  A lot.

[The spread]

I made the soft pretzels (!!!) on Wednesday.  I hadn't made these in a while, and my bread kneading skills are much better than they used to be.  They turned out perfect.  Really.  There wasn't a single thing about them that could have been better.

Then Thursday started early with 5 bags of frozen green beans.  Now, calm down.  I had signed up to take a vegetable to the local Veteran's Hall.  We only kept about one bag's worth for ourselves.

These turned out really well.  I cooked up some bacon, then dumped it (and the grease!) into a pot with the frozen green beans.  Then I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried minced onion.  Simple and tasty!

Then the turkey, which, sadly, I overcooked.  Especially sad because it was free range.  But the gravy I made from the pan drippings?  Ohhhh man.  So flavorful, but not fake flavorful.  Conventional turkeys are usually injected with a brothy liquid -- the ones at my local grocery store said they had up to 16% broth solution. That's a prime place for MSG to hide as "turkey broth", "natural flavorings", and "spice".  This is why we were so happy to be able to spend more on a free range turkey. 

Also, a standard post-Thanksgiving job for me, making turkey broth!  Turkeys are so big that I'll make two batches of crockpot broth from our 10 pound turkey.  And, once again, no MSG!

We also had sweet potatoes (actually yams -- I went to two stores and couldn't find any sweet potatoes!), but I cooked them two different ways.  Norman wanted them just mashed with butter and salt, so he could put gravy on them.  And I, of course, wanted them drenched in sugar!  I ended up mashing mine with butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Then I topped them with this homemade marshmallow fluff and baked them!  Soooo good.  They taste just like some sort of Yankee candle smells.  (That's a good thing.)

We had wine, and sparkling pomegranate juice.  And for dessert I made pumpkin donuts.  Oh my.  This recipe makes about 50 donut holes.  And each one of them is fried in coconut oil (if you're at my house, anyway).  And coconut oil is seriously filling.  I have a feeling a bunch of these are going to mysteriously show up on the coffee table at church on Sunday, especially since we also still have a bunch of pretzels!

[Pumpkin donut holes]

[Om nom]

20 November 2011

Jessie Lyman's Journals, Part 3

I previously introduced you to my great-great grandmother, Jessie Lyman Eckert.  You can read the first post here, and subsequent post are filed under

Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.

Sunday, Oct. 3d. [1897]

I didn't feel well enough to go to church today. Indeed, I spent most of the day in bed.
About three o'clock "the old bachelors began to roll in" as Forest said, so I had to bestir myself, arise from my repose and make myself presentable.
The first was Mr. Frazee.  He is about forty.  He talks very well, and I enjoyed his call very much.
Before he left, I heard a knock and lo and behold another bachelor in company with his niece.  It was then about six. Mr. Frazee soon left, promising to come again.
The name of the second was Mr. Emmet Scott.  His niece's name is Pattie Scott.  They stayed until 9:30.  I hadn't laughed so much since I left home.  Mr. Scott is so funny.  We made friends very soon and he promised to take me skating in such a funny way.  I expect to have a good deal of fun with him.  He has nice horses and buggies too.  He was referring to "those same" during the evening.  I think I will have to be very nice to him.  He is very fond of pretty girls.  I don't know what he will do in my case as beauty is a minus quantity here.  I almost starved before they left as I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast.

Monday, Oct. 4th

I felt much better today.  My school work was hard though, and it was five o'clock before I left the schoolhouse.  There was a carpenter fixing the house today.
To my surprise and delight, I got two letters today -- one from Mamma, and the other from Herman.  I mailed one to him Sat. which he must have received today.  I was so glad to hear from him.  He is always the same dear old Herman.
Aunt Florence ironed my duck skirt for me today. I thought it was so nice of her.  I didn't know when I would get time to do it.

Tues. Oct. 5th

I was very tired when I got home from school, but after changing my dress, I felt much better.
Francis asked me to go to the percimmon [sic] tree with him, so I got on old George behind him, and away we went, Frances asking me every few minutes if I was "on", and I clutching him franticly [sic] around the waist as we went up hill and down.  We passed some beautiful little glens.  Our path was through a wooded pasture where the quiet was broken only by the snapping of the twigs under the horse's feet.  Once a squirrel crossed our path and ran up a tree a little distance away, peering at us first from one side of the tree and then from the other.
We reached the tree, and found a great many percimmons on the ground.
Having forgotten to bring a basket, we had to be content with eating enough for ourselves and those at home too.  When we were ready to come home, I tried to persuade Francis to carry a handful home in his hip pocket, but he very ungallantly declined.
We came home a different way from the one we had taken on our way out.  It was through the fields.  Francis got down to let down a rail fence; after grazing quietly for a while, George began to turn round.  I pulled on the rein, and he began to turn all the faster.  I was behind the saddle, and so did not have full control of my fiery steed.  To make a long story short, I slid off.  George -- blind in one eye -- became frightened at the display of girl and skirts coming down beside him, reared and if Francis had not caught the bridle just in time, would have stepped on me.  As it was, he backed off dragging Francis by the bridle.  Strange to say, I was neither hurt nor frightened.  Francis finished letting down the fence, and we went on our way rejoicing.  The next fence we had to go through, I slid forward into the saddle when Francis got down.  
It was dusk when we reached home.


OK, so she keeps mentioning her "duck skirt", right?  After much Googling and checking my OED, it seems that she means a rather plain, sturdy skirt, perhaps like this one

made out of "duck", which the OED defines as "a strong untwilled linen (or later, cotton) fabric, lighter and finer than canvas; used for small sails and men's (esp. sailors') outer clothing."

18 November 2011

Today in Thrift Store Kitsch

I found this at the thrift store today.  (The same store I found the breastfeeding poster -- fabulous place.)

I paid a whole 35 cents for this beauty.  I still haven't decided whether to keep it, sell it on Etsy, or send it to my mom!   I think Norman's vote is to hang it in our kitchen.

I also found, in keeping with my ridiculous good luck and perfect timing where thrift stores are concerned, a broth separator for making Thanksgiving gravy.  (My old one was cracked, so I tossed it before we moved.)

14 November 2011

Jessie Lyman's Journals, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to my great-great grandmother, Jessie Lyman Eckert.  You can read the first post here.

Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.

Sept. 29 [1897]

The day was very hot and I had two classes in which I explained subjects which really seemed hard for them.  I hardly knew whether to try it or not, but an explanation was necessary to a clear understanding of the subject.
The pupils seemed to understand it very readily too.  I have taught them the tides, winds, ocean currents, continental structure, and origin of the parts of speech as well as the similarity between North and South America.  They seem to take an interest in them, and think very quickly.  It seems to be different from anything they ever heard before.  Miss Watson's teaching helps me a great deal.
I was very tired when I got home, and went to bed about seven o'clock.

Sept. 30.
Another hot day without a drop of rain.  The roads are very dusty.  I was not so tired this as I was last evening.
I went down to the sorghum mill this evening.  We watched the grinding of the cane, and saw them stir off a lot of sorghum, then we took knives and scraped the box.  We rode home in the big wagon after a mule team.  I got my hands covered with molasses.

Mark -- He hit me on the back of the neck with a book, and stuffed some paper down my back.
Logan -- "I didn't either."
Mark -- "You did too."
Teacher -- "Well Logan, what did you do?"
Logan -- "I just stuck a stick down his back."
Teacher -- "What did you do Mark."
Mark -- "I didn't do a thing.  I couldn't reach him."
The children were given the following sentence and required to fill out the blanks:
I slide on my ______.
Most of the sentences read "I slide on my new sled," or something similar.  Logan's -- "I slide on my cellar door."

Oct. 1st.
Aunt Florence started for a visit of three days in Callaway Co. this afternoon.  I am to be chief cook and bottle washer during her absence.
I have made out my first month's report to the school board and expect to get $35, all my own for this long month of work. Won't I be rich?

Oct. 2d.
I got up at five o'clock and got breakfast this morning. The boys say I am a first rate cook.  Well, I don't intend to let them go on cold meals all the while.
I washed the dishes, took care of the milk, washed my duck skirt for the first time, and then did the house work.  I don't know how my skirt will look -- I never made starch before.  My wash woman's little boy came with my washing while I was washing my dress.  I don't know what he thought.  I didn't want to trust her with my skirt for the first time.
While I was upstairs doing the work, one of the Kirtz boys came to say that Aunt Florence's horse had got away at their house and that Aunt Florence was coming home -- would be here in a few minutes.  I was sorry for her, but I was glad to see her, as I was very tired.
I went to town in the afternoon, got my money, bought a few articles and came home.  In the evening we went over to Logan's "show".  I road behind Francis on George.  It was much better than walking through the dust.  Logan's show was a decided success -- very original and extremely provocative of mirth.  The phonagraph [sic] was the feature of the evening.  Anderson looked too sweet with his little blue shirt with short sleeves and low neck, and his little blue trousers.


I would just like to interject at this point and say that I love that she cannot spell her schwas, despite being a teacher herself.  Perhaps it is genetic?

More to come...

06 November 2011

May I Introduce You to My Great-Great Grandmother?

I was sorting through some things on my desk last night, and I realized that while I am in possession of my great-great grandmother's diaries, I have never read them.  What??  This is craziness.  As I started reading them, I thought about how interesting, and strange, and personal, and impersonal having something from an ancestor is.  I never knew her, but she is part of my story, and I was named after her.  I thought I'd share this strangeness with all of you, if that's okay.  I decided to transcribe the diaries as I read them and share them with you here, in installments.  [Edit: You can view the rest of the posts under the label Jessie Lyman's diary.But first, an introduction:


Jessie Lyman was born January 2, 1877.  She graduated from Westport High School (Westport, MO, now part of Kansas City) in 1897 at the head of her class.  From what I have read of her diaries so far, it appears she went on to teach school for a couple years in Columbia, MO.  She married Herman Eckert in June of 1899.  On July 26, 1900, she died giving birth to twins Conrad and Cornelia at the age of 22.  Conrad is my mother's mother's father.

[We have a portrait photo of Jessie Lyman, but it's tucked away in my parents' storage somewhere. Photos of her journals will have to suffice.]

Jessie Lyman
Sept. 26th, 1897

I have been in Columbia a month.  The time has passed very quickly, and, on the whole, very pleasantly.  In the week before my school began, I took several little pleasure-trips about the country.  On Monday morning Sept. 6th, at 8:30, I opened my first school.

Every thing passed off very pleasantly, but at four o'clock I was very glad to find that the boys had brought the road-wagon for me.

On Friday, Sept. 10th, I had to punish a little girl for disobedience.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  Thus ended the first week.

In my second week I got the pupils quieted down to some extent.  I adopted a new remedy for subduing whispering.  I got some cotton bandages to tie up their mouths.  Three victims suffered from this punishment.  I have been afraid to try it much since, however, because it looks so funny I'm afraid to test my self-control.

We had a good rain that week and the weather was much pleasanter afterward.

The week beginning Sept. 20th was rather warm and the roads are becoming very dusty again.

I am getting affairs a little better arranged in my school.  It isn't a play-spell, however.

I had my first caller this week.  I was getting anxious to see a girl again.  This one was Imogene Scott.  I hope we will find each other congenial, as girls are few and far between, here.

I went to church this morning, and heard a very good sermon.  The day has been very warm and the roads are dusty.  A four-mile drive is rather tiresome.

I wish some of the bachelors who are said to abound in this country would call, and break the monotany [sic] this evening.  They are mostly of the species owning two-horse buggies.  

Monday, Sept. 27th, 1897.

It was a little cooler this morning and I got along with my room work very well, but for some reason I got started to school late.  I met Uncle Wallie and he took me over to the gravel in his buggy, so I got to the school house in plenty of time.

The day passed very pleasantly.  In the evening I began hem stitching a school handkerchief.  I am doing it more for practice than anything else.  I want to know how well by Christmas.

Tues. Sept. 28th

I had a rather hard day today.  It was 4:45 before I left the school house.

I overtook Forest at Uncle Wallie's and rode over behind him on his horse.  It was lots of fun.

I received a nice letter from Herman -- the first I have had for two weeks.

More to come...

In preparation to write this blog post, I finally got around to reading the short family history that my great-grandfather Conrad Eckert put together in 1978.  Some information attached to the back of that document (hopefully reliable), indicates that I have in my direct family lineage a knight from 1066, two kings of Scotland, and two ladies named Dorcas Plumb and Mindwell Pomeroy.  I'm not sure which of those things I'm most excited about.

04 November 2011

Harvest Fest Recap

"And here's what my booth looked like this time!"  Oy.  Are we like so totally over the photos of my various craft booths?  If you are, I apologize.

I showed up to the Harvest Festival with no idea what was going on or where I was going to be.  The lady in charge was supposed to call me the week before, but Saturday morning came and I had heard nothing.  Usually this would make me crazy, but I was oddly at ease.  I'm a craft show veteran.  I can roll with it.  (It may also help that I don't actually have a booth set-up, and I just putt things wherever I feel like it while I'm setting up.)  Turns out I was in the gym, on the stage/dividable classrooms, next to the Altar Guild's White Elephant table.  Ha. 

[The view from my corner.]

This, in part, is why I was surprised when I actually exceeded my sales goal!  And it was kind of fun to talk to everyone, and the dinner was delicious.

[Table setting before the sauerbraten-nomming mob descended.]

[The view of my booth from the front/gym floor]

[Lucky me, this mobile bulletin board was already in my space. Perfect!]

[Buford's back there with my cedar sachets. Keep up the good work, man.]

[Free stickers. For the kids. {Which is funny because there are only like 8 kids in the whole church. Not even exaggerating. Lucy is the only 2-year-old. So different.}]

I got a lot of people saying, after looking over all my stuff, "Oohh, so you recycle stuff! That is so great!"  Humboldt County, I love you.

01 November 2011

Halloween 2011: Year of the Noodles


Ah, another Halloween come and gone.  I had a very ambiguous relationship with Halloween growing up.  Some years my mom made fabulous, elaborate costumes for us (I was once a pink crayon; another year, Samantha, the American Girl), some years we pulled stuff together for ourselves (like when I was a "gypsy", i.e., long skirt, head-kerchief, lots of jewelry). Some years we went trick-or-treating, some years we only did church things, some years we did nothing because my dad decided it wasn't cool to beg people for candy.

But having a kid of my own, everything is just so much more exciting!  I'm seeing everything through new eyes.  And I'm also going to keep up this family-theme costume thing for as long as I can get away with.  (Last year we were The Interwebs. The year before that I was still in a daze and I barely remember putting Lucy in that lion costume.)  So this year we were the Noodles from Elmo's World on Sesame Street.  Mr. Noodle, and Mr. Noodle's sister Miss Noodle, and Mr. Noodle's other sister Miss Noodle.  (That's how Elmo introduces them.)

[Whatdya think? Christmas card photo?]

[I told her to make Miss Noodle face.]

[Lucy's attempts to take a photo of me in my Miss Noodle costume.]

I spent precisely 75 cents to put these costumes together: I found Lucy a too-big little boy suit vest at a rummage sale.  The rest was stuff we had around the house.

We also carved a pumpkin!  Our very, very nice neighbor lady (who is moving, sad face), has gardened the heck out of her yard and actually grew pumpkins!  Successfully!  (I've heard this can be difficult, although I guess I shouldn't be surprised that pumpkins grow easily in Humboldt County.  It's like the frickin' Garden of Eden here.)  And then she gave us one!  She's outside a lot, so whenever we walk by, Lucy starts talking to her.  Neighbor Lady kind of doesn't have a choice.  But I'm pretty sure she likes Lucy.

[We had the pumpkin for like 3 weeks before we carved it, so Lucy was very excited.]

 [Alas, we did not give him a name.]

And we walked around the Plaza (the local downtown shop area) and got candy.  I had to mitigate a couple of near-tears situations when Lucy caught sight of anyone with any kind of skeleton mask on.  Goodness!  I had to have my Uncanny Valley radar on.  And it was worse than usual because she hadn't had a nap.  Probably too excited all day!

 [Where did this kid come from? Coulda sworn all I had around here was a little toddler...]

28 October 2011

A Fun Event You Can't Attend

I've lived in my current town for nearly 3 months, and I still have no Facebook friends who also live here.  This strikes as very weird, but it seems people here just aren't big on the internet.  I think they might be busy doing other things like hiking, gardening, and eating good food.  Weirdos.  (Please note the sarcasm.)

So it is with a slightly wistful sigh that I post the following, knowing that none of you reading this could possibly act on this information.

Our (Lutheran) church is having a Harvest Festival on Saturday!  It's like a Halloween carnival, minus the costumes, plus a severely authentic Oktoberfest meal.  Seriously -- they have already been marinating the sauerbraten for 5 days at the time of this writing.  There will be carnival games, a giant cardboard maze in the gym, a quilt raffle, a silent auction, live music, the German food (and beer), and craft booths! 

[Someone else's marinating sauerbraten]

Craft booths is plural there, but I'm not actually sure if anyone will have one besides me.  I think the church ladies were doing a collective one or something.  I kind of assume the crowd will be small and not so spendy, so I'm not planning on raking in the cash or anything, but it's still very exciting and a little nerve-wracking.  These people don't know me very well, and they certainly don't know about the seriousness nor the sheer quantity of my crafting.  But they will very soon.  Yikes!  Just kind of exposing, ya know?

In other news, the Bible study I attend got together to make a basket for the silent auction.  We had so much stuff it turned into two baskets.  And by "turned into", I mean that I kind of just took over and decided what would go where and what it would look like and how it should be.  First-born.  Although I usually find that people are happy to delegate.

 ["Family Fun Night"]

["Quiet Night at Home"]

That's right, I named them and may or may not have typed up and printed out a list of the contents of each basket on nice cardstock with a fancy font.  Ahem.

25 October 2011

The Yearly Halloween Conundrum

Nope, not whether or not to celebrate. Not whether or not to going trick-or-treating. No, as a confirmed real food hippie, my yearly Halloween conundrum is -- what do I hand out??

[Spoiler alert: It's these!]

Last year I was really on top of things, and I bought glow stick bracelets super-cheap on eBay to hand out instead of candy.  This year I pretty much forgot about it until.... yesterday.  At which point I was at the grocery store and figured it would be a good time to decide what to give out.  (Because I think it's important to give out something good and thoughtful, because Halloween is a very Christian holiday in practice.)

But, but -- high fructose corn syrup? Hydrogenated oils? Food dye? I can't do it.  I can't just hand that out to small children.  Also, whatever is left over will be sitting around our house, and at least one of us will probably eat it.

So I was wandering around the Safeway thinking, thinking, trying to think outside of the box while still staying within some sort of reasonable budget (it doesn't help that there are 5 shopping days this month instead of 4).  Little bags of chips?  Little bags of cookies?  Granola bars?  All too expensive.  Boxes of raisins?  Yes, if I want everyone to hate me.  Thinking, thinking....

And then I was saved by the bulk food section!

They sell these little sesame seed candies (individually wrapped!) in the bulk section with the lentils and the chocolate-covered malt balls.  Only 4 ingredients (3 of which are forms of sugar, but it is candy, after all), and $3.19 per pound.  Perfect!

[In a record bowl, of course!]

Oh, and get ready! Family costume photos to come next week!

21 October 2011

When Hoarding Pays Off

Before we moved across country, I got rid of a lot of fabric.  Most of my collections of denim and felt went, as did a bunch of my cotton fabric, fleece, and flannel.  But I refused to get rid of a single swatch of my corduroy.  I kept all of it.  There is a lot.  Right now it's all stuffed into three under-the-bed containers.

A good deal of the more interesting stuff came from a garage sale in Minnesota (I lived there for a summer once -- long story).  I've got some really awesome vintage prints.  I used them to make this and this and this

And now these!

I bought Lucy a bunch of pants at a school rummage sale, but I didn't realize that the knees of the khaki corduroys were nearly worn through! 

So now they're girly but not too girly, which is my favorite way for girls' clothes to be!

And that's why we keep even the tiniest scraps of awesome vintage printed corduroy.

(PS - If you want to patch pants without iron-on stickiness, you're gonna want to use a stitch like #1 here.  It's super sturdy!)

18 October 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Quesadillas for Halloween!

There's something you should probably know about me: I like to get things done.  It's not just that I like to be able to check things off my to-do list (although I do really like doing that), it's that while I'm trying to get something done, I'm focused solely on getting it done as quickly as possible.  No dawdling.  I do this even with things I like doing.  I just want to get it done and move on.  (This is also why I seem to always forget to take photos of things I wanted to share here on the blog.)

For this reason, I really stink at making mealtime fun.  Pretty much every time Norman fixes lunch for Lucy, he makes a funny face out of the food.  I never do, unless she asks me to.

[Like this. Actually I can't remember if this was me or Norman.]

So, it's a small miracle, and in all actuality, a coincidence, that I decided to make these for dinner the other night.

The coincidence part: I was already planning on making quesadillas for dinner.  Bean and veggie.  Sooo good.  I had called my mom the day before to wish her and my dad a happy wedding anniversary.  While we were chatting, she mentioned that she has read this book called Snacktivities, about making fun food for kids to eat.  She mentioned that one of the things was turning a tortilla into a snowflake with scissors, the way you do with round pieces of paper in the winter.  Which reminded me of this, in which "Recipe Laura" makes quesadillas by doing exactly that.  The next day when it came time for me to make my quesadillas, in a flash, I thought, "Jack-o'-lanterns!"  The orangeness of the cheddar cheese, the snowflakes, October -- it all came together.


I have absolutely no artistic ability when it comes to 2-dimensional renderings (i.e., drawing).  None.  So these faces are... basic, shall we say.  But it was still fun! 

Method: I took a sharp knife to a tortilla on my cutting board.  Total freehanding (obviously).  I happen to have made these tortillas from scratch, but whatever.  (Oh, but if you want to make whole wheat tortillas, you have got to get yourself some King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat flour. It is light and fine. It has revolutionized my baking.)  I mixed cooked beans, frozen corn (defrosted under running water in a strainer), chopped onion, bell pepper, some fresh parsley I had on hand, salt, cumin, and paprika in a bowl.  I shredded some cheese.  Then I just layered it all up in a hot skillet.

Now, as you can see, if you put the cheese on top, it makes the faces hard to see.  But if you put the cheese on the bottom, all the beans and things fall out easier.  I recommend putting cheese, then filling, then cheese in between the tortillas, just to glue everything together, even though it obscures the face somewhat. 

Lucy was very tired (it was a no-nap day), but she still enjoyed them. I think.

[It's a face!]

Sooo... Are you someone who stops to smell the roses, or do you just want to get it done already?  (As a child I was in the first category. I really don't know what happened.)