Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things To Be Thankful For

The good, green earth beneath our feet,

The air we breathe, the food we eat,

Some work to do, a goal to win,

A hidden longing deep within

That spurs us on to bigger things

And helps us meet what each day brings,

All these things and many more

Are things we should be thankful for...

And most of all our thankful prayers

Should rise to God because He cares!

~Helen Steiner Rice

Here's hoping you have a wonderful day filled with a thankful heart!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Last of the Civil War Days

I will admit it. I have been a bad blogger lately. I said that I would have the rest of these pictures up two days ago. I lied. Not on purpose. But, I lied none-the-less. Sorry. Now, get over it. :0)

On to the Civil War Days...

You saw a lot of the camps, cannons, chuck wagons, buildings and things like that. You also met the President. Now, I'll introduce you to more of the common folk.

I think this was a general and his wife. Sorry about the crappy pictures, but my editing software isn't working at the moment. It has to be that - for it surely couldn't be my photography abilities!

I don't exactly know who these 2 fellows were supposed to be, but they were kind enough to let me snap a photo. It amazes me how people dressed up so much more in their day to day life back then than we do now. And they didn't even have sidewalks, for the most part.

I told you how it had rained all week prior to this event and the ground was a muddy mess - even with straw on the ground. I had to throw all of our shoes in the washer when we got home. Yet, they seemed to be dressed to the nines every day. Can you imagine trying to get the mud out of the hem of every dress you owned? Heck, I can't even imagine wearing a dress like that every day. It's a good day when I just put on something other than sweats! Anyway...

There were many shops and craftsmen set up doing their thing, too. This was a blacksmith's shop. I don't know where the blacksmith was, but it was supper time.

We didn't see all of the shops because we didn't want to walk through the knee-deep mud. I'm just barely exaggerating here. But there was a surgeon, a rope maker and a man giving mule rides, among many other things.

This nice woman was weaving rugs on her loom. She was kind enough to show us how it worked. It was really fascinating. You could purchase the rugs as well.

Here, her husband sits cutting pants into strips of cloth with that little device secured to the end of the table. They will use that basket full of cloth strips to make rag rugs.

There was a large tent set up in one area where different presentations were also made during the course of the weekend. We caught the tail end of the one given by a couple of the female slaves of the time. It was really heart-wrenching. They actually had to work in chains. They shared some of the spiritual songs that they would sing to encourage themselves. Some songs were coded messages they sang to one another.

We also caught a bit of a music trio in the big tent. They played the music of the time. One man played the fiddle. One played the guitar. And the last played the bass. Not the bass guitar, but the huge bass you see in orchestra. They were very good.

Well, that about wraps up our visit to the Civil War Days. I'm gonna go make lunch now. Not that you care. I'm just sayin'! :0)


Monday, October 12, 2009

Civil War Days

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny, crisp Autumn day here in Indiana. It was perfect for visiting Civil War Days. The only bad part was the rain that had fallen all week long prior to Saturday. It left the ground a muddy mess in spite of the straw that was put down to help. I looked at it as an opportunity to really experience the old days. :0)

Blackford County Civil War Days is one of the largest re-enactments in the nation. People come from all over to participate in this 3 day weekend. Since we are learning American History this year in school - it was a great opportunity to see history come to life. Isaac was so excited. He kept seeing things that we have read about this year. I think it really helped solidify the fact that people actually lived so much differently than we do today and that the things we read about are not just stories. They are relevant. It is our history.

Let's take a tour, shall we?

This is a close up of one of the cannons used for the re-enacted battle. The smoke from these bad boys smells just like rotten eggs. You gotta love ya some sulfur.

This is a partial shot of one of the lines of cannons. The field is huge that they battle on. We weren't there for one of the actual battles - but, I can only imagine that it would have been nothing less than fascinating.

The people that take part in these travel all over to participate. This is a chuck wagon camp. The settlers were on the back side by the fire.

Another chuck wagon. Those oxen actually pull this thing. I couldn't get over how huge those beasts actually were in person - much larger than our run-of-the-mill cow. It's no wonder why they were so popular for hauling stuff.

This is a few of the permanent structures on the site. The mayor's office is there. That's where the soldiers collect their pay. There is also a jail and a saloon where you can stop in for a pickle and some ice cold beer of the root variety.

Check out this camp. The part you're looking at is where most of the day is spent. The back side is the sleeping tent. Some people would actually bring 4 poster beds to place in their tents for sleeping. And, yes, they actually do sleep here. All weekend. And, let me just tell ya - this time of year it's getting cold at night. We're talking upper 30's cold. I don't know how they do it.

Can you see the smoke coming off the fire pit. That's probably coffee brewing. But, these people actually cook on these pits. It amazed me. And made me salivate. We were there around supper time and boy did it smell good!

The guys who slept here every night had to be real men!

A couple of Confederates at their camp site.

Another view of one of the Confederate camp sites.

I thought this view was strangely befitting. The back edge of the camp butts up against a cemetery.

Look at how the trees are starting turn against that gorgeous blue sky. I love this time of year!

Tomorrow I'll give you a glimpse of some of the shops and people.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Met A Former President Yesterday

Actually, he was an impersonator. Or, at least I hope he was. 'Cause if that really was Abe Lincoln I had a chat with - I'm gonna be really creeped out!

Our family went to the Civil War Days in Hartford City, IN yesterday. It was truly fascinating. I took lots of pictures and will share more this week. But, for now, enjoy the rest of this beautiful weekend! Carry on...


Friday, October 9, 2009

My Exciting Holiday Memories - The Conclusion

Christmas was fast approaching and we were counting days. The night of December 23rd we headed for bed knowing full well when we woke up it would be Christmas Eve! That meant a big family celebration that night. Little did we know that we would be having a little more excitement than we had hoped for.

We lived in a 2-story house with all the bedrooms upstairs. Sometime in the wee, early hours of the morning, Dad had gotten up and went downstairs to get a drink or something. He was on the couch and thought he heard the screen door open. Our storm door had a big window in it with a curtain that we would shut at night. Dad decided to go take a peek out the door window. As he did, he noticed that the door handle began to turn. When he peeked out - he saw him. There was a masked man trying to get into our house! So, Dad did what any reasonable, rational thinking man would do - he flung the door open and surprised the guy!

The would-be burglar turned and ran. My dad took off after him. I don't know what he was planning on doing with him when he caught him, but I don't think he was thinking that far ahead. He running on pure instinct and adrenaline. The burglar hopped our fence into the back yard, dropping a bag full of goodies he had already lifted from other people's homes. He stopped to gather them up - well, until he saw my dad hopping the fence after him, that is. So, he got up and hopped the fence into the neighbor's yard. Dad hopped the fence into the neighbor's yard right behind him. Then it struck. Reason. It finally dawned on my dad that; a) he was in his pajamas, b) he was not armed, c) the thief he was chasing could possibly have a knife or something that he could turn on my dad with at any moment.

Some of the details are slightly sketchy since I was just a kid and that was many moons ago and all. But, Dad did head back to the house and called the police. I don't know if he woke my mom up or if she woke up from all of the commotion. I'm sure there was some yelling and &*@#^% going on. At some point I woke up and came downstairs to find the law in our living room. Yet, our dog was no where to be found. Can I take a bunny trail for a moment? Thank you. They say that having a dog, even a small dog, is a great deterrent against burglaries. In theory, even a small dog will bark and make noise - so a thief will pick a house without a dog so as to not attract attention during a break-in. Our Lhasa Apso was found cowering underneath my parents bed, shaking like a leaf, in full refusal to leave her perceived place of safety. I think it took 2 hours to get her out from underneath that bed. Now I have a doberman. :0) OK. Back to the story. My little sister slept through the whole thing.

The police officer (Or was that officers? I don't remember.) took the report and there were cops looking for the man, but nothing more than that could be done at that hour since it was still dark. So, they left - promising to come back and take a look around in the daylight. When they did return, they found several items that the attempted burglar had dropped and not retrieved since he was being hotly pursued by his victim. They were all items intended to be given as Christmas presents. The police also discovered another strange finding. This one was right on our porch in front of the door. It was a big puddle of pee. When my dad flung the door open on the masked bandit - he peed all over himself! I still think that's kind of funny!

They never did find the guy. My dad swears to this day that it was one of our strange neighbors that lived a few doors down. We'll never know for sure. But one thing that is for sure - that was a Christmas we'll never forget!

My mom had a dream that someone broke into our house on Christmas Eve and stole all of the presents from under our tree. Then, on the morning of Christmas Eve, someone tried to do just that. But, thank God for his providence. The attack came. The attack failed. And we all lived another day to tell the story - and not one of us had to have therapy through it all! Can I hear a hallelujah?

Here's hoping your upcoming holiday season is much less eventful than that one was.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Exciting Holiday Memories

This morning I was reminded of a an 'incident' that occurred when I was a kid living on Fourth Street. Oh, how I loved that rickety, old house. I was built in the late 1800's, if I remember correctly. We had to put shims underneath all of the dressers to keep everything from sliding off the top. But, when you're a kid - you don't care about that kind of stuff. What you really care about is the old ball and claw foot tub that lets you take the deepest, longest baths that a girl could ever care to take. That, and the formal dining room with a big, bay window. The window where we always put our Christmas tree each year. And the old iron grate heat registers that we would all fight over every winter. It was a race to see who was going to be able to stand on it first when the heat kicked on. The same grate that my dad dropped my sister on her head on when she was an infant. Now we know what's wrong with her! Oh, wait...that could possibly be me that everyone wonders what's wrong with. Naaah! Couldn't be me. Back to the house. It also had what we called an 'old Michigan basement'. Michigan basements were dark, dank, stone basements with lots of little rooms and compartments. Ours had cubbies in some of the walls. Not the kind that are put there intentionally, mind you - the kind that happen over time because they're so old that they start to crumble. We used to imagine that our basement was part of the underground railroad that used to come through town and that southern slaves had sought refuge from their bonds - possibly right there.

Oh, how I loved that huge, old house. Except, now when we make a trip home and drive by it (we moved from there when I was 12), it's not as huge as I remember it being. Actually, it's not that huge at all. Isn't it that way with a lot of things we remember from childhood? We remember things being much grander than they actually were simply because we were so small.

My husband had the same experience when we visited Stone Mountain Georgia a few years back. He had lived there when he was a kid and had told me about the carving that took up the whole side of the mountain. Imagine his disappointment (and mine) when this is what we saw. You'll have to look really closely at the left side of the picture right above the trees and buildings.

But, you'll have to excuse me because, I digress. We aren't talking about cool houses or mountain carvings today. We are supposed to be talking about something that happened while I was living in that cool, old house. So, let's proceed. Shall we?

It was shortly before Christmas and my mom had had a very disturbing dream. So disturbing, in fact, that she told the family about it. Her dream was that a burglar had broken into our house on Christmas Eve and had stolen all of the presents from underneath our Christmas tree. You know, the one in the big, bay window. It really rattled her. I think she took some railing over the fact that it rattled her like it did.

Christmas was fast approaching and we were counting days. The night of December 23rd we headed for bed knowing full well when we woke up it would be Christmas Eve! That meant a big family celebration that night. Little did we know that we would be having a little more excitement than we had hoped for.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Sweater Bag

Saturday, me and my best gal pal, Carrie, headed out for a girl's day of shopping. We are two peas in a pod and each of us loves Goodwill just as much as the other. So, that's where we went. I was able to find a bunch of items on my wish list that day. One of the things I spotted was a really cute wool sweater from Gap. I find wool a little on the itchy side for wearing, but, no matter 'cause that's not what I was wanting it for. I wanted to make mine into a bag.

You may have seen these cute little bags flying around bloggy land. I pulled the article out of an issue Country Living quite a while back. Now I finally had a wool sweater to make one with. I, however, did not take a before (or during) picture. Bad blogger! Bad, bad blogger! *Hanging my head in shame. I will show a picture of the finished bag before trying to explain to you the extremely quick and easy process it takes to make one. Ready?
Very cute, if I do say so myself.

First you have to start with a wool sweater. Why wool - you ask? Because, if you don't use wool your sweater will unravel and make you very angry and you may say some ugly things that you wish you didn't say in the presence of you angelic, sweet children who will, in turn, correct you with shock and awe and then proceed to tell your husband, or your very own parents on you. I would like to spare you that grief. So, please, just use one of your old wool sweaters or buy one at Goodwill for 4 bucks like I did. If you're really lucky you'll find one that's 1/2 off that day. OK, now that we have that settled...

The first thing you must do is wash your sweater in hot (I used warm) water and then put it in the dryer. This will felt the wool and make it look like something that might fit your 7 year old niece.

The next thing I did was lay my sweater out flat on a cutting mat and cut the sleeves off using a rotary cutter. If you don't have a rotary cutter, feel free to use scissors. But, whatever you use - don't try to cut the sleeves off with a butter knife. That would be bad. And fruitless. I made the opening quite a bit larger than the original arm holes.

After cutting the sleeves off my little striped sweater - I cut out the opening of the neck hole. This made the sweater look somewhat like suspenders on a belly girdle. A bad belly girdle that would only fit your 7 year old niece, who more than likely doesn't need a belly girdle to begin with. This is probably much more simple than it sounds. And I promise the next time that I make one of these, and I will make more of these, I'll take before, during and after pictures.

Now to stitching up the bottom. I flipped my sweater/suspender/girdle thingie inside out and stitched the bottom closed. After many snapped threads, I realized that a zig zag stitch was the way to go here. Spare yourself some frustration and start out with a zig zag stich. Mkay? I didn't want a straight bottom on my bag, although that would be perfectly fine. I wanted one of those boxy bottoms. So, I flattened the sweater out to make the seam in the center of the fabric with ends that looked like triangles. Then I stitched a line on each side to make the triangles hold their shape. This makes the bottom of the bag boxy like this.

Once again, I'm sorry for being a bad blogger and not taking pictures. But this is what the bag looks like from the inside after I snipped those little triangles off.

The last thing I had to do was finish the straps. At this point the two straps are connected front to back. So, I cut them and then reconnected them. This time I sewed the 2 front pieces together and the 2 back pieces together. Remember to use your zig zag stitch.

Honestly, it probably only took me a total of 15 minutes to make this. It wouldn't have taken that long if I hadn't kept snapping my thread at first.

This is cute as is or I may end up embellishing it. A cluster of buttons in the corner would be cute. Actually, there would be a ton of embellishments that could work here. I could also cut out another piece of felt in a solid fabric and sew it on as a pocket. The options are really only limited to the imagination.

I thought that these would make cute, inexpensive Christmas gifts. Imagine giving one of these to a knitter or crocheter in your life filled with yarn and knitting needles. Or it would be cute to give with a coordinating hat, glove and scarf set inside. Once again, the options are endless here.

Well, I hope I didn't confuse you too badly with my instructions. Just in case, Country Living has this project on their website, too.

Happy crafting!