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On Matters of the Heart

 

love stuff

I'll be yours valentine poem s

 

Valentines Day is nearly upon us and I can’t help but sing this enchanting holiday’s praises. I get that it can be a tough day for those who are lonely and have experienced loss, but it’s also the one time of the year when we somewhat restrained Americans are encouraged to openly express our fondness for one another. And truly, the simpler the bestowing of appreciation and affection the more meaningful to the recipient … so in that spirit, I’m dashing off a few handwritten and typed notes to unsuspecting acquaintances and loved ones. Including you. 

In case you’re in the business of finding romantic love, this is your lucky day. Forget OkCupid and Match, I’ve been accumulating some timeless courtship advice over the years from last century’s experts in matters of the heart. You need look no further than 20th century agricultural journals for good news such as this from a 1926 Rural New-Yorker magazine:

pie supper couple

 

“Who says Rural New-Yorker is not a good advertising medium? The woman who made those cherry pies described on page 827 received an offer of marriage sight unseen. She will continue to make pies at the same old stand.”

(Note to guys: women like men who bake pies too!)

 

mother earth news underwood 315

As you can see, the 1974 Mother Earth News Lost Souls and Positions and Situations pages held promise for love seekers as well …

Jerrold seeking ufo love

Jerrold of Fairbanks Alaska, (where there are 12 men to every women), did you ever find your UFO-lovin’ vegetarian outdoorsy gal?                       

hello

Let’s say you’ve found a love interest. This 1931 book below has some excellent communication advice for both fellers and fems. Except that it’s a girly looking book written by a man named Hugh, bless his heart. And speakin’ of hearts … what guy would buy a book covered in hearts for himself back in 1931? Who, really, is this modern love letter advice for?

modern love letters, 1931 s 
Anyway, here’s what he suggests:

Don’t write love-letters on gaudy, perfumed or colored papers.
Never typewrite a love-letter unless you are writing a love letter book, then you can type (see below). Instead, use your best legible handwriting.
Number pages if there are more than two so your lover doesn’t freak out.
Don’t cross out words or make ink splotches.
Do NOT write a love-letter on a postal card ’cause peeping toms (a.k.a. mothers) will read it.
Never hold up an answer to a love-letter … procrastination kills a budding romance.
Don’t write a love-letter on stationery with a firm’s name on it as it makes a business matter out of a love missive. That is bad form. 

modern love letters valentine

The actual booklet is beyond hilarious. It contains the romantic blitherings of Edward and Lucille, who meet at a dance. They live 100 miles apart, so they must conduct their courtship via appropriate stationery, with proper assistance from Hugh, the author of this charming piece of work.

modern love letters contents

 Note the letters are TYPED! and NUMBERED! (Bad form). Of particular interest is letter number 27, the “I love you!” letter.

is it love

Now that you have found your person of interest, and you have conducted an appropriate courtship culminating with letter no. 45 entitled A Knight Goes Riding to his Girl, you will be needing some additional inspiration for keeping that spark a-sizzle. That’s where Elizabeth Gordon comes in with her teensy yet fabulous 1912 book of poems entitled “Just You.”

 A Day from Just You sA Room from Just You s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, friends, it’s time to Valentine your acquaintances, friends, family and lovers now. On a postcard, or typed on a crumpled piece of pink, perfumed business stationery. Or an email. Or even a text.

 Happy Valentine’s Day!   xoxoxoxoxoxox

P.S.

Sure as the vine grows round the stump,
You are my darling sugar-lump! 

 

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A lantern-lit life

cabin porch

Evidently, there are a LOT of folks out there who dream of living a simple, self-sufficient life in a rustic log cabin perched on the side of an Appalachian mountain. Water from the springhouse, a lantern-lit vintage farmhouse, food foraged, farmed, & fished. For some, it’s a longing, and for others it’s a matter of being prepared for an impending cataclysm. While my cookbooks reflect a time in America’s past when we all knew how grow our food, cook it with live fire and make our own soap; my readers aren’t who recently alerted me to this rather desperate yearning that so many have for this self-dependant lifestyle. It was the 223,000 viewers that read my rocket stove post (thanks to several popular homestead/survival groups) in one day a couple of weeks ago that gave me the heads-up.

rocket stove 12

Letters continue to pour in from Africa, India, Egypt, Poland, England, Iran, Mexico and countries I’ve never even heard of with stories of cooking on similar make-do stoves and lives lived in mountain cabins & huts in far-flung lands. This has been so much fun, I can’t help but ponder the whole homestead/survival phenomena and recollect about how I wandered down this mountain road myself, so long ago.

Road to cabin

When I was 21, and still in college in Blacksburg, VA, I moved into this pre-civil war era farmhouse with my then-boyfriend. It was 1976, the back-to-the-land movement was in full swing.

farmhouse blacksburg

Springhouse down the hill, outhouse out back, an ancient wood fired cookstove in the kitchen and one other wood stove to heat (or not heat) the rest of this big old house. No rent, just get up 5am to feed the cows before class in exchange for living here. One morning it was -9 outside and a bucket of water stood frozen next to the woodstove going full-tilt in the living room. But I was in love and didn’t notice. Ok I did notice that I was not ready for the love part, but I was ready to semi-homestead on my own. So, in 1978, I found this 300 acre farm in Pilot, VA, owned by a Va Tech professor (again, the cow-feeding rent-exchange) where I could do some serious growing up. 23 years old and very much alone.

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Make a hobo tin-can portable rocket stove + class

rocket stove 12

If adorably quirky perky BBC gardener Alys Fowler can scavenge veggies to throw in her various garden allotment  campfire contraptions, well then, so can I. My bigger garden is a bit of a walk from the house and sometimes I get a hankering to make a cup of tea or herby stew before I’m done with the day’s tasks. Any excuse for a little live-fire feasting. 

So I’ve had it on my mind to create a little portable outdoor garden kitchen get-up lately and then, lo and behold, I run smack dab into Ethel Lynn’s 1917 memoir,  The Adventures of a Woman Hobo. You wouldn’t believe her story. It turns out Ethel is a young physician with a thriving practice in San Francisco when the 1906 earthquake strikes. Her office is destroyed but she and her feller, Dan, wed and travel to Chicago to get funding for his big invention. Well. Another unfortunate strike ensues: the panic of 1907. Stocks plummet, run on banks, nobody funding inventions and they end up living in a “hovel” just about starving. As if things aren’t bad enough, in 1908, Ethel finds out she’s in the incipient (early) stage of tuberculosis and is advised to move back to California post haste. Not to be defeated, (after all, how many female physicians were there in her day), she trades her only remaining prized possession, an opera cloak, for a green tandem bicycle. With a hell of alot more “nerve and grit” than her whiney husband, Dan, she declares they’re riding the bike From Chicago to California. Which they do, with their portable “cooking stove outfit”.  Thanks to google books (link above), we can find out how the story ends while we sip on a bit of thin hobo stew that we’re going to make on our home-made tin can rocket stove. Grab your green tandem bike and let’s go!

rocket stove 1

This little stove is amazing!! Unlike your boy or girl scout version, you can boil water with a few small sticks, and the stove weighs almost nothing. The super efficient “rocket stove” was designed in the ’80s by a mechanical engineer for the alternative energy education outreach program, Aprovecho. This rocket stove link is a delight. You can buy an inexpensive version for $35 if you dare, and even better is their free pdf booklet on how to make this stove and things like a bread oven from a 55 gallon drum. Plus there’s a nifty video for making a bigger version of this stove. There are detailed instructions on how to build your own hobo tin-can rocket stove in my new book, Picnic Time, which sells for only $5.95 on Amazon or on our Native Ground website

You’ll need a few things. A gallon can with both top and bottom, a pineapple juice can, two bean-sized cans, tin snips, a hammer and something like a giant nail. And some ashes. And work gloves and maybe even something to protect your eyes. And pliers.

rocket stove 2

Stick something against the side of the can so it doesn’t get squished when you hammer the nail into the side to start a hole for your tin snips. This is make-do stove making. You’re going to stick one of the bean cans into a hole you’re going to make through both cans, so you need to draw a bean can outline for cutting on each can.

rocket stove 3

Now, you’ll need to start in the middle hole you banged with your hammer and then cut to the edges of the hole, at which point things fell apart for me. So Wayne stepped in because he writes and sings about old-time ramblers and such and that must count for something … and I’m not an expert hobo chick yet.

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Vintage Portable Ovens and Girls with Axes

Last weekend, girls were weilding axes at our log cabin next door. As in “handling a weapon or tool with skill and ease.” You must do that in order to cook on a wood cookstove, and that we did at our Ladies cookin’ on a wood cookstove class.

Most of these gals had never chopped wood before, but you’d never know it. While one chopped, the rest of us cheered and before you know it, we had a big stack of cookstove-sized wood of various btu’s … red oak, white oak, and locust.

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Emergency Miracle Fig Ripening Trick

Here’s what your September figs ought to look like. This is a Celeste fig. I’ve had the tree for 10 years and it’s just now producing yummy figs. But, if your fig tree is full of little green knobby figs that will surely succumb to frost before ripening, I have a surprise for you. You can hasten the ripening of your little darlings with a nifty trick I learned a few years ago from my friend, Andrew, at a Men’s Garden Club of Asheville plant sale. Well, I’ll just show you. Continue Reading →

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