It was in July that preparations for Christmas started. That might seem a little bit early, but remember they could not just run to the store and purchase gifts. They had to make them by hand. So in order to keep the surprise they could only work a little at a time. I so long for that. Christmas has become such a money maker for stores. It's also a time where people become more greedy than normal. I want to give out more handmade gifts than store bought.
Our first stop was the MaKay Home. It was here they were demonstrating how to transform a dried pea into something for Christmas.
The dried pea was transformed into a holly berry. I thought this was such a cute idea.
Roll the dried pea into melted wax. Normally they would have used a candle. But for safety reasons they did not. But it did not take away from the demonstration. Something so simple can be transformed into something so beautiful! That is what draws me so much to the Pioneer way of life.
Because most pioneers did not have the means to purchase new items they often would enhance what they had. These wool mittens were pretty worn out. So Mrs. MacKay drew circles on the mittens and added bright colored yarn.
What child would not love a "new" pair of mittens for Christmas? One of my favorite episodes of Little House on the Prairie is "Christmas at Plum Creek". Laura sells her horse to Nellie so she could buy Ma a new stove. Charles works endlessly on wagon wheels to purchase Caroline a new stove. Ma and Mary sew a new shirt for Charles exactly the same. Things like that just do not happen today. I am blessed that our kids don't get all greedy at Christmas. They are thankful for what they get. I'm going to try and encourage them to make something for each other this year. We will see how that goes.
Next we headed over to the Romulus Female Seminary. This was an all girls school that operated near us in the early to mid-1800's. It was in this building we learned about pressing flowers. Wildflowers were vastly available here in the summer. So they would study botany and create a gift for their mothers.
Here is what they were studying in the school in 1855.
Reminds me a lot of what our homeschooling courses look like. Of course we have a little less languages.
These are the flower presses that were handmade to press flowers. I told my husband and son I would LOVE one for Christmas. Haha
You can do so much with a pressed flower. Simple decorations, cards and much much more. A very simple thing that adds so much beauty to life. God gives us wild flowers to make the world much more beautiful. We should be looking at it as such.
The girls were able to make their own pressed flowers using 2 pieces of cardboard, newspaper and rubber bands.
The girls were very excited to do this project. Andrew on the other hand was less than thrilled to press a flower.
The hardest part of the project was picking a flower to press. This one that Hannah picked was beautiful. Katrina picked a much smaller one.
Place the rubber bands on the cardboard to hold together. In a few weeks the flower should be nice and pressed. We put them under very heavy books when we got home. I will probably forget about them..haha.
Next we headed over to the Livingston Backus house. Where they were sewing baby items to give away to those in need. They made baby bonnets, dresses, night gowns, and some smocks. These items were then placed in a box and delivered to a family in need.
I love this house! It was originally in the City of Rochester. The owner was a doctor and pretty well off. So you can see why they were able to sew items for those who are less fortunate than themselves.
One of my goals is to learn how to knit. I know crochet, and did knit a long time ago but have not since I was about 10.
How beautiful these are! Have a look at that sewing box! I would love one of these. I'm a sucker for any basket. This bonnet was an actual one from the 1800's. I wonder who the baby was? Who did they grow up to be? I'm weird like that when I see an artifact from long ago. I wonder who the person was that used it. Anyone else do that?
I love this dress. I can just imagine a young mother being so thrilled to get the clothing for her child. Once the clothing was used it was then passed onto another family. That is unheard of today. Some pass the clothing around but not much.
In the kitchen we were able to have a sample of fruit cake! I know this gets a bad rap, but this one is delicious! It had brandy in it. It was used as a preservative so it could be made when the items were available to them. The brandy would preserve it until Christmas. I think that is why people turn their noses up at fruit cake. I hope to find the receipt (or recipe) for it. My family loved this.
This was so moist and flavorful. Almost like a gingerbread with raisins.
From here we headed to the Town Hall for some German Christmas carols. Did you know that it was the German immigrants that brought a lot of our Christmas traditions over with them? We sang "O Come, Little Children", "Angels From the Realms of Glory", "O Christmas Tree", "O How Joyfully", and "While By My Sheep". This was one of the kids favorites.
This man spoke with a German accent. We enjoyed singing with him.
Next we headed down to the Jones Farm. It was here we learned that eggnog was actually served mostly during the summer. It was during the summer months that eggs and milk was readily available to most people. It was only the wealthy folks that had it at Christmas time.
Mrs. Jones was making cheese today. She was explaining where rennet came from. It came from the lining of a calf's stomach.
We then walked down to the Dressmakers shop to see what she was up to.
You can see the penny doll sitting on the table. I am going to see if I can find some for my daughters. I think it would be fun to sew dresses for the dolls.
This is a smaller doll already dressed and ready to go. Hannah just adored this doll.
From here we headed down to the Pioneer Farm where the farmer was making something for his wife.
He was making his wife a pair of candlesticks. I am just in awe of someone who can transform a chunk of wood into a useful item.
I don't know about you but I would love a set of these. My husband better get busy. Haha.
This is back at the Livingston Backus house. The cook was frying cucumbers. I had never heard of that! She breaded them and dropped them into hot oil to crisp up the breading.
I'm willing to try these. I love fried zucchini. So I may like these.
If being at the museum wasn't joyful enough for me. When we got home my husband and kids were whispering back and forth. My family came into the living room with this!
YUM! It was an ice cream cake that my husband and kids made for me! It's ice cream sandwiches layered with cool whip and caramel. Freeze until ready to serve. SO good. But because they took the time to make it on their own meant the world to me. I had such a wonderful birthday!