About Dana

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I'm a dichotomy of blue jeans, pretty jewelry, frugalista, and Southern girl living the simple rural life. I want to live my life holistically, thoughtfully, economically, and most of all gratefully, and encourage other women to do the same.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Make Your Own Butter

We have been studying the pioneer days for our homeschool social studies and reading subjects during the last few weeks. My son has been reading a book perfect for his third grade reading level, “A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840.”
A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840
It is an example of the realistic fiction genre and provides an interesting day-by-day look at how hard it was to accomplish simple homekeeping, hunting, and farming tasks in those days.

He was enamored with a recipe included in the book about how pioneer women made their own butter. It was adapted for a small quantity (no huge butter churn needed), so he was excited to do this project on his own. Here it is, adapted from the book, in case you want to try it:

Ingredients and Supplies:
1 c. whipping cream (room temperature)
Small jar with secure lid
Wooden spoon

That’s it! I didn’t even have to travel to the store to buy anything.

He poured the whipping cream into the jar, closed the lid, and shook vigorously. The cream separates into a blue-white liquid (buttermilk) and yellow clumps (the butter). It takes about 10 minutes of shaking to see the solid and liquid start to separate and another 10 minutes before it’s finished. It’s a workout!

Then, pour it all into a bowl. Next, strain off the buttermilk. Wash the butter with cold water and press it against the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Don’t use metal because it alters the taste of the butter. Keep rinsing the butter until it runs clear. Add in a little salt to taste.

Here’s what my son’s finished product looked like.
Minus the large pat for the bowl of broccoli we had at supper, of course.

He learned how butter is made and how difficult it was generations ago to make something we take for granted when we pull it off the Publix shelf. (I did point out to him that at least he didn't have to take it from the cow milking stage. He got to start with whipping cream.)

It also helped him remember some of the other pioneer reading material in the book, as well as the time period it covered. Hands-on learning always works for my son. I don't think he is too different from most boys.

Happy schooling,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Goin’ Fishin’

Sometimes February in South Carolina can be blissful, just as it was these past few days in the 70s. Sunny and warm and not too windy. Even though it’s February, it seemed a perfect day for fishin’ to my husband and son. So they hauled all their gear down the steep hill behind the house to the river.
But first they had to get their boat ready. After all, it has actually been under a pile of snow TWICE this year! Miraculous down here.

Seats had to be put back in.

Thankfully, somebody remembered safety.

The view was beautiful from the bank. Look closely – see the lone turtle?
Unhooking the boat from the 4-wheeler’s wench so it can float free is my son’s favorite part.
Some like the rest. Others love the fishing. Can you tell which is which?
Here’s the turtle party the lonester was trying to get to.
And here are the geese that flew overhead honking as I was doing a little reading, er…napping.

Ahhh…can’t wait ‘til spring.


Monday, February 21, 2011

What I'm Reading this Month

What I'm Reading this Month

I'm on to reading two books at once this month and into March.

I told you last month I am reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God as part of a DVD/book-based Bible study.
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Francis is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. One part of this week's Chapter 7 really jumped out at me. Early in the book, he talks about the Americanization of Christianity. For most of us, we have it good in this country - plenty to eat, plenty of clothes, and a culture that accumulates so much we have entire industries revolving around our "stuff." Think storage unit companies and organizational consultants who show us how to "declutter."

But Francis points out we often accept God's materialistic blessings and say "thank you, thank you" repeatedly to God. We may be grateful but that's as far as it goes. What if Jesus' disciples did the same thing when there was a food shortage and it was time for lunch? In Matthew Chapter 14, Jesus took one boy's 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and gave them to the disciples. The disciples could have acted like many of us today (I'm guilty) and said, "Thank you, Jesus, for providing plenty of food for our lunch today." Instead, they turned around and distributed food to everyone in the crowd, totaling more than 5,000 people according to the Bible.

Why are we different? Why shouldn't we do the same?

Interestingly enough, no one really knows where Francis Chan and his family are right now. He has stepped down from Cornerstone and his blog says he is deciding what God wants him to do next.

The second book I'm reading is Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life

He is the author of many interesting and knowledge-filled books. You may know about A Short History of Nearly Everything

"At Home" is another inquisitive book where Bryson explains the history of how each room in our house came about. How did the Wardrobe begin? What is the history of the bathroom and how did it become a place of bath-taking? From the "one bath a year" mentality to the bathroom's coming of age as a normal, frequently used part of the house, Bryson covers all kinds of interesting angles. He writes about the bedroom, stairs, the nursery, and the attic, among many other rooms in houses in ancient times to modern times. History becomes both odd and fun in this book.

I would love to hear any interesting books you're reading now. I always need something new to add to my list!