Friday, November 30, 2012

I Won a French Pie Plate and American Heritage Chocolate!

As I was carefully thinking through messages for my Secret Sister Box which I wanted to mail this afternoon, I heard the sudden ringing of the doorbell followed by rapid loud knocking! I went to the window and looked out and saw a Fed Ex Truck out front. I opened to find a box labeled Sur la table from New York City with my name on it! Hmmm, I didn't order anything. Puzzled I brought it into the house. But doesn't it look fun!?
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Upon opening it I realized it was the prize I had won the night before Thanksgiving!

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The deepest, heaviest pie plate I have ever lifted...an earthenware pie plate made in France! Wow! I usually don't like earthenware because it is in it's original clay look, rough and brown. I like this because of the white glaze on the top...
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and the azure blue glaze on the side. The proof of the earthenware is on the bottom with the authentic markings of having been made in France.

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Also American Heritage Chocolate from the Mars Foundation (as in M&Ms coconut candy (which I can no longer find), M&M peanut, Mounds bars (dark chocolate and coconut)...yum! The Mars Foundation is a major donor to Colonial Williamsburg, providing funds to rebuild some of the historic structures in the town. Currently they are funding the Armoury Project. They also produce American Heritage Chocolate, which is 18th century chocolate, a bit different from what we are used to today. This chocolate I think has a bit less sugar, which is good for me, being pre-diabetic, when I want to indulge. It also has various spices in it like cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, red pepper, anise. annato, salt, and vanilla. I do not like anise, but this is fine and it is not spicy at all. But it is indeed different, because it is a taste of the past.
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Love the chocolate brown tissue paper. Perfect attention to details!

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Wow! Look at all that chocolate! My son was getting ideas! These are the same chocolates you'll see sold at Colonial Williamsburg and other historic sites, since it is historic chocolate.

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The bag has chocolate powder for drinks! We've sampled some before whenever we take tours of the Colonial Williamsburg Charlton Coffehouse, which was rebuilt with funding from the Mars Foundation. On the left is a block of solid chocolate that I can use for baking! And in front are individual portions of chocolate! I knew about the first two but wasn't expecting the individual portions! There were 8 of them so I'm sharing half with my Secret Sister. They are already tucked into the box and mailed with an extra copy of the Colonial Williamsburg donor calendar that has my photo of the Governor's Palace garden in the month of May!

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I also got autumnal cookie/pie crust cutters! I have lots of ideas for these!

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Wow! Isn't this a lovely prize! This will definitely make baking more fun! Hmmm, now which chocolate recipe should I make first? Certainly one to be done with the pie plate. Chocolate tart? That recipe and others are in the previous link. Also I have these recipes in lovely picture card form, ready for my recipe box, from when I bought a chocolate block at Tarpleys in Colonial Williamsburg last summer. Oh the choices!

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On the reverse the name of the packer! Perfect, since I used to live in Texas!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

William Wilberforce and the End of the Slave Trade

Introducing a new hero for me, one that hails from England. He and his good friend William Pitt, the Younger, were both privileged gentlemen with great wealth, a recent Cambridge education, and seats in Parliament. Both Tories, these influential young men set out to shake the old order. I was glad to learn all about them with a book I stumbled upon at a used bookstore! Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. Wait a minute? Isn't Metaxas one of the Veggie Tales guys???? He is! He was one of the writers for Veggie Tales! My kids were raised on them! Anyway, back on topic, I made this required reading for my son this year for his junior year studies on the 19th century. What an incredible book to include in our homeschool curriculum! In fact, this is the official companion book to the movie, Amazing Grace! We first saw the movie four years ago when we studied the 19th century at the dialectic level. This book (and the movie again) were perfect for our rhetoric studies!

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"I thank God that I live in the age of Wilberforce and that I know one man at least who is both moral and entertaining." -Gerard Edwards, 1782

In 1783, William Wilberforce, William Pitt and Edward Eliot made a trip to France. In October they dined with another of my favorites, who also fought for abolition...none other than the Marquis de Lafayette. A famous American abolitionist was there too...Benjamin Franklin! I would have loved to have been there and heard their discussion!

During the American Revolution Lafayette was given a slave, named James Armistead. Lafayette preferred not to think of him or treat him as a slave. Given a position of extreme trust, Armistead freely traveled between the Continental and British camps in Yorktown to spy on the British. Later Lafayette used his influence to have Armistead freed. Once freed, Armistead took the name Lafayette as his own.

When Lafayette returned to France after the war, one of his projects focused on liberty for all, especially slaves. He became a member of three different abolition societies, one of which was New York based and another was British based. In 1785 he purchased two plantations in French Guiana, which came with 48 slaves. He freed them and gave them land so they could provide for themselves. He hoped for this to be a model of successful emancipation for all. Then the French Revolution ended Lafayette's work, as he ultimately ended up in an Austrian prison for years.

Through it all Lafayette encouraged his good friends, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison (as well as many others) to free their slaves. As he visited their plantations, from Mount Vernon to Monticello to Montpelier, at various times over the years, he'd look at the slave quarters just beyond the manor house and implore his friends to look at the dichotomy and extend the liberty for which they fought to all. They were good enough friends that Lafayette could say that and remain friends. Lafayette also had such an endearing sanguine personality he could do that. In addition, his friends were in agreement with him from the beginning, though Virginia law did not permit them to free all their slaves at once. They were also concerned that freeing all the slaves at once would render many homeless and jobless. They were of the hope that slavery would die out, as it seemed to be doing, until the advent of the cotton gin.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in such a way so that the slaves would be freed. However the southernmost colonies, South Carolina and Georgia, would not agree to it. Without their support, the American Revolution was futile. Unity was needed. Therefore freedom for slaves was removed from the document.

James Madison fought for freedom of slaves when the Constitution was written in 1787. George Washington supported the idea, but presided over the convention without inserting his opinions. Again the southernmost colonies refused to comply unless slavery was kept. In compromise, for the unity of the states, it was agreed that there would be a 20 year ban on restricting the slave trade.

Three years after Wilberforce's dinner at Lafayette's home, he began a fifty year battle against slavery. This dramatic story of all that Wilberforce physically and mentally suffered for those who suffered more, is dramatically told in William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery: Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas, which is the companion book to the infamous movie made in 2006, Amazing Grace.

On December 17, 1783, William Pitt, the Younger, became the youngest prime minister in the history of England, at the age of 24.

As Wilberforce struggled between serving the state and serving God, he felt the tug to abandon his Parliament seat to serve God in full time ministry. However his friend, John Newton, who wrote the infamous hymn, Amazing Grace, encouraged him that his service in Parliament could indeed be a means of serving God.

As Wilberforce battled slavery, he also battled the intense stomach pain for which doctors prescribed laudanum (opium). He is known as being one of the few who could use this drug without becoming addicted to it.
"Since 1787, year after year, Wilberforce had put forth his bill, and year after year after year it had been defeated, one way or another. In twenty long years, he had still not brought the boat into the harbor, though he had tacked and retacked and circled back and tacked in again and again and again. There had always been some difficulty, some heartbreaking last-minute barrier to success. Wilberforce was tired. The abolitionists had come so tantalizingly, horribly close to success in 1796, only to be handed their most devastating defeat yet. At that time, Wilberforce had all but decided to quit public service for good. But no less than the encouragements of the aged patriarchs John Wesley and John Newton prevented him from doing that...Now, ten long years later, the waters were quite suddenly smooth, and the harbor for which he had longed for two decades seemed finally to open her arms to him." (Metaxas, 205-206).
Parliament, February 23, 1807:
"Everyone caught up in the increasingly charged atmosphere had been waiting, as it were, for some unconscious cue, something to ground the electricity-and Wilberforce's tears were it. Almost simultaneously, every man in the chamber lost his composure and was carried off by the flood of emotion. Everyone rose, and three deafening cheers rang out for Mr. Wilberforce; they echoed off those historic walls and hallowed them, and all was lost to the tumult" (Metaxas, 210).
"In a little while the House would decide 283-16 in favor of abolition, and the battle would be officially won" ( Metaxas, 211).

According to Metaxas, Thomas Jefferson was inspired by Wilberforce. (xviii)

A week later, on March 2, 1807, twenty years after the Constitutional Convention, President Thomas Jefferson signed a bill into law ending the slave trade in the jurisdiction of the United States. Of course such great change could not be approved by Congress in a week. Instead, from the writing of the Declaration of Independence to his encouraging letters to Madison during the Constitutional Convention and beyond, Jefferson certainly knew of Wilberforce and his battle to end slavery. This was the Age of Enlightenment where gentlemen were educated, well read and broadly read, keeping current with modern events at home and across the seas. Jefferson was also a prodigious letter writer and certainly he wrote to Wilberforce. It is highly probable that they communicated, though I haven't found the proof yet. Their letter writing is mentioned in the movie, Amazing Grace. I was telling the kids this would make a great research topic. (Edited 6-4-16, A few years ago I got to meet with Thomas Jefferson, himself, at Colonial Williamsburg, where you can meet him too! I asked him if he had communications with Wilberforce and indeed he did! Listening to him tell the tale was wonderful!)

The legacy of William Wilberforce continues to live on in many ways, including with an annual event through the Colson Center's Wilberforce Weekend, which will be next held in Arlington, Virginia April 26-28, 2013. As Christians, we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom as well as an earthly kingdom. We are to be in this world but not of it. We are to impact our world for Christ. Wilberforce exemplified this. Do we?

Edited 12-30-16:
I stumbled upon this great interview from June 18, 2012 podcast with Phil Vischer (aka Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales.) In 2005 Metaxas wrote Everything You Always Wanted to Know AboutGod (But Were Afraid to Ask). That led to him being asked to write the biography of William Wilberforce. Although he was offered a copy of the movie, Amazing Grace, that was soon to come out to the screen, Metaxas refused. He wanted to write his book based on research, not a movie. Movies often leave out details. As wonderful as the movie, Amazing Grace, is, it leaves out details that Eric Metaxas put into his book! I highly recommend it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Custom Made DVD Bookcase

My homeschool bookcases were running out of room for books, because of all the DVDs wasting space in the far right bookcase. If only the shelves were less deep and less high. Some of the the old VHS tapes I had taped off the tv were in the baskets above. And there are still books piled on the floor, even with another bookcase around the corner.

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My husband asked me for a solution. I said a DVD case would be the answer, but they are all too small and too expensive. I told him if only we could use the spare space next to the stairway landing for a DVD case completely filling the space. Being a high traffic area, it could not take the depth of a typical bookcase which made a narrow DVD case ideal for the spot. We could make it reach the ceiling to maximize the space. He told me to plan it out and he'd build it. I had him match the molding on top, put beadboard in back and paint it black.
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It is just narrow enough for the DVDs. It reaches to the ceiling. And it's just wide enough for the DVDs.

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Now all the DVDs and VHS tapes are here, giving me more room in the bookcases for books! Wouldn't Thomas Jefferson be proud?

"I cannot live without books."-Thomas Jefferson

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Since VHS players are being phased out, ours is not going to last forever, and our VHS tapes are nearly ruined from being played so much, that I've been trying to find them in DVD form, but not with great success. We may have to just lose some great shows. At least the storage issue is much better.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Tree Farm

Cutting down our own Christmas tree continues to be a novel idea to us. In Texas we always had an artificial tree. When we moved to Virginia, the kids and I campaigned for cutting down our own tree at a Christmas tree farm. We don't live too far from Walton's Mountain, where Grandpa and John Boy used to chop down the family tree. I think about them all the time when we get our tree. Of course, John Boy and Grandpa chose a tree from the family mountain! We don't have one of those, so we went to Evergreen Acres. Our first trip there was such a success, that we are now firm customers! In fact, now we want to come back in the summer for their tomatoes to can Texas salsa, now that we know they sell tomatoes too!
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It didn't take long to find the perfect tree.
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My son has been in charge of cutting it down the last few years.
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Success!
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These tough guys always refuse the free tractor ride back, where the tree is shaken of debris, and put in netting for the ride home. Free hot apple cider is available for all the customers.
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The proprietor is exceedingly kind and down to earth. He's the one in blue jeans and a Santa hat!

When my kids were younger, I read to them Liz Curtis Higgs' adorable children's book, The Pine Tree Parable, which tells the story of Jesus. Since it's so nice to do corresponding activities with read-alouds, it would have been so neat to have had the ability to chop down our own tree, as done in this book, but the book is equally as charming and meaningful for those with artificial trees too. I think between this book and the movies we've seen, the kids and I built an aura of choosing our own tree. The greater lesson in the book, though, is the parable of the pine tree, which tells the story of Jesus and how we can apply the concepts to our life. It's a lovely way to help children find the true meaning of Christmas and relate common symbols back to the Reason for the Season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Resources and Timeline

Oh we used to do so much hands on Thanksgiving fun when the kids were younger...long before there were blogs and digital cameras. I might have some photos of the past, but it takes a bit more time to scan a picture so someday I will do that! Meanwhile I thought I'd share a few resources.

When my children were learning at the grammar age (learning to read) I read this book to them, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving written by Eric Metaxas. Metaxas is one of my favorite biographers for both children and adults. I'm reading Amazing Grace, a grown up biography about William Wilberforce, now! Stay tuned for a review on that! Furthermore his range of writing has traversed the fun and creativity of Veggie Tales and the intellect of writing for Breakpoint which covers a Christian view of current events and politics. Like all his other books, this is my favorite book on Squanto. I learned a lot of new historical information, as well as seeing more of God's providence in his story.
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When my kids were at the dialectic, or thinking stage of learning, I had them read Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness which is beautifully illustrated and full of research which the author did at Plimoth Plantation. This book taught us greater depth of the Pilgrim story, reaching further than most books for children do in historical research.


These next two books are great for an excellent dialectic reader or even a rhetoric (high school) student. Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony 1636 is deeply researched, deeply detailed, with many primary source images and photographs of extant items. Even though it covers a later period than the "first Thanksgiving," it allows for deeper research into the "rest of the story."



A dry read but good research material is Colonial Living, by Edwin Tunis.

For rhetoric (high school) students I highly recommend primary source documents, upon which a classical education is built.

The Mayflower Compact

Of Plimouth Plantation by William Bradford

For students of all ages, I recommend the website of Plimoth Plantation. There is a great movie on the homepage. You can even take a field trip there! Click the learning tab for lots of interactive fun!

Then you can extend your traditional Thanksgiving studies by learning that the Pilgrims really did not have the first Thanksgiving! (gasp)
"Although this event will in time become known as the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims saw it as a traditional autumn harvest festival. A proper Puritan thanksgiving is a day of fasting and prayer intended to give thanks to God for some particular event or accomplishment. The first thanksgiving of this kind in Plymouth Colony was declared by Governor Bradford in 1623, when prayers for rain during a dry spell were finally answered." -Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony 1636 by Paul Erickson, p41
Yet this is the celebration upon which our traditional Thanksgiving came to be linked. How? Let's trace the history of Thanksgiving in America.

Texas claims the very first Thanksgiving in 1598 under Spanish Catholic rule. Twenty-three years before the Pilgrims arrived in America, Don Juan de Onate traveled from Mexico to west Texas. I'm a bit familiar with that terrain and any time of year that is difficult travel, especially in the 16th century. Upon arrival all celebrated the safe arrival with a feast and religious ceremonies.

The next occasion that I am aware of is in 17th century Virginia, a year before the Pilgrims' arrival in the New World. In fact, my son portrayed Captain Woodlief of the Berkely Hundred, who had orders from the crown that as soon as they landed in Virginia, to give thanks to the Lord for safe travel in a most solemn ceremony of gratitude. This observance was strictly religious with no feasting, most closely following the definition of the times for a Thanksgiving observance. “We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for
plantacon, (meaning plantation) in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God”.


Two years later the Pilgrims had their thanksgiving feast. Arguments abide as to who had the first true Thanksgiving. Here is the linked opinion of the Plimoth Plantation site. Along the way one can clear up numerous misconceptions of the Pilgrims. Not all of the people who came were pilgrims. There were two groups, separatists, which made up less than half of the group, and strangers, who were not Puritans. Hence the need for the Mayflower Compact. Nor did they dress in black with white collars. Nor did they eat for their feast the exact same things we traditionally eat for our Thanksgiving feast. In fact, the only primary sources which tell us exactly what happened are as follows:
“And God be praised we had a good increase… Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” -Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation: D.B. Heath, ed. Applewood Books. Cambridge, 1986. p 82

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which is place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. -William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation: S.E. Morison, ed. Knopf. N.Y., 1952. p 90
Interestingly for all their abundance before the feasting, and the abundance during the feasting, there was hunger that winter. Also their initial venture was a socialistic one, where all shared equally from the yield of farming and food gathering. After a few years, individual families were responsible for their own plot of land...and survival was more successful.

After the first major successful battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, Congress enacted its first Thanksgiving observance:
“It is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received. . . . It having pleased him in his abundant Mercy. . . to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly. . . to crown our Arms with most signal success. . . .”

A year later, on December 30, 1778, Congress again issued a Thanksgiving observance, in gratitude to the nation of France becoming our allies as a result of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga:
“that all the people may, with united hearts, on that day, express a just sense of his unmerited favors; . . . by his overruling providence, to support us in a just and necessary war, for the defense of our rights and liberties, . . . by disposing the heart of a powerful monarch to enter into alliance with us, and aid our cause . . .”
"In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 of that year as a national day of thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution."

Fast forward to the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanksgiving after the Union victory at Gettysburg in 1863, where he set aside the fourth Thursday in November to be a yearly and national commemoration of Thanksgiving.

I think it's a good thing to look at all the facets of Thanksgiving, consider all the primary documents and find the balance to our holiday and appreciate all these wonderful stories of the past. Most importantly we should inspect our own motives. What is Thanksgiving about to us? Is it merely about the food? Do we take our blessings for granted? Who are we actually thanking? Are our eyes on God?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Annual Pie Partty with our Real Estate Agent

Each year Pat Fales Real Estate sends their clients an invitation for an annual Thanksgiving pie party. Tonight was the night! It's a fun time to reestablish ties with the wonderful associates of Pat Fales Real Estate! They even have treats for us to eat! Then they give us a Thanksgiving pie to take home, one of three types. In the beginning I assumed it would be a little 6" pie to take home, like I've seen in the grocery stores. Oh no, these are Texas sized pies, 12" wide! They are delicious! Pat Fales Real Estate not only performed quite wonderfully and professionally when we were buying a house with them, they spoil us too! But even without the spoiling, I'd still recommend their five star service for anyone in need of a real estate agent in Northern Virginia! Photobucket

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Studying the Establishment of the State of Israel

A few years ago, when we studied the 20th century, we learned about the establishment of the state of Israel. Of all the resources we've had access to, I now have a new resource I plan to incorporate when we return to 20th century studies next year. I thought I'd share it here, as well as indexing it here so I can easily find it again next year! Last week our pastor, who has been preaching from Genesis, talked about the establishment of the state of Israel. He clearly detailed the timeline, with photos and quotes in the powerpoint, of the Israel becoming a recognized country. The information is at the link, dated 11-11-12, titled, "The Rebirth of the State of Israel."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jewish Festivals

One of my favorite sources for studying Jewish festivals is  A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays. The book is loaded with historical information, Scripture, activities for young children and as well as older children, recipes and readings for each specific feast. We learned a lot! This page of their website lists scores of activities and bits of information.

Jews for Jesus has more information on the Feasts complete with small video clips.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Real Estate Hoedown

When I was at my 18th century stays workshop in Williamsburg a few weeks ago, I sat stitching away with visions of barbeque dancing in my head. I could almost taste and smell the smoked ribs and brisket. Why????? My family had been invited by our real estate agent, Pat Fales, to a barbeque on a farm in one of the nooks and crannies of Northern Virginia.
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Pat Fales Real Estate, who sold us our house, for the first time had a sort of county fair with barbeque for their clients. Unfortunately it was scheduled on the same day as my workshop.
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When my family arrived, she asked where I was. Always friendly, she told them to be sure to take a plate of barbeque home for me! I was hoping she'd say that! I miss good Texan barbeque which is a rare find in Virginia. The servers piled my plate high with many delicious yummies! I don't eat much so I was able to make that good food last for a week of lunches! If you are looking to buy or sell a house, be sure to contact Pat Fales Real Estate!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stormy Weather Dinner Talk

Warning: Classical education can prompt interesting dinner conversations, as we had a few days ago...
The other night at dinner we were discussing the naming of winter storms. We don't ever remember that being done in the past. Last week Athena hit New England. This week Brutus is coming in from the west.
Daughter: They all sound Greek to me.
Me: Brutus isn't Greek.
Son: He's Roman.
Me: But he's not a god.
Son: Yea but he's a Roman who killed Caesar.
Me: She didn't mean that. She was referring to Greek gods.
Daughter: I said "Greek or Roman."
Me: Oh. I didn't hear the Roman part.
Son: C should be Cassius.
Daughter: Or Calpurnia.
Turns out the weather channel has taken upon themselves the naming of major winter storms for ease of communication. Officially Caesar is next. Wonder if they could have found names from the play to cover the entire alphabet? Or at least keep it all Roman and have a theme?
PS: This was written a few days ago but as of this posting, Brutus slipped through NoVA with the gentlest of rainfalls. Yea, we escaped it's wrath, I thought, as I drove my daughter to college. Ping, ping, ping! My daughter asked what was going on (we're from Texas) and I explained that was sleet! The guy stuck in traffic ahead of us sat in traffic with his left arm sticking out the window to feel the sleet! Then it ended with a touch of snow, as sunshine and blue skies took over the rest of the day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Emissaries of Peace Part II-CW EFT

Last Thursday was the live broadcast of the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip, "Emissaries of Peace." This was our second time to view this excellent program, yet as usual we had more to bring to the table due to new adventures, in this fascinating study of peacemaking. For the fun story of our first "Emissaries of Peace" experience, including my kids being the first Skypers, read this!

One's vocabulary definitely grows with this EFT, while learning of the purpose and responsibilities of an emissary. Emissaries represented nations by carrying messages, negotiating for not only for peace, but sometimes for war. In this story set in the 18th century, we learned that the British might send emissaries to the Cherokee nation, as well as the Cherokee sending their own emissaries to one of the colonial capitals. During the French and Indian War, we think of Indians siding with the French, which many did. However the Cherokee sided with the British. This story picked up after the French and Indian War, due to crumbling relations when the British seek Cherokee land. Based on the actual written accounts of British ensign Henry Timberlake, we learn about his time as an emissary with the Cherokee not only in the Cherokee nation, but also as he journeyed with their representatives to Williamsburg and London to meet the King of England at the Cherokee chief's request.

One of the EFT scenes takes place in the Virginia capitol at Williamsburg. We've visited there and when viewing the display in one of the upstairs room, we see the same wampum belt on display on the table as we see in the EFT, a symbol of the promise of peace given by the Cherokee to the British.

This year's Skype school was from upstate New York. They shared information about a British emissary to their local Indians in the 18th century. When my kids did the Skype, they chose to write a skit about a couple of colonial children in 18th century Williamsburg who comment on the presence of some Indians in the town. My son was inspired to do this because about a week before we had seen the debut of an American Indian program at CW, "So Far from Scioto," which is yet another story about the tenuous relations between the Shawnee Indians from the west and colonists on the brink of the American Revolution. My kids had never seen Indians walking the streets of Colonial Williamsburg before, so it made quite the impression.

Most recently our last trip to CW was for Prelude to Victory, held in October. This program brings reenactors from across America to portray the Continental troops who arrived in Williamsburg on the eve of the Battle of Yorktown, with Generals Washington and Rochambeau. Members of the Oneida Confederation followed Washington and Rochambeau from the north, to see the action. General Washington told me that he was pleased to have the Oneida presence to encourage and continue peaceful relations with them, especially since so many Indians had sided with the British.

This EFT is one story out of many about Indian and colonist interactions. Although there are similarities and differences in each story, understanding the Cherokee story in-depth lays a foundation to understand not only the fragile relations with other tribes in the 18th century, but also the bitter saga of the Indians' loss of their homeland in the 19th century and beyond.

For the live broadcast this year, we got to see a new cast to answer the student call-in questions. We met with the Indian chief, the interpreter and one of the CW anthropologists whom we've met at many of the American Indian programs at CW and Historic Jamestowne. On the table in front of them were displayed many familiar items in gorgeous array, that we might associate with Indian life. These were held and showcased while answering some of the questions.

Through detailed lesson plans, numerous activities, and readings, students of subscribed schools can study 24/7 throughout the year. It's not too late to join up! Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips are made available at an affordable cost through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op! Hurry! The next EFT live broadcast is "Colonial Idol," which makes it's premier on December 13, 2012! The kids and I are in this one! You can also vote for the winner of "Colonial Idol" here! Stay tuned for the live broadcast to discover the winner! In fact, the first video clip, of Bo Taylor, danced in "Emissaries of Peace!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Englishback Gown Draping with the Colonial Williamsburg Mantua Maker

Last spring I received an e-mail from Rebecca (and Ashley) of A Fashionable Frolick inviting me to sign up for the recently opened gown draping workshop offered by Burnley and Trowbridge at the beginning of November. She and Ashley would be going and they wanted me to join them! I immediately signed up and we were all accepted into the class! We don't get to see each other often enough so this would be fun to sew together and visit for an entire weekend!

Rebecca knew which fabric I would bring to the workshop. She's been prodding me for months to drape the terrifying bluish-greenish silk with cream pinstripes. Before cutting into the luscious silk I practiced making two other gowns for myself, a chintz and a yellow cotton stripe. Yet I continued to be terrified. This lovely fabric would be perfect for the class. Where else would I get expert advice and help of such great magnitude as that of the Colonial Williamsburg mantua maker?

On the same day I also signed up for the B&T stay patterning workshop with the CW tailor at the end of September. My goal was to use the five weeks in between classes to complete the handsewing of prodigious millions of channels and completely bone them so that I could wear the stays for my gown draping workshop. Although I was quite busy with many other tasks at home, I did indeed have wearable stays for the workshop. This was extremely important to me because I knew that 18th century gowns were draped upon stays. Therefore I didn't want my gorgeous silk gown to be draped upon my first attempt stays. I wanted the draping to be done on my proper and enviable 18th century stays that the tailor helped me to fit! What could be more wonderfully perfect? Here are my stays as I wore them.
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They need only a few minor adjustments and binding, etc. Then finis! But they were complete enough to wear for the draping. Here you can see some of the molding to my body, after only two days of wear.

When I unveiled my silk at the workshop it was fun hearing Angela Burnley remark when she saw my silk gown fabric, "That's B&T fabric from two years ago!" Everyone told me it was a great color for me. Indeed it is one of the few colors that works well for me and I'm excited about how it will all come together! Even when I visited with the CW tailor after class, he asked which fabric I used and he immediately knew the fabric and said it would be perfect for me! Pictures do not yet do it justice...but wait!

Although I've sewn a few of these gowns for myself and my daughter over the last few years, with a few draping tips here and there and pattern pieces to make up the difference, it's not the same as taking the class. I recommend that everyone takes this class! For one thing sleeves are addressed! Doesn't everyone abhor fitting sleeves? I learned how to drape sleeves and many troubleshooting tips on fitting them, so I now feel empowered!

During the class we'd be shown how to drape a certain section of the gown, then we got to try our skills on each other with a piece of muslin, so we wouldn't have to worry about destroying any expensive fabric. Then the mantua maker came to double check our attempts, give direction or gently show us how to tweak this or that. That was the method the entire weekend and it was great. When we watch something we learn a little; when we do something we learn a lot!

Rebecca sent me some pictures that Ashley took of me and they are quite fun! Thank you!
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Sharing a secret with Rebecca!

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This one is so funny! I had been chastised for being too animated so I was working on standing quite still and keeping balanced with all the pulling and tugging. A friend commented that I looked like Sleeping Beauty with her fairy godmothers! That was a great analogy. The two classmates working on me were diametically opposed in method. One would yell, "Arms up!" while the other would yell, "Arms down!" Then they'd change sides and redo what the other had done! Yes, I could well imagine being Sleepy Beauty with her gown changing from pink to blue to pink to blue...

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Always the mantua maker arrived with great calm to restore order and fine tune any adjustments with great serenity and finesse.

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Yes, I trust the mantua maker!

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Ta da!

I came home and put it on my dress form to work out the wrinkles and enjoy. Rebecca helped me drape the sleeves and waistline. Thank you!
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Burnley and Trowbridge has posted more formal pictures from the class on facebook. Also they are trying to get 3000 likes before the end of the year! If you haven't "liked" them yet on facebook, do so even if you aren't a costumer! As long as you appreciate clothing of the period you'll see great stuff come through! Also you'll get updates about workshops and photos of projects that will simply tantalize you to sign up for a class as well!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Daughter's First Time to Vote and a Receipt (Recipe) for Election Cake

My original plans for election day schooling went awry. Alas the day was spent driving my daughter all over Virginia for her college classes. In between, she and I voted at the local precinct which was a wonderful experience! The workers were highly organized, professional and polite! This was my daughter's first time to vote, so that was a homeschool moment!

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an alleged historic recipe that I wanted to try, but I was gone all day and didn't come home until late. Anyone ever heard of Election Day Cake? Apparently that was a historic recipe dating back to 18th century Connecticut. Anyone familiar with this or is this myth?

A popular activity is to color a US map in with reds and blues as the votes come in. To make that a bit more meaningful, a game like "Hail to the Chief."
2009

Fun movies include:

An American President (with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening)

Dave (with Kevin Kline and Charles Grodin)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (with Jimmy Stewart)

State of the Union (with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn)

For numerous thinking and research activities, including primary source documents, check this site. I liked the primary source political cartoons that show the origins of the donkey and elephant!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Formally Meeting the New Apprentice Tailor at Colonial Williamsburg

Sunday night I arrived home from a busy three days in Williamsburg which included a wonderful weekend with my friends Rebecca and Ashley from A Fashionable Frolick and their parents. Time with them kept homesickness at bay. Sadly I was never able to connect with my Florida friends because of the intense busy-ness of the weekend. Our paths kept diverging into opposite directions. I traveled alone because I was taking a Burnley and Trowbridge gown draping workshop with Rebecca and Ashley, whereas my daughter had college work to do and my husband and son repaired Hurricane Sandy damage.

This weekend was so busy I spent little time in the historic area. However I did arrive early enough Friday morning to renew our season passes. Suddenly it was close to 11:30am and it was time to take the gorgeous drive down to B&T. Every night was busy with homework. I never got to bed before 2am. After taking a break for dinner and settling into the hotel, I'd look at the gown and wonder exactly where to begin. For some reason it's difficult for me to jump right back in to sewing after my entire environment has altered and time has past. Also part of the evening was spent trying to communicate with my husband via phone. For some reason our reception kept cutting out so we kept calling each other back until we finally gave up.

By the end of class Sunday afternoon I had a nearly completed gown! Then I was off to the historic area to meet with the tailor for my appointment about my problematic stays. The mantua maker's expertise enabled me to wear them for the gown draping but now the tailor could give me his expertise in making necessary adjustments! After much deliberation and analysis, he gave me a plan with which I am quite pleased! Then he formally introduced me to his new apprentice tailor whom I already knew!

The tailor asked me if I had met his new apprentice yet and I said I had, though the apprentice might not remember. I shared how my kids and I had met him at the last Under the Redcoat (2011). He had been serving dinner to the officers when he engaged me and my children by showing us the back of the silverware to learn the history of its marking! (Scroll all the way towards the bottom, since it was towards the end of the two day event.)

As I shared the story the apprentice's eyes lit up with memory! I thanked him for that moment because it made a fun moment truly memorable! I also told him I was looking forward to coming in to hear his talks. So far he's only seen me come in to discuss my stays' questions with the tailor. I'm sure my son will be full of questions for him too, as he schemes for a whole new wardrobe! The apprentice will be a fun guy to query as we prick his brain for advice in further attiring my son in the most pleasing 18th century manner!

Monday I resumed regular life of the 21st century, taking my daughter to college. I busied myself about homeschool schedules and lessons, only to fall asleep on the couch and sleep through lunch! My tiredness finally caught up with me!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Marbled Paper from Colonial Williamsburg

It's been a few months since we did our American Revolution history presentation and in all that time I haven't had time to blog about how we put it together, so I'll try to catch up on our various projects, here a little and there a little. One of our simple projects was to make a book with marbled paper. The process of marbling paper is a highly complex process, which we learned about when we visited the binder at Colonial Williamsburg. To make the project easier, we visited the Post Office upstairs on Duke of Gloucester Street to choose a possible purchase from their selection of marbled papers. There were many in various colors, yet only one was the larger size that I needed and the colors that I was especially struck by! A purchase of this purple and taupe masterpiece was properly made!

To make our book I took some left over foam core board and asked my husband to cut it to the dimensions of my specification. Then my son helped me to use packing tape to bind the edges of the two boards to create a book with flexible binding. Next my son helped me to glue the paper, with glue stick, onto the foam core board. Ta da!
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For the program we easily hid our various notes and scripts inside the book for a more period accurate look.
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Now that our program is over it still makes a nice way to conceal plain papers.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Carving 2012 via Colonial Williamsburg

My son purchased a new carving kit to aid him in his yearly pumpkin carving venture. We downloaded a pattern from the Colonial Williamsburg website. His choice was the magazine, a building where military equipment is stored.
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Digging out seeds was accomplished much faster this year with his new tool. It only took about five minutes!

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Meanwhile we had snacks for dinner.

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Tracing out the pattern.

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Finally cutting in...

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Evening #2! I wasn't sure how many evenings this would take.

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Ta da!

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