Saturday, May 2, 2009

# books # pioneer times

Enjoying the Pioneer Ways!


I've often spoken about my interest in the Pioneer ways and the simple times, I've shared my thoughts and I've showed you pictures and information that I came across while researching those days.

Recently I talked about 3 books that I had ordered from Amazon and I was so excited when they arrived a few days later. I haven't had much time to sit with them because they came in right in the middle of the sickness pandemonium going on around here. I've slowly peeked here and there, and have been dying to get into them more.

Today I'm taking it easy, I'm trying to get over this bronchitis and just feel run down, so I'm taking it easy, laying in bed with my afghan, watching the clouds move on in outside and surrounded by my Pioneer books, my laptop and my camera. Yes, it feels good to be relaxing.

Let me show you a little of the wonderful books I got, they're not only full of information but they're told in story form, so I can sit back and read a story but also learn about what they were doing and even get recipes and ideas to make some of the things for myself.

Let's take for example the first one which is called Secrets of the Great Old-Timey Cooks. With recipes like Mock Macaroni, Jam Windmills and Coconut Stack Cake....and also kitchen secrets from contemporary pioneer women, vintage photos, folk remedies and chores.


I love looking through the vintage photos, imagining what it must have been like living in those times.


Here's a recipe from the book for Apple Butter:

Effie's Apple Butter

Fill a 6 quart pan with peeled, cored, sliced apples. Effie combines different varieties, depending on what she has on hand. Add enough water to keep apples from sticking as they cook. (The SECRET is to add almost no water, and constantly stir your apples on low heat until they're cooked.) When the apples are cooked, take a potatoe masher to them until no lumps remain. Add:

2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
2/3 cups sugar (personal preference)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vinegar

Pour into a crock pot and cook 2-4 hours (or more) on low. You can can the hot apple butter or pour cooled sauce into jars and refrigerate for about three weeks.


Now let me show you a bit from The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life. This book is so chock full of goodness, I just can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it is. I actually sat down and looked through it for a few minutes and Jasmine was right next to me, she was amazed at the wonderful things on the pages and all that we could make together.

Who doesn't want to know how to steep the perfect pot of tea? I certainly do.


I think for me the one thing that makes me turn my nose up is the fact that hygiene in those times was just not a big deal. I can not imagine having a bath only once a week OR a month or every couple of months, not shaving, you know.......the stuff that nowadays us women could not do without.

Imagine taking a bath only once in a word, I can't even think of how badly some of these people smelled LOL


This book is also filled with the sweetest stories. I think that is what caught my attention to begin with, it's not just a book of facts or crafts, it's read like a fiction book with stories thrown in here and there.


Mix Lavender Linen Waters....I LOVE lavender and I love the linen water, I have this cute little bottle that I spray on the clothes before ironing and it leaves them with this sweet clean wonderful scent.

This book teaches you how to make your own.

What you will need:

Sealed jar or container
2 teaspoons lavender essential oil
5 tablespoons 100-proof vodka
1 cup distilled water
Spray bottle

Combine the lavender oil and vodka and shake vigorously. Add the distilled water and pour into a spray bottle (glass is preferable).

Shake gently before using. To use, mist on clothes before ironing your linens. Use it on your Sunday best, petticoats, work clothes, whatever and whenever you want to smell crisp and fresh. Heck, spray it on your curtains before pressing.

Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups.



The last book I got was A Pioneer Sampler and oh my goodness, what a great book it is.

I actually sat down with the kids the other night, we were all feeling poorly, but cuddled in my bed with this book in hand and read two chapters.


It's sort of like reading Little House on the Prairie. We follow the life of the Robertsons in 1840 in a backwoods farm.

I think my kids were amazed at how much work the little kids in the book had and exactly what they did, it's hard for them as modern children to wrap their minds around the fact that these young kids had chores that included getting up really early in the morning and tending to the animals, or carrying big buckets of sap to make maple syrup.


It shows you how to dye fabric using flowers and vegetables. How neat is that?


Just like the previous books, it's full of wonderful stories that always follow with details and illustrations and recipes.


For a tasty pioneer snack, mix one cup of honey with 1/4 cup of butter. Spread some on toast or a cracker. Store the rest of the honey butter in the refrigerator.

Here's Sarah's homemade Ink Recipe:

Mash walnut shells and boil them until the water is a deep brown. Add vinegar and salt to the boiling water to set the color. Add lampblack for a black color.
(To make lampblack, ask and adult to hold a small dish over a lit candle and collect the black soot).

So there you go, three books that I think anyone would find and interesting read, not just for the adults but the kids too.

I'm off to go read a bit more, there's so many projects I want to try and so many recipes I want to experiment with. Most of all, I just want to relax and be transported back in time, back to simpler times.

If you have any books you think I would enjoy, let me know in the comments section. I'm always looking for new reads.


  1. Great posting,the thing about the simpler time is that it was hard work,and folk medicine was all they had back than.

  2. That book looks like so much fun to read. I love the ideas that you posted!
    Keep feeling better!

  3. That book might be talking about the 1800's but it was my life when I was a young kid in the late 40's.. we took a bath once a week (Saturday nights)in front of the wood burning kitchen stove and every bucket of water was carried from the well, mom let us kids go first then she took her bath in our dirty water. Sunday thru Friday we washed down with a rag.. we called that a spit bath. We washed our hair once a week too... no fancy shampoo.. we used Ivory soap and rinsed with vinegar.
    Can't say I'd ever want to return to that life :)

  4. Now I want those books. I have been interested in that kind of lifestyle ever since I first read the Little House books (which I read at least seven times... all of them). I had the Little House cook book and I would BEG my mom to let me make that stuff- most of which called for stuff we didn't have (and we lived on a farm!) or took days to make. Now I'll have to look up these books.

  5. Those sound like interesting books Sandra. There is something about life back then that does have a simple almost romantic air about it. But I can't imagine the hard work it must have been. I don't think I'd have had more than one bath a week either if I had to haul water a bucket at a time from a well or the river, heat it over the fire and bath in a cold kitchen. LOL.

  6. I don't know if I could do it.Especially not bathing everyday!!!

  7. ...and not cleaning teeth with lovely minty toothpaste, lol, can you imagine kissing someone who never cleaned their teeth? Yikes.

    I know what you mean about the romance of imagining simpler times (like me with the Anne of Green Gables books). But I agree with the above comments, life's simpler today when I can get some antibiotics for my sick child and plug in the coffee machine and not fear the coming winter or the crop failure (and possible starvation/poor house)! I wonder how lonely they were too the pioneers, no phone, no internet, no TV, not many books/magazines/newspapers.

    But, as you say, there is much to learn from the past. I wouldn't want to live then, but the recipes and other cool tips are great to learn. Like sitting at grandma's knee and listening to her wisdom.

    Hope you're all totally mended and well!

    Hugs and love.

  8. I went and got these books to and a few more and I am so enjoying reading them. My great-grandson and I are taking a wagon train to Oregon together, what fun.

    The Raggedy Girl

  9. The people in pioneer days really had a lot of things figured out. Some of those home remedy's are better (and cheaper) than the ones we buy at the store. This really would make for interesting reading.
    (I just made your low fat egg rolls today - yummy!)

  10. Aren't those just great books to have when you are not feeling well.... Hope you get better real soon!

  11. This kind of books are a pleasure to our eyes and soul. It really feels good.


  12. Those are great books. I can't say I've ever read them but am certainly going to look for them now! We LOVE the pioneer time here. I've said before that we live next to a living history museum/village. If you are ever in this area you would love it!! We go there all the time. When we go there on Mother's Day I'm planning on doing a "field trip" on my blog. Hopefully you will feel as if you were there. Hope you are feeling better. I'm starting to come down with something now!

  13. These books look so neat ! I love thinking about those olden days too. Wondering what it was really like. I think it must have been hard it some ways, but as well, I think life may have been easier too. Because things were so much simpler ...

  14. sounds like a cool book

  15. These look so neat. I love books and reading, and old ones are so fun to look at!!

  16. Oh! Thank you for posting this! I have wanted that Prairie Girl book for a long time, but haven't order it. Looks good. There is a Little House Crafts Book, and a precious set of books called Writings to Young Women by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  17. I think you could just get lost in these and spend a few days buried in the past! Very nice finds!

  18. Love,love,love your blog. I too yearn for simpler times. I have a great's not the same genre, but it tells tales of great strength and's my favorite book ever. It's called Ellis Island Interviews. You can get it cheap at Amazon, as it's older. I think you'd really enjoy it...just tons of little stories about people coming to America and making a life out of nothing.

  19. I'm heading to the library tonight to see if they have any of these. I, too, have had cooling system problems in my Rav-4 so I am a little strapped for cash, or I would just order them online.

    I had "The Virus" too, and I chatted about it on my blog. UGH! It took FOREVER to feel 100% again.
    I'm glad your family is getting better!


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