Wilder Travels, Part 5

The conclusion.

I had ideas about how I would end our Travels With Laura, but my oldest daughter changed my mind.

Yesterday, she took it upon herself to embroider her own picture.  I'd taught her a bit of embroidery in the past, but it always ended up a tangled, criss-crossed mess - clearly a small child's mess, an endearing mess.

But it turns out my little girl is growing up.  Literally, too - we measured her today, and she's grown an inch-and-a-half since February!

She clamped some fabric she found in a hoop, drew a picture on the fabric with a pencil, and asked me to thread a needle for her.  She came to me only to tie stuff off, thread the needle, or to show her a new stitch.  (From the Sublime Stitching school of embroidery, I taught her back stitch, slip stitch, and satin stitch.)  Once in a while, I might have to help take out a knot.

But the rest of the project was hers.

I wish I would have adjusted the fabric in the hoop better, but she drew her design a bit too high.  I'm so proud of what she did on her own, though!

Nearing the end of her project.


She gave the flower a face!

Then she found my husband's mini hammer and a nail, and hung her hoop on the wall by her bunk bed herself!

Her souvenir from the Historic Home & Museum (besides the quilt kit) was a craft book.

My Little House Crafts Book: 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Stories by Carolyn Strom Collins & Christina Wyss Eriksson, illustrated by Mary Collier.  New York: HarperCollins, 1998.
 There are a couple of needlework projects in the book, such as "Ma's Embroidered Pillow Sham":

and "Ma's Cross-Stitched Breadcloth":

We intended to make a corn cob doll, just like the one Laura had in Little House in the Big Woods.  I set some corn cobs out this week to dry in the sun, but the oldest daughter discovered them to be covered with ants, and threw them away without telling me!

There are many blogs and websites with more crafts, recipes, and activities.  There are people far better organized and creative than me, so here are a few of my favorite links:

Just one more thing...

An interview with the kids.  Because this is supposed to be about them, right?

Me:  Do you remember what made us start reading the Little House books?

Big Sis: It was after I said, "I want to live on a farm!"

Me:  Of what we've read so far, do you have a favorite part?

Big Sis:  I like it in Little House on the Prairie when Mr. Edwards meets Santa and bring them their presents.

Me:  Is there something that happens in the books that you wish you could do in real life?

Big Sis:  I wish I could live in a cabin!

Me (to Little Sis):  You've heard some of the big kid books, and we've read lots of the picture books.  Do you have a favorite part?

Little Sis:  (shakes head)  All of it.

Me:  What did you think of the Laura part of the trip?

Big Sis:  I loved it!

Me:  What was your favorite part?

Big Sis:  I don't know.  All of it. 

Me:  What was your favorite part of everything we saw?

Little Sis:  Laura's house!

Me:  The farmhouse?

Little Sis:  (nods head)

Me:  What was your favorite part of the house?

Little Sis:  All of it.

Big Sis:  It would be cool to live where those trees are.  And seeing the desk where Laura wrote her books.

Related Posts:  Wilder Travels, Part One; Wilder Travels, Part Two; Wilder Travels, Part 3; Wilder Travels, Part 4

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Wilder Travels, Part 4

What do you want to do today, kids?

"Make butter!"  The description of butter-making in Little House in the Big Woods still stands tall in Big Sis's memory.

You know we don't have an actual butter churn, right?

(This spring, the girls got to try a real, old-time butter churn.  This was a very exciting thing.)

"We know, Mom.  But we can use a baby food jar, like we did at school."

When I was in grade school, I think we did the shake-some-cream-in-a-baby-food-jar method of butter making every year for Kansas Day.  (January 29th!)  It's nice to know some traditions continue.

We no longer have baby food jars lying around the house, but we have mason jars aplenty.  Let's make butter!  Some whipping cream, a pinch of salt...

Start shaking, baby!

"Come here, sweet pea.  Let Daddy do it.  Mommy put too much cream in the jar."

Um, fine.

 Okay, sweetie, how is it?


"It tastes like whipped cream!  Only it isn't sweet."

It isn't supposed to be sweet.


"I kno-o-w."

"Mom, can we make some bread for our butter?"

Sure, we haven't done that in a while.  Oh.  We're out of yeast.

I found this little book on the cookbook shelf.  Big Sis begged for it at one of our trips to the historical museum.

Pioneer Recipes (from the "Historic Communities" series) by Bobbie Kalman and Linda Hale, illustrated by Barbara Bedell.  Crabtree Publishing Co., 2000.

Hmmm...  there's a different version of Irish soda bread in this book.  It isn't like mine, but I have all the ingredients.  We can try making that.


Cream of tartar?  Butter?  This isn't my usual soda bread recipe.  (I love making bread.)  I wonder what they would have to say about it here...

Let's try it anyway.

Our pizza peel makes a nice bread board.

A pizza pan makes a nice cookie sheet.  (It's what the kiddo brought me when she went to get the cookie sheet.  It seemed fitting.)

"Mommy, may I eat the dough?"

It's eggless.  Sure.

Out of the oven!

By the way, Laura Ingalls Wilder hated breadmaking.  She hated it so much that she had Almanzo put in special windows above her counter, eye-level, so she could look out the window at her beautiful Ozarks, while she kneaded and kneaded, every morning.

I need to buy some yeast.  I think I like soda bread, but only in the winter.

Related posts:  Wilder Travels, Part One, Wilder Travels, Part Two, Wilder Travels, Part 3

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Wilder Travels, Part 3

In which we continue our travels with Laura at home.  Sort of.


I don't sew.

Not really.

I have a sewing machine.  I can do basic handstitching, I suppose, which usually results in lots of needle-jabbing through my fingers.  I embroider.  I'm not very good at any of it.

But at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum bookstore, I agreed to purchase a "Make Your Own Doll Quilt" kit.  And it's quite cute.  Today, we unpacked the kit.

Oh, yay!  Instructions.  (Whew!)

And, let's see...  we have batting, and a big piece of muslin for the back.  (Yes, I realize the juice and tomatoes were an accident waiting to happen.  What can I say?  I'm lazy.)

Okay, so let's make some nice, neat blocks.  Sweetie, where's your ruler?  (crickets)  You know, the old wooden ruler Great-Grandma gave you?  It says "Wonder Bread" on it?  (chirp, chirp)  Um, okay, you know what?  I'll just use this package of super glue as a straight edge.  

Despite all the little squares of thin, plain muslin, this might be rather pretty.  

 Oh, wait!  You should wear the bonnet we got you in Independence!

The tags, by the way, state that the bonnets are from Pennsylvania...  but made in China.

 (Yes, sweetie, you may take it off now.)

Look at you, stitching away!  My big, almost-7-year-old!  I'll bet you'll do a much better job than I could.  Really.  Stitch away!  

Now it's little sister's turn.

Oh, look, it's almost time for your theatre class.  Look, we have some strips!

And a lot...  lot...  lot more to go.  Mommy needs a drink some chocolate now...

Related Posts:  Wilder Travels, Part One and Wilder Travels, Part Two

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Wilder Travels, Part Two

One week ago today, we took a trip from Branson, MO, to the little Ozark town of Mansfield, about an hour and a half away.  It was on some land near Mansfield that Laura and Almanzo Wilder settled, with their daughter Rose, in 1894.  Although life wasn't always easy for the Wilder family, the farm became a success, Rose became a famous author and world traveler, and of course, Laura became a famous author, too.

Soon after Laura's death in 1957, the Wilder Home Association was established.  (You can read more here.)  The Association has done a lovely job preserving both the main house and the Rock House, a small modern home gifted to her parents by Rose.  There is also a museum of Ingalls and Wilder family artifacts, including Laura's Bible and reading glasses and Pa's fiddle.

Someday we'd love to return in September for Wilder Days.  The festival includes a Laura and Little Farmer look-alike contest and a playing of Pa's fiddle.  If only it wasn't during the school year...  it's a bit of long drive.

One more note before I post any pictures:  visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the homes or museum.  I would love to show you Almanzo's craftsmanship - he built the main house himself, over a period of time.  (They just kept adding on!)  And Laura's kitchen is adorable.  The counters are built very low, because she was only 4'11"!  There is a gallery at the official website here, and there is a gallery on the White House website from Laura Bush's visit in 2008.  There are many pictures of the farmhouse (that kitchen!) in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook, too.

You park across the street from the farmhouse and museum.  This sign is there to greet you.

One is much more enthusiastic than the other.

Look at that door!

Almanzo Wilder cut the wood and carried the rock to the farmhouse site himself.

View of one of the porches.

Cheesy family shot - thank you, total stranger!  (Look at the youngest daughter.  Sigh.)

Historic markers, located on the back porch.  This is the door we entered from, which leads to that kitchen... that wonderful kitchen.

Back porch, off to the side.

By the way, you pay at the Museum.  It is in this little building that you'll find treasure's such as Pa's fiddle, Laura's glasses, and a whole area set aside for Rose Wilder Lane.

One last picture:  the historical marker at the site.

I guess you can walk to the Rock House, but the museum folk recommended driving there.

Laura and Almanzo found the Rock House to be very isolating.  Even now, with other homes built between the farmhouse and the Rock House, the location is a very quiet (and beautiful) one.

A bit about the Rock House.  

The Rock House was built from a plan offered by Sears-Roebuck, but constructed to Rose's specifications.  She worked with an architect to ensure it was just right, and she had both it and the farmhouse (which she continued to live in, during that time) wired for electricity, years before anyone else in the area had it.

It was at the Rock House that Laura wrote the first four Little House books.  Her desk and the furnishings moved back to the main house with them.  They sold the Rock House and this section of the farm, and promised to never leave their beloved farmhouse again.

The location really was beautiful, though.

Related post: Wilder Travels, Part One

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