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This month my creativity took an unplanned turn towards the old-fashioned.
I found myself tapping into my old fashioned roots of farming and homesteading and felt comforted by doing things that my grandparents had once done.
They lived simply, used what they had, and found joy even during the hardships of life.
They had a strong foundation for family, love, hard work, perseverance, and making things work out.
These characteristics have been an inspiration to me all of my life, but this month the legacy felt stronger than usual.
Today I’m sharing how I’ve been finding comfort through doing old-fashioned activities this month during our days of social distancing.
Both of my grandparents lived and worked on ranches. It wasn’t an easy life, but they found joy in it.
My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and their aftermath. This impacted how they thought about the world. They kept things “just in case”, fixed things instead of buying new, and kept the pantry and freezer stocked. They cooked from scratch and valued time with family and friends.
I grew up in a family that only shopped once every week or two because that’s how often they went into town. They planned ahead, shopped when they were in town and then lived off what they had on hand. They grew their own gardens, raised beef, pigs, sheep, chickens, eggs, and milk cows. They knew how to be self sustaining. They baked their own bread, cookies, pies, cakes, and canned their own fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, pie filling, pickles, and condiments. They shared local produce with each other and shared the burdens of life together by living in community.
This month, my mind frequently took me back to my paternal grandmother’s fruit room, which you may know as a root cellar or pantry. It was a dark, cold room in the basement where she stored all her canned goods, root vegetables in boxes, and onions hanging in pantyhose from the walls. It had a dark earthy smell that I can still smell but have a hard time describing. To me it is the smell of the heartiness of the earth and all its goodness.
Thinking of my grandparents and how they lived gives me a sense of comfort, courage, and hope.
This simple, homesteading lifestyle is a legacy that they passed on to me and I could feel it rising in me this month as the events of the coronavirus pandemic progressed each day. The inner call to bake and cook the foods they made, live simply, and love my family all took a strong hold of me.
Being confined in the house makes me think about the old days. When people did their work at the farm, enjoyed meals together, helped each other, sang songs, told stories, played games, and got together with friends and family for Sunday dinner. It was a simpler life. Fire places and hand made quilts. Sewing and talking. This is where my creativity came from. Growing up around people that made things that they needed for life and to support their family.
It’s not that I intentionally pursued these old-fashioned activities and recipes this month, it’s just what felt comforting to me.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been working on listening to my intuition and following it. I’m working on accepting my emotions and working through them. Looking back at my creative adventures this month, I’d say I succeeded in following my intuition. My pursuits were different than normal and gave me solace, a result of listening to the deep call inside of me to come back to my roots.
I’ve been enjoying using my old fashioned creativity to love on my family this month. Here are some of the things I’ve been up to…
I’ve heard a lot of people talking about baking this month as a way to use up some of the free time and I was one of you. If you gained weight this month from eating too many sweets from all that baking, you are not alone!
I baked home made items from scratch many times this month. Normally, I’d make most of these from a mix, but not this month!
My mom gave me this great high altitude cookbook for Christmas called Pie In The Sky. I’ve been trying out some of the recipes, and I’m LOVING this cookbook! So far I’ve made chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and brownies from this book that both turned out great. Here’s an Amazon link if you’d like to check it out.
I also love this one for high altitude baking. I’ve had this cookbook forever. I’m pretty sure my Grandma gave me a copy of this when I graduated from High School. I can’t believe Amazon actually has a link to it, but here you go!
Here’s what I’ve made from scratch this month…
- Choclolate cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
- Apple pie for Pi Day (3/24)
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Grandma’s Dutch Bars
My grandparents used lard for cooking. Lard is pork fat that is boiled, cooled, and then turns out like Crisco. This is what they used in the old days. My grandparents favorite ways to use it were in pie crusts and biscuits.
I’ve always wanted to try making my own lard, so the last time we ordered pork to stock up our freezer I asked for the fat to make lard. It had been sitting in my freezer for probably a year. This week I boiled it down and canned my own lard. It made 11 jars! I feel so old-fashioned, LOL!
When you boil the fat down you end up with some tasty little crispy bits called cracklins. Tonight, we are trying out some cracklin cornbread with a pot of chili. The night before we made pan fried pork chops in a little bit of the lard. It made the pork chops so tender and tasty!
About 1 & 1/2 years ago, we switched to using cloth napkins. I like that using them reduces the impact on the environment by reducing waste as well as the fact that we don’t have to buy and store more paper products. I just toss them in with the towel load each week and we are good to go. I’ve been wanting to make a few more for quite awhile. I even bought some discount swatches of fabric last summer!
This month I tapped into my inner seamstress, broke out that fabric and started cutting, pinning and sewing! Good old-fashioned busywork to do while watching TV.
Other Old-Fashioned Activities
Some of the other old fashioned actives going on around our house this month are a puzzle, frequent family game nights, journaling and writing, reading newspaper comics with my son, and brainstorming about a garden! My sister-in-law is planning one too, so we’ve been having some fun texting back and forth about seeds, dirt, and compost.
It’s been 4 years since I had the time or energy to have a garden. It looks like we will be having a lot of time on our hands this spring, so I’m thinking it will be the perfect year to grow a garden again. Plus it could be a fun activity with the kids!
Hopefully our veggies will grow well so we can eat some of our own food, get outside and enjoy nature, and get some exercise. Following my grandparents lead, I even looked up the Farmers Almanac planting calendar which gives you a timeline specific to your zip code on when to start your indoor seedlings and when to start planting outside. My grandparents looked at the Farmers Almanac daily and planned many of their ranching and life activities based on it’s advise.
I encourage each of you to keep tuning in to what you and your family need during these strange and difficult times. Each of us and our families have different needs. I hope this post inspired you to follow your creative intuition.
Have you found yourself doing things out of your ordinary activities that resonated deeply with you? I’d love to hear about it!
Also a big shout out to my parents who continued teaching me all the things they learned from their parents and fostering this legacy within me.
Stay well and continue creating!