Sheared Bliss

A dinner date with history
December 31, 2013, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Colorado, Food, History, Museum | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Looking for something fun, educational, entertaining, and delicious to do in the new year?  Have you ever wanted to step back in time and taste history?  This is your chance.  The Littleton Museum will be hosting Mastering the Art of Frontier Cooking with Miss Beecher early next year.

Enjoy the 1860s farm in a unique way! Prepare a meal using “receipts” from cookbooks published in the 1800s. With assistance from the interpreters, you will churn, roast, bake, and boil a delicious feast. Once the food is prepared, you will dine by lamplight in the cozy cabin.

This is one of my very most favorite events to do at the museum.  If you would like to join us for this truly unique experience, call the Littleton Museum at 303-795-3950 to register for the January 11th, February 8th, or March 8th dinner.


Signs of Spring
April 28, 2013, 10:16 pm
Filed under: History, Museum | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There are signs of spring peeking out all over the farm.



And Pioneer Celery came out of the cabin and did not see her shadow:

I think spring is really on the way, folks.  (Please ignore the weather forecast for Wednesday.  I know I am.)

Sheep To Shawl

Sheep were sheared.

Yarn was dyed.

Pretty things were sold.

SweetP was sweet.

And a good time was had by all.

December 2, 2012, 8:25 pm
Filed under: History, Museum | Tags: , , , , , ,

Today was a museum day and, appropriately for the first day of Advent, we spent it decorating the cabin for Christmas.

It’ll Cure What Ails You
October 22, 2011, 5:58 am
Filed under: History, Museum | Tags: , , , , ,

Two weekends ago (yeah, I’m a little behind here) was the Harvest Festival at the Littleton Museum.  As a bit of a change from previous years, PioneerA organized a portrayal of an 1890s county fair complete with carnival games, competitions for preserves, bread, and handwork, a pie eating contest, and a traveling medicine show.

CodeMonkey portrayed Dr. Charles E. Tan, a traveling medicine salesman, along with Princess Bright Eyes, his lovely Indian assistant.

As with most traveling medicine shows of the era, Dr. Tan was peddling a wide variety of remedies as well as beauty and culinary products.

Most medicine showmen hawked products that had little to no curative value and often contained dangerously addictive ingredients such as alcohol, opium, morphine, heroine and cocaine if not outright toxins such as strychnine, turpentine, kerosene, and arsenic.  These patent medicines were popular with consumers because they were cheaper and more readily available than treatment by a doctor.  They also probably weren’t that much more dangerous given that it only took three or four months of study to become a doctor and many doctors were illiterate.  As late as the 1890s at least one medical school refused to give written entrance exams because they would exclude so many potential students.

Unfortunately, the cold, rainy weather meant that the good doctor didn’t have very many customers, offers of free samples notwithstanding.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am Dr. Charles E. Tan and it is my regrettable duty to inform you that you are all dying!  Every man, woman, and child here is dying; from the instant you are born you begin to die and the calendar is your executioner.  That, no man can hope to change.  Ponder well my words, then ask yourselves the question: Is there a logical course to pursue?  Is there some way you can delay, and perhaps for years, that final moment before your name is written down by a bony hand in the cold diary of death?  Of course, there is, ladies and gentlemen, and that is why I am here.  I hold the answer to this question right here in my hand.  Yes, this unassuming brown bottle of Dr. Tan’s Celery Compound contains the solution to all of life’s tribulations, large and small, and for just $1.00 a bottle, you owe it to yourselves not to miss out on the preventative and curative powers of this miraculous tonic.  Celery, you may ask, how can this humble vegetable contain the secret to a long and healthy life?  Why, in the Orient, celery is used strictly as a medicinal.  Even here in the west, the healing powers of this humble herb have been noted by physicians for centuries.  In his monumental 1747 treatise Pharmacopoeia Universalis, Robert James revealed that through the ages, celery has been used as a diuretic, an antiscorbutic, an aphrodisiac, an antilactogen, and a cure for fevers and dropsy.  And now, through the marvels of modern medicine, all of these phenomenal properties have been distilled, refined, and concentrated into their most powerful form – Dr. Tan’s Celery Compound!  Yes, folks, this miracle elixir is guaranteed to cure what ails you.  And for just $1.00 a bottle, there’s no reason that every man, woman, and child present can’t afford to live a long and healthy life with the help of this marvelous remedy.  But wait!  Do I detect some skeptics in the crowd?  Scoff all you like, but I am so convinced of the efficacy of this tonic that, for today only, I am offering free samples.  Step right up at the end of the show and experience the health benefits of Dr. Tan’s Celery Compound for yourself.

Maternity Monday

Here’s a helpful little pregnancy tip: If you’re feeling a little bit bummed about your modern maternity clothes, try wearing some 1890s maternity clothes for a while.

Flattering, no?  I got to wear this lovely circus tent of a wrapper at the Denver County Fair where the Littleton Museum was invited to do a reprise of our fashion show from last year.  As I’m not really in a position to wear the wedding dress or bathing costume right now, I got to model the maternity wear and tell the following story:

“My dear husband and I live far out on the prairie where there isn’t a tree to be seen for miles.  As you can imagine, this makes finding fuel to heat our house in the winter a bit difficult.

Well, two summers ago, Husband started worrying about this very problem.  He knew it would be important to keep the house warm for the coming winter because we had two babes and we were expecting the stork to make another delivery any time.  He decided to make the seventeen mile journey to Mule Creek to bring back a load of wood.  He left early in the morning, hoping to be back before dark.

Just as the wagon rolled out of sight, I realized that the stork, being an unpredictable sort of bird, had decided to make his delivery that day.  We have no neighbors within several miles and no doctor to call so I knew I had to get ready to welcome the little stranger myself.

I drew a fresh bucket of water from our 60 foot well.  I laid out the baby clothes, scissors, and everything else I might need.  I made bread and butter sandwiches and set out milk for the two older babies and told our dog Rover to watch them.

At about noon the stork left a fine baby boy.  It took me some time to get him cleaned up and dressed as I fainted several times, but when Husband arrived home at dusk we were ready to greet him.  He was glad to meet his new son and very proud of the big load of wood that he had gathered.  This year, I’ve advised him to start gathering wood a bit sooner.”

Based on the true story of Mrs. A. S. Lecleve in Rice County, Kansas 1873 from Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier by Joanna L. Stratton.

I didn’t have much time to look around the fair, but I’m looking forward to it next year.  It was a smallish fair, but seemed to have a nice mix of all of the things you’d expect at a fair along with some extra special quirkiness because it’s Colorado.

PS: For the record, here’s what I actually looked like at 22 weeks.

I’m too sexy for my bonnet . . .
August 31, 2010, 9:27 pm
Filed under: History, Museum | Tags: , , , , , , ,

In addition to gardening, I’ve also been museum-ing this summer.  Usually things slow down at the museum over the summer because everyone is so busy working in the gardens.  However, PioneerJ is a brave soul and decided to put together a fashion show this summer as well.  The program showcased primarily women’s fashions of the 1860s and 1890s.  PioneerJ narrated, medical commentary was provided by Dr. CodeMonkey (yes, the Victorians had very definite medical ideas about fashion), and museum staff and volunteers modeled.  I modeled the 1890s bathing costume that I posted earlier this summer as well as this 1860s wedding gown and spoon bonnet.

There were a number of really impressive outfits, including PioneerJ in her silk and PioneerC in the bumblebee dress (which we revamped as a wrapper to be more historically accurate).

J is going to kill me for posting this picture, but it’s the best one I’ve got because she kept making funny faces – I think CodeMonkey was saying silly things and making her laugh.

On the bumblebee dress, we swapped out the black, stand-up, grosgrain collar for a white, cotton collar, replaced the black undersleeves with white, and had C wear it unbuttoned from the waist down so that her lace trimmed white petticoat would show.  Click here if you’re a big dork like me and would like to see the discussion that lead to the alterations we made.

The real star of the show though was this little pumpkin here.

To see pictures of the whole show, go to the Littleton Museum Fashion Show set on my Flickr account.