Tag Archives: laura ingalls wilder

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Now this looks like a woman you could pull up a chair next to, pour a glass of lemonade and just sit back to listen to all the delicious stories she could tell.

One of my favourite stocking stuffers this year was a gift from my Mom. It came in the form of a paperback book. It was this year’s edition of the The Old Farmer’s Almanac. I LOVE the Almanac. I find it a fascinating piece of living history and I can’t wait to read whatever tidbit they have listed for the current date.

As I flipped the pages open, on this frosty morning, to the month of February, I saw that today in 1867, Laura Ingalls Wilder was born. I was a big fan of the Little House books growing up. I dreamed of living in a little cabin in the woods, driving in the covered wagon to the store where I could get a peppermint stick and helping Ma bake bread in our little home. I wanted a prairie bonnet so badly, so I could look like her. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing, conjured up a lot for my imagination and I have always adored Garth Williams’ illustrations. There is something so very comforting about his work. He was the illustrator for some of my most beloved childhood stories.

I was also a big fan of the TV show and used to watch it over my bowl of cereal in the morning. Who didn’t want to be “Half-Pint”?

I love the cowboy hats they are wearing in this photograph of Laura and her husband Almanzo. Don’t you just know that Anne Shirley would be going crazy for those puffed sleeves!

I know that her stories were embellished, that not everything was at it appears and some people are hung up on that. But that is the mark of a good storyteller, these weren’t true biographies, they were her stories and they filled my head with all kinds of wonderful things.

She is a woman I would have been intrigued to meet. She was a true pioneer woman, a lady of great endurance and a woman of strong faith. Happy Birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder, you little prairie girl.

{Photograph of Laura in her rocking chair found HERE // Photograph of Laura and Almanzo Wilder found HERE}

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The Sweet Things

To some she was only a Pioneer girl, to others she was simply a TV character, but for many she was a writer who held in her books the secrets of their own heart’s desires; to run barefoot in a field with sun-kissed cheeks, as bonnets, hung from their necks, bounced along their backs, as they made their way home to Ma & Pa.

This quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder, to me, says all I need to know about her. She was a woman who realized the secret of life: that it is important to draw pleasure from the simple things, the little things, the everyday blessings, that we just might be too busy to stop and see and we miss out.

(Image by Mary Engelbreit)

Maple Snow

All this snow has made me think of “Little House in the Big Woods”.  I loved reading this books as a child, it was a world I wanted to belong to.

I wanted to be in the sleigh with them as they drove through the snow to their Grandparent’s house, for the sap harvest.  Once, they arrived Pa joined the men folk, trudging off into the snow to help start the sap buckets.  Drilling holes into the thick bark to place a pipe that would drain the sap into the buckets below.

The women worked hard indoors for the party that would come that evening under the starlight. At the party to celebrate the winter harvest, Laura and Mary scoop fresh powdery snow into bowls and their Grandma ladles a stream of hot syrupy sap onto their dishes to make snow candy with. The sap hardened on the snow, thus making a chewy maple candy to enjoy.

“Grandma…poured hot syrup on each plate of snow. It cooled into soft candy, and as fast as it cooled they ate it. They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anybody.”

I always wanted to do this when I was little, I loved reading about Laura’s pioneer girl existence, I wanted to be a pioneer girl myself! I wanted to run through the fields with my hair in braids and my bonnet hanging down my back, the warm sun baking me as I brought Pa his lunch pail.

I found this recipe for “Snow Sugar” on the Laura’s Prairie House website:

I have not tried this particular recipe myself, so I will have to wait for the next snowfall and pull out my glass bottle of syrup and get to work!

{click on the recipe to be taken to a larger version}

Apple Picking Season

I met my husband last week after work and walking away from his building we passed the most delightful apple tree near the gates. Its branches were laden with fruit ripe for the picking. Their juicy ruby red skins glittered in the afternoon sun. I wanted to jump the small hedge in front of the tree and start picking apples. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to carry them in, for once I was unprepared. My husband handed me his phone and I attempted to photograph my discovery in the blustery weather.

It brought me back to being little. I grew up on a farm and during this time of year my dad would come home with bushels of apples and my parents would start making the most delicious applesauce. My sister and I would sit at the counter and watch my dad run the cooked apples through a food mill and see the now smooth mixture plip-plop into the pot below. Seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, we would live off of this, it was one of our favorite breakfasts!

My mom would portion off some of the plain apple mixture for herself and start to make her apple butter for the winter. She would sterilize her jars and our job was to hand her the lids to screw on over this rich cinnamony reddish-brown spread that tasted like heaven on biscuits or toast. We would have it all winter long to enjoy and she always made enough to give away as gifts as well.

This apple tree reminded me of being little, when your world was so simple and there was nothing better in the universe than to wake up to a bowl of fresh applesauce on a cool morning, your dangling legs swinging back and forth off the chair at the counter, watching the sun creep over the orchard from the kitchen window. I think there still might be nothing better in the world, than to wake up to your favorite comforts in a cozy home filled with love.

As Laura Ingalls Wilder said, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

(Apple Basket Image by Susan Branch)

Home is Where the Heart Is

Embrace where you are right now is a concept I try to live up to everyday. I am an American living in the London suburbs and married to an adorable redheaded Brit. I am surprised by how many Americans I know living here who only associate with other Americans. You are somewhere out of your comfort zone and that is the best time to search out a new experience. I live in a very sweet cottage behind a “racing green” colored door. The only yard I have is what I can grow in my flower pots in front of the house, as we live on a side street. But it is just right for us.

Living here I feel like a pioneer woman, the “Laura Ingalls Wilder” of London and her family in their first little sod home on the prairie. Not everything is as convenient as it is at home and so you learn to adapt. You adapt in many ways, your way of life, how you cook something. It is easy to make certain recipes at home with the ease in which you can gather your ingredients, usually half-way done on their journey to finish your dish, yet here, I find that I will have to often start from scratch and even though the process takes longer the finished product is something I have pride in, my hands have touched every step along the way.

I love to travel, especially to Paris, we don’t get to go to France as often as I would like but as the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar said, “To stay in one place and watch the seasons come and go is tantamount to constant travel: one is travelling with the earth,” and that is what I am being, a gypsy in my newfound hometown.