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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Field Trip to Remember . . .

Each year in February and September, Colonial Williamsburg hosts home schoolers at a great discount and also offers special programming.  While we have never taken advantage of the special programming, we have taken advantage of the discounted tickets over the past several years. 

When we first went Williamsburg, the kids were 11, 8, 8 and 5.  Daniel wasn't born yet.  I had made the girls colonial dresses and they had a blast dressing up and going around Williamsburg.  For Christmas that year, they all received colonial related gifts - - the boys got costumes from Vision Forum, handmade haversacks with spyglasses, maps, compasses and a pack of "colonial" cards, along with a tricorn hat.  The girls got new handmade dresses and caps.  Except for Jenna, they've outgrown dressing up, but we still enjoy our trips to Williamsburg. 

Some of our favorite places to visit are the Wig and Perugmakers Shop, the Brick Yard, the Cabinet Makers, and the Blacksmith's.  Year after year, I am constantly reminded of how well Colonial Williamsburg keeps alive the traditional ways of making things.  The bricks made in the brickyard are used for building within Colonial Williamsburg.  Each brick is laboriously shaped by hand, allowed to dry and then bake in a kiln around the clock.  The blacksmith constructs hinges to be used on doors, nails to be used in building, and other various items like handles, weather vanes, etc.  The cabinet makers reconstruct moldings and furniture by hand to be used in the various buildings around the town.  The gardens and fields are planted each year, not only to teach the visitors, but to be used in the cooking demonstrations, to feed livestock, and propagate "heritage" plants. You can buy these "heirloom" seeds at the garden store.  And, the visitors are even sometimes allowed to participate in keeping the traditions alive.  Dave and the kids (even Daniel) helped clear the field of corn stalks, which would traditionally go to feed the livestock later in the winter.  Some children were helping to mix the clay with their feet for the making of bricks.  We got to watch the food made at the Govenor's Palace and ponder whether we would eat Macaroni and Cheese with Tongue (can we say eeeewwww!).  The fritters the cook was making smelled quite yummy!  At the wigmaker's, we found out that if we had to ask how much the wigs typically cost, we probably couldn't afford them!  In the past, at the cabinet maker's, they've had the harpsichord open to play (this year it was closed and locked to Andrea's disappointment).  And, the weaver allows us to feel the raw materials and finished products that are made there.

Colonial Williamsburg could rely on modern methods for construction and furniture and all that, but that they choose to do and make things in the more traditional way is what draws me, and I am sure others, back year after year.  And, it is what makes visiting Williamsburg a unique experience, even after visiting several times, there is always something new to discover!  If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!  While we visit, we usually camp (we have a travel trailer) at American Heritage RV Resort.  Camping helps to make the trip more affordable, since most of our meals can be eaten at the campground or packed (lunch).  Plus the cost of camping is a bit less than the hotels in the area.  American Heritage has camping cabins and models that can be rented. 

You can find more information on Colonial Williamsburg's Home School Experience here.  You can also find out information on visiting Historic Jamestown and Yorktown during the same time periods here.  I am not certain if Jamestown and Yorktown offer their tickets and programs in February.

Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Crafty at Heart . . .

Skip to My Lou has her Holiday Craft, Sew and Bake Along up - - great ideas for holiday gift giving.  Yes, I know it's only September, but for somethings, you need to start early. 

Check it out here:

I am looking at making those scrumptous looking oreo truffles!  Yummmmm! 


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pattern Crocheting

I know I haven't posted in quite a while.  We've been busy here getting our school year started, decluttering and cleaning the house, and preparing for Daniel's second birthday.  Has it been two years already!!!!  In some ways, it seems as if he has always been part of our family, and in other ways, it feels like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. 

I am working on crocheting Daniel a blanket with Thomas the Tank Engine on it.  I doubt I will be done in time for his birthday - - it is a week from today, but I am going to put more effort into it this week. 

I had never crocheted from a pattern before, and it has been quite the learning experience.  While it is all single crochet, it can be difficult dealing with all of the colors.  You cannot simply change colors for one or two stitches.   I've learned to carry the different colors, drop them when not needed and pick them back up again,when I do.  The hardest thing to deal with, though, is the tangle of yarn that ensues.  I've developed an inexpensive way to keep the yarn much neater.  Yes, they will still get tangled, but they are much easier to untangle.  I guess this would be like the bobbins suggested, but a homemade version.

You will need:

Clothes pins - - the kind without the spring.  You can find these in the craft stores in the doll making section.
Rubber bands - - not large, but not tiny either.  About 1 - 1/2 inches should do it.

Materials needed.

Place yarn and rubber band (gumband as we would say in Pittsburgh) under the
clothespin in the dip between the head of the pin and the body.

Loop the rubber band over the yarn and through the other side.  Pull tight to secure.

Wind a few yards of yarn around the clothespin.  Bring the rubber band down and secure by
looping the rubber band over the "leg."  This will keep the yarn from unravelling.

 One last tip to crocheting a project that takes more than one sitting.  Use a marker to keep your last stitch in place by securing it to the stitch below.  This will also prevent little hands from undoing your hard work. 

Stitch marker is looped through the current stitch and
 the stitch below it to secure it in place.
Well, that is all I have time for right now.  I am off to Mass and then run a couple of errands before we head home to start on schoolwork. 

God Bless,