April 28, 2011

All Children are gifted, are Gifts and have Gifts.

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
  --  Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Fortune of the Republic

Fetus study by Da Vinci, my favorite genius.
Yesterday, in school, we had to do an assignment in which we had to decide what we would do with an "academically gifted" student who didn't want to do his math homework as he didn't need to do it to get good grades on tests.  Many students believed that he should not be required to do the homework because he was, well, "gifted."

I dislike the term "gifted." I think that all children are gifted, are gifts and have gifts. But more importantly, it is not what gifts you start out with but the gifts you develop and share. Gifts are great but effort and gumption is equally valuable. I also think we tend to have a narrow view of what gifted is and forget that even truly academically talented students typically excel in one area and perform around average or below average in others.  

Also, academically gifted isn't the only type of gifted. Remember very few "academically gifted" students go on to be "gifted" adults because we judge adults not just on test scores or how quickly they can answer a math equation but by a plethora of other values, measures and accomplishments. 

Just think of all the " academically average" people who made an impact on the world and those who have made an impact on your life. You probably know some gifted artists, musicians, inventors, athletes, writers, actors, parents, dancers, ect. who never made the science and math based "gifted" cut. I have always been drawn to homeschooling because I believe that talents, interests and a willingness to learn have a better chance of being fostered at home. Curiosity and a  personal exploration of interests are traits that great minds have in common. We shouldn't quell curiosity and a love of learning in students by attaching labels to them.

Some great people who were told they would never amount to anything:

Albert Einstein-- We think of him as a genius today but as a child he was quiet and didn't get along with the other students in his class. He eventually learned through reading at home.  

Thomas Edison-- He was a curious student whose teachers described as being dull and confused. He tried many schools but was primarily educated at home by his mother.

Louisa May Alcott-- Although she was highly educated at home by her father, she did a variety of jobs before her literary success which included being a servant and an army nurse.

Madame CJ Walker-- The daughter of two freed slaves. She had very little education while she was young and got most of her formal education in church. When her daughter started elementary school, she learned along with her. After her hair product line was established, she hired a tutor to improve her reading and writing skills. 


I don't think it matters so much that they were homeschooled but they all succeeded when they studied and focused on things that interested them. Interests, curiosity and persistence really do count for something!

April 25, 2011

You're Exhuasted?--Reenacting and Spectators

After reading Ken's post on reenacting (found here), made me want to stomp off and pout in the corner like a three-year old. I felt it really is a problem many reenacting groups need to address. :D It's not that Ken was unfair to us civilians, no, he was right and we always feel guilty about it.

I feel that civilians often wish they could do more with the public but many of us have real-world responsibilities to take care of when the public is present. Many of us are watching children, cooking food, mending uniforms, cleaning dishes and we have deadlines to make. The soldiers spend a lot of time waiting around for battles to start that I feel they forget that we work nonstop from breakfast to dinner. Many of us, if we see the battle at all, can only spare a few minutes to do so.

If we stop for ten minutes to talk to spectators, the men will go hungry, the children will run around on fire and the dishes might never get done. :D At least, that's the way it works in our minds.

Keeping this in mind, I feel like Ken is absolutely right and it is not good for civilians (men and ladies) to snub the public. I know we feel like the "production crew" whereas soldiers are "the show" but the reality is that we are all on the stage and need to stay engaged with the show for the show to be good.     

So what can we as groups do?

- Arrange for a few low or no preparation meals and let everyone know you are content with meals like this.

Sometimes I think we feel if we don't make a nice meal that everyone won't have a good time. When I first started reenacting, I was told that the men were sick of soup and stews so we never cooked them. Cooking takes up most of our time and we are relieved when group members say "sandwiches are good."

-Designate people to speak with the public beforehand.

If your group is large enough, pick a few people whose only job that morning is to talk to the public. Frequently, spectators will walk by and everyone will look at each other to see who is going to talk to them but no one stands up and the spectators walk by. If you are someone who does not want to interact with the public or doesn't want to, let the other members know so they don't think you are ignoring them and follow your lead.

-Choose a topic to talk about or have a display that might inspire questions.

Many people feel off-guard when spectators come and they don't know what to talk about. Make sure to pick a few topic before hand and have materials ready. Alternatively you can put a display out that may inspire questions. This doesn't and probably shouldn't be a museum style display. Something as simple as having eggs being preserved in a bucket of ashes can lead to a discussion on preservation methods on the home front and their adaption on the move.    

-Evaluate what exactly is being done by the people in camp.

This seems like a no-brainer but there a lot of jobs the camp-followers are doing that aren't obvious. My least favorite job is "watching the fire."  We frequently have to look after fires if no one feels like putting it out and restarting it later, normally it is needed to boil water during a battle so the soldiers can clean their rifles. This is the most boring part of reenacting for civilians. There is no one to talk to: soldiers and spectators are at the battle. We finish cooking dinner quickly due to the lack of interruptions.  Many of us are so exhausted from the morning, we cherish this hour if only to take a nap (which you can't do if you are a fire-watcher.)

Sometimes the soldiers forget that there are things the civilians want to do too that we never get around to at events. I always bring a pencil and paper to draw but have only had time once to do this and It was when I was "watching the fire" when everyone else was at a barn raising :( . During reenactments we frequently ask ourselves "Why am I doing this? I can cook and clean at home."

So remember--if you want happy spectators, make happy civilians. Let them sit around the fire and drink tea with the ladies in the next camp. Don't overload them with tasks and then wonder why they avoid spectators. If you are a soldier, perhaps you might even assist them with some of the tasks like-- cleaning dishes or boiling your own water after the battle so the ladies can take a nap--hey, I can dream... :D Our soldiers know I'm just being hard on them.

Gentlemen of leisure. :)
I am definitely biased. I have never been in a battle, but I imagine it must be better than being a civilian as many women choose to be soldiers instead instead  and men cry when they are forced to be civilians. But I also realize that the battles are physically hard work. I'm waiting for the day when Andy decides that we should switch places, then I know I'll complain that the soldiers deserve those naps they take under trees. :D

You're exhausted? I saw you taking that nap during the battle.
Just remember, even if you don't like spectators, spectators help make reenacting possible. If we treat them poorly, we will eventually have our options limited, especially since a lot of government and state funding is being reduced. We need to keep people interested so battlefields and parks aren't turned into apartment complexes.

April 21, 2011

Love Letter Examples from 1798

"A young lady, in the freedom of conversation, said to a military friend, 'Pray, Captain, can you flirt a fan?'—' I do not think I can,' replied he, 'but I can do what is equally useful—I can fan a flirt and he immediately began to fan the young lady.'" -- Popular 19th century joke.

 These letters are excerpted from The Gentleman and Lady's Mirror, published in 1798 in Norwich, England. Each letter talks of a different romantic situation--many of which could have come straight from Jane Austen! 

Letter VI.

From a young Lady to a Gentleman who courts her, and whom she suspects of infidelity.


THE sincerity and freedom with which I have at all times laid open my heart to you, ought to have some weight in my claim to a return of the same confidence. But I have reason to fear that the best men do not always act as they ought: I write to you what it would be impossible to speak; but, before I see you, I desire you will either explain your conduct of late, on confess that you have used me not as I have deserved of you. It is in vain to deny that you have taken pains to recommend yourself to Miss ____________; your behaviour towards me plainly indicates that you wish her love and not mine. I am not apt to be suspicious, but certainly now I have reasons to be; and I must be either blind or indifferent to overlook it. Sir, I am neither; tho' perhaps it would be better for me if I were one or the other.


From a Lady to a Gentleman, requesting him to not visit her any more.

YOUR attention to me lately, has been very particular; altho' you have not yet disclosed your motives, I must declare candidly, that your company is not, by any means pleasing to me. I presume therefore, that a man of your sense will not wish for any further explanation.


From a Lady to a Gentleman that courted her whom she could not like, but was forced by her Parents to receive his visits, and think on none else for her husband.

IT is an exceeding ill return that I make the respects you have for me, Sir when I acknowledge to you that, though the day of our marriage is appointed, I am incapable of loving you: you may have observed, in the long conversations we have had at those times that we were left together, that some secret hung upon my mind. I was obliged to an ambitious behavior, and durst not reveal myself further, because my mother, from a closet near the place where we sat, could both hear and see our conversation.I have strict commands from both my parents to receive you, and am undone for ever, except you will be so kind and generous as to refuse me. Consider, Sir, the misery of bestowing yourself upon one who can have no prospect of happiness but from your death. This is a confession made perhaps with an offensive sincerity; but that conduct is much to be preferred to a covert dislike, which could not but pall all the sweets of life, by imposing on you a companion that doats and languished for another. I will not go so far as to say, my passion for the gentleman whose wife I am by promise, would lead me to any thing criminal against your honour. I know it is dreadful enough to a man of your sense to expect nothing but forced civilities in return for tender endearments, and cold esteem for undeserved love. If you will, on this occasion, let reason take place of passion, I doubt not but fate has in store for you some worthier object of your affection, in recompense of your goodness to the only woman that could be insensible of your esteem.


From a young lady who was addressed by a person of great estate, and fine person but one of those characters whose aims are dishonourable.


THE little experience I have in writing letters, especially to your sex, renders this a presumption, which can be excused by nothing but the cause that enforces me to it. You know, Sir, the misfortune of my family, and that I have nothing but my virtue and reputation that I can call my own--The first will doubtless call into question the two others, should I continue to listen to the addresses of a gentleman of your fortune: --Permit me, therefore, for the future, to deny myself the honor of your visits; the disparity between us will not allow me to think you condescend to make them for any other end than your amusement; and, how low forever I am reduced, I have much too much pride to be the property of it. Were it possible, (which I am far from the vanity of imagining) that you found any thing in me worthy of a serious attachment, you are very sensible I am under the care of an uncle, who ought to be acquainted with it, and whom you cannot suppose, will make any objections to what he finds is for the true interest of one who shares so much in his blood. In consulting him on the affair, you will give the best proof of your sincerity, and is the only means to satisfy the scruples of B.B.

Letter XVIII.

From a young Gentleman to his Sister, disapprobating the practice of coquetry.


No information which I have received from our family, since I have been from home, has given me more disagreeable feelings, than that of being told that you have the disgusting character of being a coquet. Whether you deserve this pernicious character, or not,I am unable to determine, however, I think that a few observations upon a practice so common amongst your sex, and which I fear you have adopted, may not be unnecessary.Females having the advantage over the opposite sex as far as respects love adventures, too frequently make use of the opportunity of exercising their skill in the abominable art, to their eternal injury.Unmindful of the laws of honor, reason or politeness, they plunge themselves into ruin, by adopting the plan of coquetry, merely for a momentary gratification.-- Gentlemen when paying their address to a lady are blind to every thing that does not wear the garb of modest gallantry; therefore in this situation they not unfrequently led on promiscuously to a dangerous dilemma, of either continuing in an uncertain position as to persisting in their endeavours of courtship, or of obliterating all thoughts of the females,from an honorable connection with whom, they had long anticipated to receive the greatest of earthly blessings.--If they take the first step, after they can almost to a certainty determine what the intentions of the ladies are, it appears to be very inconsistent, yet they are prompted to nourish hopes of a kind and sincere receipt on, by the flattering speeches of coquetish females, whose hearts and minds are foreign to the language which they use to deceived lovers. If on the other hand, they find themselves obliged to discontinue their fruitless addresses, they are often reduced to an unhappy situation, by being thrown from the object of their love.You must be sensible dear Sister, that upon those accounts as well as many others, a coquetish character is rendered very disgusting to persons of honor or good principle,--they soon become objects, and ought to be disregarded by the male sex in general. I cannot but hope therefore, Sister, that if you are justly disgraced by the name of a coquet, you will immediately endeavour by a thorough reformation in your manners and conduct, to free yourself from the most ridiculous character a lady can have.

I feel like letters just capture something that we've forgotten in recent times. In class a student made us fill out an envelope to see how many people still knew how to do it. Many didn't know how. I can just imagine the equivalent text messages of these letters today which might read "My mom made me take you to the prom" and "Sis- stop hitting on my friends when I'm not home."

April 18, 2011

Free Way to Help the Civil War (Preservation) Trust and Other Charities

Some of you may know about Goodsearch but for those of you that don't: Goodsearch is a search engine that has found sponsors to donates $0.01 every time you search. While I personally do not think that the search results are as helpful as google's, Goodsearch has the added benefit of helping a charity as well as other ways to donate money. If you go to the Goodsearch website before you go shopping online, certain online stores will donate a certain percentage of your purchase price to the charity that you choose. Stores include Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Ebay, Itunes, JC Penny's, Petsmart and more. The percentages that they donate may not seem like a lot but how many things are now purchased online?

Some of the Charities on Goodsearch you can donate to:

  • Civil War Trust (Type in CWPT)
  • Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation
  • Ladies Hermitage Association (Andrew Jackson's House in TN.)
  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC)
  • Friends of Valley Forge Park
  • Friends of Brandywine Battlefield
Even though $0.01 might not seem like a lot of money, if 2,000 people search 10 things a day using it, it equals $200. If they search 10 things every day, it is $73,000 a year! I have been told that reenactors number in the tens of thousands.  

April 11, 2011

The 150th Anniversary and Civil War Era Dinner Invitations

So, tomorrow is the generally accepted date for the beginning of the Civil War (you know how historians are.) I wasn't even going to mention it but I felt the need because I am already sick of hearing about it. :D Every time I open a newspaper there's a story about the Civil War or stranger-- Civil War reenactors.

As much as I love to see how other people view us-- I feel like the media regurgitates the same few sensational aspects of it. I love reading that reenactors " even make their hardtack from scratch," as if there is a hardtack mix we should know about. (For those of you not familiar with hardtack the ingredients are: flour and water.) Another interesting topic that gets noted frequently is the price of reenacting items. Normally, the papers will say something like "ladies spend upwards of $1,000 on a nice dress,"-- of course people think we are crazy! Other good topics are "reenactors go on extreme diets to replicate soldiers on half rations," and "women even squish themselves into corsets!" 

Okay, now that I am done my rant. :D I am excited for this year's reeanacting season. The weather was is so nice today that I can imagine myself in my dress holding my basket full of apples while skipping barefoot down the company sheet, smelling summer and gunpowder.

I shall be commemorating only with Civil War Era Dinner Invitations from Martine's Sensible Letter-writer, published in 1866:

A fill-in-the-blank card. Manuals of the time recommended fill-in-the-blank cards for people who frequently had parties. Other options included having your name printed in by the printer and only leaving the invitee's name and date blank.

To fill the card in, follow the first example.

Is everyone excited for the 2011 season?

April 7, 2011

100 Followers and I've Been Awarded!

I was told I don't post enough pictures of myself.
Yay! I finally have 100 followers! This is mind-boggling to me. I never imaged 10 people would want to read my blog and yet there are 100! Thank you all so much!

 ***On a side note, I've been told that I don't post enough pictures of myself. The reason is that I am normally the one behind the camera and I also hate pictures. :D I guess in comparison to other bloggers, I really don't include enough photos of myself. So for those of you who have e-mailed me, this one is for you. ***

I've been awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by Deb at Adventures in Genealogy--go check her blog out.

Part of accepting the award is awarding it to 15 bloggers that you have recently discovered. I am only choosing 5.

My 5 Blogs are:

Check them out!

April 4, 2011

Colonial Raspberry Tart Recipe from 1774

I went to work one day and there were 17 piglets by 2 mothers and another soon-to-be mother. That's a lot of pigs!

We made this recipe from Hannah Glasse that was absolutely delicious, and I don't even like raspberries. At the time tarts were cooked in individual tins, which make for pretty, rippled tart shells. (Authentic, tin tart molds can be bought at Deborah's Pantry.) If you don't have tart molds, a cupcake pan will work, but the tart shells won't look as fancy. You can also make one large tart using a pie pan. 
Hannah Glasse, Raspberry Tart from 1774

Ingredients for the Crust:

-1/2 lb (2 sticks) Butter
- 3 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Sugar 

Instructions for the Crust:

Cream the Butter with a wooden spoon until smooth, add the Flour and Sugar slowly until it forms a stiff dough. Lightly flour your surface and your rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch. Measure your pans and cut the dough in circles about 1/2 an inch bigger than the diameter of your molds, (a cup works great for this.) Butter your molds and press your cut dough into them forming small bowls. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.  

 Ingredients for the Raspberry Preserve Filling:

- 1 lb Raspberries 
- 2 Cups Sugar
-  1 cup Water

Instructions for the Raspberry Preserve Filling

***You can save time buy using store bought jam or preserves but if you want to make the real thing, you will end up with a very sweet, but delicious preserve.***

Rinse off the Raspberries. Add Raspberries to a medium sized sauce pan and stir in the Sugar and Water. Let the mixture boil, being careful not to squish any of the Raspberries. Once the sugar-water starts to thicken, remove the raspberries using a slotted spoon or sieve. Let the juice boil until it is about as thick as maple syrup. Add the Raspberries again, you may crush them up if you want a more jelly-like preserve or keep the raspberries whole. Be sure to stir the syrup constantly so that it does not burn.  

***Alternatively, apricot, cherry, plumb, apple or currant preserves could also be used for this recipe.***

Put a tablespoon of preserve into a cooked tart shell. You may eat them as is or bake for an additional 5 minutes. If you have extra crust dough, you can decorate the tops of the tarts and bake for 5 minutes. Use a sifter to sift sugar over the top and enjoy. 

The tarts were very good. We cheated and used store-bought jam but we have made this preserve recipe before and it was surprisingly good for such few ingredients. They disappeared before we could take a picture but next time we make them, I'll definitely put one on here.   

I've finally taken a photo, although it was taken about 4 days after I made them:

April 2, 2011

Night Trip: Kevin Burke, Irish Fiddler

A few nights ago, Andy and I were fortunate enough to see one of Ireland's premier fiddlers, Kevin Burke. Kevin Burke is best known for his work with the Bothy Band in the 70s with Uilleann piper, Paddy Keenan.

For this concert, he was working with Cal Scott, a guitarist and songwriter from Oregon who writes soundtracks for documentaries.The concert was a cozy, small affair and the music was great. We were close enough to the stage that we could hear the music, crisp and clear, straight from the instruments.

In true Irish style, the concert was informal and the audience was almost dancing. We ended up buying a CD that had a lot of the songs that they played at the concert and we've been enjoying it very much. They were even nice enough to sign it for us.

You can listen to the whole CD at Amazon: Across the Black River

We very much liked "The Surround," and "The Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz." It is great because they have a songbook available for this CD so Andy can play fiddle and I can play guitar. We've been having fun with it.

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