The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, August 18, 2014

Catching up -- school days begin again!

My mom's empty classroom.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Hello everyone,

I haven't fallen off the face of the blogosphere, but wow!  It has been a long time since I've posted.  Several things have been going on in the meantime. My mom retired from her kindergarten teaching career and I helped her move out of her classroom; 20+ years in the same classroom = a surprising amount of stuff!  Weeks and countless hours of sorting, packing, throwing away, giving away, and hauling papers, books, DVDs and videos, pictures, posters, activities and worksheets that she used to supplement the curriculum, and all the toys, puzzles, and manipulatives that belong in a kindergarten classroom.

I also spent 6 weeks as a teacher's aide in the same school's summer school program, teaching Medieval
history to a class of mostly 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.  It was a lot of fun!

Rose, White & Blue Parade group.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
On July 4th, I walked in the Rose, White & Blue Parade with my costume guild again.  It's our 5th year or something, and we always have a good time.  This year I wore linen (nice and cool) and white ballet flats with shoe inserts inside (to prevent the painful blisters I always get).  It worked -- I didn't get blisters this year -- but I ruined my shoes!  They got all scuffed and the vinyl started coming off in places.  Even the ribbons I'd sewed on to use as shoe ties started to rip off in the middle of the parade.  I guess that's what I get for wearing cheap shoes, but now I have to find another pair of white flats to use for costumes where my shoes will show!  We had about 10 people this year, and at the last minute, added 2 more: a man and his son who showed up to the parade participant sign-up area dressed as George Washington and one of his soldiers, and who didn't have a group to walk with.

On a less positive note, I had the worst exzema/allergic dermatitis I have ever had!  My hands and arms were red and swollen from my fingertips to my elbows, my hands (palm, back and in between my fingers) and the tops of my feet and in between some of my toes were covered with thickened, itchy, burning skin and large water and blood blisters.  Still don't quite know what triggered it, but 6 weeks, and a round of Prednizone and prescription corticosteroid cream, along with lots of lavender oil, tea trea oil, and bandages later, I'm mostly healed.  I think it was triggered by a combination of the heat (we've had a lot of early heat, and I do get heat rash occasionally), the humidity (we usually have dry summers, but this year I can't seem to get my skin to dry off), my allergies to cat hair (my housemates have 2 cats that are allowed to go everywhere but in my room) and dog hair (my housemate dog-sat for a friend and brought the dog into the house a few times), and something else still unknown.  Unfortunately, I pretty much lost the use of my hands and fingers until about a week ago when the swelling went down and the blisters stopped draining and started to heal, so all the cooking and sewing projects that I had planned to do this summer had to take a back seat to getting my arms and hands healed.  I hope to get back into my Historical Sew Fortnightly and Historical Food Fortnightly challenges soon.  That is, after we get the ant invasion in our kitchen sorted out ...

ready for the Ren Faire in 2013.  Photo: Virginia Urbach.
This week I've mainly been doing mending, and trying to finish the Renaissance Fair costumes for my nephews.  I have to let my older nephew's breeches from last year and make him a bigger shirt and doublet, and make my younger nephew's breeches for him.  I also have some wool to make some breeches and a doublet for my brother, which I've been promising him that I'd do for over a year (luckily, he's not too much of a costume nerd and isn't holding his breath for them to be done!).  Then, there's my own Renaissance Fair kirtle/bodiced petticoat that needs to be updated/resized.  It is now too small and the neckline is too low (because I've expanded in the waist and bust), and I need to replace the boning and lacing in the front because it's coming out.  I also bought some red wool to make a new petticoat and perhaps a stiffened stomacher to wear underneath, to help controlling the bustline ... We'll see if I get all that done!

My niece and nephews, along with a lot of other local kids, go back to school this coming Monday, and will be participating in their school's hot lunch program once in a while.  We hear so much about healthy meals, and people not liking Michelle Obama's nutrition guidelines and how they are interpreted by American schools.  Food and nutrition ideas have changed over the years; here are some lunch suggestions from the _Woman's Home Companion_ magazine in 1916.  I wonder how many of these lunches would be considered acceptable these days?

"Twenty School Lunches.
1. Graham bread with cream cheese.  Four large stuffed dates.
2. Two baking powder biscuits with honey.  Two snow apples.
3. White bread with cold lamb.  Two oatmeal cookies.
4. Eight small crisp crackers with peanut butter.  Four stuffed prunes.
5. Graham bread and lettuce sandwich.  Twelve salted almonds.
6. White bread with roast beef. One orange.
7.  Rye flour muffins. American dairy cheese. White grapes.
8. Boston brown bread with boiled halibut and French dressing.  Two sugar cookies.
9. White bread with chopped eggs.  Two big figs.
10. Graham bread with cold chicken.  One banana.
11. White bread with currant jelly.  Twelve English walnut meats.
12. Graham biscuits with bits of cold, thin-sliced steak.  One one-half-inch cube maple sugar.
13. White bread with quince marmalade.  Fifteen filberts.  One orange.
14. Boston brown bread with pimiento cheese.  Ten dates, stoned and rolled in sugar.
15. Biscuit with sardines and lettuce.  One frosted cup cake.
16. White bread with chopped nuts.  One cruller.
17. Sandwich made with one slice Graham and one slice white bread, spread with blackberry jelly.  One apple.
18. Cornbread with shredded herring.  Two molasses cookies.
19. White bread with crisp bacon.  One celery heart.  Two chocolate marshmallows.
20. Boston brown bread with shaved maple sugar.  One small pop-corn ball.  One tangerine." 

Graham bread and biscuits refer to whole wheat bread and biscuits -- named for Dr. Graham (the inventor of the Graham cracker), who was a 19th century nutritionist who promoted the use of whole wheat flour instead of white flour in the American diet. I don't see a whole lot of protein or vegetables in these lunches; I have a feeling that they wouldn't be considered acceptable in a lot of our modern schools! 


Steph said...

Congrats to your Mom and to you - medieval history, how cool!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Thanks, Steph! My mom unfortunately won't be able to enjoy her retirement; she retired primarily because my father's health has been deteriorating (he has M.S.) and they are dealing with his mother's estate (she passed earlier this year). She's been able to do a few fun things this summer, and is handling being out of the classroom well, but school is about to start again so we'll see how she feels when it starts without her ...

The medieval history class was really cool, but there was so much we wanted to cover that we just didn't get time to do! My skin issues happened 3 weeks into the class, so I wasn't able to lead all the projects I would have liked to lead -- cooking, for instance. Maybe there will be enough interest next summer, and if my skin doesn't break out again I'll be able to do more and help the teacher cover more topics.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)