Thursday, September 27, 2007

Almanzo Wilder Farm

Sometime this last summer I realized I had never read the Little House on the Prairie books. I love to read and did most of the time growing up but somehow I missed these classics (...hiding my embarrassment now...). It's even more surprising considering how in love I was with that time period in America. For my 8th grade banquet I found a perfect ankle-hiding cream-colored lacy dress and imagined climbing into a covered wagon or stirring beans over an open flame. Of course, in my fire, we never used burnt cow pies that we had picked up along the way but sweet hickory wood that magically appeared without any effort from myself...ahem.

I've begun buying the books one by one excited for the boys to read them when they are older. When I started reading Farmer Boy , I noticed Almanzo mentioned going to Malone for the county fair and Lake Chateaugay to pick berries. And I thought...Malone? Chateaugay? I looked at the inside cover and saw they had lived in Northern New York and thought..MALONE! CHATEAUGAY! We've driven through those towns many times when we lived in Massena.

I was even more thrilled to realize that Almanzo's family farm (built in 1840) was still in Malone and was open to visitors. We were able to squeeze in some time to go and it was so much better than I had hoped.

Ian sitting below one of many apple trees.

Running along the old wooden fence surrounding the property.

Front view of the Wilder home. For those that have read the books...the window on the bottom-left opens to the parlor.

Side view of the house.
Another view of the house.

This tree is over 200 years old. Trying to imagine Almanzo and his brothers and sisters playing around the tree.

The dedication to the woman who gave this property to the Almanzo & Laura Ingalls Wilder Association.

Archaeological students spent a summer digging for the original foundations of the barn. When they found it, it was nearly identical to the drawings and dimensions that Almanzo, at age 75, had given Laura when she was compiling his childhood memories for the book.
The association found a man in Malone who specialized in 19th century carpentry. It took him 8 years of volunteer work to finish this barn.

This is the back area of the barn where the horses would have been allowed to walk around and where the gate to the pasture was.

Stone steps leading into the sheep barn.
Little Almanzo

An example of the peg-style carpentry used to build the barn. Amazing how much work this would have been!

This is a corn shucker. My dad used one as a kid and said that dried corn goes in and as you spin the wheel it pops the kernels off into the basket below. And voile...pig food.

This was used to grind up vegetables for animal feed.
Ian pumping water from the well. After digging for the well and testing the water, they
discovered that this was the original well that the Wilder family used!

This is where the water would run down into the troughs for the animals.

I know we'll go again when the boys are older and have read the books. If you ever find yourself near Malone, NY...I recommend stopping by.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Plums and granola

I can't believe it's already the last couple weeks of September. We have finally recovered from our vacation and are feeling rested. This was our first plane ride/vacation with both boys and while they did really really well, it wore me out completely! But nothing that a few naps in my own bed couldn't take care of. Okay... who am I kidding... I'm still napping in the afternoons as much as Sawyer will let me. But I think that has more to do with me loving sleep and less to do with our vacation recovery. :-)

Fall is definitely here and I've been in the mood to prepare for the cooler months. We are planning on trimming our trees and plants back in the next couple of weeks. Plums, apples, and squashes are in season and I'm getting ready to make Sawyer's baby food so I'll have a good stash going for November when I'm sure he'll be wanting to try solids. And we're stocking up on good books and a few good series to enjoy while it's raining and cold outside.


We have a big plum tree in our back yard that gives a good amount of plums each fall. Last year we just picked them off and ate them as we wanted. This year, I've decided to make some plum butter to enjoy this winter. My first batch didn't turn out so well because the recipe I had followed was wrong on a few details. So I found another recipe that included the right cooking times (it takes a solid 2 hours, not 15 minutes) and it turned out perfectly! I ended up combining the two recipes and altering the final one a bit and I'm thrilled with the results.

Plum Butter

2 lbs plums, pitted and sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Heat plums and 1/2 cup of sugar in heavy pot/kettle on low heat. Cook until plums are tender. Put plums in a blender or food processor and puree. Using a spoon strainer or large-hole colander strain to remove the peels*. Put plum puree back into pot and add the remaining sugar and spices. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down low so it's simmering very very slowly. Stirring occasionally so it it doesn't burn on the bottom, cook until the plum puree is very thick and very dark in color. This will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or longer in crockpot). It's done when the mixture "sheets" from the spoon, or creates a thick layer on back of spoon and doesn't drip.

Spoon into hot, sterilized jars and screw on metal lids. Leave on the counter for 24 hours for flavor to deepen. Keep fresh plum butter in refrigerator or store in freezer for 6 months. Makes 2 to 3, 1/2-pint jars.

**I didn't know if the peels should be left in it or not but I liked the look of it better without the peels so it was easy for me just to strain them out. Don't use a fine strainer though because you want the thick fibers from the plum in the butter.


This morning I made a delicious skillet granola for breakfast. It was so good with yogurt and fresh fruit. This will definitely become a family favorite!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jeremy's 33rd Birthday

I am 33 year's old today. I feel great, I am healthy and I have the greatest family anyone could ever ask for. I am happier now than I even was at 23, so that is something to be proud of.

Me, Ian and Sawyer all posing with the cards that Ian picked out for Dad. Andrea was here, too - but someone has to take the pictures, right?

Here it is - the coolest birthday present a coffee-lover could ever ask for: a home espresso machine. Trust me, the first coffee's we made from this were amazing - rich espresso crema and a full-bodied foamy milk... delicious.

Thank you for an awesome birthday, Andrea, Ian and Sawyer!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


One of the main reasons we went to Massena was because Jeremy's cousin Jay was getting married. It was a beautiful wedding and all the kids had so much fun at the reception. Congratulations Jay and Amy! They are both off to Iraq in the next year so keep them in your prayers. (psst...thanks Merredith for the gorgeous photo of the bride and groom).

Good friends-Ian and Sydney sitting together during the ceremony.

They have similar tastes in pacifiers

Jeremy's sister Rebecca. Sawyer just loved her!

The Conn men -Sawyer, Adam, Jeremy, Fred, and Ian

So cute! Kellon hugging Ian

Ian and his cousins Samantha and Alexandra!

Justin, Julie, and Sydney Cardinal and little baby boy due next month! (Yes...she's 8 months pregnant) :-)

Jeremy's brother's family-Adam, Shelly, Sam, and Alex

Grandma Bonnie and her sister Nancy

Waiting patiently for his dinner.

Sleeping Sawyer

Two peas in a pod

See the sweat? He was dancing hard but still managed a quick water break.

Tired family after a fun reception

Gettin' his groove on
Dancing with the ladies

He saved the last dance for me!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We're home!

We are back from our vacation! We had such a wonderful time in Massena. We were able to stay with Jeremy's parents so the boys were loved on and spoiled the whole time. We got to see many friends that we love and new babies that had been born since we left two years ago. Our days were busy and while we took pictures of 'events'...we didn't get much of the in between things. Unfortunately...after seeing the pictures we realized we never got any of Grandma and the boys! We'll have to do better next time. Here are just a few from around Grandma and Grandpa's house. These are all I can post tonight but there will be more to come in the next couple of days. Enjoy!

Grandpa and Ian hanging out in the backyard.
Ian and Sawyer taking a nap together.
Butterfly on one of Grandma's flowers.
Grandma Bonnie had a sandbox and Ian jumped right in wearing his pajamas.
Maybe we should get one of these at home?happy
The boys hanging out in Grandpa's chair.