Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Goshenhoppen, Scherenschnitte, Belsnickel

We finally made it to the Goshenhoppen Folk Festival. I had known of it for years, but had never been. Vonderful fun! Friday was just a beautiful day, sunny and clear, but not too hot.

Upon admission, we were each told to take a wooden nickel. One child asked, "What is this for?" To which the lady behind the table responded, "It's just for nice." Right then I knew this was going to be a good day. It was one of those expressions that harken you back deep into childhood. "Just for nice." Yes, this was PA Dutch County. Although it was a bit east and north of Lancaster Co. This festival celebrates the specific culture of the PA Germans in the Goshenhoppen area in upper Montgomery County. Many of the things we saw were representative of the culture in other areas as well.

100_2220.JPGOur family and another which joined us for the day are foodies. We love food. We like to try different kinds of food. And little did I know, but one of the main things to do at this festival was just that. At many historic sites you can watch people prepare a meal of historically accurate foods on historically accurate appliances (or historically accurate hearths) but because of some law somewhere they can't let you taste it. Not here! 100_2203.JPGWe had: pepper cabbage, apple butter and cottage cheese on brown bread, mashed potato candy, fastnachts, chicken pot pie, sage tea, raw honey, cornmeal something or other, GP cake, Schwenkenfelder Saffron cake and a few others I forgot. As you were given a free sample you learned a little bit of the how and why behind the food.

The kids made cookie cutters, corn husk dolls and a straw-stuffed sewn doll. We were able to see some farm animals, ride in a horse drawn wagon filled with hay and also observe some traditional crafts like scherenschitte.

A visit with the Belsnickel was a little scary (for all of us frankly - just look at her!) 100_2219.JPGWe decided not to go to the hog or the steer butchering (for obvious reasons) but the butcher was more than a little aggressive about trying to convince people to come. At the end when it looked as though the "this will be interesting" line wasn't working he had the dead, blood-dripping steer carted down the main path of the festival. He was standing in the back of the cart yelling, "If you think this is gross, this is where your meat comes from, not from the grocery store!" Okay, I think we understand...

Toward the end we also bought freshly chopped peaches and ice cream. The ice cream was from a local dairy and the crowd of people chopping the peaches were just a few yards away. Very quaint, very good, very very relaxing learning day. If you are in the area I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August? Already?!

I can't believe we are a third of the way through August already! We haven't been doing a lot of trips lately. The kids didn't want to go the Mann to see the African Dance and Drum Ensemble on Monday. We've seen it before and I'm not going to spend a couple of hours in the car if they aren't interested! July was spent in North Carolina for 5 days, the beach for 3 days and going to local library events, friends' pools and reading. Well they read, I worked on the house. They all have made a lot of progress in the water. Two are swimming and really rather well. If you had seen them last year you would understand why I am so excited about this. It is really hard to enjoy a pool when you have three kids who at any moment could get themselves in trouble in the water!

They've learned quite a bit about food preservation this summer as we have frozen various fruits and vegetables and canned jams, tomato sauce, and tomatilla salsa so far. I am so happy with the CSA! All but Sadie are really eating up all those veggies and I am enjoying the challenge of finding more ways to use eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes.

If you are interested in canning, check out Marsha's blog for some inspiration. There really are quite a bit of home education topics for all ages in the canning learning web (without mentioning home economics). Science (all those micro-organisms, plant diseases, pressure, temperature, vacuum..), health (botulism, mold, nutritive loss...), technology (older methods of preserving food, large canneries...), ecology (local food, reusable containers), history/culture (food preservation in other cultures, in history, victory gardens, traditional women's roles..) No, we didn't cover all those and we don't necessarily go into much depth; but by touching on a topic in context I find they are able to recall it later when they want to learn more.
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Museum Day 2006

A number of museums across the country will be having a free admission day on September 30, 2006. It is sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution and TIAA. You need to print out a card for each 2 person admission. All the details are here:

And you can search by state to find the museums that are participating. Local to Philly, the Franklin Institute, Delaware Art Museum, Penn Museum, Hagley Museum, Winterthur and more are all participating.