Chadds Ford Historical Society

Revisiting History


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Spring Cleaning Series – April 22, 2016

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Want to learn something new and refresh your mind from all of the hectic schedules our days bring in the spring months? Be like a colonist, find meditation time! Meditation does not have to be religious at all. In fact, meditation is a form of calming the mind that allows you to be present in the moment with just yourself and to slowly chip away at unwanted and bothersome or overwhelming thoughts. Between working and having a schedule filled with things to do each day, you are probably thinking, “I’ll never find time to fit into my day to just sit and relax!” But you can. It’s all about fitting in your schedule to a calm and quiet time. It’s vitally important to human health. Did you know that “the relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves,” according to cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD of the Mind and Body Institute at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Benson is well known for his research on the health effects of meditation. Think about the medical bills you could possibly spare by just incorporating a relaxation technique that has been shown effective to work for some individuals. This is not medical advice, so please speak to your own medical practitioner before starting on any new routine. But, if you are healthy enough for the go-ahead from your physician, it would probably be a great addition to your daily routine!

From a colonial perspective, there were often individuals who were very devout in their Christian faith, and others who attended church because it was required, depending on the location of the colonies they lived in. Typically, this involved a quiet spiritual meditation at home or at church. Sometimes individuals even mixed their Christian spirituality with non-Christian beliefs in the laws of nature.

During the colonial period, there was a well-known group of individuals who were very instrumental in the practice of “meditation” or “quietness”. They were known as “Friends” or Quakers. This religious tradition had a substantial following in Pennsylvania during the 1600s and 1700s. As one one modern day Quaker writer named Michael Mirkel states, “silence and witness are two pillars of Quaker spirituality”. Today, individuals who don’t identify as Quakers, but who wish to sit in meeting and in stillness with a group of Quakers is welcome into the Quaker community without any reserves. An early Scottish Quaker writer and governor Robert Barclay described Quaker worship as each individual returning, “inwardly to the measure of grace in themselves, and not being only silent as to words but even abstaining from all their own thoughts, imaginations and desires”. This may sound very similar to Buddhist Eastern meditation practices, but there were many differences. Regardless, the understanding of meditation as an important practice is not a new idea. It’s an idea that has been around for thousands of years and will continue to be considered important because of its many proven benefits to mental and physical health.

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If you are not sure on where to get started, first figure out whether you would choose to have a religious or non-religious experience of meditation. For our purposes on getting you started, here is an easy way to practice what many call “mindfulness” or just “meditation” to calm your mind of the noise that clouds it from the non-stop hustle and bustle of each day.

Step 1: Sit cross legged on a cushion or chair or you can even lay flat on your back on the floor. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.
Step 2: Listen to or pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change the way you are breathing, but just focus in on it and the movement of air from in and out of your lungs.
Step 3: If you become distracted by any thoughts, recognize they are there but try to return to focusing on your breath.
Step 4: Don’t judge yourself or ignore distractions. Those thoughts may be there, but simply bring yourself back to the focus on breathing.
Step 5: Each day you should start this routine in 5 minute sittings. Try to meditate at the same time every day. You can set a timer to let you know when your time is up. If you cannot do more than a minute, try to graduate yourself to at least 5 minutes by the next day or days. Eventually, work your way up to 10 minutes. At some point you may be able to do this for about 30 minutes if you choose to do so. Regardless, this will give you the refreshed and calm mind your body needs to add vitality to each day!

Meditation and mindfulness do not only have to be done in this way. Just getting out and walking in nature on a short path through your local park may help alleviate stress. Maybe it’s listening to some calming instrumental music that eliminates the never ending thoughts and just helps all of the craziness in life melt away. Whatever it is, do it. It won’t hurt a bit.

 

Have you checked out our Pinterest page? There are some fun and exciting pins on mindfulness and meditation we suggest!

Check it out! at: https://www.pinterest.com/CFHistorical/

 

 

Posted By: Sarah Krykew, Guide Specialist

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Spring Cleaning Series – April 29, 2016

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Spring is here! Sometimes the winter can cause us to get the blues. It can also cause us to pack on unwanted pounds because of the human body’s amazing ability to adapt to the climate. In the winter months, our bodies and minds adjust themselves according to the amount of daylight we take in or don’t get. That can often affect our mood. This can also affect our eating habits. In colder climates, human bodies, as with many other mammals, are given the ability to “store up” fat within the body and the brain signals us to search after heavier, fattier, and more carbohydrate and protein dense foods. This would have definitely allowed humans to survive when living a more hunter gatherer and nomadic type of lifestyle.

Once humans became sedentary and technology developed to warm our homes and allowed us to work, while not having to actually do much full-body physical activity, or to eat and feel certain ways at certain times of the year, the fall and winter months still have not changed for a majority of individuals. Oftentimes, it is spring and the renewal of life giving fresh foods that allow for an individual’s opportunity to change the pace of eating very heavy foods and respond by breaking free to do a “spring cleaning” of both mind and body. The sunlight is out for longer periods and the weather becomes warmer, which makes doing activities outdoors an easier and more enjoyable task. Food needs also change. Lighter foods are introduced into the body, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, in order to cleanse the body of the unnecessary body fat storage it acquired during the fall and winter months.

Time to load up on the freshest foods you can find! How about starting your own kitchen garden? During the colonial period, the kitchen garden was a place from which the family’s main source of nutrition came. This was not only true of the colonial settlers living in the region, but of local Indian tribes, one in particular called the Lenni Lenape.

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During the winter months, most food eaten would have been either salted, picked, dried, or preserved from the previous months of a fresh harvest. Harvesting your own foods is a great way to save money, while also eating the freshest ingredients possible all from your own yard! An easy way to start a garden without having much space can be to start your own container garden on a deck or small porch. Some of the easiest plants to grow in containers are tomatoes, basil and other herbs, zucchini and yellow summer squash, strawberries, peppers, spinach, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, radishes,  collards, carrots, beets, potatoes, cauliflower, and beans or sugar snap peas. Not all of these items would have been grown by local Indians or colonists due to food taboos or simply no introduction to them yet. However, it is great to utilize some of those old bigger flower pots you may have been hanging on to but really not sure what to do with. There are some plants that may need a climbing trellis due to their vining nature, like pole beans or cucumbers. Others can be hung upside down to grow easily without toppling over and having to be tied to a pole like tomatoes. Depending on the item you want to grow, the growing instructions for pot size (both width and depth) may be exclusive to that plant and not necessarily the same as all of the others. Try to find an area on your deck or porch with adequate sunshine, a good amount of warmth, and when the frost has passed. This will make growing a lot easier. You can choose to start from seed indoors or outdoors or by using already pre-grown vegetables and/or fruits from your local nursery or hardware store. Here are two examples to set you along. Please offer up any suggestions you may have on starting your own “kitchen garden”.

Suggestion 1: Tomatoes! – Growing tomatoes upside down can be a great way to grow without having to use a support to keep them upwards! Start off with a 5 gallon bucket or specialty planter from a local hardware store and cut a hole about ¾” at the bottom of the bucket. Next, pick a tomato variety. Push the root ball of a pre-grown plant into the pre-cut hole of the container so that the plant is hanging outside and the root ball is above the plant and inside the container. Fill the top of the container with damp potting soil. Make sure it is damp enough to stick to the container and not able to fall through the ¾” hole. Hang them in a spot where they will get at least 6 hours of sun a day. Water at least once a day or twice a day if the temperatures rise above 85° degrees. This can also be done with pole beans, cucumbers, and strawberries!

Suggestion 2: Carrots! – Carrots prefer cooler temperatures and are great for early spring growing. There are many varieties of carrot from white and purple to orange. You can also grow from seed or pre-grown sprouts. Choose whatever works best for you. Carrots grow best in light and loose soil. Choose a potting soil that has a pH level between 6.0-6.8. Any pre-made potting soil for vegetable gardening should do the trick, even if it doesn’t specify the pH. Find containers that are about 12″ -15” deep. Keep the soil consistently moist for easier growth. Within 14-17 days seeds will start to sprout (if using seed). After 60-70 days, carrots will be ready to harvest. They grow best between 50°-75° degrees.

Not a fan of gardening or don’t have the time?

How about joining a CSA or becoming a locavore? “CSA, is that some sort of secretive government agency? And what on earth is a locavore you ask? Is that some weird kind of meat eater? Well, no and… no.

             CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A locavore is a person who is interested in eating most foods from the local community and not transported from more than 100 miles away (or about that many miles). These are both great ways to support your local community’s food production and local farms. A CSA oftentimes requires a membership or subscription at a fee or volunteer time for free weekly fresh produce. Sometimes these CSA’s last a season or more depending on the membership/volunteer agreement. This is a great way to get fresh produce, sometimes cheaper than from your local supermarket. This is also a good way to be a locavore! You are not only buying into a membership, it is also going directly into the hands of a local farmer who is making wages to produce the food you eat! It’s a reciprocal relationship. Not only do these two ideas create a great opportunity to invest in the local community and health, it also has less of an impact on the environment. Less transportation is involved overall because the food choices you made had to travel less of a distance. They may also be organically grown, which helps alleviate the impact on soil, water, animals, people, and insects that come in contact with the chemical herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides many times used in conventional large scale farming operations.

Even though colonials would not have been familiar with these terms, many were locavores and supported agriculture through trading or buying from one another. They also may not have understood the concept of organic and non-organically grown produce, because typically there were some plants and herbs grown strategically to deter pests such as weeds, animals, and insects. Local farms in southeastern Pennsylvania did export crops from Philadelphia, which was not a “locavore” type practice. However, there were family farms that were well established, like those of the Pennsylvania Dutch who were able to select a diverse variety of crops to keep the family fed throughout the year.

Whatever route you choose, we hope that you take the opportunity to feel a rejuvenation in your health as you work the land (or even soil in pots) with your own hands, or feel positive connection to the support you give your local community for the fresh produce these life giving, immunity boosting, brain health supporting foods can provide!

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Have you checked out our Pinterest page? There you may find some interesting pins on how to start your own garden!

Check it out! at: https://www.pinterest.com/CFHistorical/

 

 

Published by: Sarah Krykew, Guide Specialist


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Spring Cleaning Series – April 15th, 2016

 

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During the colonial period, the colonists did not have the ability to go to their local super market to buy the cleaning supplies we are so familiar with today. The concepts of harmful bacteria and viruses were not understood until closer to the late 19th and early 20th centuries thanks to Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. People did not think of using anti-bacterial and anti-microbial hand sanitizers and sprays to kill the source of their affliction. Instead they looked toward their religious understanding of the world through the lens of good vs. evil or they had a slight understanding that something else was amiss within the body or their environment and used more natural and non-synthetic means to aid in cleaning within the home.

Looking to clean your home in an inexpensive and more natural way like the colonists did? Here are some money saving and environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and healthy ways you can accomplish the task! Now remember, some of these suggestions may not include ingredients the early settlers would have used, but may be similar.

  1. Citrus infused vinegar. Any jar that you have on hand with a lid will do. Fill a jar with citrus peels of your choice or a combination (orange/lemon/lime) and pour in undiluted white vinegar. Leave them to infuse for up to two weeks (under your sink works!) and strain the vinegar to use as a natural cleaner for windows (add a little water for this) or for mopping floors and disinfecting surfaces! These can be kept in a jar or once strained transferred to spray bottles.
  2. DIY Herbal Extracts. Have you ever realized how expensive buying your own herbal extracts actually is? This fun and simple experiment from the herbs you grow in your own backyard can prove to be beneficial to your wallet, cleaning your home, and a friend or family member who may receive it as a gift and/or to the flavors they produce for the food you might add them to! Here are some simple ingredients you will need to get you started:
    Your choice of herbs (spearmint, peppermint, lavender (edible), lemon, orange, vanilla bean, coconut, etc).
    1 large bottle of vodka (any will do).Supplies: 2 oz glass tincture bottles, some mason jars, labels. Grab your mason jars! Next, label them with the individual ingredient. Add 1 c spearmint/peppermint or other herb lightly smashed to release oils and with stems removed to 12 oz vodka. For vanilla beans, add 3-4 split vanilla beans per 8 oz of vodka. Next, you will want to close these off in sealed containers (mason jars work). Place them in a cool and dark place for about 4 weeks. The color of the alcohol will change and this is normal. Once ready to be used, take a funnel with a filter and place in individually marked bottles. If giving as gifts, put a small fresh amount of individual ingredient in each mini jar. These can be used in both cleaning for a fresh smelling way to clean windows or to add in your cooking repertoire!
  3. Have a stain? Un-shout it out! Some individuals have sensitivities to laundry cleaners but a few items you may already have on hand can do the trick. Coffee, tea, or mud stains? Immediately pour boiling water over the stain or if dried and set-in, scrub with a borax paste and wash soon after. Grease or oil stain? Sprinkle with dry baking soda to absorb the oil and soak in undiluted white vinegar, scrub with dish soap or choice, and wash. Got tomato sauce? White vinegar directly on stain and wash immediately. Wine or red dye? Use a mix of 50/50 peroxide and water and soak. Yucky vomit, urine, poop, blood, egg, gelatin, glue or other protein based stain? Do not use warm water on these! Instead, soak in cool water and then cool wash with added mixture of ½ c peroxide and ½ c baking soda. Ink or paint? Soak in rubbing alcohol for 30 minutes and wash.
  4. Looking for a more natural and pleasant smelling air freshener? For those who have allergies to candles and aerosol perfumes, these are a very efficient way of making the house smell nice, without being overly heavy in scent. Just simmer a quart of water with 1 sliced lemon, 2 tbsp of rosemary and a tsp of vanilla. You can also try 1 sliced orange, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/3 tsp nutmeg and a few whole cloves. Another would be 1 sliced orange, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp sage (fresh or dried). Essential oils can also be used in place of the fresh ingredients, just check the labels for recommendations on measurements.
  5. Interested in a sensitive skin laundry soap recipe? Don’t be too intimidated! This is pretty simple and very cost effective and can last a person many month’s worth of money on laundry detergent. Three ingredients needed are Super Washing Soda, Borax, and Bar Soap. These three items can be found in any local grocery store in the detergent aisle! The bar soap can be of your choice, either what you have on hand or cheapest for you! If you have sensitive skin, try to find a hypoallergenic and unscented version. Otherwise, there are two types of laundry bars you can find with the laundry detergent called Zote and Fels-Naptha that are fairly large in size. Now, you can make the soap into a powder form. Grate down entire soap bar and throw into a food processor to finely shred. In a large container add 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups borax, 1 cup grated soap, cover and shake to mix thoroughly. Use 1/8 c to 1/4 c per load. If you are interested in making a liquid version, here it is! Grate the bar soap and add it to a pot with 2 quarts of water and gradually heat. Stir constantly until soap is dissolved. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5 gallon bucket and stir in 1 c of borax and 1 c washing soda until dissolved. Pour the soap mixture from the pan into a 5 gallon bucket. Stir well. Cover and leave over night. Shake until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or jars. Use ½ to 1 c per load.
  6. Need to polish some wooden furniture? This one is fairly easy and makes your furniture look beautiful and smell fantastic afterwards! It is great at restoring wood and removes water marks too. Using a funnel, pour 2 tbsp olive oil into ¼ c of distilled white vinegar, and ¼ tsp of lemon oil (or fresh lemon juice) into a bottle. Shake well. It can be poured very scantly or sprayed onto the surface. You can even dab some on a microfiber cloth. Use on finished wood furniture and always go with the grain or move in a circular pattern to distribute the oil throughout the furniture piece. Remove any excess with a clean cloth.

 

Have you checked out our Pinterest page? Here you can find some fun and exciting ways to create your own DIY cleaners!

Check it out! at: https://www.pinterest.com/CFHistorical/

 

 

Published by: Sarah Krykew, Guide Specialist


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The Sweet Sleep of Hops!

Have you ever wondered what people could actually do with hops besides just using them in beer? Sleep. The answer is, sleep.

You can also join us this Thursday April 21st,  for our monthly “Tavern Talks” to learn more!

Hops are an incredibly wonderful addition to our modern day beer. Without hops, beer can take on a very different flavor. However, you may not realize that hops are also a sleep inducing agent that cause the person using them to fall into a slumber that can probably only cause the sweetest of possible dreams, to drink beer. But in any case, colonial people were known, just like us modern folk, to have tried to remedy the nuisance of insomnia.

Hops have an incredible ability to have the theraputic benefit of calming, relieving stress, and inducing sleep in some people. Oftentimes, sachets (smaller than your average bed pillow) were made and stuffed with hops and sometimes lavender or other flowers and herbs for the benefit of a good nights rest. Sometimes “sweet bags”, “scented pillows”, “dream pillows”, were stuffed into pillows or even mattresses in order to release the aroma and act as a sedative to the person laying on top or near it. A complete list of how to make some of the earliest American “scented bags” comes from the Compleat Housewife that was published in 1742. These “sleep pillows” seemed to have worked so well that George Washington was known to have benefited from its slumber inducing properties!

There is also some more history to the regular use of hops in America.

Hops were known to have been brought into America along with some of the first settlements in the early 1600s. Hops were then later used in commercial production through homegrown American crops since the mid 1800s and used as an ingredient used in the beer brewing process.

Prior to the 1800s, the plant was a relatively important one for the families that grew it. So important, in fact, that they would often take the vine along with them if they had to move into a new residence. The individuals that grew this plant knew it served many utilitarian purposes to the user.

Hops can be used to make a sleep inducing tea or used on the body to calm muscle spasms and arthritis pain and even help in milk production for women who breastfeed (not for pregnant women though!). These were not only recipes for the colonial period. People are still swearing by the many uses for hops, even today.

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There is a disclaimer for those who suffer from depression symptoms. Although there is evidence mounted on two sides of the spectrum, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor or ask a professional who handles your health care needs about whether hops would be beneficial to you for sleep and non-oral use or oral use through the ingestion of tea, beer, or in other culinary endeavors.

Have you checked out our Pinterest page? Check it out! at:                                           https://www.pinterest.com/CFHistorical/

Published by: Sarah Krykew, Guide Specialist

 

 


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Springing Forward, Looking Past

 

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Dear Chadds Ford Historical Society followers, as some of you may know, we are currently in the process of renovating parts of our Barn Visitor Center. In order to keep you up to date with our progress, we would also like to offer up our own tips each week on how to do your own “Spring Cleaning” along with us! That spring cleaning not only entails physical restoration or renovation to your structure on a large scale, but we would like to suggest other ways we can positively get ourselves into the habits of healthy living by starting anew with the season through exercise, healthy eating, home organization, and a money saving, more natural approach to the products we use both on ourselves, in our homes, and in the environment around us. So join us on this journey and we can restore and renovate in multiple practical ways together!

To kick off this “Spring Cleaning” series, let’s focus on snippet from colonial history for a moment. Did you know that spring cleaning is not a new phenomenon? After the winter snow and ice had passed, people living in the colonial era had their own version of spring cleaning similar to what we do today. For example, children could pick up all the sticks off of a path close to their home to use for kindling fires, which was a necessity for cooking. Some younger adults would even help older heads of household to whitewash their home, both inside and out. Just think about having soot and ash in ones hair or on clothing all day, every day or having to breathe in soot and ash from fireplaces and hearths burning throughout the house in unison or singularly both day and night through the fall and winter months. Not only was this bad for breathing, it also caused a light film to build up on the inside walls of the home. Wood chips and bark from the wood being hauled indoors and kept indoors near a larger hearth or multiple fireplaces built up over time, as well. After coming in from the rain or snow, mud would cake on the floors. Opening shutters or windows allowed the springs warm breezes to flow through the house and allowed for proper ventilation of the home. Breathing in fresh air within the home must have felt nice, as it does for us, when we are confined to tasks inside and cannot enjoy our whole day outdoors during the fall and winter months.

Typically today, we would spruce up our homes by opening windows, moving furniture around, vacuuming, mopping, and dusting. We also begin to rake old dried leaves and pick up branches from our yards and mow our grass to welcome the spring with a well manicured yard and freshly cleaned home.

The society will be doing a lot of renovation over the coming weeks, not only to clean up our own space, but to reintroduce a love for history and other new ideas that come along with the passing of time. An update to a structure can sometimes lead us into a realm of new ideas and possibilities for the growth of our organization to better assist you with your educational needs and curious mind!

Thank you for taking the time to join us, if you wish, on this “Spring Cleaning” journey together, not only to refresh the actual physical structure of a building, but also to introduce new ideas and an open mind to new possibilities fur the future of your education, health, and happiness!