Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Three meals a day, literally and figuratively. The cure for what ails us.

February 5th, 2017 by Susan Odom



Today I spent some time reading a 19th century book called, “The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

It eloquently describes many housekeeping themes from the 19th century  most of which I am familiar with. They seem trite in todays world, they include topics like,  understanding why there should be a parlour for company and a sitting room for family, reconciling with the tyranny of carpets, the dangers of overcrowding and cluttering in furnishings, window decorations and more.

But I heard a theme today that I had not really considered as of late and that is the home is the center of all that is good and right, “… the best security for civilization is the home, and upon its perpetuity rests the future of the world.” This idea of individual homes that are the center of it all seems lost to history to me. I don’t recall that emphasis in my 52 years on this planet. I can sense a theme in my life of family being very important but somehow that seems a bit different from the ‘home’ emphasis here.

But do not think the author of this book is entirely focused on lace curtains and window boxes, although she does expand a lot on those topics, she extrapolates her idea to say this, “The basis upon which all homes should be founded is good living  and no matter how straitened the circumstances  how little there is to be spent, this can always be secured if housekeepers will begin at the beginning –that is, in the kitchen.”

So then she goes on to explain how three well-planned meals, served at a consistent hour each each day, in an attractive dinning room will lead to family togetherness and harmony. I admit this all appeals to me — especially that is, because it comes from the kitchen. I adore the kitchen and all things food.

I am thoughtfully considering these ideas and comparing them to the modern world today where there seems to be such division, falseness, intolerance and fear. It makes me wonder if three meals a day, at a lovely table would give us all the chance to engage in conversation. The author of the book expresses it thus, “The dinning room out to be the pleasantest place in the house; it is the meeting room where the family are expected to be always present at stated times, and where the events of the day are talked over while the pleasant business of eating is being discussed.”

Of course it is dangerous to look at history with rose-colored glasses. No generation is devoid of strife. But the theme of home and three meals a day, literally and figuratively, as center in our lives and how that might apply in 2017  gives me reason to pause and think and to….that is, digest.

"The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. " by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

“The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

Blossoms on the Cherry Trees!

May 19th, 2013 by Susan Odom

What a beautiful day it is on the Leelanau peninsula! The cherry trees are blooming, the bees are buzzing and there is promise in the air of a good crop.  This area grows the majority of the tart cherries in north america. Last year there was almost complete crop failure because of some freaky hot weather in march for 10 days. Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed for a good crop this year.

Tart Cherry Blossoms

These are tart cherries, the variety is called Balaton. My favorite!

Rows and rows of cherries

Rows and rows of cherries

The Fruit growers have to rent bees to ensure pollination. These bees are from Sleeping Bear Apiaries

The Fruit growers have to rent bees to ensure pollination. These bees are from Sleeping Bear Apiaries

Rows and Rows and Rows of Cherries. This orchard is adjacent to Hillside Homestead

Rows and Rows and Rows of Cherries. This orchard is adjacent to Hillside Homestead

The sun on the cherries

And the Sun we could not do it without the sun and the bees and the soil and the water.

Sunglasses for a sunny day

May 4th, 2013 by Susan Odom

A friend and I were recently discussing if sunglasses were available ‘back in the day’. So I went to my original 1902 Sears catalog to get the scoop. And the scoop is YES! They are not called sunglasses or sunnies for all you UK types! The catalog sells colored spectacles and eye glasses, scenery or shooting spectacles for tourists, goggles and eye protectors. You can read the descriptions in the pictures below. They are fun!

Colored Spectacles and Eye Glasses

No magnifying power, just protection from the sun


Go whole hog and wear googles to protect you from the sun. Besides Goggles is a fun word. Goggles, from the 1902 Sears Catalog at Hillside Homestead in Suttons Bay, MI.

Go whole hog and wear googles to protect you from the sun. Besides Goggles is a fun word

The friend who started this discussion, well we used to work together at Firestone Farm at Greenfield village, today known as “The Henry Ford”. Well we did field and such and I can say that the sears catalog recommends ‘eye protectors’ for various employments, including harvesting.

Eye Protectors

These are overlays for your regular glasses.

Eye Shades

Shades for your regular glasses, steampunkers would like this.

And the catalog even includes an eye chart to help you select the correct glasses.

Eye Chart

The 1902 Sears Catalog includes a reading chart, like the eye doctor has, so that you can select the correct glasses.

Now back to the regular work, dishes, gardening and baking cookies today!

Where I respond to advertising from 1909

May 2nd, 2013 by Susan Odom

A friend recently gave me a copy of an old magazine called “Table Talk” the Dec 1909 edition. I have read through it a bit an found all the sorts of things I am used to in these women’s magazines from 100 years ago. I keep it with my cook books in the kitchen. I was glancing at it the other day and noticed the advertisement on the back page.

I was drawn in by the picture in the ad and the words ‘baked beans’. I make baked beans. So I start reading the ad to see what they have to say about that lovely side dish. Lea & Perrins sauce, Worcestershire sauce that is what it said. It suggested adding that sauce to your beans. I paused and said out loud, to myself, “Hmmm that could be good, I should try that. Do I have any?” So I go to the kitchen cupboard and find no Lea & Perrins sauce, so I write it on my shopping list. And I have since purchased a bottle.

Then I explain the whole story to Maggie, who works with me and how excited I am to try the sauce on the beans next time. Later that day I realize that I have responded to an advertisement from 104 years ago. I should send this to the Lea & Perrins Company. It must be a really good ad or perhaps I just susceptible to century old advertisements!

Lea and Perrins sauce

an ad for Lea and Perrins Sauce from Dec 1909 from the magazine “Table Talk”


November 7th, 2012 by Susan Odom

As Thanksgiving approaches many folks start thinking of all their blessings. I have many. I sit here this morning drinking coffee with yummy local milk and cream. I am thankful for my farming neighbors who work so hard. The sun is shining and I am thankful for this big beautiful world I live in and especially thankful for my little corner here on the Leelanau peninsula.

I am thankful that I have such a great job/life here at Hillside. I am thankful that I have the energy and stamina for the hours that I work and the gratification it gives me. I am blessed.

I am thankful for the kind guests who come through my door and share my home and food with me. I want to share a nice note I received from one of my guests lately. It made me feel so good…

 Just wanted to let you know how much our group enjoyed the dinner at Hillside Homestead. It was a delightful and delicious evening. The careful research and execution you bring to your home and dinner, as well as your warmth and gracious hospitality make for a memorable event. We wish you success in your exciting venture. And, we’re thinking maybe a smaller group of ham-lovers might make a return trip!

And her comment at the end about ham made me laugh out loud! I love good ham too. I hope they are able to come back for some good old ham! So thank you for reading! And I hope you find reasons for thanks-giving.

I’m thankful for the wonderful seventh graders who came here recently on a field trip and had a great time using the hand pump in the kitchen.