Of Pioneers and Early Summer Days

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Well, hello there! We are enjoying our summer break around here thank you very much :) My husband hasn't been able to take much time off, so we were long overdue for a little trip. We normally love to take a road trip to Colorado, but this time we decided to head for Branson, MO. If you ever need to capture American Kitchy-ness at its finest this is the place to go. We wanted to go somewhere the kids would really enjoy. I'm thankful we got to go before all the tourists arrive. It was a beautiful week and so nice to spend time alone as a family.

One of the things I really wanted to do was visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, MO. It is about an hour drive from Branson, so I asked my husband if he wouldn't mind driving Miss Daisy a little way into the country.

We haven't yet read all the Little House books, but my boys really loved Little House in the Big Woods and especially Farmer Boy. It was fun to see where Laura and Almanzo made their final home.

I had read a few biographies of Laura Ingalls Wilder before going which made it especially fun to see all the details of her life in person.

I was so impressed by the simplicity of this home, but also with each detail that made it their very own. She insisted that everything be made from materials from the land. There was a point that Almanzo declared that he would no longer haul rock. He showed up at the house with bricks for the fireplace, and Laura cried when she saw them. She insisted that he build the fireplace out of rock. She got her way apparently. There is a great stone fireplace with very, very heavy rock. That man must have loved his woman!

I was really sad that I wasn't able to take pictures of the inside of the house. I purchased some postcards for memories. This is her little bedroom and a peak into the bathroom. This house started off small. Almanzo added on to it as funds became available.

One of my favorite things in the home was the Wilder's library nook. I would love to have something like this in my living room.

 Another really special piece they have on display is Pa's actual fiddle. He told her before he died that it would belong to her. True to his word it was sent to her at his death. They play it once a year.

I don't know if it's morbid or not, but we visited the cemetery to see their final resting place.

Her daughter Rose is laid to rest right next to them. One of the things that was so interesting to learn is that Rose had a huge part of making Laura's books possible. They were very close and worked side by side. Laura was very inspired by her daughter Rose's writing career. She didn't publish her first book until she was 65! That was very inspiring to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm pouring all my creative energies into this whole homeschool venture. I would love to produce something worthwhile after these kids fly off into the great wide yonder.

One of my kids' favorite part about Little House books is all the food. My boys insisted that they had snacks during read aloud time when were were reading Farmer Boy. I'm a lover of cooking and great cookbooks. This is the cookbook that was made from Laura's personal recipes. There are a lot great of old-timey recipes in here.

As soon as I got home I just had to make Laura's Gingerbread which is her favorite recipe (of course.) She made it on special occasions.

I thought this was a pretty decadent cake for the time. There isn't any dairy in it, but there is a lot of spice. There is a teaspoon each of all these spices and a whole cup of molasses! 

This cake smells amazing when it's baking in the oven. Delish!

This is the recipe that is in the book except the book says 1 c. of molasses. Next time I make it I will probably dust it with a bit of powdered sugar for good measure. The order of mixing this cake is all backwards compared to most cakes today. You normally cream the eggs with the sugar. In this cake you add the eggs in at the end. I may try it the other way around next time to see if it actually makes a difference.

This was another recipe I'll have to try. Basically fried dough and sugar - I really need to stop!

Laura's original manuscript was called Pioneer Girl. Rose tried to get it published, but it was rejected multiple times. I didn't know this book was out. It is the original Pioneer Girl manuscript but is an extensive commentary of the history that ran along side what she wrote. It is  BIG beautiful book. I didn't buy it there and was bummed to find it was out of stock at Amazon. I found it on B&N and it's on its way! This will be on my summer reading list.

I normally do something light for school over the summer. We definitely brush up on math, but this year we are going to do one Prairie Primer unit for Little House on the Prairie. I'm SO excited. I found this at a used curriculum sale for dirt cheap. I had never looked at it because I thought it might be too girly, but there is a ton that appeals to boys as well. Of course the food is always fun, but I have some fun field trips planned. We are going to go to a real Osage Indian Pow Wow, the Pony Express Museum and who knows what else I have up my sleeve. I wish I had found Prairie Primer sooner. I think I may have been compelled to use it a few years ago. Ah well.

While on vacation we went to Silver Dollar City. It's so rare for us to have a family picture because I'm always the one behind the camera. Some nice stranger offered to take our picture there. I love Silver Dollar City. It's an amusement park, but has tons of trees. There is a great cave tour that we have done before. We were going to do it this time but the waterfall room was flooded. We got season passes and will head down again this summer I'm sure.

 Nate and Silas sat out on a lot of the rides. Guess what that means? That means I am Aedan's amazing mom who will ride anything, yes anything - even Outlaw Run.

 We wrote all the big rides, but this was our favorite.

Aedan and I rode it multiple times. This is what his hair looked like after riding this crazy ride and us getting in line right after the first time we rode it. So fun!

Another thing we did that we have never done is go to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. It's a Civil War dinner show. We were on the north side and won (as the north should!) They serve you dinner with no utensils which means you eat a whole chicken with your fingers. My boys thought that was the best part.

Even though Silas chose to skip the big rides this year he did, however, go ziplining. I don't know what the difference between going upside down on a roller coaster or jumping to your death from tall trees is, but apparently this was OK to him. He rode all the big rides back when he was little, but part of his frontal lobe must be developing. Apparently there's no hope for mine. This was really fun. I especially loved the beautiful land this site was on.

This is a sweet friend's cabin. It is set up in the hills and was such a treat to stay in.

It felt like we were up in a tree house. We were so thankful to stay here. God is good :) Thanks for sharing some of our memories with us!


  1. Amazing pictures and memories for your family! Who says, "Nerds go on field trips for vacations." No way! I say this is some pretty cool learning!
    - Micah

    1. I couldn't help myself. If there is a cool field trip within a stone's throw I'm so there :) There are so many places I dream of visiting. I hope I can take my boys to some of them.

  2. I just finished reading Pioneer Girl yesterday! I didn't have that great of an opinion of Rose Lane after reading it. I have been a life-long fan of the Little House books and it has always been a dream of mine to visit Rocky Ridge Farm.

    1. Mine is on its way! I will tell you what I think when I get through it :)

  3. I hope you get to go sometime! It was such a fun trip for me. We started reading a Little House book and the kids were excited that they got to see Pa's fiddle that is talked about so much :)

  4. My husband and I visited this very same spot in 2005 :) We took Daughter E when she was just a baby. I also did the Prairie Primer with my oldest two daughters! I remember it being so much hands-on fun.

  5. That's so fun to know you got to visit too :) It doesn't surprise me that you would have done Prairie Primer. You do all the fun stuff :)

  6. ♥♥♥ If I were the jealous type, I'd be so jelly! I so can't wait for Prairie Primer. Waiting for the right time has been hard and this doesn't make it easier! Looks like you had a wonderful time. :) Excited to see what you do for Little House on the Prairie! Please do tempt me with your wonderful cooking and baking pics - it will give me lots to look forward to. :)

    So glad you got away for a family vacation, too. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    1. It was so fun to see Laura's house. I'm enjoying her autobiography too! I've always loved to know thre story behind the story. She was a fascinating woman. I will look forward to seeing what YOU do with Prairie Primer :)

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you <3 I am so thankful we got time away as a family. It had been too long since we had the chance.


Thank you so much for visiting :) I adore hearing from you!

CopyRight 2016 © | Monarch Room