Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's a Hair Rat?

On Wednesday I shared a couple "common" items from the turn of the twentieth century. These items would have been easily identifiable to most people at the time. Now, however, they look completely foreign to us! Imagine what they would think if they saw a laptop computer...

Here are the items.

Item #1 is a glove stretcher. This would have been used
most often by a woman. When she washed and dried her gloves,
they would shrink. She would put the narrow
end into her glove fingers and squeeze the handles,
stretching out the material. 

Item #2 is a hair receiver. It would have sat on a lady's
dresser. As she combed her hair, she would take the pieces
which came out on the brush and place them in the receiver.
Hair was commonly used in making jewelry, mourning
wreaths and hair "rats." A rat would be a clump of hair
that they would pin in place, and then wrap their existing hair
around it to give more volume.

This is an example of a mourning wreath. The flowers
were made of hair from the lady who died.

This was the picture of the "Gibson Girl" she
was the epitome of feminine beauty. Her hairstyle
would have been produced with a hair rat to give it
height and volume.

This is a hair rat in the early stages.
This picture came from Gibson Glamour Blog
and was hair collected over a two week
period of time. Once hairsprays were
invented, the hair rat went out of style.
What about you? Were you surprised at the items above? They're definitely from a different way of life!
Next week I will be hosting three writing friends at my house for a writing retreat! I'm really excited to spend some time relaxing and fellowshipping with these gals. I'm taking a blogging break, but I'll be back on July 1st with a Minnesota Monday post...and I'm sure it will have something to do with the retreat. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Way Back When-sday: What is that?

I'm always amazed when I go to a museum, or historic site, and find an object that would have been common to people from a by-gone era, but looks completely foreign now. Some items remain timeless (think toilet or bicycle), but many come and go.

I worked at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site for ten years and we had quite a few of those unique objects. One of my favorite things to do was stump our visitors. I'd hold up an item that someone could have easily identified in 1910--and would receive hundreds of guesses.

Here are two items that were common in the early 1900's. Can you guess what they are?

Item #1

Item #2

Item #2 comes apart...
Your Turn: I'd love to hear your guesses!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Minnesota Monday: Ely

Two weeks ago my family went to Northeastern Minnesota and stayed in a lake cabin. While there, we spent one morning in a small town called Ely (pronounced Ee-lee). Originally Ely was home to many iron ore mines, but now it's a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

The town is small (at about 3,500 people), but it's a hopping little town! The summer brings a wealth of tourists. Main Street is lined with camping outfitters, fun little shops and restaurants.

Everywhere you look, you see canoes & kayaks!

The downtown is built on a hill.

We ate at the Chocolate Moose Restaurant--a popular favorite for visitors and locals. See the canoe on the van behind the girls? See, they're everywhere!

We stopped at a quaint little ice cream shop before we headed back to our lake cabin. Ely is also known for its lake resorts.

We stayed in Babbitt, Minnesota, just fifteen miles away from Ely. Embarrass, Minnesota is nearby and often makes the news for being the coldest place in Minnesota! The average annual temperature in Embarrass is only 34.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr! That's cold! But, don't feel too bad for them. Today's forecast (for Monday, June 17th) is 72 degrees. It's not cold there all the time.
Your Turn: Have you ever been canoeing or kayaking? 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Way Back When-sday: River Wannigan

I recently sent my story, Enticing Julia Morgan, to my agent. I'm really excited about this story. It's set in 1898 at the height of the logging era in central Minnesota.

As I crafted this story, I wanted to make sure I was able to capture the romance and flavor of the logging days on the Mississippi River. My town was home to one of the largest lumber mills in the United States at that time. It was called the Pine Tree Lumber Company.

Millions of feet of logs flowed downriver from the logging camps in northern Minnesota each spring/summer/fall. All winter long the logging camps would cut and stack logs along streams and riverbanks. When the river thawed they would roll the logs into the Mississippi.

With each "drive" of logs, the camp would send along one, or possibly two, river wannigans to travel with the men driving the logs.

The wannigan was a floating shack, usually 25 to 30 feet long, and built low to the water to keep it stable on the fast moving river. The main wannigan was used as a cook shack, and the second (if there was one) might be used for sleeping.

I included a couple of wannigans in Enticing Julia Morgan. My hero, Noah, is the owner of a large mill (inspired by the Pine Tree Lumber Company) and he often goes out to the wannigans when they travel by to hear the news from the winter logging camps.

I had fun bringing the wannigan to life in my story.

Your Turn: Have you ever heard of a wannigan before? Would you like to ride in one?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Minnesota Monday: Northeastern Minnesota

I love Northeastern Minnesota. It has to be one of the prettiest places I've ever visited. From the rock outcroppings to the scraggy pines, from the rust-colored lakes to the dense forests--it's a beautiful place to visit over and over.*

Northeastern Minnesota is known as the "Iron Range" because
of the large amount of iron ore. This is a monument dedicated
to all the iron ore miners.

Northeastern Minnesota is known for its pine forests.

The lake (which you can barely see) is actually an iron
ore mine that was dug up and naturally filled in. Lots of
beautiful hills in Northeastern Minnesota. 

The cabin all eleven of us stayed in. It could sleep up
to twenty-four people!

The bedrooms were to the left and right of the main room.

The back side of the cabin, facing the lake.
One of the reasons I love vacationing with extended family
is the time we get to spend with one another. Here are my
 boys showing Grandpa how to "play" dominoes. :)

I also love that vacationing with a lot of people
requires everyone to pitch in and help. My oldest daughter
(on the right) and my niece on the left.

The resort was very family-friendly. Here is Dave with our
boys at the playground.

The girls. It was chilly while we were there, so we all
spent the long weekend in our sweatshirts!

The resort is centered around the beautiful Birch Lake.

I could have sat here all day...

The biggest attraction is fishing. In the evenings the docks
were full of boats.
Another big attraction are the houseboats you can rent. We
stayed in a cabin--but it would be fun to stay on the
water one day.

Before we took the kids on the boat, we practiced fishing
off the dock with the boys. It was their first time fishing.
The girls have been fishing for years. :)

Me with one of our twins. The fishing was TERRIBLE
while we were there. Not many opportunities to
reel them in.

This lake, like so many in the Iron Range, is stained a dark
brown from all the iron ore.

There's nothing like racing across a lake.

Unlike our lakes in Central Minnesota, the lakes in Northeastern
Minnesota have a lot of rock outcroppings.

My brother-in-law, his fiancé and our oldest.

There were eleven of us fishing and we only caught six fish
the whole weekend! This was one. It's a tiny little Northern
Fish, but I had to snap a picture. One of my twins, my second
daughter and my hubby.
Next Monday I'll share pictures of Ely, Minnesota. It's one of the coolest little towns in Minnesota. We spent an afternoon browsing in stores, eating at a fun restaurant and ice cream parlor, and talking to the locals.

*Although I LOVE Northeastern Minnesota, I wouldn't care to live there in the winters! It's a wee bit chilly--and winter lasts a little longer than Central Minnesota.

Your Turn: Do you enjoying fishing? When was the last time you had a family vacation? Where did you go?