The spring has come to us here in the northwest. During the winter I rarely left my home. We were suffering from sickness after sickness. However the weather has warmed and the sun is bright and all is good. I have been able to start going to the Fort again to help with work. It is a great comfort to visit the Fort and all my friends there after so many months away.
The gardens at the Fort are all in bloom. There are flowers of all kinds. Also many vegetables are green and vibrant. The leeks and the carrots particularly look good. I even saw a small brown lizard laying out in the sun.In the garden I helped turn manure into the soil. Such an important task to growing food. We must replenish the soil if a good harvest is expected.
In the afternoon I turned to work indoors. The sun was so bright that I could not handle the heat working in the garden any longer. So I was put to work polishing silver. The tea set needs to be ready in time for Queen Victoria’s birthday. I do not mind polishing silver. As a young woman I was in service to a lady who liked to have all the silver polished regularly.
Today at the Fort there was a party to celebrate the Christmas season. The weather was poor but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of everyone who had gathered. The Fort had been beautifully decorated with all kinds of green boughs and ribbons.
The Factor’s house was especially cheerful. The mantle in the dining room had a paper chain, Christmas paper cones, and lots of greenery. With a good fire lit in the fireplace it made for a very cozy room.
I spent most of the day playing parlor games in Dr.Tolmie’s home. We plated I Love my Love and Biz. As well as In My Trunk I Will Pack. It was a lovely time. I haven’t laughed so much for a long time. I got very dizzy while playing Barnyard Animals. The best part was watching the little children enjoy the games. The table was laid with different snacks and a lovely apple pyramid.
I had a new gown to wear. My family had sent me a black wool voile. For such a nice dress I needed a new collar. I found an old receipt for a knit collar. I knit the collar from cotton thread and small metal knitting pins. It is the first fine gown I have had since coming out to the West coast. Though my new gown could not match the fine outfit for Father Christmas. One of the laborers played as Father Christmas for the day and brought delight to all the little ones.
Many delicious foods were made in the kitchen, such as Christmas pudding and other delicious sweets. In the bake oven they made fresh gingerbread cookies. I must admit I snuck out to the kitchen to get myself a cup or two of warm cider.
There was even a Yule log that was decorated and cut. It looked so cheerful. Though the men who had to carry it looked a little wet from all the rain. The day ended with plenty of cheer and everyone going home in a jolly mood.
There was quite a work party today at the Fort. Though I would not have called us merry. Winter has come and the day was chilly and very damp. There were bouts of rain throughout the day. Everyone was trying to find work areas out of the weather. Before going home in the wagon I rung water a good amount of water out of my skirt hem.
I was not able to come work at the Fort for most of October. My sister was getting married and I went to stay with her for a few weeks to help with wedding preparations. She lives near Ft. Walla Walla back towards the East. While I was away from the Fort they added a new roof to the smith shop.
Today at the Fort I was helping with some tasks to help get ready for Winter. One was pressing apples for cider. Though I did not have to do that much work. The son of one of the laborers took over much of the work. He was very eager to help and who was I to stop him.
I was also helping with the dairy work. I churned two rounds of butter. They came out a beautiful yellow color, though they were not my best work. Despite the weather it was a lovely day. It felt good to be back working at the Fort and there were many ladies there so I got to talk with them while I worked. It made for a pleasant afternoon.
It has been the most busy day I’ve had in a long time. Today was the wedding. It is the biggest event the Fort will probably see all year. There was so much work to do, it could have driven one to distraction.
The day before the wedding there was much in the way of preparation. Food that needed to be cooked, rooms cleaned and decorated and tent for the dancing. There were many extra hands running about the Fort. I don’t think I stopped moving from morning until I went to bed late at night.
There were 20 guests in the big house. So many fine ladies and gentlemen. I helped Mrs. Tolmie with preparing the dining room and parlor. I was carrying dishes and food back and forth all afternoon. So many cups for just one party! 20 water glasses, 20 punch bowls, and 20 sherry glasses. There was many fine dainties for the table; cheese, cakes, fruits, nuts, and mints. All this and a three tier wedding cake!
Once I was done helping in the big house I was sent to work in the kitchen. Thornhill was in charge of the kitchen and I enjoy working with him. He kept reveling us with stores about Dr.Tolmie’s love of large words. To celebrate the laborers were served a fine beef stew made by Thornhill. I even had my first taste of red wine. At the end of the night Mrs. Tolmie even shared what was left of the wedding cake.
The Fort was so lovely that night. I had a wonderful evening even though I was working. All the kitchen staff made a merry party. We told stories and laughed all night long. It also was very lively with a dance and American’s camped out in the meadow. The weather was fair and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to dim the stars. Truly a magical evening.
(I apologize there are no pictures to go with this post. The nature of the event kept me from taking my own photographs.)
There has been much work going on at the Fort today and will be all week. We are preparing for the biggest event of the year; the wedding of Mr. Huggins and Miss Work. Everyone is talking about it and helping prepare for the big event.
I went down to the Fort to help with the cleaning. I was helped by one of the young ladies. The Kitchen needed a good scrubbing top to bottom. We washed the windows, which were quite dirty. The difference between the clean side and dirty side was big.
Then we wiped down all the shelves and crockery. We made sure everything was clean that was reachable. Then we moved tables to sweep in the corners. I was amazed at the dirt that had piled up. By the end of the day it was clean and ready for the coming event.
Autumn is fast approaching. The nights have started to get cold and the trees are changing color. It also means it is time to prepare food stores for the Winter. So some of the ladies at the Fort got together to prepare all the food stores.
We were putting food in oils, vinegar, and making preserves. Vegetables and fruit was being put away in the root cellar. There were plums in brandy, as well as some plum liqueur being set aside. We were salting and drying. Even kraut was made, which is one of my favorites.
I took the citron melons from the garden and made citron preserves. To make citron preserves you take the rind of the melon and cook it down with sugar, lemons, raisins, and spices. We are going to save them to use for the wedding coming up in a fortnight.
One very sweet lady made all the workers sweet buns. They were a delicious treat after working hard all day. She made a lovely frosting with the left over lemon from the citron preserves. We had them still warm from the oven and they were wonderful.
This time of year is one of my favorites. I find there is nothing more satisfying than a cellar full of crocks, and jars brimming to the top with food. Even at my own home I have many jars tucked away ready for the cold weather. Knowing there will be enough to eat makes me very happy.
I went down to the Fort today to help with the cooking again. I was very excited because I had a new receipt I wanted to try. To my surprise there was also a basket of freshly picked golden plums waiting for me. The little plum tree by the Chief Trader’s house produced some lovely plums.
So I decided to make two sweet dishes. The first dish was a golden plum crisp. I had just enough plums to fill the pan. I also managed to not burn the top of the crisp which I was glad for. However I did burn myself. I was idly gossiping while working in the kitchen and when I slid a pan into the oven I hit my arm against the stove. Luckily the burn is not bad.
The second dish I made was from a new receipt I found. It was for a Jelly Pudding. I started with making the dough and rolling it into a cloth. Then I placed it in a pot of boiling water. It is a roll of pastry with a layer of preserves spread on before rolling.
I had to stay in the kitchen to watch the stove and keep the pudding boiling. The pudding had to boil for over two hours. I brought my knitting work with me, so I was able to keep busy. I worked on my new garters, which I have manage to finish this evening once coming home.
In the early afternoon I dished out the sweets for everyone. I quite like how the Jelly Pudding turned out. It slices very prettily and looks lovely on the plate. I had never made a boiled pudding before but I will surely do so in the future.