Butter in the Well Celebrates its 20th Anniversary during Family History Month

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek. Published by Butterfield Books Inc.Butterfield Books Inc. is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek’s Butter in the Well book by releasing updated versions of all her books during Family History Month.

Lindsborg, Kansas (PRWEB) October 25, 2012

Butterfield Books Inc. is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Linda Hubalek’s Butter in the Well Series by releasing updated versions of all her books during Family History Month.
Family History Month promotes searching for one’s ancestors. A good way to understand the journey and homesteading of one’s family is to read Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek’s historical fiction book series. Hubalek has a knack of pulling readers into the story to feel the emotions, times and trials of the 1800s, which helps the person researching their ancestors to realize what their family’s life was like during that time frame.

The Butter in the Well books is based on the actual Swedish immigrant family that homesteaded the farm that the author grew up on. Used in schools for pioneer history studies, they are also enjoyed by readers of all ages who have kept the Butter in the Well book series in print for twenty years.

A reader on Amazon.com wrote about Butter in the Well: “One of the best “first settler” accounts I’ve ever read! Hubalek’s story of Swedish immigrant, Kajsa, who settled in Central Kansas, was riveting. I couldn’t put it down until I had read the whole book. Stories of rattlesnakes coming through the dugout ceiling, prairie fires, the joys of newborn babies and the heartaches of losing loved ones….Reading Linda Hubalek’s book shows that starting life as a homesteader was very tough, and the story was so real that I was working the sod right with her. Be sure to read the whole four-book series, and her other two series as well.”

These books are available in stores, or online at Amazon.com, ButterfieldBooks.com or LindaHubalek.com. Watch for free ebooks on Amazon.com this fall to celebrate the updated books.

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek is available as paperback: ISBN: 978-148004345 or EBook: ISBN: 978-1886653217.

About Butterfield Books Inc.: Founded in 1994, Butterfield Books Inc. publishes and promotes books about Kansas and its pioneer history. The company is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, known as “Little Sweden USA.”

About Linda K. Hubalek: Homesick for her Midwestern family community while temporarily in California for her husband’s job, Hubalek turned to writing about what she missed, which started a new career for her. Hubalek has written ten books, including the Trail of Thread and the Planting Dreams series about pioneer women that made Kansas their home.

White Dresses and Country Roads

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Prairie Bloomin' by Linda K. HubalekI recently went through old photos of our family homestead to find new photos to revamp my book covers. (It’s been twenty years since I wrote Butter in the Well, my first book…so I thought it was time for updates.) Because these books are about the farm where I grew up, I looked for scenes with the house in the background.

This photo of the Runeberg girls in their white dresses in front of the house caught my eye. I thought it was perfect for the book, Prairie Bloomin’, the story of a Swedish immigrants daughter. (Please note, I changed the title from Prärieblomman to Prairie Bloomin’ with this update since few people could remember how to spell the Swedish word for prairie flower.)

So now looking at the photo again, I think —clean dresses, the hems touching the ground, hitched buggy ready to go down the dirt road…and how did they keep them clean? Well, scrubbing on Monday with lye soap and a scrub board actually…

So instead of worrying about doing your laundry by hand, please enjoy a free Kindle ebook of Prairie Bloomin’ today while your washing machine is making your clothes clean and white again. The ebook will also be available again for free next Friday, Oct. 26 too in case you read this blog later.

Enjoy your weekend!

A scrap of fabric and an 1881 photo

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series, quilts and quilting

Butter in the Well by Linda K. HubalekI remember the thrill of seeing the final cover design of my first book, Butter in the Well back in 1992. Back then it was sketched out by hand, and it was a long process of ideas and time, because it was being mailed back and forth between me and the publisher.

(Recently the cover designer found me on Facebook and told me the background design for this cover was actually her kitchen wall paper.)

My publisher, Butterfield Books Inc. decided to update the covers of all my books this year for the 20th anniversary of my first book.

Boy, has time and the internet changed on how you do book covers and work with a designer.

I emailed jpegs of possible pictures to use in the first cover. Ideas flew back and forth in seconds by email. The feel wasn’t right so the designer would send something else.

Finally she went to her mom’s house and looked through the stash of quilting fabric her mother used to make quilts.

What she found worked perfect for the background of the Butter in the Well book cover, along with the 1881 photo I had of the original house.

The old and new- from different centuries- made the perfect cover…

New Book Covers

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series, Uncategorized

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek

I’m back!

I’ve spent the summer working on the house my husband and I are building by ourselves. I taped and mudded the sheet rock, painted the entire interior of the house, planted grass, trees, shrubs, garden, etc- with a little help from a great teenage boy- oh, and packed and moved us from our old house- mostly all by myself while my husband was in Europe for his job. (He designs grain drills for a equipment manufacturer in Kansas and has been in Europe to test his new drill in their soils with their type of seed crops.)

Then I’ve spent this last month recuperating from surgery on both my right knee and trigger fingers on both hands (see why from the paragraph above).

I’ve also been updating my author website and getting geared up for the 20th anniversary of my first book Butter in the Well.

I thought the anniversary called for new cover designs so here’s the first sneak peak of the first one. I just changed them on my Amazon kindle ebooks (if you want to see them all), but haven’t made the changes yet with the book printer. Please look them over and let me know what you think of the new covers.

It was a fun process to design the covers and there’s story behind each one. I’ll tell you about them in future posts.

Meantime I’m glad to be back in touch with all of my readers again. I missed you!

Making Cakes from Scratch

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Eggs & butter photo from recipe book Egg Gravy, by Linda K. Hubalek.Today is my mom’s 88th birthday so I made her favorite dessert, an angel food cake to enjoy for her celebration this evening. I just added a cup of water to a packet of dry mix out of a box, turn on the mixer for a minute, put the whipped mixture in a tube pan and slid it into the electric oven.

Then I thought of the old recipes I came across while researching my recipe book, Egg Gravy. Not only did the pioneer women make their cakes from scratch, they had to produce the ingredients first.

The old photo of cartons of eggs and big balls of butter was taken back in the early 1900’s, showing products ready to take into town for trade at the grocery store.

Enjoy reading these recipes, and Happy Birthday Mom!

Angel Food Cake
Whites of 11 eggs
pinch of salt
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla  

Sift sugar and flour together 7 times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in cold oven and bake slowly 1 hour.  (Make your own cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.)  

Sunshine Cake
1 cup butter
11 egg yolks, beaten light
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour, sifted 3 times with 2 tps. baking powder
1 cup sweet milk

Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.

Butter
Pour ripened cream into butter churn and churn for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly churn for a few minutes, then draw off the water. Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work butter with wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.

(Excerpts and photo from Egg Gravy: Authentic Recipes from the Butter in the Well Series, © by Linda K. Hubalek.)

 

Happy 160th Birthday to Singers

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, quilts and quilting

Singer Sewing Machine ad, "The First Lesson".I just read an article about the 160th anniversary of the Singer sewing machines. Sewing machines had been around for a while, but in 1852 Isaac Merritt Singer adapted an existing machine with changes that made it practical for home use.

Mr. Singer’s new sewing machine design was unveiled at the 1855 World’s Fair in Paris. Singer also introduced installment payments for his $99 sewing machine so it was affordable for homemakers around the world.

It made me think of the sewing machines I’ve used in the past, and those that my ancestors used.

I learned how to sew on a 1940s model black Singer sewing machine. When my parents were first married, Dad brought a newborn sick calf into their farmhouse and told Mom if it lived, Mom could have the money from its eventual sale to buy whatever she wanted. She nursed the calf back to health and bought a new sewing machine.

A few decades later Mom upgraded to a Singer Model 337. It was fun to do all kinds of “fancy” stitching on pillowcases and tea towels. We made almost all of our clothes on this machine through my school years.

Currently I still use a Singer Graduate Model 714 I bought when our high school sold their sewing machines to buy new ones for the Home Ec. classroom. I googled it on the internet and here it pops up as a “Vintage Sewing Machine” on Ebay—reminding me it was about 35 years ago when I got it.

Even though it is now considered old—it still works fine—so I’m happy with it!

Yellow Iris guarding the Cemetery

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Yellow iris blooming in Linda Hubalek's gardenOur early and mild spring weather has given us beautiful flowers this year. My back patio is a fragrant experience with roses and iris blooming right now.

When my yellow iris shows it first bloom, I think of the old cemetery that is on the top hill of one of our family’s pasture. There hasn’t been anyone buried there for decades, but years ago someone planted a yellow iris root by a grave, and now the old cemetery is covered with them, blending in with last year’s tall dead grass.

Today, my yellow iris started from a root from this pasture cemetery, reminds me of the silent statues guarding the graves of loved ones, and the burst of color surrounding them right now.

Grave stone in country cemetery. Photo by Linda HubalekThe grieving parent or spouse may have only been thinking of decorating one grave at the time, but their single act of planting that iris root has given a burst of color and a remembrance to all for almost a century. It also gave the grave a reminder of home since the iris was probably a start from the ones growing at the family’s homestead.

Another country grave that has yellow iris blooming now is Carl Swensson’s, the first husband of Kajsa, who started the “Butter in the Well” homestead. What a comforting thought that the flowers planted over a century ago are still remembering the loved one today.

Sobering Thoughts on Past Tornadoes

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Tornado near Central City, KS on April 23, 1884. Photographer was A. A. Adams, Garnett, KS.Kansas made the news this last Saturday with over 100 tornadoes spotted on the ground or by radar. The approaching bad weather—thanks to modern technology—was forecasted both well in advance and during the tornado outbreaks.

We knew exactly when to go to our tornado shelter because of the radio announcer’s commentary on the paths of the three tornadoes that threatened our immediate area during the day and evening storms.

Even though a few homes were destroyed, the people that lived in them were saved by the warnings.

Because I’ve been posting photos of dugouts, I did some online search for old tornado photos on KansasMemory.org. Tornadoes have been a part of the Great Plains nature since the beginning of time so I figured I could find something on the internet.

What I found was the first photo believed to be taken of a Kansas cyclone on April 23, 1884 by A. A. Adams, a photographer from Garnet, Kansas, as the storm passed by Central City, Kansas. (It’s noted that it looked like he enhanced the tornado a bit with ink to make it show up better.)

Because of our “instant news”, we see the remains of households strewn and destroyed by current storm destruction almost immediately. We also know that help is on the way from the Red Cross, National Guard, neighbors, etc. In most cases, insurance or organizations will replace belongings.

What happened to the people in the dugouts or sod houses out on the prairie? I’m sure they watched the weather and had a very clear view of approaching storms—unless it happened during the night. But think of the panic, as there was no way to fit your wagon in that little house space. They may not have a shelter built for their livestock so the milk cow and horses were out in the elements.

What if the tornado caused the roof to cave in? Some possessions would blow away and others ruined. Letters from their parents in their homeland, the only photo they had of a child that died, the memory quilt signed by all the wife’s old friends, their only bucket, the wagon, the livestock…all gone forever. Hopefully, the family lived through the incident, with no one killed, injured, or buried under the remains of the home …

After the destruction, you’d just be standing there out in the open, and it could be dark, raining…and you’d have no help…

Plastering Dugout Walls

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

A photograph showing a family posed in front of their dugout in Norton County, Kansas.We’re in the process of building our own house, doing almost all of the work ourselves. This week I’ve been pounding in nails on wall edging, and taping and mudding sheet rock. My finger joints and wrists feel like they could break off as they are so tired and sore.

But then I think of this diary entry from Butter in the Well

April 25, 1868
We saved the hard layer of sand from when we dug the well. This sand, and clay from the river bank, were mixed with water to plaster the walls of the dugout. It’s very crude, but it will have to do for our first winter. The dirt floor will get packed down in time. I’ll sprinkle my dishwater on it to help it harden. I wish we had rugs to cover the floor. It would make it warmer and easier to keep clean. I talked Carl into cutting up one board for a door. At least I’ll feel a little safer at night with it closed. The hungry howling of the wolves scares me.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Okay, with all the modern conveniences of premixed plaster mud, and a wooden sub floor that will eventually have carpet or tile on it, I shouldn’t complain when I compare my modern tasks to what the women had to do in 1868. (Plus I’m sure my new bedroom is  bigger than most dugouts were back then.)

And also…

July 20, 1868
 I had a scare today while washing clothes. The fire pit is deep and lined with rock, but I still have to be very careful in case the wind is blowing. A gust came out of nowhere and blew a spark into the grass. I had been stirring the pot of clothes with a stick. I reacted so fast I threw out half the clothes as I flung the stick around to beat the spark out. Christina was sitting nearby. I could have scalded her to death and started a prairie fire all at the same time. Carl was working at the Robinsons’ today, so I was on my own.
Tonight when we said our evening prayers, I gave my deepest thanks to the Lord for watching over us today.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

I’m so glad I can take a hot shower and toss my dirty clothes in the washing machine at the end of my work day…

Pleats and Photos in Prӓrieblomman

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Alma Swenson, 1880s photo featured in book Prӓrieblomman © by Linda K. HubalekLooking through old photos I used in the book Prӓrieblomman (which means prairie flowers in Swedish) I came across one of Alma Swenson, posing for a portrait to commemorate her 8th grade graduation.

Many of my blog readers enjoy excerpts from my books, so here’s the start of Prӓrieblomman.

(Note: I still have the doorknob—from the original “Butter in the Well” house—mentioned in this excerpt, and held it many times when writing this book to feel connected to Alma and the house we both grew up in.)

Prologue
January 27, 1889
To Alma,
For your sixteenth birthday, I am giving you a blank book of pages. This may seem odd to you, but I want you to write down the normal and unusual events that happen in your life. You don’t have to write every day. Just scattered tidbits of thought, misgivings and joy will record the growth in yourself and the happenings in the world around you.

Years later this book will bring back smiles and tears to help you recall favorite places you never meant to forget, cherish lives lost, and to see how yesterday’s events become tomorrow’s history. Someday you may want to show your children the changes you saw while growing up on this farm in Kansas.

Keep this book with you always. Your written memories will sustain you when you have moved on to a prairie of your own someday.
                                                                             With love, Mamma

The Setting
 Snow blankets the homestead on this quiet Sunday afternoon in 1889. Silent white-iced furrows in the fields of the 159 acres wait for spring planting. The height of bare-branched trees shows the farm to be about twenty years old. You can tell that the farmer is prospering because there are several outbuildings, and the wooden two-story house has been added onto a time or two.

The dirt road running by the farm was just a trail not too many years back. Life and growth have progressed for the family, but there are still patches of native grass beside the homestead to remind them of their start on the prairie.

Peering into the parlor window facing south, you get a glimpse of petite Alma Swenson, an optimistic young woman with typical Swedish blonde features, innocently pondering her life as she turns sixteen.

Chapter One – The Birthday Present

 January 27, 1889
Sunday dinner dishes are done, little sisters are napping, and I have a few moments to myself. As I turned the white porcelain doorknob and slipped into the cool, closed-off parlor, I pondered about the book of blank pages Mamma gave me today for my birthday. On the first page, she wrote a note, encouraging me to write. Mamma has kept a diary ever since she moved to Kansas in 1868. I’ve never read it myself, since it is personal, but sometimes Mamma reads bits to us. A diary entry may make her smile or bring tears to her eyes.

Her journal tells the trials and errors as she and Papa built their homestead on the virgin prairie twenty years ago. When they arrived as Swedish immigrants to this land by the creek, the blue stem grass was as high as a man’s head on horseback. With their bare hands and a few primitive tools, they cleared the land, dug a well, and fashioned a sod dugout home. Clashes with Mother Nature, Indians and animals as they struggled to coax crops out of the broken sod almost took their toll on Mamma’s spirit, but she had a family to feed and protect. Favorite entries tell when her children were born and the joy of uniting with families when my grandparents left Sweden and moved to America.

The dugout was replaced by a sandstone one-room house in 1870. The house has been built on to three times with wooden additions when we could afford to buy lumber. The barn and granary were originally makeshift buildings for temporary storage of the crops and animals. As of yet they have not been replaced. A sod and straw-roofed open shed shelters the animals when they are out in the elements and the chicken house guards the fowl flock at night. Most of the acres of prairie have been tamed into fields for crops except for the hay meadows along the creek.

Us older children are almost grown now. Christina is twenty-two and getting married next month. Willie turned nineteen the fourth of this month and Alfred is fifteen. Carrie, who was born after Papa was killed, is twelve. When we needed help on the farm, Peter Runeberg came into our lives as a hired hand, and five years later, he and Mamma were married. Our half-sisters, Julia, born four years ago and Mabel, last March, have livened up and further crowded our household.

Peering out the window at the drab sleeping field to the south, I ponder over Mamma’s note. Maybe someday I will cherish my thoughts and reflections, the everyday events that have taken place on our farm. I wonder, since I finished my country schooling last year . . . what will my future bring? Will I marry soon and start a family or spend my life here on my Mother’s farm, tending to the everyday tasks that must be done to sustain life?

Prӓrieblomman, pioneer historical fiction book by Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek.(Excerpts from the book Prӓrieblomman: the Prairie Blossoms for an Immigrant’s Daughter © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Alma became the neighborhood seamstress, making clothing for a living until she married her stepfather’s brother at age twenty-seven and moved to Iowa. (Yes, you read right…Her husband Nels was forty years old when they were married.)

Look at the details in this dress. I imagine today’s teenagers probably spend as much time in a mall shopping for an outfit as Alma spent on the tucks in this skirt…or texting, when Alma would have been hand sewing little pleats.

Clothing styles change each generation and many times in a decade, but a photo from the 1880’s gives us a good glimpse of the past.

Will any of today’s photos taken by teenagers on their cell phone be available to view in 100 plus years? I hope so somehow, so future generations can see what they were wearing in the 2010’s…