Posts Tagged ‘butter in the well’

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog, Butter in the Well book series, Kansas Quilter book series, Planting Dreams book series, western romance

Thanks to Terry Odell for invit­ing me to join in the Writ­ing Process Blog Tour, where writ­ers share their writ­ing processes. We were given four ques­tions to answer, so here are my responses.

What am I working on? Patching Home by Linda K. Hubalek

I’m working on Patching Home, the second book of the Kansas Quilter series, which is about my great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt’s trip to the Indian Territory. This will be my twelfth book about pioneer women who homesteaded in Kansas. All my books so far have been based on my ancestors, their original homesteads, and the communities that grew around them. And I’m also putting together the outline for an eight book western romance series, set in 1873 around the Ellsworth, Kansas area, a real cow town back in the cattle drive days. I wrote a short story, The Perfect Homestead Bride for the anthology book, Lassoing a Groom, and I’ll be expanding the theme, only with fictional characters this time instead of real people like past books. Although this anthology is full of lighthearted sweet romance stories, my western series be more in tune with the actual real-life drama pioneer women went through to find a husband and a safe home.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek. Published by Butterfield Books Inc.My first dozen books were based on real people—most of them my direct ancestors—with added real and fiction stories to fill out the time frame these people lived in. My Butter in the Well series was written in the form or diary entries to tell the story of the Swedish immigrant woman that homesteaded the farm I actually grew up on. The Planting Dreams series told of my paternal ancestors’ journey and homesteading days. My Trail of Thread series, written in the form of letters written back to family, tells the story of my maternal ancestors’ wagon train trip to Kansas. The book series continue telling the Bleeding Kansas and Civil War stories that rocked the state and the nation in Thimble of Soil and Stitch of Courage. I’m sure other writers have done similar themes, but my books also include photos of the families and township maps of where they lived.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always been curious about my Swedish ancestors, but I wanted to know more about them than just their birth and death dates. Why did they travel all the way from Sweden to the middle of the Kansas prairie? What did they think of the open plains when they first saw it? I wanted to learn about the actual person’s life, or dream of what it was like before my time. When I researched my next series I wanted to learn and tell how Kansans (and my relatives) were drawn into the Civil War even though all they wanted to do is build a new home for their families. I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, even though my formal education wasn’t for writing. I guess I’m tying my agriculture degree with stories of pioneer women to fulfill the need of both writing and farming.

How does my writing process work?

Trail of Thread by Linda K. HubalekI have over twenty years of research material stashed in the basement, so I go through boxes and pull out files that I want to concentrate on. I put them in my desk drawer so I can easily look up facts and dates I want to add to the book I’m currently writing. Outlines scribbled on note pads become outlines typed up into a word document. Then I add more thoughts and facts, expanding the story line until they become scenes. Sometimes I know exactly where the story is going, and other times a scene might be moved into another book. And facts I find later may cause a story to change, mainly because my books were based on real people whose descendants are now reading the stories of their family, and I want the facts correct for them. I edit each time I read a section, but I like to wait a week or two between the second and third edit because by then I have moved on to other scenes and thoughts. When I read older work later I’m seeing it with a fresh mind again. All books are edited by a professional editor, and then I read them again before formatting  them into both digital and printed versions.  The books are published under Butterfield Books Inc.

Thank you, Terry Odell for including me in this blog tour. I appreciate the chance to connect with both current and future readers through this tour. Click­ing the link in Terry’s name will take you back to her stop on the tour, and you can go back or forward to read other author’s questions. Every author’s responses are unique, so please take a moment to read and enjoy them.

Spring and Eggs

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

Egg Gravy by Linda K. HubalekWe’re seeing signs of spring in Kansas. In other words—we’re having longer days of sunshine and temperatures up to the 70’s, then a few days of a good old windy snow blizzard. Yep, that’s Kansas…

But we’re also seeing daffodils blooming, wheat fields turning green, and people like me already buying first pick of plants in the garden nurseries—even though that means they are enjoying time in my sun room for a few weeks before going outside permanently.

This year Easter makes its appearance in March, and that brings me to eggs, both to decorate and hide from kids and pets, and to bake with.

Spring for the pioneers meant hens starting to lay more eggs after the long winter so here are two of my favorite “egg recipes” from my old-time recipe cook book, Egg Gravy.

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.

Sunshine Cake

1 cup butter, 11 egg yolks (beaten light), 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour (sifted 3 times) with 2 teaspoons baking powder added to the flour, and  1 cup sweet milk.  (Make your own cake flour by sifting 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of cornstarch together four times.) Bake in tube pan 45 minutes.

(I know the cake recipes don’t have time and temperature on them, but every good cook knew her own wood stove, so they didn’t  record those on their recipes.)

Try your hand at baking like a pioneer and let me know how they turned out.

If you’d like more recipes that pioneer women used (or just like to read an old-fashioned cookbook), please enjoy my book Egg Gravy and the whole Butter in the Well series.

Time to Start Christmas

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

I know I’m behind in Christmas decorating, shopping and my annual holiday letter- compared to everyone else around my neighborhood. Most people put up their house lights and their tree right after Thanksgiving, and will take them down right after Christmas.

But growing up in a Swedish community meant that the Christmas season was from Dec. 13, which is St. Lucia’s Day, to January 13, St. Knut’s Day, when you take down your Christmas tree. And I still stick to this time frame because it was a tradition in my family, and for the last several generations. It just makes me feel good to remember my Swedish grandparent’s custom and how their living room was decorated this special month.

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek. Published by Butterfield Books Inc.Here’s an entry from Butter in Well that tells about the start of the Christmas season for “us Swedes”.

December 13, 1868– At home in Sweden the Christmas season starts today on Saint Lucia’s Day. When I was living at home, Sara, my oldest sister, would wake us up early with coffee and cakes in bed. She wore the traditional white robe, crimson sash and a crown of lighted candles that illuminated the dark to represent Saint Lucia, the patron saint of Sweden. Special food was prepared for the holiday season. Fader was in charge of the meats and Moder baked enough pastries for us and anyone who came to visit. The smörgåsbord on Christmas Eve was loaded with the traditional Christmas dishes. Seemed like we had barely gone to bed when it was time to rise and walk to Julotta. The rest of the day was spent quietly at home with our family. We would open our gifts, handmade items that everyone had secretly worked on for weeks before Christmas. I remember the ljus krona that sat on the corner table in the living room of my parent’s home. The tree, carved out of wood, was wrapped in white paper and had small handmade candles tied to its branches. Each branch represents a member of the family. It was my favorite Christmas decoration. Now I feel homesick. (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, ©Linda K. Hubalek)

I hope you’re remembering special people and traditions this month too. I’m starting my Christmas season today!

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.)

 

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.

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…