True Confessions

"Homemaking" was a mandatory course for all girls when I was in high school. The walls came down a few years after my spin with sewing and cooking, and boys started to take a class called "Bachelor Living" and for some girls it was okay to take shop. I missed that wave and found myself in the full estrogen laced arena of Home Ec. I was so happy in the initial class that I went on for part two.

In that class we learned about jello molds, needlepoint, and the teacher introduced us to real cheese. I was enthralled to find that there was more than Cracker Barrell and American Singles. Brie, Camembert, and Port Salut where revelations. I also completely got into nutrition. This was back in the day when Adele Davis would turn up on The Merv Griffin Show, and her Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit found it's place on my shelf. It might have been a good idea for me to study a foriegn language in high school, but learning about all that cheese set me up for real success in French.

It was during this period that the teacher handed out applications for membership to the FHA or Future Homemakers of America. I didn't know much about it, but I signed up for it anyway. I carried my card at first with pride (not realizing the shoe box my thinking could be folding myself into) then with irony, and later I either lost it or it fell apart. Now it all just makes me curious.

The term "homemaking" is out of date now and could easily be confused with architecture. [Martha uses the word "homekeeping," which makes me think of housekeeping and house work] It makes me think about what does it take to "make" a home? What are the things that each of us in a family does to create a haven, a nest, something more than a place for our stuff? I believe that making and serving dinner is part of it, but my local diner does that too.

And here's an update: The FHA is now the much more politically correct and ambiguous FCCLA or The Family Career and Community Leaders of America, Inc. Among their purposes is "#3 to encourage democracy through cooperative action in the home and in the community." I can stand for that. Above that though is "to strengthen the function of family as the basic unit of society," which I can be down with depending on how you define family. Beyond the membership card though, I don't get it.


The Best Camp in the World

Last summer my dear little one and I went scouting around Westchester looking for things to do that did not involve netflix or having tea. We fell upon a farm built by the Rockefeller's in 1930. We felt so far away from the noise and hustle of the city (and suburbs) and were transported to a bucolic wonderland of flowers, bunnies, trees, chickens, sheep, and a gorgeous barn complex made of stone. We could pretend that we were in another time, hiking in the shady hills, checking on the lambs, trying to name the flowers. "I want to go to camp here," my girl announced.

And so it is that we have been traveling to Stone Barns every day the past week. The girl is addicted to weaving lanyards, but she has also learned to make hummus, zucchini sticks, and artichoke/spinach dip! How cool is that? The campers feed pigs, collect eggs, dig for potatoes, play games, and (of course) make lanyards. I get to buy farm fresh eggs and vegetables when I go to pick her up—and have an iced coffee. Everybody's happy.

The camp is run by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and they hold workshops, have family work days (harvesting and braiding garlic!), cooking classes, and tours to promote their mission (raising public awareness about farm and food issues). They also have a highly rated restaurant (Blue Hill), which is supposed to be so popular that it's difficult to make a reservation. I haven't tried and have been happy with the iced coffee and egg salad at the cafe.