Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mukluks Were Born In Princeton Wisconsin

How many of you know what these are?  Most of us have worn them in our lifetime.  There are even photos of Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and President Eisenhower wearing them.

Give up?  They are called Mukluks.  What you probably don't know is that Mukluks originated in Princeton, Wisconsin.

In 1939, a woman named Martha Hiestand was making crocheted and knitted items for her family.  Many woman did that back in those days.  Heck, I still knit and crochet but it never turned into anything.  The difference was that Martha and her husband Ernest turned this hobby into a flourishing business.  Ernest was a traveling salesman.  He took some of the handmade items on the road and came back home with several orders.  Martha couldn't fill all the orders, so they hired some local women to help.  Their company was called "Handmade by Hiestand".  They had eleven employees between 1939 and 1940.  As the popularity grew, the demand for their product grew.  They ran the business from their house.   Soon they outgrew their home, and they moved to a building in downtown Princeton.  It was at this time they added durability to the socks by adding leather soles.  That is when the Mukluk was born.  It was hard to keep up with orders at this time, so they started purchasing pre-made wool socks and ready made soles.  The twenty five employees they now had would hand stitch and decorate the Mukluks. 

Between 1943 and 1950 this company grew to 400 employees.  They moved to an even larger location.  They purchased a few machines to stitch the leather but the soles would still be put on by hand.  A large majority of the work still took place in the employees homes.

I found some leather soles in my stash to make my own Mukluks some day.

The City of Princeton recently set up a museum to show the history of the Mukluk which is intended to help support the local downtown businesses.  Apparently after all these years, a few boxes of memorabilia were found in the basement of a local building.  Many of the items found are being shown in the museum.  Many family members of the Heistand's still live in the area.

The Hiestands eventually expanded into leather manufacturing and bought a company from Milwaukee called Gene Edwards.  That Gene Edwards building still stands in Princeton, but it is no longer in operation.   It still has many sock knitting machines and equipment in the building.  It is sad to see they are no longer in business.  The Mukluk is still being made.  The brand was sold to a company called the "Reliable in Milwaukee".  I imagine there are many copy cat companies making this product now, but no matter what the name is, they are probably referred to as "Mukluk's".

*It was pointed out to me that the Hiestand's probably didn't invent the original Mukluk.  That was footwear created by American and Canadian native Indians.  Many museums have articles of clothing and footwear from the 1800's, and there are many pairs of beaded mukluks there.  They were made out of animal skin and fur.  I believe these were the first knitted Mukluks, and they probably borrowed the name for their marketing purposes. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Aquaponic Grown Food

If I were many years younger, I would definitely be interested in starting an aquaponics system.  For those who don't know what this is, it involves raising fish and growing organic food in a small space through the use of circulating water.   It combines soilless gardening called hydroponics and aquaculture which involves raising aquatic life.  The fish live in a tank.  Their excrement in the water is filtered through gravel and rocks.  The water is pumped past the roots of the plants which cleans the water by taking the nutrients and neutralizing the fish water.   Bacteria naturally found in the water further cleanses it.  The water is then returned to the fish as clean water.  There is a science behind it, but basically it is a self contained system that needs to be monitored but works the same as it does in nature.  The plants grow very fast because they are constantly getting nutrients and the fish grow and stay healthy.  This process can be accomplished in a small home setting or a larger commercial setup.

This little aquarium uses the same technology but you wouldn't be eating this fish.

We have a place about 10 miles away in Montello Wisconsin.  It is called Nelson and Pade Aquaponics.  It is a larger commercial aquaponic greenhouse.  They sell fish and produce that they raise in their greenhouses.  I bought some romaine lettuce the other day at a local grocery store.  This is the package.

See the roots are still attached.

I am anxious to try other produce items as well as the fish they raise.  For those who are serious about this and want to know the science behind it, they offer 3 day seminars.  Some are even for college credit.  It saves water and fossil fuels and at the same time provides good healthy food to eat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberry Bundt Cake

I haven't had a lot to blog about lately.  Summer is busy and there isn't a lot of crafting or new projects going on.  Today is different.  It is recipe day.  Since the strawberries are in season, I thought I'd make a strawberry bundt cake.  Last year I blogged about taking the stems off the freshly picked berries.  This method makes it fun to clean the berries.

Everything you need to make the cake.  You need a bundt pan, mini marshmallows, jello, strawberries

and a cake mix.

Strawberry Bundt Cake

2 cups of fresh sliced strawberries
6 oz. of strawberry (I used cherry) jello
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 yellow cake mix

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray or grease the pan well.  Then in the bottom of the pan put the 2 cups of sliced strawberries.  Sprinkle the dry jello powder over the strawberries.  It looks like a lot but it will be fine.  Next put the 3 cups of mini marshmallows over the strawberry/jello mixture.

Now make the cake mix according to the package directions and pour into the bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool some before turning it out on a plate. 

Fresh out of the oven. 

I turned it out a little too soon.  Let it cool enough so the juice will be set up.

The strawberries sit on top and swirl through the cake.

This cake should be stored in the refrigerator.  It can either be frosted with icing made from butter, powdered sugar and strawberry juice or topped with whipped topping.