Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Speeding Right Along

I hope I don't get a ticket.

Seriously, this quilt is coming together very quickly. The finished blocks are 5 1/2 inch squares. I love their miniature size. It makes me want to squeeze them, they're so cute.

So, here's the question. Do you see the pinwheels or the hourglasses?

Next step is the sashing. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Lord of the Bling

Speed Piecing a Quilt

Vroom, vroom...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dragon Soup

4 chicken breasts
garlic salt

Boil chicken breasts until tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to cool. Strain the broth and return to pot.

Add to broth:
1 quart tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 t chicken bouillon
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 cups rice
diced chicken breasts (I only use two and save the other two for another dish.)
seasonings of your choice (I use 1/2 of my taco seasoning recipe)

Simmer until rice is soft. Serve with warm cornbread for a delicious rainy night supper.

We call this Dragon Soup because the first time I served it to my family I'd gone a little bit heavy on the seasonings, and we were all breathing fire. It was actually quite entertaining.

I added some chicken broth and tomatoes to the leftover soup the next day, and we all enjoyed a milder version. The name stuck, however. Remember that a little honey will cut the "hot" in a too-spicy dish if you were to ever have this problem.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

School Can Be Fun

I love this time of year in regard to our schooling. Things are winding down. More tasks are complete than left to perform. The reading list is long and impressive. There is a definite feeling of accomplishment. Summer is just a soft breeze away.

With a little extra time in our school day, there are opportunities for more fun activities that don't always fit into our regular classes. Math games, puzzles, and special projects complement our usual curriculum in a delightful way.

Right now we're taking an in-depth look at Egypt in preparation of our upcoming visit to a King Tut exhibit. All kinds of intriguing facts about pyramids and mummies are just waiting for us to discover them.

When you get right down to it, what can be more fun than diagramming sentences anyway? I know I'm strange, but it just makes me happy. My son loves it, too. Just don't tell his friends.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The filming may now continue! With the completion of Elrond's robe, the show will go on. I've been working on these costumes off and on for a year now, and my kids have amazed me with their patience. Their filming schedule has been sporadic as well, so I guess they understand.

Here is a shot of the embroidered detail on the neck yoke, just a little bit of bling. *wink*

It all started with this Gandalf costume that was for our younger son's birthday. It is quite ironic that the smallest was chosen as the character who towers over all of the Hobbits. Then again, he is typically head and shoulders above the rest.

You should see Legolas in full costume. The Hannah Montana wig is truly the finishing touch. Actually, he's had almost enough time to grow his own.

Trusting that no one will come up behind me and sniff in my ear, I agreed to make this one for the Black Rider but it really creeps me out.

Gimli and his vest are missing from this show and tell, so you will just have to wait for the movie release to catch that one.

Stay tuned for more news and maybe even a trailer from Moonbeam Cinemas' production, The Lord of the Bling.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feeling Kind Of Purple

I headed to the paint store in search of a smoky lavender. What I found was this color, Plum Gray, and I think it really works.

In what was surely a divine coincidence, I happened to see this shower curtain in the store a couple of days later. It was such a perfect match for the paint color and our towels that I couldn't resist.

Four and a half rooms to go. (Surely a half-bath only counts for one-half, right?)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Applesauce Cake

2 C flour
1 C sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 t baking soda
½ t salt
½ t ginger
½ t cloves
½ t mace
½ t cinnamon
20 oz. unsweetened applesauce
½ C raisins

Mix dry ingredients together, then add applesauce and stir. Last, add raisins. Bake at 325 for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pan you use. It’s done when a toothpick can be inserted and pulled out clean.

If desired, sprinkle confectioner's sugar across the top of cooled cake.

This recipe adapts well for gluten-free eating by simply replacing the wheat flour with rice flour. No fancy flour mixes needed here. If you have xanthan gum, add a couple of teaspoons in place of the corn starch. If not, don't stress. Just leave it out. You'll never know the difference.

I like to serve this delicious cake with warm cinnamon applesauce. Now that's the way to tickle your tummy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It Just Ain't Fair

Her hair in pin curls.

My hair in pin curls.

Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Birthday Boy

Make it a great one, L-Bug! We love you so much!
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Painting the Town

It got a little bit wild and wooly at times, but my daddy and I stuck it out until the job was done. With my children gone on an early spring break trip to Mickey's Town, we tackled the enormous job of painting the living room which required that we turn the corner and paint down the hallway and into our dining room as well.

We went from an off-white to a darker khaki color named "Gaucho." My sister says she wants a job naming paint colors when she grows up. The new color warms up the space a great deal, and we moved the sofas in a little closer to create a more intimate seating area.

It's nice to have it all put back together with its new coat of paint, all fresh and clean. Ahh...

Thank you, Daddy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

For Ashley

Crafty posts have been somewhat lacking around here lately, and my friend Ashley has been asking what kinds of projects I've been doing. Honestly, I've just been piddling a bit here and there.

Most of my creative energy has been used in painting our master bath, living room, and dining room. I'll post photos of those projects tomorrow. How's that?

Here are a couple of fun things I've managed to crank out.

The first is a throw pillow inspired by some adorable things I saw while browsing at Kirkland's one day. It was great fun to put together, especially since I used leftover fabric from my daughter's princess dress we made a couple of years ago. How appropriate!

This one is another placemat bag from the Country Woman article I used before. It uses two placemats sewn together to make a larger tote-style bag. I decided to dress it up a bit with a little monogram. My satin stitch cannot compare to my daughter's, but it will do in a pinch.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our Family Read-Alouds

This list is based on the preferences of our little family. Our read-aloud time is purely for fun, and our choices reflect that intent.

Remember that your child's listening level is several years beyond his or her reading level, so don't be afraid to beef up the material. On the other hand, don't hesitate to read a simple story to your older children. We have just found The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley and are about to finish the first one, The Fairy-Tale Detectives.

The books listed here have been some of our favorites. The order means nothing. Take what you like, and toss the rest.
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins*
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson*
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle*
  • Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park*
  • At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon*
  • Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
  • Taxi Cat and Huey by Gen Leroy
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke*
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary*
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling*
  • A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony*
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini*

*indicates a series of which the title listed is the first.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Makes Me Happy

I walked into our living room this afternoon and was greeted by this lovely scene. What a joy to see our children grabbing a few quiet moments to read a good book!

My husband and I are both avid readers, and we have earnestly attempted to foster a love for the written word in each of our children. It's moments like these that make me realize we have succeeded! By the way, our other son was working diligently in another room. He is also a voracious reader.

We have spent countless hours reading aloud to our children through the years. Our most extravagant spending on "toys" has undoubtedly been on books. Some of my most favorite memories from when the kids were small involve us all piled on a sofa with a quilt and a stack of picture books. Teaching them to read has honestly been one of the highlights of parenting for me.

I was privileged to hear Jim Trelease speak when our daughter was just on the cusp of learning to read, and I was encouraged to pursue reading aloud to them on a much higher level. As a result, we have enjoyed many, many books together as a family.

The Trelease on Reading website has tons of information on reading aloud to your children. His most well-known book, The Read-Aloud Handbook, is a valuable resource for choosing books to share with your family. I highly recommend it, especially since Mr. Trelease retired from his excellent, inspiring speaking tours last year.

Reading aloud to your children is a definite investment of time and energy, but the returns are out of this world. Start investing today!

Check back tomorrow for a list of our family's favorite read-alouds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Music In Me

A couple of years ago our daughter and younger son splurged on iPods with some of their hard-saved money, a nano for her and a classic for him. Our older son rolled his eyes at their wasteful spending and declared that his CD player was more than adequate.

Time went by, and last year for Mother's Day I received a nano with video from my sweet husband who loves electronics slightly less than he loves me. The plan was that I could download all of the podcasts for my favorite radio programs and listen at my convenience. It was a good plan. Unfortunately I am not very good about transferring the podcasts to my iPod every day, so they just keep piling up in iTunes until I know I can never catch up. I am much more a "leave it in the dock" kind of girl.

This year said husband finally purchased his own iPod, the mega version which will hold 30,000 songs or something similarly nutty. He consequently spent a couple of weekends putting every CD we own onto the computer so that the songs could be converted to mp3 format and transferred to his iPod. It was somewhat of an obsession. We have collected a lot of CDs in the last 20 years.

Amazingly, our thrifty older son succumbed to the pressure and shucked out the big bucks for a model just like Daddy. He is a huge fan of soundtrack music, songs from Ironman, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings kinds of films. He also loaded up all of his parents' music because, well, because he could.

So, now we are officially a 5-iPod family. Dock number five just arrived as well, which illustrates the inanity of this whole phenomenon. We spend hundreds of dollars purchasing these gadgets in which we store all of our music. Then we spend even more money on more gadgets to release the music from the original gadgets.

Materialism is a nasty bug which bites us all from time to time. Having said that, it's been really nice to have all of that music on one very small device. Even though I've mocked my cute husband and his preoccupation with The Great CD Transfer of '09, it has been a lot of fun to hear these songs we've had tucked away for years and years.

Ironically, as we were talking about these classic songs the other night, we both commented on one by Charlie Peacock, "One Man Gets Around." It's originally from the album, Everything That's On My Mind, but apparently Charlie has a greatest hits album, In the Light: The Very Best of Charlie Peacock.

It's crazy how a few simple bars of a song can transport us through time and space to poignant moments in the past. That's just the way it is.

"It's amazing, so amazing. It's amazing how one man gets around."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Other Twelve

I wouldn't leave you hanging, so here is the rest of the list.

2. Worship the God of Glory.
3. Sincerely confess your sins.
4. Believe in Him for salvation and throughout your life.
5. Bear fruit for Him.
6. Cultivate grateful contentment wherever God has placed you.
7. Grow spiritually.
8. Stand up for God's truth.
9. Cultivate zeal for His Name.
10. Witness to the lost.
11. Be willing to suffer or die for God.
12. Direct all credit given to us onto God.
13. Pray.

Mrs. Peace encourages us to examine our lives in light of each of these ways and target specific applications on which we can begin work. She suggests making a list of each point and underneath writing two example of how we can implement the change in our individual lives and circumstances.

I know it may seem like busy work, but it is very helpful to write these things down. They will stick with you better, and you will have the list for future reference.

Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Monday, March 2, 2009

13 Ways to Glorify God

1. Aim your life exclusively to God's glory.

From Attitudes of a Transformed Heart by Martha Peace

The other twelve are really excellent, but I'm camping out here on number one today. In my quiet time this morning, I was strongly impressed of my need to focus on this aspect of my Christian life.

My aim is all over the place most of the time as I tend to be busy doing lots of things at once. I'm reading four or five books at a time, working on several different projects, doing laundry and housework in the midst of homeschooling, and just generally staying active. My husband said in our family devotion last night that I have more trouble being idle than anyone he knows.

Is this necessarily a good thing? What are my motives for doing these endless projects? Is it for the glory of God?

All too often, I'm afraid the answer is no. It's for the glory of me.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

Dear Father, I am more concerned about winning the admiration and approval of other people than I am about pleasing You. So much of what I do is ingrained in me as habit from a sense of moral right and wrong rather than devotion to You. I have lost zeal, Father. Please help me regain it. Please help me live a life wholly focused on You beginning today. Amen.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The View From My Window

It's an uncommon but beautiful scene around here on this snowy Sunday. Snow ice cream, a batch of cinnamon applesauce simmering on the stove, and a fire in the wood stove made for one cozy afternoon. Oh, and the company was fabulous.