Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tidbits of joy: lists

I can hardly believe that this is the last day of May. Where did May go? I am making plans for June, and started by thinking about all of my lists, which brought to mind this post!

Lists. Do you love them or hate them? Do you make them then loose them, or live by them daily? Do you even make them on paper, or just keep a list in you head? Do you find them helpful or do they just overwhelm you? Do you get strange satisfaction when you check things off your list, or does it just remind you of all you have left to do?

How's that for a list of questions?

Personally, I like lists. I find that with my advanced years and increasing forgetfulness, lists are a great memory aid. When I can keep track of where I left them! They encourage me to move on the the next thing, and they keep me focused on the tasks at hand.

I often find grocery lists stuck in shopping carts and sometimes glance over them out of curiosity. Sometimes they look like they were written in code! K.B. Ched Chez lrg blk? Would that be Kroger Brand Cheddar Cheese, large block? I don't read or write text messages or shorthand, but I guess a lot of folks do, so this would make sense to them. Some lists are very detailed -mine would fall in that category most often. I once found a list that was obviously written for someone unfamiliar with grocery shopping - it was so incredibly detailed it was two pages long. Exact weights, how to pick out the best fruit tips, brands, places in the store, and heavily underlined 'don't' buy' cautions galore - in red pen! That was a list 'sportin' a 'tude' if I ever saw one!

Our children have become list makers. I find them all over the house. Lists about which Webkins jewels they are lacking for that legendary 'crown of wonder'. Lists of junk food to buy for a sleepover. Lists of mysteries to solve and adventures to go on. Lists of critters buried in the Mount Pleasant cemetery in our back yard. I even found a list of all the ways to be kind to one certain 'pesky' little brother - I kept that one!

I have a list of menu ideas for summer and winter posted inside one cupboard door. I refer to it often. I have a travel list, laminated and stored in each family member's underwear drawer for trips. I have a master packing list for moving with all of the brands of appliances and model numbers listed - two international moves necessitated this detailed list! I have emergency preparedness lists. I have lists of plants that worked well for me in the garden, and lists of plants I would love to try if my garden budget was unlimited.

I have lists related to home schooling, home repair projects, yard work, gifts to make or buy, spring house cleaning, and decorating ideas. I have lists of 'theme meal' ideas and lists of favorite recipes and were to find them in my cookbooks - this list needs to be updated! I have medical history lists and lists of people to pray for. I have a first of the month checklist and a list of emergency contact numbers laminated and on the fridge. My list of lists is pretty long!

My latest list has to do with things to keep an eye out for. If we ever get to go yard sale shopping or have time to peruse Craig's list a bit - these are the things that I'm looking for. I just took ' large round ottoman' off my too look for list and wrote it on my "Sewing Projects" list thanks to my friend Mrs. M.! Here is what remains on my "Too Look For" list:
  • portable basketball net - adjustable
  • small round table
  • rocking chair - paint-able for front porch area
  • wicker rocker / chair / love seat or end table for Grammy flat porch
  • old mirrors / interesting wooden picture frames
  • old windows - to make a cold frame
  • glass knobs / old hardware to repurpose
  • E/O. Brody style milk glass footed compote / vase / tumblers ( have 2 - would like 8 more for a Martha inspired project)
  • GLH books (Grace Livingston Hill)
  • Nancy Drew Books for Dreamer
  • two breakfast bar stools for Grammy flat - high back supports
  • two end tables - matching
  • two tall buffet table lamps
  • tall book case for Dreamer's room
  • tall cast iron urns
  • a bit of wrought iron fence to decorate with
  • small jelly jars
  • wool sweaters to felt - must be 80% wool or higher

On my project list for June - organize all of my lists into a tidy binder format! I'd better add a nice binder to my next shopping list!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tidbits of joy: simple pleasures

Simple pleasures for today included a trip to the big city with my dear family - though it was a very early morning for us all, there were cheerful smiles and happy expectations, along with a nice dose of Adventures in Odyssey on the way. We made it to our destination, safely, did what needed to be done in an efficient and timely manner, and spent some time exploring a wee bit of the big city together.

I was mistaken that this was our final immigration process interview - I guess there are more dance steps to this immigration routine than we knew - but at least we are dancing again! Any progress is a good sign, and now that they have all of my biometrics information, we are just one step closer!

Our day included an unplanned field trip - a private tour of the Santa Maria replica docked at the edge of the Scioto River. It was quite an education, and fun for all - simple, inexpensive, unexpected, but a lovely little learning experience.

Another simple pleasure today - a stop at a thrift store. I had been told it was quite cheap, but never was in the area when it was open. It wasn't really cheap, but I found a few things that were reasonable, and enjoyed the hunt.

It is a pure pleasure to be home and heading for my own bed. My family are all so tired - sleep came easily tonight. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will clean the house a bit and wash all of the sheets to dry out in the sunshine - I hope - plant a few flowers and enjoy the simple pleasure of spending time together.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tidbits of joy : keep running the race

I'll be honest - I've felt really awful since Monday night, so I've had a hard time finding anything to be truthfully joyful about. Monday, I went to a local greenhouse and found many pretty plants to bring joy to our garden all summer - that was a blessing! I had a coupon that saved me $25 and that was also a blessing! Then this really nasty cold hit me hard - not such a joyful thing! I think I might also have a sinus infection since I have chills and a fierce headache - but I haven't had time to do anything about it!

This week our Dreamer had her ballet recital - and that may not seem like much, but it was a lot to get ready for! There were the missing ribbons needing to be manufactured ( by mommy) for her slippers - ahem! We try to use the ' a place for everything and everything in it's place' motto, but I guess her ribbons were spirited away in the night by some mysterious nefarious villain - who likes long pink ribbons! There was also the up-do and fresh flower bouquet - and way too much other running around!

Note the missing ribbons on picture day ... thankfully her teacher didn't!
She had her ribbons for the recital, and that's all that matters!

Our van is being fixed, so we are using The Historian's little economy car - I guess I needed practice getting in and out of a sardine can and shifting gears! The kids accuse me of being a wild driver, but I just can't adjust to the tight turning radius compared to the van, and it does have some pep! I don't mind the gears, but you really can't successfully ( or safely) blow your nose, steer and shift at the same time - don't ask me how I know - and honey, if you're reading this there may be an issue with second gear .... kidding!

Using the Historian's car means getting him to work and picking him up - which isn't a big deal, but we have a hard time buckling down to work by the time we get home - I like to run errands at the same end of town while we are there, so we have been out longer than I hoped each day.

This morning Dreamer got a new appliance at the orthodontist - a Herbst??? appliance. It is a huge chunk of metal and making her cheeks stick out oddly, along with making her talk funny! Hopefully it will do it's job quickly. No photo ops for a while for her!

Tomorrow is a big interview in Columbus, OH with immigration. I wish I felt healthier. You don't think they would kick me out for just a cold do you? I don't think I'll enjoy a night in a hotel when I'm coughing and keeping everyone else awake! Really, I am just relieved that it will be over with and that we can move on to the next step - whatever that is! At least I will be able to apply for my driver's license again and be able to travel freely. Two really good things!

Finding joy each day isn't so hard, but it is easy to get distracted from looking closely isn't it? Lately, this Scripture has been bringing me comfort and encouraging my heart - may it be a blessing to you as well.

Philippians 3:11-19

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.
I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet!

Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross.
But easy street is a dead-end street.

The Message

Keep running the race friends, and encourage those whose are there alongside you in the faith!

Keep on!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a meal with friends

Last night we enjoyed a meal with friends. It's been so long since we had company - we were almost out of practice. Our last time to practice hospitality was the farewell party a few weeks ago for our friends who have moved to New Orleans.

Incidentally, they could really use prayer. Specifically for a home - they are currently living in a less than lovely hotel, which gets old really fast. Housing rentals are quite high - like $1200 per month for a 2 bedroom. They are a family of 5 with 3 large dogs. Also, a job. The dad has been out of work for over two years, but last week he was interviewing for a good position in New Orleans - hopefully they will hire him! After being out of the workforce for so long (except for brief employments), it will be a big adjustment to get back to the grind of the work a day world, so we are praying about that too. I am hoping Michele will keep us up to date on her blog, but as it stands now, her computer time is taken up in house hunting and finding a homeschool group to get involved with, etc. Maybe you can drop by and send her a word of encouragement! We are really really missing their family!

So, back to having company. In keeping with our policy to keep thing simple, we chose an easy menu - with a theme! Do you do that? It's one of my quirks! I like to pick a theme and chose foods that go along with it! Last night's theme was 'Germanic' - as in Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, German Potato Salad, Bavarian Coleslaw, with German Chocolate Cake and Bavarian Mints for dessert. Too fun! I didn't take a picture, because my camera needs new batteries, but everything turned out nicely. As usual, I did a small raw veggie tray for the children and I, and sliced up a honeydew melon and some strawberries to go with dessert - a healthy choice. We ate out on the back patio under the pergola, which is a work in progress since I haven't planted my hanging baskets, put in my annuals or spread mulch yet, but it is still a pleasant place to eat. I also need to pressure wash the patio it's self - again - how does concrete get so stained? Our lilac is still blooming nicely and smelled wonderful as we were eating our dinner!

It was so fun to have friends over - Mrs. M and I are great friends, and I think her dear husband and my Historian have a great deal in common too. I wanted to give them a chance to get to know one another a bit! They are at a very different stage in their parenting journey since their boys are almost grown - one is graduating high school next week. We are still in the trenches of parenting with our 7 - almost 8 year old and 10 year old children! I'm sure they can share a great deal of wisdom with us.

I have to tell you about my great bargains on Friday - I had a whole afternoon of running errands by myself! I finally spent my gift card from C.J.Banks from the Historian - it was a Christmas gift! They had a good sale which applied to already sale merchandise, so that worked out well! I got a cute lightweight dressy cotton poplin jacket for $6.99, and cotton fancy track pant capri's for bike riding - or major illnesses - for $7.99. I found shoes for our Storyteller at Kohl's but had forgotten my coupon - by the time I got back with my coupon, they had put the sandals on an even better sale so with my coupon they were $4.99 for leather buster brown shoes! Yeah! I also found hot pink and white gingham cotton capri's for Dreamer - for $2 at Kohl's - I don't know why they were in the clearance area, but they were - since they handed my coupon back to me, I did the purchases in two transactions and got $5 off both. That works for me!

My best bargain of the day came through Mrs. M. who is great at scouring the local shops for bargains on her lunch hour. She called me and left a message ' I don't know if you are still looking for an ottoman, but I found one ...!' I rushed over and bought it! Yeah! I have been looking for an ottoman - a round ottoman in fact! I couldn't pay the $300- $500 they were asking for a new one, just to tear off the fabric and recover it with the matching couch fabric I have - and that's just too much for a place to put my feet anyway! After my vein surgery, I really needed an ottoman! She spied it for $30!!!!! It is in great shape - large and round - very sturdy - made by a good manufacturer- and not a mark on it! I'll post a picture when I get it recovered! I am soooooooooooooo excited! Can you tell? Thank you Mrs. M.! My Mum is my wonderful personal shopper in Canada, and Mrs.M is my personal shopper Stateside! Can you tell I don't get out much to do my own shopping?

I'd better end this rambling post! It is Memorial Day - we will be heading to the cemetery later. The children have been outside this morning trying to discourage our outdoor kitty Peppermint from killing baby moles. Apparently he found a litter of them and has been amusing himself at their expense this morning. The children are heartbroken at his cruelty and spraying him with the water bottle to try to keep him away from the moles! There have been two burials at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery this morning - mole 1 and mole 2. Many tears were shed and poor Peppermint is not a much loved kitty today. Over 150 years ago our little corner was called Mount Pleasant ( though it is just a little rise and not a mount at all) and there was a real cemetery on the corner - along with a tree nursery and a general store. We are toying with the idea of calling our homeschool 'Mount Pleasant Christian School', but we are not sure yet.

I must add that our new swing is being put to good use! The other day I was searching all over the house and yard for the children. My usual places to look - the sandbox, back woods area and playroom were all empty - but I could hear voices. I peeked out the open window in our bedroom and there where the children swinging away on the back patio. The Dreamer is reading 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' to her captive audience - the Storyteller on the swing. He interrupts once in a while to ask her questions, but I noticed how patient is was answering him. It a wonderful thing!

I do hope you have a pleasant Memorial Day with your family. We are just hanging out together and enjoying our last day of vacation before we put out noses to the grindstone and finish out our school year, officially. Our summer school session will be pretty light this year, but we will be focusing on Reading and Math with Storyteller and Spelling and Math with Dreamer. I am looking forward to the 1/2 day format and a little more freedom.

May the Lord bless you with joy today!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a transformation

About a month ago, my sweet friend Mrs. M of the Brown Toile Rocking chair fame, gave us a heavy duty wooden porch swing! It was at the home they bought last fall, but she already had a really cute one, so this was an 'extra'. As I was scrubbing off years of grime, I noticed that it was made in Kelowna, BC, so it was just perfect for our Canada loving family!

I primed it - twice - I guess I didn't scrub quite all the dirt off! When Mum and Dad were here for their visit, Dad hung it up for us under the pergola. I had some fabric left from the cushion project and today I finally finished the porch swing! Quite a transformation, eh? It is quite comfy, though I would like a higher back on it, but beggars can't be choosers! We love it - the kids especially!

*sigh* I've always wanted a porch swing and now we have one! What a blessing!

If you need me, I'll be out back, sipping a Raspberry Tea and swinging on the porch swing!

I hope you have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tidbits of joy: Raspberry Iced Tea

Last spring I was all about using up the sugarless Seedless Raspberry Jam disaster that never quite jelled - we used it in Raspberry Lemonade and I slipped some into my unsweetened fresh brewed iced tea. We tried it on pancakes, on waffles and over ice cream. I even whipped some into real whipping cream and served it over chocolate pound cake ! Mmmmm! It did not go to waste, but some of it found it's way to my waist to be sure!

This spring, when we have enjoyed the occasional warm day, I have been missing my little taste of raspberries. I saw the bottles of Raspberry Syrup in the coffee section at Kroger, and spied the Starbuck's Raspberry Syrup in the little kiosk, but I had issues with both - price and content. The price - $9-18 for a bottle of syrup! Eeks! The ingredient list was way too long, contained multiple sources of sugar, dye and preservatives. A migraine in the making for me!
So here is my simple solution - after a bit of trial and error.

Raspberry Syrup

1/2 cup water
2 cups organic cane sugar
16 oz frozen red raspberries - ours were organic

Combine all in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat stirring occasionally. Boil until reduced by half - about 20 minutes (on a humid day). Strain syrup through a cheesecloth lined or very fine sieve - squeeze out any juice you can. Cool. Store in a covered glass jar for about a week in fridge or freeze in an ice cube tray. Bag cubes after they are frozen and it should keep for a month or more. Add a cube to a glass of fresh brewed iced tea or a few cubes to the whole pitcher of tea, your choice! Add a splash to hot tea, cold tea, lemonade or whatever your imagination comes up with! Enjoy!

My cost: $3 for 1 1/2 cups of syrup. We picked and froze the berries at $2.79 per pound and buy organic sugar in the bulk, so your cost might be higher, but still won't approach $8, I'm sure!

My Historian thinks this is a wonderful treat, and so do I! Now that I have shared it with him though, I might have to make a batch and hide it in the back of the fridge, where no one else will spy it!

I would have liked to try this recipe with frozen concentrated white grape or apple juice, but both it and the raspberries to are too expensive to waste, and I wasn't able to find a recipe. If you have a good syrup recipe and would like to share it, I would love to hear from you!

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Tidbits of joy: a smile

The Storyteller asked me to put a picture of his 'fort' created using those crazy 'noodles' on my blog. He wanted Grammy and Poppa to see his creation!

While the 'fort' is kind of cute, I think the boy who made it is utterly precious!

We all smiled when The Historian chose strawberry shortcake for his birthday dessert! It's a summer time favorite, and now that the berries are getting nice and sweet, it is a real treat.
We prefer a homemade sweet biscuit shortcake layered with sweetened crushed berries, sliced berries and a dollop of real fresh sweetened whip cream. I garnished with a sprig plucked from our lemon balm - since it was a special day!

Aren't my strawberry bowls sweet? I bought them to give as a gift, and fell so intensely for them that I decided to keep them for ourselves instead - terrible, aren't I??? I have a big bowl and 7 individual serving size bowls, and every year we just enjoy using them when the berries are ripe!

The smiles were HUGE when Daddy announced a very very special birthday surprise - a movie! Not just any movie, mind you, but Prince Caspian!!! There was great rejoicing in our home! It was such fun - and we covered our little eyes a few times, but over all, it was captivating. Our children are huge Narnia fans, having all but worn out two sets of c.d.'s - one dramatized, and one recorded book version - and our books have been read and re-read!

The whole crowd at the theater heard a loud exclamation of "Oh Daddy! Thank you so much for this really special treat - I LOVED it! Thank you Daddy - thank YOU!!!" while the credits were running at the end! I heard some snickering, and he was a bit too loud (as usual), but I was pleased with his grateful heart.
Today, as you can imagine, we are playing 'our version' of Prince Caspian.
All day.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a birthday

I want to wish our Historian a very happy birthday today! It is hard to believe we are getting so old, but he'll always have 5 years on me, so I can safely tease a bit! He is my very favorite antique! While he is the first to admit that he isn't perfect, he is a good man, and above all else, he loves the Lord and seeks to live a life that pleases God each and every day. He is a loyal friend, a gentle leader, and a deep thinker. He thinks before he speaks, and avoids hurting others, but he is bold with the truth and will lovingly, though painfully confront when necessary. He is patient, most of the time! He prays for our family, and for many others. He is real - no pretense or falseness. He forgets my faults daily and loves me faithfully. I am so very very blessed to be married to such a man.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Tidbits of joy: an inspiration

Today we saw the most beautiful picture frame - but it was way beyond our budget! The quote I will record here - and maybe one day I will try to copy the wonderful frame, or something like it!

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting -- a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Tidbits of Joy: a plan

Last night as I was sitting at my sewing machine I had a little visitor ....


'Yes, Bud?'

'Sister and I have a plan!'


'Yup! And it's a good one!"

'What are you planning Bud?'

'This summer when we are all done school, we are going to give you TWO FULL WEEKS!'

'What am I going to do for two weeks?'

'SEW, Momma, SEW!!!!'

'Wow, Bud. That would be really really nice for me. What are you and Sister going to do?'


'Ahhh. Who is going to clean the house?'


'Who is going to do the washing?'


'Who is going to make meals?'

(long silent pause)

'How 'bout this - for two weeks you just sew and make meals - nothing else! Does that sound like fun?'

'Yes, Bud, it does.'

(and he skips merrily away, singing a happy tune)

That's our Storyteller!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a rest

Yesterday was so special. We were expecting rain and high winds. We delighted in sunshine, breezes and just a few drops of rain. It was such a blessing to have a day with no time pressures, and no agenda. We were outside from 9 am to 6 pm - with a few moments indoors for snacks and drinks. It was my idea of a perfect spring day.

I am an outdoor girl, but not in the sense of hiking tall mountains or riding long distances on my bike. I love to be outdoors tinkering in our yard. Moving a plant or two, weeding a bed, touching up paint, and generally enjoying the birdsong and breezes. I washed all of the bedding, including the quilts and they dried quickly in the breeze. Some of them got a wee 'rain water rinse', but that's alright. I didn't do anything too strenuous - my neck wouldn't let me.

The Historian did a big job for me in edging all the flower beds. I pulled a few weeds and generally tidied up the yard. The children rode their bikes, played in the sandbox, exercised their imaginations, pulled a few weeds, watched an hour of 'The Ten Commandments' when we were threatened with rain, re-enacted the days of Moses and generally enjoyed the day. They even enjoyed one another - which is a really nice change these days!

We have a whole delicious week before us. We are not going away for part of our vacation as we had planned - we have so much to do with settling the van repair issue, and getting our medical needs taken care of. Accidents are rather unexpected expenses, also. I don't think I could really enjoy a time away when my neck is still sore anyway. We do have a longish list of at home things to do and, of course, just spending time with one another will be a joy. We will throw in some fun and make a few memories while we tackle the list and enjoy a change of pace.

We also have a birthday to celebrate this week - our Historian is getting a bit more 'patina' each year! We do love our 'antiques' around here!

All in all, it should be a week filled with tidbits of joy - and have you noticed that we haven't had any major mishaps in over a week? I asked for a breather, and God has blessed us once again!

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a find

Mum and I slipped out to Goodwill one evening for a bit of a thrift search. I found a few things, which I will share by and by, but I just loved this little milk glass vase, so it gets to be first! It is old, I think - the markings on the bottom are 'E.O. Brody & Co. Cleveland, O U.S.A.', but that's not what attracted me to it! It is only 6" tall and boasts a sweet simple design and it is on a pedestal - what more could a girl ask for? The price - $1.49, was attractive too! More so since seeing similar items at the antique mall recently for much higher prices.

Right now it is home to a sweet scented bunch of 'Miss Kim' lilacs clipped from the diminutive bushes under the children's bedroom windows. Despite the rain, they have performed nicely this spring, and we are especially enjoying their fragrance in the house! Joy for all the eyes and the nose!

Tip: Lilacs are big drinkers and prefer a fresh cut and drink of water each day. I like to crush the woody stems a bit so that they can absorb a bit more water. They will last up to a week with a little TLC.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a mistake

While Dad and Mum were here for their visit, Grammy enlisted the help of Dreamer to load and start the dishwasher. She mistakenly filled the soap holder with my washing up liquid - not dishwasher detergent! Oh the suds! Quite comical! In a very much all over the cork (never to be wet) floor kind of way!

The problem was cutting the suds inside the dishwasher and rinsing the dishes properly - the lazy way, of course, since my neck was so very painful. We resorted to running a 'rinse and hold' cycle with lots of cheap vinegar to cut the suds.

Three times.


But ... since I am looking for the tidbits of joy, I have to admit that our silverware has never been so shiny! I'm amazed. The vinegar treatment has our dishwasher working better then ever. I think I'll have to try it once a month or so and see if my dishwasher continues it's good work.

A tidbit of joy!

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Tidbits of joy: an appointment

This week we received a notice that our final immigration appointment is scheduled for May 30th in Columbus, OH. We are so pleased to finally have things moving forward. What a blessing! I pray that all goes well. We have waited so long for this, it is almost too good to be true!

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Tidbits of joy: a promise

Isaiah 40:27-31

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.

The Message

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Tidbits of joy: a sweet

I was embarrassed to find our cookie jar empty when my parents were here - so I quickly whipped up an 'oldie but goodie'. I originally fiddled with this recipe many years ago in my search of a cookie that would travel well - as in, through the post! My dear friend loved Keebler Pecan Sandies, but couldn't tolerate some of the ingredients - so I made her some that she could enjoy! I had to send them in the mail, and they always arrived in tact - which is really something considering how much handling they went through.
I changed the name to Pecan Senders. They are not overly sweet, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. They don't spread out much during baking, so you can crowd them on the pan!

Pecan Senders

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large fresh egg
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup chopped pecans
powdered ( 10x or confectioners) sugar to dust

Lightly toast the pecans and set aside to cool. I like to toast before I chop, but whatever works for you is just fine here! Fairly finely chopped is nice, but no pecan 'dust' - you want to know there is a nut in there! Make sure they are cool before you add them to the batter or you will have 'pecan hockey pucks' - which might travel well, but not be overly appreciated by the recipient!

Cream butter, sugars, and salt until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and beat well to combine. Stir in flour. Stir in pecans until they are well combined with batter. Easy right? Now, I like to use my large cookie scoop and that makes about a 1 1/4" ball. I use parchment lined cookie sheets for these and place the cookies about 2 " apart. Use a floured fork or the floured bottom of a small juice glass to flatten the cookies slightly. Bake at 375 F for 12-14 minutes. They will look dry and have nice brown edges. Take them out and dust liberally with powdered sugar - the children love this job! Cool on rack. Store in an air-tight container.
Often a double batch is absolutely necessary!
Yield: 24 rich and delicious cookies


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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tidbits of joy: a gift

For Mother's Day I planned to make this cute purse for my Mum. I was a bit sidetracked by the accident, but I did get it finished for her. I was able to make the straps the exact length that she wanted - long enough to fit comfortably over her shoulder and short enough not to drag on the ground when she just holds the strap. My Mum is lovely and tall, as you can see!

I have another one cut out for myself, so we will have almost matching purses when I get it finished. I like shorter handles. The pattern I used is the Miranda Day Bag from Lazy Girl Designs. I often don't use a pattern, but this one went together nicely. It is a bit open and I am afraid that with my energetic young helpers, it might just get 'dumped', so I think I'll add an interior strap side to side in mine, just to hold it all together better.

I added a little personalization to the flap for my Mum, since she is our Joy! This way, no one can get it mixed up with one of those readimade bags that anyone with a whole lot of cash can buy! I hope she enjoys it for a long time!

Making a gift for someone I love has always brought me joy!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tidbits of joy

Over supper tonight my dear Historian made this quite observation.

"I'm not trying to be critical at all Heath, but you've really got to perk up your blog. "

I had to smile ruefully. I've been thinking the very same thing. We've been stuck with quite a lot of lemons lately and I haven't even been trying to make lemonade. I've been sharing all of the bad stuff, which is really hard to ignore, but I've been forgetting the little blessings that bring me tidbits of joy each day.

Life is the circumstance we find ourselves in each day, but with those circumstances come choices, and I am afraid that I haven't been making very good choices. I have been very much looking at the the difficulties we are facing with a pessimistic perspective. It's not really like me to find myself under the circumstances, as I used to be a more positive and generally upbeat person. I think maybe the frequency and intensity has just worn my overcomer's spirit down. I don't think I am trusting the Lord and leaning on His wisdom as I ought to, and I am bearing too much of the burden.

For those of you who keep coming for a visit, I apologize for not sharing the encouragements right along. I know that it can be depressing to read posts filled with trials, not knowing if there are any redeeming moments in the day. Thank you for continuing to comment, for your kind encouragement and prayer support. It really means a great deal to me.

My Historian is right. I need to find some positive things to share! So, I'm going to be looking for some tidbits of joy to share each time I blog, for your encouragement as well as my own. Sometimes joy just slaps me in the face and makes me grin, but more often lately, I have to go in search of the blessings, and remember, that in the grand scheme of things, our difficulties are very small.

Tonight, my first tidbit of joy is from my Doctor's report. My x-rays show no fractures, abnormalities or arthritis in my neck. My pain is *just* a soft tissue injury - mild whiplash. What a blessing. I'm still in pain, but this is good news.

Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8

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  1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
    1. To defeat completely and decisively: Our team overwhelmed the visitors by 40 points.
    2. To affect deeply in mind or emotion: Despair overwhelmed me.
  2. To present with an excessive amount: They overwhelmed us with expensive gifts.
  3. To turn over; upset: The small craft was overwhelmed by the enormous waves.

Today at a glance:
  • waking up in pain again - whiplash or not, it just isn't fun to be in so much pain
  • more rain
  • saying goodbye to Poppa and Grammy - our visit was too short
  • to the orthodontist for Dreamer - new appliance needed. More waiting.
  • saying good-bye to our friends who are leaving today for a new adventure in New Orleans
  • children to the chiropractor - more visits needed
  • my to do list :
  1. call the doctor re: x-ray results
  2. call an exterminator re: carpenter ants that are just showing up
  3. call the plumber re: new water heater not working properly
  4. get two more estimates for the van repairs
  5. order soil for the garden
  6. order mulch for the flowerbeds
  7. clean the house - bathrooms and vacuuming a must
  8. investigate the really bad smell in the furnace room
  9. investigate the really bad smell in the van
  10. schoolwork basics
  11. comfort two children who will miss their best friends
  12. pray for strength

In His grip,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hit and Run

I am now the 'victim' of a hit and run accident. It's the weirdest thing. I was rear ended on the way home form the Doctor's this afternoon. I saw him coming in the rear view mirror, but I couldn't get out of the way. Thankfully, I didn't hit the car ahead of me, but I was pushed into oncoming traffic. Thankfully the lane was empty or we would have been hit again. I've never had an accident before. I hope to never have one again. It wasn't much fun.

I have a head ache, but the children and I are all fine - I think. My neck might need to be checked out -I'll see how it is in the morning. A man who (needed a shave) in a big black Dodge truck hit me, but he didn't stay to take responsibility for his actions. His truck has some front end damage. He had a passenger - a younger man, we think. The back of our van is creamed.

I know in my head that we have much to be thankful for - it could have been so much worse, but tonight I am just so sad that yet another bump in the road has occurred in our family's life. I'm quite sure it's going to be expensive. Time consuming. Frustrating.

I was just hoping for a little bit of peace, rest, quite, and tranquility ... in this life you will have trials ... I get that. I just wish that there was a bit more 'normal' time between the difficulties.

Is it normal that I don't ever want to get into our van again?

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

On a brighter note, my Dad and Mum have made the long journey to visit us for Mother's Day - I'm so glad they are here, but I feel terrible that this happened today - it kind of puts a damper on our visit. We'll just have to 'put a good face on it' as Storyteller would say, and make the best of it!

I think maybe a hot bath and sleep are in order. Things will look brighter in the morning!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sewing Joy

This morning I had the wonderful pleasure of introducing a sweet young Mom to her sewing machine! It has been lurking in her closet for two years, and her longing to learn to sew has never been satisfied! Today, I had the joy of teaching her to thread her machine and I watched her as she made her first stitches! Sewing is so much fun, and so very very satisfying. It is gratifying to share my knowledge with someone so eager to learn. I have taught a few young women to sew in the past, and it has always been a wonderful experience. It's got me thinking about my reasons for sewing, and I thought I'd share them here, so that you might be encouraged to give it a try, or share the knowledge you already have with someone else who might like to learn to sew!

My reasons for sewing ...
  • the satisfaction of accomplishing something with my own hands
  • the delight of creating a 'one of a kind'
  • the joy of being a 'producer'
  • re purposing materials for a new use
  • saving money - sometimes a lot of money, sometimes just a bit
  • not having to fight the crowds at the mall
  • not having to subject myself to fashion trends
  • being able to choose natural fabrics for my family
  • a perfect fit is possible
  • modesty made easy
  • well made garments that last a long time and make great hand me downs
  • a relaxing pass time
  • a skill I can pass on to our children
  • alterations and repairs - not my favorite, but very do-able
  • making a gift out of a heart of love - something tailored to the recipient
  • a creative outlet
  • having beautiful things I would not otherwise have - making our home a joy for ourselves and others
  • in the past, I have made a modest living with my sewing machine - quite a fun 'job'
  • helping friends in need
I am blessed to have a dear husband who supports my sewing passion - he doesn't even say much when I get going with my sewing and the house goes to wrack and ruin! He knows that I will emerge from my sewing area greatly happier with the world in general, and eventually, we will find the floor under all those threads again! He doesn't even complain about all the fibers that get caught in the roller brush of the vacuum, but patiently helps me remove them, and just keeps on vacuuming! I am truly blessed.

I recently finished some round cushions to match the set I made for our patio furniture last summer. We bought the chairs at a flea market and I searched diligently for round cushions to no avail. I guess round is out? I just finished the hand sewing on these four, and I am so pleased! I can't wait to have someone over for afternoon tea on the patio so we can sit on our 'new' 1940's wire chairs! There is a great deal of satisfaction in these kinds of projects.

Last Summer's Patio Project

I just can't wait to see where my new pupil will go with her newly acquired skills! She and her husband have four wonderful blessings - sweet sweet children are the best incentive to sew I can think of! As they were leaving today, one of her little ones chirped 'Mommy, now you know how to sew, right?' I'm sure her Mommy-heart was blessed!

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Ring Around The Bathtub

With our lovely warmer days, we are enjoying much more time out of doors! Don't tell the poor kids stuck in a classroom, but we have taken to doing our school under the pergola on the back patio! We know the days will get warm quickly and we'll be too hot for school outside, but we are enjoying it while we can. Of course, the kids are getting really dirty in the sandbox and nighttime baths are pretty much daily essentials! This brings me to ring-around-the-bathtub, because we have a bad case of it! It's time to make a new batch of my homemade soft scrub. I thought I'd share my recipe because it is really easy, quick and economical! It smells good, and works really really well!

I use an old dish soap bottle with a flip top - and I like to rinse it after each use so it doesn't get clogged. Give it a good shake before each use.

In a glass bowl, combine:

1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/4 cup dish clear washing liquid (we like Seventh Generation) OR liquid Castile soap
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup boiling water
3-5 drops lavender essential oil ( a natural disinfectant)

Using a fork, combine these ingredients until there are longer lumps. Use a funnel to transfer to a squeeze bottle. Use as you would soft soap - just a small amount is needed to resolve the ring around the bathtub issue at our home!

Too keep the ingredients as economical as possible, I buy the really big bags of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda at Sam's Club, and every once in a while I call Seventh Generation and request coupons - they are very generous. Our Kroger puts Seventh Generation products on sale often, and we have even ordered it by the case and saved money that way. Essential oils are worth the investment because they go such a long way! I hope this helps you keep your tub sparkling, and makes caring for your home a joy!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another curve in the road

Our Historian is fighting an 'infection of unknown origin' but seems to be responding well to the antibiotics. He has been resting since Thursday afternoon, pestered with a fever and exhaustion, but no other symptoms. We went ahead with the party since he didn't seem to be experiencing something that would be highly contagious. I really missed his help preparing for the a party, but thankfully the children pitched in and were really a blessing, only getting side tracked one or two dozen times! The Historian actually vacuumed for me - one room at a time with sweat pouring down his face, but he did it. Talk about dedication! He had a cool bath and went right to sleep again when it was all done! Our home is nicely divided into 'private and public', so it was easy for him to remain in our room for the party - with a few check-in's from me. We took him to the after hours clinic yesterday and now he seems to be making some improvement. The Storyteller has been praying too, so I know that God is at work even in this!

The party was a great success, I think. I forgot to take a picture of the counters laden with food, but it all turned out pretty nicely. I liked the pink and green theme that our Dreamer chose - very fresh and pretty. Since I had to stay close to home and take care of The Historian, I wasn't able to get out for some last minute things, so I adjusted the menu and robbed the garden of flowers for our bouquets. The rains have pretty much finished them now, and the peonies are not yet blooming, so the timing was perfect - I grabbed the last of the tulips, some boxwood, fern fronds, vinca, and some dwarf iris. I really must remember to plant some lilac bushes this year so that we have some blooms for next year. Also on my list for next year - more Angelique tulips - they really make my heart sing!

I do hope you are having a blessed Lord's day. Our children awakened with a real sense of anticipation this morning because they had been 'on restriction' since Wednesday, having lost their privileges in a fit of really poor behavior. It made me think of my own attitude towards a fresh new week, and how I often forget to appreciate the blessing of a new beginning each Sunday morning.

Joy to you!

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