Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shortcuts

Poppa and Grammy - these smiles are just for you!

Our Dreamer parted with several inches of her blond locks this afternoon, and the Storyteller is sporting a nice neat haircut as well. Never mind that the Momma hasn't had a cut since May ...

Just for your information, Dreamer wanted to send her long locks to Locks of Love again to be made into a wig, but was too impatient to wait for it to grow to the 10" required, BUT we found out that they do take shorter hair, they just sell it to cover the cost of making the wigs for kids with hair loss. She was happy - she is sending about 8" to be sold. A fresh look for the new school year! Yeah!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Passing on kindness

Jen from Reflections in the Window has very thoughtfully presented me with not one, but two awards! Thank you so very much Jen! You are too kind!


It is always such an encouragement to me to see that others are reading and enjoying my blog, though I often wonder why! It's just such a mishmash of this and that - a little about my faith in God, a lot about homekeeping and my crazy crafty past times, smiles from our daily family life, and a few recipes thrown in! It surprises me that anyone other then my family would want to take the time to read my ramblings, but it also makes me smile!



As Jen and others have done, it is only proper to pass these awards along too! The only problem is, I have so many favorites, and most have already received these kind awards from others. So, please don't be hurt or annoyed, but I'm going to pick just one friend to pass these along to, because she is very deserving, and I have searched her blog and found - I can't even imagine - that she has not yet received these kindnesses! Or, if she has, she has been too modest to post her awards!

So, Heather L - my sweet friend from Blackberry Rambles, I am pleased to pass along these thoughtful awards to you! Heather is a pastor's wife, homeschooling momma to four sweet children and an avid foodie, knitter, sewer and lover of God's beautiful creation - plus she has an amazing knack of finding berries to pick! You'll find out more about her when you visit her blog to congratulate her on her new awards!

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Tassel Tutorial - come see!


Did you know I have another blog? I started it last week when I was feeling funky and was looking for something to cheer me up! I called it 'BeTasseled' and I'd love you to come for a visit! It's just very basic so far, and the theme ... why, tassel making of course!

I just made a Tassel Tutorial for those who are interested in trying out this fun home dec craft. I hope it is clear and easy to follow, but if I need to adjust and clarify, please let me know! Tassels are so popular right now, and I know many would like to make them for themselves. I don't know if I am 'doing it right', but so far, everyone whom I've given one to has really liked their tassel, and they haven't fallen apart or anything!

I'm not the first one to make a tassel tutorial, Elise has a very fine one too! Slightly different technique, so do give both a try! I am just a late comer in this fun craft - a copy cat, even! I'm having so much fun, and I just wanted you all to be able to join in too!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Peach Tea for a Party


I know how popular Peach Tea is with my fun friend Carissa - she orders it every time we go to Olive Garden, and it is good. I thought I'd try my hand at making a big batch for our dinner yesterday and it turned out to be really popular, fairly healthy and quite economical too, so I thought I'd share it here with you all!

Peach Tea for a Party

Brew Tea:

I used 4 bags of PG Tips regular black tea in my 8 cup teapot with freshly boiled water, and allowed it to steep on low heat for 20 minutes. I removed the tea bags and used 3/4 cup organic cane sugar to sweeten the tea, stirring until it was completely dissolved and allowed this to cool. I did this three times for 24 cups of strong sweet tea. Chill in fridge for at least 5 hours.

Place 6 cups of ice in large beverage dispenser - ours is a 3 gallon size. Pour cooled sweet tea over ice. Add 1 can Welches frozen concentrated 100% juice Peach and White Grape and stir well. Add 3 cups if ice cold water and stir. Float lemon slices or peach slices for pretty if you like.

This makes 2 1/2 gallons of Sweet Peach Tea and cost about $3.75 to make. Enjoy!



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The Simple Woman's Daybook

I am enjoying participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, August 25, 2008
fall is coming ...


Outside My Window...
Bright, but overcast if that makes any sense.
Thankfully, the humidity has decreased and the temperature is only 74F!


I am thinking...
that I really need a nap

From the learning rooms...
we have some tidying to do this week and lesson plans to complete.
The goal is to be all ready to dive in after our first 'field trip' of the year which is
always a visit to a favorite historical site in Mackinac.

I am thankful for...
leftovers .... lots and lots of leftovers

I am praying for ...
strength

From the kitchen...
Ham and bean soup
ham quiche
ham souffle
ham stromboli
ham and split pea soup
Do you see a theme here?

Menu Plan:
Monday: The Luscious Leftover
Buffet
Tuesday:
The Luscious Leftover Buffet?
Wednesday:The Luscious Leftover Buffet?
Thursday: The Luscious Leftover Buffet?
Friday: Homemade Pizza - with ham, no doubt!


I am wearing...
a comfortable long tan skirt and my lime shell and short sleeved blouse.
My hair still needs a cut desperately, but it's cool enough to be down,
which is good since I'm fighting a headache and this is more comfortable!

I am creating...
nothing much today
... maybe I'll squeeze in a bit of tassel time later on!

I am going...
nowhere, if I can help it!
I've already been to the dentist for my 6 month cleaning this morning.
I had hoped to take the children to the pool later, but we'll see.

I am reading...
just my Bible during quiet time
I think it's time for a 'run' to our favorite bookstore!

I am hoping...
to have a quiet 'last week of summer' before school resumes

I am hearing...
The children are watching a video and the music is really sweet.
It is really unusual for them to have screen time in the morning,
but they are done their morning chores and
asked really sweetly to watch Beethoven's 3rd, which totally tickles their funny bones!
They are giggling so much, I'm not sure they can hear the movie!
They are quite tired today after soccer startup Saturday and all of
the clean up and helping out in preparation for company.
They had a hard time getting to sleep after too.

Around the house...
everything is pretty tidy, but we need to vacuum again and wash the kitchen floor.
There was a raspberry lemonade spill, and it is still sticky!

One of my favorite things...
a fresh clean mouth after a good cleaning

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  • enjoying the last days of summer
  • preparing for our family vacation to Mackinac City for the Bridgewalk
  • more blood work
  • writing my book review - really, I think my brain fog is going to clear!
  • continuing the search for a bigger bookcase for Dreamer's room
  • still waiting to hear from Immigration

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


This week the Storyteller learned not to cry over spilled milk!
Grab a rag instead!


Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!

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Shoehorn Not Required


With our weather man forecasting rain for Sunday making the patio table unlikely, I was beginning to wonder where we were going to fit 22 people for dinner last night, but I had a plan - we would all fit in even if we needed to use a shoehorn to do it! We moved in the table from the playroom which seats 8 comfortably and extended our regular table to it's fullest which leaves room for 12. I wasn't sure where we'd put the other two, but kids love sitting on the piano bench, so we decided that would work out. We might not have had much elbow room, but it would be close fellowship!

As it turns out, no shoehorn was required. Saturday night a family of 6 canceled because they were just too busy to come. Sunday morning we found out about two more who would not be attending - and by the time all was said and done, we had just 5 guests sitting at our table for supper. Needless to say, we have leftovers. Lots of leftovers.

Ham and bean soup? Coming right up!

Our children were really disappointed that not one other child came to our dinner. They had worked really hard cleaning their rooms and washing all of the outside toys this week. They had big plans to share and play games and show the kids all of their special treasures. Thankfully, they adjusted well and rolled with the change of plans. They made good conversation with the adults and were very helpful.

I think it was a good evening - there was lots of conversation and laughter. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. The two ladies graciously helped with the clean-up. We sent home leftovers, and I gave the two ladies who attended each a tassel from my growing tassel tree. All in all it was a fun evening, but a big effort for such a small group.

So, what are we doing wrong? This happens so often - we think we have a certain number planning to attend, and often we have about half actually show up. This time, way less than half. It is a bit discouraging. We are not going to give up exercising Biblical hospitality, but I really wonder if we need to do something differently. I'm open to suggestions, and we will be praying for wisdom in this area.

Is this something that you struggle with as well? When you open your home, do folks cancel at the last minute or just not show up? Are people really only committed until something better comes along? I'm just wondering.


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Drought?

Isaiah 58:9-11

When you beg the LORD for help,

he will answer, "Here I am!"

Don't mistreat others

or falsely accuse them

or say something cruel.

10Give your food to the hungry

and care for the homeless.

Then your light will shine

in the dark;

your darkest hour will be

like the noonday sun.

11The LORD will always guide you

and provide good things to eat

when you are in the desert.

He will make you healthy.

You will be like a garden

that has plenty of water

or like a stream

that never runs dry.

Contemporary English Version


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Plowing through molasses


I shouldn't be sitting here. There is much to be done and I haven't even begun. We have 22 coming for dinner on Sunday, and all my plans to be well prepared, doing a little bit each day so that I'm not in a last minute panic, have fallen through. It's been a week of plowing through molasses, if you have any idea what I mean! I am stalled, procrastinating terribly. I am feeling exhausted and unmotivated, and my timing couldn't be worse. I have had two afternoon naps this week, which just isn't like me. I've spent far too much time on the computer, far too much time doing mindless things.

I feel badly that we have not been at the pool or out on our bikes, making the most of these last days of summer, as we should. The children are not complaining, but I long to do more with them. I am glad that we will be starting school again soon and getting back into our happy reasonable routine, but physically, I am just really tired out. My blood work from last week shows that my thyroid has suddenly taken a nose dive and my meds need to be doubled. I have good reason for this exhaustion, but still, I think I should be able to push myself a bit and move forward.

I am glad to know that as soon as the increase begins to make an impact, I'll be feeling better. Hopefully. Prayerfully. I am concerned about such a sudden change, but liver disease effects more then just my liver, and I understand that. So, for now, I'm plowing through molasses. My brain is thick and slow. I am praying it will clear soon and I'll be able to move forward. In the meantime, I am taking comfort in God's Word, again.

Psalm 127:1

If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If
God doesn't guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap.
It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dinner for 22

As I mentioned yesterday, we are having 22 for dinner Sunday night. It is part of our small church family's attempt to do better at building loving relationships within the congregation and to reach out to those who are loosely connected with the church family, but not regularly attending. Various families were 'identified' back in the spring time as families that would be possibly willing to exercise their hospitality gifts by inviting families to their home for a simple meal and time of fellowship. Surprisingly, our family was honored to be one of the ones asked to host a gathering of families. We prayed about it and then agreed. It was up to us to set the time and date, but the guests were prayerfully chosen by the church health team. The goal was to have these meals during the summer months, with the deadline being Labor Day. Well, we are just squeaking ours in aren't we??? They don't call me the 'Queen of Procrastination' for nothing!

Actually, I'm not that bad - really! Since our Pastor and wife attend the dinners and facilitate the informal fellowship afterwards, we needed to work with their schedule, as well as the schedules of the guests, and our family schedule as well. It wasn't easy to come up with a mutually acceptable date, but this one worked for everyone, so we have been looking forward to it for a while.

You'd think with all of the time we had to plan, I'd have had the menu set weeks ago, but I didn't. In fact, I had several menu ideas floating around and it took talking with my dear sweet Mum today to pin it down. Keeping in mind that we are to keep it simple and stress free, here is what we have come up with.

Fellowship Dinner for 22
Sunday, August 23rd
5:30pm

Raspberry Iced Tea
Pink Lemonade
Coffee or Hot Tea

Sunday Dinner Rolls - double batch
butter pats

Pickle and Olive Tray
Veggie Tray with Dilly Dip

Salad #1 (brought by guest family)
Salad #2 (brought by guest family)
Baked Beans (double batch in Crock pot)
Scalloped Potatoes
Brown Sugar Glazed Ham (two)

Fresh Fruit Salad
Brownies
Mini Cup Cakes
Butter Tarts

Homemade After Dinner Mints


We are praying that this meal and fellowship time is a blessing to all who attend! We are also praying for nice weather since we are hoping to serve buffet style and send some out to the patio table to sit! Our kitchen just won't hold 22 for a sit down meal, and we don't have a dining room, but we will just get creative if we need too - we might just clear out the family room and haul a table in there if it rains. I'm sure it will all work out. Where God leads, He provides!


Grammy this picture of the Storyteller is just for you!
I caught him lounging in the sun room and watching the butterflies in the herb garden.
He was trying to hold his breath until you come for your fall visit!
Don't worry, I finally convinced him that it wouldn't work!


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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I am enjoying participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, August 18, 2008


Outside My Window...
Bright and sunny - deliciously cool.
It's supposed to warm up later today, so for now I am enjoying the coolness.


I am thinking...
that I would like at least another month of summer

I am thankful for...
a relaxing and fun family weekend

I am praying for ...
wisdom and clarity

From the kitchen...
salsa, chili sauce, grape jelly,
and maybe some crabapple jelly - only if I get up the nerve to ask
our down the street neighbors if I may pick their crab apples!


Menu Plan:
I haven't checked the food fliers yet, so this is still pending,
except for the two constants!

Monday: The Luscious Leftover
Buffet
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:

Friday: Homemade Pizza


I am wearing...
I'm wearing a denim skirt and my lime shell and short sleeved blouse.
My hair needs a cut desperately, so up it goes!

I am creating...
more tassels - honestly, it is quite addictive!


I am going...
to run some errands before the Historian heads to work!


I am reading...
I finished From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out
last week but didn't get my thoughts together to write my review - sorry!
I'll have to work on that this week for sure!

I am hoping...
to get a lot done around the yard and house this week

I am hearing...
the washer is almost finished and I need to hang the bedding out on the line

Around the house...
A room by room thorough cleaning is on the schedule for this week,
since we are having company next weekend.

One of my favorite things...
teaching children the exciting truths of Scripture

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  • enjoying the last days of summer
  • planning our diner party for 22
  • writing my book review
  • room by room cleaning
  • work in the garden - weeding, watering and planting fall crops
  • continuing the search for a bigger bookcase for Dreamer's room
  • look for some furniture for our side porch makeover
  • waiting to hear from Immigration

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Money may not grow on trees, but my tassels seem to!


Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!



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Saturday, August 16, 2008

For T - a Psalm

Two nights ago I was talking on the phone with one of my nephews - T - who is almost 9 years old. He lives in Newmarket, Ontario. He was telling me all about the electronics and robotics day camp he went to all week and asking me some questions about the Bible. I was stirring up 12 pints of diced tomatoes to can, and enjoying our talk. He told me that his family are reading through the Psalms and he said that it was his idea and they were already up to Psalm 77!

I love to hear about families digging in to God's Word together, so I was asking T which one of the Psalms was his favorite so far. He didn't know, but I started to share one of my favorite Psalms with from memory 'in the old version'. Yes, I'm that old! Anyway, I thought I would share the whole Psalm here for you T, since we were interrupted by your bedtime and my need for two hands while putting the boiling tomatoes in the hot jars! I'll guess you could have it memorized in about three days - it's that easy! Give me a call T, when you know it by heart - you'll make your old Auntie Heather simply happy! I'll even say it with you if you learn it in the old King James version, but you can pick whatever one you like best.



Psalm 100

1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2Serve the LORD with gladness:

come before his presence with singing.

3Know ye that the LORD he is God:

it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,

and into his courts with praise:

be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5For the LORD is good;

his mercy is everlasting;

and his truth endureth to all generations.

KJV


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Friday, August 15, 2008

A Guide

I'll have to admit that spending so much time canning leaves me little time for anything else, but the satisfaction of the growing collection of preserved food makes the time spent well worth it. I am almost finished with canning for this year - I want to make another batch or two of salsa, put up some more tomatoes, and of course, I have to make my Nanny's Chili Sauce. My friend has some grapes that will soon be ready for jelly and juice.

When the apples are in season, I have 'an order' for lots and lots of Apple Butter from our Storyteller, and if we can find some nice pears, Dreamer can't remember what pear butter tastes like and would like some made up to remind her! Of course, when the Florida oranges are nice, I may make some low sugar marmalade for my Dad - but that won't be until December. Oh, and I almost forgot about the cranberry season in mid-October! Dreamer loves cranberry sauce. So as you can see, I'm almost finished with canning season.


As I chop, boil, stir and wash dishes, I have quite a bit of time to think. I am noticing the rapidly diminishing stacks of canning jar boxes and pectin pouches in my favorite stores more this year. Perhaps more families are putting food by this season - more so then in other summers, I think. I'm guessing that the rapidly rising costs of food and fuel are part of the motivation, along with a revival of the home arts in some circles. I know that in the early spring the garden centers were remarking on the increase of vegetable plants that they were selling. Many customers were putting in a garden since they were going to be staying home more this summer due to fuel prices. My favorite greenhouse owner expressed his regret for not planting more veggies this spring as he was continually running out of the plants his customers wanted. Perhaps as these veggies ripen, many are putting up the fruits of their labors by canning and preserving. I hope so.

Still there are many who are not experiencing the joys of canning, for various reasons. I hear many of these reasons as I check out at our various local stores with yet another box of jelly jars or more lids, pickling salt, pectin or freezer bag refills for the vacuum pack machine. The most common comment is 'Wow! You're in for a lot of work!'.

Canning is work, but it is also joy. It isn't as hard as many might think. If you can read and follow directions, you can can. The benefits are obvious. Fresh economical food put up just the way you like it - no mysterious ingredients, dyes, colors or artificial preservatives. You can control the quality of the food you feed your family. The sense of satisfaction is tremendous, and as a side benefit you have quick and greatly appreciated gifts right there in your pantry to bless others with.

While it is time consuming at first, like anything, you get into a rhythm and things do speed up after a while. I highly recommend preserving small batches at first and working up to greater quantities by making multiple batches back to back. Doubling is rarely successful, and not really worth the risk of not properly preparing the food. It is not hard to have two pots going or to do all the cutting for two batches and just clean out the pot in between.

There are some very significant side benefits to canning that I have discovered and have not found noted in any of my canning books. These are so unique and profound, I decided that I really need to share them. I do hope that I am not breaking the secret rule book of experienced canners by doing so, but I am willing to take the risk, if it will inspire others to join in the joy of canning.

Did you know, that you can save countless hours and vast sums of money on your personal beauty routine, when you can? I didn't think so, and thus I have prepared this comprehensive guide for just you:


The Crazy Canner's Guide to Kitchen Cosmetics

1. Are you worried that canning will cut into your manicure time? Worry no longer! I can assure you that after a few days of canning, your nails will be broken and quite short, void of any nail polish. Simply trim them with clippers and your manicure is complete.

2. If you are not satisfied with this simple manicure and seek a bit of color on your nails, simply can or pickle 100 pounds or so of beets for a delightful rosy tone to your nails. If you seek a spicier color, tomatoes leave a really nice orange tint to most fingernails. If yellow is your fashion statement, simply add turmeric to your chow chow recipes and a delightful shade will be achieved. A few dishpans full of hot suds will reduce these colors to less startling intensity, I promise!

3. Are you worried about soft hands? Worry no longer! Remember the alpha hydroxy treatments of the 90's? Why pay for expensive creams and chemical peels when canning peaches will achieve the same results? Are you concerned with age spots? Again, the humble tomato comes to the rescue, removing at least three layers of skin and diminishing those unsightly spots just as effectively as those expensive creams.

4. If your hands are really in a mess and a lovely basic tomato sauce is on the agenda, you are fortunate indeed. Simply use a bit of that olive oil and some of the course salt to scrub away any rough dry skin.
5. If you wonder if canning will detract from the time you generally spend enjoying your daily facial, don't fear! Don't underestimate the value of the sweet sticky juices left on the cutting board when preparing corn for the freezer or your favorite chow chow recipe. Apply liberally to your face and allow to dry - instant non-surgical face lift! To replace you usual chemical peel, prepare peaches and use the juices to soften and revitalize your face.



6. Clogged pores? If you generally spend hours steaming away impurities, canning is the best time saving device ever! You'll spend hours over open kettles of boiling water and simmering fragrant foods! It's like aromatherapy with the side benefits of steam. Be careful not to burn yourself, though!

7. Puffy eyes? Grab a few slices of those millions of cukes you are wondering what to do with, and throw them on your eyes before you put them in the pickle brine! Good-bye puffy eyes!

8. Are your lips tired and colorless? Perk them up with a bit of jalapeƱo while you cut them up for your wickedly good salsa! Or, for a less spicy solution, try rubbing one of those beet slices over your lips for color! Oh la la!

9. Are you having hair issues like I am this summer? If your hair tends to curl in humidity, just wait until you spend some time canning! Honestly, your friends will ask if you have gotten a perm! If your hair tends to straighten in damp weather, you're blessed - the canning kitchen will take every ounce of body out of your hair and the straight styles of today will be within your grasp - without the $99 steam straightener!

10. If you are having a bad hair day you'll do very well in the canning kitchen - simply pin it up in a bun - you'll keep hair out of the food and feel extra vintage, especially with your work stained apron on!

11. Are you having trouble with product build up in your hair? Canning time is definitely the best time to take care of it! When the whole house smells like the sweet vinegary fragrance of your special chili sauce, salsa, relish or chow chow, no one will notice if you take the time to give your hair a vinegar rinse to get rid of the gunk.

12. It's easy to avoid sun damaged skin in the canning kitchen. Visit the garden or farm market early before the sun is intense, or in the cool of the evening. Don't forget your large floppy hat and sunscreen. You'll look 10 years younger without the inevitable leather like skin that those who are spending their days poolside will eventually endure. You may be a bit pale, but you'll have a well stocked pantry!


Well, I hope this helps to inspire you to put some food by this summer and fall. Since the beauty benefits are so great, you may just find yourself receiving numerous compliments from friends and family. As usual, this wealth of rather useless advice is not meant to replace your own good common sense, but is shared simply to bring a smile to your face!

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Clip art courtesy of Antique Clipart

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tassels for my sister


My sister took delivery of her tassels over the weekend when she took her boys up to Dad and Mum's for their summer fun in the North. Her oldest boy A, is at the same church camp I was thinking about this morning as the cool morning air whispered through our open windows! Her middle boy M. is staying with Poppa and Grammy and going to the same canoe and kayak camp that our Dreamer had so much fun at two weeks ago! Their youngest T. is home with my sister and her husband but going to a day camp in the city which will teach him about electronics and robotics - too cool! Anyway, she put up her tassels and sent me a picture! I had never seen her window treatments for the family room! Last summer when the children and I where up North, her family was at their trailer, and of course, this summer I am not able to travel out of the country because of my immigration status. I am so pleased that her tassels compliment her family room so nicely! It's nice when things just work out so tickity-poo isn't it?

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The Simple Woman's Daybook

I am so enjoying participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, August 11, 2008


Outside My Window...
Bright and sunny - deliciously cool.
I am loving this cool spell in August. It reminds me of summer camp in Northern Ontario - gathering by the flagpole at 7 am to sing 'Oh Canada!' and shivering all the way to breakfast.
We really appreciated the steaming bowls of oatmeal smothered in brown sugar
on those mornings!

I am thinking...
that life certainly is a mixture of joy and disappointment.
This morning Lowe's delivered our second new stove
and it too was broken - in the same place.
I'm glad that my canning can be accomplished on the stove top!
We have 22 coming for dinner in two weeks - now I am beginning to get anxious!
I'll just serve jam and salsa - what do you think? Maybe not.

I am thankful for...
forgiveness
clean laundry and a full pantry

I am praying for ...
patience ... again

From the kitchen...
Last week I made more sweet pickle relish, mustard beans
(those are all for you Mum - just because I love you!),
and salsa! I also put more fruit in the freezer for winter.

Menu Plan:
Monday: The Luscious Leftover Buffet
Tuesday: Chicken Tostadas
Wednesday: Grilled Ham Steaks
Thursday: Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

Friday: Homemade Pizza


I am wearing...
For once I am not in a brown skirt! I'm wearing denim capri's and a long sleeve t-shirt.
I need to stake up the drooping tomatoes, and the long sleeves will protect my arms.
I am allergic to tomato plants and raw tomatoes!

I am creating...
My Moss Ball experiment was successful - but the Historian took one look
and said, "We really need to clean out here more often!" Humph!
I am also creating a menu for our company in two weeks.
In the sewing room, I hope to create two matching pullovers for the children -
they don't need them, but they like to match on the Labor Day Bridgewalk, so I try to accommodate them! I'm afraid it won't be long before matching with your sibling isn't special anymore! Frankly, I'm surprised it has lasted this long!


I am going...
to have a quiet day.
I am recovering from yesterday's migraine headache.
It was a doozie! Pardon any incoherency, please.


I am reading...
I finished From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out
and hope to write my review later today or tomorrow when my head is clearer!

I am hoping...
they figure out this stove situation and get it resolved soon.
I am really tired of trying to coax our old stove into submission!

I am hearing...
heat bugs and cheery birds, water running in the kitchen, and the voices of our children!

Around the house...
I plan to clean off the mantle and put my Moss Balls in Urns up on display.
General cleaning and putting away greatly needed.
Mount Ironmore is on the rise again - imagine that!
I think the garden is calling me!

One of my favorite things...
hazelnuts - in cream cheese or Gelato - it's all good!


A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  • writing my book review
  • work in the garden - weeding, watering and planting fall crops
  • peach jam
  • dental cleanings for the children
  • submitting Homeschool Forms to local Superintendent
  • continuing the search for a bigger bookcase for Dreamer's room
  • look for some furniture for our side porch makeover
  • waiting to hear from Immigration

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Psalm 97:6
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.



Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!



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Thursday, August 7, 2008

More love talking ....

This time love is spelled P-I-E!

My husband really enjoys fruit pies, but I am not a confident pie maker even after all these years of marriage and my supposed genetic predisposition to practically perfect pies, so it's a pretty rare treat around here!

You can make this pie even if you don't have the 'pie gene' - I am living proof. I was supposed to inherit the gene from my Mum, but it must have skipped a generation or something. My Nanny made excellent pies and so does my Mum. I hope Mum will share her pie making tips with us some day soon! For Mum, the expression 'as easy as pie' is an everyday reality! Anyway - this pie was a labor of love, and very well received!




Bumble Berry Pie

2 cups red fresh raspberries
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 Tablespoons ClearJel (cornstarch based pie thickener - we buy it in the bulk but you can get it from King Arthur)
2 tsp. minute tapioca
2 tsp. cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 unbaked double crust pie shell well chilled - your own or store bought

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 1o" deep pie plate ( glass is best) with pastry. Sprinkle with dry tapioca (to prevent soggy crust issues) and place in fridge. Combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and ClearJel and stir until well mixed. Don't fret if the berries break up a bit. Spread evenly in chilled pie shell and dot with butter lumps. Dampen edges of pie crust with a finger dipped in milk or water. Place pie top on top. Seal edges well and crimp. Cut vents using a knife or tiny cookie cutter. Brush the top with cold milk and sprinkle a bit of coarse sugar on top 'for pretty'. Work quickly if your kitchen is warm - baking the pastry chilled results in nice flaky pie crust!

TURN OVEN DOWN to 350 degrees F. Place pie in the center of your oven with a foil lined drip pan on the rack below - this is important or you will hate me and want me to come and clean out your oven for you!!! I think I'll be busy that day. Bake about an hour - the best part about a clear glass pie pan is that you can look at the bottom and see if it is nice and brown ( baked) or kind of a sickly gray color ( not baked). The juices will be bubbling and look thick and glossy. This is a lovely looking pie, but tastes just as yummy as it looks! Remove from oven and cool at least 3 hours before cutting, unless you really like 'pie soup'! We've had 'pie soup' because we were too impatient, and believe me - it still spells l-o-v-e!


Did you see this tiny wee pie peaking out from behind the big pie?
I used a smidgen of pastry and about a cup of the berries
from our pie for a sweet treat for Mr. Neighbor.
When I took it through the 'cookie path' to him, he was so pleased.
Men really do seem to like pie!
I collect tiny pie glass pie plates to make little treats for him - meat pies, shepherd's pie and such.
It's getting harder to find little ones like this, so others must be collecting them too!

I have to thank my friend Kelli for giving me the courage to put my hand to fruit pie making again! Her beautiful pies looked so yummy! Kelli was the one who got me all inspired with her recent blueberry pie post reminding me of how much my family loves fruit pies! She linked to Ruthann's Recipe for a butter crust that I just had to try. It was very easy and yummy - very buttery, and I had a delightful time touring around Ruthann's wonderful blog - what an inspiration!

So there you have it! Go forth and make pies! It may not be 'as easy as pie' the first time, but I can attest - it gets easier each time! I'm going to try to put 6 fruit pies in the freezer before the berry season ends! Maybe then I'll feel like it's as easy as pie!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Love in any language


Sometimes freshly ironed shirts are simply an expression of love!
Usually when it's really, really hot outside.


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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't panic - even if dinner is not in the freezer!

I've been doing the freezer meals thing and really enjoying it, but I realize that not everyone shares my zeal for cooking from scratch or has the time or space for make ahead meals. There are a lot of other options that don't require a drive through or a cardboard box!
I thought I'd share one with you!

There are so many great recipes out there that have five ingredients or less, are quick and simple to prepare and fall into the nutritious and delicious category. There are also a lot of new recipe books that seem to be built around the same theme of 5 ingredients or less - but so far I've been disappointed in them. Quick flip throughs at the bookstore reveal a lot of prepackaged, preserved or high cost ingredients. I don't often use those types of recipes because they often contain things I don't have on hand - like canned soup, tater tots or frozen mixed veggies.

This recipe is simple, low fat, tasty and filling. I almost always have the ingredients on hand. My sister gave me the original recipe years ago, but as usual, I had to alter it for our family. I used to use the chunky salsa called for, but because of texture issues, I found myself running the salsa through the blender to smooth it out before bringing it to a boil. Then I got smart and used taco sauce instead - no blending, no missed offending chunks, and less clean up .... and the rest, as they say, is history! I really like the Pace Organic Taco Sauce - and it often is on sale when the other Pace products are on. We still call it Salsa Chicken! Here are the basics with pictures, no less!


Bring taco sauce (or salsa) and water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Place raw chicken on top of rice - it will sink a bit. Turn down heat to low and cover.







Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Give a stir. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes - 14 minutes for brown rice. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5-7 minutes while remaining liquid is absorbed.





Plate the rice - place chicken nicely on top. Garnish with grated cheese. Serve hot!





now for the specifics ....

Salsa Chicken


2 cups of water
1 1/3 cups of taco sauce (we like mild or medium) or salsa
2 cups of long grain rice (we use brown)
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken - dark or white meat
1/2-3/4 cups grated cheese - cheddar or Monterey jack

This could not be more simple! Bring taco sauce or salsa and water to boil. Add rice and stir. Place raw chicken on top of rice - it will sink a bit. Turn down heat to low and cover. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Give a stir. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes - 14 minutes for brown rice. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5-7 minutes while remaining liquid is absorbed. Plate the rice - place chicken nicely on top. Garnish with grated cheese. Serve hot!


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Monday, August 4, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I am so enjoying participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook.
It's a great way to start the week with a focus.


For Today
Monday, August 4, 2008


Outside My Window...
It was very sunny a few minutes ago, but now it is dull.
We don't anticipate rain, so I will still hang out the wash to dry today.

I am thinking...
That I am very very happy to have my family all home safely again.
The children are so brown and healthy looking
- I am quite sure they grew in the fresh Northern air.

I am thankful for...
Safe traveling for The Historian and children, Dad and Mum and Mrs.M and I
- we were all on the road in different places and no incidents!
I'm also very thankful for a fresh new week.

I am praying for ...
an easy transition back into our summer time routine.
I'm still praying for patience and also about a wrong attitude I am struggling to shed.
Our grieving families continue to be on my heart.


From the kitchen...
I really enjoyed my cooking day on Wednesday using some some recipes from
'Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer' and some of our old favorites.
We are already enjoying the fruits of my labor.
This week I hope to get some more fruit in the freezer - specifically, peaches.
I also hope to can some of the tomatoes that are coming on strong in the garden.

I am wearing...
Another chocolate brown skirt day - this time with a very soft matching brown t-shirt.
My feet are bare and my hair is up. It's supposed to be another warm day here.

I am creating...
a massive 'to do' list - trying to plan some fun activities to keep the children busy
and make the most of our last 'official' month of summer.
I also hope to figure out how to put some moss on Styrofoam balls
to place in my new bargain urns.
And more tassels - they are just too fun!


I am going...
to stay home today and pick green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers.
I'll be getting the laundry out on the line soon.
I have some pretty things from Garden Ridge to find homes for in my home!

I am reading...
I didn't get my book finished last week - there is too much good in there to rush it or to try to absorb it with a tired brain. I am almost finished and hope to write my review this week!
I was asked by a real author to review her book! The book is called
From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out
written by Nancy Twigg.


I am hoping...
that my laundry doesn't get rained upon!
It's not looking too promising!


I am hearing...
Happy children playing nicely together
and the sound of the washing machine finishing up it's cycle for my third load.

Around the house...
When the children came in they just dumped everything here and there!
The house was very clean, but now it is looking untidy.
We need to find a home for all of their treasures from North Bay!

One of my favorite things...
the blessings of friendship

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

  • recovering the piano bench with pretty green jacquard
  • Finishing Nancy Twigg's great book and writing up my review!
  • back to piano lessons and an orthodontic appointment for Dreamer
  • organizing some more home school materials for the fall
  • work in the garden
  • food prep for the winter and some more freezer meals
  • painting projects, sewing projects
  • continuing the search for a bigger bookcase for Dreamer's room
  • look for some furniture for our side porch makeover
  • still waiting to hear from Immigration

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


My sister asked me to make her some tassels for her family room
in cranberry and blue - I hope she likes them!
They look nice on my kitchen cabinets, but don't go with the rest of the kitchen
... or I might have been tempted to keep them!


Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook!


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Sunday, August 3, 2008

They are on their way!

I'm getting my family back today - Lord willing! Our time of quiet is coming to a close, and we will resume a more normal pace of life. I have enjoyed the freedom to do things I enjoy uninterrupted and on a whim, but I have really missed the children! It has been fun to pack 10 years worth of dates with The Historian into two weeks - and to just spend time with my husband one on one. I think we need to plan for that more often. The Historian went alone to pick up the children since Homeland Security in California doesn't seem to be moving any more rapidly on my paperwork then any of the other offices my well traveled file has sojourned! I've almost given up with being patient, but since wait we must, wait we will!

The reluctant 'exchange' occurred least night at supper time in Cambridge, Ontario and now the Historian and children are headed home! I say 'reluctant' because the children were not ready to give up the thorough and complete spoiling of their Poppa and Grammy and leave the land of sunshine and sparkling water for our significantly drier farm country. Grammy and Poppa were quite sure they could do with another week of our children, though Grammy is especially tired out. There were many many tears. Living far from those you love is rarely easy.

I need to go start some supper for the travelers, but first I wanted to share yesterday's adventure!

I could have had a very quite lonesome sort of day without my family, but instead I spent the day with Mrs. M!!! What fun we had together bargain hunting in a store we had never been to before. When I read about the great finds The Nester uncovered at Garden Ridge in this post is made me curious, and I did a little searching. It turns out there are 4 Garden Ridge stores in my state, and one just a smidge over an hour drive from my front door. I talked to Mrs. M. because she is the ultimate shopper and once resided in this fair city, but she had never heard of Garden Ridge. We made a date, printed out a map and set off yesterday, hoping it was worth the gas $$$...

Well! We walked in and we were floored! If there was one beautiful pot, there were 200, if there was one beautiful rug, there were 200, if there was one ..... I think you get the idea! Too. Much. Fun!!! We did the outer rim of the store, made a few purchases, which were not marked 'on sale' but rang up 1/2 price - and then we went for lunch. Can you guess where? Just a hint ... they sell bagels and cream cheese!

Did you guess Panara Bread? We actually enjoyed their yummy poppyseed summer salad and home style lemonade, and it was very needed. It gave us the strength to GO BACK to Garden Ridge and do the inner isles!

We didn't leave until almost 6 pm. Talk about power shopping! We were quite the team, and in the end we both decided that Garden Ridge is out new favorite store. Hands down!

I'll try to' show and tell' my finds when I have then placed in our home, but for now, the Historian and our children are on their way! I need to make some supper!

I'm one very happy Mommy! I'm really looking forward to sleeping well tonight with all my favorite people right where they ought to be!


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