Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making the change

"Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used." -William Willett (1857-1915), "The Waste of Daylight" 1907

Many people intensely dislike the beginning or ending of Daylight Saving Time, and our children are among them! They really don't worry about the inconvenience of changing our many clocks, because, as everyone knows - that's the Daddy's job! Adjusting to a new sleep schedule is what they have a hard time with, along with being hungry at all of the wrong times. For us, this is a mere nuisance, but we feel sorry for some people with sleep disorders who find this transition very difficult indeed.

We decided long ago that making the transition slowly was the best idea for our family. Dreamer was just a toddler when we first figured this out. The seasons when we have been too busy and forgotten to implement the 'turn back the clock schedule' by increments of 15 minutes for the four days prior to the official time change, have often been the most frustrating weeks of our school year. It's no wonder that there are more serious accidents and on the job injuries after the time change - along with a decrease of productivity - we're all half asleep! It is better to ease into the change for us - and that's why I thought I'd share this with you!

We don't actually mess with the clock until the time change officially takes place, but we do start thinking towards earlier meal times, snack times and bed times. This year DST ends at 2:00 AM on November 1st. With this in mind, we are working on this schedule:

  1. Wednesday, October 28 - Lunch at 11:45, Snack at 2:45, Supper at 5:45, Bed at 8:15
  2. Thursday, October 29 - Lunch at 11:30, Snack at 2:30, Supper at 5:30, Bed at 8:00
  3. Friday, October, 30 - Lunch at 11:15, Snack at 2:15, Supper at 5:15, Bed at 7:45
  4. Saturday, October 31 - Lunch at 11, Snack at 2, Supper at 5, and Bed at 7:30

Our normal daily routine is: Lunch at 12 noon, Snack at 3pm, Supper at 6pm, and Bedtime (for the children) at 8:30 - Storyteller goes to bed at 8:15, and Dreamer gets to read until 8:45, usually.

Breakfast happens at different times, but after dressing and morning chores are done, we eat and get started with school. We really need to keep on schedule for our Storyteller - he becomes somewhat irritable and suffers from terrible tummy aches when he doesn't eat every few hours. The problem is, he has very little interest in eating, so the schedule reminds me to slice a banana, or other fruit and put it in front of him each and every day, or he suffers tummy clutching, rolling on the floor kind of discomfort. Never a good thing.

If we follow the time change schedule, by the time we awaken Sunday morning, we should be all adjusted to the new time and not be put off by the changes too much. Often we turn Saturday breakfast into a 'Historian Special' brunch and make the day fun that way. Saturday is the hardest day to keep the routine, but we try because we know it works well for us. We will do all of our Saturday night routine in preparation for Sunday, to be ready for the Lords' day as usual. If you'd like to read about our routine you can go here and maybe get inspired to customize a routine for your own family - if you don't already have one! Since we do not celebrate the big candy grab of October 31st, we usually just pop some popcorn, play games and enjoy a quiet evening together.

Don't forget ...
Change the batteries in your smoke detectors when you change your clocks - more than 90 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but one-third are estimated to have dead or missing batteries.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Finding my 'go-to'

Don't tell my husband, but I think I might have a few too many cookbooks. Just maybe. I lost count at 120 ... I'll worry about thinning them next year! I'm sure I'll need a mid-winter project, after all!

One of the problems of having so many great cookbooks and recipe websites, and so many favorite meals is deciding just what to make. Often I am limited by the ingredients I have on hand, but since I am blessed with a well stocked pantry and freezer, there are still a lot of choices! Sometimes I think I am a bit scatterbrained!

Making my monthly menu helps a great deal - I have two menus for cool weather when meals are most likely made in the oven or crock pot, and two warm weather menus, featuring meals that are likely to include fresh garden produce, a salad of some sort or something grilled. Flip flopping the two menus makes for a nice variety and keeps me focused when it comes to grocery shopping. If I'm not following the menu plan, we often don't eat as healthfully or enjoy the variety that we do when we stick to the plan.

There are times when I am not well or just plain tired and than we usually eat something simple, use a meal from the freezer, pick up a roasted chicken, or do the take-out thing. I really need to do a big cooking day again soon and re-stock my freezer, since we have used all of the dinners that I previously prepared. Our supply of pork and beef is dwindling nicely which will leave room for some meals, and give us a bit of a break before the next slaughter time. We've already spoken for another hog or two and quarter of beef since it was very economical and wonderful to have such quality meats on hand all spring and summer. I don't know when we've ever enjoyed such lean and flavorful meats.

Our weekly family meals are really not the problem. The problem is when we have company, take a meal to a family in need, or when I need to take something for a potluck. That's when I seriously ponder the cookbooks and struggle to make up my mind. I must say, this is one area where my husband is no real help. I don't know how often I have heard, 'Heath - anything you make will be great! Do what ever you like or feel up to.' Arg! See what I mean? Very complimentary, but his answer doesn't help me narrow down the selection in the least.

When I grow up, I'd like to be 'known' for a signature dish, like some of the women of my grandmother's generation. I really would. 'Did you see Heather brought her _____________ ( fill in the blank) again? I'll have to tell my husband. He'll be the first in line!'. I am not an ambitious woman, and I don't generally seek accolades, but it's just one of those things I'd like to do when I grow up. Come to think of it, I'd better get to it soon!

My own sweet Nanny was known for her love of all things lemon. Lemon meringue pie that made your upper lip sweat, lemon sponge cake that floated off the plate and her lemon loaf - with a sticky sweet-tart syrup poured over it while it was still hot, it was the most moist loaf at the luncheon. My Mum is known far and wide for her shortbread. She has literally made at least 400 pounds of butter into melt in your mouth shortbread over the years - and that's a conservative estimate! When I was a girl, I loved the ones shaped as holly leaves with green sugar sprinkles and the wee red candy at the end to represent the berries. For years she hosted a Bible Study in her home and served all manner of muffins and coffee cakes - all well received. My husband's mother could be counted on for a nice big dish of homemade macaroni and cheese and a generous slab cake. Her mother made an amazing black walnut cake and served it on a square Fostoria cake pedestal that I now enjoy using from time to time.

Finding my own 'go-to' has been far more difficult. So many great recipes, so few church suppers!

This week a family from our home school co-op was in need of a wee blessing. The mom had surgery and was out of commission for several days. We decided a meal might be most helpful, but it took me forever to figure out what I wanted to make. I narrowed it down to Baked Ziti, homemade Italian Rolls, Fall Apple Salad, and a spicy pumpkin struesal cake. I asked before I planned, and there were no food allergies or strong dislikes to work around, so it was pretty easy - except for the deciding part!!!

What I want to do is have a standard 'go-to' meal for 'meals on wheels' deliveries - one for spring and summer and another for fall and winter.

It needs to include:

  • a salad
  • some type of bread
  • a main dish
  • a dessert
It must be:
  • easy to transport ( not sloppy)
  • generally well liked by children and adults alike
  • tasty
  • using everyday ingredients that I can keep in my pantry or freezer
  • seasonally appropriate
  • economical
Do you have any suggestions? Are you known for a 'meals on wheels' supper that you bring to those families in your circle of friend who are in need of a blessing? Do you have a signature dish for potlucks?

Please do share - I want to get this thing narrowed down and typed up. I'll post it inside my cupboard door and than I won't have to think about it again!

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Welcome

A warm fall welcome to you!

Last weekend we had the pleasure of hosting the moms from our homeschool co-op for a relaxed evening of fellowship and food. My 'Mom's night Out' committee partner, Mrs. S, and I, wanted to give the mom's a chance to just talk and enjoy one another's company in a warm setting, so we chose a cafe theme for the evening. Since hot chocolate bars are usually a big hit, we named our cafe Le Cafe chaud de Chocolat!

We had lots of different things to add to the basic homemade hot chocolate - like shaved chocolate, crushed mints, homemade raspberry sauce, chocolate syrup, and my caramel sauce. I put out some instant coffee packets, real whip cream and of course, marshmallows too! The ladies had fun combining different flavors - and some of their drinks were works of art!

Our cold beverage choices were fresh pressed cider and ice water - which we needed to counteract all of the sweet treats!

I loaded up my counter with yummy things to eat - it was so much fun preparing things that I thought the mom's would enjoy. Mrs. S was to share in the baking and preparation, but illness hit hard and fast at her home, and so she wasn't able to come - such a shame! We missed her! We'll have fun doing things together for the next one, I'm sure!

What did we eat ? Well, let's see ... chocolate covered strawberries, two bite brownies, chocolate cheese ball with graham cracker sticks, candied pecans, mini spicy pumpkin bundt cakes, pumpkin dip and ginger snaps, hot apple cheddar pie dip with crackers, and walnut bars.

I was so happy when the Historian brought home a shock of corn and a bale of straw - it made my outdoor decorations really simple to throw together! Of course, the leaves were all swept up before our guest arrived, but our trees are dropping leaves every minute, so it needs to be swept again! I used outdoor rice lights to highlight the corn - it really makes it glow at night!

The big black urn is a Goodwill find - it was full of really red fake poinsettias for Christmas, but I have other plans for it. For now the grapevine pumpkin and some leaves, but later, I will fill it with branches and have some fun!

I finally made a new wreath for the side door this year - I forced myself to do it by giving away all of my old fall wreaths last year!! I needed the push to get creative and do something new - and it was nice to know that the little church I gave them to really appreciated them.

I decided that the Grammy Flat porch door needed a wreath too - it had to be small to fit between the doors, but it sure brightened up the porch. Yesterday I sat out there for a bit and enjoyed the lovely weather - just wonderful!

I have always struggled with having to make front door wreathes that would fit between the storm doors, but this year I took a page from Manuela's book and hung it on the outside of the storm door! Since this door is rarely used, I was able to wire this together - for easier 're-purposing' another season!

I love the way the fall color's 'pop' against our red door! So much fun!

Just inside the front door I put some candles out - and my Pilgrim people! They will be in a more prominent place at Thanksgiving time!

I just realized that everything in this picture was either thrifted (and painted) or inherited, except the ribbon on the lampshade! Too funny!

On the same old black dresser inside the front door I just had some fun with old books, a tiny urn and, of course - pumpkins!

I used the cloth pumpkins that I made last year from scraps of upholstery fabrics on the mantle - but I'm not completely happy with how they look so I'll take some time to play with on the weekend if I get some inspiration!

See? It just needs something - but I haven't decide exactly what!

I love the way the big 'HARVEST" sign my Mum gave me looks over our t.v. cabinet! She and I saw it at a favorite store - off season clearance! This is the first time I've used it and I love it!

It was such a fun night - only about 1/4 of the moms from our group were able to come, but that's fine - though there were quite a few leftovers! I sent home some doggie bags and we've enjoyed having some sweet treats too! Maybe next time more will come - I hope so!

Thanks for dropping by!

Happy Fall!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

35 Thanksgivings and counting!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and family! We celebrated with you, even though we are a long way from our Canadian family! Can you smell the turkey stock simmering away? The children have come in from playing in the cool crispness and sniffed the good smells in the air a few times, greatly anticipating tomorrows good soup! I won't tell you that I got a nice juicy turkey breast for $.69 per pound and then had a $5 off coupon for the meat department! Poor mum was just having a fit over the cost of turkey in Canada this year!

We have always chosen to celebrate both Thanksgivings as one of the first family traditions we established after marriage, since it was a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend in Canada 18 years ago today when were joined together before God as husband and wife. Can that really be possible? I keep on wondering where the time has gone. So, no matter where we were living at the time, we've enjoyed 2 Thanksgivings each year and that has really added up quickly!

We always have so much to be thankful for, and especially in difficult times I love the reminder to have a thankful heart in all circumstances. It's one of the areas I continually struggle with in my thought life - worrying instead of being thankful and resting. Seeing all we have be blessed with, two lively children who are overall quite healthy and enjoyable, close family, dear friendships, a caring church family and all of our needs met, plus much more - we are quite overwhelmed by blessings. We just need to be reminded that hard things are blessings too - and learning and growing is never without a small cost or discomfort.

One of the things we are lacking right now is heat - the furnace is not turning on, so we are hoping it is a minor repair! Our kindly furnace man will be here tomorrow. This lovely front room where our computer resides is all windows and quite chilly, so I'll head back to the warmth and coziness of our kitchen and to another cup of tea, and wish you all a lovely day!

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Blessings Abound

  • I awakened feeling almost 'well' on Saturday for the first time in weeks
  • I enjoyed a relaxing day with my family
  • we went for a drive and the leaves are hinting at future glory
  • we were challenged to open our eyes to world events and see their spiritual applications by our Pastor on Sunday
  • we were reminded of the solid foundation we have in Jesus Christ
  • we have 150 productive school hours logged in for 2009-2010
  • we started our Fall Housecleaning today - with enthusiasm
  • it turns out ballerina's do like cupcakes with pumpkin shaped sprinkles
  • we are looking forward to Canadian Thanksgiving and our 18th wedding anniversary
Blessings do abound!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009


Happy Birthday to you!

12 things we love about you Dreamer
  • your love for Jesus
  • your heart for those in need
  • your loyalty to your friends
  • your dancing blue eyes
  • your bright smile
  • your thorough hugs
  • your love of books
  • the way you clap and laugh when you are excited
  • your willingness to help out
  • your amazing snickerdoodles
  • your humble spirit
  • that God specially hand picked you to be a part of our little family
we are very blessed
I love you Sweet Girl!
I hope your day is happy in every way!



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