Monday, November 30, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I'm trying to get back into the habit of participating in Peggy's 'The Simple Woman's Daybook' - but Monday mornings I just seem to hit the floor running, and I forget to blog!

Be sure to click on the picture below to visit Peggy and see the other journal keepers!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Outside my window... it's overcast again but supposed to clear up later! I think I'll hang up the washing inside just in case! Last week a few loads of washing took two days to dry outside - and besides that, we could use the moisture inside the house since the heat is on and we are all waking up with dry mouths.

I am hearing ... The Storyteller is telling me a verse he is trying to memorize, while his sister is trying to get him to get dressed and start on the day.

I am thinking... about all of the sewing projects that are floating around in my head waiting to get started or finished! Some are for Christmas, some are for the house, and some are for me - long comfortable warm skirts top my list of 'needs'!

I am thankful for... Mondays! Laundry, lessons, library and leftovers - all good!

I am praying for ... a heart of obedience to God - and the wisdom to know His clear direction.

I am remembering... the sweet time we enjoyed with my Mum and Dad and our friends over Thanksgiving!

I am wearing... long dark denim skirt, beige crew neck top, denim cotton sweater with beige blanket-stitch edge - casual, comfortable and ready for the day!

I am going... to take Dreamer to piano and ballet later. The Storyteller and I will take back a bunch of books to the library and hopefully run an errand or two before picking up Dreamer and heading home. The Historian has already gone to pick up our first winter citrus shipment - oranges and grapefruit! Yummy! I hope when he gets back to make a quick trip to JoAnn's for the lining I need to finish the two wool skirts I started for myself yesterday!

I am reading... my old hat patterns! Our Dreamer is really into wearing hats these days and I need some warm hats for winter as well, so I think it is time to get sewing something cozy for us both!

I am hoping... that this will be a productive week sewing and school - wise! That the Storyteller will get over his cold without sharing it with anyone, and that I can be an encouragement to others this week!

On my mind... my Mum's health - she is in so much pain with her back, hips and feet. I am praying that she will get to see a doctor soon and get some relief - even if it means surgery. Also, this morning we received an urgent prayer request for a friend who recently had brain surgery - she hasn't been doing well for the last two weeks and needs our prayers.

From the learning rooms... The Storyteller is making good progress in both Math and Reading, and Dreamer is steadily working through her lessons, catching up in science and spelling.

Noticing that... restful quiet weekends make for a better start to Monday!

Pondering these words...
'Sarah sacrificed Isaac in her heart before Abraham and Isaac ever made it to the mountain - she had to let him go.' Another challenging and thought provoking message from the life of Abraham - part of the 'Leaders and Losers' message series we are enjoying at Grace Baptist Church.

From the kitchen...
Empty cookie jars and bread cupboard, but the fridge still boasts a few leftovers, so that's a good thing!

Around the house... Yesterday we pulled all the fall decorations down and began packing them away in their bins. I'm not sure when the Historian will get in the attic to get out the Christmas bins, but sometime this week would be good so that we can begin decorating the house. Of course, there is always dusting and tidying to be done on Monday, some vacuuming and the bathrooms need a wipe!

One of my favorite things... we live in a neighborhood of lovely homes - a few of which hire a 'service' to decorate for Christmas inside and out. Last week, the 'tree dancers' came with their long long poles and put lights around the evergreens and on the branches of the maples. Today they are there, taking down the fall wreaths and putting up the simple evergreen wreaths with red velvet bows that grace every shutter clad window. I love to watch the transformation!

From my picture journal...

Maple Twists (recipe link)

These Maple Twists were fabulous - every last crumb was eaten!

I've been trying out some new sweet bread recipes thinking that this might be a good year to change things up a bit on Christmas morning since we always have Swedish Tea Ring! I have been informed by the family that they love the sweet bread experiments, but I best not mess with tradition!!!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009


I guess I'd better pay some attention to my much neglected blog! We've been occupied with school, hospitality, a few really bad days health-wise, daily blessings, and of course - Thanksgiving! We were blessed to have Mum and Dad make the long journey to our home for American Thanksgiving! We also invited friends and stretched the table to seat 12! It was quite an enjoyable time. We are still enjoying the leftovers! So many blessings - it's hard to keep count!

Today was one of those days that just call for some travel. Poking our noses in quaint antique shops and finding little treasures - always a joy for our family! We included a fabric shop, lunch at Der Dutchman, and even some ice cream at Young's Jersey Dairy - and for our listening pleasure 'At the Back of the North Wind'.

Delight upon delight!

We also found THE fabric for our Dreamer's bedroom. You might recall that she recently turned 12 - um, are we sure about that??? Can I get those dates checked??? It can't be we have a pre-teen beauty in our midst - can it? Her bedroom has been pink with micro pink gingham, pretty ballerinas and flowers for almost 5 years. Time for a more grown up look! We made promises on her birthday, but she needed to do some narrowing of choices before we could settle into some serious shopping. Today we found it!

"Whimsy" in chocolate, teal, aqua, lime and white. It is so fresh! A collection of coordinates by Pillow and Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics! I can't wait to get started! And, in case you think I am a quilter - I'm not! I just am going to pretend to kinda sorta copy a super simple 'teen' quilt she saw and wanted - but we couldn't reconcile the $250 price tag with reality! So ... we have some sewing to do! Dreamer is going to be very helpful - I'm sure! She is a messy - no doubt about it! I am hoping and praying that a lot of effort on this project on her part will translate into a little more concern for keeping it tidy and beautiful! Momma's can dream, right?

Do you see that super funky chunky rick rack??? We both fell head over heals for it - so cute! She's looking to put it along the edge of her valance - yummy! I know we need some more solids in our fabric mix, but this was what we could work on today - only so much time can be spent in a fabric store when the day is calling us to be out and exploring! Plus, the boys were in the van. Waiting patiently, I am sure!

I'm really looking forward to church tomorrow. I've not been in 3 weeks - two weeks because of my own health issues, and one week the Storyteller was struggling with a tummy bug. Dreamer has got a mild cold, but hopefully we will enjoy good sleeps and awaken ready for worship!

I pray that the blessings of your weekend abound, and I'll be back soon when we begin the journey of preparing our hearts and home for Christmas! I've been pondering some thoughts that I'd like to get sorted and share with you, but with one thing and another, I've not put it all together - soon I hope!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


On an ideal Tuesday, my husband walks in from work to the smell of a delicious home cooked meal around 5:30 pm and we sit down as a family to enjoy it at 6pm. After a tasty supper and uplifting conversation, my husband leads our family devotions. Afterward, I get up from the table and disappear to my sewing room for a few hours of wonderful uninterrupted sewing time!

When I emerge, the kitchen has been cleaned and table wiped, the children are clean and sound asleep in their beds, having had a fun evening with their Daddy - there are always good books involved - and I am usually feeling refreshed and as though I have accomplished a great deal, even if I don't get my sewing project completed, at least I feel that I've made progress.

I call my ideal Tuesday 'The Gift of Time' - and in many ways there is nothing more valuable my sweet husband could give me in this season of homeschooling with chronic illness. It is better than flowers and chocolate! Though, if those thoughtful items came home with him on an ideal Tuesday once in a while, I wouldn't be opposed or anything!!!

To be honest, a simple dedicated evening of crafting or sewing requires planning and preparation on my part. I treat it like an appointment, or I would never see it happen! I first need to check the calendar to make sure nothing has encroached on my Tuesday time, and put in a word with my Historian. He is not a mind reader, even after 18 years of marriage!

I need to decide on a project and make sure I have the supplies on hand that I need. Deciding is a big thing because I often waste way too much time trying to figure out what I want to do!!! I will put the items I need on my shopping list and be sure to get them on Monday Night when the Storyteller and I are out running errands during the Dreamer's Ballet class.

Next, I need to make sure in the morning that supper is well thought out and 'thawed out' if necessary before we plunge into the day's school work - and I need to focus on school and not get ahead of myself trying to get to the sewing room too early!

Supper on Tuesday's is often a meat and veggie meal with fresh baked cookies for dessert since Tuesday is my baking day. Oven meals are the simplest, so for example, tonight I slipped a big meatloaf, foil wrapped potatoes, and two butternut squash into the main oven. I didn't have room to bake the cookies too, so I used the oven in the Grammy flat for the cookies, which kind of defeated the purpose, but did make the Grammy flat smell yummy! I made biscuits too since it has been a while since we had them, and prepared a tray of raw veggies also. One of the children will often take Mr.Neighbor's cookies to him through the cookie path just before supper BUT after I make a call to make sure the over-protective dog is put up!

It's a regular school day - an at home day when at all possible, and we often get a lot of work accomplished! I love Tuesdays because I feel like the kids really make a lot of progress and I feel good about that. We work towards ending school promptly at three and I get at my baking right away.

After I pull the last of the cookies out of the oven - or let Dreamer take over the kitchen if she is done her schoolwork and is of a mind to make us some good cookies - I try to get a bit of rest. Just to put up my feet for 20 minutes helps so very much. Of course, the minute I sit down, I have a certain boy who wants to hug me to death (he doesn't know his own strength) or chat with me - or I'll have a book to read shoved under my nose placed in my hands to read aloud - along with a now very big 9 year old boy!!!

So, to sum up this ramble, here is my formula for an ideal Tuesday:

  • pick your date and clear all possible conflicts
  • check with your better half and make sure you're on the same page
  • plan your project and get your supplies in
  • make a wonderful tempting supper that will energize you for creativity!
  • grab a few minutes of rest in the afternoon - re-energize yourself!
  • don't skip family devotions - it sends the message that 'me time' is more important family worship
  • Don't clean the kitchen - leave them to it (I love to hear Daddy and children chatting away as they work together)
  • Don't allow interruptions - unless there is blood our something is on fire, I am not here!!! Of course, I will stop for my goodnight hugs and kisses!
  • Sew, sew, sew! Or, do whatever it is that makes your heart sing that you 'never' seem to get to do!
Every season of life brings it's unique blessings - but sometimes, in the busy season of child rearing, you just have to make the little personal joys a little less spontaneous and a bit more planned or they never seem to come about!

I wish you all an 'ideal' Tuesday - at least a few times each month!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I'm trying to get back into the habit of participating in Peggy's 'The Simple Woman's Daybook', but I almost forgot this morning and it's only the second week!
Be sure to click on the picture to visit Peggy and see the other journal keepers!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Outside my window... it's overcast but strangely warm. Is this really November? Three loads of wash are flapping on the line outside.

I am hearing ... my two best students clapping out the syllables of Dreamer's spelling words. Storyteller is counting the claps!

I am thinking... how nice it is to look ahead at a rather quiet week and know that's I'll be able to catch up on some things I've been neglecting ... or at least that's my goal!

I am thankful for... the opportunity to home school our children, to stay home each day and enjoy our quiet simple life!

I am praying for ... a friend who is grieving silently.

I am remembering... the goodness of God and His faithfulness in the midst of the trials we face.

I am wearing... denim skirt, sage green t-shirt and a cream hooded sweater.

I am going... to take Dreamer to piano and ballet later. The Storyteller and I will take back a bunch of books to the library and hopefully run an errand or two before picking up Dreamer and the Historian and heading home. We are back to one vehicle while we wait for parts for the little car, so it's a bit of a juggle.

I am reading... my Christmas idea books - one from Southern Living and another from Gooseberry Patch.

I am hoping... so many things, but most of all, I am hoping to continue to feel as well as I have the last couple of weeks! These short times of wellness are quite a blessing considering that I feel so unwell so much of the time!

On my mind... yesterday's morning message on Leaders and Losers. The Pastor was teaching from the life of Abraham, the friend of God. So much to learn there about obedience and the far reaching consequences of being slow to obey, or choosing to disobey. Abraham heard the audible voice of God, but we have His written word to study and reference, and still we struggle.

From the learning rooms... we are ticking right along with our classwork. Dreamer is still struggling with spelling and Storyteller is finding that reading is still a challenge, but they are both making progress.

Noticing that... more clouds are rolling in! My washing may not dry out there today, but at least we are not expecting rain, and there are no bugs to soil it so I will just leave it alone until it does dry! I knew I was taking a chance this morning, but I was hoping for sunshine to burn through the clouds!

Pondering these words...
from 1 Timothy 2 1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

From the kitchen... empty cookie jars! That will never do! This week I need to make apple sauce and clean out the freezers - all three!

Around the house... things are still pretty neat and tidy, but the bathrooms need a swish and the floors need some attention, as always when leaves are falling and scurrying into the house every time the door opens!

One of my favorite things... a hot cup of good tea and a fresh cookie warm from the oven shared with a sweet friend.

From my picture journal...

We were all talking about how much we are missing Poppa and Grammy - it seems like it's been sooooo long since we saw them!

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bulletproof pie and other thoughts on hospitality

Have you ever had a day in the kitchen when things went 'suspiciously well'? I love those days! Everything turns out perfectly the first time and I am cleaned up and out of the kitchen way before expected!

Yesterday was not one of those days! Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! Never the less, dinner was ready on time and everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. At least I didn't poison anyone - and that's always a good thing! We had the pastor from the church we are attending and his family for the first time - and we looked forward to their visit all week. Since Sundays are crazy busy for them, I figured we'd never be able to have them over for a nice Sunday dinner, so I did Sunday dinner on a Friday night! It was so nice to have them come.

I prepared Cheesy Potatoes and Mandarin Orange Jellied Salad the night before and thawed the chicken for Rolled Chicken Washington . I was hoping it would thaw enough so that The Historian could pound them flat before he headed to work, but they were still pretty frozen! I boiled the beets and made some fresh cranberry sauce before going to bed. In the morning I started Sunday Dinner Rolls and timed it they so that they would come out of the oven just in time to slip in the chicken and potatoes. I was flying through and quite sure I was going to have time to french the green beans and put my feet up for a bit!

The children got going on their schoolwork with just a little instruction from me, and I set to making dessert - and that's where everything began to fall apart! I've never had such a struggle! TWO pie crusts hit the garbage - TWO!!! The final result was a passable Lemon Tart and Cranberry Custard pie, and one bulletproof Chocolate Pie! Too funny! I was ready to get out the chain saw to cut the poor pitiful thing, but thankfully my trusty knife finally did the job, and the filling was rich and creamy as usual. My tried and true pie crust recipe failed - my error all the way! Well, that and a certain little boy who turns off the timer when I'm not looking! Ahem!

A few years ago such 'disasters' would have devastated me, but it's wonderful to have the perspective of age and the blessing of a more Biblical understanding of hospitality. When we were first married, we used an old set of camping dishes that I dug out of my parents basement for our everyday fare. They were thin black speckled tin and they clinked and clanked in the most cheerful way! They went perfectly with the table that we dug out of the garbage and painted and we had many other young couples over for meals without feeling the least bit embarrassed by our lack of real dishes.

I served our first Thanksgiving Dinner ever to my mother in law on those dishes in our first cavernous apartment. I ran up a $$ phone bill (for my dad) calling my mum in Canada for recipes and advice, but it never occurred to me that preparing a holiday dinner was something to be feared or fussed about. I just copied what I'd seen my mum do 1000 times for Sunday dinners, and it went really well. I thought the borrowed card table that we ate at was going to collapse, but it didn't!

I used to serve thick soup and homemade bread on those same tin dishes to the many folks who traveled the rails behind our parsonage and somehow knew our door was the one to knock on for a hot meal and warm facecloth. They had to stay on the back porch because often my husband wasn't home and the church folks worried about the young pastor's wife. We found a picnic table by the roadside and hauled it home to serve our backporch guests. Our church young people were served on those tin plates too - hundreds of donuts, hot from the fryer. They were cheap and filling, and the kids ate them so fast, I don't think they cared too much about the dinnerware.

Somewhere along the line, we got the 'real' dishes that we had registered for, and the lovely fine bone china set that my Nanny left for me as well. I made matching napkins and learned a few more 'company' dishes to serve. I enjoyed adding extra touches and making everything pretty ... then suddenly, I was no longer content with 'pretty' and became focused on 'perfect'. Instead of being hospitable, we were entertaining.

There is a big difference, to my way of thinking- perhaps you will agree. Entertaining is more about showing off your home, your cooking and decorating skills and pulling off the 'perfect' event. In the heart of entertaining is the desire to impress your guests and gain their approval. Entertaining has it's place - there are times when it is a necessary means to a desired end in the business world. We are not in that type of situation, so entertaining to impress was just that.

Hospitality is about making things pleasant, certainly, but it's more about opening your home to share the blessings of God with others. In the heart of hospitality, the focus is on the comfort and enjoyment of your guests. It's about sharing a laugh, getting to know one another, providing a meal and not turning 6 shades of red when your children lead their new friends in a loud 'hide and seek' game that includes messy closets and dusty cubbyholes as hiding places! It's far more relaxing for both our family, as the host, and our guests - when our 'good enough' is the goal and we don't feel like we need to impress anyone.

The children will agree that I'm still a stickler for cleanliness - and I do get a little tense when they get distracted from their tasks and make more mess than they clean up, but I working on that! We have our 'everyday' clean - they know the standard that we expect for their rooms and they do a decent job of it by keeping up with their daily 'zones'. They know that the next level is 'Grammy Ready' - which is more picked up and tidy than usual, but not perfect. Then there is 'Company Ready' which involves a little more cleaning and the complete removal of the layer of dust that accompanies life in a 1949 home. We keep the bathrooms up pretty much all of the time, so they just require freshening up and new towels before company, and the toys in the yard always need to be picked up and put away.

I don't fret so much about the dust we didn't get too these days - we just do our best and ignore the rest. Or shut the door to the room where all the junk lands! Which doesn't really help when everyone is scrambling to find a hide and seek spot!

We had a great time with our guests last night, and it was a blessing to practice hospitality again. Our children are close in age and share many interests, so that's a blessing too! I've been amazed that I am feeling so well lately - and tremendously grateful. I'm certainly not superwoman, but I seem to be able to do a bit more, and that's just wonderful! I don't know how long it will last this time, but I aim to enjoy it - and share more hospitality, as we are able.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

It's been a while since I participated in Peggy's 'The Simple Woman's Daybook'!
I thought a brand new month might be a good time to get back into this good habit!
So, here goes!

FOR TODAY Monday, November 2, 2009

Outside my window... Sunshine and heavy frost. Most of the leaves have fallen, and it looks like we've got some raking to do!

I am thinking... that it's fun to get back to daybooking!

I am thankful for... a warm home and my family

I'm praying for ... a dear family who has been through the wringer with H1N1 - the mama is having a hard time to not worry.

From the learning rooms... we have a full school week this week, starting with history with the Historian this morning.

From the kitchen... the cookie jars are almost empty, so I am glad tomorrow is baking day! I think I'll make some pumpkin cookies and we need bread.

I am wearing... my soft flannel p.j.'s

I am creating... more felted wool purses for orders! Another linen pillow from an old linen skirt, and a baby gift with some soft flannel receiving blankets and burp cloths.

I am going... piano and ballet later today! The Storyteller and I will head to the library while Dreamer is dancing, and also to the grocery store for a few items.

I am reading... I finished Grace Livingston Hill's A New Name last night and haven't got anything else on my side table right now.

I am hoping... that the strong Biblical messages we heard preached on Sunday will really penetrate the hearts of those of us who needed to hear them and change our lives. They weren't easy topics, but our hearts where challenged and encouraged. For October, our pastor preached a series of messages on Globalism, Modern Education, The World Economy and Jerusalem. The 'Shaken' series is available for download or just listening HERE.

I am hearing... the grandfather clock inside and a leaf blower outside.

Around the house... you won't be one bit surprised to hear that I have a mountain of ironing to tackle, now will you? My iron is broken ( it's the fourth one I've killed) and that's why it is so out of hand this week! Bathrooms need a quick cleaning and the whole house needs a vacuum.

One of my favorite things... fall is a wonderful time of year, and so far we have been blessed with good health, for which we are very very thankful. One of my favorite things in fall is getting back into our family routine and enjoying our quiet, simple life.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We need to clean up the yard - more leaves have fallen over the weekend! I still have some herbs in the garden that I think will be fine to dry and save. I can't believe we haven't put away the garden hoses yet - that needs to be done too! We have a full school week, and some appointments as well. Wednesday is AWANA and Thursday is co-op. Friday night we are having company for dinner, so we are really looking forward to that.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

We visited a local living history farm on Friday!

Be sure to visit Peggy HERE and read her Daybook! She has provided a Mr. Linky so that you can read over 200 other Daybooks as well!

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