Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thankful


It's been a rough week health-wise and I have also been so concerned about my sweet Mum! She is in dreadful pain with her healing burns and now she has 'caught' the children's colds! We know that germs can't pass through the phone lines, but somehow all those 'hugs and kisses over the phone' translated into a horrible cold for Grammy. More likely it was all the hanging out at the doctor's office she's had to do lately in care of her burns. I know just how she feels cold wise, but I am thankful to say that I am on the road to feeling better - I think! I'm back down to one nap a day, so I see that as progress!

As I gazed out the window after one delightful nap this week, I realized I just had to take a picture of something that made my heart sing in the middle of a rough patch - the ornamental cherry tree. I'm so glad I did because the heavy rains today have all but dismantled all those lovely sweet blossoms.



Can simple pink tulips make your heart sing? You bet they can! Especially when they are bathed in evening sunshine! How I wish I was a better photographer - but I read 'Digital for Dummies' and I'm still in the dark! I might as well have read it in a foreign language!



Grammy had her heart set on seeing our two hardworking kiddos receive their Awards at AWANA last night since she is our AWANA loving Grammy and a huge part of their motivation to succeed at AWANA. Grammy is a T&T leader and she has listened to their verses and been able to sign their books when she is here visiting. She always challenges them to do 'just a bit more' and move forward when the going gets tough. So, we really missed her and she really missed being here to take some decent pictures of our two hardworking goofy children! They would have smiled for her!!! Our Grammy!



I have an answer to prayer to share! The fuel line in our van disintegrated and spewed gasoline all over the engine and undercarriage of our van. And yes - it is a praise and an answer to prayer - really!

Last night, after the AWANA Awards Night, our Historian made a milk run out to the farm, knowing the bulk tank would likely be full. On his way home he smelled 'something' strong, but wasn't sure what was happening. By the time he got home, the van was smoking - the engine light was on and everything stunk like fuel. Including my normally sweet smelling husband. It was all over the driveway too. How is that an answer to prayer? Well, before we tuck the children in for the night, we always pray with them individually. Last night Daddy was on the milk run, so I got to pray with the children. We prayed for Daddy - thanking God for all the quiet ways he shows his love for us each day, and we prayed for his protection - no special reason but it came to both children's minds. We were also thanking God for all of the ways He provides for our family and prayed we would never take His provision for granted and that our hearts would be always grateful. Again, just pretty general and not at all unusual, but obviously there was purpose in our prayer time.

Did we get a 'right away' answer to our prayers? For certain. Both children were amazed that God protected Daddy who was driving home in a majorly unsafe vehicle - and today, while we had to have the van towed away to be repaired, we are grateful that a situation that could have been so much worse, was really not too bad. I'm thinking we'll be grateful when we get the van back, too. We had a few sad moments when we heard of another home school family that lost the Daddy in their home yesterday, and we thought of our Historian and decided we need to be more grateful for God allowing him to be the leader of our little family.

I'm thankful because it gave me yet another chance to talk with our Storyteller, who is often overcome with doubts about God's Word, God's love and God's goodness. If ever there was an juvenile theological skeptic, our Storyteller is it. At times he is completely walking in faith and the assurance of the absolute truth of God's Word in it's entirety, and at other, less frequent times, he has many doubts. He is such a passionate boy, and we look forward to seeing all that God has in store for this little man - and in the meantime, we are not waiting for him to be a great man, but are striving to help him be a great boy!

For tonight, our sweet Dreamer is on a 'date' with her Daddy - they are at the Historical Society Spring Banquet and enjoying a very special speaker - hopefully learning lots and having some great Daddy/Daughter bonding time. It's such a joy to see her growing up into such a beautiful young lady - and these kinds of evenings are great for keeping the lines of communication open, and teaching our precious girl just how she ought to be treated when it comes time for her to have some special friendships later on ... much MUCH later on!

I'm off to read to our Storyteller - and I'm sure our prayers tonight will have a healthy dose of thanksgiving!


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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I really enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a fresh zeal!


For Today Monday, April 27, 2009



Outside My Window...
76 degrees and now it is dark. The sky was blue all day and it is breezy. The blossoms are blowing in the breeze making it look like a petal strewn wedding took place on our lawn!

I am thinking...
It's good to be starting a new week, but I think I would like a 'do-over' for the weekend,
since I spent most of it sick again!

From the learning rooms...
We are finishing up in some areas, and catching up in others. The children both had heavy colds last week and so we have to get back on track - they did some school work, but also a lot of resting and quiet play.

I am thankful for...
Soft gentle Puffs tissues - perfect for sore noses!
How did I know that when I 'stocked up' on sale tissues we'd soon have need of them!
It's always the way!

I am praying for ...
Our homeschool co-op which was in crisis last week with many hurt feelings and unkind remarks - it made me so sad, and so stressed! I am praying that these moms will work it out and learn from this time of trouble. My Mum is healing from her burns, but is still in terrible pain.
We're also praying for a family who are traveling throughout the U.S. as they prepare for full time foreign missions ministry.

From the kitchen...
I never made it to the grocery store last week for a 'big' shop but I did get fruits and veggies and we used the staples we had on hand - thankful for a deep pantry when illness strikes.
I did get the fridge cleaned out and now it just needs a wipe again before we shop later in the week.

Monday: Rigatoni and Salad
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday:
Sunday:

I am wearing...

Long denim skirt, lime green tank and matching short sleeved blouse.
Oh, and a really red nose - quite attractive!

I am creating...
A big old Honey-Do list!

I am going...
To run Dreamer to piano and ballet and run errands with Storyteller if I have enough strength!

I am reading...
Just finished a real page turner that my thoughtful husband picked up to help in my cold recovery - "Anathema" by Colleen Coble. It's a present day Amish mystery romance and you'll never guess the ending! A great distraction from coughing, sneezing and sniffling!

I am hoping...
For a return to better health - soon.

I am hearing...
The house is settling down for the night - our Historian is home from work and everything is still.


Around the house...
We're not ready for the 'condemned' sign yet, thankfully! We have clean sheets! Umm ... enough said!

One of my favorite things...
Little plants popping up through the soil in our mini greenhouse!
Reminder to self - watch that it doesn't get too hot and cook those babies now!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  1. School, piano, ballet, and our AWANA awards night - all winding down for the year!
  2. Garden and home chores
  3. Sewing for me - once the mending is caught up, I really need to make something new for myself for Sundays!
  4. Mount Ironmore!

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:

Mr. Peppermint finally underwent the spring bath ordeal - boy was he a schmelly kitty!
Sweet Dreamer enjoyed helping him dry his fur and fluffed him out with a good brushing!
Thank you for reading my daybook!

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


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

(almost) Guilt Free Sweet Tea


Recently I read that 80% of the caffeine in tea is released in the first 30 seconds of brewing, and that pouring off that initial tea, adding fresh water and brewing for 30 seconds longer will result in tea that is 80% lower in caffeine! "Perfect, I thought! I know caffeine isn't good for me, and I had been feeling a bit badly that I just don't like iced tea as well without at least a bit of caffeine in it! I'll try that with my Sweet Tea recipe and see how it turns out!" If you know me at all, you know I really like Sweet Iced Tea with Lemon - fresh wedges of lemon are best, but a splash of Real Lemon will do in a pinch. But I'm a bit fussy - I like it just so, don't you know - at least when I'm making it at home.

I cannot tolerate any artificial sweeteners, I don't think they are good for you anyway. I have tried to like the healthy alternatives, but agave, stevia, sucanat, and raw honey all 'flavor' the iced tea too much for my taste! They work fine for most baking and canning, and even in hot tea, but just don't mess with my Sweet Iced Tea! So, I stick with organic cane sugar and have reduced the amount as much as is palatable enough to be still 'Sweet Tea'. We sure are a sweet tooth society - and I am as bad as anyone. The figures are staggering - in 2003, each person consumed about 142 pounds of refined sugar per year in this country! Whew! We should be the most energized nation in the world!

Anyway - I messed with my tried and true formula and found an added benefit - no 'sharp' or 'bitter' edge to my tea - which means a smidgen less sugar and I'm happy as can be!


P.G. Tips tea is available in the International isle of our Meijer, and also online.

Sweet Iced Tea - with a 80% less caffeine

I used 4 bags of PG Tips regular black tea in my 8 cup teapot with freshly boiled water from my electric kettle. I poured 1 cup of boiling water over the tea bags and let it steep for 30 seconds. I poured off the water and reserved it to cool for watering my seedlings.

I poured 8 cups of fresh boiling water over the tea and let is 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. Serve over ice, and don't forget the lemon wedge!

By the way, if you boil water for tea and other things as often as I do, I would recommend this handy kitchen tool - electric kettles are wonderfully quick and efficient.

It's nice and warm now, but way too breezy to spray paint those wicker chairs, but I'm certain that as soon as the porch is set up comfortably, I'll be enjoying a tall glass or two ( that's my limit!) of sweet iced tea! Come over and join me!


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Simple Solutions: Twistables


I love it when I can be a hero to our children - today, I was that hero! If your children have the Crayola Twistable crayons and are mad drawing fools prolific artists like our Storyteller is right now, you may have a few Twistables that are ... ahem ... broken. Or maybe your children are not so rough on everything. Must be nice! Anyway, if you do have a broken Twistable you can sometimes fix them without much fuss and thus obtain hero status with your art loving children.


Here's how: Grab the broken Crayola Twistable, the piece of wax that has come out of the Twistable and your handy lighter. Twist the mechanism all the way to the top of the tip of the crayon - it will only go as far as the narrowing before the tip, but that's fine. Warm the end of the broken off piece gently for a couple of seconds (remembering that wax is flammable and so are fingers!!!) and insert it back into the Twistable, making sure the warmed wax connects with the bit of wax left in the mechanism. Twist it down right away, while the wax is still warm, let it cool a bit and there you have it - a usable Crayola Twistable and hero status in your children's adoring eyes!

By the way - this takes longer to type and read that it does to accomplish, and please do be careful because playing with fire and wax is a bad combination! Your hero status may not last long if you actually need to call the fire department!

Also, I had a great JoAnn's coupon in my hand one day and wandered into the kids craft isle where I found the Crayola True to Life crayons and pencil crayons. I used that coupon to get them 40% off and I have to tell you - our children love them and they have really added to their artwork!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: Green and Yet Faithful!

It's always amazing to me that God cares enough about me to arrange things so that eventually, I'll get the message. I am rather obtuse - things that are so apparent to some are not even in my line of vision. As a result, I don't notice long held grudges or closely guarded cliques so I can be friends with everyone. It also makes me a difficult friend to have - you really have to spell things out for me! Subtle hints aren't going to work. Beating around the bush could take all day. A two by four little straight talk is far more effective - and not everyone is comfortable with having to just say it. It can be a problem.

Truly, that last paragraph has nothing to do with Earth Day, being green or living faithfully - but maybe it will explain to you why it takes many flashing neon signs gentle prodding from God to clear up my thinking enough to share my thoughts here ... well, it takes a bunch of prodding. Everyone and their dog is talking about being green - nothing I have to say is new, but here we go - I can't ignore the prodding, and Earth Day seems like the most perfect time!

For the longest time I thought that the things that the really cool people now call 'being green' were just plain common knowledge. I was born in Canada and raised by my parents to to respect God's beautiful Creation, to be frugal and to be polite. Hanging up our clothes to dry, composting veggie scraps and carrying our own fabric grocery bags was just the way we did things.

When my Historian and I got married and I moved to the U.S., I definitely got the impression that I was, well weird. Beyond weird actually - I was radical. All of the things that just came as second nature to me, like cooking from scratch and recycling everything we could, were just not overly popular back then. They were definitely far too labor intensive, hopelessly old fashioned, and really quite unnecessary. I got the distinct impression that our lifestyle was somehow anti-Christian or at the very least, not quite Baptist. It seemed like we could not be 'ecology minded' and still be a respectable Pastor's family.

Time and again I tried to encourage our churches to get rid of the Styrofoam coffee cups and use mugs, to make washable cloth table coverings and get rid of the plastic and to use the stacks of restaurant style dinner plates hidden in the back of the cupboard instead of the paper plates that they bought by the thousands! I even offered to help with the clean up. My ideas were met with resounding 'NO!'s or, sometimes a lame 'we probably should, but it's so much extra work!'. I was given the impression that we had better things to think about, more spiritual things. I gave up and shut up.

Not in our own home though - we've just been quietly rebelling all these years! Full disclosure here. We have been imperfectly composting, growing a garden, line drying our clothes, using cloth rags and washing them, recycling, eschewing harmful chemicals, buying second hand clothes, cooking from scratch, collecting rain water for the garden, recycling bath water, eating close to home whenever possible, using cloth napkins, and *gasp* flushing only when required. Just radical, I know. Thankfully, we've met some other like minded folks along the way, and enjoyed our simple life style in good company.

We could have kept our green little secret strange behavior to ourselves, but then we were blessed with children, and well, you know how that goes. We no longer have any secrets. They are fully indoctrinated in our simple common sense ways and are huge helpers with the composting, recycling and line drying. They think it is normal for Mama to make supper from scratch and not get it from a box or can, and they have folded more then their fair share of rags and cloth napkins. They think green without even thinking about it.

The good news is, our lifestyle is getting to be somewhat fashionable now - kind of like the frugal folks who are being idolized in light of the current economy. Everything old is new again. We're not getting so many strange looks when we hand over the cloth bags at the grocery store! I don't get questioned when I ask the children to carry out their recyclables when no bins are provided. Don't worry though - we are still not flaunting our 'green' side - we are just quietly going about our business, because well, that's how we've always done things. Is there more we could do? I'm quite sure there is! Are we willing to do more? Absolutely.

What we are not willing to do is buy into the current fear motivated philosophy of living gently on this good earth. We are not convinced that humans are quickly destroying the planet, and that we must frantically do whatever we can to somehow 'save' this fragile earth. It seems like 'everyone' is doing it - even many churches are jumping on the bandwagon. A pastor we heard recently was at a conference where everything was 'green'. He was tempted to throw around some garbage in response to their political correctness.

The thing is, I think perhaps many folks are 'going green' for the wrong reasons - and forgetting the One who is really holding it all together.

Here's the bottom line - the part I've been prodded to share. We don’t ‘worry’ about the environment because of the current media hype about ozone layers, global warming and carbon footprints. We are not responsible for this Creation - God is in charge and were are simply stewards. Are we doing a bad job of it - well certainly. What don't we do a bad job of? Honestly?

We fully believe that God completed His creation in Genesis and that He alone is sustaining it, an ongoing work of Jesus Christ. We don't have the responsibility of saving our physical planet. We are called to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. This world is temporary, and a new heaven and new earth have been in the plans from eternity. We get all anxious about that but, God's word says it and I believe it. All of it. Yes, even when I can't fully understand it.

Isaiah 65:17

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

It's been a long time since I studied science, but our Dreamer is enjoying Grade Six science and has learned a few of the basic Laws - a good refresher course for me. Matter cannot be created or destroyed - a principle that God put into place and that current scientists seem to be forgetting, even though they are the ones that coined ‘The Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy’ based on the ideas of Epicurus who lived around 300 BC. As far as God is concerned, this planet is a 'closed system' and He isn't surprised by the ways in which we have messed it up, or by the fact that it seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction.

We just aren't stressed out about it - but we also aren't taking the fatalist's stand of doing nothing since apparently nothing we do really matters. We are not throwing around garbage. We are still called to be good stewards, even as imperfect stewards. We enjoy caring for this Creation in small practical ways - if that’s being ‘green’ we’ve been ‘green’ for a long long time. We just call these little things we do stewardship - but whatever you call it, it’s a lifestyle and not a passing trend. You can definitely be both'green' and faithful, and trust that He really does have the whole world in His hands!

Whew - I don't have to save the planet, and neither do you!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Simple Womans Daybook

I really enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a fresh zeal!


For Today Monday, April 20, 2009



Outside My Window...
54 degrees and intermittent heavy rain showers - it's really windy and the blossoms are blowing off the trees making it look a bit like a snowy day!

I am thinking...
That it might be really nice just to crawl back into bed! I'm not sick or tired, but it just seems like a good day to curl up with a book and cozy blanket!

From the learning rooms...
We are really slow to get started today. Our Dreamer's allergies are making for a runny stuffy nose for her, and our Storyteller slept in a bit! We'll get going on math and reading soon! The Historian is teaching history before going to work.

I am thankful for...
A good weekend - hearing the Word of God preached, worshiping and family time.

I am praying for ...
My Mum is on my heart most these days as her healing is very painful and seems so slow. It's been almost three weeks since she accidentally poured boiling water down the backs of her legs and sustained 2nd degree burns. My poor Mum!

From the kitchen...
There are a few tupperware graveyards that need to be cleaned out of the fridge and it needs a good wiping before we go for groceries!

Monday: Luscious Leftovers
Tuesday: Lasagna & Salad
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Wraps
Thursday: Enchiladas
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Mac & Cheese ( by request)
Sunday: Roast Beef Dinner

I am wearing...

Long tan denim skirt, sage green tank and light sage jacket.

I am creating...
Plans for our retaining wall project, a grocery shopping list and plans for the garden.

I am going...
To escape for just a bit of 'me time' - even though it is raining and nasty, I feel the need to be on my own for a bit! I always have trouble figuring out where to schedule in hair color and cut for me - they are never open on Mondays and that's my free morning!

I am reading...
Just finished "The Secret" by Beverly Lewis - an unexpected gift from the Historian! I am looking forward to more books in this new series.

I am hoping...
To get more things finished from the sewing table - I did a few alterations, mending projects and a simple 'wardrobe re-fashion' of a linen skirt for Dreamer over the weekend. It barely made a dent in my sewing pile though!

I am hearing...
The Storyteller is whistling 'Amazing Grace' while he draws in his journal. The Historian is reading quietly and the Dreamer has retreated to her room. Outside I hear the swish of cars going by on a wet road and some big power tool - maybe a chipper or a chain saw?

Around the house...
There is no sense dusting until all this drywall sanding is completed - I thought we could contain it to one area, but it is insidious. We do need to vacuum the sun room which I referred to as the mud room over the weekend! The children have been practicing for Softball which starts Saturday and their cleats brought in half backyard which is quite muddy!

One of my favorite things...
A clean sharp edge around the flower beds and fresh dark brown mulch - hopefully this week!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  1. School, piano, ballet, AWANA and a Co-op field trip too - all winding down for the year!
  2. Garden and home chores
  3. Sewing for me - once the mending is caught up, I really need to make something new for myself for Sundays!

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:

The tall young lad is my Uncle Larry, in the middle, my Nanny and the sweet girl in front - my own Mum - Joy! I think this picture was taken around 1946?

Thank you for reading my daybook!

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


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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sweet Saturday

It's official - I am a legal resident of the U.S.A.! I got my card this week and I am so pleased! It is good for 10 years and after 3 years, I am able to apply for citizenship! Normally, it is 5 years, but I've been married to my Historian for almost 18 years and he is a U.S. Citizen, so we're good for the 'fast track'! The children are already beginning to quiz me for the civics test - American History 101! It's funny what they think will 'for sure and for certain' be on the test! We are thanking the Lord for this part of our immigration journey completed! What a journey!




This week has just flown by! We have had three days of rain, and now three days of sunshine - which is a real blessing! The mowers are out in full force manicuring the estate lawns in our neighborhood, so our Dreamer's allergies are giving her some trouble! Our lawn is the only one sporting a fresh crop of bright yellow dandelions and I have been blessed by many lovely bouquets already! Chemicals are for the birds - give me happy healthy children safely playing on the grass any day - perfection is highly over rated! I'm seeing from my sweet note note that it's time to teach the Dreamer how to spell 'bouquet' - maybe after we get through this present math dilemma!



We've been putting in many long hours doing schoolwork. I know some mums can 'get it all done' before lunch, but we are not that family! We seem to be all day at school right now, and it isn't much fun! Dreamer is struggling with expressing fractions as percentages in math and Storyteller is resisting reading practice, as usual! It has been hard to maintain a positive attitude, but the promise of getting outside to play helps the work to go more smoothly.


Everything is the garden is doing really well - no too much loss this winter, thankfully. I think we lost the foxglove to mole tunneling - but it may surprise me and come back yet. One rhubarb plant didn't make it, but the rest are soon going to be giving enough 'fruit' for pies and crisps! I wonder if we'll have enough to make rhubarb punch and stewed rhubarb! I hope so, but as these plants were just put in last season, I'd guess not.


This week I visited a wonderful place - the Living Simply Soap Kitchen in Dayton, OH! I bought some fragrant soap 'seconds' by the pound, wonderful Lavender and Sage cream for my hands and a Carrot Cake candle. Mrs. Brown gave me a sample of her new product 'Little White Lye' stain stick to try out and give her feedback on. My goodness - I was so impressed!

After our last Homeschool co-op on Thursday (yes, there were tears), we ran to Sam's Club to buy some fresh fish for dinner and the children asked for treats (we had just dried our tears, mind you). The Storyteller enjoyed most of a 4 Berry Sundae, but on the way home dropped the rest of it right down his front - he was choking on a huge blackberry and just turned his whole treat upside down! He was fine, but very sticky and very stained! The outfit he had on was purple from the berries and he was really upset, knowing that purple is not an easy stain to remove! I sent him directly to the shower (yes, it was that bad!) and grabbed his clothes - and applied the 'Little White Lye' stain stick - and at first I was horrified! The purple turned black! I thought I had ruined his only decent khakis and best button down shirt - a creamy yellow one! I put everything in the washer and I was happily delighted when everything came perfectly clean! Now there's a product I can endorse - all natural ingredients, built in scrubbing action (cornmeal) - and it works! We have tried it on grass stains and blood - and it works so well. Next big test - I'll be tackling the socks to see how it works there! I'll keep you in the loop and let you know how it performs!

If you'd like to visit the Living Simply Soap website, just click on the picture or name and take a look around. Her soaps are lovely and quite long lasting! We bought some last summer during the farmers markets and now we are hooked!

Today is beautiful but we are expecting rain soon. We are waiting for drywall compound to dry so that the final sanding can be done. My Historian has had to put up with a mess in his office while the pipes in his storage closet were being repaired and now there is drywall dust everywhere! I hope to get it primed and painted next week so he can get things back in order there. I'm thankful we still have some paint and primer left from that room - nothing to buy, just the work! This time Mr. Handyman (our contractor) is insulating those pipes really really well and hopefully our next cold snap will not produce freezing bursting pipes! What a mess!

The children are practicing for Homeschool Sandlot Softball which begins for both children next Saturday morning. We have been batting, throwing and catching every chance we get! This is our last Saturday of ease for a couple of months! The Historian is doing some yardwork and I have been cleaning but I'm about to head out in the sunshine and enjoy it while I can!

Have a great weekend!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I really enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a fresh zeal!


For Today Monday, April 13, 2009



Outside My Window...
35 degrees and heavy steady rain - which we need, I'm sure, but I was really hoping for a good breezy day to hang up the weekend washing!

I am thinking...
About just how very very blessed we are!

From the learning rooms...
History in the family room is in full swing for the Storyteller and Dreamer has finished her first assignment of the day. We have some catching up to do after our busy week last week - especially in math and spelling, but that's o.k.!

I am thankful for...
Better health for the last three weeks than I have enjoyed in quite a while - what a blessing! We had such good success with our bake sale also, which was an answer to prayer. The children were pleased to reach their goal and the recipients were happy with their treats.

We also had a lovely family join us for Easter and that was quite a joy! We had a nice meal together and the children played together nicely. We missed being with family, but it was a really good day! After we tidied the kitchen I had a hot hot bath and slept for 12 hours!

I am praying for ...
A friend and her mom who is suffering with cancer treatment and an unexplained fever.
Continued health for myself - I am really enjoying feeling better and having a bit more energy then I have recently enjoyed!

From the kitchen...
The cookie jar is empty but there is enough Easter Basket treats to keep us in sweets for a bit!

Monday: Luscious Leftovers - salads and ham to be enjoyed in many ways
Tuesday: Mama's Wet Chicken (by request)
Wednesday: Ham and Cheddar pie
Thursday: Grilled Fish & Salad
Friday: Homemade Ham and Cheese Pizza
Saturday: Daddy's grilled burgers
Sunday: Grilled chicken salad

I am wearing...
Long denim skirt, soft oatmeal sweater set.

I am creating...
A short 'to do' list for the week and that's about all!
Mr. Handyman is creating quite a mess in the office closet fixing the pipes that were burst during a hard freeze in January. He was our contractor for that renovation so he is fixing the problem, but it's going to take some time to dry it up, replace and finish the drywall again.

I am going...
Home sweet home until ballet later today - it's so nice to be able to stay in on a rainy Monday.

I am reading...
Betz White's 'Sewing Green' - wonderful ideas for re-purposing all kinds of textiles!

I am hoping...
To finish many sewing projects and to catch up on things we neglected last week during our business!

I am hearing...
Bagpipe music - we're feelin' a touch of the old country here I guess!

Around the house...
Laundry, bathrooms and a very sticky kitchen floor!
My sewing area is a mess of half done projects that need to be completed!

One of my favorite things...
Freshly turned soil - garden potential!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  1. School, piano, ballet, AWANA and Co-op - all winding down for the year!
  2. Garden and home chores - including a fresh layer of mulch for the gardens

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:

My grandparents in 1935 by the shores of Lake St. George
I love this picture!

Thank you for reading my daybook!

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


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Thursday, April 9, 2009

What's in your roasting pan?



Our sweet Dreamer thinks I've gone completely bonkers! Yesterday, my roasting pan was filled with sweet fragrant baked caramel corn for our Bake Sale and I was using the wooden spoon to keep little taste testers at bay!

Tonight, the giant roasting pan is once again in service - after all tomorrow is Good Friday and I am a gardener with goals! My roaster is filled with soil - dirt - earth, whatever you call it, it's in the oven at 180 degrees! With some peat moss and vermiculite, and some fine compost.

I promise, I won't make anyone eat it!

After years of unsuccessful seed starting, I finally (a few years ago now) remembered my Poppa David setting the old tin pans of dirt directly on the wood stove that heated their basement and the make-shift water pipe system that brought a bit of warmth out to the even more make-shift "greenhouse" that he constructed each spring over the basement stairway to their home. Northern gardeners get desperate at times you know. Anyway - I knew the seeds liked the warm soil he planted them in, but it never occurred to me that he was in effect sterilizing the earth to prevent the dreaded dampening off!

Considering that I helped him transplant over 800 tomato seedlings one spring with nary a sign of dampening off, I'd say his methods were not madness! So, I'm back to cooking up some good dirt - and tomorrow, I have some panting to do!

And Dreamer, if you are reading this, don't worry- I lost all of my marbles long ago - and not just the round ones you play games with! You can e-mail all your friends and let them know, but I'll love you just the same! That's what being a mama is all about! I'll even share my tomatoes with you, but only if you help with the watering!


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Easter Dinner Menu


I'd love to hear about your plans for Easter Dinner! We are pretty traditional, I assume - turkey for Thanksgiving, and ham for Easter. I often think I should be more adventurous, but I don't want the dinner to be the focus of our family celebration - and I certainly don't want the stress of a possible flop! There is something comforting about the tried and true favorites - and since preparing them has become second nature over the years, my mind is free as my hands work - and I have time to think about God's goodness.

We are so excited to be having a family join us for Easter dinner this year! Mum and Dad will be spending the weekend with my sister and her family, but since we can't be there - the next best thing to family are friends! There have been many times over the years that we have been without family on these special family occasions, and for the most part we have tried to get together with friends or just enjoy the day as a family.

It's been a long while since we served up a traditional Easter dinner, but I am looking forward to it! I thought I'd share our menu here. I plan to do as much as possible the day before, so that our time of worship and celebration of the Resurrection is focused and not distracted by worries of last minute preparations. I also have a most excellent helper in our Dreamer - she is so incredibly capable! I couldn't do it without her now that I am so used to her working along side me in the kitchen. In truth, I wouldn't want to!

So here is the plan - always subject to change! I am used to making plans and then simplifying as we go if time or energy is running out. The extras are just that - nice touches, but nothing to stress over! I have learned that no one misses what isn't there while enjoying what is!

Easter Dinner for 10


Easy Sunday Dinner Rolls - a double batch of recipe here

Fresh butter cut outs

Pickle and olive tray

Spring Greens Salad

Strawberry Creme Mold

(or Mandarin Orange Jellied Salad - there's an ongoing debate!)

Steamed Green Beans with toasted Almonds

Twice Baked Creamy Potatoes with Cheese

(debate here too - some want scalloped potatoes, but I don't know how to do those ahead without them turning black - yuck)

Sweet Baby Carrots

Spiral Sliced Ham

Carrot Cake (graciously offered by our guests)

Chocolate Pie

Coffee, Tea, Raspberry Lemonade

Creamy after dinner mints

That's is - hopefully a nice variety for everyone to enjoy - and simple! I won't have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Resurrection Sunday - we'll get as much done ahead as possible and make the day about celebrating new life in Christ and enjoying the fellowship of friends!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Great American Bakesale


Today we were busy baking - all day! We are hosting a small bake sale at our Home School Co-op tomorrow, participating in The Great American Bake Sale!

What a great time we had!

We are achy tired, but really happy because all of the money we raise from today's baking will go to feeding hungry children - 100%! We decided to make it as simple as possible by taking pre-orders for our baked goods and selling them just through our co-op. Our goal was to raise $150, and from our pre-orders, we fell a bit short of that - but we do have some extra baking to take - maybe it will sell too!


Every book on raising well rounded children indicates that community service is essential to growing children of good character - no surprise there. Finding ways to fit community service into our day to day lives seems to be a bit of a challenge. Since our goal is to raise children who have a vibrant relationship with God through the work of Jesus Christ in their lives, it's important to us to not only show by example, but also enable them to put some 'shoe leather' on their faith and make it real.



This semester's project was our bake sale, but we are still always on the lookout for other ways to teach the children to reach out to others. I hope as they get older this will be a bit easier since there will be more options for serving others then there are now as their abilities expand. They really seem to enjoy doing these kinds of projects and I really have to say that I was proud of their work ethic today!


Except for one minor complaint session and a small sugar spill, the day went really well! We had a plan and strapped on our aprons early, getting right to work as soon as we had gathered all of our ingredients. I don't know why I washed the kitchen floor first, but I did - and it needed to be washed again at the end of the day!!!


Our Dreamer worked hard on two batches of her renown Snickerdoodles - she really has a knack with these! She washed a gazillion dishes and the Storyteller dried just as many. There were Hershey Kisses to be unwrapped, cupcake papers to put in the mini-muffin tins, and lots of taste testing for the Storyteller.



We used about 6 pounds of butter - thankfully we buy it in bulk so it isn't too expensive when you buy it by the case! It is 'close to home' butter too since most of the milk that goes into this butter is from the Midwest - or so we are told!



Dreamer did most of the packaging and putting the fancy labels that Storyteller glued together on with pretty royal blue ribbons. We chose red white and blue scrapbook paper for the labels in keeping with the Great American Bake Sale theme!

We had a hard time finding inexpensive packaging, but these boxes worked out alright! Some things just don't hold up well in a cello bag and needed studier packaging.



I was so glad to have stocked up on eggs when they were on sale last week - we usually buy farm fresh but the new regulations have shut down the local egg farmers since they are too small for inspection. It seems like all the 'eggs for sale' signs have disappeared from farms around our home.



It's the end of a long day, but we are pleased to have spent our energy for others. I'm ready for a hot bath! As Storyteller says, baking days aren't for sissies! The children wondered at one point if we might have done better to just give the money we spent on ingredients to the Bake Sale, and so we talked a bit about it. We decided that we would have missed out on the blessing of making yummy treats for our friends, and all of the taste tests too - but more importantly - we wouldn't remember just giving money as much as we will remember the day spent together in the kitchen, working as a family to reach a goal!

I call this character building at it's tastiest!

A very good day, indeed!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The moment we have all been waiting for !!!!


I know ... you've been holding your breath with us for almost 5 years ... and today, I finally have good news! Great news actually!!! A drum roll would be good here ... today, in the mail we received my 'Welcome to the United States of America' letter! In three weeks or so we should receive proof of my permanent resident status in the form of a card with my horrible adorable picture on it!!! Once again, I will be able to move about the planet freely - and perhaps even visit my Mum and Dad in Canada! To say we are excited is a small understatement - I am overjoyed, relieved and oh, so very thankful! One huge,big, ugly, stressful monkey is off our backs!!! Now, as soon as we are able to, we will be taking the next step this time and applying for citizenship. Lord willing, that is our plan!

If you've been praying us through this long and arduous process, we thank you, from the deep places in our hearts, we truly are most grateful. We know that it's been only the grace of God that has kept us from complete despair.

I have always been a law-abiding citizen, never had a speeding ticket or even parking ticket! There was no reason it should have ever taken this long, but since it has, perhaps we've learned some wonderful lessons about God's peace and provision, and about trusting Him with every aspect of our lives. We never dreamed that it would be so prolonged and that we'd have so many frustrations, but our 'patience muscles' have had another major workout and our faith has increased with each step and turn, so perhaps there is something down the road for us that will require the strength we have unwillingly acquired, and only the Lord knows. For now, we are just giving praise!

I'll get back to doing my happy dance now if you don't mind!!!

If you'd like to read a bit more about our journey go here, and here.


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The Simple Woman's Daybook

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


For Today Monday, April 6, 2009



Outside My Window...
33 degrees and snow flurries! Too chilly for my liking and the garden is shivering!
We had tornado warnings last evening until 1am, so we are very thankful that they caused little or no damage in the area. We were prepared to flee to our safest place, but thankfully the storm system passed without incident.

I am thinking...
I have been feeling well for two whole weeks and I am every so thankful!
I have achy muscles from 'over-gardening' on Saturday, but I feel well!
This morning I was at the dentist for my cleaning, and I have an overall decline in my dental health again - and two more crowns needed!

From the learning rooms...
The children are getting to their work reluctantly this morning - we are out of routine, but we'll get back into it!

I am thankful for...
An enjoyable family weekend - and two big jobs crossed off our 'to-do' list!
Safety - strength - health - a solidly Biblical message to challenge our hearts.

I am praying for ...
Strength for this week - a good bake sale - wisdom, as always!

From the kitchen...
I need to make Hot Cross Buns - I haven't made them this spring!
I really need to clean out the fridge and straighten out the freezers!
This would be a good week to make marmalade too since we have lots of citrus on hand the it isn't being eaten as quickly as it ought to be.

Monday: Luscious Leftovers - pulled pork sandwiches!
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Wraps
Wednesday: 5 Hour Beef Stew & Biscuits
Thursday: Grilled Fish & Salad
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Baked Mac & Cheese
Sunday: Easter Dinner

I am wearing...
Long denim skirt, tan t-shirt, soft blue sweater with tan blanket stitching.

I am creating...
Baked goods tags for our 'Great American Bake Sale' on Thursday.

I am going...
I've already been to the dentist, and we need to run for some packaging supplies later!

I am reading...
Sew and Stow - from the library! I love this book so much I've ordered it from Amazon!

I am hoping...
Some friends will be able to join us for Easter dinner - and for another healthy week.

I am hearing...
The children are both in a chatty mood today! They have big plans and lots to talk about! Plans for the summer months are coming together and they are very excited!

Around the house...
Over the weekend we worked hard outside - and had so much fun! The Historian and Storyteller cut down our dead Crimson Maple (very sad) and both children were handsomely paid to take all of the wood to the woodpile and stack it neatly, as well as pick up the branches and rake up the wood chips! Of course, while the outside work began, the inside was neglected, but that's o.k.!
Washing, ironing, and clean bathrooms are on the list! It's still not warm enough for painting!
We need to put together some new spring outfits for Sunday - Dreamer would like me to sew her a new skirt!

One of my favorite things...
Feeling a peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of terrible storms - like the tornado last night and all of the 'health storms' we have been facing.
Only God can give a peace and assurance so calming when the winds of life are knocking us about so harshly!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Continuing to pray for the Lord's guidance with our search for a new church. We are so close - but the process of elimination has been tiring! Soon!
  1. School, piano - everything else is canceled for our school district's spring break this week!
  2. Garden and home chores.
  3. Get out and get walking more regularly!
  4. Sewing for Dreamer and finishing the porch cushions.

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:



Over the weekend I put together our wee greenhouse to start some seeds! I'm so glad to have found all of the parts and that I remembered how to put it together!
Now - just waiting for my seed orders!

Thank you for reading my daybook!

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


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