Friday, January 29, 2010

Company Girl Coffee - January 29, 2010

Actually, we have lovely hot tea this week.  I hope that's o.k.!  It's 'Berry Treat' and it's quite good with strawberry jam tarts, which is what I am enjoying! Oh!  Dreamer made some yummy snickerdoodles too, so the cookie jar is full. Will you join me?

I've been entirely absent from my blog again this week.  I read your sweet comments about my mantle-scape and dinner with appreciation!  So much kind encouragement is a blessing to my heart.  We did have a nice time getting to know our in-reach group from church a bit better.  I am afraid the Historian and I felt quite ancient compared to the young couples that attended, but we found some common ground despite the vast age gap and had a nice time.  I was panicking just before the dinner because the coffee maker kept tripping breakers, thus not heating up properly.  I don't make coffee ever unless we have company, so I forget that it draws a lot of power and cannot be plugged in with another appliance.  Some day this house should probably be rewired! I was very tired for two days after our dinner, though I did get out to Sunday School and both church services Sunday and was both challenged and blessed. 

It just seemed like we plunged right back into things Monday with a slight change of routine that threw the rest of my week off! Generally I have Monday morning 'off' while the Historian does a week's worth of history with both children and I get to putter around, do laundry, organize the fridge, menu and shopping list and run an errand alone if needed.  This week, he needed to head to work early and will this coming week as well, so we headed straight into schoolwork! It was a hard transition for Storyteller, who doesn't take change without warning well, so it made for some bumps in the road, but we did have a solid educational week and even ended with a Home School Co-op field trip today, which was quite fun for the children, and I enjoyed it as well.  We didn't get lost getting there or home, so that's always a bonus!

As well as growing strong minds, and godly characters, we've been noticing changes under the grow lights as well.  The chives are well up and the romaine lettuce is ready for transplant - that's on my list for the weekend.  I will be planting more in a few weeks when it is a more reasonable time to do so, but this was fun and hopefully, this year we will have chives!  I am planning to tear out all of the catnip and beebalm and that way, Mr. Peppermint (our outdoor cat) will have no excuse for traipsing through the herb garden and squishing the chives!

I was really faithful with my Company Girl Small Things this month and totaled a whole bunch of points doing little things that needed to be done around the house to make our home run more smoothly and also be a place of quiet beauty for our family.  What a joy it has been to have a tidy desk and cleaned off counter, and to be able to get in the door without tripping over a dozen pairs of shoes!  Even matching up socks was a game when the kids knew we were getting points, so that was a good thing!

RachelAnne challenged us to make out tables a priority and pretty them up a wee bit this week.  This is our winter centerpiece - better in person than pictured.  Our centerpiece has to be quickly movable in case of spills and kid proof, and I usually shop the house for the 'ingredients'. Trays work well because you can get it out of the way quickly.  We do school at our table each day and than clean off well for meals, but on Friday I give it a cleaning and put a nice runner or washable quilt on the table to make it nice for the weekend.

To be honest, I struggled with discouragement this week - just being tired of being tired. Tired of complaining too. Chronic illness can be a real struggle at times, and often sends me to my heavenly Father to pray for strength, encouragement and wisdom. I am back to walking each day and drinking more water and that is a help, but I think it was mostly just ongoing gray weather and  galloping hormones.  After school yesterday we got out of the house for a while and ran 5 short errands!  It was good, much needed and somehow brightened my week - and disaster free! Remarkable! It was very cold but bright, I got to check things off my list for a change, Dreamer was so pleased to finally get new shoes, and we even made it to the library before they sent my requested books back!

I did get some work in on Dreamer's quilt top - in fact we are almost done!  I have the name of a machine quilter who is reasonable so that's that next step after I put the borders on. The next big hurdle is getting her room painted - such a big job to move all of her STUFF!  Maybe it will be a good time to purge and clean out so that she has less mess to cope with!  As we were working on the quilt she just kept saying 'I LOVE it!'. I'm so glad she does!
I have 3 dozen cinnamon rolls to make for a ladies brunch tomorrow, so I'd better be off for now, but I hope you enjoyed your tea and will come back again, and I will try to be better at taking pictures and recording the little things here on my quiet little blog!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

I shouldn't be blogging ...

Everyone here at home has been such a big help to me today so I thought I'd take a moment to sit down and say hello! It does feel good to sit!  We are having 5 couples over for a planned potluck dinner tonight.  Can you smell my lasagna sauce?  The other ladies are bringing salads, bread and desserts, so it should be a nice time.  Our children are excited about hanging out in the Grammy flat with games, a craft, a video and special snacks to munch on.  I hope that they are very well behaved.  The house is pretty tidy (far from perfect, but we'll turn the lights down low!) and I just need to check to see if bathrooms are clean and put out some fresh towels! Oh, and now that I am done cooking, the kitchen floor needs a quick wash again!  I'm a messy cook.

I am finally happy with my winter 'mantle scape' - it took a bit of trial and error.  I didn't want to spend any money, so I kept some just winter stuff out when we put Christmas decor away, and than I made a little banner with a thrifted bit of linen left from a shift that I made into a pillow.  Too fun.  The mittens are felted wool scraps and I sewed them by machine using wooly nylon thread in the upper because I was too tired to do what I wanted by hand.  It works pretty well, but someday I'll hand embroider a real mitten banner with blanket stitch and lazy daisy snowflakes.  Someday! The stick on felt letters I've had almost forever - since my practice teaching days. That's a long time ago! We call it the never ending alpha-felt.  I am always worried when I go to search for just the right letters for a word that I will have run out, but I never have!

I've been thinking about all of the blogs that I read earlier this month that talked about putting 'Christmas away' - I am hoping that with the season of joy behind us, the Reason for Joy is still with us.  I know it is hard to find joy when our hearts are sorrowing for all the struggles we are surrounded by, both big and small.  Goodness knows that just the fog, ice and greyness of the past few weeks have tried to rob me of my joy - it's been really hard to get out of bed and face another dull, damp day.  Hibernation is seriously under-rated, in my estimation!  Seriously though, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever is the real source of my joy, and I can face the trials of each day because I know His great love for me.

Well, it's been nice to sit a bit and chat, but I'd better mosey on back to the kitchen and make sure all is well. I'm linking up with Rachel and the rest of the Company Girls join in the coffee party for today!
Have a lovely weekend with your family!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

A big 'thank-you' to Peggy for hosting 'The Simple Woman's Daybook' each week! It's such a great way to start the week with a focus and reflect upon the goodness of God!
Be sure to click on the picture below to visit Peggy and see the other journal keepers!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Outside my window... fog and mist - our snow has melted and we are looking at dead grass and dirt - lots of dirt! How do I know that the sunroom floor with be a mess for the next few days? Well, I washed it 3 times over the weekend!

I am hearing ... the grandfather clock ticking away, traffic on the road, a whistling boy, the swish of the washing machine and the click clack of my typing!

I am thinking ... about my friend June and her family! She called last night and we re-connected after months and months! What a blessing!

I am thankful for... friendships that stand the test of time and distance!

I am praying for ... Haiti. My heart has been overwhelmed with grief for the people of Haiti and all that they have suffered. Having briefly ministered to Haitian refugees living in the Dominican Republic years ago, I know that they have an amazingly strong spirit, and those who know the Lord are tremendously joyful despite impossible circumstances.

I am remembering ... the challenge of the message we heard at church yesterday morning to take the next step in our Christian walk.

I am wearing ... long denim skirt, white turtleneck, blue zippered hoodie and tights - very comfy and warm. My hair is still wet, but I have to tell you that I had it cut and colored last week and to my great joy - the color is not Elvira black this time - it is my own color without the white! I didn't know how fearful I was of another bad color job until I made the appointment, and almost canceled it! I only went back to the same place because they sent me a great coupon!

I am going ... later I plan to take Dreamer to piano and ballet, and hopefully, Storyteller and I will run a few errands, depending on my energy levels.

I am reading ... recipes and romance (currently re-reading Cathy Marie Hake's books) - nothing deep at all! I am hoping to catch up in our Bible reading, but I'm not stressing about it, since it is to be a joy and not a drudgery.

I am hoping ... that this week is better health wise. I had a very hard week with my liver struggles last week and I am hoping that with rest and prayer, this will be a better week.

On my mind ... we have a 'couples only' dinner here on Friday for our inreach/outreach group from church. It is a potluck, but I need to tidy and straighten and figure out what we are doing with our children! I think since we don't have a sitter they will hang out with a video, some games and some special treats in the grammy flat - that should be fun!

From the learning rooms ... The Historian will be teaching history this morning and than we will do our regular school schedule.

Noticing that... somehow the dishes from last night didn't make it to the dishwasher - yuck! Time to tackle the kitchen and get going with the day!

Pondering these words...

1 Corinthians 3:11-14 (King James Version)

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

From the kitchen... I was hoping to try some new recipes over the weekend, but I didn't get to it! I have a stack of great sounding main course recipes that I want to try, but my energy levels have been pretty low! Maybe this week or next week! The recipes aren't going anywhere, and I am sure my family wouldn't mind if I torture surprise them with trying new things for a few more weeks!

I am creating ... order out of the mess of papers on my desk ... again!

Around the house ... beds striped and ready for laundry. The bathrooms need a quick going over and Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary has us rounding up stragglers this morning! We FINALLY got the Christmas tree and bins back in the attic and the Historian is setting up the grow light in the furnace room so that I can be starting more seeds soon!

One of my favorite things ... catching up with a dear, sweet friend! Cuddling with my sweet boy while he tells me a story, playing UNO with my precious silly girl, laughing and praying with my dear husband - all my favorite things!

A few plans for the rest of the week..... a bit of cleaning for every room in prepartion for company Friday, some catching up with Mount Ironmore, school, AWANA, ballet, piano, Homeschool Co-op and rest ... lots of extra rest, I hope!

From my picture journal ...

I do know how crazy it is to be starting seeds in January in Ohio, but I just couldn't help myself! This romaine lettuce sprouting in 2 days ( yes, I'll need to thin it) - and I have chives on the other side of the tray! I've been drooling over seed catalogs and this is the result! Lettuce is a cool weather crop, after all! I was a bit disappointed with these Burpee Seed Starter trays - the pellets don't seem to fill the cells like I'd hoped at all! I guess I'll soon know if it all works out!

Have a great week!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Small changes ...

often mean BIG things in the life of our Storyteller. For many of you mom's with boys, you'll understand my elation at a small developmental step we are seeing in our Storyteller. He is finally playing with Lego at 9 1/2.

This is a big deal because while most of his friends and his cousins could sit by the hour putting together those tiny little bits and pieces to make fantastic creations by 5 or 6 years of age, our Storyteller couldn't. Those little pieces frustrated him no end. His fine motor skills were not up to the challenge, and his patience and concentration would falter. His lack of attention to detail did not match well with those Lego instructions either.

Our Storyteller has other wonderful skills, and is a fine young boy. If he never played with Lego, I would not have been too concerned. His strengths lie in other areas. He has a heart for God, and a love of the Word that I have never seen in a child his age. He memorizes with ease, and words are his friends. He is always very sorry when he breaks things, because he has had lots of practice with apologies! His vocabulary is terrific and his forgiveness is quick and complete. He is a genuine boy, a loyal brother and a caring friend.

And now, he 'gets' Lego.

We noticed this summer that things were finally coming together for our boy - he found baseball, and small successes in baseball have lead to confidence for other physical challenges. I think he may even try swimming lessons again, though he failed Pollywogs 3 times and may be the tallest child in his class, I think he is finally ready. Little successes lead to other wonderful things, so this is a joy to my mother's heart!

Now, all of the times I have left those big bins of Lego at the Thrift Stores are coming back to haunt me !!! I left them, knowing he wasn't ready, knowing that other boys and girls would have fun with them, and knowing that one of God's names is 'Provider', and that His timing never fails. I know the verse in Philippians 4 about God supplying all of our needs refers to our spiritual needs, and is not a promise for material wealth, but I have also seen God's ample provision for even the smallest of our needs - and Lego's are no trouble for Him! So, we are on the hunt for Lego, and looking forward to the next time we get to go thrifting!

We are starting the new year with a blessing! Isn't God good to just bless this simple mama's heart with a small step forward right at the start of a fresh beginning?

*** I 'borrowed' the Lego picture - those are not ours - he just has two small sets for now ***

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Keeper Recipes - January 2010

Well, it's January again - time to torture my unsuspecting family expand our dinnertime repertoire with some new recipes! My family dreads anticipates this month of cooking madness with zeal, and appreciates my yearly effort to expand our tastes! By the end of the month we will hopefully have tried at least 10 new main dish recipes, from which we always find a few great 'keeper's' to add to our monthly menu roundup! Here is the first 'main dish' recipe as well as a dessert - both keepers!

My friend Mrs. S, served this wonderful soup to our family on New Years Day - and of course, I asked for the recipe! It's from a great looking book called Crazy Plates: Low-Fat Food So Good, You'll Swear It's Bad for You! by Janet Podleski & Greta Podleski! I've put it on my Amazon 'wish list' and I'll keep an eye out for it second hand too. I made it today and we enjoyed it for supper - my Historian is not a big barley soup fan, but he really likes this recipe!

I think he will like beef barley soup from now on since this delicious recipe has undoubtedly wiped out all past memories of the mysterious blobs of undulating fat that floated about in the college cafeteria soup - 'Barf Barley' was on the menu at least three times a week for two years, and he never once found a scrap of anything remotely resembling beef!

Looking For Mr. Goodbarley Soup

1. Spray a large soup pop with non-stick spray. Add beef and brown on all sides over high heat. Work in two batches if necessary

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add celery, carrots, onions and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients to pot, except parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, until beef is very tender. Stir in parsley and serve hot

1-1/2 pounds
stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup each
chopped celery, chopped carrots and chopped onions
1 clove
garlic, minced
7 cups
4 tsp
beef bouillon powder
1 cup
tomato sauce
2/3 cup
pearl barley
1-1/2 tsp
dried marjoram
3/4 tsp
dried thyme
1/2 tsp
black pepper

Salt to taste

1/3 cup

chopped, fresh parsley

In cleaning out the fridge yesterday, we found two containers of sour cream - just slightly expired! It had been on a great sale and I was itching to make my Sweet Dilly Dip. I didn't get to it and the sour cream got pushed to the back of the fridge! Solution: coffee cake! I was looking at my new Midwest Living Magazine and they featured a nice looking Jam Crumb Cake. Perfect! I put it in the oven before supper and we enjoyed it as a dessert - in small pieces since it is pretty high in fat. It was moist and delicious, and I was able to use a whole jar of Blueberry Jam that I made last summer. The jam has a very nice flavor but an odd texture since I greatly reduced the sugar. Perhaps too much since we have about 34 jars left ...

Jam Crumb Cake

Midwest Living

Prep: 25 minutes (10 minutes - I have an organized baking center and that is a huge help)
Cool: 20 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes (it was done in 44 minutes today)

  • Crumb Topping (recipe follows)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dairy sour cream (mine was reduced fat)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 10-oz. jar strawberry or seedless raspberry spreadable fruit (I used Blueberry)


1. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. Mix together the Crumb Topping; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla and beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in flour mixture just until combined. (Batter will be thick).

3. Spread the batter into prepared pan. Spoon spreadable fruit over batter, spreading evenly. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over all.

4. Bake in a 350 degree F oven 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 9 servings.

5. Crumb Topping: In a bowl, mix 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter.

Jam Crumb Cake

Midwest Living takes better pictures than I do!


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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blessed New Year!

I do hope you all are enjoying the blessing of a a fresh start, a new beginning and a future filled with hope for all good things, and faith that come what may, God is on His throne.

Blessed New Year!