Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For Children and Parents and Sunday School Teachers...

...and babysitters and aunts and next door neighbors...

Isn't it wonderful to see how much homeschool parents share information with each other? If you really had to do a year of homeschooling with not much more than pencil and paper, art supplies, a library card and the internet, you could do it!

In light of current economic situations challenging many families, Terri Johnson, of Knowledge Quest, has posted 5 Must-Have No-Cost Resources for Homeschooling. These make a good starting place.

December 2008, lapbook preparation

Not just for homeschoolers - so many available free scheduling worksheets, coloring and fun pages (baby-sitting that young neighbor? teaching Sunday School this week?) I just printed out a couple of Donna Young's printing readiness tracing sheets for the rising kindergartener we'll be caring for today. If they go over well, I'll print out some more for tomorrow.

A little school break project - I took a stack of colored paper, 2 sheets of notes, and 2 big folders over, and we made lapbooks on the Twelve Days of Christmas (thanks, Crispy, for the inspiration!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Recipe Box

Somewhere along the way, my Mama picked up a big wood file box that held 4 x 8 cards, and began using it as her recipe box. It was so much more convenient using the bigger cards. When I was still in my 20's, she had the box copied by a woodworker, then she painted it with Pennsylvania Dutch-style decorative painting, and gave it to me. What a treasure!

No, I don't keep the recipe box on the back porch; I just moved where I could take a picture with no flash. Look how much it can hold! Though I love the online recipe sites, there is just something special about recipes in a box.

I have always been partial to pictures of bluebirds, and any other birds that are blue. There is a special name for these stylized birds. Do you know what it is?

Since I am posting about my recipe box, maybe I should post an easy recipe from it. This one may have come originally from a can of Rotel tomatoes.


1 can Rotel tomatoes with chiles, lime & cilantro
1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 salmon fillets or chicken breast fillets

Drain tomatoes, mix with mayo. Salmon - Smear mixture on meat side, saute (or I oven bake) until done (just a few minutes) Chicken - Pre-saute fillets, then smear with mixture and complete cooking. Reserve some sauce for topping.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

K-Sue's Kookie Khronicles (cookie, not kooky)

Long post - recipe at the bottom
I gave away my cookie cutters over a decade ago. All of them. The little Christmas tree, the Santa head, the gingerbread people, the stocking, the star -- I kept one round biscuit cutter, because sometimes, you want a neat, round biscuit. Why on earth would I do something so rash, so permanent?

Better to ask, why on earth did I keep trying to do that which did not work? Most Christmases (and it was only Christmas - I did not try to do St. Paddy's Day shamrocks or anything like that) I'd pull out some cookie recipe, mix it up, chill it good, flour my surface, roll it out, and make a big mess of unrecognizable thingies ("Uh, Aunt K-Sue, is this supposed to be a stocking? 'Cause it looks like a tube sock.") (No, they don't really call me Aunt K-Sue; that's just my nom de blog) Anyway, continuing after the back-to-back parenthetical comments...I was a cut-out cookie wash-out. And you know, someone always gave us a little package of pretty cutouts, all decorated, that I could put on our cookie tray along with my little plain drop cookies. So I tossed in the towel, and gave away my cookie cutters, trusting that if the Lord wanted us to have beautifully decorated cut-out cookies, He'd touch someone's heart to give us some, and I'd give them something they like but don't make, like jambalaya. Ah! Sweet liberation!

Then I started doing bar cookies. Then the ones where you make a roll, refrigerate, then slice and bake. Easier and easier! I have never looked back wistfully, wishfully, at the cookie cutter days.

This would probably make a great pre-Christmas post, liberating somebody, but there is a timely message in it for now. Eventually.

Then one day I spied Nestle's Toll House break-and-bake cookie dough. I took a chance on one package and discovered that they delivered! The cookies were as good as the ones I made from the recipe on the back of their package. I declared that I might not ever make cookies from scratch again. And for several years, I didn't. When the Break-and-Bakes would go on 2-fer sale, I'd buy a half-dozen, toss them in the freezer, then pull out as many as I needed to bake cookies for Children's Choir, friends coming over, or, using the toaster oven, a few just for us two (we were just two during those no-scratch-cookie years).

Now, I have baked some scratch cookies since then, though I still lean heavily toward the easy cookies. I really love making Nanny's peanut butter cookies - super easy! But those Break-and-Bakes have remained a staple in this household. In fact, I just stocked up when they went on BOGO sale at Publix. So you can imagine my disappointment when I read that ALL Nestle's Tollhouse refrigerated cookie dough products have been recalled.

They tell us that they are casting a broad recall net as a precaution - good thing, 'cause some of those cookies are already beyond recall. Well, we recall them - "yum, yum - remember those cookies?" Nobody got sick around here. Nevertheless, I packed up the other 6 packages and head back to Publix. After receiving my refund, I went back to the refrigerated cookie dough shelf and looked wistfully at the spot reserved for Nestle's. I bought 3 packages of other cookies (1 Pillsbury and 2 organic I cannot remember the name). But I look forward to Nestle's getting their plant cleaned up and restocking that shelf.

Nanny's Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c. peanut butter (crunchy or creamy - your choice)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract

Beat peanut butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. Roll into balls, then flatten each slightly with a fork. Bake 350 degrees, 10 minutes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

--and now back to your regularly scheduled blog--

One of my favorite places to visit, Art Projects for Kids has put Earthgirl's Kimono Art on her sidebar! We are just tickled! I love Kathy's projects. We have done several, and plan to do more.

Oh, and regarding that title above, after these awe-filled days of prayer, waiting for news, and then the round-the-globe celebration with family, friends, and strangers, I don't feel like I'll be back to regularly scheduled anything for awhile. We rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, with thanksgiving to God for His care of our nephew. As we learn more of his ordeal, we see God's handiwork all over those days.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thanking God for Answering Our Prayers

Late this afternoon (early afternoon in Washington), our nephew, Mark walked out on his own and met up with a searcher. We are thanking God for this Father's Day gift, for keeping Mark safe, for the support of friends and family. Thank you all for your prayers.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth. Ps. 121: 1-2

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Please pray with us

Update: No news. Cloud cover continues to hamper search efforts. Pray with us that Mark (our nephew) will not lose heart, and that God would blow the clouds away for a while.

Our nephew is missing after a solo camping trip in Washington State. His car has been found, and searchers are hunting for him, but as of right now, cloud cover prevents helicopter use. Though he is missing from our perspective, we know that God knows where he is. Pray with us that God will sustain him, and that he will be found. Pray please for the brave searchers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little blog skills practice

This is a little test post to see if I have figured out how to schedule posts. If this post appears Thursday, Yay! - it worked. If you read this Wednesday, feel free to tell me how I was supposed to make scheduling work.

These pictures have nothing to do with the post; I just like posts that have a picture or two.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Recycled Denim

Recently Samantha and Nellie (ca. 1904) decided to join Julie (ca. 1974) and recycle some denim.
That's American Girl talk.

Here is the bottom tier of a skirt that was 'way too long for Earthgirl. This tier was attached with stretch lace, which I should know to avoid. It ALWAYS gets holes. A few more wearings, and this tier may have just fallen off the skirt on its own.

{Back when Pluto Boy and I were dating, and separated by 600 miles or so, I wrote him a letter that included the phrase, "on my on." This tickled him, and he wrote me back a little encouraging note that about being on my on, and if one ever falls off one's on, one should get right back up on one's on. I have been careful writing my owns and ons ever since; nevertheless, I plan to check back over this post 4 or 5 times before publishing.}

And here are the recycled denim dolly skirts.

Having a daughter is like having a second childhood.
This post checked for proper use of owns and ons. No other grammar is under warranty.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To see ourselves as others see us

I just pulled my own blog up on someone else's computer, and discovered that my blog background, which is pale yellow-green at home, is pale pink here. Kinda sends a different message, don'tcha think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Watch me!

A few weeks ago, friends with children were over. In the course of the evening, we saw several little shows. The fashion shows and plays were not bad, really -- mercifully short, mostly parading the results of dress-up, complete with big-girl announcer, "And now presenting...Ballerina Cheerleader!" (These children are delightful children, and this whole post should absolutely NOT be construed as casting any aspersions on them or on Earthgirl.)

The adult conversation turned to an article I read in "Wonder Time" magazine a long while ago that I found helpful. The phrase, "short and well-rehearsed " can be helpful to the harried adult who too often has heard, "Watch me!...no, wait...I did it wrong...no, wait...I'm going to do it good this time...no, wait...I think I need to do it this way...no, wait..." and, worse, the group effort: "Watch us...no, wait, you're doing it wrong...no, YOU are!...no, wait, you're supposed to be the Mommy...no, wait, we can jump higher... no, wait..."

I think the author is right on that our clapping and wildly (gamely?) praising every little effort is not building self-esteem and talent, but doing them a disservice. Maybe we are teaching them that working to perfect a performance is not important, but that any little effort should receive reward. Maybe instead we should instruct them and even help them to plan and practice. Maybe we should speak a little truth in love.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Right now I have no flowers in my yard worth cutting. In fact, a lonely Daylily and an exuberant Knock-out Rose are the only blooms period.

Two weekends ago, when we expected guests, I bought some bouquets from Publix (the 5-day guarantee seems to work), and put arrangements in the family room, on the piano and jelly cabinet, and of course, in the dining room. I really enjoyed having the flowers. Since I don't have any houseplants, they were the only live decor in here (except for maybe a napping cat, but he's practically comatose under the fan, so "live" is a bit of a maybe). But I don't want to spend money on flowers every week. What to do?

Foliage! Greenery! That's what. That lora petulum needs a trim anyway. I plunked a few sticks in a vase and tied a little ribbon around it and called it all done. I think there are even a couple of little blooms. That little vase of green is a spirit-lifter for me.

My home church is a little country church. When I was growing up, different ladies in the church were in charge of different months as housekeeper (maybe it was called "hostess"?) During your month, you'd clean up a little (dust, sweep, straighten up the hymnbooks), and put flowers up front. Seldom were these purchased flowers. Potted plants might be used, azaleas and camellias in Spring; roses, daisies, marigolds, lilies in the Summer, chrysanthemums and more camellias in Fall -- but flowers weren't the only choices. Sometimes there would be a big vase of Summer greenery or Fall foliage or a dried arrangement. And sometimes a lady would resort to one of the artificial arrangements stored in an unused Sunday School room. As a child I did not realize how surrounded I was with natural beauty and grace. Today, though, I am cooking peach preserves and I have this little vase of greenery, and I thank God for these simple things.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New and Improved

Must be my age, which is close to 50 - real close.That must be why I'd like things that work to just stay put. Stay the same. Rufuse to be new and improved.

My E-mail changed on me yesterday - not the gmail account attached to this blog, but the email I have used with the same address for about 13 years. Every now and then, I open it as usual and, "Ta da! Welcome to your new and improved Message Center!" I don't want changes in my Message Center; I just want to click in the same spot and have my inbox appear. I don't care if the "send" button is at the top or on a sidebar; I just want it to stay put.

Arlo & Janis - February 14, 2009What if, about once a month, you walked out to your regular US Mail and discovered that, "Ta da! Starting today, the little door opens on the side. Oh, and the little red flag is blue now, and pops out from the front."

After casting about, taking a lot of extra time just to open and respond to a single message, I saw a little, obscure box over to the side, "Click to return to Classic Email." Hurray! Aren't the classics always better?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

...but it's Summer

Yes, I said only 15 minutes, then it's back to some schoolwork. {We are doing a little school 2 days/week this summer to finish a few things we want to finish and to get further in Math just for fun}

But it's Summer, and Earthgirl and the little boy we watch are making frog houses in the cool damp sand under his playhouse, and it's Summer after all. There will be hotter days and rainier days to stay inside and enjoy some schoolwork, but today the frogs need houses and the children need fresh air and dirt.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Field Trip!!! or, Hair Nets, A New Fashion Statement

Last week we took a field trip to our local grocery store. Now, there's something I never would have thought of, but when Science Geek invited us along, we jumped. In an unusual turn of events (a combination of small families plus childcare), I tied for most children. I had three with me. Yes, with this group, our child:adult ratio is usually 2:1 or better. Stop groaning, you mothers of many. When we are all old, my poor only daughter may be struggling with two ancient senile oldsters, while your children will say, "It's my month to ride Mother around to her doctor visits and store."

At any rate, I have bookmarked a site that talks about the many Factory Tours one can take. Their blog right now features a local favorite, Kennedy Space Center. We have not been there since Earthgirl was a baby, so it's about time to go back. In their archives, I found out about a cool-looking tour of Sally Corporation in Jacksonville, FL. I think we will just have to ride up there for that tour.

We loved looking down on the store from upstairs behind one-way glass.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So hard to say goodbye...

...and I won't say goodbye until the last possible moment. But that scruffy place above my right knee is just about ready to bust through. I see skin. Soon everyone will be able to. The hems have been shedding threads for over a year. When I give up my favorite pair of jeans (and I only have one favorite at a time), they are too used up to recycle much. These may still have some useable denim below the knees.

POP QUIZ: From whence came the word denim? (Answer below)

Back in the 70's, I won a district 4-H competition in the clothing and textiles project. During the Q&A portion of the competition, one of the judges asked me if I knew where the word denim came from, and I did. She was surprised, since she, a Home Economics professional, had just recently learned that. I may have won on the strength of knowing that little bit of trivia. Later, I took the presentation ("Cotton - The Clothesbasket of Today." A little corny, but descriptive) on to win State, and took a wonderful trip to Nationals in Chicago, where I did not win. As result, I missed a whole week of school, including the explanation of a limit in Calculus. I struggled for the rest of the year trying to make sense of why we were doing these things. During the first week of college Calculus, I got it - the explanation of a limit, and breezed (well, relatively speaking) through the rest of Calculus. Then came Differential Equations. --a whole 'nother ballgame. But I digress.

I love that recycled denim has come back around. During my teen years, we recycled a lot of denim. My Mama, Nanny (my grandmother), and I made purses, hats, vests, and they made some beautiful jackets. I look forward to Earthgirl growing into the jacket Nanny made me, comlete with little embroidered flowers on the collar, cuffs, and down the zipper. When we studied Julie and the 1970's in American Girls Club, we made little recycled denim purses one week.
1974: That's me, 2nd from the right, in a little top Mama whipped up from Holly Hobby fabric, and wearing my then-favorite jeans. Picture taken with my trusty little Instamatic.

Earthgirl (Summer 2006) is wearing a skirt I whipped up from my favorite jeans from 2 faves ago. (She and her friend decided they liked using their denim skirts as swimsuit cover-ups.) The jeans busted through the knees and I kept wearing them. When they busted through the seat, they had to retire. But they enjoyed a recycle season with Earthgirl before moving on.

ANSWER TO POP QUIZ: The fabric originated in Nimes, France. It was serge de Nimes, later shortened to denim.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Diligence - A Big To Do

We are pretty much home ALL DAY today - yay! There are 20 items listed on my To Do list for today. I have already thought of a couple I forgot, and have put the 2 laundry maidens to work (forgot "laundry" - imagine that).

I find that I seldom complete everything on my To Do list, but if I don't write it down, I wind up doing a whole lot of nuthin'. In recent years, that is, the post-45 years, I find I do better writing bigger and with a bolder pen for lists like this. I still like to write smaller with a fineline pen , but my list is not effective if I have to find a pair of reading glasses to glance at it.

My all-time favorite pens: Pilot Precise V-5, Pentel R.S.P.V, and Sharpies.

When we were up in Georgia for the wedding last week, I observed that my SIL was carrying around an old-fashion Flair pen. Back in the 70's Flairs were the coolest. Her list could be read from about 5 feet away. I gotta get me one of those.

As though I need more pens...
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