September 30, 2010

autumn baking

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With older girls and a Mama who all love cooking and baking…well, the kitchen is a busy place! 

The sights and smells of breads, cookies, muffins and the like fill our senses and our bellies…

…it’s Autumn alright.  And it’s good.


September 29, 2010

cultural celebrations :: an Irish festival

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We should have been wearing a bit o’ green as well, right? 

The celebration of Ireland in our school studies included some good foods :: Irish soda bread (top picture, and we all decided the recipe is not a keeper :), good ole Irish stew with lots of potatoes (a staple in Ireland past and present) and apple cake!  Celtic music played in the background and after dinner we of course took in a bit of Riverdance via video.

My husband took the opportunity to tell the younger children of the Riverdance frenzy that took place in our home about nine years ago :: I can’t deny that it was all somewhat obsessive.  We even went to see the tour, which capped a long season of listening to the soundtrack, watching video clips and trying our own feet at fast-paced leg work (um, I am not good at Irish step dancing!).  Oh well!

A few sources used in our schooling ::

an interactive tour of the Irish Potato Famine of the 19th century

Ireland hosts the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world, the Blarney Stone!  who wants to hang upside down to kiss a stone!?  The children found this hilarious.

this book found in our local library is short, full of pictures and helpful to understand the culture. 


Well, top of the morning to you! (a phrase thought to originate in Ireland, but actually it’s from New Zealand!)


September 28, 2010

little boys

The smallest ones around here are growing up!….


DSC_0172son number two at 13 months

DSC_0124 grandson number one at 2 months


September 24, 2010

when love spills over


I really do appreciate ‘just because’ flowers. 

The things is, I’m not really the please-send-me-flowers type of gal (there’s nothing wrong with this of course, it’s just not me).  So when my best friend and partner, this husband of mine, sends me flowers…I know he knows that this time…

this time, the surprise of doorbell-ringing, middle of schooling, children-‘woohoo’ing, Mama-crying, breath-taking flower delivery is so, so much welcomed.


Thank you hon!  I am blessed by you…


September 22, 2010

needed reminders

Quotes worth remembering today...sharing with you ~
(a repost from the archives)

On the inside of my kitchen cabinets, I often place various quotes that inspire. Right now:

"Things which matter the most

must never be at the mercy

of things which matter the least." Goethe

"Though I am always in haste,

I am never in a hurry,

because I never undertake more work

than I can go through with calmness of spirit." John Wesley

Balance is when someone ~
senses a call on his life and says yes even when he feels unqualified

says no to something he's not called to, even though he might disappoint others

guards and protects her time with the Lord

refuses to allow food to become an idol

gives himself the gift of exercising several times per week

refuses to succumb to a busied, harried lifestyle

gives herself (and her children) enough time to get out the door

pushes himself beyond what's comfortable for the purpose of growth

is teachable and flexible

practices self-control

(from Focus on the Family magazine, March 2007)

September 17, 2010

pen to paper :: from the heart

I am humbled and quite thrilled to share the release of a new book!  Thrilled because of the purpose of this project, a gathering of authors who write for charity to benefit the sickest of children.  Humbled because a few words I’ve penned (well, typed) are included in the book…an honor indeed.


From the Heart, A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting tracks some of the funniest, the hardest and the most phenomenal moments of this journey called parenting.  A collaborative effort of many authors, all proceeds from the sale will go to support children’s hospitals and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center.

Beth Davis, the editor and also founder of the organization Write for Charity, had a desire to make a difference in the lives of children after learning that her youngest daughter needed surgery.  The idea of writing a book for charity was born and the search for authors began in earnest through magazines, the blogsphere and writer’s groups around the country—through several months and over 300 submissions later, From the Heart was born.

Currently this collection of stories and poems is only available for sale through the organization’s website in order to control costs and donate more to charity :: after October, this release of close to one hundred different stories sharing perspectives on parenting, will be available through other venues such as Amazon and bookstores.


My heart has always been for the needs of the youngest among us, my own children and those who need an advocate.  It’s my life’s work really and I’ll try to be a voice in whichever way possible.  To have some words included in a project that echoes this vision is humbling, an honor and a small way to remind others of the little ones around them.  I am eagerly awaiting my copy as parenting encouragement is needed & appreciated by this Mama!

Feel free to share the word by grabbing a button :: find the list of authors here.

All contributors (graphics, editors) and authors have donated their time and work :: proceeds, outside of printing costs, are all to be donated.


September 16, 2010

oh, September…

Right about this time each year I am tempted to become overwhelmed by the transition from summer schedules to fall routines.  Each week brings a new ‘we start _______ today!’  Bible club, homeschool classes, field hockey, and music lessons are becoming a part of weekly life.  It’s not that our schedule is too full, far from it.  We find ourselves saying ‘NO’ to much more than the actual ‘yes’ activities.  And I am loving the fact that we are home most evenings.

But it all begins at the same time!  With the newness brings paperwork to fill out, backpacks to dig out of closets and prepare for class, etc.  ETC!

autumn leaves

When I find my emotions tempted to spin wildly like a washing machine, I pause for a gratitude check and reflection.  Today I think of our end of summer, say good-bye to it, and give thanks ::

for a gathering of Moms, Dads, lots of kids & great food

weekly date nights with my husband (though this continues, yeah!)

for an outdoor worship service & fellowship time with our church family


    a fun & filling shrimp boil with other families :: laughing at the fact that we seriously overestimated the amount of food needed!  taking home great memories and munchies

our annual back-to-school campout (in our basement) with a near-by cousin

welcoming the end of the grass-growing season!

for backyard enjoyment, just sitting to read, lie in the shade or watch the stars at night


Ah, yes.  That’s much better.  Now I’m ready to welcome all that our new routines bring….


September 13, 2010

truth for this day

“Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what He has made crooked? (Eccl. 7:13)


“God often seems to place His children in places of deep difficulty, leading them into a corner from which there is no escape.  He creates situations that human judgment, even if consulted, would never allow.  Yet the cloudiness of the circumstance itself is used by Him to guide us to the other side.  Perhaps this is where you find yourself even now.  Your situation is filled with uncertainty and is very serious but it is perfectly right.  The reason behind it will more than justify Him who brought you here, for it is a platform from which God will display His almighty grace and power.  He not only will deliver you but in doing so will impart a lesson that you will never forget.  And in days to come you will return to the truth of it through singing.  You will be unable to ever thank God enough for doing exactly what He has done.”  from Streams in the Desert devotional 


This God, my God…will walk me through any storm and bring me safely to the other side.

Praise His holy name.


photo credit


September 10, 2010

cultural celebrations :: an English tea

The study of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (did you know this is the official name?) ended with a grand tea party as we make our way through the countries of Europe!  My, my…I do need to brush up on my geography and world history a bit; though I didn’t admit this fact to the girls, I think they caught on?



Naturally the girls (big & little) were all quite excited about this celebration as part of our curriculum; and the little boys in the house don’t know to not be thrilled about such a prim & proper event.  Dad on the other hand?  Well, he was a good sport until one of his children asked if we should all try to speak in a British accent…the man does have limitations!  Overall, it was a grand time.

Our menu ::

lemon poppy seed muffins with lemon glaze

sweet scones (that turned out a bit flat!) with homemade peach jam

maple ham & cucumber sandwiches

spinach & cheese cups

and lots of English tea!


A few resources that we used through this study ~ famous people, events or places ::

design an English garden (which can be printed out) 

read a Beatrix Potter story at this site or check a book out of the library

a few of us will be listening to this audio version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

our current read-aloud is about George Mueller, a great man of faith and courage; this version is great for young children as well


September 8, 2010

this girl…

DSC_0029{she only wishes the phone belonged to her!}

….today is TWELVE.

And yes, I reluctantly release her into the next year of her life :: praising God for the wonderful & exciting years we’ve enjoyed so far. 


I simply can’t believe it.  The pregnancy with her was my hardest, uncontrolled sickness that landed me in the hospital several occasions and caused an 18 pound weight loss in just under ten weeks.  Doctors knew little and I suffered much; my girl and I joke today about how maybe this crazy pregnancy was a ‘heads up’ for days to come?  Just a joke.

She is witty, intelligent, and motivated.  I appreciate her serious and yet tenderhearted nature.  She has a passion to learn, to DO, and to BE; being a wife & mother and ‘having my own house’ are part of her talk of the future—I’m sure it may all come together much as she is planning it! :) 

We love her dearly and celebrate once again with joy her arrival into our lives. 

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!



September 1, 2010

cultural celebrations :: the family

One of the aspects that completely sold me on our new geography curriculum this year is the fact that the schedule includes plans to celebrate on a regular basis the countries studied!  Should we choose (and we probably will not do them all), each week we’ll gather together to experience the food, customs, games, etc. of a particular region of the world.  Winter Promise calls this a ‘cultural celebration’ :: I love it!

The first one was to pause and celebrate our family.  Yes, the curriculum called for us to choose our favorite family meal, games, memories and such to be the focus; the children were quite excited.  But, deciding on our favorite food was not simple at all and I finally allowed one child to make the final decision.

I guess we are fairly globally-minded already because chicken curry over rice turned up as the choice :)  What a fun time of ‘remembering when’ as we recounted the years gone by and enjoyed some favorite games!

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Pictures of the table setting or of the people might have been appropriate, right?  That didn’t happen.  Hmm…it’s all about the food.  Oh, well.  I will leave you with the recipe used :: maybe it will find it’s way to your family’s table!

Basic Meat Curry (with chop salad)

Saute in deep skillet:

2 T oil

sweet onion, chopped (as much as you’d like)

2 tsp minced garlic

Blend in a small bowl:

2 T lemon juice

2-4 tsp curry powder (depending on taste desired)

Stir curry mixture into sauteed onions and fry lightly 2-3 minutes.


1-1/2 lb cubed chicken breast (or beef, fish :: for a veggie version try white or black beans)

Stir briefly to coat meat with spices.


1 cup tomato juice

1 tsp salt

1 cup broth

Bring to boil, cover and simmer 1 hour.  Thicken slightly with flour before serving, if desired.  Serve over hot rice with chop salad (recipe below), coconut, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, peanuts or raisins.  Freezes well. Serves about 4-6.

Chop Salad

Chop into bite size pieces and combine in a bowl:

3 peppers: red, orange & yellow (if I have this, it gets put in.  if not, moving on…)

1 long cucumber

3 green onions

1 pkg. grape tomatoes

Mix dressing and pour over all:

3 TBsp vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

dash of pepper

Stir well and chill several hours.

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