Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So much to say!

I'm back! I wasn't actually gone anywhere but just couldn't be here.

It is such a busy, but wonderful, time of year. That was part of the problem. The biggest reason I haven't been around, though, is that we lost our power very briefly early on Sunday morning. Thankfully, it came right back on but a couple hours later we realized that it wasn't full power. We continued to have flickering lights and brown outs until late Tuesday night.

We thought it best to leave the computer turned off.

Clarence and I both went through withdrawals, with tremors and all ;-)

So, to update a bit...We had a beautiful Christmas. Lots of love, family, food, and fun.

Oh, and I must tell you about Julianne's gift to me.

Last year, Clarence's mom had just taught Julianne how to read a crochet pattern and she was working hard at practicing her skills. She made me the small runner shown above to use on top of an old desk that belonged to Clarence's grandparents, which we now have. I was so touched.

This year she decided to try making me a table runner for the island. I'm told she had a plan.

Eight rows a day would get it done by Christmas Eve. Definitely doable, she decided.

Until she cut her thumb and couldn't crochet for a few days.

And then her mean mom grounded her from reading and crocheting until she got her room cleaned. Another day or two lost.

Then she found a mistake several rows after making it and had to tear out and re-do. She had to crochet like a maniac whenever she got a chance to make up for lost time. When we stopped at Walmart a couple weeks ago, Clarence gave her his phone and left her in the car crocheting until she got too cold to continue. She doesn't think she'll do that again. I tend to take too long when I get inside Walmart.

She did end up finishing it on Christmas Eve. I am amazed at her efforts and skill. And perseverance.

Here's a closer shot. This is her first attempt at fillet crochet.

I am a very blessed mama.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The stockings are hung by the TV with care-we have a woodstove, not a fireplace so the TV stand ended up being where the girls put the holders. We're such non-conformists. But wait! Mom gave us one of those fire DVDs. So the TV really is the only fireplace we're ever gonna have in this house. So much for our non-conformity.

For the first time, I wrapped the gifts before Christmas Eve after the girls are in bed. What a relief to have that all done. I can actually go to bed before 1 a.m.

So all that was left to do was wish all my bloggy friends a wonderful Christmas, filled with love and laughter, joy and peace. And figgy pudding if you like it.

May the Christ child fill your hearts and homes with his love and peace as you celebrate his birth.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Mrs. Rabe from Creekside Cottage tagged me for a meme. I've never done one before and I'll apologize in advance for being boring.

Here are the rules:

*Go to the 6th picture folder in your documents.

*Find the 6th picture in your 6th folder.

*Pray that you remember what it is about.

*Blog about it.

*Tag 6 people to do the same.

I think I've already blogged about this box. It is a cheese box that I covered with wallpaper sample pieces to use as a container for a gift. The votive holder next to it is one that Julianne made. They were part of a gift for the girls' former piano teacher, who really likes lighthouses.

I have no idea who to pass this on to, so if you are interested in trying this or drawing a blank on what to post about today, consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Surviving the snow storm

I am so thankful Clarence was able to figure out what was wrong with his tractor recently and get it running again.

Although 8-12 inches of snow was predicted for our area, we seem to have ended up on the low end of the prediction. Whew!

Clarence started plowing last night after work. The tractor has lights but, as it grew dark, his tires were starting to spin on the ice that is under the snow. He decided to finish today, when he could put chains on the tires in the daylight.

Julianne was sweet and bundled up to take all these pictures for me. She knows my aversion to snow and cold. Plus, she likes being allowed to use my camera.

Clarence is still plowing now, trying to get the snow pushed as far out of the way as possible. We're supposed to get more tonight. And almost every day next week. The news said that we could have a whole year's worth of snow by Christmas. Be still my heart.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas story

You know how you notice an interesting sounding blog in someone's blog list? And you click on it to check it out? Then you see another one that sounds good on their sidebar? So you click again and pretty soon you have no idea what trail you have followed to land where you are-but you've enjoyed the journey, right?

That is how I ended up discovering a new blog this week. Today I went back to this new-to-me blog and the girls and I watched his video telling the Christmas story. I thought I should share it with any of you who haven't had a chance to see it.

Clicking over and watching it will allow you to see his Last Supper lunchbox, too. Who knew such a thing existed?

I guess I don't get out much.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homeschool homework

We've managed to get behind on our history so are trying to play catch up now. As a result, we just got to Joseph yesterday.

I think it kinda worked out for us, though.

The assignment for "younger" students focused on Joseph's coat of many colors. I thought the girls would like to do the "younger" work, as well as their own. I was right!

The younger set is supposed to make a sugar cookie coat of many colors and decorate it with frosting. How come I don't remember ever getting an assignment that required making cookies when I was in school?

They used toothpicks to decorate their cookies. Hey, I had to challenge them somehow, didn't I?

Of course, there was the rest of the batch to roll out and bake so we now have some Christmas cookies, too. As if we needed more sugar around here this week.

Today we moved on to Hammurabi. No cookies for him. I've decided I like Joseph best of anyone we've studied so far. ;-)
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 12, 2008


You Should Have a Pink Christmas Tree

For you, the holidays represent a time of friendship and sharing.

You're happy as long as you're spending time with the people you care about.

You are passionate about the holidays, and that start of the holiday season makes you very excited.

You sometimes go a bit overboard in your celebrations. You just can't help it!

Passionate, easily excited, sweet, giving, love, friendship, sensitive, caring

Your pink tree would look great with: More pink!

You should spend Christmas Eve watching: The Muppet Christmas Carol

What you should bake for Santa: Rice krispie treats with red and green food coloring

I am cracking up over this.

I love pink but never, ever, never would want a pink Christmas tree.

Nor do I want to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.

And I happen to know that Santa prefers several other types of cookies over rice krispie treats with red #40 so I'd whip up chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies.

Other than that, though, I'm sure it's spot on. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We are Santa's elves

Every year, our co-op group gets together for a Christmas party. We have a tradition of exchanging homemade Christmas ornaments with each other that apply in some way with one of the books we've studied during that year.

Since our co-op friends aren't aware of my blog, I can share this year's ornament with all of you.

The girls started working on them the other night while watching Charlie Brown Christmas. You can see how attentive to detail Allison is when the Peanuts gang is on TV.

We've made these ornaments before, just not for our co-op group. This time, Julianne decided to try small silver beads instead of little pearls on some of them.

Now Julianne is preoccupied with Charlie Brown and his gang. "Sure, Mom, I'll hold up a completed ornament-but I don't have to look your way while I do."

The girls chose these ornaments because this year we read Number the Stars with our group.

It's hard to capture how pretty they really are. The lights on the tree make them sparkle. The bonus is that they are quite simple to make and don't require expensive supplies, so rather than making one ornament per family, the girls want to make an ornament for each child.

Now I can't get that "We are Santa's elves. We are Santa's elves..." song from Rudolph out of my mind.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Change of plans

We set off for Greenfield Village Saturday morning, driving both cars as far as town, then planning to leave one there so we could split up and go in different directions when we returned.

It was a great plan. Until I tried to stop for a yellow light and proceeded to keep rolling through the intersection. We were getting a light snowfall and the road was slick. Thankfully, no one else moved and I didn't get hit but it made us reconsider the wisdom of driving almost two hours to Dearborn. It made us think seriously about replacing the tires on the car, too, especially after getting stuck in the driveway the other day.

We ended up going to a Christmas store and taking several shots of the girls there. As we walked from the parking lot to the stores (it's like a little village), I found myself thankful that we didn't go to Greenfield Village after all. It was very cold yesterday!

This is not the winning photo since some people I send cards to read this blog. I want them to be surprised. ;-)

We took our pictures, then headed over to Sam's Club where we got a couple new tires installed while our Christmas cards were being printed. Nice to have both those things off the list.

Now the envelope addressing begins!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 5, 2008

Updates on various things

Wow, I managed to post every day in November, then I took this whole week off. I didn't quite plan it that way but I've felt less than 100% all week and something had to give.

The tractor is running sporadically. Clarence got it going and was able to plow our six-inch snowfall the other day. Now it won't run again. I think he's going to try a new battery next, or something with the alternator, or something well, never mind. I really didn't understand anything after "new battery".

Belle is still on meds since his UTI wasn't cleared up last week. He will have to get re-checked next week and then we'll see if we have to make any further decisions. He continues to spend his days inside with us and his nights in the garage. He got banished to the garage when he started feeling well enough to come up to my bedroom early in the morning and wake me up. It brought back memories of why he started living outside in the first place years ago. I was thinking it was just my pregnancy and not wanting the litter box around. It's all coming back to me now.

I've been doing some sewing when I get a chance. I got some fabric and a .99 pattern for a skirt and jacket on Black Friday. I'm going to try to get a pattern for a shirt to go with it this weekend.

We are planning to go to Greenfield Village tomorrow to attempt to get a picture of the girls for our Christmas cards. I know, I know, it's getting late to get them done but we're gonna try anyhow.

Whew! Lots of rambling, no pictures. Sorry about that-I'll try to use pictures in my next post, which will, hopefully, be sooner than five days from now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The tractor won't start

We are supposed to get 6-10 inches of snow by sometime tomorrow. Allison decided to build a snowman. Clarence went outside to take some pictures for me and helped her stack the snowballs to make him.

He convinced her to give the snowman a high five. Let it be noted for the record: she didn't want to.

After that, she had just enough time to do a little sledding in the front yard before dinner.

We'll see if we're snowed in tomorrow or not. I'm really hoping Clarence can figure out what's wrong with the tractor because I don't miss shoveling our driveway by hand. When it's snow covered, the driveway is about 3/4 mile long. In good weather, the length is about 250 feet. I wonder what the scientific explanation is for that phenomenon?

At least now we have a couple additional helpers who weren't big enough to help in the days before the tractor.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ava and Nicholas

Our extended family got together today to celebrate cousin Daniel's daughter's birthday. Ava turned one a couple weeks ago but her family lives in Ohio so the party had to wait until this weekend.

She is one of the two miracle babies born into our family in the past year.

She liked playing with her cake more than eating it. I guess that's pretty much the case for first birthdays, isn't it?

And here we have niece Vicky with miracle baby #2, Nicholas. Since Aunt Sharon is his grandma, I knew she'd want to see him as well as Ava when she checks in here. We hadn't seen him since the end of August and he has grown so much since then. Don't you just love those cheeks and baby rolls? And that expression on his face? It cracks me up.

They are both such special blessings to their parents and to the rest of the family. It was great to see all of the cousins and their kids today-and with Christmas coming, we'll actually get to see them all again pretty soon. Don't you love the holidays?
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gearing up

Like a crazy person, I went to town and did a little shopping today. Very little, as it turned out. Since everyone shops on Black Friday, you run into lots of people you haven't seen in a long time. So I spent a good portion of my day catching up with friends I haven't seen in a while rather than spending money. I guess that might be a good thing?

The girls have been decorating the trees the last few days (since it is such a short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year). On my expedition today I bought some assorted candies for the Advent calendar. I couldn't believe that they hadn't thought to get it out yet.

Now the Advent calendar is filled and we have started planning our Sunday Advent celebrations. We're pretty low-key but last year started having a special dish or treat each Sunday night. Since there are only four of us, we each get one Sunday in Advent, going youngest to oldest.

Allison decided she wants a mixed berry pie. Even better, she wants to make it. I'm loving this already. ;-)

We have an Advent devotional thing we try to use but it frankly hasn't been our favorite thing. I'm looking for suggestions for a devotional we could use as a family. Anyone have any ideas? If you've used something that you loved, would you please leave me a comment so I can check it out? Thanks.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The feast

We had a lovely time today at Earl and Kathy's house. We don't get together often enough any more so holidays at least give us a chance to try to catch up with each other.

Dinner was delicious and plentiful. We all bring something to help lighten the load. I made rolls and a salad. Earl warned me that salad doesn't go over too well at Thanksgiving with our family. He was right. I brought about 80% of it home again. We had salad for supper so it works for me.

My dear, darling brother (yes, Earl-he's the only brother I have) was kind enough to send these leftovers home with us, too. He has a specialty he makes for Thanksgiving every year. Pumpkin chocolate marbled cheesecake. Oh. my.

I think it's a good thing my picture doesn't look so pretty. You'd all be licking your monitors even though you are already stuffed from your own feasts.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In honor of Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, filled with family, laughter, good food, fun, and lots of thankfulness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The beautiful snow

Was that me yesterday that was blathering on about how pretty the snow was? It was?

I may have revised my opinion this afternoon.

Mom had a clinic appointment in Detroit today. I was a little anxious about making the drive as we were supposed to continue getting more snow overnight. Clarence called me shortly after 5:00 AM(!) to tell me his drive to work had taken about an extra half hour. I decided I'd better just stay up, since I was going to get up in just over a half hour anyhow. Have I ever mentioned that I am not a morning person?

By the time the girls and I left home just after 6:30 AM (!), the roads seemed to be wet and slushy, but not overly slippery. Thank God.

We made the trip with Mom incident-free. No big news from the docs, which is always good news, and we were out of there in a reasonable amount of time, which always makes us happy. Mom even fed us lunch when we got back to her house.

Then we came home.

And drove up our hilly, curvy driveway. Which was snow covered. And which contained some small branches which had fallen while we were gone.

The girls got out and moved the branches for me and I attempted to continue driving up the driveway.

You can see how that worked for me.

We ended up shoveling for a bit and I was able to, after several failed attempts, make it up to the garage.

I walked into the house and kissed the non-snow-covered floor.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 24, 2008

For Aunt Sharon

As the girls and I sat at the dentist's office today waiting for our appointments, we watched big, fluffy flakes falling outside. It's the first pretty snowfall we've had this winter. It has done a little spitting and sputtering before today, but this was winter wonderland stuff.

Now, I'm no fan of winter as a general rule. But there is something to be said for how clean and pretty everything looks when blanketed with snow.

By the time we got home it was beginning to get dark and was warm enough that the snow was melting.

I knew Aunt Sharon, down in warm, sunny Florida, would want to see our first real snow of the season. She may only want to see it so she can remember why she moved, but I'm sure she wants to see it.

I think I'm ready to go visit her now.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First sewing project

Julianne made this.

I was going to teach the girls to use my new sewing machine this summer but time got away from us. Both girls had used my old machine a couple years ago to sew pillowcases but it (my 25 year old Singer) was not something they were comfortable with, nor had they ever used a pattern to make anything. This project was to get their feet wet on how to use a pattern and to see if they found my new machine easier to use than the old one.

I think it was a success!

My new machine is a Husqvarna "Huskystar" (click for photo) and one of the features that convinced me I needed it was that it has a sliding speed control. No more fast-stop-fast sewing. That made the whole process much less stressful for Julianne. She learned to use a seam ripper, too, which is a normal part of sewing whenever I make something, but I don't think she needed it too many times.

She seems excited about sewing and I think she is pretty comfortable with pattern layout, getting the pattern straight on the grain, cutting, and following the pattern instructions. Now it's Allison's turn. I don't know if she'll get hers started before the holidays or not but I'll be sure to post a picture of her tote when she is done.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Please pass the kids' favorites

Today's Housewife hosts a weekly recipe swap. This weekend's topic is sharing our kids' favorites.

My girls agreed on an entree they both really like (I'll share that at the bottom) but they enjoy cookies called "Chocolate Yummies" a lot, too.

Since the cookies are quick, easy, no-bake, and I had all the ingredients, I decided to post them so I could include some pictures.

Here is all you need: chocolate chips, butter, marshmallows, coconut, oatmeal, and vanilla. Oh, and the recipe. I'll be sure to give you that in just a minute.

Start by melting the butter, marshmallows, and chocolate chips together, stirring until smooth.

Once melted, stir in the oats, coconut, and vanilla.

Here's my extra tip for you: put newspaper down on your counter, then cover it with wax paper. Every time I made no bake cookies, I used to hate cleaning waxy residue off my counter or cookie sheet. The newspaper makes clean up quick and easy.

Scoop your cookies out onto the wax paper, allow to cool.

Chocolate Yummies
(from Quick Cooking 2001 Annual Recipes)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)
1/3 cup butter, or margarine
16 large marshmallows (or I use 2 2/3 c. mini marshmallows)
2 cups quick cooking oats ( I use old fashioned)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips, butter, and marshmallows; stir until smooth. Stir in oats, coconut and vanilla; mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.

The second recipe I promised is one that came with my copy of MasterCook. It is for Barbequed Chicken Pasta and can be found online here. I never put the scallions on top and serve the cilantro on the side (if I have it) because one of my girls doesn't like it.
Hope you enjoy these recipes!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin cake

I don't often make layer cakes.

I'm signed up for emails from Kraft and happened across this recipe this week. I had leftover pumpkin in the fridge needing to be used so I decided to give it a whirl.

So far, so good. The layers aren't sliding. I was kinda worried. But notice all my crumbs on the cake plate. Sigh. Presentation is not my strong suit. I didn't actually notice them at the time-only now in my picture.

Complete with caramel topping and toasted pecans.

It was yummy. I thought the caramel was barely noticeable, which makes it unneccesary in my opinion. I'd rather slap some more of the filling on top as frosting. Of course, I could eat the filling with a spoon. It's hard to go wrong when cream cheese and Cool Whip are involved. (Yes, I enjoy whatever that chemical mixture named Cool Whip is.)

My changes to their recipe were minor: I didn't have a yellow cake mix so I subbed a white one. I added extra pumpkin in place of much of the oil (I know, I know-like reducing the oil really makes much difference in this case), and I used light cream cheese.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One more post

wrung out of that little field trip last week.

This is almost the rest of the purchase. I didn't bother trying to fit the last item into the picture. It was on their clearance table and was a set of decorated tiles the thickness of a tile trivet. There wasn't a price on them so when I found an employee, I asked if he could find out how much they were. He looked them over, grabbed a price gun, slapped a sticker on them, and handed them back to me with the question "How's that?" I glanced down to see the price he had given them. 50 cents. I definitely was taking them home with me. Julianne may use them in a mosaic project but, if not, they will work as hot pads for the table.

I bought these pins just because the girls and I thought they were cute. I don't wear pins very often but they're fun once in a while.

The snowman thing in the background is a pot holder that fits over a pan handle. We use them with our cast iron cookware. This one is longer than the ones I already have but it should still work for the job. And it's just so much cuter than the hot pepper ones we currently use. I'll enjoy using it this winter but I'm guessing Clarence is likely to stick with the hot peppers if he cooks. Ya think?
Posted by Picasa