Friday, October 31, 2008

What do you see

when you look at this picture of Allison?

Our church has had "Trunks full of treats" for the past several years on Halloween. This year, besides the trick-or-treating in the parking lot, they had a bounce house, photos, games, horse-drawn wagon rides, and crafts. I opted out of passing out treats this year because while it normally starts out pleasant enough, the temperature quickly drops to about -15º and I freeze. Therefore, I'm taking all the credit for the balmy temps they enjoyed tonight. If I had been there, I'm certain it would have felt arctic. I went grocery shopping instead. Do I know how to have a good time or what?

Julianne was asked to help register the kids who had photos taken and Allison was asked to help out with crafts. Allison still wanted to trick or treat, though, so she decided on an easy costume that wouldn't hinder her from doing crafts.

She dressed as a waitress. That's what you're supposed to think when you look at the picture. One woman from our church, a staunch Democrat (like a certain aunt of mine who shall remain unnamed), saw her and asked if she was supposed to be Sarah Palin. Allison said "No, I'm a waitress."

She dropped some candy in Allison's bag and said "Oh, good thing, because if you were Sarah Palin, I wouldn't be able to give you any candy."

Her husband walked up and she told him "She's Sarah Palin!" Allison muttered "No, I'm a waitress."

I'm sorry Aunt Sharon. Please tell me you still love Allison, even if she does look a bit like a Republican.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The winner is...

I put each name on paper and put it in a bowl.

"Kid of the day" drew one out.

And the winner is...

Like my aunt in Florida, Miss Paula probably doesn't need a corn cuddler very often but, hopefully, she will find a way to use it and the other goodies I'm sending her.

My thanks to everyone who visited and left me comments.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Allison's Room + Giveaway

Since Aunt Kathy spoils both of our girls, she also hand painted Allison's room a few years ago.

Allison's room has a garden theme.

She gave Allison a butterfly, a dragonfly, and a bumblebee (not pictured because Allison's bed is in front of it right now).

Daisies above the garland of grapes and flowers, on lavender walls.

Allison wasn't really wanting to change her room yet.

But it looks like leaving it as it was is no longer an option.

I think I remember now why I haven't been anxious to do the windows and siding. It looks like every room in the house is going to have to be painted, even the rooms that were already done recently. (They're adding wood under the siding so they are nailing on every wall and it makes some of the screws pop out of the drywall. Argh!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since this is my 100th blogging tradition, I'm offering a little giveaway.

I made a couple things, one of which is a corn cuddler with a rose-print flannel sham. Julianne got into the action, too, by crocheting a white doily to add to the prize. She does nice work, I must say.

So, if you're interested in being entered to win, just leave a comment on this post with your email addy or a link to your blog.

I won't be home a good part of the day tomorrow so we'll choose our winner either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I don't normally get a lot of comments so you've got a pretty good chance of winning, ya know.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Julianne's room

Clarence is doing some demolition to prepare for installing the new windows in the girls' rooms. Once the new windows are in, Julianne wants to re-do her room so I thought I'd get some pictures before it was all changed.
Julianne has had a yellow room with Veggie Tales since she was about five. She wanted it changed when she turned 10. She thought she was on the every-five-years plan but it hasn't worked out that way.

I suppose she's growing up but how could someone not want the French peas or the penguin from The Toy That Saved Christmas?

She has this happy sunshine smiling at her every morning. I think he helps her wake up cheerfully.
Queen Esther looks down from above one of the windows. She was always Allison's favorite.

Madame Blueberry.

Bob, Larry, and Junior Asparagus.

Palmy. I love his Reggae-sounding song on the Veggie's Christmas CD.
Laura the carrot.

King George's rubber ducky.
I've never been able to decide which is my favorite. My dear sil Kathy painted all of this for us. Prior to that, she had done Precious Moments animals in a similar fashion for Julianne's nursery. She shares her talents with us so generously and I really appreciate it.
Since this is my 99th post, I'm thinking about a giveaway. I'm nowhere near as talented as Kathy but I've got a little something I made to send to someone-so stay tuned for # 100.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Crazy sisters

As part of her prayers, Allison often will ask God to "keep us safe wherever we are going tomorrow". Tonight it went like this instead: "Please help us to have a safe drive wherever we are going today...tomorrow...I don't know...I love, Amen." By this point, Clarence and I were laughing out loud.

It brought to mind a few other distinctly "Allison" memories.

She has used "Amen" instead of goodbye a couple of times on the phone.

Years ago, when Julianne's room was being painted, Allison wanted to be allowed to sleep in the living room with her so she promised "I'll be peace and quiet!"

She once (she was quite young) saw a man walking a large, light brown dog and said "That man has a deer for a pet."

In Florida, when we were visiting my inlaws one winter, she was excited to tell a joke to anyone she could.

The joke was "How did they name Canada?"
"They drew some letters out of a hat."
"C, eh?"
"N, eh?",
"D, eh?"
"That's enough".

She became quite friendly with a couple down the street from her grandparents. We warned her not to tell them that joke, as they are Canadians and might be offended by it. "Too late" she answered. Thankfully, they laughed with her and weren't offended.

Of course, I'd hate to leave Julianne out of things.

When she was little, she once told me "I need some medicine. I've got a temper."

I'm sure much of this is of the you-had-to-be-there variety but tonight I'm laughing all over again at my crazy kids. I've had a difficult day and they are like sunshine to my spirit. I am so blessed to share life with them.

Of course, the chocolate/chocolate chip muffins Julianne made for dessert didn't hurt either. ;-)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

New wallet

Remember the latest skunk incident?

One casualty of that escapade was Clarence's wallet. His very special, he-doesn't-want-any-other-kind, wallet. The only kind of wallet he has carried since buying the first one at a craft show over 20 years ago.

A couple days after the "incident", I called Mike Barnes, the guy who crafts these incredible wallets, and ordered a new one for Clarence. I didn't think to ask Mike how long it would take for him to make it and send it out so the girls and I have been faithfully checking the mail every day before Clarence gets home, hoping to intercept the package.

Today was the big day.

Mike calls this style of wallet a "sidebill". The part on the left folds over to the right, then it closes like a regular bifold wallet. That part where he stamps his name and "Calfskin" is a coin pocket. It really is cool.

Then there is the outside of the wallet. Isn't it great?

You can choose the design in the leather. I don't remember all he offers but I think there is a choice of deer, fish, or several types of leaves. I know he makes other styles of wallets, too-of course, I only need the sidebill type.

I've seen blogs encouraging folks to "shop with real, live people" for their holiday shopping so I decided to give Mike a plug here. His website doesn't have a lot there yet but his contact info is listed, along with a small picture of the leather switchplate covers he also makes. Great stuff! Men are often so hard to buy for and Mike's work is unique and beautiful. I think his prices are excellent, too.

Clarence has continued to carry his old wallet these last three weeks. He joked with the employees at the bank and feed store about his skunky wallet and stinky money. Thing is, after a week or two, the smell dissipated. Who knew?

His old wallet is showing some wear. Now his new wallet is waiting in the wings, ready for when he finally decides the skunky one has to go.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prepping for windows

Wow, pictures can be a wake up call.

These are pictures of the end of our house, where the girls' rooms are located.

As you can see, the foundation plantings have gotten out of hand and would make replacing the windows and siding pretty much impossible.

We didn't plant any of this stuff so it all dates back a couple decades or more.

This side of the house isn't very visible so it's been "out of sight, out of mind". We didn't really realize what a mess this was. The tallest bush is mock orange. The butterflies love it when it's blooming. The other stuff is bittersweet and icky juniper. Lots and lots of icky juniper. Yes, that is the actual botanical name. Icky Juniper.

Clarence's tractor, my inlaws, and a few hours of work made a huge difference.

Clarence would have left some of the mock orange but his dad and I ganged up on him and told him it should all go. I didn't even have any mercy on the crooked little apple tree that was growing around the corner. It was all too close to the house and really needed to be taken out.

Clarence is hopeful that we didn't totally eradicate the mock orange. The girls would like it to come back, too, because they love the birds and butterflies outside their windows. As long as the juniper is dead, I don't care.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Window shopping

(Sorry for the unplanned blogging break. I got miserably sick on Saturday afternoon-couldn't get out of bed or the room started spinning. I'm feeling a lot better and hoping I'm on the mend for good.)
Yes, we've actually been shopping for windows.

Not like this one, though.

We took this picture at the window place because our kitchen window is the same shape as this one and Clarence wanted the visual reminder of how the trim is supposed to look when he's done.

We have needed to replace the windows in our house ever since we bought it (16 years ago!). Other things have taken precedence but it's time for the remaining windows and doors now.

The windows we need for the girls' rooms, the bathroom, and one for the living room were all in stock. The other living room window is going to require making a decision on exactly what we want to do and ordering whatever that ends up being. We aren't great decision makers around here so that may slow us up a bit.

The doors aren't easy either. We have a doorwall in our bedroom and I think I'd like to replace it with a door with blinds built into the glass. Of course, Andersen doesn't offer that option so we've been trying to decide what to do about that. We aren't great decision makers around here so that may slow us up a bit.

We think we want fiberglass for the front door. HD has one we like but it's white. I want to paint the outside, but I'd like the stained wood look inside. That means special order, pay in full up front, and hope all the things we found on the internet about HD and that door company aren't accurate. Another decision and (say it with me) we aren't great decision makers around here so that may slow us up a bit.

Clarence's dad has lined up his Amish neighbor to do the work. His dad also borrowed some scaffolding from one of his friends. As the windows are replaced, the siding we bought a couple years ago during the kitchen remodel will be able to go up, with the Tyvek underneath. It's pretty exciting to think the house is going to be more airtight and comfortable soon.
I'd love to hear any suggestions for fiberglass entry doors-likes and dislikes. 'Cause, you know, we aren't great decision makers around here and we can use all the help we can get.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Completed baby gifts

The shower is tomorrow. I just finished the gifts. I am such a procrastinator.

I ended up using the flannel I purchased first on the burp cloths. I just love the softness of the flannel for next to the baby's face.

I kept debating about using the cotton that matches the fleece on the burp cloths (that was part of the procrastination problem) and ultimately decided that I didn't like the way the design looked when I measured the correct size piece. But what to do with the matching fabric?

Clarence suggested a corn cuddler like I've made for all of us, with a sham that matched the blanket. What a great idea! I used to put a hot water bottle in the crib before bedtime. My girls usually nursed themselves to sleep and, if the bed was warm, I could lay them in it without waking them. If I had known about corn cuddlers back then, I would have used one-much easier and stays warm so much longer.

So, I'm not actually done with the gifts. I still need to make an instruction tag for the corn cuddlers and wrap it all.

Almost done. And the shower is still 11 hours away. Lots of time to spare.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin cranberry scones with pumpkin butter

Life as Mom is having a pumpkin recipe swap this week. I decided to share a recipe I got from a homeschooling message board a couple years ago. I don't know who posted it there but it is really good. I, of course, sometimes make changes to the original recipe. Those are listed under the last picture, if you are interested.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

2 cups self-rising flour (or all purpose flour + 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, & 1 tsp. cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup buttermilk, or sour milk (~1/2 tsp. vinegar to 1/3 c. milk)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Mix together flour, sugar, spices, baking powder (if using), baking soda, and salt (if using) in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into the flour. Mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Mix in dried cranberries. In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together (don't overmix).
2. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times, and then shape/pat dough in a circle about 1 1/4-inches thick. Slice in half, and then cut each half into four equal pie-shaped wedges. Brush with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk.), and sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
3. Bake on a cookie sheet at 375º for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8 scones. Serve warm with Pumpkin Spice Butter.

Pumpkin Spice Butter

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all and mix until creamy.

My changes to the scones:

I used whole-wheat pastry flour for half of the all-purpose flour this time. I don't think I can tell a difference-certainly not a negative difference.
I always omit the salt. We don't miss it.
I replaced half of the butter with yogurt to cut the fat content. I may be sorry tomorrow (doing that tends to make baked goods drier the next day) but I imagine my family will happily eat them for breakfast anyhow. Especially with the pumpkin butter to put on them.
I also have never, ever remembered to do the egg wash/cinnamon/sugar thing. That's why they look all flour-y in my picture. If you want me to use an egg wash and sprinkle it, you've gotta list that stuff in the ingredients. Once I've used all the listed ingredients, I tend to quit reading the instructions or something.

My changes to the pumpkin butter:

I omit the butter.

Shocking, I know, but I didn't want a butter butter. I wanted a pumpkin butter. Like apple butter, only with pumpkin. Never mind. Make it however sounds good to you. ;-)
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eating worms

We had another great co-op day today. It is always so much fun to see our friends and spend the day together. Our family lives about an hour and a half from the rest of them-but they are worth the drive.

I remembered to get a picture of Julianne's crocheted worm today.

Somehow, a pink yarn worm doesn't seem as disgusting to me as Allison's edible worm looked.

She told everyone what her worm was made of before she ate it, so no homeschooled kids were grossed out in the conducting of this exercise.

One of the families brought this wormery. It was pretty interesting to watch the worms tunneling in it.

Here is our snack. Green, orange, blue, red, and yellow neon worms. Makes you hungry, doesn't it? Or not.
I really want to know whose idea it was to make candy worms in the first place. That is just odd, don't you think?
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Last minute details

Our homeschool co-op meets once a month. We're a small group of five families and we have such a great time together.

We are a literature-based group so each month the moms choose a book and plan activities based on what we're reading that month.

This month's book is "How to Eat Fried Worms" by Thomas Rockwell. I must admit that this book isn't typical of what we usually choose but it gives us an opportunity to learn something about worms.

One of the assignments the kids have is to make a worm out of the medium of their choice. Allison's choice is a mixture of peanut butter and marshmallow creme. Julianne crocheted hers and I haven't taken any pictures of it. Maybe tomorrow.

The girls also had to interview people about their favorite and least favorite foods and create graphs of the information they compiled. They had to learn some unique and/or interesting facts about worms to share with everyone else. Allison hopes to gross everyone out by eating her "worm" after presenting her facts.

The last assignment was to create worm recipes to share with the group. I found it interesting that they both used fish recipes from the crock pot lady (that I've prepared recently) and simply substituted worms for the fish. Do you think there's some sort of significance I'm missing here? I know Allison isn't terribly fond of fish, but Julianne actually likes fish. Hmmm.

I need to go make some pudding. I'm bringing the snack tomorrow and another mom suggested dirt cake. I have no better ideas-c'mon, we're talking worms here-so I need to get it finished.

I'm not doing the flower pot thing though. I'm going to put the pudding in a cake pan, spread the oreos over top, then lay the gummi worms on the cookie crumbs. Showcase those worms in all their glory. (And make them easy to pick out) ;-)
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Beautiful Fall Day

I'm no fan of fall. Yes, it's pretty when the leaves change color and you get the occasional warm day interspersed with the cooler ones. But it's a harbinger of the cold weather to come, which I really don't look forward to.

Today, however, is a perfect fall day. The temp is in the mid-70s, the leaves are starting to look pretty and haven't all been knocked off by incessant rains. The bug population is somewhat less than it was a month ago. Yep, it's a great day to go outside.

Mom gave us this gorgeous mum for our anniversary a couple weeks ago. I haven't decided where to plant it yet so I've just been enjoying it still potted. Better find it a home soon, I think.

We don't have a lot of red leaves around our yard but this yellow caught my eye as I was walking around. It'll be interesting to see how this view of the driveway changes over the next couple of weeks. We still have a significant amount of green in our trees.

Another aspect of fall is garden clean up. Yesterday Clarence was working on that and wondered what I wanted to do with my parsley. Later, he sent Allison to ask what I would like to do with a "volunteer" cilantro plant. Have you ever determined a menu based on one ingredient you have that you want to use? Yeah, me, too.

Last night's dinner included parsley potatoes (which I've never made before) and today's lunch was chicken tortilla soup. I know, I know. A gorgeous, warm autumn day and I left soup cooking in the crockpot for lunch. I couldn't help it-I just love snipping cilantro into the bowl and scooping the soup over it. Knowing I had fresh cilantro to use made it impossible to think of having anything else.

It might be an addiction.
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Please pass the...

Today's Housewife's recipe swap this weekend is for breakfast/brunch food.

I'm sharing a breakfast cookie recipe, adapted from one I found online some time ago. I've spent considerable time this morning trying to find the link to the original recipe I adapted but am coming up empty.

I've made these a few times to take with us as a snack on Bible quiz days. We usually have to leave home by 5:30 or 6 AM and the girls need to eat something between then and lunch at noon. I shared them with a friend whose kids LOVE getting cookies for breakfast.

Breakfast Cookies

1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice (or 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. orange juice)
1/2 cup Oat Bran
1/2 cup Seven-grain cereal (I use a rolled 7 grain flake that resembles oatmeal)
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit like raisins or craisins)
1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut -- optional
1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts -- optional

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat together with electric mixer, oil, applesauce, and brown sugar. Add egg whites, vanilla, and juice, then beat again.

Sift together oat bran, 7 grain cereal, flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix these ingredients with the wet mixture. Stir in oats. Fold in dried cherries (and any other optional ingredients).

Place dough on ungreased cookie sheets by the tablespoonful. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove cookies from the sheet immediately and let cool.

My notes say this recipe is courtesy of The Manor at Taylor's Store B&B Country Inn. Sorry I can't link to the original recipe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby blanket

There's a baby shower at church next weekend and I decided to make a blanket and some burp cloths to give them.

I don't know the parents at all. The grandparents have gone to our church for a few years but their daughter (the new mom) only recently started attending.

They seem to have a Pooh theme so I chose this fleece. I love the soft pastel colors and the patchwork look it has.

My plan was for Julianne to crochet a pretty edge around the fleece but we discovered that it is too hard for her to get the crochet hook through the fleece. I always seem to need a Plan B, don't I? So, today I backed it with a solid color and hemmed it. Not as pretty, but it is for a boy so I suppose that's better anyway.

I bought some Pooh flannel for burp cloths and then later found cotton fabric that matches the fleece. I haven't decided if I'm going to give them burp cloths with both fabrics or just use the matching cotton. Decisions, decisions.

For a seemingly simple project, this blanket gave me a lot of grief to assemble. I have enough to make a second blanket, and planned to give them two, but am not sure I'm up for the frustration of doing another right now. Maybe I'll try it again once I'm done with the burp cloths.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beaded pen

In my blog wanderings, I recently came across this project, something even I could do.

We happened to be near a Michael's store on our way home from the quiz last weekend and Clarence stopped so I could look for microbeads. I found the sticky paper I needed while I was there as well.

I had forgotten that I had allowed the resident scrapper (Julianne) to use up all my double-sided tape so I couldn't try this until I made another supply run yesterday.

The directions were easy to follow (in fact, I didn't have them when I made it, I just went from memory-which meant no measurements. It would've been easier if I'd had those.)

I was pleased with how it turned out, and how quick and easy it was to make.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Ramblings

Wednesdays are busy days for us.

The girls have swim lessons after lunch, we rush home for a quick dinner, then back to town for quiz practice followed by church. Whew!

This is Julianne swimming some of her endless laps for class. They "warm up" by swimming 5oo yards.

They have to tread water for at least 9 minutes.

They practice all their different strokes.

Allison has it a little easier in her level. She *only* has a 200 yard warm up.

Allison has tinted goggles, Julianne's are clear. I'm not sure I'd know which was which in these pictures otherwise.

I took these pictures last week. It is so nice to see them swim so well. When they were little and started lessons, they were afraid to jump off the edge of the pool into the shallow water.

They've come a long way.
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