Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Here are a couple pictures from our church's Christmas Eve service.

The girls participated in a handbell (chime) choir. It was a first for our church and it was beautiful. The chimes were borrowed from another church that wasn't planning to use them.

The girls also sang a medley of Angels From the Realms of Glory and O Holy Night that they've been working on at their voice lessons.

The whole service was different than years past because we have a new pastor this year. It was nice to have things changed up a bit but still finish the service with everyone standing around the perimeter of the sanctuary, passing the flame from one candle to another (Allison's favorite tradition).

Our family wishes each of you a Merry Christmas, filled with love, joy, peace, and the hope that Christ brought to earth.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

December Quiz

We attended the girls' quiz this past Saturday.

Both girls were finalists in individual competition, but neither placed.

So many teams left before the awards that the pictures almost look like the girls did place.

Allison's team took first in their division.

Julianne's team didn't place. We were all wondering if Julianne and Paul's drivers training classes may have had something to do with their performance. They didn't do badly-the rounds they lost were close-but they're going to have to really study to beat those teams next time.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas gift idea

My dear friend Becky is offering a great sale right now on some of her wonderful soy candles.

Her sale includes some cute Santa mugs filled with her special hot chocolate candle (including darling little marshmallows!). I've ordered some hot chocolate mugs as Christmas gifts for the girls' piano and voice teachers. They are unique and fun, not to mention how fantastic they smell.

Go take a look-you can find a link to her candle website from her blog, if you are interested in something other than the sale items. But I really recommend the hot chocolate mug. Mmmm, like a brownie without calories.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Julianne's room re-do

Julianne had some definite ideas of things she wanted to do with her room.

She's crazy for paisley and fleur-de-lis so she picked up some stamps at Hobby Lobby several months ago in anticipation of finishing her room.

She and Allison only stamped the wall with the largest window. Didn't want this to be *too* much.

Her curtains are a polka dot fabric.

When I saw this fabric, it screamed "Julianne" at me. She loved it and decided I should use it for her fan refashion, even though it wasn't a perfect match to some of the other elements of her room.

Her fan originally was bright and multi-colored: red, blue, green, and yellow. She wanted me to spray paint it purple but there is a little part-below the fan blades and above the light-that I couldn't paint as it didn't come off. My solution was to make a fabric sleeve for it. It closes with velcro so she can remove it if she needs to get to the switch to change the fan's rotation.

She added a couple verses to her plain soft green walls.

This one is Psalm 16:2

I didn't realize she planned to paint the verses on her walls so didn't give her any tips about getting them straight. She had them done before I ever saw them. Ah, well, experience is often the best teacher, right?
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Allison's room makeover

When we replaced all our windows last year, we changed a small window for an egress one in the girls' rooms. That, of course, meant drywall work for Clarence.

Drywall work meant, of course, that the rooms had to be completely repainted. Julianne had been waiting for 5 years to paint over her Veggie Tales walls but Allison still loved her garden room.

The girls were anxious to paint their own rooms and I was equally anxious to let them. It's a great skill to acquire and they are certainly old enough to learn.

Once they had painted, we started the search for curtain fabric. I decided that since we were just going with valances, the girls could certainly make those, too.

Allison finally finished hers yesterday and put them up.

This summer, I used fabric to cover their fan blades, following a tutorial I found online.

Allison chose to keep her room simple, only painting and adding the little touches of fabric. Julianne's room is slightly more elaborate. I'll share pics of hers next time.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

When you spend Thanksgiving at Aunt Kathy's house...

and you bring the silver charms you created earlier in the week to show her...

she offers you the rest of the supplies you need to make your charms into beautiful earrings!

This is Julianne's finished project...

and these are Allison's.

We had a wonderful time, as always, with my family at Earl and Kathy's yesterday. I hope each of you had a lovely Thanksgiving as well.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our day with Johnny Tremain

Our FIAR group read Johnny Tremain this month.
We discussed pride (a huge problem for Johnny), Paul Revere and his portrait, some different styles of silver tea pots, and then read The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (an actual FIAR title but, since the kids have gotten so old, it was good to revisit it).

The kids then moved to the kitchen to try their hands at polishing silver pieces some of the moms brought. We've never covered child labor laws as part of our co-op days...and I don't think we plan to do so anytime soon.

After lunch, we left our friends' home and went to a pottery/craft shop so the kids could try making something silver for themselves.
They pressed silver clay into the mold of their choice, rolled it smooth on top, then chose to either press or etch a design into the top. Julianne etched her own design on hers; Allison used a stamp for hers. The clay was dried with a blow dryer for a couple minutes, then removed from the mold and put on a hot plate for a few minutes to complete the drying process.

Once dry, each piece had to be sanded before firing. I thought it was interesting that they could either drill a hole in the piece before firing or punch a hole through after it was fired.

Allison's creations are on the left, Julianne's are on the right. They plan to make them into earrings.
After firing, the kids buffed and antiqued their pieces. A quick polish and they were done.
Each month is something new and fun with this group. Last month, we read The Shakespeare Stealer and delved into Shakespeare a bit. (I mention it here because I didn't take a single picture or blog about it and I have a strong tendency to forget what we studied if it isn't written out.)
This is, and always has been, our favorite co-op group and they are one of the many things I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. They have become some of our dearest friends and I am truly thankful for all the memories we have made, and will make, together.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting back to the slow lane...

Today is the last day of driver's training for Julianne. Hallelujah!

These past three weeks have felt incredibly busy, with running her back and forth to class four days each week, as well as trying to maintain our regular activities.

The great news is that she took the written test yesterday and passed.

She said that today one of the students is bringing in a movie for them to watch (really? and I have to run her back and forth again for that?!?). Only Julianne and Paul have all their driving time finished so they will be the only ones able to get their certificates for their learning permits. Another advantage of homeschooling was their ability to drive while the other kids were in school. (And to see the ridiculousness of filling the required hours with watching a movie. Anyhow.)

I'm just thrilled the running is over after today. Life is bound to be slower now, right? What with the holidays quickly upon us and all...
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Driving advice

When the girls stay with Clarence's parents, Julianne tends to hang with Grandma while Allison goes outside and tags along with Grandpa. Consequently, Allison has done a little more tractor driving than Julianne and, being the more "experienced" driver, has been sharing bits of advice with Julianne since driver's training started.

The following are Allison's words of advice:

"Remember, Julianne, you won't go into the ditch if you don't steer into the ditch."

"Remember, Julianne, don't pull a U-turn on a one-way street."

"Remember, Julianne, when you want to back up, you've gotta put it in reverse."

Others have been getting in on the action, too.
One of our friends, upon hearing stories of Julianne's braking style, said "Oh, you're more of an aircraft carrier pilot, not a driver. Next time, just tell your instructor 'The tail hook caught!' when you use your aircraft brakes."

I'm confident that many of you have valuable advice you could offer as well. Feel free to share it in the comments and I'll make sure to pass it along to her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Consider yourself warned...

We've reached another milestone in life: Julianne started driver's ed this week. She's been eligible to take the class for 8 months now but it seemed like such an ordeal to schedule that I hadn't gotten around to signing her up.

A couple weeks ago, a friend told me she was looking into the classes for her son, Paul, so I asked her to let me know what she planned to do. She saved me all the legwork (and found a reduced price!) and we got our kids signed up together for a session at the local public high school. Class started Monday and Julianne and Paul did their first hours of driving today.

So, if you find yourself in our area, be on the lookout for a couple homeschooled kids learning to drive. They'll try to swerve back into their own lane if they see you coming. I hope.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our house on stilts

We found a contractor to replace our garage wall and have been waiting patiently for him to have time to do it. It's a good sign that he's busy in this economy, isn't it?

Our garage is in the walk-out level, with our living room directly above it.

Wednesday they came and got started. They propped up the living room, then knocked out the old wall. They were able to leave most of the very bottom row of blocks in place but found they even had to replace a small portion of the footings at the front corner. I found out when I wandered through once and he wanted to talk to me. He shared those words every homeowner just loves to hear:

"It's gonna be a little more than the quote I gave you."

They finished the partial row they're working on in this picture before quitting for the day. They got the rest of the wall in today and will be back tomorrow to put in the drainage stuff and sealcoat the wall.
It's exciting to be getting a major job off the list. Of course, now we're talking about what to do with the hillside the garage is built into. We can't put all that clay back up against the wall so we have to build some sort of retaining wall so we can backfill with sand.
The joys of home repair...kind of like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Quiz

Last Saturday was the first quiz of the new season. This year they are studying the book of John. The kids seem to find it easier to keep things straight in the gospels than the's more like telling a story so they retain it better.

The best news is that we have 10 kids quizzing this year, up from only three last year. This puts the girls on separate teams

Allison quizzed in the Young Teen Vet division. Her team took first place. She also made it to finals in individual competition, but didn't place.

Julianne's team quizzed in the Senior Teen Vet division, also taking home a first place trophy. She was knocked out of the individual competition in the preliminary round.
We are very excited to have such a nice group of kids quizzing this year. It presents new challenges, like transportation to the quizzes, but it is so wonderful to see so many kids interested in studying and quizzing on God's word.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Things I've never seen...

Julianne snapped this picture for me a couple weeks ago. We were waiting while Clarence was trying to get a part for the well and couldn't help noticing and discussing this sign.

Not being drinkers, we were wondering just how many cocktails it takes before you get to see a dancing sandwich?
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let's see...

where were we before that rather lengthy, unscheduled blog break?

Hmm...we celebrated our 22nd anniversary by going to Indiana. We wandered into an antique quilt shop that we haven't been in before and saw this gorgeous Grandma's Flower Garden quilt.

Grandma's Flower Garden is my absolute favorite quilt pattern-I'm sure you can see why. Isn't it just fantastic? I haven't seen one with the leaves before and am torn as to whether I prefer it with or without them. I think without leaves might be my preference but I still just love this one.

We are busy with our school year finally in full swing. The girls have started Latin this year and are really liking it so far. We also are enjoying our new co-op, although we've only made it once since it conflicted with our trip to Indiana. I got to choose which classes I volunteered to help in (I was assigned to classes in the other co-op) and I'm helping in a FIAR class and Allison's origami class. I don't seem to have much to do as a helper but at least both classes are fun.

We've got many, many projects we'd like to complete before the weather prevents working on them. Remember the garage wall job? Well, as I suppose we should have expected, it is a bigger job than we thought it'd be. Clarence got the moldy drywall off the inside and found blocks that have shifted significantly. He called a pro to take a look last weekend but we haven't gotten an estimate from him yet. Don't you hate spending money on stuff you can't even look at and enjoy? On the bright side though, it will be nice to know the living room above the garage is adequately supported.

I've been working on filling in the hole by the well, a few wheelbarrows of dirt every day that I can. Sometimes, like today, the wheelbarrow and I get in a little dispute (I always lose) and I wonder why I volunteered for this job. But, I think I'm a little stronger than I was when I started...after all, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, right?
I think that brings us up to date. I'll try to post sooner next time. Hey! I heard that "Yeah, right."
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

And the winner is...

Thanks to all of you for your kind words and sweet wishes.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

300 Post Giveaway!

At long last!

To thank all of you for reading my ramblings, I am giving away a couple of things I made with lots of help from Julianne. (Thank you Julianne!)

First we have a green gingham pillow, decorated with flowers crocheted by Julianne. I kept requesting flowers in additional colors and she cheerfully kept crocheting them for me. Isn't she sweet?

Also included is a jar of black forest preserves, with a jar cozy crocheted by Julianne.

The black forest preserves are another recipe I tried out of Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving. It's a nice cherry jam with a hint of chocolate.

The book suggests using the preserves as filling between layers of cake, which I tried with good results. I think it'd also be great for thumbprint cookies or a fruit-filled bar cookie recipe.

Please leave a comment on this post to enter, with a way to contact you if you should win. Drawing is open until Saturday night. Winner will be chosen sometime Sunday.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Triathlon and a sneak peek

About three months ago, a young friend of ours (next to Allison in the picture below) asked the girls if they would like to be part of his triathlon team. The triathlon is held at our church campground and is more about fun than serious competition. I guess you probably already figured that out when you read "team" in conjunction with "triathlon".

Almost all of Josh's family was planning to participate. His older brother couldn't race today but did end up tagging along with his grandma for the running portion to keep her encouraged. I was incredibly impressed that his grandmother did the whole race. That would be three events more than I've ever attempted.

Allison did the swimming portion. She was the fourth one out of the water. I couldn't believe she was so fast when she hasn't done much swimming this summer, and none at all in the past few weeks.

It was a rather chilly morning to have to go jump in a lake.

Julianne did the biking portion of the race. When she was through, she said "Never again". We'll see if she remembers that if Josh asks again next year.
It might have gone better for them if any of them had decided to do a little training prior to this week. ;-)

Now for the sneek peek...It kinda snuck up on me but I'm only one post away from 300.
Keep your eyes peeled for a little giveaway I am working on with Julianne's help.

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Monday, September 6, 2010


In the library last week, I noticed Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving on the new book shelf. Turns out, it isn't actually a new book, it's just new to my library. Oh, my, am I glad I spotted it and brought it home.

This is shaping up to be one of the best years for tomatoes we've had in a long time. I usually can my tomatoes after we've sauced them with the occasional few jars of peeled, diced tomatoes thrown in. But since we have a cool gadget (it isn't this one, but it's similar) for easily making tomatoes into sauce, I seldom feel a need to scald and peel them.

That may be changing.

I tried the Fresh Vegetable Salsa from the book. I've never made salsa before because, well, I have this cool gizmo so saucing is easiest...and anyhow, my best friend gives us a lot of her homemade salsa every year so I've never been terribly motivated to make my own. Cinda, I never fully realized how much chopping is involved in making salsa. I'll never take it for granted again.

I tried the recipe within a couple days of checking out the book and made 15 pints of salsa from our garden produce. A few days ago, Julianne used one of the pints on top of chicken enchiladas (I'm not a fan of enchilada sauce so we use salsa instead). We loved the new salsa enough that we decided to purchase more jalapenos from the farm stand and make more.
Somehow, I ended up with more than a stockpot full. Clarence suggested using my roaster, which I thought was brilliant so I'd have enough room to mix it well. Hmm, that almost didn't work either.

I ended up with almost 27 more pints of salsa, plus a quart of tomato sauce from the tomatoes we had peeled but didn't need for the salsa.
I may not have a single jar of green beans canned for this winter, but I think we're set for salsa. Maybe.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

The latest blooms

My best friend liked Julianne's shirt skirt so well that she made one for herself. A while back, she asked if Julianne would be willing to make her a cute flower to use as trim, like Julianne used on the one she made.

The 2nd flower from the left is the one made to order; the rest are what Julianne decided to create with some of the remaining floss. I just love those little forget-me-nots, whatever color she uses to make them.
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