Fall Flavors

My Yankee candles have been burning non-stop this week.  "Apple Pumpkin" and "Harvest" scents filled the house.  I even bought an "Autumn Wreath" Car Jar.  Monday morning temps were just under 60°.  Temps reached 85° before noon.  It's fall in North Florida.  The weather is just a tease, so we have to take extra measures to create a fall feeling in our environment.

I figured some fall-flavored yummies would be a big hit with the fam.  Pinterest is full of fall-inspired desserts, most have apple or pumpkin and salted caramel.

The following creation was full of wonderment.

Apple Cupcakes
Preheat oven 350°.
Cream 5 TBS butter in mixer.  Add 1/3 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Beat until fluffy.
Add 2 eggs.  Mix well.  Add 1 tsp vanilla.

In medium bowl, combine 1 2/3 cup AP flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, and
1/4 tsp EACH: ground cloves, allspice, ginger.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup applesauce with 1/2 cup buttermilk.

Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients to butter-sugar mixture, stirring gently until well combined.

Spray or line a 12-cup muffin tin.  Fill each 2/3 full with batter.  Bake 350° for 18-19 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
for caramel
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 TBS salted butter
1-2 TBS heavy cream or half and half
1/8 tsp salt

In heavy-bottomed pot combine butter, sugar, and cream.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil for 2-3 minutes, to soft ball stage.  Remove from heat.

for buttercream
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups powdered sugar

In mixer, cream butter and shortening.  Add 2 cups powdered sugar, beat till smooth.  Add 3-4 TBS of mostly cooled caramel.  Add remaining sugar and beat till smooth. (I used the whisk attachment)

When cupcakes are cool, frost with an extra-large decorator tip.  Drizzle with remaining caramel (you may need to reheat the caramel a bit).

On My Nightstand

Here's what I'm reading lately,

Deliver Us From Me-Ville  |  David Zimmerman

Great book!  David has a way of making us laugh and challenging our self-centered behavior at the same time.  He is not condemning from on high; he's right there in Superbia with us.

Some quotes from the introduction ~

  • "superbia-----Latin for pride or, more precisely, an inordinate sense of self-regard...counted by ancient Christians as one of the seven deadly sins that destroyed the work of grace in the life of a believer."

  • "The word superbia sounds to me like a place--like suburbia or Albania or Utopia.  I like to call that place Me-Ville--a kind of suburb to the city of God."

  • "There's the kingdom that God reigns over, and there's the kingdom that we assert in our everyday lives.  They're commingled in the way that the city of Chicago and its suburbs, for example, are commingled.  The suburbs thrive at least in part because of their proximity to the city, but they would never dream of allowing Chicago's mayor tell them what to do."

  • "We're moving happily through our lives, telling God we love him; but meanwhile our universe revolves around us, and we act accordingly, promoting our own agenda, pronouncing judgement on people and circumstances based on how we're affected."

  • "...we're living in the wrong kingdom.  The kingdom of God is firmly established because it's the place where our God reigns.  Me-Ville is not.  Me-Ville is where superbia reigns;  it's a place from which we must escape."

Each chapter ends with "Escape Routes", practical and challenging questions and applications to get readers moving out of Me-Ville and into the City of God.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry  | Kathleen Flinn

Another good read for a "foodie", this charming memoir records Ms. Flinn's experience at the famed Paris cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.  She candidly shares her journey from Basic Cuisine through Superior Cuisine with wit and strong writing.  Flinn takes us along for the ride through her struggle to learn French, her victories and defeats in the classroom, and the relationships she forms along the way.  While there are some situations I'd rather not hear about (an early reference to wild sex with her boyfriend, and a lesbian couple that shows up briefly as obnoxious house guests), Flinn does not go into too much detail and the book is thankfully free of explicit sex and language.  The author sticks to the subject at hand, the fast-paced, furious life of a culinary student at the world's most famous cooking school.


Emma | Jane Ausin

I cannot say enough about the excellence of narrator, Nadia May.  I have listened to her read over half a dozen books and never tire of her voice.  She is a talented actress, giving life and individuality to every character she reads.  I've listened to her reading of Pride and Prejudice THREE times!  I recommend any audio book read by May.  You can log onto the iTunes store and search for her name.

Happy Reading!

Thrifty Treasures ~ August 6th

This has been a whirlwind summer!  My first time having all four kids go to camp (at different times, of course).  The teenagers went to camp more than once (youth camp, choir tour, & for the oldest boy, scout camp).  I even went to camp...business boot camp, that is!  One week of intensive training in greater Chicagoland, but hey at least I didn't have to cook, clean or do laundry for 5 whole days!!

So, I have not had a whole lot of free time on my hands, which means thrifting has been off my radar screen.  However, last week, while the younger two were away at kid camp, I did steal an afternoon to  scour my favorite shops.

Here's my thrift haul:

A Big Announcement for Our 100th Post

After 8 years of home education, we have decided to partner with an excellent charter school to educate our kids this year.  This new chapter in our lives is bittersweet.  I will miss homeschooling, but am so excited to experience a new method of learning WITH my kids.  The older two have not been in school since 2nd grade and Kinder (11th & 9th this year).  The younger two have never been to school (6th & 4th).  Needless to say, they are excited.  Shopping for supplies was a MONUMENTAL event.

"What will you do with all that time?" you may ask.


Don't bet on it...

Summer in a Jar ~ Peach-Nectarine Jam

Canning is important to me.  It is not necessary, nor is it particularly cost effective.  I do it because I love it.  I love the peeling, chopping, & mashing, and the smell of pure fruit goodness wafting through my kitchen.

I love using my great-grandmother's million-quart canning pot to process jewel-colored jars of sweetness.  I think about it simmering on the stove in her Louisiana farm kitchen, processing hundreds and hundreds of jars of fig preserves over the years.

Filled jars, lined up on the counter to cool, bring great satisfaction.  A reassuring  POP guarantees that summer is sealed in so we can open it up to brighten a cold winter day.

Pure Joy.

Peach-Nectarine Jam
3 cups peeled, chopped peaches
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped nectarines
2 TBS lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp butter (to reduce foam)

canning jars (need enough for about 16 cups), lid rings(the part you screw on), and new lids (the part with rubber seal)
large stock pot for processing filled jars in water bath
large sauce pan or pot for cooking mixture
measuring cups
wooden spoon
funnel made for canning (it has a wide mouth that fits perfectly inside the jar to prevent messy spills)

1.  First you need to prepare your jars.  There are tons of articles on the web that tell you how to do this, so I won't go into it here.  Just make sure that CLEANLINESS is a big priority in your canning process...this is how you avoid contaminating all of your beautiful fruit preserves.  I recommend looking at the Ball website or Pick Your Own for basic, safe canning information.

2.  Now, get your extra large stockpot/canner filled with water and starting to heat.  That much water takes a while to get going.  The water level needs to be high enough to cover filled jars by 1-2 inches when submerged in their water bath.

3.  Once your supplies are all clean and sterilized, you can start preparing your fruit.  Peel, pit, and chop the fruit and place in 6 or 8 qt. stockpot.  Stir in lemon juice. Add cinnamon stick.

4.  Carefully measure out sugar into a separate bowl.

5.  In a small bowl, mix powdered pectin with about 1/4 cup of the measured sugar and mix well.  Add this mixture to the fruit in the stockpot.  Also add optional butter at this point.

6.  Bring the fruit mixture to a rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.

7.  Stir in remaining sugar quickly.  Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.  **NOTE:  A full rolling boil is such that when stirred, the boil does not go away.

8.  After 1 minute, remove from heat.  Skim off any foam.  Remove cinnamon stick.

9.  Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 - 1/8 inch of the top (called "head-space").   Wipe any spills on the jar or rim with a clean damp cloth.  Cover with two-piece lids.  Screw bands finger-tip tight (this just means screw on tight, but don't over-do it).

10.  Put all of the filled jars into your large stockpot (canner) of boiling water, submerge either with a canning rack (very handy), canning jar grabber, or silicone oven mitts (don't recommend).  The canning rack is great because it keeps the jars off the bottom of the pot preventing etching, scratching, or cracking the glass.  If you don't have a rack, you need to put a tea towel in the bottom of the pot to cushion the jars and make sure there's space between the jars themselves to allow water to circulate through.  The water should cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches.  Add more boiling water if necessary.

11.  Once the water starts boiling with the jars in the canner, put the lid on and start your timer for 10 minutes.  Boil on medium...not a hard boil, but not too gentle.

12.  Carefully remove jars from canner--THEY WILL BE HOT! Place on a towel on the counter to cool.  When you hear the pop and see that the flat lid is indented, you know you have a good seal.  If any jars don't seal after a couple hours, you can reprocess 10 more minutes, or simply store in the fridge to eat right away.  It will keep there for up to a month.  Let sealed jars stand at room temp on counter for 24 hours.  Store the unopened, sealed jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.  Once you open one, store in the fridge for up to a month (any longer and it will start to crystalize).

Canning Equipment Tips

  • You do not have to store processed jars with the screw bands on them.  This is good to know since it is much cheaper to buy the flat part of the lid alone rather than the whole lid assembly.  Once sealed, you can remove the bands and use them again with new purchased lids to process more jam!  
  • You do, however, need a full screw-on lid to store the jars in the fridge once you open them.  Sometimes this can lead to rust on the rim and the lid assembly.  Yuck.  I recommend using Ball's screw on plastic storage caps instead.  These are also great if you use canning jars for other food storage; like salad dressing, leftovers, freezing, etc.
  • Again, I can't say enough about the convenience of a canning rack, jar lifter, and wide-mouth funnel.  In my mind, these are indispensable.  

Versatile, Fast Dough ~ Dinner Rolls & Cinnamon Rolls

My Kitchen Aid mixer has faithfully served me for almost 20 years (best wedding present ever).

With my mixer came a handy little cookbook, from which I've made several successful recipes.  My hands down favorite is the 60-minute Roll recipe.  When I need a fast home-made bread option to accompany dinner I have the following in my repertoire:

-pizza bread
-60 minute rolls

Eating from the Freezer & Pantry~Week 3

Weekly Meal Plan for June 5th ~ 11th

Weekly Grocery Savings: 40% 


Messy Mondays ~ My "Desk"

So, this is my desk.  It also occasionally serves as a dining table.  But more often than not, it's a puzzle work place, game table, school zone, craft table, and artist workstation.

I can sit here at the head of the table and work on the computer while my two younger kids work on school.   I'm readily available for questions or a quick internet search on the topic at hand.

This is usually a good thing, but having the computer always open in such a central location can be too much of a temptation to blog, facebook, etc. when I really should be doing something else.  Too often, I give in to temptation and before I know it, 2 hours have slipped away.

Thrifty Treasures ~ Save the Needlework!

She watched and taught the girls that sang at their embroidery frames
 while the great silk flowers grew from their needles.  
~Louise Jordan Miln, The Feast of Lanterns

I am a big fan of needlework.  Probably because I've done cross-stitch since I was about 12years old, as well as sewing and  bit of quilting.  I can appreciate the time this labor of love requires.

I am particularly slow with needle and thread, and I have a penchant for LARGE projects.  Therefore, I have a reputation among friends and family for embarking on decade-long stitching endeavors.  They know I will eventually get it done, they just might not live to see the day.

Eating From the Pantry & Freezer ~ week 2

Another week and we have to eat.  Trying to meet the challenge from Keeper of the Home to eat from my Freezer & Pantry for a month.  The idea is to reduce waste by using up what we already have on hand and save a little money in the process.  You can read about my goals & week 1, here.

MEAL PLAN ~ May 22-28

Breakfast Choices:  Cold cereal, Oatmeal, Eggs, Banana Muffins, yogurt w/ Homemade Peanut Butter Granola  or HM Chocolate Granola, English muffins

Lunch Choices:  leftovers, sandwiches, quesadilla, soup, salad



Fruity-Nutty Salad recipe---I've not made it quite like this before.  My kids LOVED IT!

for salad~
3-4 medium apples (something sweet/tart, like a Pink Lady), peeled & diced
1 small can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice (drain the fruit & KEEP the juice for dressing)
2-3 small carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, or combo)

for dressing~
reserved pineapple juice
2 TBS vinegar
2 TBS sugar
1/3 cup light mayo (or you can use plain Greek yogurt)

Combine all salad ingredients in medium bowl.  In small bowl, combine juice, vinegar, & sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in mayo/yogurt until creamy.  Adjust taste to meet your preference.  You want the dressing to be a little tart because all of that fruit is really sweet!  It's a wonderful combination.  Add dressing to salad, stirring gently until thoroughly coated.  Serve right away, or let it chill and meld a bit in the fridge.  (I had some the day after and it was still crunchy and delicious!)

*A bit of sharp cheddar cheese sprinkled on top would add a great layer of flavor.

Thrifty Garden Shelf

NEED:  Functional, but pretty, storage for misc. potting stuff

BUDGET:  limited

GOAL:  make from mostly thrifted or found items



TIME:  While doing the job in starts and spurts it took me 3 weeks to get from a pile in the garage to above pictures, the work could have been done in one afternoon.

COST:  $36 total
  • $15 for both headboard and footboard pieces
  • $15 new pine boards (reclaimed would have been better, but I wanted this project FINISHED and my local home center did the cuts for free...just keeping it simple)
  • $6 for 1 quart indoor/outdoor white paint

I'm pretty proud of my little shelf!  I wanted to put something on the top, like a peg-board or other flat surface from which to hang things.  Something like this....


or this...


Really, these people are so creative!

I'm still hoping to add a topper of sorts, for hanging storage, but in the meantime, I'll use it as is.  
What do you think ~ topper or not?


p.s. Linking up with Share Your Thrift Haul at Simple Design

Weekend R&R (Review & Resources) ~ 34

34 weeks down, 2 to go!

Week 34 Review ~

My Tooth
My tooth fell out and left a space
So big my tongue can touch my face,
And every time I smile I show
The place where something used to grow.
I miss my tooth as you can guess
But now I have to brush one less! source

  • A Week at the Dentist: When you've got 5 mouths to clean, it does take the better part of a week to get everyone seen!  Out of all 5 mouths (4 kids+mom), only 1 cavity!!  YAY!!  Also, Mom is grinding teeth at night, so now has a lovely new mouth guard to wear to bed---how sexy is that?!
  • School Days:  We are wrapping it up and giving a brief look ahead to next year's plans.        Check it out.
  • TV Weekday Fast, week four ~ caved twice this week and watched a little tube one night, and also allowed little boys to watch cartoons one morning when I had an appointment (the teens were doing final papers and could not give them much attention).  No guilt...we press on.
Week 34 Resources~

Eating from the Pantry & Freezer ~ Week 1

Stephanie over at Keeper of the Home has challenged readers to do some meal planning with what we already have on hand (as much as possible).  I love this idea and am all for it.

Eat from the freezer/pantry for 1 month (May 15-June 15)
Purchase only fresh foods (dairy, produce, some meat) & coffee ~ MUST. HAVE. COFFEE.

10% savings off current monthly grocery spending (I'm not going to tell you how much...what we spend on food per month is appalling...it's better than what it was 12 months ago, but still appalling.)

We have had a piano fund going since Christmas.  We are short about $400 for the used one we have our eye on at the local music shop.  Any grocery savings will go towards that.

After reading Stephanie's first post, I took an inventory of fridge, freezer, & pantry.  Here's what I had to work with, in a nutshell...

  • Frozen chicken breasts (about 3 meals worth)
  • 2 lbs trout (a treasure caught by my mom & her husband)
  • a ham bone and several fatty chunks of ham from Easter
  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass for making yummy rich broth
  • several bags of frozen veggies, all varieties
  • gallon bag of shrimp stock
  • 1 box (10 ct.) salmon burgers
  • a few packages of frozen english muffins, bagel thins, and wraps/tortillas
  • canned goods:  corn, baked beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce
  • dried beans, various
  • rice, white and instant brown
  • pasta:  spaghetti, rotini, elbows, couscous, egg noodles
  • lots of old-fashioned oats
  • random can coconut milk
  • condiments & lots of spices
  • chicken broth
  • beef broth
  • plenty of sugar and honey (I collect honey from all over.  If someone wants to bring me home a souvenir, I ask for honey!)
  • Lots of grains:  cornmeal, flours, wheat bran, etc.
  • eggs
  • greek yogurt
  • condiments
  • buttermilk

MEAL PLAN ~ May 15-21

Baked Bean Casserole RECIPE


Every Friday for the next month, I'll post my plan, savings %, and maybe a recipe or two.  Then on Mondays, I'll link up Friday posts over at Keeper of the Home.  Stay tuned!


Looking Ahead ~ Curriculum Plans 2012-2013

As we wind up our 8th year of home education, I feel the flood of relief, joy, and satisfaction that always comes with May.  Yet, this year, I have a new emotion mixed in...sadness.

My older two will be going to our local charter high school next year (11th & 9th grade).  I have prayed and cried and prayed and rejoiced and cried some more over this decision.  My husband and I both feel that this is God's direction for us this coming year ~  it is still hard, yet at the same time exciting!
They are ready.

The other two (6th & 4th grade) will remain at home.  We will be revisiting a course of study I did with the older ones about 5 years ago when the younger two were still pretty little.  They don't remember much from that study.  Perfect for me....that means I can pull out all of my resources and plans from that year and simply use the same stuff!

I'm super excited about this study as it is a tour around the world, so to speak.  Originally, we did this year with the aid of My Father's World, "Countries & Cultures" course guide.  While it was a great course guide, I found that I was tweeking it so much to fit our particular needs and style, that I didn't really lean too much on the guide for day-to-day plans.  Still, it was a great launching point for me.  If you do not want to do lots of research and planning yourself, MFW -blend of Classical and Charlotte Mason- is a great option.  I tend to lean more towards Charlotte Mason for our family.

FROM EVERY NATION ~ Our curriculum plans 2012 ~2013 school year

Adventure on the High Seas, Part 3 ~ Pirate Notebook Pages

Yo, Ho!
Yo, Ho!
A Pirate's life for me.......No, Thanks!

We are starting the second half of Adventure on the High Seas , studying the haunts and habits of pirates.


If you haven't seen my earlier posts in this series, you can find them HERE & HERE.

The first post above explains our general outline of study.  We are studying Pirates by the following regions:

  • Spanish Main
  • Mediterranean
  • Indian Ocean
  • Eastern Seas

Messy Monday ~ Laundry

So here's my laundry pile....

This is 2 days worth...already overflowing.   We were active this weekend.

Here's my kid's laundry pile....

Again, about 2 days worth, and this is with 2 large loads already going.  Probably about 3-4 more loads here.

Here's the ironing pile.......

My hubby looks good in blue.  Can you tell? (There's like 10 shirts here--sigh.)

Just keeping it real.

Happy Messy Monday!


Adding To The Beauty Blog

Thrifty Treasures 2

Tried out two more local thrift shops this week.  All of these finds are from the Salvation Army shop.

Glass Lamp Base (needs new harp, a shade, and maybe new wiring) $5
White Pedestal milk-glass-like container (was an FTD flower container in former life) $2
Silver Tray ($3)
Children's Wildflower Book $1
Florida Gardener's Guide $1


If you have never tried this silver polish, I highly recommend it!  Works beautifully.

I bought two great Nature references, one for me and one for the kids (actually, I'm learning from theirs, too).  The kid book, What Wildflower is It? | Anna Pistorius (©1950), is a trivia-type book.  Each page has an illustration of the flower (s), along with its assigned number, and a trivia question related to that flower.  At the back of the book is a chart listing all 30 flowers by number, each with its common name and its scientific name.  Throughout the book, the author sprinkled an additional 20 wildflower illustrations, and included a quick fact about each.  This book is a real treasure and great addition to our Nature table for homeschool.

I'm linking up over at Simple Design for "Share Your Thrift Haul" Monday.  Can't wait to see what everyone found this week.

Happy thrifting! 

Weekend R&R (Review & Resources) ~ 33

Just 3 little weeks of school left!  Is it really mid-May already?

What we've been up to...

Week 33 Review~

  • A Day on the BAY:  When you live in a place surrounded by water, it's hard NOT to justify having a boat.  We recently purchased a used boat...Hubby gave up the Harley for a recreational vehicle the whole fam could enjoy.  Last weekend was our first opportunity to spend a whole day on the water.  What a wonderful day!  The boat gives us access to places we just could not go otherwise.

  • Dancing Days:  My daughter's dance recital is tonight.  Lots of extra practice this week.  

  • School Days:  The kids are getting more and more anxious for summer break (almost as much as me).   

            Finished Explorers, now on to Pirates           

                Still learning Constellations

                     Math books are still open


                                 Spelling......2 more lists

  • TV Weekday Fast, week three~ lots of card games


  • Did you know that May is National Egg Month?  When the cupboards are bare or someone is sick, make this.  egg+ butter+leftover rice=deliciousness)


Messy Monday ~ Purse Purge

I would love for my purse to look like this...

Sadly, it looks like this...

So, for today's Messy Monday post I am going to lay it all out for you, my friends.  You really want to get to know a woman?  Peek into her purse! Scary, I know.  Yet, that's how real I am willing to get with you folks.  Who remembers that scene in The Breakfast Club where they go through the girls' purses?  Kind of like that, except without the cussing...maybe.

Thrifty Treasures

I am slowly learning where to find the best thrifted treasures in town.  I've scoured 2 local Goodwill stores, two church charity shops, the Humane Society shop, and my local antique mall.

Goodwill is usually hit-or-miss.  The antique mall is more pricey, but I can often get some good deals in the "junkier" booths.  My favorites, by far, are the church charity shops.  These shops are usually well organized and have great prices.  They are typically run by volunteers, therefore don't have to pay workers and can keep their prices low.

I found all of this week's treasures at Goodwill for a grand total of $9.50!

  • Home-Made Tool Caddy ~ $4.99  This thing is heavy!  Solid wood, it likely lived in someone's garage for many years.  It looks well-used.  I love it!
  • Green Ceramic Planter ~ regular $2.99, on sale 50%  I am working on a collection of this type of green pottery.  I'm not particular about it being McCoy, I just like the color.  Similar items in the antique mall sell for $15 and up.
  • Vintage Owl Family ~ 2 large @ 99¢ each, 2 small @ 49¢ each = $3 total  These cute little guys are lighweight plastic wall hangings.  I plan to use them in my back porch makeover, along with those green planters mentioned above.

That's my haul for this week!  I'm linking this post up over at Simple Design's Share Your Thrift Haul.  Happy Thrifting, y'all.


Weekend R&R (Review & Resources) ~ 32


Hard to believe that we have completed 32 weeks of our 8th year of home education.

This is the first year I have ever given myself a break on scheduling every single second of the required 35 weeks of school attendance set by our state.  We are "attending" school for every one of those 35 weeks, but I figure if public schools can show Magic School Bus shows for the last 2 weeks, I can relax a little on the work load.

We have completed several of our books/courses and I am completely at liberty to NOT fill in that part of the schedule with busy work for the rest of the year.  We got through the book.  We are done.  That space on the schedule is now blank for the rest of the term!

My kids are ecstatic.  Their weekly schedule printout is getting more and more sparse each week.  We have so little work remaining to complete, I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to go to a 4-Day school week.  We now have Mondays off.  Whoo-Hoo!


  • Photo shoot with my lovely  daughter.  She is starting a photography business, and doing splendidly, I must say, but she can't take pictures of herself!  So, I stepped in to provide shots for her dance pictures for this year.  They came out really good...mostly due to her fabulous editing skills.

Check out her blog HERE

  • Swimming down by the bay with the boys.

  • Another Cub Scout crosses over into Boy Scouts (2 down, 1 to go)

  • TV Weekday Fast~ week two, done.  Things we did instead?  Read, draw, play basketball, ride bikes, cook, sew, play music, talk


Nature Quotes Wall Art

Working on spiffing up my nature nook for all of the summer treasures we are sure to find.

I found this fantastic little shelf at my favorite thrift store for $5!

It will be perfect for displaying our shells, pine cones, rocks, and such.  Don't you think?

There are so many wonderful nature quotes I have come across over the years.  I've always wanted to post them near the nature nook as inspiration.  So, last night I created a lovely little print out with several quotes.  I created the same print with several different color schemes for you, my friends, to choose one that fits your space best!  Enjoy.

Free PDF Green

Free PDF Brown

Free PDF Blue

Free PDF Orange

You are welcome to access these files and print them for your own personal use.  Please do not call it your own or try to sell.  Thanks!

Messy Monday 4.30.12~ Car Trash

Happy Messy Monday, everyone.

My entry for today may not seem like much, but it represents a pattern of behavior in my kids which I am desperately trying to change.

My dear children have a bad case of "stash-the-trash-itis."  They LOVE to brag about the cleanliness of their rooms, all the while, they know good and well that under the bed lies mountains of clothing, garbage, paper, books, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I busted them on this big time.

The Gallery ~ Presentation Night ~ April 2012

A sample of work presented by the kids on presentation night, 4/26/2012:

We have been studying Vermeer in April.  He often did portraits of people in the midst of their work; ie, The Geographer, The Milkmaid, The Astronomer.    They were usually pictured near a window with light streaming in with a furnished room in background.   Here is my DD's painting in keeping with that idea titled, "The Blogger".

Our monthly musician studies culminate in a project called, "My Symphony", for the younger two boys (3rd/5th).  They must put together a collage that best represents that composers' music to them and be able to explain it at presentation night.  

This is my 3rd grader's collage for Stravinsky.  The letters "r.o.s" stand for Rite of Spring.  The dinosaurs are there because the song was used by Disney in the dinosaur scene in the movie, Fantasia.  So, there you go.

My 5th grader's final project on Vermeer.  He decided to focus on the still-life aspects of Vermeer's paintings.  In every portrait scene (such as those mentioned above), Vermeer included incredible realistic still-life components.  

Finally, to end our monthly Poet study, my 3rd grader wrote this poem as a nod to John Milton's subject matter. No editing by Mom~

"Paradise Found"

Paradise found when I accepted Jesus
and also when He returns.
Paradise would never have to be found if Eve had not listened
to that serpent.
The darkness of the world would not be
if that had not happened.
There wouldn't be any burglers
or sickose
or any in the world.
I just wish right now he would come back
just right now

The End.

Weekend R&R (Review & Resources) ~ 31

The weeks are flying by.  Just 4 more weeks of school before summer break.  Wow.

Week 31 Review:

  • Began final history unit with 3rd & 5th grader, Adventure on the High Seas, a study of explorers & pirates.  First on deck, Marco Polo & Vasco da Gama.  What interesting lives these men led.  I had no idea, until reading about da Gama, of the role Portugal played in establishing a European presence in the East.  Also, I did not really understand until this week, how much the spice trade propelled European exploration in the 13th & 14th centuries. I already appreciate my spice cabinet more!

  • Presentation Night was this past Thursday evening.  Subjects included Stravinsky, John Milton, Martin Luther, and Vermeer.  Works are displayed in The Gallery.

  • Learning some hard lessons about faithful stewardship and respect for belongings~many items have been confiscated this week, possibly never to be returned.

  • The week is book-ended by two family birthdays; oldest boy is 14, youngest boy is turning 9.  It's my baby's last year in the single digits and I'm feeling a little sad.

  • First week back on the TV-Free Weekday Diet.  So far, so good.  I've gotten a bunch of quilting done on my Brown Project (in the works for about 4 years now).  The chess board has been dusted off and returned to the top of the coffee table where it has seen renewed interest and more than a handful of games.  We only had to stop a game once for too much trash talk between opponents.
Week 31 Resources:

Be Careful Little Eyes...

I've been wanting to make one of these for several years.  Some sort of plaque/wall hanging/reminder to place above or near the screens in our house (TV/Computer).

Never being sure what form I wanted this art to take, I put off the project again and again.  Finally, inspired by the recent popularity of subway art I created this...

Link to free PDF below

It now hangs on the wall in a lovely black frame above my homemade dry-erase board (just a regular frame with scrapbook paper under glass) which we use to keep track of daily "Tech rotation".  My boys are allowed 30min. of Wii and 30min. of computer games each day, unless they have lost one or both privileges due to behavior problems.

To watch, or not to watch?  The BIG BLACK BOX:

Adventure on the High Seas, Part 2 ~ Explorer Notebook Pages

"...to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, the boldly go where no man has gone before."

Today we begin our voyage on the high seas with famous explorers.  Starting with Marco Polo, we will travel the globe with the likes of da Gama, Magellan, and Cook.

We will record our findings in a Captain's Log made up of notebooking pages for each explorer.

The Cover Page includes a place for dates of entries and the compiler's name.  You may want to decorate the edges, or leave it as is.

Messy Mondays~Bathroom Scum

Here's my first installment in the Messy Mondays posts.

Today I'm letting you into a part of my house I NEVER want guests to see--my shower.  Usually, there is no reason for guests to be poking around in my bathroom since it's in the master.  Therefore, it is probably THE most neglected area of my home.  I really don't like cleaning my shower.  I cannot express to you how much I dislike cleaning my shower.  So I'll just show you the sad truth...


This is pretty much how the whole shower looks.  I know....

What in the world?

This unsightly mess has been slowly growing on the door frame next to the shower.  One time I tried to scrub it, I made it worse by taking off a good portion of paint.  Not really sure what to do with this.  I think it might be water damage of some sort.  I hate seeing it EVERY time I use my bathroom, but I just haven't put it high on the priority list yet.  

So, there you have it.  While I am, in general, a tidy and clean person, my house if far from perfect.  Just trying to keep it real, y'all.

Maybe I'll go spray some Tilex on that mildew and call it good.


Beautiful Mess ~ Being Real About the Messiness of Life

Note to self:  be real

Transparency is necessary for anyone to see Jesus in me.  I have to let people into the everyday messiness of my life, lest they think that I have it all together, unlike themselves, and have no need for a Savior.  

Humans need acceptance.  We want people to like us.  So we put our best foot forward, often creating a facade of peace and joy over the reality of chaos and sorrow.

A clean & orderly house, joyful & obedient children, contented & loving husband~ this is what we hold up as the gold standard of success.  Since our culture equates success with worth, we feel that in order to have value as a person, we must attain these things, or at least make it look like we have succeeded.  

We crave approval and honor like a giant chocolate lava cake.  Most mothers don't receive monetary reward for our work, therefore we are looking for a way to validate our vocation.  We highlight our victories and accomplishments, yet we are not so quick to share our struggles and defeats.

With these omissions we do a great disservice to our sisters in Christ as well as the women in a watching world.  We are promoting the destructive practice of comparing outsides with insides.

Home-Made Granola ~ Chocolate

The second installment in the "Home-Made Granola" series.  See first post on Peanut Butter Granola Here.

I enrolled my youngest (9yrs. next week) to help out.  Yes, it's a bit more work, but he gets a kick out of stirring and combining ingredients.

Ready for assembly and a little measuring

To make my life a little easier and the Weight Watchers points more accurate, I measured out most of the ingredients before he came to the kitchen.  This method is not a "let-kids-be-messy-in-the-kitchen" purist approach, but it's a compromise that works for me.

And, of course, I insist that all cooks help with clean up. He dutifully obliged (sort of).

Chocolate Granola
Makes 30 servings
1 serving = 1/4 cup (1 oz)
WW Points+ Value:  4

3 cups old-fashion rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup plain puffed rice cereal OR plain Cheerios
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup coconut flakes, sweetened or not
1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
3 TBS cocoa powder
3 oz. baking chocolate or chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet, milk, or combo)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS coffee (or dissolve 1 tsp instant coffee in 2 TBS hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 and line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with parchment paper or foil.  No spray needed.

In a small saucepan, combine baking chocolate (rough chopped)/choc. chips, honey, oil, & coffee.  Heat on med-low, stirring occasionally,  until chocolate melts and all is well combined.  Remove from heat and add in vanilla, stirring well.

In a large bowl combine oats through cocoa powder, stirring well.  Set aside.
Pour wet ingredients over oat mixture.  Stir well.  Don't give up!  It will all eventually get coated-I promise!  Once all of the dry ingredients are wet, pour the mixture out onto your cookie sheet.  Level it out into a smooth, even layer.

Place cookie sheet on center rack in preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, then pull out cookie sheet and stir granola slightly to distribute around for even cooking.  (What you are trying to accomplish here is for all of the granola to bake, ie "dry out", at the same rate.  By stirring every so often, you prevent uneven cooking.)

After the first stir, put granola back into the oven for another 15 minutes.  Remove to stir again.  Repeat this cycle 2 more times for a total of 60 minutes cooking time.  *You do need to watch that last cycle because, depending on your oven, it may not need to go that long.  If it's starting to look mostly dry, take it out.

Once the granola is done cooking, take it out of the oven and let it cool ON THE COOKIE SHEET.  Don't worry if it is still a little soggy after an hour of cooking.  It will crisp up as it cools.

This recipe makes about 2 Qt.  Store in an airtight container (mason jar, ziploc bag, tupperware, etc.) in your pantry for up to 1 month...but it won't last that long!