g

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Non-Monday Musings

I have been thinking of blogging again. I cannot believe it has been almost six months since I posted! Time does fly when you are busy living, doesn't it? :)

Non-Monday Musings...

What I'm thinking: I am very grateful for the kindness and love of friends. This life wouldn't be half of what it is without them. To those friends that read this - you are loved. Thanks for being who you are in my life! I am grateful to God for you--each and every one.

What I'm reading: Le Mort d'Arthur, Volume 2 on my Kindle App. It is a very odd book. LOL I am also reading my beautiful hardback 50th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings to the children. I can't tell you how fun it is to share this book with them. :)

What I'm listening to: My children playing a computer game. :)

What we're learning: We are studying the Civil War at the moment and watching the Ken Burns documentary about it. What a heartbreaking terrible war. There is nothing to compare with the losses felt in that generation.

What I'm watching: We are watching a new-to-us series, Merlin, as well as a show that is brand new to us, Person of Interest.

What's cooking: Cranberry and orange bread today. I also need to make some whole wheat bread too.

What I'm buying: I can't say or it will spoil Christmas! :D

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for many things, but today I am especially thankful for my children. They are a great blessing from the Lord and I am so very grateful.

What I'm creating: Hmmmm...do I have to be creative today? ;) Does cranberry bread count?

What I'm praying: That God would be glorified in all I do; that He would direct, guide, and bless some friends of mine in their business; and for the healing and peace of another friend struggling with cancer.

What I'm planning: To visit my mother, aunt, and grandmother this weekend, baring illness. :)

What I'm looking forward to: Christmas!

A picture to share:

I am posting an updated picture of our lionhead bunny that I affectionately call Non-Rosie. He is not a she, but since we discovered that later rather than sooner, I have a hard time calling him by his new name, Cottontail. Poor Non-Rosie. He will always have trouble with who he is. ;)



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Seasonal Updating

Such a pretty flower! We have a section of gladiolus in the corner that bloom every summer and bring the hummingbirds and sometimes swallowtail butterflies. I just love the way they look in all forms, but up close is particularly pretty. :) All of these pictures will enlarge if you click on them.


This is new to our EarthBox this year, butternut squash. I just love the rich color of the foliage and how large and lush these plants are getting. It will be delightful to eat the squash when the weather is cold and grey.


This is one of our chamomile flowers. I love the simplicity of the colors yet the tiny complex center is full of detail!

I am amazed at the shot my girl took here. There is a hummingbird pair that are frequenting our yard and they are such fun to watch. This one, I think it is the male, allowed my Elizabeth to get close enough to get this shot. So neat!

Our chicklettes are growing well. After losing one baby, we replaced it with two new ones for a total of seven. You can really start to see the green feet on the Ameraucana!


These looks just kill me. Don't they look irritated? LOL


And just to keep things from seeming too normal, here is one of our snakes, Hermione. :)


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chicken Run

So we are the proud owners of a tiny backyard flock of chickens. There is great excitement here! Here they are:




They could not be any cuter if they tried. (Unless perhaps, they were baby ducks. I think baby ducks take the record for cutest tiny animal ever.) :D

We got these five different kinds: Wellsummer, Ameraucana (tw0 of these), Barred Rock, Gold Laced Wyandotte, and a Speckled Sussex. What great names! They will have varied shades of brown and the Ameraucanas will lay blueish green eggs. It will be quite some time before we expect to see them, but still, it is fun to think about. We are going to use the under-area of our raised beds as their run. Double use of one space!

Can you tell we are excited? Yeah, I thought so. :+)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking Bliss

I have been having great fun trying new things here and I have been pouring over recipes to find new and different (read that - healthier) ways of eating and feeding the children. The soaking flour to make bread has been a wild success. The bread loaves are solid (after a little tweaking of the water/acid content) and the bread is sweet and yeasty. They smell just like professional loaves! I have never been able to create that and now I know why - the bread was being made too quickly and the ingredients didn't have time to really mesh all those flavors together. I am very happy to have all the flavors, but even better, the nutritional value of the bread is higher too. :)

I have been using coconut oil for some time, but I use two different kinds. The first is the one I use for frying or sauteing when I am not using olive oil or butter, because it does not have a coconut flavor. This is the best price I have found for such a high quality oil:

1-gallon Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Non-Certified

It lasts for a long time and doesn't go bad! I scoop out some of the oil and put it in a smaller container for easy use. In the winter it is a solid, but with the summer heat, it turns to an oil. So, if you want it to be hard to use in place of shortening, keep some in the fridge. I watch the website for free shipping coupons. (There is one going on right now! The number is 61113.)

32-oz. - 2-Jar Pack - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 2 quarts Total

This is the *top* of the line virgin coconut oil is a truly unrefined coconut oil. It has the most wonderful coconut flavor and is rich in antioxidants. This is what we use in our baked goods, especially our whole wheat bread. It is SO GOOD. :)

Since I have been reading up on how dangerous white sugar really is for our bodies, I wanted to find something that we could use now and then for sweets. No "sugar" is going to be perfect, and I have found that we have to be careful how much we ingest of anything, but this is about is good as it gets!

Organic Whole Cane Sugar - 1.5 lbs.

It is sweet enough when you want something sweet in your hot cereal, but the sugar retains the original natural vitamins and minerals it had to help with digestion.

So these are just a few of the things we have been using. It is exciting to make these changes and I am grateful for the information I am reading. :)

The yogurt I made last week has been a huge hit! I used about 2 cups of it in a smoothie for the children and mixed it with frozen strawberries, a ripe banana, and added some milk. They said it was one of the best smoothies they had ever had. This mama loves to hear those words. :)

I managed to mess up my last sourdough starter by using a too-tight lid on the crock I have, so last night I started another one from here. I used 100% whole wheat flour so we shall see if it works for me. Making sourdough cannot be *that* hard, right? :)

What is new in your kitchen? How does your garden grow? Here are a few pictures of mine.




If you click on them, they will enlarge. That last one is just so pretty. Bachelor's Buttons - one of my favorites. Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I can see clearly now...

The rain is gone! June is finally looking like June in California. :) Yeah!

So much has been happening here. Our gardens are growing well and we are already harvesting summer squash. I have been sauteing it with onions, garlic, red bell pepper, sausage and mixing that into scrambled eggs. We top it off with cheese. Yum! Our "pig experiment" worked fantastically and I can tell you from first-hand experience that fresh pork is The. Best. pork you have ever had. Even the sausage is superb. We will cook our last ham tomorrow.

I have been like a whirlwind in the kitchen this last month. I have been reading all sorts of books on nutrition and health and wanted to share a bit of that here. The first book is actually the second on the subject that I read, by Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Not only is it FULL of fantastic recipes, but the author, Sally Fallon, also explains the "why" behind the food choices we should make. I have been a busy mama trying recipes in Nourishing Traditions and visiting my old favorite resources online searching out how to make sourdough starter, ferment my bread, (and here is why), sprout my wheat, and ferment oatmeal! I am also trying to make yogurt in the crockpot (Update! It worked!!) It is very exciting to me to see that we can make changes that are worthwhile to all of us even if we are being careful with the amount of carbohydrates and sugars we ingest. The children have gotten on board and have been excited to see what we should and what we shouldn't do. I love the conversations about what is going on inside our bodies. They are really listening. :)

If you are interested, but want a "primer" on the subject, this article might help to flesh out the information. I found it fascinating reading.

And lastly, I wanted to let you know of an online homeschool supply resource that I literally found by accident one day while searching for Omnibus. It is a wonderful homeschool family company that has a LOT to offer--even used books at reduced prices! Check them out!

Exodus Books - Educational Materials, New and Used Books, Family-Friendly Literature, and More!

Exodus Books - Educational Materials, New and Used Books, Family-Friendly Literature, and More!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I will leave these up for today, but then take them down. :)






This is one of my very favorite holidays. We are Irish and even though the "traditional Saint Patrick's Day meal" isn't particularly Irish (save for the potatoes!) I grew up on it. It has become a tradition in our family.

And just in case you would like to know a little more about the real Saint Patrick, the man Maewyn Succat, you can read here.

The Book of Kells is one of the great treasures of Ireland. I have an special affinity for hand-written manuscripts, but especially so for ones with a great story. It is understood that Irish Columban monks living on the remote Scottish island Iona, created this manuscript around the year 750. Iona was the center of St. Columba’s influence, and was where his church was located. The Book of Kells contains the four gospels, a section of Hebrew names, and the Eusebian canons, and it is also known as the “Book of Columba.” In 878 “The Annals of Ulster record that following another Viking attack, the shrine of Colm Cille and 'other relics' are taken to Ireland.” How can it get worse than to be plundered by Vikings? (It can!) In 1066 "The Book is stolen for its cover of gold, inset with precious stones. Months later it is found buried under sods of earth in a bog, without its cover." After this point it was evidently kept fairly together, but the final restoration and binding did not happen until 1953!

Here are a few of the pages of this beautiful treasure. If you click on them, they will enlarge so that you can see what they really look like. Just gorgeous!





And here is part of a prayer penned by Saint Patrick.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Amen! Have a beautiful day.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Spring

Spring comes early here so we just go with it--and add allergy meds. :) Here are some shots of God's beauty in creation.

Camelia





Pink Breath of Heaven



Apricot blossoms





Baby lemons



This is our newest garden experiment--salad tables!



The best carpenters! :+)



The finished product. We will have two of these (8' x 3') and they will house a great many things. :+)



Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A lovely bit of life.

It was a gorgeous, fresh, baby green, sunny, blue sky day here today. The tiny sprouts of spring are springing all over the place and the hideouts between the trees on the road to co-op were lush and barefoot-worthy. And then on the drive home, I just wanted to stop at the top of the freeway and take in the puffy clouds and great big sky. Tonight and for the rest of the week, we will have rain! :) I don't mind rain and don't mind the wet, but there is something tremendous about a wide blue open sky.

On Monday, my husband received word that he was chosen for a new job. It is something I have been wishing for since early December. I praise God. He is our Sovereign Provider, and He has never failed us. Amen and amen! It is the kind of job in which he excels, and I can't wait to see where he will go. God is so faithful. All the time. We live, as always, before the face of God. It is a beautiful place to be.



So last week was a little insane in the school department, but we did manage to learn about Jupiter, Bunker Hill and the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga, predicate nominatives, solving for N, The Bondage of the Will, logical fallacies, and somebody learned some biology and Spanish, but it wasn't me, obviously. I am really enjoying teaching history. How was history ever boring to me?

I searched hither and yon for a do-able-at-home craft for Jupiter. I could not find one that was not idiotic or way too babyish for my two youngest children. So I made one up. I figured, paper art and swirly stormy color striations make for interesting ideas so we did this with construction paper and glue. Tearing the colors into Jupiter "stripes"--my word, no science involved there.



Gluing on the stripes...



She wanted to stay in the Jupiter border. Very neat and tidy planet here. No excitable stripes for her. :)



She wanted even the four moons as well as the cloudy surface of Jupiter.



And just in case you forgot that Jupiter has a red spot, here it is:



I know this isn't wildly creative on my part or anything, but we enjoyed it. I like seeing the differences that come out in the children when they create something. They are so different!

These were some verses that have meant much to me over the past few months. Glory to God for His goodness.

Psalm 95:3-7

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fragile

Life feels ever fragile to me. The loss of a friend from church and the loss of a dear friend's mother. The loss of a job. The loss of health for some of my children, and fears for my tiny nephew. Life is fragile, isn't it? We live with the false belief that we have it all together; that we are capable and in control. It is a myth that *I* believe more often than I should. It is a humbling thing to see that we are so little involved in our own affairs.

But.

We serve a living Savior. We serve a God capable of all things, all the time, in every place, at every moment. In this alone I can rest.

I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:19-34

In this alone, I will rest.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Shadow

"The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."
Return of the King

"The shadow really is a small and passing thing."

Thanks, friend.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Garden Itch

I know it is too early to begin gardening, but I am thinking about it! My order from Cherry Gal is on its way and this is what I bought:

Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Pickling Cucumber, English Cucumber, Radish, Zucchini, Rutabaga, Radicchio, Sweet Basil, Snow Peas, Lettuce Mix, Spearmint, and one flower just for fun, Bread Seed Poppy.

All are heirloom seeds so all should be able to be harvested for seeds at the end of the growing season. We will see how diligent I am on that! I will be buying some starter melon plants and heirloom tomato plants from a local nursery that has an astounding selection of veggies each year (Capital Nursery for you local friends). I always get the itch around this time and that is good for without it, I am not sure I would be so dedicated. :)

This is what I am hoping to recreate this year sans the corn:



I love my EarthBoxes! :)

I am going to try to use some of my ground this year too. This is very difficult because the ground is hard as a rock come summer and not much grows well there. If we do it, we will have to put some better soil in the places and weed like crazy since we have the worst Bermuda grass problem and there is no hope of removing it. We shall see how it all goes. The wishes I want in winter are not always realized in the spring and summer! :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Too deep for words.

There are days when my prayers feel like such fluff. Today is a day like that for me. I want so much to communicate all that is in my heart to the Lord and find the words are just not there. I don't think they are yet written in the language we call our own. Di has a quote like that up on her blog. It is a quote from C.S. Lewis.

"Take not, oh Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in Thy great,
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate."

It makes me think of the scripture in Romans 8:26 that tells us that "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." I am so grateful for that knowledge! I am so relieved that the Creator of all that we see and of all that is unseen to mere human eyes prays for us. That is such a powerful beautiful promise!

Thank you, Lord, for loving your children. Thank you for being ever faithful to me.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Good Day!

Every day is always different when you homeschool. Today was a good day. :)

My youngest learner, Emma, has had a tough time mastering the art of reading. We have been plodding through for some time and increasing in ability though it is slow going. I thought I would just try and see how she would do with my favorite first reader, Free and Treadwell: The Primer from Yesterday's Classics. (Sample of this book here.) This was the book that made all the difference to Elizabeth's reading success. Emma did spectacularly well! She was unafraid to keep reading once she started and even begged me to allow her to read the second story. She read nine pages today. That is just huge to us and I am praising God for such a blessing. :)

Science topics of varying interests have been playing a bigger role this week in our homeschool. Abigail bought Thames & Kosmos Technology and Electronics Electronics Workshop with a Christmas Amazon giftcard and John decided he wanted to spend part of his giftcard and try his hand with the ScienceWiz Inventions Experiment Kit. Both arrived this week. This is John and his telegraph.




The telegraph up close:



I love that they choose these things on their own. It makes the teacher in me happy. (Especially since science is not my biggest strength.) Hannah decided to buy a Kindle with her giftcard money and I have to say, I am a little envious of all the amazing free books she is downloading off of Amazon to have at the ready!



I also decided to break down and buy a few heirloom seeds from a site I found and really liked last year, Cherry Gal. The seeds worked well and we had the best English cucumbers ever. The prices are fantastic and the choices are wide. If you are interested in buying once and harvesting your seeds each year (something I completely forgot to do with the cucumbers, but remembered to do with the basil) I recommend you order early to plant indoors in early spring. I look forward to gardening again this year. What about you? Will you grow anything this year in your yard?