Friday, June 28, 2013

Fine Art Friday - Diego Velázquez - Las Meninas

Many of you have probably seen this fascinating painting before, but it doesn't get old to me. There is so much detail and so many things and people (fully eleven!) that are depicted here. Some of the Spanish royal court and family are depicted here with the main focus the Infanta Margaret Theresa--at the time the only surviving child of King Philip IV of Spain. Painted in 1656, this large (125.2 in × 108.7 in) painting includes a self-portrait of the artist, Diego Velázquez.

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour)

Please click HERE to see a close-up photo of it.

From Wiki:

Las Meninas has long been recognized as one of the most important paintings in Western art history. The Baroque painter Luca Giordano said that it represents the "theology of painting" and in the 1827 president of the R.A. Sir Thomas Lawrence described the work in a letter to his successor David Wilkie as "the true philosophy of the art".[4] More recently, it has been described as "Velázquez's supreme achievement, a highly self-conscious, calculated demonstration of what painting could achieve, and perhaps the most searching comment ever made on the possibilities of the easel painting".

There is so much more to be discovered about this painting. You might just want to click that Wiki link above to read about it. Do you see all eleven people in the painting?

What do you think of this one? I think it is beautiful and odd and fascinating all beautifully crafted.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancake and Biscuit Mix - A Recipe

I got this recipe from a friend around 17 years ago and it has served me well in my family of five children for many years. You *can* make it with white flour, but the taste just isn't as good and it isn't anywhere near as filling. This mix will make pancakes and biscuits, but we almost exclusively use it for pancakes. (Tonight we made breakfast for dinner and made them with blueberries!)

Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancake/Biscuit Mix

12 cups whole grain flour, freshly ground.
(Any combination will work, but I prefer either all soft wheat or some soft wheat, some oat groat, and some rye. You can use hard wheat, but it is just not as good.)
1/4 C baking powder
1 1/2 T salt
1/2 C sugar (can use sucanat or turbinado)
1 C dry buttermilk powder (I use the stuff on the right!)

Stir in all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Cut in 2 cups of butter. You can use other fats (coconut oil comes to mind and would taste great!) The recipe originally called for shortening, but I try to avoid that and use butter instead. It is downright delicious. You can cut it in with a pastry cutter or knives or do what I do and use the Cuisinart with the knife and blend it together in batches. I mix it all together until crumbly and put it in a large Rubbermaid/Tupperware container. I label the directions for use (below) and KEEP IN THE FRIDGE.


2 cups mix
2 eggs
1 C water

Mix well, let sit for five minutes or until griddle is nice and hot and then cook. (Add blueberries!) I double this recipe and with four cups of whole grain mix, it feeds six of us. (Dad's not home tonight!)


2 C mix
2/3 C water

Knead and shape into drop biscuits and then bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes until done.

You can double the recipe, but just make sure you use it up within two weeks. The whole grain does lose some of its nutrients once ground into flour.

We love this recipe and hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Daughter Father Honor

Sometimes I am just blown away by the things my children do and say. I firmly believe that the God of the universe directs the hearts of my kids in the same way He does mine. He shapes them and calls them His own. Parents are involved in the process of raising children, of course, but if you examine your heart as I frequently do mine, I am no shining example of godliness and I struggle with sin and anger and ugliness with regularity.

Sometimes though, our children honor us anyway. It is hard to understand and I know my husband doesn't think he deserves this note from our oldest child, but I loved reading it. I love that she sees her Daddy with all his flaws and still honors and admires him anyway. I am glad he is a man worthy of the admiration of his children. I am very grateful for my husband.

This is what she told him on Father's Day.

When I was quite little, I had a horrible nightmare and I woke up sweating. It was the middle of the night, very dark, and I was terrified, coughing, and trying not to cry. My face was hidden in my pillow, so I didn't see him come in. He was still up, working hard to feed his family, and losing sleep, as usual. He had heard my muffled noises and came in the room, concerned and perceptive, not irritated in the least that I was awake. He sought only to help. I looked up and saw my Daddy's face, heard him ask "What's wrong, honey?" as he sat on the edge of my bed and gently took my small hand in his large one. 

"I had a really bad dream." He looked at me searchingly, 

"Want to talk about it?" 


He paused. "Come here, sweetie."

He hugged me, and then he prayed for me. Prayed that my dream would be gone, prayed that only pleasant thoughts would occupy my mind for the rest of the night, prayed for my health, my happiness, prayed that God would keep me safe, my faith strong, and my trust continual, both then and in the years to come. Afterwords, he stayed with me until I fell asleep. 

That, my friends, is love.

If you talked to my Dad today, and heard him explain something, one of the first things out of his mouth would be that he is "not eloquent" and that words are not his strong point. By contrast, I am here to state that he always knew what to say when it counted. He has never failed at believing in our mother, in us and our abilities, and in his Savior. Surrendering our notions of control is a trial at the best of times, and he has been through a slough of trials and hardships in his life, but God never gave up on him, and he has come out stronger, tougher, gentler--yes, gentleness is strength--and more trusting than ever before. He has never failed at loving his wife or his children. We are his "why", we are the drive behind his coming home, we are the reason he loses sleep, the reason he leads, the reason he always has one watchful eye open, the reason his face lights up when we all come out to greet him. The Lord is his anchor, his fortress, his guiding light.

I write this because my father set an incredible earthly example for what a godly man should be. Now, he would be the first to tell you that he has not attained perfection. However, considering that he has been everything from a mentor, counselor, leader, provider, nurturer, protector, friend, and all the multi-faceted roles of a father, husband, and Christian all in one, I think that God has empowered him with a stellar lifelong resume! My father is my hero, the one I will and have always respected, not because I'm biased, but because he earned it. 

How many girls can say that their father protected, loved, comforted, and advised them through thick and thin? How many can say that they ever heard "I love you" from their dad? How many can say that their father was always there for them, laughed with them, hugged them, told them he was proud of them, went out of his way to spend time with them, to support their efforts? I am as grateful as I could possibly be for my father, Mark Kessler, and I love him as deeply and as fiercely as a daughter can. 

Happy Father's Day, Daddy--you make us proud to bear your last name! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Garden Glories

So here is my garden update. I do these as much for me to see how our EarthBoxes grow each year as for those of you thinking about EBs.

These are heirloom bush beans that I got from my mother years ago. Heirloom seeds are really neat IF you can harvest them. These make it easy. They produce so much that I forget to pick some of them, they dry out, and voila - seeds.

These are baby cantaloupe. EBs do melons smaller than the store, but WOW are they good. You have never had sweeter fresher melon than one right off the vine from an EB. These melon photos are not exciting now, but they will be as they grow--and pretty too. 

These are honeydew - they look the same as the cantaloupe, but they tend to grow faster. These melons are simply amazingly good. There are no other words for them.

These are my monster peppers. I have Carmen peppers and a purple bell and maybe something else that I cannot remember - maybe Anaheim peppers (I really don't remember!) These are huge plants and are up to my armpit. The peppers hanging off of them are long and large. 

This is a part of my garden I have cultivated this year. I planted flowers and have allowed the wild mint to grow where I wanted it to grow this year. I have two comfrey plants here as well that are both doing well. It is my little corner oasis. Later in the summer gladiolas will be blooming here.
The mint made into tea is delightful. 

This is my second zucchini box that I planted about two weeks ago. I have staggered my first (below) with this one so I have zucchini for a while. My son made zucchini bread for us with the giant one we picked (which stalled the production since I missed it) but the bread was, to all accounts, delicious!

This is my astonishingly productive two-types of cucumber plants EB. It is a prolific rewarding EB that we enjoy for months. Last year this box produced around 30 cucumbers! We enjoyed a delicious cucumber salad with red onion salad tonight. :)

These are the two kinds of cucumbers. I have no idea what the lighter ones are since I did not realize I had purchased anything different from the one on the right! They were a light green surprise. They taste the same though, and make a killer salad. :)

This is our first tomato box, coming along very nicely. 
There are yellow flowers so this means good stuff is a comin'! 

This is my first zucchini  - one wild-looking box! This is the one that stalled because I missed ONE zucchini and allowed it to get huge. This will stall a plant, but it has kicked back in and there are baby zucs and new green leaves growing now under the old sun-damaged ones. Yay!

This is my raised be that is not an EB. :) I am growing marjoram, savory, oregano, basil, chamomile, and green onions in this. The savory is ready to pick and dry and the basil is ready to clip and make into pesto!

This is my newest EB with Roma tomatoes nicely coming along. These are courtesy of seed growth from Lady Charlotte. I think they are determinate so they will all ripen at once. That should be fun! :)

EBs make it possible for us to grow some of our own food. Our soil is very poor and the Bermuda grass is horrible. I feel like my thumb can actually be green because of them. :) (And no, I don't get paid a single dime from EB for all my blogging about them!) 

So how does your garden grow?

Monday, June 03, 2013

June - Be Encouraged!

The June issue of
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 
is available right now! 

If you have been feeling like you need a little extra encouragement or direction - they have something for everyone! Check out some of the article titles!

10 Homeschool Life Questions…Answered!  - By Deborah Wuehler

Ten Tips for Managing a Multi-Level Homeschool – By Malia Russell

Why Read Great Books? – By Victoria Van Vlear

How Does a Stay-at-Home Mom Choose a Business?  - By Hope Ludeke

Calm but Engaging Scholarship – By Brian D. Ray, Ph.D

A Crash Course on Latin – By Amy Barr

The County Fair – By Bonnie Rose Hudson

Reliance on God – By David C. Gibbs III

A Generation of Movers and Shakers – By Grace Einkauf and Nathan Exley

God’s Big Blue Supermarket – By Cindy Downes

Lessons in Grace – By Shelia Campbell

Let’s Go to the Beach!  - By Kendra Fletcher

Learning at the Speed of Life – By Taunya Richards

A Life in Nature – By Mary Hood, Ph.D

Put Some Wind in Your Sails!  - By Lupe Tucker

Repeating a Grade – By Dianne Craft

The Worldviews of Art – By Michelle Foxworthy

A Challenge for Young Men – By Rhea Perry

The Wonders of a Wetland – By Joy Kita

Bon Voyage!  Homeschooling on the Sea!  - By Shelly Campbell-Harley

And the most exciting thing?
It is all free for you to click through and read!