Friday, December 28, 2007

Train Trip


A couple weeks ago we had a delivery to make to Seattle on a Monday. We decided to go ahead over there on Saturday and make a weekend of it. Since we had plenty of time my husband thought it would be fun to ride the Amtrak train from there to Portland on Saturday, spend the night at a hotel near the train station in Portland, and then ride the train back to Seattle on Sunday. I thought it was a brilliant idea!(We could have ridden the train from here to Seattle, but since we had 7 heavy boxes to deliver we decided that probably wouldn't work very well.)

None of us had ever ridden a "real" train before, that we could remember, so this was a real adventure. We arrived in Seattle about an hour and a half before our train was scheduled to leave. We had deliberately left early to allow for extra time to park the truck and find the depot and get our boarding passes and whatnot. We had no trouble with any of that, so we had a little extra time to look around the train station. I was enchanted! The building was over 100 years old. It had been remodeled in the 1950s or '60s and was definitely showing its age again. I was glad to see that they (whoever "they" might be) were in the process of restoring the building. It had been very lovely at one time, so it will be neat to see it restored.

The process of boarding the train was very similar to boarding an airplane, only much more relaxed... no security to go through, and while they said for us to have our ID ready no one ever asked to see it. The coolest part was when they called for boarding, the guy said, "Last boarding call for Train 513 to Portland. All aboard!" I had wondered if they actually still said, "All aboard!"

We had asked for four seats together on the train, and when we boarded we discovered our seats faced each other. That was neat. The interior of the train was very nice and up-to-date. (After the aging depot, I wasn't sure what to expect.) It was nicer than an airplane. Comfortable seats, more elbow room, more head room, more foot room. There were curtains on the windows, personal reading lights, and headphone jacks on the arm rest for watching the movie they showed on overhead monitors.

It was interesting to see the passing scenery from a different perspective. My husband had got new GPS for an early Christmas present and he had it along. He held it up to the window and was able to get a signal. He was curious to see how fast we were going (70-80 mph at times). We thought it was funny that the GPS was confused that we "seemed" to be on the railroad tracks. It makes automatic adjustments for accuracy errors so it will move your route to the nearest road if the reading is off a little. Every time the train ran parallel to a highway the GPS popped our route off the railroad track and over onto the highway. It was just sure we couldn't possibly be driving down the train tracks!

It was about lunchtime so I "hiked" down to the bistro car to get some hot dogs to eat in our seats. It wasn't what I think of as an old-fashioned dining car, but more like a concession stand with 2 or 3 tables in one car. It was between cars 2 and 3. Our seats were in car 8, so it was quite a little walk through car after car.

Soon after we finished eating they started a movie. Fortunately, it was a kids' movie, so the girls were happy to plug in their headphones to watch it. It was a 4-hour trip, so that kept them occupied for a good portion of it.

The Portland train station was about the same age as the Seattle one, but it had been remodeled more recently, so it was a little nicer. We didn't linger long, though, as it was several blocks to our hotel, and as it gets dark very early this time of year we wanted to go ahead and get checked in.

We called my mother from our hotel to tell her about our trip. She asked if I remembered riding on the train before. I didn't. She got to figuring, and it turns out that my last train trip had been almost exactly 40 years ago... Christmas 1967. I was barely 2.

We had a relaxing evening in Portland and an uneventful (but fun!) ride back to Seattle the next day. I forgot my camera, so I took pictures with my cell phone. They aren't the greatest, but definitely better than nothing. I also found some pictures of the two train stations online.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

He came...

On Christmas Eve as we were out driving around looking at lights and enjoying Christmas music, we stopped to visit for a bit with an older couple who are dear friends of ours. We had asked if they would be "in" that evening as we just wanted to drop off a box of cookies and wish them Merry Christmas. They assured us that we were more than welcome, even though some of their family would be there. They would be serving family communion and invited us to join them for that. That was a special time... but what struck me the most was the story told by another of our friends' guests, a Jewish man.

He said it was 25 years ago that night, Christmas Eve, that he came to know "Yeshua" the Messiah. He had been raised in the Jewish tradition and so was familiar with the "Scriptures", but knew nothing of the New Testament. That night he was visiting a Christian family and he asked, "Who is Jesus? And what does He mean to me?" His friend wisely counseled him to ask God that question. So after he went to bed that night he lay in the dark and out loud he said, "Who is Jesus? What does He mean to me?" He said he repeated that 3 or 4 times and as he lay there with his hands folded across his chest he was aware of a Presence in the room. He felt hands cover his, and lift his hands up and fold them into the position of prayer, and then gently lay them back down. And he knew. Jesus was there... and Jesus had come to be his Messiah. The Messiah that had been prophesied. He wasn't just some dead guy. He was the living Messiah.

He told how he began to read the Torah again and how it all began to make sense. He could clearly see the Gospel right there in the Old Testament scriptures. Adam sinned. That could have just as easily been him. God required a blood sacrifice. Jesus came to offer that.

And now, although this man still celebrates Hanukkah, he also has a reason to celebrate Christmas, because that's when Jesus came to him.

Isn't that a neat story?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Beverages

What could be cozier than a steaming mug of something delicious to sip on these chilly, gray days? I admit, my favorite these days is a caramel latte... but unfortunately, that's not very good for my waistline. I'm glad there are lots of alternatives to choose from!

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I love spicy hot tea... and especially enjoy the Celestial Seasonings holiday teas about this time of year. Several years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to Nutcracker Sweet and Sugar Plum Spice. I liked both of them. The next year at Christmas time Gingerbread Spice was added to the line, and I liked it even better. Last year the new flavor was Candy Cane Lane, and since I've always enjoyed peppermint tea, it became my new favorite. The new flavor this year is Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. Of course I had to try it, too. It's probably my least favorite of the five, but I enjoy having all them to rotate through the flavors.

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Here's a favorite from my childhood:

Friendship Tea

My mother got this recipe from Sister Frances Rehfeldt.

1 cup instant tea
3 cups sugar (or 2 cups sugar substitute)
2 small packages instant lemonade mix (Kool-aid)
1 14-ounce jar Tang (1 3/4 cups)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves

Mix all well. Use 1 to 3 teaspoons of mix to a cup of boiling water.

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Deluxe Hot Cocoa Mix

We included bags of this in our goody boxes this year...

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding

Place all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together. Store in a sealed container. Add 1/4 cup of mix to an 8 ounce mug and fill with hot water. Add more or less mix depending on your taste.

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Do you have any favorites? Please share! I love to try new hot drinks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter


Is today the first day of winter? Or is that not until tomorrow? In any case, it's been winter here for, oh, at least a month. Seems like an awfully long time until spring... *sigh* It's always seemed to me like Christmas ought to come in the middle of winter, and then by Valentines Day it ought to be spring. But, no, according to the calendar, winter is just beginning.

It's cold today, but for a change, at least it's not dreary. We don't get a lot of sunshine during the winter here, so I am enjoying the view out my window of the sun glistening on the snow on the mountain today (see picture). The sun came out yesterday afternoon and we had one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen. The fact that it occurred before 4 o'clock in the afternoon didn't detract from the beauty of it. The most spectacular part of it was the reflected pink light on the snowy mountain tops to the east. Too bad I was driving and didn't have my camera with me. I'm sorry you missed it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beulah's Sugar Cookies

This is a family favorite going back to my childhood. My mother got the recipe from my aunt's mother-in-law, Beulah, and she made them often when I was growing up. It makes a huge batch. If you don't want to bake it all at once, you can form the dough into logs to freeze. Then when you're ready to bake, just slice and place on the cookie sheet. Very handy!

2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups shortening
2 cups margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspooon cream of tartar

Combine sugars, eggs, shortening, margarine and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into sugar mixture. Form into small balls. Dip the bottom of a glass into water, then sugar. Use the glass to press each cookie onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until light brown. Yields about 9 dozen.

Note: It's pretty to use a cut crystal glass with a patterned bottom if you have one. We also use colored sugar on the cookie tops for special occasions. For Christmas this year we did some red and some green.

Blessed

The girls and I just came back from delivering our Christmas goody boxes to the print shop. It was such a fun thing to do! We have enjoyed working on them over the past few weeks... and it was fun to surprise all of Daddy's co-workers with a box of yummy things to take home.

One lady in particular thanked the girls and then she came back to where my husband and I were to tell us "thank you" as well. I told her that the girls did most of the work. She said, "Your girls are just awesome! You are so lucky! You have such a nice family." And she kind of sighed a little. I wanted to say, "No. Not lucky. Blessed." But I just smiled.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Simple Gift Wrapping

I was raised to be frugal. We didn't have a lot, and what we did have we made the most of. My mother would save wrapping paper from one year to the next and re-use it for family gifts. She'd caution us, "Now try not to tear the paper!" And when gift unwrapping time was over she would carefully smooth out the crumpled paper and fold it up to re-use next year. No, she didn't get upset if we tore into the wrapping paper. She was never that uptight about it. But she did try to recycle whenever she could. Later she discovered reusable gift bags and gift boxes, which is mostly what she uses now, I think. But I betcha she still has some carefully smoothed out used wrapped paper stashed away somewhere!

Inheriting this tendency to the frugal, but in actuality looking to save time more than the few pennies wrapping paper costs, I decided to go with preprinted gift boxes for our family here at home last year... and I love them! I bought 2 or 3 bundles of assorted sizes (shirt box size, one a little bigger, and one a little smaller). Most of what I'm giving to the kids and my husband fit in these boxes. Clothes in the larger two sizes. Books, DVDs, craft supplies, etc. in the smaller size. Pop the gift in. Add some tissue paper if needed. Tape it in 2 places. Voila! Under the tree it goes.

No, they aren't elegant packages. But they are festive enough with pictures of Christmas-y things like snowmen, Christmas trees, holly, Santa, etc. Makes Christmas morning clean-up easy, too. Just collect and flatten the boxes and pack them away to re-use next year.

Gift bags are even easier to use and re-use. The problem with those is that it's easy to "peek"... and since we start putting gifts under the tree as soon as the tree goes up, that doesn't work real well for us.

Re-usable gift boxes. Works for me!

This week's Works for Me Wednesday features "Christmas-ish" tips. Pop over to Rocks in My Dryer for more tips.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Catching Up

We were gone over the weekend... thus no posting. Just got back last night, and I'm playing catch-up today. We had an absolutely wonderful weekend! My husband said he told someone that he had been working so much lately that he wanted to plan something "spectacular" for the family... and I'd say he pulled it off! He took us on a train trip (Amtrak) from Seattle to Portland. We spent Saturday night in Portland and rode the train back to Seattle on Sunday. My mother tells me that the last time I rode a train (a real train, not a city train or an excursion train) was almost exactly 40 years ago--Christmas 1967. I was too young to remember.

I forgot the camera, but took quite a few pictures with the camera on my cell phone. I haven't used it before so I have no idea how they will turn out, and I'll have to wait until my husband can help me get them off the phone. Then I'll post more about the trip.

In the meantime, yesterday and today's posts for The 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour are up... Click the links to read the articles:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fruitcake Recipe

(No, we won't be including this specialty in our Christmas goody boxes, but I thought I'd share the recipe in case anyone needs to know how to make fruitcake.)


Items Needed:
4 oz. dried fruit bits
1 railroad tie
wood saw
large rubber mallot
safety goggles

Wear your safety goggles. (Children: Get help from an adult!) Cut a one-foot section from the middle of your railroad tie. The resulting block of wood should be the size and shape of a loaf of bread.

Then, take some fruit bits and pound them into the block with your rubber mallot. Spread the colors around, or you might wind up with an ugly fruitcake. Don't be afraid to throw some elbow grease into that mallot!

Good fruit bits should be much harder than the railroad tie, so you can't break anything. For best result, you should pre-treat the fruit bits by setting them on top of your garage for a year (or by microwaving them on HIGH for 30 minutes).

Finally, cover it tightly in plastic wrap, and give your loved ones the timeless and enduring gift of fruitcake.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #10


13 Random Christmas Traditions
from My Family, Then and Now


Some more meaningful than others!
  1. I can recite the Christmas story from Luke 2 word-for-word just off the top of my head. I memorized it for a Christmas program as a child and I've never forgotten it.
  2. I can also recite A Visit from Saint Nicholas (aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"). Not that I memorized it for a Christmas program... I guess just reading it aloud so many times over the years made it stick in my head.
  3. My family had a tradition for several years to read the Cajun Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve right after Daddy read the real Christmas Story from the Bible, and right before we opened gifts. In this version Santa drove a skiff pulled by alligators through the bayous of Louisiana. My brother, Allen, was usually the designated reader.
  4. Mother made red felt stockings for us in 1974. She cut the letters of our names out of white felt and stitched them on. We used them every year until we grew up and left home. She still gets them out any year that any of us are home for Christmas. The original 5 stockings are a little faded and worn by now... but the collection has grown right along with the family! New stockings have been lovingly sewn for all the in-laws and grand-babies.
  5. My parents "stuffed" our stockings with an apple and an orange in the foot of the stocking, and a giant (foot long?) peppermint stick in the leg of the stocking. There were usually a few other small gifts tucked around the peppermint stick, but we could always count on those 3 things filling the bulk of the stocking. The candy was more of a treat than the fruit was!
  6. My great-grandmother mailed small gifts to all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (She had 6 children and 22 grandchildren, so you can imagine how many great-grands there were.) She usually sewed something for the girls and women--maybe an apron or a potholder. The boys and men would get things like a pair of socks or jersey cotton work gloves or a bandana. We were always allowed to open our gift from Mother Shumaker on Christmas Eve just before bedtime. Mother Shumaker died in 1982 when I was 16. Her daughter, my grandmother, carried on the tradition until she died in 1998.
  7. My husband and I started our own open-on-Christmas-Eve tradition with our children when they were babies. They get a new pair of pajamas and a Bible-related book or CD to open before bedtime on Christmas Eve. By now they can pretty much guess what's in any package under the tree that says "Christmas Eve".
  8. The children love to do their Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree every year. They loved picking out gifts for each of their cousins who live in the area, and for each other.
  9. My younger daughter asked me the other day to tell her one thing I had got for her sister for Christmas. "I won't tell! I promise!" So I whispered in her ear, "A book!" She was thrilled! She thought she knew some great secret! She ran and told her sister, "I know something you're getting for Christmas. Mommy told me. But I can't tell you!" So my older daughter came to see if I would tell her a similar secret. I whispered the same thing to her. She was not impressed. She told her sister, "That's not a secret! We always get books!"
  10. Mother usually served "egg nog" for breakfast on Christmas Day. It was quick and easy to make, and we were much too excited to take the time to sit down to eat. Mother's egg nog is not the thick, overly sweet stuff you can buy at the grocery store... not was it spiked with whatever it is that people add to eggnogs for parties. She simply blended milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg... kinda like drinking home-made ice-cream without freezing it. We loved it! And I make egg nog for my kids on Christmas morning, to serve along with a breakfast casserole or cinnamon rolls.
  11. Our gift-opening tradition is to open the presents one at a time, with everyone watching whoever is opening something, rather than all tearing in at the same time. It seems more in the spirit of giving that way, and it makes the gift-opening time last longer.
  12. My husband and I started a new Christmas Eve tradition last year. We loaded the family up when it got dark (which is about 4:00pm this time of year in this part of the country!) and took a long drive to look at Christmas lights and enjoy each other's company. When we came home and got the kids tucked into bed, my husband and I had fun flipping through XM channels listening to a wide range of Christmas music and just talking and looking at the Christmas tree. It was such a relaxing, enjoyable evening that I told my husband I'd like to do that again this year. He thought it was a great idea and got a new Christmas music CD to surprise the kids with on our drive that night.
  13. My favorite "tradition" that I have carried on from my parents is that no tradition is set in stone. Our traditions evolve from year to year... and from one season of life to another. We continue the traditions we enjoy most, and are always open to adding new ones.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple...

If you've been following my blog for awhile you may remember that I'm a Bzz Agent. That means I get to try new products in exchange for talking about them. One of the rules of being a Bzz Agent is that I have to be honest in talking about the products (which is the only way I would agree to do it anyway), but usually the products are cool enough that I don't have any problems talking them up. However, this one had me stumped. It's not that it's a bad product, it's just not something I would ever buy or necessarily recommend. Then I hit on the way to spin it... It's the perfect present for someone who has everything!

Six or eight months ago one product I got to try was the Sonicare toothbrush. I have really enjoyed using it, although again, it's probably not something I would have bought... but I think it probably does a better job of cleaning and whitening my teeth than an ordinary toothbrush, so yeah, I could recommend that. Then a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Bzz Campaign for the Sonicare UV Santizer. I didn't really understand what it was, but I figured out that it went with the Sonicare toothbrush (or other electric toothbrushes), so I was game to try it out. I got it, and now I don't know what to do with it! It's like a little shower for my toothbrush. Pop the toothbrush inside. Close the door. Push the button. A cool blue light comes on for 10 minutes. Then the toothbrush is germ free! Except, you can't prove it by me! I still don't know why rinsing the brush in hot water doesn't do the job just fine. But... that's just me. Maybe someone on your Christmas list is more concerned about sanitizing their toothbrush than I am. If so, this would make a perfect gift! If they already have an electric toothbrush, that is.

Which brings me to today's post in the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. Today's gift is Simplicity! Click here to read a short and sweet article by Wanda Brunstetter.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas

There are some Christmas songs that are just down-right annoying... and I have to say The Twelve Days of Christmas is right up there on my list. Especially since the general consensus these days seems to be that the song refers to the 12 days before Christmas. However, I've read enough vintage novels to understand that Christmas was celebrated from Christmas Day through Ephiphany. Here's what Wikipedia says about it: The Twelve Days of Christmas and the associated evenings of those twelve days (Twelve-tide), are the festive days beginning the evening of Christmas Day (December 25) through the morning of Epiphany (January 6). The associated evenings of the twelve days begin on the evening before the specified day. Thus, the first night of Christmas is December 25–26, and Twelfth Night is January 5–6. This period is also known as Christmastide.

Personally, I think I would love to go back to that tradition. Celebrate "Christmastide" in simple ways for 12 days... and that's it! Not start sometime in the middle of November, well before Thanksgiving, with weeks of frenzied activities and way over-done commercialization. Of course, knowing us Americans, it would probably take us the 6 weeks to get ready to celebrate for 12 days, wouldn't it? Yep! Wikipedia has something to say about that, too: With the onset of more Americanized and secular traditions throughout the past two centuries (such as the American "Santa Claus", popularity of Christmas Eve itself as a holiday, and rise in popularity of New Year's Eve parties as well), the traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the U.S. This is also heightened by the commercial practice to have "After-Christmas Sales" begin on December 26th and run usually until New Year's Eve.

Okay, I admit, we don't wait until Christmas Eve to put up our Christmas tree like they do in all the vintage stories... but we seem to be gradually getting later and later about it as we get older. We did finally put it up last night. That seems plenty early enough to me, but I know many people have theirs up weeks before we do.

Anyway, I got to thinking about all this because I had agreed to participate in Glass Roads Public Relations "Twelve Days of Christmas Holiday Blog Tour" and it started today-- 12 weekdays before Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

MawMaw's Date Loaf Candy

This is my dad's favorite Christmas candy. I got the recipe from his mother, who used to make it for him at Christmas time. She's not able to any more, so I decided to try my hand at it this year. It required a phone call to both my mother and my grandma... but I got it done... and boy, does it taste good! I didn't know if the kids would like it because of the dates in it, but they do! It's a very rich candy, so just a tiny piece at a time is enough.

Don't worry, Dad. I'm sending you some. That was the whole idea of making it.

Date Loaf

3 cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts
1/2 pound chopped dates
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar and milk. Mix well and boil until mixture thickens. Add chopped dates and butter. Mix well. Mash until mixture forms soft balls. Add nuts and vanilla. Stir until it gets stiff. Pour on damp tea towel. Roll up and put in refrigerator several hours. When cold slice in thin pieces.


I discovered that it took about 30 minutes of boiling for the milk and sugar to thicken. That was on medium low. I stirred frequently to keep it from boiling over or scorching. It may have thickened sooner if I hadn't stirred it so much, but it turned out okay, so I guess it didn't hurt anything to do it that way.

Also, I used walnuts because they are considerably less expensive where I live. I like pecans better, but walnuts are good enough!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Workin' Hard

During the week before Thanksgiving my husband and his brother remodeled the front office of the print shop. My brother-in-law directed the construction, while my husband took care of the electrical work. They built 2 walls to make one large room into 3 smaller ones. They did a good job. Everything looks great!

What was not-so-great was the number of hours they had to work to complete this project. My husband told me he worked 165 hours in his last 2-week pay period. A-ha! That would explain why we didn't see much of him during that time. It would also explain why the man falls asleep every time he sits still for longer than 5 minutes.

Just as soon as the construction project was finished, the shop got in a huge collating/binding job, so we're not seeing much of "Daddy" this week either. Last night he asked us to take him supper. We were happy to do that, as the kids hadn't seen him since Monday night. After we ate I offered to help with the collating. He was hesitant. "Oh... I doubt it would make much difference." Obviously, I work slower than he does, but I told him, "Look! If I work for an hour maybe that will be a half hour less that you would have to work." So I jumped in and helped for about 3 hours. I think we actually got more done with me helping than he thought we would. My feet and legs are sore from walking around and around on the concrete floor, but that's probably good for me! And I know it's good for my morale to spend time with my husband...!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!


*

And I just needed to tell the world!

My mother's birthday is in September, and it always amuses me when I call to wish her a Happy Birthday. Dad will get on the phone with Mother and say, "You know whose birthday is next, don't you?" It's a game we play. His isn't until the 5th of December... a good two-and-half months away.

"Yeah, Dad. Your granddaughter's."

"Oh, yeah." As if he forgot. "Well, after that."

"You mean your grandson's?"

"Oh, yeah." Selective memory again. "After that, I mean."

"Oh! You must mean mine!" which is around Thanksgiving.

"But whose is after that?" he persists.

"Hmm... I just don't know."

Somehow, I don't think I could forget your birthday, Daddy!

Thanks for being such a fun tease... and for loving my mother... and your children (even the in-laws!)... and all 10 of your grandchildren. We love you!

P.S. You can visit Dad's blog at OzarkCountyParson.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007

Many homeschool families take a break from academics for the month of December to focus more on service projects and holiday activities. It seems like we're never far enough ahead (or even close enough to being caught up) to do that, but we have decided on a family giving project this year that has already been a hit with our girls.

My oldest daughter (almost 15) loves to cook and bake... and it's beginning to look like she has the gift of hospitality. We talked about having a holiday open house and inviting all our friends to stop by for a hot beverage and baked goodies, but with our current housing situation that didn't seem very practical. So the alternative we came up with was to fix goody boxes to deliver to Daddy's co-workers and other family friends on the Friday before Christmas.

Daddy works at a print shop, so we were about to get a supply of nice envelope boxes with lift-off lids. (The boxes hold 1000 business-size envelopes, so they are about 8.5'x11'x4'... pretty good size.) The girls have spent several evenings wrapping the boxes, keeping the lid separate so it will lift off without unwrapping the box. It's been interesting to see how they've coordinated different wrapping papers... putting one kind on a box and another on it's lid. We plan to line the boxes with foil, and then with colored tissue paper.

We have also started preparing (and freezing) some of the goodies to go in the boxes. We plan to make 20 boxes, so we knew we needed to allow plenty of time. We plan to fill them with: a variety of cookies and candy (I'll be sharing recipes here throughout the month), mini loaves of banana bread, dipped pretzels, Chex mix (original and "puppy chow"), and hot cocoa mix. I found some holiday-themed mini cupcake papers to set the candies in, and small decorated clear plastic bags for the various mixes.

It hasn't necessarily been a "cheap" endeavor, by the time we have gathered all the baking and decorating supplies, but we are having fun putting it all together and I think it will be well received. I am also persuaded that such a project is surely worth some school credit in the areas of Life Skills and Math, at least.

Visit more sites participating in the Holiday Homeschool Open House.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday:
cheddar broccoli soup
Tuesday:
baked pork chops
Wednesday:
chili and cornbread
Thursday:
chicken quesadillas
Friday:
sausage rice casserole

Sunday, December 2, 2007

In the meadow we can build a snow man...

Er... snow girl, that is!

We've had quite a bit of snow here this past week. Most years we'll have an occasional flurry several times before we get enough snow to stick, but not this year. About 4 snow storms in a row came through this week, so we now have plenty for the children to play in... and boy, have they been having fun!

This afternoon they built this "giant" snow girl. She stands over 6 feet tall, and girls being girls, they had to "dress" her up, complete with green pine needle hair!

It's snowing again now, so Miss Snowy's "lovely" summer clothes are now all delicately dusted with fresh white powder. She doesn't seem to mind.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Just Ramblin'...

I know, my blog been heavy on the book reviews lately. Not that I've been reading excessively... just posting the book blog tours on schedule.

Speaking of books, I have some winners to announce! A copy of For Parents Only will be going out to Canda and Denise... and a copy of When the Morning Comes goes to Lorna. Congratulations, ladies. Hope you enjoy the books!

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the month of November, and to be honest I think that's where most of my creative writing energy went. I didn't make the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month (I finished the month at just over 30,000), but it was a good exercise for me, and I'll probably do it again next November.

My just-for-fun creative activity for the month of December is to participate in Holidailies. The goal for this month is to post a blog entry every day. Somehow I think that will be easier than writing 50,000 words. No, I won't be writing an original, thought-provoking essay every day (that would be harder than writing 50,000 words), but you might be interested in updates on our family's holiday activities, or special recipes we enjoy this time of the year, or maybe some pictures from time-to-time, and, of course, a few book reviews here and there. So... I invite you stop back throughout the month... and if you decide to participate in Holidailies, too, let me know!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #9

My daughters and I spent several hours Wednesday in the kitchen, preparing all sorts of good things to eat. We aren't having company, nor are we going anywhere--so it will be just our family, but we prepared a nice meal and will set the table pretty and enjoy the day! As I made yet another run to the grocery store I thought about how much "trouble" it was to prepare Thanksgiving dinner... and then I remembered that it's really not much trouble at all these days. So for my Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen, here are...

13 Things I Didn't Do For Thanksgiving Dinner
  1. I did not milk a cow to have whipped cream, sour cream, butter, cream cheese, shredded cheese. I only went to the store and put the packaged products in my cart and brought them home!
  2. I did not churn the butter or make the cheese mentioned in #1.
  3. I did not raise the turkey and butcher it and dress it. I bought it frozen, let it thaw, then popped it in a baking bag and into the oven.
  4. I did not plant and hoe and dig potatoes. I bought a 10-pound bag, washed 'em, peeled 'em, washed 'em again, cut 'em up, cooked 'em, mashed 'em, and mixed in the goodies we like. Easy compared to hoeing and digging!
  5. I did not grow a pumpkin in my garden, then have to cut it up and cook it to prepare it for making a pie. I have done that before, but not this time. I bought a can of pumpkin and mixed it with spices and milk and eggs to dump into the pie crust.
  6. I did not raise and can the green beans. My parents did that! And we do appreciate having home-grown green beans. Otherwise, yep, I would have bought those, too.
  7. I did not raise out-of-season vegetables in a greenhouse. Bought those, too, fresh from the produce department of the local grocery store!
  8. I did not pick the apples I peeled and cut up for a pie.
  9. I did not grow and mill the wheat for the flour in the rolls and pie crusts.
  10. I did not make pudding from scratch for the chocolate pie that my husband loves. He likes instant pudding/pie filling just as well, so that's what I used.
  11. I did not chop wood or have to keep a fire going in a wood cookstove to get the cooking done.
  12. I did not weave the tablecloth nor spin the fibers it is woven from.
  13. I did not forget to thank the Lord for all these and many other blessings!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I plan to spend most of Wednesday in the kitchen, as is my tradition, but I need a plan for the other days, as I have a lot to do this week. Keeping it simple...

Monday - tacos
Tuesday - chili dogs
Wednesday - chef salad
Thursday - Thanksgiving dinner, of course!
Friday - leftovers

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cabela's

After months of anticipation, the new Cabela's store in our area finally opened last week. I had never been in one before. I could not understand what the big to-do was. Just another "man store" with huntin' and fishin' gear. We already have Sportsman's Warehouse and Joe's, plus some non-chain "outfitters"... Occasionally I like going in those places with my husband to look at camping gear, but mostly it's just another "man store"... you know, like Lowe's and Home Depot, for the do-it-yourself projects... oh, yeah... then there's Best Buy and Circuit City for the nerdy side. It's gotten to where my husband almost enjoys shopping more than I do! (Which really wouldn't take much, as I'm not much of a shopper.)

Anyway, my husband decided that Thursday evening would be a good time for us to check out the new Cabela's. So we did. And just let me tell you, it is much cooler than the other "outfitter" stores around here. There are more interesting things to look at than guns and fishing poles and camo clothes. My favorite part of the store was the "Home and Cabin" department. I also liked their ladies clothes. The whole family was fascinated with "Conservation Mountain" in the middle of the store with dozens of real "stuffed" animals. It was really neat to be able to see the animals much closer than we ever get in the wild, or even in a zoo or something.

What I'm wondering is if I could log that as a field trip in my homeschooling records?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Four Things

Four jobs I have had in my life:
  1. Cook (with a capital C!)
  2. manager of my home (and some days things are managed better than others!)
  3. educator
  4. child care provider

Four places I have lived:
  1. in Daddy's parsonage
  2. in my in-laws basement (for 6 weeks once)
  3. in our travel trailer (for 2 weeks between houses)
  4. in back of the print shop (currently)

Four places I have been on vacation:
  1. The Oregon Coast
  2. Pennsylvania/New York/Washington DC
  3. The Grand Canyon
  4. Mount Rushmore

Four of my favorite foods:
  1. grilled shrimp
  2. fried fish fillets
  3. popcorn
  4. real cheesecake

Four places I would rather be right now:
  1. on the road with Lyle ('cept he's not presently on the road!)
  2. at the shop watching Lyle and Loren remodel the front office
  3. but really, who says I'd rather be someplace else? I like being home!
  4. in a comfy chair, curled up with a book

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #8

Thirteen Things I Am Thankful For

My Thanksgiving count-down ticker says it's only 7 days until Thanksgiving. It's early this year, and I'm not sure I like that... because that means the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is longer. I guess some people probably consider that a good thing. But for me, a 6-week long holiday season is just too much of a good thing. In any case, Thanksgiving is next week... so for today's Thursday Thirteen I thought I would "count my blessings"... at least as high as 13!
  1. The privilege we have of having a personal relationship with our Creator.
  2. The hope of heaven... this life is not all there is... and "this too shall pass"...
  3. A husband who cherishes me and enjoys spending time with me.
  4. Our beautiful children who bring so much joy to our lives.
  5. A Christian heritage and a loving, supportive family.
  6. Good health... which is something I never want to take for granted.
  7. A comfortable home and many material things we don't really need but enjoy.
  8. Plenty of food... way more than we need!
  9. Many freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
  10. An education... and a limitless supply of books so we never have to stop learning.
  11. The internet, which makes accessing info so quick and easy, and staying in touch with friends and loved ones even easier.
  12. Strength to work hard... and good jobs.
  13. Time to relax and "play" some, too.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Banana Nut Bread

The girls and I have decided to make goody boxes to give out at Christmas time to Daddy's co-workers and other friends. My oldest daughter loves to bake... and loves to share what she bakes, so I decided this would be a good project for us for the holidays. We plan to wrap boxes with lift-off lids and line them with foil and then just fill 'em up with all kinds of holiday yumminess!

Today was a gray, rainy day and Daddy had to work, so I suggested it might be a good day to get started on the holiday baking. L was enthusiastic about that idea. Since banana bread freezes well I had her start with that. This is the result of her labors today. Seven batches of banana bread = 21 mini loaves.

I'm sure everyone has a recipe for banana bread, but this is the one we like:

Banana Bread

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs. Mash bananas with lemon juice. Mix well, then add to creamed mixture. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir until well-blended. Add nuts, if desired, and mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. (Less for mini loaves.)


Oh! And here's a little tip... Any time we have bananas that are starting to get too ripe and I know we won't eat them before they go bad, I'll peel it, chop it into chunks and toss it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. One banana per bag. These work great for banana bread... or fruit smoothies!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #7

13 Things I'd Like to Do Sometime That I've Never Done
  1. Write a book.
  2. Have the book I write published.
  3. Learn to spin (which would involve aquiring a spinning wheel and having a place to keep it!).
  4. Learn to weave (which, like spinning, would involve elaborate equipment).
  5. Take a road trip the length of historic Route 66.
  6. Take a road trip to Alaska (in the summertime!).
  7. Travel cross country by train.
  8. Take a cruise.
  9. Visit England.
  10. Visit New England (the northeastern states).
  11. Visit the Old South (the southeastern states).
  12. Have chickens (but that would not be conducive to traveling...)
  13. Own a house with a big front porch, a fireplace, and a view of the mountains (...might as well throw that in while I'm dreaming!).

Recommended Movies

We watched these two movies this past weekend... They are both excellent!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Weekend in Seattle

We enjoyed a family getaway to Seattle last weekend in celebration of our anniversary. DH found a 2-bedroom suite in a hotel in downtown Seattle. We had a great view of the Space Needle from our window!

On Friday afternoon, on our way in, we had to detour to Renton to visit DH's favorite place to shop: Fry's Electronic Superstore. Aisles and aisles (miles and miles?) of software and hardware and all manner of things that blinked and blipped and beeped. On the computer game aisle (okay, one of the computer game aisles) we found the first 7 of the old King's Quest games in one box for $20, so we "had" to get that. It had been updated so it would run on XP, but that's all the updates that had been made. We were telling the kids about playing it before they were born. I think we actually started with Volume 3, but the first game came out in 1983, so you can imagine how primitive the graphics were. The kids were not impressed when we installed it. Not even when we tried to explain what cutting-edge technology that was for the time. I think they fully imagine we lived in the Dark Ages!

We got a little turned around looking for our hotel downtown, but that ended up being a good thing (for me, at least) because we happened upon a Half Price Book Store. I had already told DH that he didn't have to hunt them down for me (which he did once when we were over there) but if we went past any we had to stop! So we did... and of course, since I need more books so badly, I ended up buying 5 or 6.

The kids watched episodes from the Andy Griffith Show on DVD in their room that evening, and DH and I watched The Ultimate Gift in ours. Great movie! Very touching story!

On Saturday morning DH took the kids to KidzFest which was part of the Franklin Graham Festival that was going on. They mainly wanted to go hear the Go Fish Guys. DH and the kids like their music, but I'm not a big fan, so I stayed at the hotel to write. (I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this month, so that was a chance for me to get off to a good start.)

In the afternoon DH and our oldest daughter went to a car show at the convention center. Seems that particular car show usually falls on our anniversary weekend. I went with DH one other year, but this year we decided that probably our daughter would enjoy that time with Daddy.

After going out for supper we relaxed in our suite again that evening, reading and playing computer games... We gained an extra hour that night when the time changed, and enjoyed the drive back home over the Cascades and across the prairie the next day. Not the most romantic anniversary getaway I've ever had... but still lots of fun!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Winners of "Boo Humbug"

Congratulations to Shannon and Nikki who each won a copy of Boo Humbug! It was fun to get the extra traffic to my blog for the Fall Y'all Bloggy Giveaway.

And the fun continues! I'll be giving away another book this week. Check my next post to find out what it is and leave a comment for your chance to win.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #6

In honor of our 22nd anniversary tomorrow, I thought I'd list:

13 Things I Love About My Husband

(And yes, it could easily be 22 things... to commemorate 22 years... or any number really, because I could go on and on, but then we'd be here forever, and none of us have time for that, do we? So since it's supposed to be 13 things for Thursday, we'll just stick with that!)
  1. He loves me!
  2. He's my best friend. Really. I don't have close "girlfriends"... He's the one I talk everything over with, and while he doesn't always "get" the "girl stuff" I share with him, he's usually willing to listen anyway.
  3. He works hard. Too hard sometimes, but I am really proud that he has such high work ethics.
  4. He talks to me (but not necessarily to anyone else). Most people think he's quiet... and he is... so I appreciate that he will talk to me.
  5. His brown eyes. Everyone in my family has blue eyes.
  6. His sense of humor. This is probably the first thing that attracted me to him. He's not a "clown" (usually) but he definitely can see the silly side of life.
  7. His strength. Physically, emotionally, spiritually...
  8. His common sense. Which seems a stupid thing to mention, but it seems to be lacking in a lot of people I meet.
  9. He is a good dad. The kids (and the dog!) adore him.
  10. He's cute! Well... he is!!!
  11. He likes to drive... and I like to go along for the ride.
  12. His generous spirit. He loves to give and share.
  13. His commitment... to God, to me, to his family, to his job...
Well, that's thirteen so I guess it's time to stop... Happy Anniversary, Dear!

A Love Story

For those of you who missed it last week... this is back up! And still worth a read!

Okay... y'all gotta read the post on my nephew's blog about his grandparents. It brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #5

Things I Like About Fall

Spring is my favorite season, but I love living in an area that has four distinct seasons because there are things to enjoy in every season! In the fall I enjoy...
  1. Mums. I have several flourishing mums in my planters right now... yellow, orange, burgundy. One plant came back from last year! I hope more survive this year.
  2. Pansies. Such happy little "faces"! I love to plant pansies in the fall because they live right through the winter and bloom again in the spring. I've been thinking about showing the girls how to press them and make laminated bookmarks or greeting cards.
  3. Apples. We live in apple country, near the orchards in Washington. Our family favorite is the Jonagold. We like to slice them and dip them in Martha's caramel dip.
  4. Colors. Our forests are predominantly pine, but I love seeing the gold and orange of the trees that do change against the forest green of the pine.
  5. The Pumpkin Parable. This is a children's picture book I discovered when my children were small. We enjoyed reading it every fall.
  6. Pumpkin Cheesecake. My favorite dessert with a harvest-time flavor.
  7. Weiner Roasts. Is there anything more fun on a crisp fall evening?
  8. Sunny Days. The weather is changing and more days are rainy, so sunny days are rare treasures to be enjoyed and appreciated.
  9. Crunchy Leaves on the Sidewalk. As long as I don't have to rake them! We had this humongous maple tree next to the last house we lived in. It was beautiful every fall but it didn't drop its leaves until well into December, so we'd have to go out to rake when it was past "comfortable" leaf-raking weather. Ugh! Soggy leaves.
  10. Fresh-pressed Sweet Cider. Either hot or icy cold.
  11. Candy Corn. I've always liked candy corn. I noticed this year that they have come out with Caramel Candy Corn. I'm thinking I need to get some!
  12. Popcorn. Well, popcorn is good anytime... but it just seems to go with other fall snacks and activities.
  13. Sweaters. Just cool enough to need a sweater to go outside... but not yet a bulky coat. I like wearing cardigans, which can be put on and taken off easily.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Colors in the Columbia River Gorge



We took the trailer down to Oregon this past weekend for our last camping trip of the season. We stayed at Memaloose State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. The weather was cool and damp, so we didn't do much in the way of outside activities, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fall colors! We enjoyed some down time just playing games, reading, and talking. We also got to visit some friends in the area on Saturday evening, so it was a fun get-away!

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't totally stick to my plan last week, but that's okay... at least I had a plan... and that helped! One problem I'm having in my planning is that we are trying to avoid dairy products for one of the kids (hopefully temporarily) so it's a real challenge to come up with main dishes that don't include cream-of-something-soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, etc. I'm not being real strict about it, as it is not an allergy or anything, but when the item is particularly "creamy" or "cheesy" we are trying to avoid it. (Fortunately, on the pizza night she is satisfied with bread sticks and salad!) Any suggestions for simple non-dairy meals?

For this week I've come up with:
Monday: sloppy joes, tater tots, cole slaw
Tuesday: chicken cacciatore, green beans
Wednesday: pizza, bread sticks, salad
Thursday: sausage and rice casserole with mixed vegetables
Friday: taco soup, tortilla chips, salsa (we didn't have it last week)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, I gotta get back in the habit of planning my supper menus. I'm driving myself crazy trying to think up and throw meals together 30 minutes before it's time to eat. You know what that usually means, dontcha? Yep! Fast food. Which is ridiculous because I have a lovely teenage daughter who is perfectly willing to do the cooking, if I just provide the groceries and tell her what to cook! Maybe I'll get motivated enough one of these days to take the time to sit down with her and let her help plan the menus. Then we'd probably have something more interesting than just the tried-and-true ol' standbys. But until then, at least I have a plan for this week...

Monday: chicken fried rice with stir-fry veggies
Tuesday: spaghetti, tossed salad, french bread
Wednesday: chili dogs, sliced cheese, cole slaw
Thursday: meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
Friday: taco soup, tortilla chips, salsa

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recipes for Fall

One of our favorite fall treats is the Harvest Blessing Mix made up of Bugles, pretzels, candy corn, Corn Nuts, raisins, m&m's, and peanuts. The Bugles look like miniature cornucopias. The pretzels represent arms folded in prayer. The candy corn and Corn Nuts remind us that the pilgrims supposedly only had 5 kernels of corn per person each day during that first hard winter. Raisins are dried fruit and remind us of a bountiful harvest. M&Ms stand for "many, many" blessings. The peanuts represent seeds which are a reminder of the potential of next year's harvest.

Some years we have made it up and divided it into little bags with gift tags explaining the significance of each ingredient, and then given them away to friends. Other years we just make up a big bowlful for a fun snack... great for family game time! Printable gift tags are available online (just Google "blessing mix") but I usually make up my own depending on what ingredients I include.

I also discovered a new-to-me recipe last week that I want to try, posted by Kathy at Highlights from Higher Ground. It is Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Gems. You mix a can of pumpkin with a cake mix and scoop dollops of the mixture into a miniature muffin tin, and then bake!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #4


It's Thursday... time for another list of "13 things..." If you've never played, check out www.ThursdayThirteen.com. Each Thursday you make up a list with 13 things, whatever you want to tell. This is my fourth week to participate. And this week I am going to share...

13 Paying Jobs I've Had
(Where I actually earned money... I do a lot of things that earn intangible benefits!)
  1. In high school I worked as an office clerk in the local Girl Scout council office. I did exciting, fulfilling things like filing and making copies. ;-)
  2. The summer after my first year of college I worked as a nurse's aide at a nursing home. That quickly shattered my illusions about the glamorous life I would lead if I went on to become a nurse. Since then I have had no desire whatsoever to work in the medical field... which is kinda funny since one of my sisters has been a nurse for 20+ years and my other sister is currently in nursing school.
  3. Just before I got married I worked at a deli, making and serving sandwiches and dipping ice cream. That was a fun job!
  4. I have also worked as a receptionist at my brother-in-law's print shop...
  5. ...as a sales clerk in a gift shop...
  6. ...as a bank teller...
  7. ...as a bank receptionist...
  8. ...as a bookkeeper at a bank...
  9. ...as a sales clerk at a Goodwill store...
  10. ...as a child-care provider (before and right after my oldest child was born)...
  11. When my children were very small I had an evening job working as assistant children's librarian at the public library. I worked from 5:00 till 9:00 in the evening, which worked out well as my husband could be home with the children while I worked. I think this was my favorite of all the jobs I've ever had.
  12. Since 2000 I have been a Sonlight Curriculum Consultant. I have a booth for Sonlight Curriculum at various homeschool conventions throughout the northwest each spring and summer.
  13. I also currently work for Sonlight Curriculum as a Curriculum Advisor, answering phone calls and emails that the company receives regarding how to use the curriculum.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Feeling rather Eeyore-ish...


Typically, I'm not a pessimistic person... even though I often do enjoy spending time by myself. I don't consider myself a complainer. I hope others don't! And, to be truthful, I chose the answers on the quiz that I knew would come out to be Eeyore. (Then I went back and re-took the quiz, answering honestly, and came out to be Kanga! So, see? I'm not really an Eeyore!)

I was contemplating last night, though, whether I expect too much from those around me. Eeyore's a melancholy fella... mostly he seems to enjoy standing around feeling gloomy. He doesn't expect much from his friends and neighbors, but it seems to depress him. I think I need to have lower expectations... but I don't want to be depressed about it!

I find myself most frustrated when people disappoint me or don't live up to my expectations. Years ago I read Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley, and his advice is to lower your expectations and then you won't be disappointed. "The wider the gap between what we expect and the reality of what we experience, the greater the potential for discouragement and fatigue." Yep. Seems to be true. I know this... so why do I keep expecting things from people?

We live in a very selfish society. Most people are only willing to do and give and help when it's convenient for them. That bothers me, and I have tried to make a conscious effort to not be selfish. The hardest part about being unselfish, though, is not expecting recognition or anything in return. I find it easy to give and do for others if I know they will appreciate it or acknowledge my efforts. But that's not the point, is it?

Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

Just something else to be working on, as I learn and grow.

Thanks for noticin' me!

Click on the graphic above if you'd like to take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz just for fun!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Quilt project




For awhile I have been thinking of making a quilt to use as a bedspread in the trailer. We've had our trailer for a little over a year now... and I really like the interior decor. The upholstery and the window treatments and the bedspread are coordinating fabrics in shades of brown and tan with touches of sage.

Well, I decided that it might be a good idea to make a quilt for the bed to save on wear-and-tear on the bedspread. If we ever decided to sell the trailer it would be nice to still have the bedspread that matches to go with it. I was thinking that I would get some pretty fabric with a camping theme in coordinating colors. I hadn't really started looking for fabric yet, but I came across this great Route 66 themed fabric a few days ago at Ben Franklin's in a small town north of here. It was perfect! The right colors... plus we are actually more into road trips than we are camping (although we enjoy both). The fabric has blue and yellow in it (and touches of red) but lots of brown and green, too, so I think it looks very nice with the existing decor. And my cute little Mater throw pillow even coordinates! (He didn't really go with the theme before. I just liked him because he was silky and squishy and Mater!)

So... no, I haven't started the quilt yet. Right now I'm just enjoying looking at the fabric. I don't plan to cut it into blocks. I got 2 yards and I'm going to try to find some coordinating fabric to make a frame around it to make it big enough to cover the bed. Originally I had thought I would hand-quilt it... and I still may... but I'm leaning toward just tying it. That would be quicker and I would be more apt to get it done this winter.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #3


Recently I was working on a scrapbook from my childhood. I made a page showing where we lived each year. We moved around a lot growing up. While going through my mother's notes I realized that I had lived in 5 places in 3 states by my first birthday! Thankfully, the rest of my life wasn't quite that hectic... but it seems like it took a few years for my parents to get settled. So for this week's Thursday Thirteen I thought I would list the 13 states I have lived in:
  1. Oklahoma. Okay, so my list of states-I've-lived-in actually "only" numbers 12... but since life begins at conception I guess I should count this one, as my parents lived there for a few months just before I was born! Mother grew up in Oklahoma.
  2. Louisiana. The state I was born in, lived there off-and-on for probably 2 years when I was very small, and then again for 4 years during late elementary and junior high school. My dad's parents live(d) there. My sisters (twins) were also born in Louisiana.
  3. Arkansas. Off-and-on some when I was very small, then again for 2 years when I first started school. This is where my mother's parents lived all my life. My "accent" seems to be a blend of Louisiana and Arkansas, with probably some of my mother's "Okie twang" thrown in.
  4. Iowa. For just a few months during my first year while Dad had some temporary work. This is the only state (besides Oklahoma, obviously) that I don't remember living in.
  5. Indiana. For a year or so during my preschool years. One of my brothers was born in Indiana. (I also later lived in Indiana for 1 year of Bible college.) From there we moved to...
  6. Michigan. For two years when I was 4 and 5. My youngest brother was born there. Then to...
  7. Tennessee. For 6 months just before I started school. Then back to Arkansas for 1st and 2nd grade, and to...
  8. Texas. For two years - 3rd and 4th grade. Then back to Louisiana for 5th - 8th grades...
  9. Ohio. For three years, in which I completed high school. Then to Indiana for Bible college and from there to...
  10. Missouri. My parents had moved again while I was at college and I lived at home for a year before I got married, when I moved to...
  11. Kansas. We lived there for the first few years we were married, with a 15-month "detour" to...
  12. California. Where my husband grew up. Then back to Kansas, and from there, in 1998 to...
  13. Idaho. Which is where we live now! As I was compiling this list I realized that I have now lived in Idaho for longer than I have continuously lived in any other state! I must be getting old!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

7 Random Facts Tag

"7 Random Facts" about me... Goodness! Is there anything random left to tell after all this time? Let's see...
  1. I have a birthmark in the palm of my right hand. It's how I tell my right from left. Seriously. I am "directionally challenged." I have no problems with compass directions, but to this day I can't do left and right without thinking about it... or checking for that birthmark!
  2. I usually always have a cup of something hot on my desk. My favorite hot beverage is a caramel latte... but since that has a tendency to "go to waist"... I try to alternate with an assortment of herbal teas.
  3. I love road trips. Getting there really is half the fun! (And it's a good thing, since we live half way across the continent from most of our relatives.)
  4. I named my website "Roads to Everywhere" because the internet is like a road trip to me. You start out with one objective, but it's easy to get side-tracked... and you never know where you'll end up, or what adventures you may have along the way.
  5. I have 29 nieces and nephews, and 14 great-nieces and nephews.
  6. I have 31 first cousins (not counting in-laws), and 5 of those are double cousins.
  7. Did I mention I come from a large family?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #2

I've been playing around on Facebook this week... It's a social networking site, but different than blogging. I enjoy trying out all the new things... So this week I decided to list...


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

A friend of our family, Sandy Nusz, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She is a Christian homeschooling mother with 5 young children. We have set up a blog, Praying for Sandy, to help keep family and friends updated. I know they would appreciate your prayers in the difficult days they are going through right now. Thanks so much!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cotton Yarn

I love to knit with cotton yarn! I started out knitting dishcloths with Peaches & Creme or Sugar & Cream yarn, and I loved how soft the 100% cotton fiber was. It was a good bit more expensive than acrylic yarn, though, so I only used it for dishcloths. But, then... a couple of winters ago, WalMart got in some one-pound cones of Peaches & Creme for $6.64, so I stocked up! (A 2-ounce ball is $1.39 or something.) I made a big batch of dishcloths and then got started knitting throws. The cotton yarn is great for that. It is soft and not as heavy as acrylic, just very snuggly. So I've been furiously knitting through my stock of lovely cotton yarn for the past 2 years.

I haven't been able to find the selection of colors that WalMart had winter-before-last again, although our WalMart still has white and ecru and about 4 other choices of variegated ombre colors. And my supply of yarn is getting down to several cones of ombre colors which I can't do much with if I don't have solids to coordinate with. I checked at Joann's and Michael's in Coeur d'Alene last week and neither of them have the Peaches & Creme on the cone. I had about decided I was going to have to either pay the price for the little bitty balls or find a place to order it.

Last night we were over in Spokane Valley so I asked my husband to stop at WalMart there. I checked their yarn aisle and found the balls, but no cones. None. Not even the few colors our WalMart has. *sigh* I kept circling through the craft department hoping I had overlooked them. I had just about given up when I spotted a bin back in an obscure corner! Yeah! And lots of solid colors, too. I was so excited. (I know... it doesn't take much to make me happy!) Now I have plenty of yarn to keep me busy making throws for months come.

Now that I've fully updated you on the yarn situation at my house, I have been wanting to participate in the Thursday Thirteen meme, so I decided to list 13 places where I've been know to knit! (And I'm going to fudge on the posting time so that my Thursday Thirteen post will appear below this post!)

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #1

Thirteen Places I've Been Known to Knit:
  1. In the car on road trips... talking, listening to the radio, looking at the scenery.
  2. Watching movies in the evening with my husband.
  3. Sitting by the campfire while listening to audio books or OTR on my MP3 player.
  4. In the airport waiting on my flight.
  5. At homeschool skate while watching the kids and talking to other moms.
  6. In the doctor's office waiting room.
  7. While on the phone.
  8. At family get-togethers while gabbing.
  9. While playing Scrabble in between turns.
  10. In a hotel room.
  11. In our camper trailer.
  12. On the porch swing.
  13. At the park watching the kids play.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lum & Abner

One of my [many] hobbies is listening to and collecting Old Time Radio Shows. Hands down, my all-time favorite show is Lum & Abner, which ran almost daily for over 20 years. I have all the existing recorded episodes on MP3, but there are a lot of gaps of "lost shows". When I found out that this book [of mostly scripts of episodes from the early 1930s that don't exist in recorded format] was coming out this month I immediately put it on my "wish list". With an anniversary and birthday in November and, of course, Christmas coming up, my dear husband often asks for my "wish list" late in the fall. I had emailed him the link to this book, hoping he might get it for me for my birthday. He went one better than that! He just went ahead and ordered it for me for "no reason"!

He didn't tell me he had ordered it, so it was a fun surprise in the mail today! "Love dat man!" (which is a quote from another OTR show...)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't touch the garbage!

Quote from the Steamboat Rock State Park brochure:
"The piles of rusted cans date back to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and are considered historical and should be left untouched."
We had noticed a few rusted cans along the side of the hiking trail, but didn't think too much about it until I read the above quote. Then I had to wonder: How long does garbage have to clutter up the landscape before it's considered historical and not be touched?

(The Grand Coulee Dam was constructed in the 1930s.)

Grand Coulee

We camped this past weekend near Grand Coulee Dam in Washington. It's about 2.5 hours from here. We had stopped there on our way home from Seattle earlier this summer, and learned about a laser light show that is projected against the wall of the dam on summer nights (through September), so we decided that would be a fun place to go camping so as to be there at night. My brother-in-law's family joined us for the weekend.

We stayed at Steamboat Rock State Park, about 12 miles from Grand Coulee, out in the desert. There was a hiking trail up the rock, and two brothers, along with most of the kids, decided it would be fun to climb the rock. The wives weren't so sure about it... but we started off with them. When we got to the bottom of the rock and saw how steep the trail going up was, we declined to go further... but the men and children pressed on... and they made it! It was a thrilling experience for them. The most exciting part of the hike was when two military jets zoomed through the canyon flying so low that one of the planes was actually below where they were. It was scary and exciting all at the same time.

We enjoyed the laser light show at the dam after dark. I took some pictures (see slide show below), but of course they don't do it justice.

Grand Coulee