Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Pumpkins!

Personally, I'm just not real crazy about Halloween, but when you have little kids you can't exactly ignore it all together. I was happy to discover The Pumpkin Patch Parable several years ago, when my children were quite small. It has become a "Halloween" tradition at our house.

It is the sweetly-illustrated story of a farmer who raises pumpkins. When harvest time comes he chooses just the right one to transform into a smiling jack'o'lantern. He pulls all the "ickiness" from the pumpkin's "heart" and then puts a light inside that shines out from the pumpkin's face. There are scriptures on each page that turn this simple story into an object lesson of the change Jesus makes when we allow him to take the sin out of our hearts and put His light within us.

So this week when my now-teen-age children were begging to carve a pumpkin, I got a nice big one for them to work on.
They carved a traditional happy face into it, and carefully washed the seeds for us to roast.
And yes, I dug out the book from their preschool years and read it to them again!
They didn't mind.

More happy pumpkins: Check out my friend Greg's blog to see the awesome pumpkins he and his family carved. And then pop over to We are THAT Family for a whole list of blogs who are posting their pumpkin pictures!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Business Trip

The dog beat me to the front door at 5:30 yesterday morning when we heard the familiar diesel engine of our Dodge Ram pull into the driveway. Lyle had been gone since Friday, so we were eager to welcome him home. He came in, unpacked, took a shower, grabbed a cup of coffee and went to work. Nothing terribly unusual about that, except that he and his brother had been driving all night and all the previous day!

The print shop where Lyle works had bought a printing press on eBay. It was in Minneapolis. So he and his brother (owner of the shop) made arrangements to go pick it up the same weekend as the big printing trade show in Chicago. That would just work out great, of course! They could leave here at noon on Friday and by driving all night Friday night, and all night Monday night, attend the print show, pick up the printing press, and be back to work on Tuesday morning.

3,600+ miles in less than 4 days!

Middle-aged men, mind you! I think they are both crazy!

Here's the load they went after:
And here's how they got it off the truck:I hope the press works out well for them. I am grateful they made the trip safely!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tea and Cookies for Fall

When the weather turns cool and crisp, nothing says "cozy" to me like a hot beverage! I have decided that hot beverages are my "comfort food." I like coffee, tea, cocoa, apple cider... and I like cute mugs! I splurged the other day and got a set of 4 pumpkin mugs just to celebrate the season.
Later, I found Pumpkin Spice tea in 2 different brands (at 2 different stores). Of course I had to try them both! Spice teas are my favorite... and since they "go" with my new mugs... well, what else could I do?

Another "fall tradition" that has evolved at our house is the Apple Glazed Cookies that my daughter makes each year, when apple season comes around.
She discovered the recipe in an Amish cookbook several years ago. This year she added "fall" sprinkles. I thought that was a fun touch!

I posted her recipe on The Persnickety Pantry, if you'd like to try it. Visit Looking Towards Heaven for more seasonal tricks and treats.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NaNoWriMo

All my life I've dreamed of writing a novel. Not because I have this burning story that just begs to be told. I don't. But mainly because I have read so many mediocre novels that someone somewhere thought worthy of publishing, and I think, "I could write a better story than that."

That, plus my mother fully believes that someday I will write a book.

So last year, when a friend of mine introduced me to NaNoWriMo, I decided to participate. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. It is not expected that you will publish the novel. In fact, the whole idea seems to be quantity of words, not quality. It is basically for the exercise of writing.

And so, fudging on the guidelines just a bit, last year I wrote a 35,000 word memoir. November was over before I got to 50,000, but I was satisfied with my project.

Tonight was the kick-off party for NaNoWriMo 2008 in my area, and since Lyle is out-of-town, the girls and I decided to go. It was at a local pizza place, and we knew absolutely no one. There were 12 or 15 people there. The cool thing is that the first person who introduced herself was another homeschool mom, there with her daughter! We shared a table and had an enjoyable visit.

Our "municipal liaison" had wonderful little goody bags and workbooks for us. I think of it as a "novel kit"... just add words! There is a cute little pom-pom plot bunny, a writer's block rock (with an instructions card), a tiny vial of glittery "Emergency Plot Hole Filler", and an official NaNoWriMo badge sticker... oh, yeah, and chocolate!
So now the question remains, what am I going to write about?

Here's what I have so far:
  • The protagonist (that's the main character) shall be female.
  • The protagonist shall be a dynamic character. (That means she shall learn something or change some way over the course of the story.)
And that's all I got!

Guess I better start filling in some of the blanks in that handy-dandy notebook and see where it takes me!

I expect I'm really just crazy to even think about doing this. I don't have time to write a novel!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Junior Elf Books

I love vintage books! Big surprise, huh?

And because I always need more books, I couldn't pass up this handful of "Junior Elf" books when I came across them at a garage sale this summer. You'll probably have to click on the picture to enlarge it to see that the cover price on most of them is 15 cents! (One is 19 cents. What's that about? They thought 20 cents would be too much, but 15 cents wasn't quite enough?)
I can't use the excuse that I got them for my children, because my children are too old for them... so I'll just admit that I got them for me! They remind me of a story from my childhood that my mother tells.

I must have been about 3 or 4 when Mother picked up a few of these little books, thinking that they would just be so handy to keep in the diaper bag for my sisters and me to look at in church, to keep us quiet, you know. My sisters are twins and they are 19 months younger than I am. Plus we had a baby brother or two. (Well, yes, we do have 2 younger brothers... I'm just not sure exactly when this incident took place. It may have been before the youngest was born.)

In any case, Mother's hands were more than full. Unfortunately, she quickly discovered that an assortment of cute little picture books was not the thing to keep us quiet in church. She said she gave us each a little book to look at it, and we each flipped through it lickety-split and then wanted to trade with a sister for another book. We ended up making more noise passing books back and forth than we did with no books.

So that was the end of our getting to look at books in church. *sigh*

I remember getting to draw pictures sometimes, and playing with a handkerchief. (I can still roll a hanky up into twin babies swinging in a hammock! Anybody else remember doing that?)

But we were the preacher's kids, so mainly I think we just learned to sit still and listen. Eventually.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They neither toil nor spin...

Luke 12:27

[For more Word-filled Wednesday
"scripture photos" visit The 160 Acre Woods.]

Note: I had never seen a "ruffled" pansy before, but I couldn't pass this one up when I found it in the garden department of WalMart a couple weeks ago. Isn't it exquisite? Pansies love the fall weather and I love watching it thrive on my back porch. I snapped this shot when the sun broke through the clouds for a bit yesterday afternoon. My new camera doesn't seem to have what it needs to get good sky pictures, but I have captured some lovely close-ups with it! Click on the picture to enlarge it to see the detail.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting My Kicks on Route 66

I'm blogging today on the Inspired Bliss channel at Blissfully Domestic. Click through to read my latest post, and you can comment there... or here!

I will also be writing for the Homeschool Bliss channel sometime soon.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let's Go For a Walk!

Walking is good for you. At least, that's what I hear!

If I must exercise... and I must... walking seems to be the easiest to get accomplished. Or not-quite-so easy to procrastinate as other forms of exercise. Maybe that's what it is.

First, let me just say that I do not enjoy exercise. At all. Never have. Despite being tall enough to be a basketball player, I never liked sports or PE. But when a lady reaches... ahem! ...a certain age, it seems exercise is inevitable if she wants to keep her "girlish figure"... or some facsimile of same, shall we say?

In any case, Lyle and I decided last fall that we should invest in one nice piece of exercise equipment and we could keep each other motivated. After a lot of thought and shopping around, we decided on a treadmill. And we did very well with it last winter. Lyle got up early to do his walking, and I walked in the evening before bedtime.

Then we moved and were working hard to get things arranged and put away in our new house. Plus we had to figure out just the right spot for the treadmill in the new house. Then the weather warmed up, and well, we could just go for walks around the neighborhood during nice weather. And we did. On rare occasions. And somehow 6 months has slipped past.

So, this past week I decided it was time to get serious about exercising again. I tied on my tennies and reluctantly stepped on the treadmill. I was proud of myself for walking a full 30 minutes the first time! So what if I only got up to 2.5 miles per hour?

My accomplishment for this past week was to walk for 30 minutes 3 nights in a row. My goal for this coming week is to walk 5 nights. I'm going to keep track of the miles and see if I can make it over 5 miles this week. Then I will up my goal for next week. I put a little ticker at the top of my blog to track my progress.

What do you do for exercise?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Lost Art

I think I'll do something way retro this weekend...

I received some cute monogrammed note cards recently as a gift, and they are such lovely fall colors that I'm tempted to jot off some handwritten notes to a few friends.

Or would that just be terribly old-fashioned of me?
Seriously, I love to get letters and little gifts in the mail, don't you?

I also enjoy the technology that allows us to keep in touch so much easier than ever before... flat-rate calling on the cell phone, email, blogging, Facebook... It's great!

But I kinda miss the little "treats" I used to find in my mailbox, too. So I've been trying to make more of an effort this year to write a note and... gasp! ...spend 42 cents on a stamp to "bless" my loved ones with a surprise in their mailboxes on occasion.

What do you think? Do you like "real" mail? Or does it not matter to you?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #33 - "U"

Continuing with my alphabet theme, here are 13 things in my life that start with the letter U:
  • Unabridged. I like books that haven't been condensed. I want to read the whole thing!
  • Uncles. Let's see... I have... hmm... 10 living uncles, plus 4 great-uncles.
  • Uncountable. My blessings.
  • Unction. A word I've heard preachers use, but I can't say I really know what it means. (Just looked it up. It means "anointing.")
  • Understanding. Something I seek, along with wisdom.
  • Undertake. I have a tendency to undertake too many projects at once.
  • Unique. I enjoy God's creativity in making each one of us an individual.
  • United States of America. Land of the free and the home of the brave.
  • Update. I try to keep my blog updated frequently.
  • Upbringing. I am grateful for the happy childhood my parents provided for me.
  • Uplifting. I want to be an encouragement and have an uplifting attitude.
  • Urban legends. Email forwards crack me up. I like to go to Snopes and check out the wild stories to see which ones are true and which ones aren't. (Most aren't.)
  • URL. I know it's the internet address for a website, and I should know what it means... but I forgot. No worries. Wikipedia to the rescue! It's Uniform Resource Locator. Yeah. That's what I was gonna say!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Lord is My Rock

[For more Word-filled Wednesday
"scripture photos" visit The 160 Acre Woods.]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Never Miss a Sunset

One of my favorite things about our "new" (we bought it in March 2008) house is how it is situated in our neighborhood. Our subdivision is on a hill and our house is on a corner lot, so we are blessed with a nice view of the sky and distant mountains even though we have close neighbors all around.

We have enjoyed the sunsets from the back deck all year, but a few days ago I noticed that the sunset had moved slightly to the south! Throughout the summer the sunset was behind the neighbor's house, so we had to walk around the block if we wanted to watch it go down. Now that fall is here, the sunset is at the end of the street!

Every evening I try to remember to be in the kitchen about 6:00 to watch the panorama. Tonight I took the camera. But, try as I might, I could not capture the true beauty of tonight's sunset. The picture only reflects some of the spectacular colors, but not the crisp details of the sharply outlined disc as it slipped behind the mountains. That part, you'll just have to imagine.

Have you watched the sunset lately? Isn't God good to bless us with beauty simply for our pleasure?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Random Facts Tag


It seems as though the Random Facts Tag is making the rounds again. I was tagged by Carolina to share 6 random things about myself. I have played before, but as I said last time, there's always something random to share!
  • I have always enjoyed writing. When I was growing up I wrote letters to missionary kids who were about my age. I was thrilled when they wrote back and we continued our correspondence for several years. We lost touch as we grew up, and 25 or 30 years have gone by. I have been delighted to reconnect with two of my girlhood MK pen pals this past year via social networking on the internet: Denise Rossman and Missy Haynes.
  • I published a monthly family newsletter for 18 years. Then everybody got email and flat-rate calling on their cell phones. That seemed to be the preferred way of keeping in touch, rather than a printed newsletter, so we transitioned to a Yahoo group for announcements.
  • I love reading aloud. When I was in high school the English teacher always allowed extra time at the end of class for us to read our literature assignment for the next day. One day she left the room and the other kids convinced me to read the assignment out loud. So I did! The teacher came back and couldn't believe everyone had already finished reading. Then they told her I read it to them. She thought that was great, and for the rest of the year she had me read to the class every day.
  • I hate shopping for clothes. Very un-girly of me, I know. I try to pick classic styles, so I don't have to worry about keeping up with the latest fashions. There are just so many other things I would rather do with my time and money than worry about clothes.
  • I have a southern accent. It's a mix of Louisiana and Arkansas. Even though I haven't lived in either state in over 25 years people still ask me where I'm from!
  • Election year randomness: The first president I remember is Richard Nixon. For some reason, the day he resigned and Gerald Ford took office sticks in my mind even though I was only in 3rd grade! The first president I voted for is Ronald Reagan. Now... figure out how old I am!
If you're just dying to know more about me, here are some other posts where I played Random Facts Tag:
The "rules" say I'm supposed to tag 6 more people to play, but this time I'm going to ask for volunteers! Would you like to play? Leave me a comment and let me know, so I can visit your blog to see your 6 random facts!

Friday, October 10, 2008

But I Can't! Can I?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13


I am blogging on the Inspired Bliss channel at Blissfully Domestic today. Please stop by and leave a comment for me there!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vintage Crochet Patterns

As an avid crocheter with an interest in "all things vintage" I was delighted recently when a friend of mine let me go through her crochet patterns and borrow any I liked!
My friend is in her 70s and enjoys crocheting as much as I do, so we often compare projects and share ideas.When I mentioned that I had been enjoying making crocheted flowers lately, she was sure she had some patterns I would like. And she was right!These are the covers of some of the books I borrowed. Aren't they just delicious? The cover price on most of them is 10 cents! Can you imagine?
Which pattern do you like best?

Monday, October 6, 2008

10 Tips for Frugal Living


This month's challenge for Marriage Monday is to share 10 Tips for Frugal Living. With the way the economy has been headed lately, I thought that was especially timely so I wanted to share some tips that work for us.

To be honest, I almost forgot that Marriage Monday was this week, so rather than spending a lot of time deliberating over what would be the top 10 things I could recommend for frugal living, I offer you the first 10 that popped into my head! Don't you feel special?

In no particular order:
  1. Make menu plans. It is cheaper to cook from scratch, but that's hard to do if you don't plan ahead. It takes discipline to sit down and do this once a week, but I have found that it really does pay off in both the grocery budget and saving time.
  2. Use your crockpot. I shared about this last week. This ties in with menu planning, but it also saves money because slow cooking is ideal for cheap foods like dried beans, and cheaper cuts of meat: chicken, round steak, pork roast, hamburger.
  3. Buy staples in bulk, but be sure to check to make sure it really is cheaper. I found oatmeal in the bulk bins in the health-food department of our grocery store for 69 cents a pound. That comes out cheaper than buying a box of oatmeal, even of the off-brand. We just bought a 50-pound bag of rice at Costco for $20 which comes out to 40 cents a pound. My experience has been, though, that not everything is cheaper this way. And, of course, it depends on if you have a place to keep all that rice (or whatever)!
  4. Buy off-brands. That one's pretty obvious, but I've been surprised at friends sometimes who are stuck on a particular brand and don't realize that the store brand is often just as good, or at least acceptable.
  5. Check thrift stores and garage sales before you buy new. This past weekend my husband was building a computer from spare parts he had lying around. (Yes, he's a geek!) He needed a DVD-drive and was headed to Best Buy to get one. I decided to ride along, and managed to convince him to stop at the thrift stores to see if he could find what he needed before going to Best Buy. He was very impressed to find a whole computer (sold "as-is") for $20 at St. Vincent's. It had the DVD-drive he needed! Then when he went to check out he found out it was 50% off day so he got the computer for $10! That was a savings of $40-50, plus it gave him parts to spare! (Just what he needed!)
  6. Subscribe to Free Cycle in your area on Yahoo Groups. I have been amazed at what people give away for free! It's also a great way to pass along items you no longer have a use for, but they are too good to throw away.
  7. Check out Craig's List for larger items. We have bought some pieces of furniture we needed for bargain prices this way. Also, they have a free section, as well.
  8. Use your public library. I have been a big fan of the library since I was a little girl! All those wonderful books you can take home to read at your leisure. Not to mention a wonderful selection of audio books, and movies you can check out for free! I have also been known to take my laptop and ask for a study room when I need a quiet getaway.
  9. Cut back on travel expenses. My family loves to travel, and while we find we do need to stay home more than we would like these days, it is possible to save money when you travel. One of my earliest blog posts back in 2002 was on Road Trips on a Budget!
  10. Switch to cell phones. It may not be cheaper (or practical) for everyone, but we found we actually save money on our phone bill by dropping our home phone and only using our cells.
What tips can you add to my list? I'd love to know!

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... fall has arrived! It is cool and damp today.

I am thinking... that having teenagers is way more delightful than I was led to believe!

From the learning rooms... we have been reading about the early church and Christian beliefs.

I am thankful for... a comfortable home!

From the kitchen... hot oatmeal with real butter and brown sugar for breakfast. Perfect for a cool fall morning!

I am creating... a crocheted draw-string market bag.

I am wearing... a blue chambray jumper and a white long-sleeved t-shirt... and socks! My feet are cold!

I am reading... Understanding the Times, Wild Goose Chase, and A Beautiful Fall.

I am hoping... to go camping once more this season. We'll have to wait to see what the weather's like this weekend.

I am hearing... the girls going about their chores.

Around the house... I want to finish getting my office/library organized and decorated. I am loving this room!

One of my favorite things... brightly colored mums and pansies that defy the cooling weather.

A few plans for the rest of the week... nothing definite beyond the normal routine.

(My "picture thought" is at the top of my post.)

Visit ~The Simple Woman~ for more simple "daybooks"!

***
Don't forget about the weekly book giveaways
going on at my book review blog:
Another Road to Ramble.
Winners announced each Monday!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vintage Library Blessing

Being the book hound I am, I couldn't resist this quaint framed blessing when I came across it at a garage sale this summer:
I just love the verbose pompous wording! "O God, the Lord of all knowledge, mercifully bestow thy blessing upon this library that it may be protected from fire and all other evils; grant that at times it may congruously be enlarged and that all those who resort hither officially or for the sake of study, may advance in divine and human knowledge, and in love of Thee through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

I especially like the part about, "...grant that at times it may congruously be enlarged..." And anytime you would like to "resort hither officially or for the sake of study" just let me know!

The interesting thing about this piece of art-work is that the wording was printed (on a printing press) but the "O", the scroll, book, flowers, border, and "Amen" were painted by hand. I wonder how old it is? And I wonder where it originally hung?

It's hanging in my office/library now.