Sunday, November 29, 2009

Laid-Back Holidays

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of "the holidays"... or maybe it's the stress that comes from trying to meet expectations for "the holidays." I try not to be a total Scrooge, but I also do whatever I can to keep things simple and relaxed.

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year. Our home is quite comfortable for a family of four, but it takes some creative planning to accommodate 12. Table space is limited, so we served dinner buffet-style. We also went with "paper-ware" for the table settings. It wasn't elegant, but it was festive! And clean-up was a breeze. Good food, fellowship, and grateful hearts. That's what matters anyway, isn't it?
On Friday, Lyle and the kids put up lights on the outside of the house. I suggested to the kids that they could put up the Christmas tree if they wanted to, as well.
"Seems a little early yet, don't you think, Mom?"

Yes! I do think so! I have found I enjoy the tree a lot more when it's up for a shorter length of time... maybe 2 weeks. But I was surprised that they thought so. So we'll wait.

In the meantime, as early as it gets dark these days, I do enjoying seeing the outside of our house lit up when we come home in the evenings.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vintage Baby Cards

I've been scrapbooking as long as I can remember. Of course, early on, it was really my mother who kept the scrapbook. My childhood scrapbook is very fragile now with brittle pages, but it is one of my special treasures.
When I was a little girl it was a special treat to get to look at my scrapbook. I always had to promise to handle it very carefully as I pored over the photos of events I didn't remember, and cards from relatives and friends.

My mother saved each of the "congratulations on your new baby" cards she and Dad received when I was born, as well as tags from some of the baby gifts.
The vintage girly sweetness of them makes me smile. I'm not sure I lived up to the sugar-and-spice and all-things-pink-and-ruffled sentiments, but they are precious anyway.
My favorite card came from my Aunt Dee. I was so impressed that it actually had a "real, live" penny in it! Imagine her "wasting" a penny like that!
Actually, come to think of it... that penny was worth a whole lot more 44 years ago! The hospital bill for my birth (including 2 nights in the hospital) came to $117.60!
I don't see meals on the itemized list. Maybe they were included in the $12 per night room charge?

Mother tells me she enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner in the hospital that year, the day after I was born. Then she and Daddy took me home....

And we all lived happily ever after!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Snow-mommy and Snow-baby

The ground was covered with an inch or so of sloppy, wet snow when we got up this morning. Perfect snowman-making snow... and, of course, this early in the season the girls were eager to go out and express their creativity. This time they made a snow-mommy and her snow-baby. Lovely green hair, don't you think?
Do you see who's lurking on the sidelines? Later it was reported that the poor snow-baby's pacifier had been confiscated by the interested by-stander. I think she ended up with the snow-mommy's nose, too.

What? Doesn't your dog like carrots? Ours does!

2009 Holiday Reading Challenge

There are already several Christmas stories on my TBR (to-be-read) stack, so I decided to join in the "Holiday Reading Challenge" hosted by All About {n}.

Here are the Christmas books on my list:
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • An Amish Christmas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Barbara Cameron
  • The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
  • The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
  • Finding Christmas by James Calvin Schaap
If you have 1 to 5 (or more) holiday books that you plan to read in the next few weeks, pop over to All About {n} to read the rules and join in the fun!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No-Sugar Apple Butter

Last week I realized that I needed to do something with the apples we still had left from our apple-picking excursion earlier in the fall. I came across this recipe for No-Sugar Apple Butter and decided to try it.
Of course, I had to make some modifications. (I can't seem ever follow a recipe exactly.) I left out the apple peel and the cloves... and after getting the apple mixture good and hot on the stove top I transferred it to my Crockpot set on High. I have an oval shaped Crockpot so I just put the lid on sideways so that steam could escape as the apples cooked down. Usually you don't want the steam escaping, but in this case I wanted a nice thick apple butter so I wanted a lot of the liquid to cook out of it. It took most of the day to cook down to the consistency I wanted, then I just spooned it into hot jelly jars and tightened lids on them to seal.

It turned out to be absolutely delicious! It really doesn't need sugar (or any extra sweetening) at all!

Visit Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for more Slow Cooking Thursday recipes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our American History Scrapbook

Awhile back I mentioned that we were taking a notebooking approach to American History. Shawntele @ Saved by Grace asked to hear more about our notebook so I promised to post about it. It's actually more of a scrapbook. I'm not sure if or how that differs from what other homeschoolers calling "notebooking" but it's more cut-and-paste than it is writing.

First of all, I got a ream of pre-drilled 3-hole paper. (You can punch your own. It just happens that my husband works at a print shop so I have access to handy things like that.) I also got a set of plastic tabbed pocket dividers. Other basic supplies are markers, scissors, glue. I wanted one two-page spread for each year, so I wrote the year in blue on the top right corner of each sheet. We started our notebook in the mid-1700s, but I plan to go back and add earlier history later.

My absolute favorite resource for our notebook has been the lapbook sets from A Journey Through Learning. I got the century overview sets for the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. (You can get the Overview of the 17th Century for FREE by signing up for their newsletter.)
I was so pleased that they contain all the major highlights of American History. What I really appreciate about these sets is that they contain study notes for all the cut-and-paste activities, so you're not just putting in a random event, you actually have an article about that event to read and learn from as you go along. We usually glue the articles right into our scrapbook, too. Sometimes we fold them up and sometimes we just trim around them and glue them flat.
We are also using our Sonlight timeline figures, along with various other printables that I have found other places. We list the states (along with a small map) on the years they became a state.
Along the right side of the page we write the president's name. When I have found multiple pictures of a particular president, we just put his picture on other pages during his term of office. If I can't find clip-art for a particular event, we just hand-write it in and draw a border around it.

We put in the dividers between centuries and use the pockets to store clippings that we haven't studied yet. We often find ourselves flipping back to years we've already covered to add something new we learned. This approach has been very help as a great way to learn, review and reinforce events that would otherwise "not stick" in my daughter's memory.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunset Ridge

Sunsets come early this time of year. Today's sunset will be at 4:11 p.m. The thing is, the sky is usually just a dull gray, so at sunset time it just turns a darker dull gray. Blah!

But, on days it's not quite so cloudy the western sky is just brilliant for about a half hour before sunset. Which, as it turns out, is when I am often ready for a walk.
My walking route is about 8 blocks square (although our neighborhood is not divided into square blocks). On the west side of my walking route is a neighborhood aptly named Sunset Ridge.
It's the only part of my route that has an actual walking path winding behind the houses (instead of just a sidewalk along the street).

It's so amazing to me that each sunset can be so different. Click on the "sunset" tag below to see other sunsets that I've shared.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scottish Buttermilk Oat Scones

Remember my commitment to go off sugar? It's not going too well.

Oh, I've managed to avoid sugar, refined flour, and other "high glycemic" (i.e. starchy) foods for the past two weeks. The thing is, I don't feel any better. The headaches? They're still with me. Shakiness? Yep. But... "they" say that's to be expected. It takes a few weeks to start noticing a difference. So I guess I'll stick with it awhile longer.

In the meantime, I'm trying to rethink my menu planning. My family is supportive to a certain extent. They are willing to at least try whole grain alternatives to our normal fare. I just need more recipes. I tried Googling for "low glycemic recipes" and most things called for sugar substitute. That didn't help. I am looking for less-sweet recipes with wholesome ingredients. Anybody know a good website?

I found one recipe last week on the Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats bag for Scottish Buttermilk Oat Scones. I thought it might be a good breakfast recipe so I tried it. The recipe called for raisins or currants. I didn't happen to have any on hand, and besides, raisins are kinda sugary, so I decided to put in slivered almonds instead. I thought that would give it a nice crunch. Turns out, that wasn't a good choice. What I hadn't realized is that the steel cut oats are chewy, so the almonds were too much. It just really needed the raisins. Or maybe blueberries. (I think blueberries might be less sugary than raisins.)
Anyway, here's the recipe. Oh, and I did substitute stevia for the sugar, although it probably didn't make much difference since it only calls for 1 teaspoon of sugar. I "frosted" it with plain cream cheese.

Scottish Buttermilk Oat Scones
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole grain oat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup currants or raisins
butter for greasing baking sheet
4 tbsp. softened butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. milk
cinnamon and sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350. Place the oats in a pie pan and toast them for 20 minutes, stirring often to toast evenly and prevent burning. When slightly golden, remove from oven. Combine oats with buttermilk in a small bowl and let stand for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, sugar, salt and raisins. Reset the oven to 400 and butter the baking sheet.
Using a pastry blender, cut the 4 tbsp. butter into the flour until the texture is coarsely crumbled, then stir in the buttermilk/oat mixture until combined. Flour your hands and scoop the dough, forming it into a ball. Do not over mix. Press the ball of dough directly onto the pan, then press into a 3/4" thick circle. With a sharp knife, score the surface, almost to the bottom, making eight wedges. Brush the surface with milk and sprinkle a bit of sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cut into wedges. Makes 8 scones.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My A B C (vintage picture book)

Today, boys and girls, we are going to learn the alphabet. There will be a quiz, so pay attention, please!

This darling vintage picture book was among some other old books that were given to me this summer. The cover is missing and there is not a copyright date on it, but the title page lists the author as Dorothy Hope Smith. With a little sleuthing online I found another edition of the same book that says it was published in 1927.

I love the vintage pictures with the bright primary colors. Total eye candy! But the thing that fascinates me most about this little book are the names! Naming trends intrigue me. Apparently these were popular children's names in the 1920s. A lot of them remind you of "old people" names, don't they? And, of course, that would be because the children of the 1920s are senior citizens today. I did a little more research and discovered that at least half of these names were on the top 100 names list for the 1920s!

Apparently they couldn't come up with a good verb that started with G to continue the alliteration. Let's see... how 'bout, "Gertrude and Gerald gaze at the Globe"? Well, okay, it's not quite as good a verb as "study" but still...
Those yellow pumpkins worry me! Helen's dress is orange, but the pumpkins are yellow.

I never met a dog named Judy before, did you?

This page layout is just a little strange. For some reason N and O don't get their own pages, so we having yawning Ned with his candle hovering over the ocean!

Awww... I love the old timey radio. So neat!

Ulrich, huh? Can't say I've ever met anyone named Ulrich.
Can we assume that a velocipede is a tricycle?
No, we cannot!
A tricycle is a velocipede, but not all velocipedes are tricycles.
Betcha didn't know that, didja? Or maybe you're smarter than me!

And you just thought taking Christ out of Christmas was a new thing!
Actually, the word "Xmas" does not take Christ out of Christmas.
(You can read up on it here.)
Don't know anyone named Yorick either.
Now we know our ABCs... and it's time for the quiz! Just two questions:
  1. What's your favorite picture in this little book? (Mine's the letter R for radio!)
  2. Which names have you never heard before?
Be sure to visit Coloradolady for a list of other posts for Vintage Thingy Thursday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kindred Spirits Reading Group

My blogging friend, Emily, is starting a book group blog for ladies who enjoy vintage literature. If you like reading books by Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, or other writers from previous centuries... then you're a "kindred spirit" and you should join us! We'll be reading and discussing one book a month, and taking turns being hostess.

For the month of December, Emily has selected Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I thought that was a great book to start with, as it's not terribly long... and most of us are familiar enough with the story to join in the discussion even if we don't have time to read (or re-read) it right now. Please feel free to join us, if this interests you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday Evening Blog Post

On the first Saturday of the month Elizabeth Esther hosts The Saturday Evening Blog Post. Don't you just love the vintage graphic with the oh-so-proper mother and children in front of the vintage radio? Betcha never even noticed that Mother is on her laptop! Too funny!

Anyway, we're supposed to choose our favorite post for the month of October from our blogs, then link them up at Elizabeth Esther's so everyone can go and read the "Best Posts of October '09" from the participating blogs.

I chose A Convoluted Lesson in Frugality as my favorite, just because it was so fun to write... and because it went off on such random bunny trails!

Now pop on over to and check out other great posts. If you leave her a comment you'll be entered in a drawing for a worship music CD.