Monday, March 30, 2009

Way Out West

The last few mornings we have awakened to snow on the ground, but as the day progresses it usually goes away. After all, it's spring! That's what it's supposed to do!

Some days are rainy and chilly, but other days the sun comes out... and what a welcome sight that is! I haven't seen the temperature go much above 50 yet, but the kids pull on their heavy hoodies and head out to play in the sunshine after their school work is done.

One day last week I discovered that our backyard had been transformed into the open prairie of pioneer days! Our utility wagon was the covered wagon, and the girls took turns being the pioneer and the horse or oxen that was pulling the wagon. The dog played the part of the cow! They set up camp on the deck, with a play tent that they are really too big for. (Shhhh! Don't tell them.)

Later, after the pioneers had gone on to other pursuits, I stepped out on the deck to discover that a claim jumper had taken over their camp!
I spoke with her about the situation, but from all indications she was not a bit interested in giving up her claim.
After all, there were cushy pillows... and the sun shining on the walls of the tent had a greenhouse effect to warm the interior of the tent.

Ahhh... spring!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Closet Office

Spring cleaning time has begun! Thanks to my 16-year-old daughter my kitchen now shines! I want you to know, that girl's a keeper! (No, Farrah, you can't have her.)

My project for Saturday was to help my 13-year-old daughter organize her bedroom. I called a family meeting to brainstorm the best way to set up her tiny bedroom (only 10x10') to help her keep things tidy. She does most of her schoolwork and some playing in there, and all of her things were constantly jumbled together. She really needed a desk, but I couldn't figure out a place to put one. Her daddy suggested the closet... and that was a brilliant idea!
The closet is also tiny, but it was just the right size for a nice desk that my dad had made for the kids several years ago! The desk had been hanging from the rafters in the garage since we moved last year because we didn't have a place for it. It was a perfect fit for the closet!

We put a small set of shelves on the back of the desk and organized the books, toys, and school supplies. Now the bedroom floor is clear of clutter, and the closet can be closed when R is not at her desk.

(In case you're wondering, we put her hanging clothes on a rod in the utility room. I think that will be fine, as most of her clothes are folded into drawers anyway.)

Works for Me!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my window... the sun is rising above a bank of dark clouds. It is beautiful! I took pictures, but the pictures don't do the scene justice. The ground is wet from yesterday's rain. I'm looking forward to a sunny day.

I am thinking... about today's to-do list.

From the learning rooms... I've been giving my younger daughter a few basic piano lessons lately. She seems eager to learn.

I am thankful for... literacy. What a joy to be able to read... and read and read!

From the kitchen... My daughter made banana bread yesterday, and I just baked sour dough bread this morning. Mmmm! This is the third batch of sour dough bread and it finally looks the way I think it ought to. Last week's was better than the first batch, but still not quite right. This batch raised much better. We'll have it with lunch.

I am reading... Salty Like Blood by Harry Kraus, M.D. and The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

I am hoping... to get back in the habit of making weekly menu plans soon.

I am creating... still working on the quilt and crocheted curtain for my bedroom. You're gonna get tired of hearing about that before I'm done!

I am hearing... the coffee pot.

Around the house... spring cleaning has started! The kitchen and one bedroom are done!

One of my favorite things... watching the earth come alive in the spring.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I'll be representing Sonlight Curriculum at the Inland Northwest Homeschool Conference on Friday and Saturday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Looking forward to the bright flowers of spring!

Visit The Simple Woman's Day Book for more posts like this.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Rainy Sunday Afternoon

I love long, quiet Sundays at home.

Today it is raining. A lovely, slow spring rain. We are warm and comfortable, and each of us has something relaxing to do.

I am grateful for my family, my home, and a day of rest each week.

***

Some of my friends have started new blogs. Help me encourage them by stopping by and leaving them a comment!
Books I reviewed last week:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's spring in my yard!

It's too early for beautiful flowers in our neighborhood... but it's definitely spring! I insist!

Two weeks ago, when the time changed, we were still having frigid, single-digit temps. But yesterday was the official first day of spring, and if you look really close you can find spring in my yard!

The first sign of spring is the absence of snow. Remember the humongous piles we had in December? They're gone.
Well, okay... if you look down the street, yeah, there's still snow on the mountains. But that will probably be there 'til June, so we won't worry about that.
Then, if you squint just right, you can see the barest hint of green in the lawn. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the bright, cheerful faces of the dandelions which will no doubt be popping up soon.
Look! There are buds on my lilac bushes. Aren't they just beautiful?
Here is my tiny little azalea bush that was a housewarming gift from friends last year. He seems to have survived the winter and is putting out buds as well.
The rhododendron bush has several fat buds on it, too...
And the denizen of the porch has already put in a formal request for the cushions to be placed back on the bistro chairs, please.
Happy Spring!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party '09

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

The 2009 Ultimate Blog Party starts today and runs until March 27. You could win some really great prizes! I'm even offering a fabulous prize package myself. In celebration of my new homeschooling blog, one "party goer" will win a box of 10 brand-new books! Visit Roads to Learning to see what the titles are... then pop on over to the Party for your chance to win. I'm planning to enter, too.

My top 3 choices of prizes are:

#58. A Kitchenaid Artisan Stand Mixer from Moms Who Think.
#19. A $50 Target gift card from Shoot Me Now!
#21. A $50 Target gift card from Agoosa.

Other prizes I'd love to win include:
#68, #91, USC 56, #113, USC 47, USC 15, USC 40 or anything for home or crafting!

What would you choose?

Have fun partying! And don't forget to come again soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Modeling Career

Betcha didn't know I was a famous model, didja? No? Why, you can see my picture on popular websites such as Sonlight Curriculum or Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park! Impressive, huh?

Okay, so that's the only 2 places (besides Facebook or my own blog)... and I'm not really a model. You didn't think I was, did you? It was fun to be asked to pose for a picture to advertise the wi-fi service available at Mt. Spokane one day when I was up there while the kids were skiing.
The lady asked if she could take my picture for their website, as I looked "so professional" with my Bluetooth headset and all!

After the "photo shoot" she presented me with a coupon for a free cup of cocoa at the snack bar. Since I really didn't have to do anything, I thought that was a pretty good deal!

And see there? I got paid for my services. So that makes me a professional! Doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quilting

For St. Patrick's Day I thought it would be appropriate to show you my "Irish Chain Quilt" in the works! Several weeks ago I showed you my plans for my "bedroom makeover." I was so excited when I got the quilt top in the mail from my Mother! I am so pleased with how it turned out, and the combination of colors...
I just now got it all pinned together with the batting and the backing to begin quilting. Since it's a little larger than queen size, I'm sure it will take me months to get it quilted. Especially if I swap off between this and crocheting the curtain... which is my plan!
If you happen to quilt... and if you've won ribbons on your quilts at the fair, please don't look too closely at my stitching! I can't manage to achieve the tee-ninesy stitches that I've admired on prize-winning quilts at the fair.

But, I enjoy the process and I know I'll enjoy the finished product in my own bedroom, so I guess that's really what matters, isn't it?

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my window... It is just now getting light. In June it will be bright daylight by 4:30a.m. but right now it's barely dawn by 7:00a.m.

I am thinking... about the new Sonlight catalog that will be arriving soon! I have a wish list started of things I need for my booth (and my own homeschool).

From the learning rooms... We are trying out a new spelling program on the computer called SpellQuizzer. Watch for my review at Roads to Learning, coming soon.

I am thankful... that my daughter's first visit to the orthodontist went well on Friday. She now has braces on her top teeth, and so far seems to be handling it better than I thought she might. I'm also thankful that it's a gradual process, to allow her to get used to them just on the top before her whole mouth is full of metal!

From the kitchen... my second batch of sour dough bread is raising. I'm going to let it raise a little longer than I did last week and see if it will be a little lighter.

I am wearing... a denim wrap-around skirt with a short-sleeved khaki-colored sweater... and my red fleece slippers! Cute, huh?

I am reading... Apologetics for a New Generation by Sean McDowell

I am hoping... to not have to serve on the jury this week. I'm "on call" and didn't have to go today, but I have to call again tonight to see if they need me tomorrow. I really don't mind doing my "duty" but quite honestly, I can't exactly afford to donate my time!

I am creating... I've starting quilting the Irish Chain quilt top my mother made for me. Watch for pictures tomorrow!

I am hearing... the furnace and the computer running. My "I am hearing" report will be more interesting when it gets warm enough to open the windows!

Around the house... It's time for some spring cleaning! It's been exactly a year since we moved into our house!

One of my favorite things... enjoying the outdoors when the weather warms up. It was in the single digits several days last week, so I am basking in the 40 degree temps we've had the last couple of days. Looking forward to gradually warmer temps for spring!

A few plans for the rest of the week... my calendar is open because of jury duty. If I don't have to go, I'll be able to maintain my normal work routine.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
My Christmas Cactus blooms in November and March. I haven't had the heart to tell it that it's only meant to bloom in December! I guess that really makes it a Thanksgiving and Easter cactus.

Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Time

This was the quote on my Starbucks cup the other day...

"Americans spend an average of 29 hours a week watching television - which means in a typical life span we devote 13 uninterrupted years to our TV sets! The biggest problem with mass media isn't low quality - it's high quantity. Cutting down just an hour an day would provide extra years of life - for music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee."
--Michael Medved,
Author of Right Turns and radio talk show host

I know many (most?) families probably watch a good deal more television than we do, but that much? Really? How in the world do people find time to watch that much?

My friend Laura @ Glimpses of Our World shared some thoughtful insights on television viewing recently. I agree with her assessment: I am challenged to watch even less!

After all, I would much rather have more time for "music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee!"

Wouldn't you?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Tea Swap

This is a shout-out to Diane @ Little Birdie's Nest! Back in the fall she hosted a "Falling Leaves Tea Swap" that I participated in. I had a lot of fun putting my package together with fall themed basket of pumpkin spice tea, and some crocheted coaster doilies that I made of fall-colored thread and other goodies. I was disappointed when I learned that the package that was sent to me had been lost in the mail, but those things do happen from time-to-time... so I didn't think too much about it.

However, Diane did! When she found out I never received my package, she put together one for me! What happened was not at all her fault and she wasn't at all obligated to make up for it... but I think she must just be a very thoughtful person.

It was a delight to open the box and find a box of chamomile tea, a pretty vintage apron in spring green with a rose applique pocket, a set of rose-colored napkins, 2 pony-tail elastics, some tea-time recipes...
...and best of all, a violet cup-and-saucer set! Diane must have read back through my blog to discover that I have a mix-and-match violet tea-set! This makes 5 violet cup-and-saucer sets in my collection, and each one is distinctively different. I love it!

Thank you, Diane!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Not to Decorate

Disclaimer: I'm not a decorating snob. I promise! I don't have a degree in interior design, nor is my home professionally decorated. Now that we are clear on that, I just have to show you the decor of the vacation home in Florida where we stayed a few weeks ago.

The first thing I noticed were the Disney posters on the wall in the living room. Very cute posters and the house was near Walt Disney World, so I can see why these were chosen. You can't tell from my pictures but they weren't hung straight, or even next to each other. It was as if they just kinda randomly happened to be on the same wall...
The opposite wall was graced with this eclectic grouping... 3 exotic leopard prints, flanked by 2 Monet-looking landscapes....
By this time I was rubbing my eyes in confusion...

I turned to the dining room. Five framed Wimbledon posters with one cheap print of a country kitchen scene mixed in for good measure...
The bedroom I shared with a friend had sweet Winnie-the-Pooh comforters. It was obviously a children's room, so I didn't have a problem sleeping with Pooh. High above the beds was this retro print of a 1950s family scene...
...and then on the opposite wall was this lovely entertainment center, enhanced with posters of Scooby-Doo and Minnie Mouse. On another wall of the bedroom were posters of Winnie-the-Pooh (to go with the bedspreads), and the fourth wall was a single poster of Kim Possible. I can see where a child might choose to decorate her bedroom this way, but for a vacation rental you would think it would be a little more professional.My friends and I decided that the place had probably been decorated by a man. Or a European. Or possibly even a European man!

In any case, I spent most of my time out here...
...so the decor didn't bother me. Much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making Sour Dough Bread

Last fall I discovered a new magazine that I just love! Now, understand, I'm really not much of a magazine reader. Almost always I'd rather read a book. But the gentle picture on the cover of MaryJane's Farm caught my eye on the magazine rack one evening when Lyle and I were enjoying a "coffee date" at Borders. I picked it up and thumbed through it, and decided to splurge and buy it right off the rack! MaryJane is all about simple, country living, and even though I'm not quite as "green" as she is, I thoroughly enjoyed the magazine.

I took the latest issue with me to Florida last month as "airplane reading". Each issue has a theme, and this time the theme was "Simply Bee"... about beekeeping and honey. I was particularly interested in that, because my dad is in the process of taking up beekeeping again. He had bees most of my growing-up years and had just gotten back into it a couple years ago. That just happened to be the year that so many bees died. So he's trying again this spring. We are hopeful that it will be a better year for bees.

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that the movie shown on the airplane on the longest leg of my return flight was The Secret Life of Bees!

But I'm getting way off track here... and this post is evolving into quite the meandering narrative!

What I started out to tell you about was the article in the "Simply Bee" issue about making sour dough bread. I had always wanted to learn to make bread, but got frustrated with practicing because yeast is rather expensive to just keep throwing out until I could get the hang of it, so I had pretty much given up on the idea. I have a bread machine that does a pretty good job for things like pizza dough and cinnamon rolls, but I haven't been that impressed with the loaves of bread it makes.

Well, MaryJane explains how to start your "mother" for sour dough bread using only flour and water. Granted, she stresses that it's very important to use organic flour and purified water, but the quantity called for was small enough that I decided I could afford to experiment with it!
So last Monday I gathered my supplies and began with 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water. Each morning I "fed" the "mother" 1/3 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. It was so interesting to watch the mixture come alive and begin to bubble and sour.

Yesterday was the day to take 2 cups of the starter out to make bread, and allow "mother" a day of rest! To make the bread I added 1 1/2 cups of flour to the starter along with a little honey and a little salt. That's it! Four ingredients total: flour, water, salt, honey!
The bread turned out okay. It was a little heavier than I thought it should be. I think it's possible that my "mother" needs to age a little more to make really good bread. Also, we're having pretty cold weather right now, so it may be that I should have let it raise a little longer.

We did like the flavor! It has a very mild sour-dough taste, not the sharp/sour taste many commercial sour dough breads have. My older daughter doesn't usually like sour dough bread, but she did like this. And since it is such a simple, inexpensive process I am going to keep playing with it!

Wanna try it? MaryJane was nice enough to post the article with the very detailed directions online! There is also a forum where you can discuss Bread the MaryJane Way! Check it out!

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm late! I'm late!

...for the train that is. Apparently I was supposed to catch the Orient Express this morning, and here I've just been putzing around the house! MuseSwings is hosting an Orient Express Blog Adventure... and she seems to have my blog on her list without me even knowing about it! I think it was an oversight... but since I'm having passengers stop off here anyway, I decided to join the fun!

So let's see... what can I contribute to the adventure?
  • My family went on a real train trip in December 2007. No, it wasn't the Orient Express. And it wasn't very long-- from Seattle to Portland, but it was a lot of fun! You can read about it here.
  • Need some reading material for your trip? Pop over to my book review blog for some recommendations!
  • Oh! Look at the beautiful scenery out the window! That's the best part of going by train!
Be sure to stop by Muse Swings for a full list of stops on today's adventure! Bon Voyage!

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my window... We are having a late-season snowstorm. Winter doesn't want to let go this year... and Florida seems very far away!

I am thinking... about the work I need to get done on the computer this morning, so I can do school with the girls this afternoon.

From the learning rooms... We have been learning about many of the pioneer missionaries from the 1700s and 1800s as we go through Sonlight's Core 200 (History of God's Kingdom). I am so amazed (and humbled) by the sacrifices they made to spread the gospel.

I am thankful for... health and strength.

From the kitchen... I'm trying my hand at sour-dough bread from a "mother" I started a week ago. Today is the day to bake the first loaves. I'm anxious to see how they turn out!

I am wearing... a denim skirt with a long-sleeved sage green t-shirt.

I am reading... The Fight of Your Life by Jeffrey Dean

I am hoping... to get back in the routine of regular exercise. I don't like being this out-of-shape, but then, I hate to exercise. *sigh*

I am creating... giveaways and display items for my Sonlight booth at upcoming homeschool conventions.

I am hearing... my coffee pot brewing. Coffee's almost done!

Around the house... It's time to start thinking about spring cleaning!

One of my favorite things... Changing seasons. I am getting tired of winter, and will be happy when spring finally arrives, but I do enjoy living where we have 4 distinct seasons.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Tomorrow is our homeschool group's monthly skate. Friday is my younger daughter's first orthodontist appointment.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...Watching for Spring!
Cookie loves to sit with her hind legs on the back of the couch, her front legs on the window sill, and her head up under the curtains, watching the neighborhood.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Say It Forward

Mom Blogs
I saw this last week on Confessions of a Snowflake and thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to participate! We all love getting comments! The purpose of Say it Forward is to show your appreciation for those comments by featuring one, two, three or more of your loyal commenters. If you are interested, you can read more about it at 5MinutesForMom.com.

These week I'd like to feature Alicia @ Confessions of a Snowflake. She is one of my regular blog visitors and she never fails to leave a comment. I enjoy reading her blog as well. She says,
"I am married to my best friend and together we homeschool our 11 year old son. I also work part-time for our family business & I am extremely involved in my homeschool group. All of this leaves me more than a little flaky. So join me, as we share life, from one snowflake to another."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

My parents have been married 44 years today. I don't have a picture from 1965 on my computer, so I'll share this one from 1985. It was my own wedding day... and it startles me to realize that I'm within a few months of being as old as my mother was when I got married! How could 23 years have possibly gone by so quickly? I'm sure Mother and Dad feel the same way about the 44 years they've been married.

A good marriage is truly a treasure to cherish. I wonder how God managed to bring together a farm girl from Oklahoma and a small-town boy from Louisiana to create the home I grew up in? And then, 20 years later, He brought together a southern preacher's daughter and a California city boy to create the marriage I now enjoy.

I can't explain it... but I am grateful...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

...Unto the Going Down...

Psalm 113:3

This is another sunset shot my daughter took last week!

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

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my window... the sun is coming up. There are patches of blue sky but also gray clouds with gilded edges and golden beams. Lovely!

I am thinking... about my booth design for the upcoming homeschool convention season.

From the learning rooms... trying to get back in our routine after being gone several days last week.

I am thankful for... early signs of spring: geese flying north, robins in the yard, primroses in the grocery store, and longer hours of daylight!

From the kitchen... homemade granola from a recipe Sheila gave me! (Lest you think it's terribly healthy... um, it has sweetened condensed milk in it... so not so much. But it is oh-so-yummy! If you want the recipe, you'll have to click through to Sheila's blog and ask her for it!)

I am wearing... the homeschool mom's uniform: a white t-shirt and a denim jumper. (No, I don't really wear this every day. It just happens to be what I am wearing today.) I also have on tan suede all-weather clogs and my favorite sherpa-fleece hoody.

I am reading... Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

I am hoping... to be able to get braces for my daughter soon.

I am creating... my new homeschooling blog: Roads to Learning.

I am hearing... the hum of the computer and the clack of my fingers on the keyboard.

Around the house... I so much appreciate how my daughters are able to keep up with the housekeeping while I work.

One of my favorite things... a good cup of coffee.

A few plans for the rest of the week... my daughter has a dentist appointment tomorrow, and we host Bible study in our home on Wednesday evening. Other than that, the calendar is open.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
My daughter took this picture of a road in our neighborhood one day last week, at sunset after a fresh snowfall. She knows I like pictures of sunsets... and roads. I love the colors she captured!