Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An uneventful trip

It is with much gratefulness that I report that this past weekend's trip was uneventful. That's not to say it wasn't fun and productive. It was. It just didn't involve the "high drama" that made last year's trip such a disaster! And so, we're glad.

One of my favorite things about going to Seattle in April is that spring arrives on the west coast just a little earlier than it does here in the Inland Northwest. I enjoy watching for that as we go west.

Whoops! We're not quite there yet... We did get a few snow flurries as we drove over the mountains.
Okay, here we are. Yes! This is more like it!
We didn't get to go see the tulip farms this year, but I enjoyed the beautiful flowers that were blooming at the RV park where we stayed. Have you ever seen a black pansy?
We had a lovely spot in the RV park, and it was sunny the day we arrived-- rare for Seattle, you know.
This was the view from our trailer... so serene!
And the homeschool convention went well. I'll post about it on my homeschool blog in a bit.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Over the Cascades

I love the spectacular scenery of the Northwest. We enjoy and appreciate the breathtaking scenery in our own backyard, but I also love to range further afield in all directions.
We live just outside of Spokane, Washington and it's pretty much a straight shot west on I-90 to get to Seattle. Now, eastern Washington is not much to brag about in the way of scenery, but I always enjoy watching for the mountains in the west as we head that direction.
This time of year they are still snow-covered, with the fields below a delicate spring green. This is what I'm doing today... See you on Monday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

Last week I told you about the "new" 5-color printing press they got at the print shop where my husband works. I was confused about the 5 colors. I knew there was cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and a 5th color, but since the primaries and black were covered, I couldn't understand why a 5th color was needed. In an extremely rare break with his customary practice, Lyle actually came out of "lurkdom" to explain:

OK, don't everyone faint...It's actually me leaving a comment on a blog!

Just so everyone understands better, the 5th color is so you can print more a more brilliant color in the same pass through the press than is possible with the 4 primaries, like a fluorescent or metallic ink. Laura [our daughter] thought it was for the gloss coat, but that is actually yet another unit between the 5th color and the delivery unit.


Also, Denise wanted to know if it was very loud when printing. At that time I hadn't heard it but I had been told it was relatively quiet for the size of the machine. Lyle addressed that question also:

Yes, it is actually as quiet as our smaller presses, it is really quiet (<----intentional, isn't that cute?) amazing.


Later he turned it on for me. He was right! It is amazing.

He also mentioned that I didn't show you the control panel for the press. It's against the wall to the left in this picture:
It reminds me of a sound board. Each of the little levers controls ink flow somewhere on the press.
I'm just glad I don't have to learn to run it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Camping Season Begins

One of the main reasons we bought a travel trailer 3 years ago was to take to the homeschool conventions we attend each spring. The big side benefit, of course, was for regular camping and leisure travel. Our camping season typically runs from April through October, and we had hoped to take the trailer out one weekend before time for my first "away" homeschool convention. Due to health issues and Lyle's job situation, that didn't work out this year... so our first "camping" trip of the season will be this weekend, at an RV park in Seattle!
Staying in an RV park is not our favorite kind of "camping" although it probably is the most convenient, with full hook-ups and often luxurious amenities. The sites are usually pretty close together, though, and it "feels" an awfully lot like staying in a parking lot! For a homeschool convention or something like that, though, it is ideal. We aren't there for the camping experience, and it's nice to be able to take "all the comforts of home" along with us.

The Christian Heritage convention that we'll be attending this weekend does allow folks to park their trailers on the premises for free. We tried that last year, and it didn't work out so well for us, so this year we've decided to just go ahead and stay at an RV park for convenience.

Lyle and the kids have cleaned the trailer, and the beds are made up. Now I just need to stock it with groceries and I think we'll be good to go!

Watch for more camping adventures coming soon! (We hope!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my window... everything is turning green and the sun is shining. I am so happy that it's spring!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...I am thinking... of all that I still need to do this week.

I am thankful for... health! After a rough couple of weeks with a bad spring cold, and a wisdom tooth extraction, I am grateful to be feeling much better!

From the learning rooms... my daughters will need to work as independently as possible this week. I'd like to just take the whole week off of school, but we have too much still to do before we break for the summer, so we probably better not.

From the kitchen... I made the most delicious custard yesterday!

I am creating... display items for my Sonlight booth.

I am going... to Seattle this weekend for the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference.

I am reading... Homeschooling at the Speed of Life by Marilyn Rockett, The Moment Between by Nicole Baart, Laylie's Daring Quest by Kersten Hamilton

I am hoping... that my jaw will no longer be bothering me by this weekend.

Around the house... I am up to my neck (literally!) in boxes... and books... and boxes of books!

One of my favorite things... really great books!

A few plans for the rest of the week: The main focus this week is to get ready for the trip to Seattle for the homeschool conference. We will be taking our travel trailer for the first outing of the season, so I need to make sure that's ready to go, as well as booth supplies for the conference.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Comfort Food

On Thursday I had a wisdom tooth extracted. Not a fun experience by any stretch of the imagination. In the interest of avoiding a dry socket by any means possible, I have been restricting myself to a soft diet until my mouth heals. (I had a dry socket the last time, and it's definitely not an experience I care to repeat!)

After 3 days of cream soup, applesauce, and instant pudding I wanted something "different." A friend of mine mentioned that one old lady at their church always made a delicious homemade custard whenever anyone was sick. That sounded good to me... even though I've never made custard before... so I decided to try it!
I got out my Fanny Farmer cookbook and decided on the recipe for Baked Custard. "This kindly old dessert still nourishes and comforts. Traditionally served in familiar brown custard cups, it can also be made in one large baking dish."

Not being familiar with the "familiar brown custard cups" (also called "ramekins" in the recipe) I opted for the one large baking dish. It turned out beautifully, I thought! I was surprised at what an easy recipe it was. The option for "Caramel Custard" calls for caramelizing sugar to swirl in the bottom of the custard dish. That sounds really good, and it's something else I've never done, so I may try that next time.

Anyone have suggestions for other soft foods? What's your favorite "comfort food"?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An ImPRESSive Upgrade

My husband literally grew up in a print shop, and he's been a printer all of his adult life. He works in a "commercial" print shop, meaning they mostly print business materials -- business cards, letterheads, envelopes, flyers, that kind of thing. They do most of their work on one- and two-color presses or digital copiers. For years Lyle has wanted the opportunity to learn to run a full-color press, and finally his dream is coming true!

After months and weeks of preparation (remember installing the beam?) to make room for such a major piece of equipment, the semi-truck backed up to the print shop last week.

Yes. The press is that big.
See all the pieces? That's all one printing press!
Off the truck it was spread all over the driveway.
The moving crew maneuvered it into the building one section at a time.
It took them 2 days to get it put into place and connected together.
I'm glad they knew what they were doing!
Then another whole day to get all the wires and tubes and gears connected and greased.
Here's what it looks like now that's up and running with the covers on.
Can you count the 5 sections? One for each color of ink... cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and a 5th color. (I'm still a little confused on what the 5th color is for. I get the 3 primary colors and black... but the 5th color? I dunno. *shrug*)
Here was their first test run! It prints beautifully on 18x25" paper.
I'm impressed! Are you?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Not Complainin'

I had a miserable Easter weekend.... thanks for asking! With a rip-roaring spring cold plus an abscessed wisdom tooth I wasn't up for much in the way of celebration. I mostly sat in my recliner, going through tissues by the boxful, reading books, napping, and trying very hard not to complain about how miserable I was! I'm pretty sure I didn't succeed very well... but I really did try!

See, a few months ago, my friend Judy shared about a book she was reading, Calm My Anxious Heart, that issued the challenge to never complain about anything. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but I have taken the challenge to heart. After all, I don't like to be around complaining people, do you?

So... with that in mind here are some things that I am thankful for with regards to misery of the past weekend:
  • tissues with lotion
  • cold medicine which offered at least a little temporary relief
  • antibiotics so I won't die of an abscessed tooth
  • a thoughtful husband
  • daughters who can run the house when Mom is out of commission
  • time to read several books, as that was all I felt like doing (Lyle laughed at me on Saturday evening when I referred to "one of the books I read today." I do read fast!)
  • hot herbal tea with honey
  • cold 7-Up
  • a cushy recliner
  • a warm blanket
  • a soft feather pillow
  • fuzzy socks
  • a caring family

Easy Menu Planning

Busy days and economic challenges call for menu planning! I know this, yet it's hard for me to take the time to do it each week. So what I've come up with is a list of our favorite everyday meals and stocked up the pantry to have on hand what we need to make these meals. Then I'm going to post the list of menu options on the fridge. When it's time to figure out "what to have for supper" either my daughter (who does most of the cooking) or I can choose one of the meals from the list... and of course, we can mix and match if we like.

I'm in the process of developing this system, but my plan is to then make up a master grocery list to also post on the fridge and we can check off items that we need to restock. And, of course, any time we want to try new recipes, we can plan for that as well. Hopefully this will help us save both time and money.

Here is my menu list:

Breakfast Ideas
  • yogurt, granola, juice
  • pop tart, banana, milk
  • oatmeal, hot chocolate
  • scrambled egg, toast, milk
  • dry cereal, banana, milk
  • pb&j, milk
Lunch Ideas
  • chicken salad, chips, applesauce
  • mac'n'cheese, chicken nuggets, apple slices
  • grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, celery with peanut butter
  • turkey sandwich, cottage cheese, pineapple slices
  • frozen pizza, carrots and ranch dip
  • chili, corn muffins
  • chicken quesadillas, canned peaches
  • burritos, orange wedges
  • baked potato with cheese, bacon bits, sour cream, broccoli
  • ham sandwich, pasta salad
Supper Ideas
  • grilled hamburgers, baked beans, french fries
  • spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread
  • grilled chicken breast, steamed veggies with cheese sauce
  • biscuits and gravy
  • taco soup, tortilla chips, cheese
  • pizza, salad
  • sloppy joes, raw veggies, tater tots
  • beef stew, crackers and cheese
  • tacos, Spanish rice, chili beans
  • lasagna, green salad
  • chicken supreme, broccoli
  • sausage and rice casserole, corn
  • chicken and veggie stir fry, rice
  • chili, cornbread
  • chef salad
  • pot roast, potatoes, carrots
  • baked pork chops with gravy, rice, roasted cauliflower
What are some of your everyday menus? Maybe I can add to my list!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Renewal

Psalm 104:30

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Strawberry Season

I love strawberries! Every spring when they come in season, I think of my MawMaw. She is 89 now, but for years she was a 'berry packer each spring in the strawberry fields of southern Louisiana.
One day last week my uncle took her this carrier of fresh 'berries that he had picked for her that morning. I love how the green of her shirt perfectly matches the 'berry tops and sets of her snowy white hair. Isn't it a beautiful picture?

I remember once, when I was a little girl, I got to go to the 'berry field with MawMaw. I can't remember what I did that day, other than wander around watching the proceedings, but MawMaw worked in the packing shed with several other women, sorting the perfect berries from the "culls". Some of the culls, of course, were rotten, but many of them were simply shaped funny, or too small, or something like that. And the 'berry packers got to take the culls home! We enjoyed all the fresh 'berries we wanted, and the rest we made into jam or froze.

Just looking at the pictures makes my mouth water! I wonder if the price of 'berries has come down for the season around here yet?

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Best Friend

It's been awhile since I've participated in Marriage Monday, but when I saw the topic for this month, I knew I wanted to post! April's topic is "Friendship in Christian Marriage." We are challenged to share "how you and your husband celebrate friendship."

Just this past weekend our family had a conversation about how "Mom and Dad" met and got to know each other. I shared how I wasn't looking for a husband... I was mainly interested in having a special friendship with a "boy" -- a "boy friend." I was 17 and just out of high school when Lyle asked for my address so he could write to me over the summer. We enjoyed a friendly correspondence that summer and found we had common interests, so we started dating that fall at college. We were friends first and foremost. I wasn't in a hurry to get married, so I was caught off-guard less than 6 months later when I realized this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Out of respect for my parent's wishes that we not marry so young, we were engaged for nearly 2 years. During that time our friendship grew and deepened.

Over the years, my husband has always been my best friend (humanly speaking). I know many women have close girlfriends. I never have. I think it's partly my personality, but also partly because Lyle and I are such good friends. We love to be together. We love to talk. And I believe our marriage is so strong because of it.

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up some we are enjoying our "tradition" of sitting on the porch in the evening just to catch up. Here in north Idaho, the evenings are cool and fresh all through the summer, and we love to sit outside and watch the stars come out. Some evenings we have important issues and decisions to discuss. Other evenings we just enjoy sitting together with nothing much to say. Our children tease us that we're "flirting" but they love the security of knowing that Mom and Dad are important to each other.

Another special time for sharing and talking is on long road trips. Lyle has always loved to drive, and I love to go along for the ride. Our children have grown up loving to travel, and it has become the main family activity that has strengthened our relationship with the kids. Drive time is perfect for deep, meaningful conversations or just light-hearted fun.

I am so grateful for the sweet gift of friendship that I have enjoyed with my husband over the years. It is not something I take for granted. I wish every couple were as blessed as we are.

Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. --Ephesians 5:33

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cute Gift Ideas

Two of my nieces (who are young mommies) have recently opened Etsy shops. Their product lines are so cute! I thought you'd like to see what they have been making!

Kendra's shop is So Sweet Baby Boutique. She has a very trendy, coordinated collection of baby carriers and matching diaper/wipes carriers, soft toys for babies, and adorable little girls dresses and matching hair bows!Krista's shop is Little Apron Strings and she is specializing in... guess what? Aprons! In both adult and child sizes. Here is a picture of Kendra and her little girl modeling their coordinating "mother/daughter" aprons that Krista made for them:
Aren't they so cute? Krista even monograms the child's apron for free!

(Kendra's new baby is due very soon. She said she is sure her apron will fit better after that!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Dorrit

To be honest, I had never heard of Dickens' Little Dorrit until I saw an ad for the PBS mini-series that is currently running. (And I claim to be well-read! I know! I'm plum' ashamed of myself!) But, the ad caught my eye and I even talked Lyle into trying it with me.

We watched the first installment the other night, and I'm hooked... but I think I should have read the book first! I'm a little bit lost in some areas. There are characters and scenarios that don't seem to have anything to do with the story yet, but I'm sure they'll eventually fall into place.

We were especially amused at the Circumlocution Office! I'm pretty sure I've been there before!

Another entertaining scene was when Little Dorrit's father was bragging about being "the father of the Marshalsea" and being willing to accept "very delicate testimonials"-- meaning gifts of money! (I love the euphemism!)

The Marshalsea was the debtors' prison where the Dorrit family had lived for over 20 years. My question is, what was the point? Someone couldn't pay his debt so he was locked up until he could pay it? No wonder the poor guy was begging for "testimonials"!

When I think about the conditions people lived in as matter of course in centuries past, I just marvel that the human race has survived to the present day. We are so spoiled!

Anybody else watching this mini-series? If you missed the first episode, you can still watch it online!