Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ski Report - Week 2

No, I haven't miscounted. It has been 2 weeks since "Ski Report - Week 1" but skiing was cancelled for January 22, so our second week was actually this past Friday.
Would you like to guess why skiing was cancelled?

The gondola broke down!!

Can you believe it? After we were so concerned about the possibility of the gondola being stopped because of the wind, with people still on the mountain! Well, it wasn't because of the wind... and no, it didn't crash or wreck or anything catastrophic like that. Apparently it was a bearing or something that just needed to be replaced. They must have had to build a part for it because it was down a full week, I think. I heard there were still people on the mountain when it stopped and they had to shuttle them down on the old road. I bet that was interesting! Nobody was on the gondola itself. I really don't want to think about what their contingency plan is in a situation like that.
It was a much better day for skiing than it had been two weeks ago. There was no wind this time, so that made for a more enjoyable gondola ride, as well as just being out in it for skiing. I'm not sure what the temp was on the mountain but I believe it was above freezing because the eaves on the building were dripping.
 
The kids got so warm that they took their heavy coats off! Seemed a little strange to be snow skiing in just a regular hoody, but they claimed they were hot! They did keep hats and gloves on, though, so I guess they were warm enough.

With such warm temperatures and little snowfall, we're beginning to wonder if we'll get our full 8 weeks in before the snow is gone. I guess we'll see!

Lotsa Books!

Here's the list of books I've read in January  for the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge (not counting several that I have started but not yet finished... yeah, I usually have several books going at once):

  1. Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna
  2. Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington
  3. The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhan
  4. The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  5. Life on the Underground Railroad by Sally Senzell Isaacs
  6. Freedom Struggle by Ann Rossi
  7. The Civil War by Scott Marquette
  8.  Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater
  9. Daily Life on a Southern Plantation by Paul Erickson
  10. Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray by Opal Wheeler
  11. Too Much Stuff: Decluttering Your Heart and Home by Kathryn Porter
  12. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
  13. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by C.B. Weatherford
  14. Lavender Morning by Jude Deveraux
And in my mailbox this week I received:

For review:
Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith
Yesterday's Promise by Vanessa Miller
One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren
Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer

From Paperback Swap:
The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book by Jane Eayre Fryer

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream (sugar-free)


In my quest for healthier eating for my family I've been pleasantly surprised to find that our regular grocery store has quite a few organic options to the foods we are used to eating. Yes, it's usually a little more expensive, but I've decided that it's worth it. Our grocery store even has organic ice cream!

The only thing is, I've also been trying to eat "low-glycemic" to try to eliminate my migraines. And the only sugar-free ice cream I've found has the nasty artificial sweeteners. We even have a really extensive natural foods supermarket in our area. I was sure they would have a sugar-free ice cream with a natural sugar substitute such as xylitol or stevia. But they didn't! So I decided I would just have to make my own.

After reading several recipes (some calling for sugar, some for other sweeteners) I came up with my own concoction using granulated xylitol and real vanilla. My family declared it delicious. We honestly could not tell that it was not sweetened with sugar. Well, not by taste anyway. Cost-wise, xylitol is significantly more expensive than cane sugar. So this will have to be a special treat!

I also want to try tweaking the recipe. For homemade ice cream it was good! But  you know how homemade ice cream is usually a little "grainy" compared to commercial ice cream? I want to try to see if I can get it to come out creamier. I'm thinking if I cooked it first into a kind of custard before freezing it, that might work.

I think I might wait until the weather warms up a bit, though. January is just not the best time for homemade ice cream!

In My Mailbox


Here are the goodies I received In My Mailbox this week:

For Review:
Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson
Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl
Spring Breakdown by Melody Carlson
Katy's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Beehive Reader 1 by Marie Rippel
The Madsen Method curriculum

From Paperback Swap:
Skirts! (crochet pattern book)
Violet's Foreign Intrigue by Martha Finley

From Swap-a-DVD:
Trigger, Jr.
Along the Navajo Trail

Ordered from Amazon:
McGraw-Hill's GED
Too Much Stuff by Kathryn Porter

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vintage Walking Doll


Here's another sweet "treasure" that I brought home from my parent's house at Christmas. I'm not even sure why she was there. I thought she was packed away somewhere at my house.

This is Matil (pronounced like Matilda without the "duh")! She's a "walkin' doll" that I received for Christmas when I was 3 years old. She has a battery compartment in her back and a little switch at the back of her neck that used to make her walk.She doesn't work any more, but I still think she's cute.

And I love this picture of me watching her walk for the first time, with Grandmother and Uncle David appearing to be as interested in her as I was!

My dollie's name is Matil because she was made by Mattel toy company. I'm pretty sure I didn't name her, because I wouldn't have been aware of the brand name. My grandma's name was Matil, and apparently that sounds enough like Mattel that my parents "helped" me decide that's what her name was!

I did a little research online to see if I could discover what her commercial name was. And I found her! She was originally called  "Baby Small Walk." I don't know why she was called "Baby". She was a toddler, not a baby! But I did find a picture of her with her original dress... and all of her hair, looks like!

Her hair is so silky (like a Barbie's) that it was ideal for combing. Good thing my mother kept her put away most of the time. Otherwise she would have probably been completely bald by the time I was 10!

Visit Coloradolady for more Vintage Thingy Thursday posts.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ski Report - Week 1

The girls have looked forward all year for the chance to get to go skiing again this winter. The day finally came this past Friday! We are able to get a really good group price through our homeschool group, otherwise it's not something we would be able to do. Last year our group skied at Mt. Spokane, but this year we are at Silver Mountain in Kellogg. It's a whole new experience!

It took me an hour and fifteen minutes last year to drive up to Mt. Spokane, on sometimes icy switchbacks up the mountain. Just a little nerve-wracking for Mom! Silver Mountain is much more convenient. It's a straight shot to Kellogg on the interstate. Well, not really straight, as we have to go over a mountain pass to get there, but still interstate, so usually clear. Then we get to ride "the world's longest gondola" up the mountain--a 30-minute ride--to get to the ski runs. That's where the adventure came in for us this week!

Our family has ridden up the gondola a few times before, but always in the summer.I was looking forward to seeing what the view looked like in the winter. Friday, it was a little foggy and there wasn't much snow on the ground at the gondola base where we parked.

The view wasn't very inspiring as we started our ride, trusting that it would indeed be snowier at the top! (The plexiglass windows of the gondola cars are very scratched-up so the pictures from inside the cars aren't real clear.)

Part-way up the first mountain, looking back at the town. We just really haven't had that much snow this winter.

The little town of Wardner tucked between the first and second mountains we went over...

Finally, snow! The view from the top (taken from inside the ski lodge, where the windows are clearer):

The girls were excited to get started. We had arrived early in plenty of time for them to practice for a bit on the bunny slope before time for their lessons. They had a great time... and I enjoyed drinking my coffee, doing a bit of work online, knitting some, and visiting with a friend from the warmth of the lodge.

But then the wind kicked up. Snow was blowing everywhere, the trees were swaying, and those gondola cars? Yeah, they were swingin' in the wind, too! Yikes! And that's the only way down! My friend and I wondered if they ever had to shut the gondola down with people "stuck" up on top. Lodging is down at the gondola base. The "Mountainhaus" is a coffee/sandwich shop, not a place to sleep.

After lunch I told the girls I thought we might leave earlier than we had planned, because of the wind. Then I saw the signs that had been posted around, "Do to high winds the last ride down will be at 4:30." (Yes, they spelled "due" d-o. I was tempted to take a pen and correct their spelling, but I refrained!)

It was about 2:45 when we headed down. I asked the attendant as we boarded the gondola if they ever had to stop the gondola with people still on the mountain, and she said they never had. So I guess that's comforting. I was somewhat expecting the gondola to stop a few times on our way down, just to wait for gusts, but it didn't. It really wasn't as scary from inside the car as it had looked from the lodge. So we survived! And we hope it's not as windy next week!

In My Mailbox


Here are the goodies I received In My Mailbox this week:

Books To Review:
Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis
Prevailing Love by Loree Lough
Listen by Rene Gutteridge
Screen Play by Chris Coppernall
All Things Hidden by Tricia Goyer 
Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times by William Moss
My Lady by Joyce Wheeler
So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore


Checked out from the Library (so not technically "in my mailbox"):
MaryJane's Outpost by MaryJane Butters
MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook by MaryJane Butters
2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd
Sock Innovation  by Cookie A
Knitting in the Round by Jeanne Stauffer
Cool Crocheted Hats by Linda Kopp

I just need more hours in my day to read, knit, and blog... not to mention keep house, homeschool, and work...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Liberty Blue


For the last couple of years--ever since we moved into our "new" house--I've been collecting a few eclectic pieces of old china for the living room shelves. Not a complete set of anything, just pretty pieces I come across at garage sales or thrift stores. While I was at my parents' house at Christmastime I was able to add a few pieces from my past. Here's the story:

When I was growing up my dad almost always had a secondary job in addition to pastoring. In 1976, when I was 10 years old, he worked at the A&P grocery store. We liked that job for him because he often brought home really cool stuff that the store was discontinuing. That year, in celebration of the Bicentennial, A&P carried this set of Liberty Blue dishes as a special promotion. You've seen those types of deals. Buy so many dollars worth of groceries, get a certain piece of china for a really cheap price this week. At the end of the promotion, for some reason, the store had a whole bunch of the little dessert bowls leftover, plus, apparently, a cream pitcher and salt-and-pepper set, and I don't remember what else.

Mother had the idea that we girls could start our hope chests with these dishes. So we did! I think I had a dozen of the little bowls. No plates (the plate in the picture is actually a different pattern), no cups and saucers, just these few odd pieces.


I never did care for a busy pattern on dishes, so I didn't think these were especially pretty, but I did think it was interesting that each piece featured a different patriotic scene. The little dessert bowls have Betsy Ross. For some reason the cream pitcher and the salt-and-pepper shakers both have Paul Revere. I found a list of other dishes (and scenes) in the set at Robbins Nest, and I was just amazed at the prices! Which brings me to the second part of the story.

Like I said, I wasn't real crazy about these dishes, but I did use the little bowls for several years when I was first married, just "for every day" and of course, some of them got broken. After we had been married 13 years, we were packing up to move from Kansas to Idaho. My mother came to help. We had a garage sale and got rid of a lot of stuff, the way you do when you move. I stuck these dishes in the garage sale box, but I guess my mother decided they were worth saving. I didn't remember that at all.


At Christmastime (just past) I noticed that she had two of the little bowls sitting on a shelf in the bathroom with shells in them. I assumed they were some she had from the left-overs Dad brought home all those years ago. I thought how neat it would be to have them for my "dish shelf" so I decided to ask her about them. "Mother, you know how you've said that if we see something in your house that we want, we should just ask you for it? Well, I'd like to have those two little Liberty Blue bowls that you have in the bathroom."

Her immediate response was, "Why, of course! Take them!" So I moved the shells to another dish and washed the bowls. The next day she came in carrying a taped-up envelope box from the basement. "Karla, look here!" I went to see what she had. This was the box of "treasures" she had "rescued" from my garage sale almost 12 years ago. In the box was another bowl, the cream pitcher, and the salt-and-pepper shakers! (The rest of the stuff in the box I still didn't want.)

I was happy to have these nostalgic pieces back in my collection. And my mother is just gloating that she thought to save them... especially after I showed her the current price of these dishes!

Visit Coloradolady for more Vintage Thingy Thursday posts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Knitting Socks


Just before Christmas I bought sock-knitting supplies as a take-along project for our trip. I have been so intrigued with some of the self-striping sock yarns that are available these days, and I've wanted to try them for a long time. I got the I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks book, 2 skeins of "Heart and Sole" wool blend sock yarn, and a 40" long size-1 circular needle. I found the book really easy to follow.

It took awhile to get used to knitting with such fine yarn. Not only that, the lace pattern I chose (for the leg part of the sock) was somewhat tedious. For every 2 or 3 rows I knit, I kept having to go back and pick out the last row or two for nearly the whole first sock! Fortunately, I finally caught the hang of it, and the second sock is going much faster.

I love the way the stripe is designed into the yarn. It has been so interesting to watch the pattern emerge. There is another way to finish off the toe that isn't so pointy, but I had already finished it before I realized it. So I decided to just leave it that way for this pair, but I'll do the next pair differently. Because you know I'm addicted now, don't you?

I can't wait to try another color of stripey yarn... and I understand there's a way to knit both socks at once so you don't have to knit one and then knit the other. Maybe I'll try that next.

I am trying to reserve this as my "take-along" project, though. I also have a goal to finish quilting the quilt for my bedroom that I started last winter. So that's my "evenings-at-home" project.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Simple Days in January


Outside my window...it's getting light and it's cold, but still not a lot of snow.

I am thinking...of a variety of things I'd like to blog about soon.

I am thankful for...cozy throws, bright candles, fuzzy socks, and hot beverages on these chilly winter days.

I am wearing...denim skirt, navy corduroy shirt over white shirt

I am remembering...how apprehensive the girls were at their first ski lesson last year, and how much they ended up liking it.

I am going...to take the girls to their first ski outing for the season on Friday. We have an opportunity to go with our homeschool group again this year, so we have signed up for the 8-week class. The girls are really excited!

I am currently reading...Becoming Lucy by Martha Rogers and Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. Also, listening to the audio book of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy as this month's read for the Kindred Spirit's book group.

I am hoping...to soon finish the second sock of the pair I'm knitting. I can't wait to see what they look like with some casual MaryJane shoes I ordered from Lands' End. I think that will be a cute look with the denim skirts I like to wear.

On my mind...getting started with the Madsen Method language arts curriculum that I am going to be using with my younger daughter (and reviewing) for the next 6-9 months. I've been told I will see miraculous progress. That would be nice!

Noticing that...the daylight hours are getting longer! Yay!

Pondering these words... "On a day which had a summer face and a winter constitution-a fine January morning, when there was just enough blue sky visible to make cheerfully-disposed people wish for more, and an occasional gleam of silvery sunshine..." Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

From the kitchen...I made a big batch of beef stock this past weekend from my new cookbook: Nourishing Traditions. I am trying to do more "from scratch" cooking. See my post about it on The Persnickety Pantry.

Around the house...I need to clean up my office, but I'll be surprised if I get to that job this week.

One of my favorite things...reading aloud to my family.

Visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blog Updates


The Blogestia challenge is winding down. Obviously, I didn't spend the whole weekend working on my blog, but I did spend most of the afternoon today on it. I lined up some posts for the coming week, as usual. But I also learned a few things and got some good ideas from participating in the challenge. You probably didn't even notice the little changes I made, did you? Here are the main things I did
  • I chose some of my most frequent topics and linked them together on the link bar right under my blog header. So if you're especially interested in a particular topic, you can just click on it and it will pull up all my posts on that topic. I hope you find this helpful. (There's also a "label cloud" towards the bottom of my sidebar that lists all the topics I blog about, if you want even more to choose from.)
  • I added a "favicon" to my blog code. Look up at the top of your browser. See the tiny green coffee cup beside the name of my blog? Isn't it prettier than the bright orange Blogger logo that used to be there? Now when you see the little coffee cup, you'll know you're visiting me! Cool, huh?
  • I discovered the In My Mailbox meme which I hope to participate in on a regular basis, just because I'm sure you're nosy like that! What? You're not? Well, I am! I like to know what came in the mail-- even if it's not for me.

In My Mailbox


One of my favorite things about doing reviews on my blog is checking the mail every day! I just never know what to expect... and I love getting lots of books to feed my reading obsession. In my Bloggiesta travels today I came across the In My Mailbox meme at The Story Siren where we can list all the goodies we have received during the past week. I usually post titles to my Shelfari account as soon as I receive them, so they'll show up on the shelf widget on my sidebar... but I thought this would be a fun way to share what some of my upcoming reviews will be. I received even more than usual this week because of being gone a week, and having my mail held at the post office. So this is really two weeks' worth. As best I can recall, here are the books I received this week:

To Review:
Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris
Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater
Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah
Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell
A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland
Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge
The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard
The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth by Shelley Adina

I Won!
A Separate Country by Robert Hicks (audio book) -- from All About {n}

From Paperback Swap:
Violet's Defiant Daughter by Martha Finley

I'm looking forward to a lot of good reading in the days ahead. Watch for my reviews!

Bloggiesta challenge

Sunday afternoon is my usual time to do blog maintenance and to line up posts for the coming week. What with being gone over the holidays and having an extremely busy first week back, I have some catching up to do. When I came across the Bloggiesta challenge at Maw Books Blog going on this weekend I decided to join right in, even if I am a little late getting started. With that as inspiration, let's see what I can get done this afternoon/evening! I'll report in again later.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Celebrating...


Who knew 17 years could go by so quickly? Our beautiful princess has brought us so much pride and joy! My "mommy heart" wants someone to slow the clock down just a little bit... but I am also excited to see what God's future plans for this beautiful young lady might be!
When Jesus sent you to us we loved you from the start
You were just a bit of sunshine from heaven to our heart
Not just another baby for since the world began
There’s been something very special for you in His plan.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Remembering...

Maybe it's a little strange, but I like to visit cemeteries. I don't mean to be morbid. I just think it's nice that we have a tradition in our culture of erecting permanent monuments in tribute to our loved ones who have gone before us. Even when I don't know the people I am fascinated to read their headstones, wondering what their lives were like.

Last week, when we were in Arkansas, I asked my husband if he would mind taking me out to the cemetery where my dear grandparents are buried. This was the first time I had been in the area since Granddaddy passed away almost 3 years ago, and I wanted to put flowers on their grave.

It's a remote little cemetery back on a dirt road in the Ozarks, not far from where my grandparents lived and ministered for more than 40 years. It was a foggy, frosty day so no one else was around. I enjoyed the stillness as I reflected on the Godly heritage my grandparents have left me and their many other descendants.

Today is Grandmother's 93rd birthday. She's been gone 11 1/2 years, but her influence on my life is as fresh as if she were still with us. As I strolled around their old home place (now my parents' home) those few days last week, I could almost hear her asking the children to help her out with a "little job"... or interestedly inquiring after the neighbors in the area... or praying fervently for various ones in the family...

When I grow up I'd like to be just like Grandmother!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Weather Report


The last two winters I've enjoyed posting dramatic snow pictures on my blog. This winter (so far) I don't have any. The ground is brown and soggy, and the skies are gray and dreary. I've always said that if it was going to be cold and gray anyway, it might as well snow to brighten things up a bit. I'm surprised that I don't feel that way this year. I think I got enough of snow last winter and the winter before to last me awhile!

We thought we might run into some snowstorms on our trip. When you make a 3500-mile roadtrip in the winter, you pretty much have to plan for that. On Christmas Eve, as we were preparing to leave we heard of bad storms throughout the midwest-- just where we were headed. We changed our planned route at the last minute, and somehow managed to dodge the storms and bad roads.

The most dramatic weather we experienced on the whole trip was the night we stayed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on our way home. When we got up on Saturday morning to get back on the road we discovered that the temp was a frigid 28-below-zero!! Never before had any of us been in weather that cold! Lyle said he learned that gloves don't help much when it's that cold, if they've been left in the car all night. We were concerned that the car might not start. It sputtered and protested but finally turned over, and we were on our way. By the end of the day we reached Billings, Montana where the temperature was a balmy 48! That was a temperature change of 76 degrees in one day!

Now we're home again, where the temps are average for this time of year: high-30s/low-40s... and the sun doesn't shine much. The good news is, we've passed the equinox so the daylight hours are getting longer again! The cold, gentle rain which makes our yard soggy means it's snowing in the mountains... and that's good news for the girls because they get to start ski lessons again next week.

So, I'm content with the chilly dreariness. Not having huge piles of snow everywhere makes spring seem closer. At least we don't have to wait for that all to melt before spring can come!

Now that I've posted how "happy" I am with the weather, watch us get dumped on! But... the sun is coming up this morning, so maybe we'll get to enjoy a little sunshine for a change.