Monday, January 24, 2011

January Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: Not bad at all for January.

Things that make me happy: Sunshine in January!

Book I'm reading: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

What's on my TV today: I'm really enjoying Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classics this month. Lyle chooses most of what we record and watch, but he records that series for me. (And even watches them with me. What a guy!)

On the menu for dinner: Chicken-andouille gumbo sounds really good. I think I have the stuff to make it... so, yeah... that!

On my To Do List: Get some extra work and homeschooling done this week, as I will be gone 4 days next week on a business trip.

New recipe I want to try soon: Dutch Baby pancakes. I had one at a local restaurant on our breakfast date Saturday and it was wonderful!

In the craft basket: Still working on my bedroom curtain. I also have a pair of socks on knitting needles, as a take-along project.
Looking forward to this week: I've been wanting to go to our local Kroc Center to check out the facilities and get some exercise in this winter. What with sickness and other busy-ness, it keeps getting put off. I'm really hoping to make it this week!

Tips and Tricks: I discovered a liquid herbal supplement at our health food store that has helped with my chronic winter cough better than anything else I've tried. (And yes, I've tried the "100%-effective-Vicks-Rub-on-the-bottom-of-your-feet" thing. I don't know how something can be 100% effective and not work for me... but it sure doesn't.) Anyway, this concoction is put out by Wish Garden herbs. It's not cheap... about $12 an ounce... and it's very bitter. But it only takes a few drops at a time and seems to be effective for whatever-kinda-cough-this-is that I get every winter.

On my mind: Looking forward to my trip to Denver next week. And then long range, planning for Laura's graduation activities later in the spring.

Inspirational Reading: The Never-Wavering Few @ Lady Liberty Patriot.

Visit Diary of a Stay-at-Home Mom for more Happy Homemaker Monday posts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Enjoying the winter

Picture credit: Laura Cook, 2011
Winters are long in northern Idaho, but usually they aren't terribly harsh. Some winters we get way too much snow... and others we don't get much at all. So far this winter has been an interesting mix of cold and snow, followed by warmer winds and rain, which clears away the accumulated snow... so when it snows again it's all fresh and new. I especially appreciate the rare days when the sun comes out and makes the snow sparkle.

For two or three days last week the daytime temps even got up in the low-50s! That's shirt-sleeve weather around here! We knew winter couldn't possibly be over yet, but it was sure a nice break.

I'm looking forward to spring... but I'm trying not to wish the days away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friendship Tea

 I love the way God brings special friends alongside to encourage me just at the time I need it most. One day last week I received a package in the mail from my childhood friend, Denise. I haven't seen Denise in... oh, 20 years or more... but we reconnected online about 3 years ago and have stayed in touch sporadically since then. However, it had been awhile since I had heard from her. Her family has some health problems, so I was sure she had been busy with that. But when my daughters carried the package in to me the other day and I saw the return address, I just knew it was going to be something special!

And I was right! The box was filled with bubblewrap with this note on top:
Merry Christmas, Karla!
    Enclosed are three different tea cups with violets that I have collected for you! The collection was started when I briefly left my husband's hospital room for a break and visited a favorite thrift store nearby. There the snack plate with tea cup was spotted. A thought of you brightened my dreary day and the collecting began!
    Tea for one is fun... but not as much as tea with three! So, I thought I would wait to send it until I had enough for you and your girls! Yesterday, I finally found the third one!
     Enclosed are some homemade Buckeyes from the Buckeye State~ sweets from where you and your Sweeties first met!
     I trust you had a wonderful Christmas that 2011 will be the best year yet!
     Your Childhood Friend,
 I have to say, that quite made my day! And gave me just the lift I needed! I loved unwrapping and admiring each beautiful piece to add to my eclectic violet tea set. My girls were just as charmed as I was.
Thank you, Denise, for such a lovely gift... and especially for your words of encouragement!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Sunset

Laura has inherited my enthusiasm for sunsets.Sunny days are rare this time of year, but if there's any kind of color in the sky at all late in afternoon, she'll holler at me on her way out the door, "Mom, I'm going down the street to take pictures!" We have a good view of the western sky from our kitchen window, but we get the best pictures a couple blocks further west.
This evening, however, her most spectacular shot was of the mountains to the north. This picture was taken in our front yard, looking up the street. The picture is not as sharp as Laura would like, but the bright pink sunset light reflecting off the snow and low-hanging clouds was very dramatic!

I noticed this evening that sunset is a little later than it had been. Spring is still a ways off... but it's coming!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In a heartbeat...

When they placed her in our arms we looked at each other and said, "Can we do this?"

18 years seemed like an eternity.

It's not.

It's more like a heartbeat.

With gratefulness for God's enabling grace, we are so very proud of the beautiful young lady our daughter has become.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grandmother's Letters

For the past year or so I have been sorting and archiving my Grandmother's "papers." She was a prolific letter writer, and she kept most of the letters she received over the years. (My mother has done the same, so I have two generations worth of letters going back to the 1930s!) Grandmother had 10 children, and as far as I can tell, she wrote to each one of them weekly after they were grown, as well as other relatives and friends. Most of the letters I have were written to my mother, but there are also letters from my great-grandparents in reply to letters Grandmother wrote to them. It has been a very fascinating project to me, offering a glimpse into the daily life of my family long before I came along, and then on into my childhood and growing-up years.

It was fun to also find a small diary Grandmother kept during her junior and senior years of high school. She was just the age my daughter is during her senior year, so that has been interesting to us this year. (Their birthdays are just one day apart. Grandmother's birthday is today. My daughter's is tomorrow.) I have also been encouraged as I've read the letters written during Grandmother's "middle age" years in the 1950s and '60s. It's been interesting to see how she and Granddaddy dealt with some of the same challenges my husband and I are going through.

Grandmother would be 94 today. She has been gone to Heaven for several years now. She left her family with a rich Christian heritage, not to mention the "treasure" of all the letters documenting their daily life! Letter-writing is a dying art. I'm so glad Grandmother and Mother chose to "hoard" their letters for future generations.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crocheted Throw

My latest completed project is a throw I crocheted with sage green cotton yarn for my bedroom. The pattern is from Best of Terry Kimbrough Baby Afghans. This is the second throw I've made from this pattern book. My sister loaned it to me last Christmas. (She may be wanting it back by now! LOL!) I love the lacy patterns in this book... and I love how well this latest one goes with my quilt.

Since I finished the throw, I've been working on my crocheted curtain again. It is a pretty tedious project, but I'm hopeful that I won't get tired of working on it too soon, so I can get it finished. My bedroom is starting to look how I pictured it. It still lacks a curtain, and pictures on the walls. Soon! (I hope.)

For more creative projects visit the Creative Share blog hop at Trendy Treehouse.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Questions You Didn't Ask...

Joining in the Meet Me on Monday blog hop at Never Growing Old...

1. Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
I didn't really make any formal resolutions, but I'd to be more consistent about exercising this year. I have several audio books I'd like to listen to, so hopefully that will motivate me to get back on the treadmill.

2. What food item are you craving right now?
Ice cream. My daughter served chocolate ice cream topped with berries yesterday. Another dish of that sounds delicious at the moment.

3. When is your birthday?
Sometimes it falls on Thanksgiving!

4. What were you doing an hour ago?
Doing some work on the computer.

5. Last thing you cooked?
Chicken/Andouille Gumbo Saturday night for supper. My family loves gumbo! I should make it more often.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Year in Blogging

Just wanted to share a review of blog highlights from 2010. This meme is hosted by Work of HeART and Soul. To participate simply: Post the title or first sentence of your first blog post from each month. You can also add a favorite picture from each month, even though it doesn’t necessarily go with post.

First sentence: I expected Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna to be a book on parenting daughters.
First sentence: FactsFirst is an online math facts practice sight developed by the publishers of Saxon math.
First sentence:  Never Blame the Umpire by Gene Fehler is a touching book about a young girl and her family as they experience traumatic changes.
First sentence:  Continuing with the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, here are the books I read in March:
First sentence: Continuing with the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, here are the books I read in April:
First sentence:  Continuing with the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, here are the books I read in May: (LOL! Sorry! This is getting quite monotonous! I promise, I did post other stuff in between!)
First sentence: My subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine had run out awhile back, and I've been thinking I needed to re-subscribe. 
First sentence:  Another YA book I enjoyed this summer is Katy's Debate (Book 2 in the Katy Lambright series) by Kim Vogel Sawyer.
First sentence:  Our family adventure this past weekend was a geocaching day trip to northeastern Washington.
First sentence: Books read in September for the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge:

First sentence:  In celebration of our 25th anniversary, Lyle and I are enjoying  a few days away from our normal responsibilities.
First sentence: We hosted a small gathering of friends in our home last night.
 Looking forward to 2011!

Reading Challenge Updates

Time to post my reading list for 2010. (Well, past time, really!) I enjoyed keeping track of my reading this past year. Here are the Reading Challenges I've signed up for in 2011, since they can overlap, anyway! I think the different categories help keep things interesting!
Wrapping up the 100+ Reading Challenge for 2010, here is my final list. It's not as accurate as I would like. I strongly suspect there are books I read that I forgot to add to my list... and I know there are a few on here that I didn't actually finish. I hope to do a better job of keeping track in 2011.
  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 
  15. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr 
  16. Laylie's Daring Quest by Kersten Hamilton  
  17. Days of Gold by Jude Deveraux 
  18. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith 
  19. Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl 
  20. Amazing Insider Secrets by Jeff Bredenberg 
  21. Secrets by Jude Deveraux
  22. Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times by William Moss 
  23. One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda 
  24. Listen by Rene Gutteridge
  25. Genoa Bay by Bette Nordberg 
  26. A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin 
  27. Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll 
  28. As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson 
  29. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry  
  30. After the War by Carol Matas 
  31. Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist by John Severance 
  32. The Wave by Todd Strasser
  33. Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision by Susan Marlow 
  34. Saving Sailor by Renee Riva 
  35. Heading Home by Renee Riva 
  36. The Sword, the Ring and the Parchment by Ed Dunlop 
  37. Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze 
  38. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry 
  39. A Stranger's Wish by Gayle Roper 
  40. Miss Match by Erynn Mangum 
  41. The Astronomy Book by Jonathan Henry 
  42. Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman 
  43. The Last Christian by David Gregory 
  44. Living Organized by Sandra Felton 
  45. The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister
  46. Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure by Susan Marlow 
  47. This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson 
  48. Never Let You Go by Erin Healy 
  49. I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby 
  50. Rooms by James Rubart 
  51. Sheet Music by Kevin Leman 
  52. A Love of Her Own by Maggie Brendan 
  53. Sing by Lisa Bergren 
  54. Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky
  55. So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones 
  56. The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke 
  57. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson  
  58. Katy's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer 
  59. Missing Max by Karen Young 
  60. Healer by Linda Windsor 
  61. Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange Book by Nancy Rue  
  62. Boyfriends, Burritos, and an Ocean of Trouble by Nancy Rue 
  63. Perfectly Dateless by Kristen Billerbeck 
  64. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz 
  65. Tomorrow We Die by Shawn Grady
  66. Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon 
  67. The Seeker by Ann H. Gabhart 
  68. Katy's Debate by Kim Vogel Sawyer 
  69. Premiere by Melody Carlson 
  70. Amish Proverbs by Suzanne Woods Fisher 
  71. Licensed for Trouble by Susan May Warren 
  72. Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss 
  73. Fatal Convictions by Randy Singer 
  74. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
  75. Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding 
  76. After the Flood by Bill Cooper 
  77. So Over It by Stephanie Morrill 
  78. Sarah's Garden by Kelly Long 
  79. For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman 
  80. Adam and His Kin by Ruth Beechick
  81. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman 
  82. A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin 
  83. Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers 
  84. The Black Madonna by Davis Bunn 
  85. Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah 
  86. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 
  87. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston 
  88. Don't Let Me Go by David Pierce 
  89. Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth by Susan K. Marlow 
  90. In Between by Jenny B. Jones 
  91. Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner 
  92. Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz 
  93. The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly 
  94. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace
  95. Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan
  96. Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson
  97. The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
  98. The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  99. Romance Rides the Range by Colleen Reece
  100. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  101. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  102. The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy
  103. Found in Translation by Roger Bruner
  104. When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
  105. The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello
  106. Love Food and Live Well by Chantel Hobbs
  107. Caroline's Choice by Martha Rogers
  108. An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer
I also participated in the What's In a Name? Reading Challenge. I didn't seek out books to fit the categories, but since I was reading so much anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see how many of the books I did read fit the categories. Here's my list...