Sunday, November 24, 2013

Once Upon a Time...

My love of books started very early...
November 24, 1967

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

At the Crossroads

Road trips are always an adventure for Lyle and me, whether we are in a hurry, or we have time to linger along the way. We just never know what might be over the next hill or around the next curve. We enjoy the scenery along the way. We find the unexpected interesting.
And then, sometimes we come to a crossroads. When we're following the GPS, the crossroads don't slow us down much. But there are occasions when we're not sure which way to turn... which will be the best route to take.

At the crossroads, if we're going to move forward, a decision has to be made. We can't stand there looking down the road indefinitely. And we can't know what lies down either road around the next bend. That's what makes it so hard.

I have learned that life, like a road trip, is always an adventure. Even here at the crossroads.

Your prayers are appreciated as we make some important decisions regarding my work in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Canyon of Danger - review

Book 3 of Susan K. Marlow's Goldtown Adventures series has just come out!

Canyon of Danger continues the adventures of 12-year-old Jem Coulter and his sister Ellie during the waning days of the California gold rush. Pa has to be gone for a few days and leaves Jem in charge of the ranch. Jem is excited about this new responsibility... until everything starts to go wrong. It's a great story for tweens about making wise choices and being dependable. You can read an excerpt here.

 Susan's books are well-written and engaging, even for us "kids" who are a "little" older than her target demographic. She offers lapbooks and free study guides to go along with each title which makes them great for homeschoolers.

The fourth book in this series, River of Peril, will be out in the Spring of 2014. You can also read my previous reviews of Book 1: Badge of Honor and Book 2: Tunnel of Gold.

Thank you to Kregel for sending me a review copy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fragmented Thoughts for November

I have a love-hate relationship with the month of November. 

It's the month I was born, 
as well as the month I was married, 
so double reasons to celebrate, 
in addition to Thanksgiving.
My children presented me with this lovely bouquet of mums 
in honor of our anniversary last week.
They bought their dad candy.
The other part of their gift was a series of pictures
they had a friend take of them at a local park.
I was so pleased!
I told them they could do that as a gift for us for any occasion.
 Speaking of mums, the ones in my flower bed 
have been blooming since early September.
Some of the blossoms are beginning to fade, 
but the plant is still putting out buds, too.
That's two months and counting of bloom time.
This is the fourth year I've had them.
Isn't that wonderful?
 With the ever-shortening daylight hours and the drizzly gray skies
(which is what I hate about November),
I appreciate the bright spot in my front flower bed...
 ...and the still-fresh Jack-o-lanterns on the front step
which I plan to leave up until after Thanksgiving,
or until they start to soften, whichever comes first.
 An early snow this week reminded us that, ready-or-not, winter is upon us.
We've winterized the trailer and put away the bikes and lawn furniture,
and are turning our attention to more indoor pursuits.

Happy November!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

 I don't know about tomorrow; 
I just live from day to day. 
  I don't borrow from its sunshine 
For its skies may turn to grey. 
 I don't worry o'er the future, 
For I know what Jesus said. 
 And today I'll walk beside Him, 
For He knows what lies ahead. 
  Many things about tomorrow 
I don't seem to understand 
But I know who holds tomorrow 
And I know who holds my hand. 
~ o ~
 I don't know about tomorrow; 
It may bring me poverty. 
But the One who feeds the sparrow, 
Is the One who stands by me. 
 And the path that is my portion 
May be through the flame or flood; 
But His presence goes before me 
And I'm covered with His blood. 
 Many things about tomorrow 
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow 
And I know who holds my hand.
--Alison Krauss

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Workbasket (Installment #15)

This installment from my collection of vintage Workbasket magazines comes to you from July 1953. I thought the cover doily was so pretty that I made it myself! That was a fun project.
And while they got off to a good start with such a lovely crochet pattern, it must have been the month recruit Christmas card salesmen... er, salesladies.
 Page 4. "Ladies! Make Good Money Selling Exclusive 50 for $1.00 Christmas Cards!"
That does seem like a quite reasonable price. But what's the deal with a 'bonus' of "Low-Cost Hosiery to New Agents!"? We're supposed to sell nylons alongside the Christmas cards? That seems like an odd combination to me. And I have no idea what "60 gauge 15 denier" means. Do you?
Page 7. "Think of it! ...there are $$$ and $$$ of CASH PROFIT waiting for you in these wonderful boxes..." Presumably "$$$ and $$$" means "dollars and dollars." 

"...cards so handsome they'll be remembered and treasured through the years!" Yep. Grandma hoarded the ones she received through the years. She really did!

"Your own good sense will tell you there must be literally hundreds of folks right in your neighborhood who'll thank you for introducing them to these cards." I'm pretty sure that's not what my own good sense is telling me.

"If you are a fund raiser for an organization, please check here." Oh, yes. That would be me. Not a person with neighbors. I'm a fund raiser.
 Page 9. "A balanced selection of 21 lovely, heart-warming cards... just right for every name on every list." Yet there's a little note that says "This is only one of our 50 assortments." If the original "sensational" box is just right for every name on every list, why do they need to offer 49 other assortments?
 Page 13. "Meet Your Santa Claus for 1953: The Hedenkamp Family." It's unclear to me what makes this family my Santa Claus for 1953... and exactly which one is Santa Claus. They can't all be. Can they? And how are they a family? Mama, Daddy, and the three children? Their pictures don't exactly give me that impression. Maybe they're siblings.
 Pages 16-17. "Just let your friends and neighbors and co-workers SEE these lovely Doehla Christmas and All Occasion box assortments. YOU don't have to say another word!" All ya gotta do is smile and nod. No need to speak at all.
 Page 19. "$50--$100--no limit to what you can earn in spare time..." and they "sell themselves," of course. What else would you expect?

Oh, we're not anywhere close to being done yet.
 Page 21.  "I Earned $57.04 In less than 2 HOURS showing the Phillips Christmas line to a group of my neighbors." Very important to be precise, you know. It wouldn't do to round it off. Also, I would like to see "Wags the Dog 'In Action'." Sounds interesting!
 Page 23. "New Easy Way to Make... Extra Money." I have no idea how Easy it was to sell greeting cards 60 years ago, but I'm sorry. This was not New! It just wasn't. They need to quit saying that.

"Sell New 'Life-Like' Greeting Card That Move!" What in the world is a 'life-like' card? When were cards ever alive? I guess that would be something new all right.

Whoops! Looks like  I missed an ad for selling Christmas cards on page 24... and there's another one on page 32. Oh, well. Moving right along...
 Page 35. "30 Actual Cards..." as opposed to... um, what? Fake cards? "You can make every day 'pay day' from now to Christmas." So you're thinking I would actually get out there and sell cards every day for 6 months, huh? What a novel idea!
 Pages 40-41. With testimonials! "I am nine years old and selling your cards is the only way a girl as little as I am can earn money and have fun!" Bless her heart! She probably wouldn't have as much fun with any of the other card companies.

"One lady bought $19 worth in one hour!" Some of us take longer than that to make up our minds how we want to spend our $19. Just be patient with us. We can't help it.

Skipping over another small ad for selling cards on page 43... and one on page 44... honestly, I thought I had scanned them all. I think they're multiplying while I'm not looking!
 Finally! Here are some ideas for making "cents" that don't involve knocking on doors with sample boxes of cheap greeting cards! And while these ideas wouldn't go over today, I thought they were pretty interesting for the time... making foot stools out of tin cans... and cookie jars... excuse me, "cooky" jars out of shortening cans. Grandma definitely knew how to up-cycle, didn't she? I especially like the one about offering country dinners to city folks who are out for a "ride into the country." Can you just imagine?

I'm surprised there's not an ad for Christmas cards on that page. Never fear, though, they aren't going to let that idea go.
 Page 51. "Do you need money? $35.00 is yours for selling only 50 boxes of our 300 Christmas card line. And this can be done in a single day." Sure. If I get that woman who is willing to spend $19 in a single hour, and one of her friends who is willing to do the same. Then they'd each have 25 boxes of cards, which they'd still be sending out to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren 40 years later, in spite of the fact that the cards were beginning to turn yellow around the edges.
 Page 53. "It's easy! No trick offers! No gimmicks! Just show prize-winning Elliott Christmas cards... to Friends and other Folks." And you can pretty much count on the Friends moving over into the Other Folks category if you're gonna bug 'em like that all the time.
 Page 55. "Aggressive Detroit Com-
pany can help You or your club earn EXTRA MONEY!" Gotta get that line break in there at the right place, dontcha see? They also offer a large assortment of geegaws if greeting cards aren't going over quite as well as you might expect.

And now let me show you the lovely dress patterns, which I always enjoy poring over in each issue of the Workbasket.

Oh, no... say it ain't so... yet another ad for selling Christmas cards on the opposite page?
 Page 57. "I Made $93 and I Know How Easy It Is to Earn Extra Money the Southern Way!" I was trying to figure out what Mrs. J.R. Shields meant by "Southern Way" since she's from Illinois. That's not the South last time I checked. Oh! Turns out the company is named Southern. That explains it.
 Page 65. "...startling NEW $1.00 box assortments" That's what I want. Startling Christmas cards.

And now, more pretty dress patterns.

Wait! What's that little ad about a quarter of the way down the next page? Sure enough, yet another opportunity!
 Page 69. "At last! Something new and sensational in Christmas cards!" Well, good. I was getting tired of the same-old-same-old.

Aren't we done yet? Not quite.
 Page 71. "Amazingly Different and Smart..." I guess I'm gonna have to order these, too, to find out what the amazing difference is, because this ad sounds suspiciously like the previous one.
 Page 73. And here's another company asking "Do You Need Money?" This one sounds a lot like the ad on page 51, but they are supposedly different companies. Weird!
 Page 74. By now I'm about to go cross-eyed reading the tiny print on these silly ads. The dollar signs fading into infinity aren't helping any. This one admits to selling cards from other publishers. I wonder how many of these companies actually did overlap?
 Page 77. "Run a spare-time card and gift shop at home." That's the one I want. No knocking on doors for me. Let the customers come to my shop! Because, I'm sure they will.

And on the back cover, guess what? Yet another ad for Christmas cards! Are you surprised?
 So, how many Christmas card ads is that? Let's see... I scanned 21 of them... plus the 4 I overlooked. 25 ads for pretty much the same thing in one issue of a small magazine like The Workbasket seems like overkill. I'd say they were staunch supporters of Free Enterprise! Or brainwashing.

Don't you want to get right out there and sell some Christmas cards in your spare time?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Healthy Eating

Over the past few years I've been trying to make gradual changes away from the Standard American Diet to a more healthy way of eating for my family. For the past 6 months or so I've been loosely following the plan laid out in Trim Healthy Mama. As with any diet or eating plan, though, it needs to be easy to follow, appealing, and practical for sticking to long-term. Consequently, there are some recommendations that I have chosen to not implement at this time. Maybe later. Maybe not.

Here are some of the changes I've implemented along the way... some awhile back, others more recently. I don't do well with hard-and-fast rules, and I'm not legalistic about any of this.

I try to serve lots of salads and vegetables. Salad mixes offer some creative and convenient choices when I don't have time to clean and chop the fresh veggies... and there are an equal number of mixed vegetable options labeled "stir fry" in the frozen vegetable department. These can be used, obviously, for stir fry, but also just steamed with butter or broiled with a little olive oil drizzled on them. They are also great to add to soups and stews.

I don't worry too much about the fats in meat or cheese, but I have switched to olive oil, coconut oil, or butter rather than shortening, vegetable oil, or margarine.

A side benefit to our backyard chickens is that we can enjoy fresh free-range eggs. (You would think that would be the primary benefit, but no, they are actually pets who happen to lay eggs!)

I buy raw milk because it's available to us, and I think it's healthier. Sometimes I even make yogurt (much easier than I ever expected) when we end up with extra milk.
I've been trying to cut back on "junk" carbs, so I buy whole-wheat bread and tortillas, and preferably the sprouted wheat varieties, though they are harder to find and more expensive. I've even been experimenting with sprouting wheat and baking bread. Some days I feel down right "crunchy!"

Instead of white rice, I use brown rice or quinoa. Instead of potatoes, I serve other vegetables. I have learned some very creative and delicious ways to fix cauliflower, so that I don't even miss the potatoes.

Rather than trying to make "diet" desserts with sugar substitutes and low-fat ingredients, I just don't have dessert as often. When I do, I enjoy a small serving of the "real thing." (And by real thing, I mean made-from-scratch or with ingredients you can pronounce, not chemical substitutes.) A big bowl of berries (fresh in-season, or frozen-slightly-thawed otherwise) with a small scoop of Kirkland vanilla ice cream is my current favorite dessert.

Lyle and the kids still enjoy what they call "contraband" sometimes... things like Cheez-Its and M&Ms. As long as it's an occasional treat, and not their everyday diet, I don't have a problem with it.

My "one weakness" (as Dorcas on Lark Rise to Candleford says) is Coke Zero... and sweetened coffee. (That's two weaknesses, you say? That's okay. Dorcas actually has several "one weaknesses!") The way I look at it is that Coca-Cola is not good for you in any of its formulations (though "Mexican Coke" made with real sugar is probably best). But I like the taste and mild buzz of Coke Zero, so I enjoy that in moderation on occasion. Not every day. For coffee, I use real cream and a few drops of flavored liquid stevia. And sometimes I make iced coffee with unsweetened almond milk and flavored stevia.

When it comes to meal planning the Trim Healthy Mama way, the idea is to separate your fats from your carbs (if you're interested in losing weight), and to avoid spiking your blood sugar. S (for satisfying) foods or meals can have protein and fats but only minimal carbs.  E (for energizing) foods or meals can have protein and carbs but only minimal fats. When you have both together, that's called a "crossover" meal, and while it's okay to eat "crossover" style occasionally, I'm told it will stall weight loss. That has taken more effort to learn.

I've been collecting Trim Healthy Mama recipes on Pinterest. Some I've tried and liked, others we haven't cared for. It's definitely an on-going journey...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Home Movie Stills

Among the "thou-shalt-not-touch" treasures tucked away in the secret storage places of my parents' bedroom was a movie camera. I don't remember where it came from. Perhaps my mother got it with S&H Green Stamps or something. What I do remember is that we had no projector for watching any home movies that had been filmed on it, so on the rare occasions we were able to borrow a projector, watching Our Movies was a Big Deal.

There was the reel of my parents' wedding (taken, I'm sure, on someone else's camera)... and the reel of me as a baby... and then a gap of about 5 years. The third reel starts when my youngest brother was a baby. Now that I think about it, that must have been about when we got our own movie camera, because there's a good bit of footage that year, relatively speaking.
I was five that year, and utterly convinced that if the movie camera was recording, I should probably perform. That is to say, show off. The footage of my newborn brother has me turning somersaults in the background.
The footage of the five of us children playing on our swing set has me running around like a maniac, "checking" on the baby, picking up the ball, prancing here and there. It's down-right embarrassing is what it is!
Fifteen or twenty years ago we had our old home movie reels transferred to VHS tape, and then later on to DVD. I was very surprised to discover that the full length production of the home movies from my childhood only amounted to about 20 minutes of footage total. That would be because, while we did have a camera, movie film was costly... and having the film developed was costlier still. Not only is the footage very brief, it is also very poor quality as a result of the film being left in the camera too long before developing.

(I know it makes me sound like an old woman to marvel at how far technology has come in my lifetime... but I can't help it. It's true.)

My parent's 50th anniversary is coming up in a few months, so I've been working on a PowerPoint presentation for the occasion. I was looking for some pictures of a particular period of time and couldn't find some that I thought we had. Then I remembered that it was actually footage on our old home movies. So I popped the DVD in the computer and attempted to capture some screen shots. That worked out okay except for the poor quality of the original, but there's not much I can do about that at this point.

The funny thing was, though, I found myself deleting the stills of me showing off. "Silly little girl!" I thought. "I'll teach her a lesson. If she's going to show off like that, she can't be in my PowerPoint!" And then I literally laughed out loud at myself. Not only was the "silly little girl" me... that was more than 40 years ago!

Yeah. Turns out I didn't grow up to be a movie star.

Saturday, November 2, 2013