Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Jumping Jack

A jumping jack was a puppet that was sold at The Great Fairs of the Middle Ages. They were typically carved of wood and painted to make lots of fun for children and adults, alike.

Here is our version of a Jumping Jack puppet. The pattern for this puppet is found in Days of Knights and Damsels, Activity Book by Laurie Carlson.
I enlarged the pattern on my copy machine and copied it on white card stock. The total size of this puppet is 20 inches. Youngest son colored it to his preference and it was put together with brass brads. You need to make the the brads loose enough that the puppet will swing its legs.

Next you thread the string. We used yarn and a large tapestry needle for this part. Tie a knot at the end of the yarn and thread the needle. Make a new hole with the needle above the place where the brad is inserted. Do this on both sides and the legs as well as shown below. Trim all the extra yarn. Finally, connect a long piece of yarn to the top horizontal thread connecting the arms and then connect the same piece of yarn to the bottom horizontal yarn connecting the legs. We decided to thread a few beads on the pull string that was hanging down.

And here it is in action!

Tapestry of Grace is a perfect fit for our family. It has such creative ways to teach about all periods in history. We are having loads of fun with Medieval History and this craft is perfect for my 9 year old son. I don't think I would have come up with this creative idea on my own. Thank you, TOG
Blessings, Suzie

Monday, October 26, 2009

Photography Class

Here is a special post from Naomi, dear daughter. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. I hope you enjoy. Suzie

I have been taking a photography class these past few weeks and these are some of my favorite assignment pictures. They're all about reflection. Take a look:
In this picture it looks like an upside down landscape.

You can see in this picture the neck of the ducks are reflecting on the water.

This is my favorite picture! I love the fall colors on the tree reflecting on the water!
It just seems so pretty.

Jeremiah 16:7-8
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yeilding fruit.

Blessings, Naomi

Sunday, October 25, 2009

BEST Robotics Competition

This is our homeschool group robotics team video that we created from the events of our 2009 season. It was a fantastic experience. Dh did a great job dubbing it all.
If you want more information or to contact a BEST Robotics hub in your area, go here.
I hope you enjoy. Blessings, Suzie

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Is In The Air

I approach with aniticipation, this time of year. It is, hands down, my favorite time of year.

Fresh pumpkins, mums in full fall color blooms, the smell of hot apple cider, the vibrant fall color of the leaves as they change color, smoke burning in the fireplace, all these things remind me of fall.

We visited a pumpkin patch today, and came home with five pie pumpkins. You know what we will do with those. Several of the moms were asking about how to cook them so that you can use the pumpkin and it is not so watery. Here is how you do it.

Oil a cooking sheet that has sides on it. Cut the pumpkin on half and remove the seeds and pulp. Turn half of the pumpkin upside down on the cooking sheet. I repeat this process for the second half, as I tend to pick large pumpkins. If its a small pumpkin, you can put both on the cookies sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven for 2 hours, or so, until the skin becomes dark brown and blistered. The pumpkin is going to cook by steaming itself. You may think you are burning it but you are not. After it becomes brown, take it out and let it cool. It will look like it is shrivelling as it cools and that if fine. After it is cool, the skin will just peel off and that beautiful pumpkin is soft and workable. I usually process mine in the food processor and then freeze in freezer bags, 2 cups at a time. Don't add the excess liquid from the pan back in as you process, as it may make your pumpkin too thin. It will seem thinner than the canned stuff but it has never caused me a problem. Some recipes may just need to bake a bit longer. Also, the cost effectiveness of cooking your own pumpkin is phenomenal!

Also, don't throw those seeds away. My family loves to munch on them. Here is how I process them.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

4 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried

2 T cooking oil of choice

1 t salt

sandwich bags

Rinse pulp and strings from seeds. Drain off excess water. Mix seeds, oil and salt in a bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Let stand for 24-48 hours, stirring once in a while. (I just let the cookie sheet sit in my off oven for a couple days) Remove wax paper and toast seeds in oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Stir once or twice. Drain seeds on paper towel. Store in airtight container.

Another favorite of ours, during this time of year is hot apple cider. Here is how we do that.

Apple Cinnamon Cider

1 gallon of apple juice or cider

3 sticks of cinnamon

1/4 t allspice

5 pieces of candied ginger

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

2 oranges, sliced

Simmer slowly for a wonderful aroma (your nose will be able to tell when it is done) and then serve in mugs. Store leftovers (if there are any) in jar in fridge and reheat in microwave for a wonderful morning treat.

I hope your fall days are delightfully bright.

Blessings, Suzie

The Summer Project

This past summer we resolved to do something about our garage.  We needed to convert it to storage and living space, however, we did not have a lot of funds to do so.  I had begun food storage and needed another place to put it, as well as a need to have it organized and be able to know what I had.

It was very frustrating to find tools all over the house and garage, never knowing where to find one when you needed it.

And finally, we were swimming in books.

With these three things, the inside of our home was busting at the seams.

So we formulated a plan for zones in our garage.    One area for pantry space, one for books and finally a home for all the tools.  We also had a bit of space left over for a children's play area.

When we were all finished, here is how it looked.

One area for tools, home repair and lawn equipment.  Now I can find a tool when I want it and mostly I can train the children to put them away when they are finished with them.

This is the area for books storage.  Our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, uses many living books and thus we need a place to store our books.  These are not all school books.  David has Bible book collections from his father and grandfather and now, my grandpa too.  When all these were in our house, I ofen felt as though we were being over run by books.  You can also notice my bulk bucket storage is here as well.  They are only one bucket deep so I don't have to go digging for the right one.  There is an 8ft. by 10ft. space in front of these shelf where the children can play with blocks and build expansive wooden train design.  We put an area rug down to make it more comfortable for them to be on it.   With the laundry area out here (not pictured)  I spend a lot of time out here so now I just clean this each week like the rest of the house.
Note:  my yongest child is 9, so there is not a need to gate up the tool area, but if I had smaller children, that would be very easy to do.
This area is the pantry area.  It is like a small  hallway, formed by using shelving units.  There are identical shelving units on each side.   These are heavy duty units that we bought several years ago, from Sam's Club.  They will hold lots of jars, both full and empty.  I did a lot of canning this summer.  As  you can see, not all of this is food:)  I am still in the process of going through a lot of my grandmother's things that we brought home.  It is truly a process.  This gives me a bit of space to put the boxes while a grieve and ponder a bit.  Eventually, this will all be pantry space.  I think it will force me to go through things as I am ready, and as I need more space.  
As far as cost goes, I think we spent around $100.00 and that was for the supplies to build the book shelving.  The pantry shelves, we already had, we just repurposed them.   We also spent about $20.00 of that on the hole hanging system for all the tools.  This has been a real easy way to get folks around here to put the tools away, just hang them where they go.   I can also think of some other ways that this might be useful in the house, painted beautifully for hanging jewelry, if a person had lots of it.
Blessings for a wonderful day,  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Challenges with a Robot....and life

The last couple weeks and the next few to come have been filled with problems solving in many different areas of life.  My two oldest children and dh are part of our local Homeschool Robotics Team.  They are building a robot for the BEST Robotics Competition in Oklahoma City in 2 weeks.  The children (and dads) have been working tirelessly on this project for four weeks now, two more to go.

Here is our current robot.  We finished putting the claw on last night only to find that the arm motor could not lift the claw, it was too heavy.  However, do not lose heart.  Only  a slight modification is needed, a little counterweight on the other end, to help the motor our a bit.

My thoughts tonight are not really about the robot, but life.  God is the ultimate designer of us all.  Just as with the robot, God is constantly fine tuning us for His glory.  He doesn't throw the whole thing away and start over, he just makes fine little adjustments.  When challenges come my way, I need to remember that these are just wrenches, thrown my way to help me make adjustment, for the glory of Him.

A verse for today, James 1:2-3

My bretheren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of

your faith produces patience.

Blessings,  Suzie

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spelling Test of a Different Kind

Things have been a bit wild around our house, lately. We are currently doing school six days a week so that we can get it all done and still be involved in a short term extra curricular activity that we have chosen to participate in. I decided to mix things up a bit and do something a bit different....and fun!
I decided to make cookies for the children to take their spelling tests with.
I have had this set of cookie cutter for many years and we have done many wonderful things with them in the past. Today was another wonderful day!
First I made the dough. It is just a simple sugar cookie recipe. I had to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours, so I made it last night and tucked it neatly in the fridge.
This morning when it was time to take spelling test, I told all the children that they needed to write down any extra letters that they needed. For instance, if one of their words needed two or three or four of a certain letter. I had one child that needed 4 E's. We took time out to cut them out, decorate them and bake them.

We decorated them with leftover cookie sprinkles from the pantry.

Then we took our spelling test. I had them write it out as well as spell it with cookies, so that I could have a copy for their folder and they could have another experience of writing the words. So important to help solidify it in their brains.
When daddy got home tonight, I had each of them spell one of their words for him and then we all had fun eating them.

With so much going on in our home, I felt that it was important to do something fun and out of the ordainary. May you be blessed with an idea to break the monotony in your home, if needed.

Blessings, Suzie

Friday, September 4, 2009

Roxaboxen Candy

Youngest son and I just finished rowing Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
This is a delightful, imagination probing book about the playful young days of children in Arizona.
This book is filled with wonderful learning experiences.
Our go alongs for this unit included:
My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter by Joseph Parramon
Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasta
Draw, Write, Now Book 3
Evan Moore's Giant Resource Book
and of course the wonderful packed Five In A Row Volume 4.
There are many online resources for this book found here.
If you are not familiar with Five In A Row, it is a fantastic unit study curriculum that is built around great children's literature.
For fun, youngest son, who is in 3rd grade this year, made this candy that looks like glass, of course with mom helping. I would recommend that you read the book to find out the 'treasure' in the candy.
This picture does not truly do it justice.

And here is my little lad, after all had been cleaned up. What a lesson. He learned how to use a candy thermometer and some patience along the way, takes a long time to get to 310 degrees.
Here is the recipe we used.

Roxaboxen Candy

1 cup of hot water, place this in a large stainless steel pan on medium heat
3 1/2 cups sugar and
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

Stir ingredients raising the temperature a little bit at a time til you get to high (on my stove at least). Insert your thermometer and let it boil until it gets to 310 degrees. At that time remove from heat and add
1 tablespoon liquid food coloring (we used blue and red) and
1 tablespoon liquid extract (we used strawberry and coconut)
Pour onto a Pam sprayed 12x18 cookie sheet with edges. Let sit for about 10 minutes then refrigerate for about an hour. Break apart and eat. Just a note, this makes a huge amount of hard candy. Make sure to have some church friends of neighbors to give it away to.

Days like this are a blessing. I am thankful to have the ability to do activities like this with my children.

Blessings for a wonderful day, Suzie

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Medieval Europe

We are entering the Middle Ages in our Tapestry of Grace studies and are having a marvelous time.  The boys are thrilled with visions of building catapults and pretending to be Goth Worriors.  Daughter is dreaming of princesses.  We have begun reading Otto of the Silver Hand as a read aloud for the next few weeks.   I really like this book as it helps transport the children to that time period through the eyes of a child, Otto. 

Here was one of our first projects for the year.  I only assigned this one for Lower Grammar so only youngest son did it.

I used 2 rolls of Pillsbury Sugar cookies however, you could easily make your own sugar cookie receipe to save on money.  We used peal and eat licorice for the map outlines and M&M's for the city placement and chocolate chips for the mountain ranges.  We used small pieces of licorice to show large rivers such as the Nile River and the Danube River.   We made the coloring with edible tempra.  You make this with egg yolk mixed with liquid food coloring.  For blue, we used one egg yolk with 4 drops of food coloring.  To make the brown, we mixed one egg yolk with 5 drops of red, 3 drops of green and 2 yellow.  He used a fresh soft paintbrush to brush the 'paint' onto the cookies.  I had to replace the M&M's and the chips after we baked as they got lost in all the dough.  I also overcooked it quite a bit.  I think you can still tell what it is. 

After baking and cooling, we used half toothpicks and old computer labels, cut up, for labels.  Youngest son made all the labels and included The Nile River, Rome, Appanine Mountains, The Alps, Crete, Sicily, Athens, Paris, London and the British Isles.

As you all are beginning your school year, may you be encouraged by this verse:

All of your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.  Isaiah 54:13

May this be a beginning of a wonderful school year. 

Blessings,  Suzie

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cherries Jubilee

Summer is rapidly coming to a close and thus the need has arisen to fill my winter pantry with sale/free fruit to get us through to next spring.  W**-Mart had a huge sale on cherries a few weeks ago, so we pitted, jellied and froze enough for an army.  Actually 27 pints of jelly and 4 pies.

We also picked the peaches from our peach tree and combined with sale peaches from the store, canned 16 quarts of peaches.  They will be yummy in cobbler this winter.  Nothing like a great peach cobbler in December.

As I shared previously, I lost my grandmother a few months ago and these are activities that I used to watch her do as a young girl, so along with taking care of my own family, I have been grieving that loss as well.  It has been a rather difficult but profitable summer.

I pray that the blessings and bounty of the harvesting season are to your family as well. 

Blessings,  Suzie

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memiors of My Grandma

My blog has been very ignored in recent weeks as many events have occurred in my life, the most important of which is the passing of my dear grandma Loula.

There are so many things that I remember her for that this blog could not hold them all.  I think I inherited my love for animal (especially cats) from her.  The first photgraph she has of herself was her sitting on the old porch holding a cat.  More than 75 years later, grandpa took this picture of her holding Snowball.  On the back of this photo he wrote, "The two dear ones that live with me".

Grandma was a wonderful help meet to grandpa for all of their 72 years of marriage.  She stood by him in the ministry for more than half of that time.  They were truly a tag team in so many ways.  Grandpa also spent time as a carpenter.  He loved shaping wood and made many wonderful and practical things for grandma.   Grandma was a wonderful crafter also.  She specialized in cake decorating, making many birthday cakes for me as a child and the most beautiful wedding cakes you can image.  She also became known in our family as a snowflake maker.  Annually, she made each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild a small crochet snowflake to hang on their Christmas tree.  As you can imagine, that became quite a chore with 5 children married with spouses, 17 granchildren and many, many great grandchildren.  I am so thankful as they have always made our Christmases so special.  Even if we weren't there to recieve them in person, she made sure to get them to us through the mail.  It has always been a highlight of our holiday season.  

While grandma was always very submissive to grandpa, I especially like this picture.  There is a story behind it.  They were at a bridal party and were asked to play The Newlywed Game as they were the couple present that had been married the longest, about 68 years at this time.  The question to the husbands was what cartoon character would your wife most likely describe you as:  Superman, .... or Daffy Duck.  Well you see the answer.  Grandpa thought he was Superman. I love the look on grandma's face.  At that same party, grandpa reminded me that she knew to the penny how much change he had in his pocket.  Amazing how well they knew one another.

Grandma and Grandpa were avid gardeners.  They planted this strawberry barrell and kept it going for several years.  I remember it fondly, exactly where it stood and also picking strawberries off and eating them without grandpa knowing.  Grandma took care during my early tender years before the age of five.  I spent a lot of fun times in their back yard.

I will miss my grandma very much.  She has made such a defining impact in my life.  In  many ways, she has shaped me more than any one person, including my parents.  As I go through her personal belongings, I am amazed at the ways we are alike that I never knew.  I am also amazed at the quality of character that she and grandpa had.

I have been doing a lot of journaling since she became ill, knowing that soon, she was going to go to be with God.  There are so  many wonderful memories that I fear I will forget.  Even down to specific smells, so I have been writing a lot.

I wrote the following in my journal, a few days before she died.  It contains just a few of my fondest memories of grandma.

Of all the people in my growing up years, one of my dearest was Grandma.  Her given name was Loula, an orphan she was, how blessed I am that God gave her to be my grandma. 

My earliest memories of grandma's house were of morning I spent upon the 'devan' crying and watching mommy go off to work.  Afternoons were lots of fun riding in the basket of grandma's tricycle.  we knew everyone along the way to the market, Little Lake cemetary and finally the park!  My pal was suzie dog.
The service grandma showed to me in those early years became a strong part of who I am to the day.  Thank you grandma for loving me.
As years went by, to grade school I went and grandma and grandpa moved to ......... and then to  ..................  I remember Christmas at the big white house with the front steps and basement.  We went to the forest to cut down our tree and brought it back home.  There was a HUGE garden next door that another trip we spent picking, snapping and canning green beans.  Another place, I remember picking blacberries by the railroad tracks.  We must have canned 50 quarts as we had everything blackberry for several years, even blackberry ice cream.
During summers when mom and dad were not teaching, we spent long days fixing up the old house for the next renter, always hoping grandma and grandpa would move back HOME!  The funnest places were the side yard garden, gated on both ends, behind the little house and of course the bathroom in the garage.  It was a little house but fulled with so many big memories.
In my high school years grandma continued to give to me.  Back the old house, she would often invite me over for an impromptu cake lesson.  She so patiently taught me skills of her trade.  I also remember our freezer, often being full of bread that grandmother had made.
You see, if I had to sum up grandma's life, I would use the words Faithful Servant.  She humbly and faithlfully served her husband, her children, her grandchildren like me, members of the Church, members of the community through extension groups and cake classes, her neighbors and everyone she met.  She did this quetly with EVER complaining.  Mostly grandma was a faithful servant of God,  She will hear 'Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of my rest."
Please pray for me and my family as I travel through this difficult time.
Blessings,  Suzie

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Teenage Birthday Happenings

OK, It's official! We now have a teenager in our home, and we are so BLESSED!

We spent all weekend celebrating his 13th birthday. We really wanted it to be special.
On friday evening we had a small family party. We had his favorite meal of Lasagna, french bread and Granny's fruit salad

Next we opened a few gifts. He really, really, wanted an NXT robot for his birthday. We had so much fun with this present as he was so anxious for days before as to whether we had gotten this for him. We kept saying, I don't know, that is such an expensive gift! He wanted it so bad that he even offered to use his own money to buy half of it, if we would pay for the other half for his birthday. He was very surpised. Let us just say that there were tears of joy!

Earlier in the year, he had also requested a 'special' ring, do dh and I decided to do a True Love Waits ceremony, just with our family. It really turned out to be more of a devotional but he now has his ring as a constant visual reminder of his committment to God in so many ways. Our little ceremony included the following five elements:

Your Committment to God
Matthew 22:37
"Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind"

Your Commitment to Yourself
Matthew 22:39
"And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself "

Your Committment to your family
Phillippians 4:5
"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near"

Your Committment to your friends
John 15:13
"Greater Love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"

Your Committment to your future mate and children
II Timothy 2:22
"Flee the evil desire of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith , love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart"

It was beautiful. I cried. I remeber so fondly bringing him home from the hospital, he was less than 6 pounds and now he towers over me saying "I love you, mom" in the manliest, deep voice you ever heard. It brings me so much joy to know that he will grow up to make a difference in the kingdom of God.

On Sunday afternoon, he had a friend birthday party at the bowling alley.

The birthday cake was a surprise and he really liked it, of course what techie kid wouldn't!

Overall, we had a wonderful birthday weekend, full of many, many blessings.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What A Successful Grocery Trip Looks Like

For many months, I have been visiting several blogs on frugal living and have tried to start saving a bit of my own cash, rather than just sitting around watching everyone else do it:)
One of the ways I have been doing this is through forming my menu plans from coupons and grocery sale adds that come in the newspaper on Wednesdays. The children and I currently spend about 2 hours a week clipping, printing, folding and organizing coupons. Today, all the work seemed to have paid off. It was a great day at the grocery store. Here is what I purchased, all at the same store, I might add:

Special K blueberry flavor - 2 boxes
Oscar Meyer Lunchables with drinks - 4 items
Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers - 2 boxes
Kraft Lowfat Cheddar Cheese - 2 7oz bags
Kraft Velveeta Shells and Cheese - 2 boxes
Wholly Guacamole - 2 containers
Pillsbury ready to bake cookies - 4 rolls
EZ Mac cups - 4 of them
Kellogs Rice Krispies - 2 boxes
Kellogs Raisin Bran - 2 boxes
Yoplait Yogurt - 12 containers
Kraft BBQ sauce - 2 bottles
Hunts Ketchup - 2 bottles
Kellogs Apple Jacks - 1 box
Ziplock Freezer Bags - 2 boxes
Kraft fat free cheese - 2 7oz. bags
Peter Pan Low Fat Crunchy Peanut Butter - 1 jar
Capri Sunrise Tropical Fruit Drinks - 1 box
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - 2 rolls, 8 count each
Lean Cusine Meals - 4 of them
2 whole chickens
Kellogs Frosted Flakes - 1 box
Kellogs Fruit Loops - 1 box
Country Crock Macaroni and Cheese - 1 container
Reisers Potato Salad - 1 3# container

All this for $65.94 and a savings (according to the register receipt) of 108.08. I also got back a register printed coupon for $1.25 off my next puchase and several dollars to go towards my Supercenter Mail in Coupon form which means when I spend $20.00 purchasing items I would purchase anyway, I will get $35.00 more dollars in coupons. Some of the great deals included Kellogs cereals for $.50 cents a box and Kraft BBQ sauce for free as well as Ez Mac cups for free and Velveeta Shells and Cheese for free.
I was able to do this with using coupons I currently had and matching them with only items that were on sale. I made a rule to only purchase items that were both on sale and that I had a coupon for. The only exception this visit was the 2 chickens which were marked down for quick sale (ie: they expire tomorrow). I have been learning how to do this over the past several months. If you would like more information about couponing (is this a word??) and especially internet coupons, visit www. She has links on her home page to where you can download internet coupons. Most coupons have a limit of 2 coupons per computer. She is teaching me a lot about saving money.

Blessings for a frugal day, Suzie

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Music Contest With Surprises

Last weekend, oldest son competed in a state music competition. We travelled to a nearby large city for the competition. He did very well, taking an honorable mention position. For a state competition, this is quite a feat. He is becoming very accomplished in piano. He has taken lessons from Ms. Hickman for five years now. She is very sweet and so talented musically.

As we were finished and congratulating oldest son, we were walking around on campus and found some very interesting surprises.

From a distance this tree is very beautiful....

However, upon closer inspection you find.... from it...what?
I don't know the tradition of this but it might be fun to know...or then maybe not, this is a university...although being a Christian University it might be a Godly tradition, maybe a visual on Romans 10:15? Whatever the reason, it was very interesting and eclectic, to say the least!

We also came upon this beautiful fountain. I took pictures of the children to celebrate the occasion. They turned out so wonderful!

Our musical scholar!

Our princess, or SMILES as her daddy calls her (fits her well, don't ya think)

And, youngest son, in a pose for me.

We finished the day with a cheap dinner from Taco Bell and then on to home. I love days like this when we spend time having fun with family and the camera.

In all you do together, have fun!

Blessings, Suzie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review: The Preacher Had 10 Kids - Frances Bradsher

Several weeks ago, we attended a large library book sale. I was mostly looking for childrens' books, however, this one caught my eye. It was the only one that I picked up for myself and I am glad I did. I really liked this book. It is a warm, delightful, but easy read. It documents a time very different than our own. It chronicles the life of young Frances who is the youngest of 10 children of Jeremiah Taylor Cherry, a Methodist Minister in Kentucky and his wife. They moved every year of this childs' young life. That was they way they did with preacher in those days. It was a new city, parsonage, and school. Everything about her life was turned upside down every year. Despite all this, she seemed so contented. The story reflects many of the people, places and friends she made. It chronicles the difficulty in leaving all this behind and the adventure of a newness. One place they lived, you could only get there by boat, imagine that! Some of the parsonages were inhabitable and others, not so much. Her mother made sure that it was clean, at least. It chronicles a time when folks took care of one another as there was no government help. Churches took care of their own and everyone belonged to a church. One chapter is called 'And Turnips filled the barn' and she discusses the many ways that her mother made turnips edible during this drought year when turnips was all folks had to pay the preacher with. In my own mothers' life, I recall her telling of her father, who was a curcuit preacher in Kansas, who would be paid by jars of green beans, maybe a pair of shoes if there happen to be a shoe man in the congreagation and whatever pennies were in the collection plate. Maybe that is why I liked this book so much is that it reminded me of some of the things that my dear mother may have gone through as a child. Anyway, it is a delightful read.
Blessings, Suzie

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ham and Broccoli Casserole

I have recently begun heavy coupon use in a challenge to myself to feed my family of 5 (including a teen boy and 2 tweens) on $100.00 per week, inlcuding toiletries and cleaning products. It has truly been a challenge and I have done about $120.00 per week.

This week, the local sale paper was a bit slim on the great deals so I had to find recipes that I could use with the things I had on hand. Along with all this, I am now a Weight Watcher and am counting points:)

So for dinner last night, I made this recipe. I got the original recipe from here and modified it to decrease the fat and points. This recipe made 8 HUGE servings at 7 points each.

Ham and Broccoli Casserole

20 oz. chopped frozen broccoli (I think I used more than that)
2 cups cooked brown rice
6 Tbsp Smart Balance Light Spread
2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups 2% milk
8 oz chopped ham (frozen, leftover from Easter ham)
1/2 cup Sargento Chipolte cheese(from my cheese deal this week, $2.50/pound)

Cook rice and set aside. Cook broccoli and drain. Spoon rice into sprayed 9x13 pan and then put broccoli on top. Melt butter in skillet. Measure bread crumbs and sprinkle a bit of melted butter spread onto crumbs and mix well. To skillet add onions and cook til soft. Add flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly til bubbly. Add milk and stir til slightly thickened. Add ham and then pour it all over the broccoli/rice mixture. Sprinkle cheese then bread crumbs on top. Bake 350 for 30 minutes or til warm all the way through. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Simple but relatively easy meal, using things I had on hand. Everyone liked it. That is a Blessings, Suzie

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birthday Pictures for Our Young Lady

Because the children are home schooled, we don't get school pictures. Instead, we get birthday pictures. We go to Sears because the same lady has been taking my childrens' pictures since they were babies. She is very good and all the children are comfortable with her. They typically also have really good coupons in the springtime, meaning less $$. That is ALWAYS good!

I cannot believe how grown up Dear Daughter looks. She is growing into a beautiful young lady.

Enjoy, Suzie

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leadership Training for Christ

In our congregation of Christians, we have a program called Leadership Training for Christ. In fact, many congregations of the Lord's people all over the United States participate in this event on Easter weekend each year. There are several locations across the country, but we traveled to Rogers, Arkansas. All of the children in our congregation participated in Bible Bowl or Bible Quiz and did service challenge. They have been studying several hours a week since September for these events. It was a lot of fun and the children learned a tremendous amount. This years' theme was Life, Light and the Word and the Bible bowl/quiz questions were all take from the gospel of John.

Dear daughter received a gold medal in signing for the deaf. It is a beautiful hymn! She is becoming very proficient in ASL and seeks to teach the gospel to a hearing impaired person some day.

Oldest son recieved a gold medal in song leading. See it here.

And here is youngest son also doing song leading. He earned a gold medal also.

We arrived home in time for services sunday morning, however very tired.

My prayer is that the boys will grow up to be strong leaders in the Lord's Church and that dd will be grow up to be a wonderful help meet to a man who will be a church leader.

If you want to learn more about Leadership Training for Christ you can go here.

Blessings to you and your family as you find creative ways to train your children in church leadership,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Rainbow

The other evening, as we were driving home, we saw this amazing rainbow. It stretched from one end of the sky to the other. The picture does not do it justice at all, but I tried to capture it.

What does a rainbow remind you of?
Recently we have been studying how rainbows are simply prismatic light created by water and sunlight. The children have had fun drawing and memorizing all the colors of the rainbow.
The rainbow is an amazing testimony to the power and awesomeness of God. He created it as a sign of his covenant that he would never flood the earth with water again. Genesis 9:13.
It is so amazing to me that some can simply see a rainbow as a scientific 'phenomenon' and not give honor and glory to the Creator while others see His awesomeness in His creation.
Christ had similar challeges with the people of His time, as well.

'Therefore, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand' Matthew 13:13 (NKJV)

May your day be full of blessings and rainbows,

We're Goin to a Tea Party

A Taxpayer Tea Party, that is!

If you want to find one near you , they will be happening all over the country tomorrow,
April 15, 2009.

People are organizing at a grassroots level to peacefully show how frustrated they are with excessive spending and our representatives not listening to our needs.

Our local one is going to be exciting complete with Tea Party Music
and more Tea Party Music
a speaker, and time for folks to have their own say in the microphone.

Here are some of the signs the children and I made.

I have not used my blog in the past as a political forum but have recently realized that my political stands are as basic as my stands about being a Christian. As Christians, we must begin standing up for our rights, or they will be taken away. I hope this is an area that all of us (including me) can evaluate and make a priority in our lives.

The children will also be participating. They helped make signs and it was so appropriate that we are attending TeenPact classes next week at our state capitol. As part of our assigned preparation for this class, we are reading portions of Real Citizenship by Tim G. Echols.
It is very appropriate that the children learn how to make a difference. So along with a Tea Party, we are having 'school' on the City Hall lawn! Homeschooling is AMAZING!

Blessings for a thoughtful day, Suzie

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Pirate and a Birthday

Dear Youngest Son celebrated his 9th birthday this past week and we had a big friend birthday party for him on Saturday.

His cake turned out magnificent, and tasted wonderful too.
I got the ideas for this cake from here
I covered the top of the cake with m&m's so that I could put some non edible items on top of the cake without them touching the icing. The kids loved the m&m's, too!
The inside was 2 funfetti cake mixes baked in a half sheet pan and then divided into 3 layers.
The chocolate icing recipe was from here and the white buttercream icing is my grandmother's recipe. She decorated cakes for over 40 years.

Grandma's Buttercream Icing-makes a large mixers worth

1 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon water
1 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon meringue powder
1 teaspoon clear vanilla

Beat powdered milk and water til thick and then add shortening, salt and beat til creamy. Add sugar. Beat until heavy consistency adding more or less if necessary. Add egg whites and beat til good and fluffy. Add clear vanilla extract. Store unused portion covered and refrigerated. Will last a long time in the refrigerator.
For our meal we served BBQ chicken wings, hot dogs in a blanket with katsup and mustard, potato chips, and root beer in the bottle.

We all dressed up like pirates, including mom and dad, and several of the guests put on tattoos. We had eye patches, swords, belts, and tattoos for all the children.
It was a blast of fun!

Oldest son, daughter and I send youngest son on a treasure hunt. The most important thing he wanted at his birthday party was a the great find at the end was a treasure chest pinata! Some of the clues included things like...Shiver me timbers,me ship can be freezin' if we had one of these, it'd be mighty pleasin. This clue was taped to the fireplace. We found most of the ideas from Birthday Party Ideas.

Here is youngest son dressed in all his pirate garb. Yesturday at church, one of the other boys that was at the party came up to me and said, that was the best party I ever been to. It truly was a lot of fun. I even had a good time. It was so much fun to use all the pent up creativity especially to bless my family.

May you your mates have a blessed day, Suzie

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canning Cuties

Does this box look familiar?
These are mandarin oranges from my local warehouse club where we get most of our fresh produce.

The children helped to peel and get all the stringy stuff off which is important so as to not make the citrus bitter. My theme today is 'Many hands make light the task'. Everybody pitched in and helped while we watched an old b&w movie. We were done within the hour.

I have never canned citrus before so I explored the internet and found some information on how to can citrus here. There was a choice to use orange juice or a light sugar water solution. I have tried it both ways and the sugar water makes the fruit much sweeter, however, I can use the leftover orange juice to make pumpkin bread from my frozen pumpkin so there is no waste.
I cold pack canned them and then added the boiling sugar water or juice, placed the lids and rings then water bath processed for 30 minutes.
Now for the math, which, by the way, I am not very good at. These are very rough figures:)

1 - 11oz store bought can mandarin oranges - actual weight, syrup drained is 6 oz
1 pint home canned mandarin oranges - actual weight after canning, juice drained is 14 oz
The pints contained more than double the actual weight of store bought oranges and very little juice (less than 1/2 cup)
For our calculations, we will use the pints at 12 oz.
In order to buy the same amount of store bought canned oranges, we would need to buy 22 cans at .89 cents each would cost $19.58.
10# of mandarin oranges made 11 pints and cost $13.76 for the oranges. Add to that, the cost of orange juice $1.88 and lids $1.79 and we are up to $17.43 (I already had jars and rings).
There is still a cost savings but consider how mandarin oranges are commercially processed. You can read about it here. Lye is caustic! Like crossed bones kind of caustic!

I am beginning to use my home canner more as I realize the cost savings and health benefits can be significant.

Blessings to you this beautiful spring day,