Friday, December 11, 2009

building a model ziggurat

and in the distance...a child yawns.

for some people, history is a big ole snore fest subject. i feel likewise about math. no. scratch that. i have a hatred beyond earthly realms towards math. but HISTORY....i like meself some history.

we are studying the ancients right now. we just covered the fertile crecent, the sumerians, and ancient mesopatmia. our curriculum, History Odyssey, gives some craft projects to look up. among those was one for a model ziggurat. zigga-what? oh yes....ziggurat. a temple for worshiping gods. the reference model given in my curriculum used plaster, clay, waiting...and waiting...and painting. ummm......not me. not now. not EVER. i have FOUR kids, one being an infant. so we improvised. i knew my stock of empty boxes that cluttered a cobwebbed corner of our schoolroom would come in handy someday.

try these websites/books for references of study:

The Story of the World: Volume 1, Susan Bauer

Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: an Activity Guide , Marion Broida

simply stack and glue or tape down large to small boxes, cut openings in each level, tear some strips of a box top to make stairs, have the kids make little men and food offerings on leftover scraps of boxes.

this went together in 12 minutes flat and the kids played with it for the next four days. but, of course, it is made with don't expect it to withstand kid fingers and drooley two year olds.

p.s. bonus mommy points if you stand over the ziggurat while the kids are in mid play, and using your best mock "god" voice say, "INFIDELS! YOU HAVE ANGERED THE GODS! ROOOOOOARRRrrrrrrr," and tickle them silly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

food club: december

i started a local food club among my friends in september. a host picks a food and we all gather to chat, prepare food, and share recipes. like a well yeasted loaf, our small group has grown and multiplied and we have made a hodge podge of delightful goodies.

our first meeting we made small, freezable pizzas. month two brought meatballs and meatloaves, again a freezer staple. for november we got a head start on the christmas baking season and made bounds of cookies. oh, how i wish my newborn foggy brain would have let me remember to take pictures at those meetings!

but i was of right mind at this month's food club.

we made christmas candy. everyone brought their own supplies, recipes, and merry moods. there were 9 of us and about a million kids and the chatter and noise and good cheer was just what i needed to help boost me through this unfortunately stressful holiday season.

there were peanut butter balls, pretzels, and crackers that were given oozing heapfuls of chocolate. one brave soul made peppermint patties and i've no doubt her hands still smell like mint today. i even discovered a mother's secret recipe ingredient for her fudge....velvetta! i brought my mother's candy molds and made almond joys and mounds, along with almond studded white chocolate and some peppermint bark.

these treats won't last long if kept around for busy hands to snatch and toothy smiles to gobble.

i give you some "recipes". i am not a measure cook. i hate and despise to pull out my cup and measure anything, unless in the necessary case of baking. so these are guesstimations at the recipes i used. i encourage you to step out of your measuring spoon and make the knightly leap into willy-nilly chefing. you may have some pitfalls along the way, but i assure you that you will come out richer...

store all these candies in a covered container in cool, dark spot. do not refrigerate.

almond joys and mounds bars

candy molds
milk chocolate or dark chocolate for melting (you can use chocolate flavored almond bark or milk
chocolate hershey bars)
sweetned flaked coconut
confectioners sugar
corn syrup
whole almonds

melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave until smooth (if using the microwave, cook for short increments and stir between each cycle--it will burn very quickly if let cook too long). using a small spoon to help, take a bit of chocolate and drizzle it in the bottom and up the sides of your molds. if you are making almond joys put an almond in the bottom and push it gently into the bottom chocolate. tap your mold against the counter to release any bubbles. freeze for a few minutes to harden. while your first molds freeze, mix your coconut (i used about 2 cups) with confectioners sugar (about 1/4 cup) and corn syrup (about 1/4 cup). it will be sticky and thick. pull the molds from the freezer and fill the cavity with your coconut mixture, leaving a bit of room on the sides for the top chocolate to fill in. cover with melted chocolate and tap again to let chocolate settle around the mixture. freeze again to set, just a minute or two.
makes about 20-25 candies.

for both the white chocolate with almonds and the peppermint bark i used the same chocolate mixture, and seperated it out into two equal portions.

white chocolate or almond bark
peppermint candies, crushed
whole almonds

melt your white chocolate or almond bark as directed above. chop mints and mix in with the peppermint bark batch. pour each batch onto seperate cookie sheets lined with wax paper and smooth out to about 1/4 inch thickness. gently press the whole almonds onto one batch, and gently press crushed peppermints onto the top of the peppermint bark batch. place cookie sheets in the freezer for a few minutes to set. break off into chunks.

my friend, kim, also made these cute little pretzel sticks. they were a huge hit with the kids.

pretzel sticks
colored melting chocolate
peppermint candies, crushed

melt chocolate. dip one end of the pretzel sticks into the chocolate and lay on a sheet of wax paper. sprinkle peppermints onto the chocolate before it cools. let cool in the freezer or on the counter.

i wish you all a happy holiday season and a merry christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

harry meets his uncle

my brother visits from california. he and harry meet for the first time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

thanksgiving in tennessee

my contributions to this years thanksgiving feast

pecan pie

chocolate cream pie

both recipes are from Martha Stewart's Baking Cookbook.

i hope your thanksgiving was as splendid as ours!

Friday, October 23, 2009

loving harrison

cohen and harry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

dinner on sunday

some might say quiche is best suited for old ladies luncheons or tea banquets. but not me. tonight, as i settle back into my old--very pliable--skin, and also resume my vegetarian ways, i craved this eggy delight.

to cut calories, i made this quiche crustless. and, seeing as though i am the main grocery buyer and know....been birthing a baby and all.....our pantry was bare. so improvise i did!

typically i would make quiche with an assortment of specialized soft and hard cheeses. i had only cheddar and parmesan and sour cream on hand. i also added a dab of bottled dressing (i really don't know where i discovered that this added just the right zip to the quiche, but i have done it for the past 10 years and i like there!).

this makes 2 small or one large quiche:

10 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, divided into halves
1/3 fresh grated parmesan
2 tbs ranch dressing (or green goddess, or blue cheese)
diced yellow and red peppers
diced red onion
shredded carrots
salt and pepper to taste
butter or no stick spray

beat eggs. add all ingredients to eggs except 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. mix well. pour into well greased glass baking dish. sprinkle cheddar on top. bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until center is set.

you can easily substitute the veggies for any that you like, or make a bacon and sausage one.

i served this with a simple fruit topped salad with nuts and a banana chocolate chip loaf . there is something deeply embedded in my palate that makes it a necessity to have a sweet bread when i make quiche or cheese grits. it is just a must.

3 over ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
butter or cooking spray

mush bananas in large bowl. in small bowl beat sugar, egg, and butter until creamy. add sugar mixture to banana along with the baking soda, flours, and milk. mix well but don't over mix. add chips. pour into well greased bread pan and bake at 350 for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, until center is done.

and this morning, my harrison sleeps.

how sweet it is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

harrison arrives

welcome baby harrison.

affectionately called harry. or, as my daughter refers to him, "the reason we didn't get to go to the beach this year".

mothering resumed almost immediately as my two year old decided his eye would apply itself nicely to a bed frame after i had been home from the hospital exactly one hour.

family life resumes. but for now, rest.......

Friday, October 2, 2009

an easy sew nursing cover

my days of late have been spent doing the bare minimum. just survival around here at this point.

school is down to basics.

meals are made as easy as possible (or not homemade at all for that matter).

we are down to days until baby arrives. hours if i really obsessed over such things (and i do).

i have been doing little things with my hands to keep me occupied. knitting a few hats, hemming and mending. my frazzled brain could not handle much more.

but i did manage to make my last project today. a nursing cover. i mulled and fought and battled over a previous design. finally, this morning, i chucked the old and just whipped out an easy one instead. i like the bright bold peonies, the easy tie straps at the top and the reversible orange side when i don't feel so flowery.

this whips together in under an hour, which is right up my alley for any project.

now i'm just awaiting a little body to hold and cuddle and nurse under my new cover.

my next post will undoubtedly be pictures of the new baby. see you soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a new member to the household

meet Jesse,
our newest rat acquisition.

he is timid, lovable, and already likes to snuggle up and nap atop ones shoulder.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

simple sandwich salads

confession time. i adore, love, and find supreme enjoyment in sandwiches. tasty fillings, squished between two pieces of grainy goodness. i C-A-N-N-O-T get enough. i especially love filling sandwiches with simple salads. this afternoon i made a tuna salad and an egg salad. because, after all, choice is always nice....and you can't beat leftovers for days.

i thank my mother for this tuna salad recipe. i have changed it only just barely from the original.

flaked tuna
plain (full fat) yogurt
shredded carrots
crispy crumbled bacon
itty bitty squeeze 'o lemon
salt and pepper to taste

mix and enjoy. i find this particular concoction is especially good as a tuna melt. here, my husband enjoyed it on a croissant toasted with provolone and, yes, more bacon.

this egg salad is absolutely my favorite. perfect for dipping crackers or veggies, a sandwich filling, topping a mix of salad greens, or eaten just with a spoon.

hard boiled eggs
good quality mayo
sprinkle of dill
pinch of curry powder
hearty pinch of fresh ground pepper

it is saturday. impending fall is in the air. college football is murmuring in the background. i'm daydreaming of hot cocoa and a cuddly blanket. and of holding the new baby. just a few more weeks........

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

wednesday lunch with mom

decided on a whim to take the day off.

since lunches around here aren't that fancy most days, i figured i would force some effort out since i was being a big lazy slug otherwise.

on a freezer scan i found a roll of leftover puff pastry dough. hmmm, that might make a crust for.....oh, yes....three cheese pizza!

a quick trip out the fig tree produced 3 perfectly ripe figs, i cut up a nectarine and some romaine, sprinkled some queso seco. voile, salad!

my mom was off today, so a quick call provided me some additional company.

lovely afternoon, indeed!

Monday, September 7, 2009

rainy game day

yesterday was a rainy sunday for us. we decided since labor day was going to be a busy one that we would play hooky from church and spend a drizzly morning playing games.

this jewel is called Fellowship. i L-O-V-E it. it is a family game that we had when i was young.
it is a spin on monopoly except it carries a biblical point of view. i love the scripture verses, cows and sheep as opposed to houses and hotels, and true biblical pieces of land that you "purchase" with points. our 5 year old gave us a wallop! he made wise purchases, then kept his points and made us all pay splendidly when we landed on his property.
we capped off the day by picking up burgers and fries and eating them at our local walking track park. an after dinner stroll was the highlight of the evening. the kids chases squirrels, marveled at cranes and loons, picked wildflowers.....
one could die of such contentment.
i wish you all a happy and blessed labor day!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

mornings with abel

mornings with abel.

rat kisses must be the best.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

giving away inspiration

there is a local group here that meets up twice a month called Moms 4 Moms. you get the idea of what it's about. this group was integral to my early motherhood survival. i try to show up now and then to make appearances, catch up with old friends, meet new moms, and hug everyone. and especially now that we are slowing down our school schedule in preparation for the baby, i wanted to come and show my support and let people dote on my glowing belly.

one of my favorite parts of this day is browsing the give away tables. people simply drop off what they don't want and it is just like Christmas to a gal like me. i never go away empty handed. i have gotten cloth diapers, clothes, toys, shoes, martha stewart name it. today was no different.

i got the flowered plates and wooden platters shown above. i can see these flower plates filled with splendid leafy salads and dainty sandwiches, and the large platters will suit any fresh baked bread loaf just right.

these fabrics choices started out as just me, merrily grabbing what i liked from a big box. but once i got home, i immediately saw how they all rhymed with each other. the earthy tones will do just nicely as a quilt project for ashton and me this fall. leftovers made into pillows, skirts, and such. amazing what the brain juices permeate when given a little visual aide.

i L-O-V-E jewelry making. it produces almost instant gratification and you don't need any special talents to pull off something great. this bag of beads has left my finger tips all tingly. big chunky bead bracelets, hair clips, earrings....yes, yes, and YES. the ribbon will make perfect embellishments to aprons or skirt bottoms.
be looking for completed projects soon! i have already started my Christmas gift planning, and seeing as though we are, once again, money strapped, everything will be hand made. i will try to post some Christmas projects from the past in upcoming posts.
have a happy day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chelsea Buns

baking these makes your entire house smell like christmas and cheer. and in the ravages of hot hot summers, don't we all need a little christmas and cheer?

this is a bread machine recipe.

scant 1 cup milk (that means, just shy of one cup)
1 egg
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 ts salt
6 tbs sugar
1/4 cup butter softened
1 ts rapid rise yeast

for the filling

2 tbs butter, melted
2/3 cup chopped dried fruit, we had dried cherries on hand
3 tbs orange marmalade
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp apple pie spice (i did not have this so we just mixed cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)

for the glaze

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbs water
zest of lemon or orange

makes about 12 buns

all bread machines are different. ours calls for liquid first and yeast last. add milk and egg. cover with flour. make indentations in separate corners of flour for salt, sugar, and butter. make a well in center for the yeast (being sure to not touch the liquid beneath). set the bread machine to dough setting and press start.

lightly grease a large baking pan with sides.

when dough cycle finishes, remove dough and place on lightly floured surface. punch down dough and then roll out to form a large rectangle. brush dough with melted butter. mix ingredients in separate bowl, then spread over the dough, leaving 1 inch border along the edges. roll the dough up, like a jelly roll, and press edges to seal. cut the roll into about 12 buns and place cut side up in the prepared pan.

cover and let set for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size. bake 15-20 minutes at 400. cool completely. mix the ingredients in a small bowl for the glaze. once buns are cool, spread glaze over the entire top.

mmmmmm. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Year in the Life of Here

Here is what our family will be studying this year:

Ashton 3rd Grade:

Grammar and Spelling: Rod and Staff

Reading Studies:

Sarah, Plain and Tall; Progeny Press Study Guide

The Courage of Sarah Noble; Progeny Press Study Guide

Swiss Family Robinson; Veritas Press Comprehension Guide

Keaton 1st Grade:

Math, Phonics, and Reading: Rod and Staff

with a bonus unit study on Reading: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Edcon Publishing

Together they are studying:

History: History Odyssey Level 1


we are doing two large unit studies. one on Botany, and the other on Human Anatomy. i purchased a large quantity of study guides and books, and will compile my own lessons using what i can from many different resources so that both children can learn the same topic simultaneously at their own level.

Art: Draw Write Now, 7 & 8; and also watercolor paintings around the world

in addition:

Seasonal Poetry Memorization (each will memorize separate poems, one per season): Poetry for Young People, The Seasons

thinking about doing a blog on why i chose to use the curriculum i did, but for now...that'll do.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

chocolate mounds cake

after suffering through a bad bout of flu here, i am back into the land of posting.

with the help of my propitious cake here.

it is like a mounds bar, except crumbly.

whichever way you make it, from scratch or not, it will be sure to please the chocolate lovers palate.

milk chocolate cake, milk chocolate frosting, and then mush a coconut frosting hat upon the top.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


a perfect summer saturday.

early morning baking and barefooted walks to gather flowers.

an easy fruit tart. the ideal way to use the bounty of seasonal fruit you have on hand.
use this easy basic pie crust. slice thinly your fruit of choice. sprinkle with a bit of flour, sugar, and accompanying spice (for the plums i choose nutmeg, for a pear i would use cloves). squeeze a slice of lemon liberally to cover all. dab with bits of butter, and a pinch of salt. i make a jelly and butter glaze to spread over the edges, so they gleam with sweetness. pick jellies that pair well with your fruit. for this one i picked an orange marmalade, the little bits of orange peel dribbled beautifully along the edge. bake about 20 minutes at 400. i also sprinkle a bit of raw sugar once out of the oven to give it extra homeyness.

a cheery welcome to all that enter.
a quick, barefoot trip outside provided me with armfuls of white hydrangea and butterfly bush, which i planted together two summers ago. they are a dazzling couple to see against the house, especially when wind danced with lazy bumble bees and butterflies.

Friday, July 24, 2009

toddler distractor of the month

noodle play

materials: dry tri-color noodles (the bigger the size the better), egg carton, old laundry caps, play utensils.

instruction: show him/her how to pour using the caps, scoop with spoons or other utensils, and dump into carton or additional caps. for slightly older toddler, you can have them sort the different colors into different carton compartments or different caps.

distraction time: 45 minutes
clean up level: medium

and for your extra enjoyment:

watching buddy-muffin (yes, that is the actual name of the frog now) getting ready to devour his morning cricket.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tuesday morning

last day of near perfect weather.

windows, open.

birds singing their summer carols.


we've used Rod and Staff for the past 3 years, but this year will try out BJU.

think the birds will notice if i throw out a few number facts in their general direction?

Monday, July 20, 2009

monday morning

coffee and Seuss.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

quick rye bread

a martha stewart find. quick rye bread. it is brilliant. a little sweet and moist as can be. this is NOT the dry tasteless bread of my nightmares.
after i cut these slices, i went to poach an egg, and upon returning discovered all four eaten up by my children. their little taste buds don't tell lies. this is GOOD bread.

here, i enjoyed a toasted slice topped with a poached egg and a bit of crumbled white cheddar, a slice of mango and tomato. a dusting of fresh chopped mint to remind me i'm here on earth. and of course, i had to see how a slice withstood some farmers market jam.

the verdict: resplendently beautiful to the palette

Friday, July 17, 2009

a summer cut

keaton, my middle son, was in serious need of a hair cutting. i think we all loved and adored his glorious waves of golden hair, but a massive heat rash around the base of his hairline was enough to designate today shearing day. so, off to our designated hair cutting porch we did go!


amazing how much older he looks. even his limbs look longer.
i think i might have cried as i cut...just a little....

stolen moments

little moments stolen before bed.

must enjoy these before my wee one becomes the big brother....


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