Friday, December 31, 2010


With money we received as Christmas gifts, we purchased a few things for our home.

Two sets of glass pyrex bowls with lids to store leftovers.

They're so lovely all stacked up in the cupboard.

We also bought new silverware from IKEA.  The set we had been using was what we bought when we were first married and now has been depleted enough that the time had come for us to refill our drawer.
It feels nice and solid in the hand, and the knives are sharp!

The last, but not the least, is our new ottoman, also from IKEA.
I heart IKEA

Now I have a place to rest my tootsies while posting blogs (as I'm doing right now), or reading a good book (currently Perelandra by C.S. Lewis),  watching shows on Hulu with my husband, or drinking my morning coffee or afternoon tea (which I'm doing right now - candy cane flavor from Aldi - a gift from the kids), or any combination of the above.

I resemble this position. . . .a lot!

I hope you all have been having a wonderful Christmas time.  We certainly have.  After a lovely Christmas weekend, we thought we would slowly get back into the swing of some school work this week.  But instead, the kids have been playing with other children in the neighborhood, a cousin has come to stay, and we had friends over to play Dominion.  And that isn't all!  We'll celebrate the last night of this year with a Divine Service and then with friends playing games before enjoying fun with another group of friends tomorrow during the day and awaiting the arrival of more family tomorrow night who will stay for a couple of days.

A blessed New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Couldn't Have Planned it if I Wanted to

Each year our five children draw a sibling's name out of a hat for a gift exchange.  They have such fun thinking of a gift, buying it, wrapping it, and then giving it.   This means that under our tree are always five gifts with tags that say who the gift is from but not whom it is for.

In the past, we've started with one child who gave their gift to their sibling who then opened it before we moved on to the next person.  But they asked this year if they could all do it at the same time because otherwise the last kids always know who had their name.  No problem, "Kids go get the gifts you bought and sit in a circle in the floor."

The did and here they all are waiting for the signal to hand their gift to their person.

"Now everyone on the count of three, give your gift to your person.  One. . . two. . . three. . ."

Do you see what happened?  They had sat in the perfect way that each of them simply handed their gift to the person on their left.  We couldn't believe it.  That made this special gift exchange even more memorable.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Central America Day

The meals for Central America Day are my favorite to date of the new meals we've made.  It was such a refreshing blend of tastes, mouth-watering!

First was Enchiladas Hondurenas (topped Tortillas from Honduras).  Instead of wrapping the ingredients in soft tortillas, cooks in Honduras place them on top of fried corn tortillas.  It was so neat to taste that crispy, fried tortilla with each bite.

The girls assembled each plate and brought it to the table.

Two other interesting, yet very delicious, toppings were boiled eggs and shredded cabbage.  We all agreed that these must be made again.
Don't you wish you could dig in?

As a side dish the girls made Seviche de Camarones (Cold Shrimp Salad from Panama).  Some of the kid didn't like it, but David and I thought it was very, very good.  Next time I will actually use the chopped avocado in it instead of mango.  At the grocery store while I was picking out lemons and limes, my nine year old picked up a mango and asked me what it was.  I told her and then proceeded to put it in my cart instead of realizing that no, I needed avocado (it was even written on my grocery list).  I didn't even think anymore of it until I was to chop one for the enchilada toppings.  I realized I made a mistake at the grocery store and hadn't realized it even when I chopped the mango into the salad!  Oh well, it still tasted quite delicious and I used the rest of the mangos I had bought in breakfast smoothies.
The yummy flavors blended so well!

For dessert the girls fixed Polvorones (Powdered Sugar Cookies) which were very good.  We've had variations of this cookie before but we all thought this one was the best.

Messy, but tasty!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Caribbean Day

Here are the few pictures I took of our Caribbean Day meal we enjoyed at the end of November.

The main meal was "Betty's Browned-down Chicken" and "Rice and Peas."  Both recipes are from Trinidad and Tobago.

The chicken was most tasty but the rice didn't win over everyone in the family.  It is cooked in coconut milk and not everyone enjoys that flavor.  We learned not only that, but that in the Caribbean beans are called "peas."

For dessert the girls fixed Banana Fritters which everyone enjoyed.  I really liked them, they were more like a pancake texture than a banana slice coated and fried.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Time

It used to be that I decorated Christmas cookies with my mom when I was a kid.  Then I grew up and got married.  I decorated Christmas cookies with my husband, who couldn't understand my obsession with having the right color.  He had grown up in a household where to decorate Christmas cookies meant white frosting on all the cookies with colored sprinkles on top. 

Not in my household.  There had to be green for the trees and brown for the reindeer and the tree trunks. There better be red for the candy canes and for decorating the ornaments on the trees.  Don't forget yellow for the stars, and black for Frosty's hat!  He lived with my craziness and was more than happy to hand over the reigns to his brother's wives!

For the next few years, my sister-in-laws and I would gather at one of our homes and decorate away, spending a whole day, maybe two getting all of our cookies done.  But alas, I moved away from them and that became harder to do.

But I moved nearer a homeschooling mom of five like me!  For the last few years she and I have taken turns driving to each other's home and letting the kids decorate away!

It is so much fun, chatting, watching the kids decorate, eating good food, drinking good wine, I don't know how we'd make it through the holidays without our annual tradition.

The time came last week for our decorating extravaganza, so Melanie loaded up four of her kids and drove to my house this time, and following are pictures of what we accomplished.

I donate cookies for the annual Ladies Bake Sale at church.  This year Melanie helped me decorate them and we had fun looking up new ideas on the internet and trying to imitate them:

The plaid was fun to do!

This is the first time I've used royal icing on my sugar cookies.  I'm happy with the way it looks!

The churches are for my Sunday School class.  I have to pipe their names on them yet.

 Here is what my living room and dining room looked like during the cookie decorating.

Nathan and Luke

 Part of the cookies the kids decorated:

While most of the other kids got bored after finishing about a dozen cookies, Abby and Sarah, kept at it, inspired by what their moms were doing.  They became quite good at frosting the cookies to look really nice.

 Here is one of the angels Abby decorated:

We were all glad to sit down and eat a delicious supper of lasagna and garlic bread and, for the adults, a bottle of Cabernet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Hate Shopping

I never thought I did.  I always thought "those people" just didn't know how to do it, or where to look, because shopping was always somewhat enjoyable to me.

And then I had kids, daughters even.  And I still enjoyed shopping.  There were all sorts of lovely dresses and everyday clothes easy to be found.  But then they grew up.

Now there are so few decent skirts and dresses to be found.  I Hate Shopping!

I tried today to find something for my 13 year old daughter.  All the dresses are above the knee and either short sleeve or no sleeves. Really?  It is single digit temperatures outside! All the clothes in the juniors department I do not want my daughter to wear, she is not available for hire.   Many of the clothes in the misses are too old, she is not working in an office.  I Hate Shopping!

And yet I'm going to have to go and do it again in hopes that maybe something will appear on the rack out of nowhere that will work.

I've become one of "those people."

Friday, December 03, 2010

What Land is For Sale?

This was in the local paper for a farm sale:

"The East Half of the Northeast Quarter and the Southwest Quarter of the Northeast Quarter and the Southeast Quarter of the Northwest Quarter of Section Twelve of Township .........., range twenty-four West, ........County,  EXCEPT the South 875 feet of the East 900 feet."

It's A Choice, Not a Job Requirement

The other day in catechesis class the following conversation took place.

boy 1: "Pastor are your kids homeschooled?"
Pastor: "Yes"
boy 1: "Do they have to get up in the morning?"
Pastor: "Yes"
boy 1: "Do they have to do worksheets?"
Pastor: "Well, probably not as many as you do."
another student: "Why do you homeschool your kids?"
boy 2 piped in: " I know why: because he has too, he's a Pastor!"
Pastor: "What?"
boy 2 repeated what he said but now with a quizzical look.
Pastor: "We don't have too, we homeschool because we choose too."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Brazil Day

The disaster of breakfast didn't mean that supper would also turn out to be inedible.

The children made a delicious supper of Tutu a Mineira (mashed beans):
It might not look appetizing, but it tasted great.

with Aroz Branco (white rice):
lightly flavored with onion and garlic

Fried bananas:

and Costeletas de Porco (Brazilian Pork Chops):
seasoned with garlic, lemon, hot pepper, and salt and pepper

It was all very, very, yummy.

For dessert, they made Bolo de Cafe (coffee cake):
flavored with strong coffee and when served, sprinkled with cocoa powder

I realized too late that it was Brazil day.  If I would have been thinking, I would have emailed my sister-in-law earlier to ask her for favorite recipes.  She and her family are from Brazil and immigrated to America a number of years ago.  Even so, we had a wonderful meal and the children are learning a lot about cooking and trying new things with these adventures.

Happy December!

When children get sick, one after another, it sure changes what I get done for the day in comparison to what I thought I would accomplish that day.

Did you know that baking Christmas cookies when children are sick means the dough becomes cookies and not treats sneaked into multiple mouths?

I started making my Christmas lists so I know what needs to be done this month.  What to give as gifts to certain people (children included) can be a real stumbling block.  Plus to find time to shop without the children hanging around is always a challenge.  Although now that they are older and can watch themselves, it has become a little easier.

I will be hosting Christmas dinner for whatever family is able to join us.  Various menus are rolling around in my head competing to be the one I choose.

After a year and a half, we finally have beef again in the freezer.  This time we are trying a local farmer who raises beefalo.  Oh it is so nice to open the freezer and see MEAT!  We will also be getting some of their Red Wattle Pork in January.  Which means there will be more MEAT in the freezer!  Yippee!  Meat in the freezer + home-canned vegetables on the shelf = 1 happy momma making food for her family!

Looking forward to the extra services during the Advent season.  I hope you are able to attend all that your church offers during Advent and Christmas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good Friends, Good Times

On our way home from vacation we stopped for an overnight visit with our good friends.  It was short, too short the kids all said (and the parents agreed), but much fun was had.

The boys played with lincoln logs and Playmobil.

This cutey-pie continued to steal the show and allowed David and I to hold and snuggle him once again.

These two girls enjoyed playing Barbies.

And the older group of girls barely slept.  They were too busy filming a movie music video to a Taylor Swift song.  I think they said they finally went to sleep about 3am - ahhh to be young and with friends.

After we got home, Hannah and Ellie worked on editing the video in iMovie and then showed it to us.  We thought it was pretty good and were amazed they did not one but two videos and a mock interview with the actresses.

What did the parents do?  Why of course we chatted away a mile-a-minute, we only had a short time to get everything in don't ya know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well That Didn't Work

Not all the recipes we've tried for our culinary trips to various countries have turned out edible.

Take the doughnuts from Brazil as an example:
Those look tasty huh?
The girls tried to make them by themselves first, but I quickly realized what they were doing (deep-frying having never, ever done that type of cooking) and jumped in to help.  Many problems, I think, led to the failure of the recipe.  The girls' inexperience with deep frying led them to chose the wrong pan, and the oil go too hot so the dough simply burned.
Who would want to try that?

I turned down the heat, let the oil cool some and tried frying some more.  The batter was quite runny so it made interesting shaped doughnuts, but they seemed to be cooking better.

It is looking more edible now.

But alas, they weren't good either.  When I cut one open I found this:
This isn't what is supposed to be inside a doughnut!

I had no more brain power to figure out what was wrong, so we gave up.  No doughnuts for breakfast.  As much as I'm intrigued by trying to figure out how to make the recipe work, I think I'll just stick with the tried and true doughnuts I've made in the past.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Boy

While on vacation, our son had his birthday!

I can't believe my youngest is 8!

His menu choices for the day:
Breakfast: doughnuts
Lunch: Corn dogs, baked beans, and Doritoes
Supper: Wendi's (we were even able to share this meal with a friend's oldest daughter who is a sophomore at Indiana University - what a nice treat to see her and visit with her for a short time!)

His gifts:
From his sister: A dvd movie of Tom and Jerry cartoons
From his brother: A nerf gun
From his sister: Pop-tarts and gum
From his sister: Oatmeal cream pies and a super-man card that plays the theme song when opened
From his parents: A Lands' End library bag* and a nerf gun

*At the beginning of last year David and I decided that we would buy each of the children for their birthday a Lands' End tote to hold library books.  I bought all of them at one time, each a different color.  After giving the first one in March, Samuel asked for one.  He even asked how much they cost so that he could save his money.  With each sibling's birthday he kept seeing them get one and yet he still had none.  He was quite delighted that he finally got one and I don't think he even suspected that would be his gift until he saw the box I had wrapped for his birthday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Helping Hands

Last spring I bought this handy octopus from Ikea with the intention that it would hold the kids' snow hats and snow gloves nicely for them to dry.  I have a sink in my laundry room which is the room right inside the back door.  The octopus fits nicely on the upper cabinet door handle allowing all the wet gloves and hats to drip into the sink and not all over the floor - yippeee!

There are two clips for each of the eight arms of the octopus, so there is plenty of room for all of the kids to hang their hat and gloves.

And the clips are easy to open so I don't have to help, they can do it themselves when they come in from playing.

Yes I know that all those gloves and hats over my sink make it hard for me to actually use the sink while doing laundry.  But I'm willing to sacrifice because now I don't have all those gloves and hats on the floor or hither thither and yon.  They're dripping right into the sink and that makes me happy.

Thank you Mr. Octopus!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Music in a Public Place

Have you seen this?

A Love Story - Who Can Say if it is True?

On our vacation last week, as usual, I read aloud to the family while David was driving to our destination(s).  First, I finished the last chapters of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.  This is the second time I've read this aloud.  But before I started the second Harry Potter, I read one for our history study.

This is a very good book and gave great insight to Arabian culture.  My kids were able to tell right away that C.S. Lewis used his knowledge of these stories in his portrayal of the Calormens in The Horse and His Boy.  They liked some stories such as "The Everlasting Shoes," and disliked others, like "The Keys of Destiny."  But we all enjoyed this love story and the stories and now reference various characters in our daily talk with one another.  If you haven't read this, consider picking it up at the library or at Amazon or wherever you like to buy books.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Austria - Day Two

Since we had already done Austria day once before, but Hannah wanted to do all the countries in order, the children decided they would still fix a couple of meals only choose different ones to try.

For breakfast, therefore, Hannah and Ellie made a jelly roll

and cinnamon almond snails (some with nuts and some without)

They even made the dough from scratch.  It was all quite tasty!

Ellie had been wanting to try to make French bread for awhile.  So even though it was Austria day, this was the day she had time to make the bread.  It turned out beautifully!

For the rest of our Austria supper, the girls, with the help of their younger siblings made Paprika Chicken

with boiled potatoes

 and a pan gravy from the chicken drippings.

It was all very good.