Monday, September 27, 2010

Ahh Fall

When once again meals like this one sound delicious and I can't wait to make and eat them.

Which is exactly what I did after last week's grocery trip.

German-Style Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp & then crumbled (reserve 2 Tbsp drippings)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (32 oz) can sauerkraut, rinsed & well drained
2 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced
1 cup water (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine or apple juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules (if using plain water)
1 tsp caraway seed
1 bay leaf
1lb bratwurst (6 or 7 links)
1 large apple, cored & sliced

In very large skillet, cook onions and garlic in reserved bacon drippings until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sauerkraut, potatoes, water with bouillon granules (or stock), white wine, brown sugar, caraway seed and bay leaf. Add up to 1/2 cup more water, if necessary, to cover potatoes. (It seems to me that I always use more than that and often choose to add more wine than water.) Bring to boiling. Score bratwurst (I cut mine in half); add to sauerkraut mixture and reduce heat. Cove and simmer 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until potatoes are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add sliced apples and bacon crumbles; cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes more, until apples are just tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.


Saturday, September 25, 2010


In our history study we are now reading Beowulf. I confess, I've never read it, nor any abbreviated version, I apparently skipped it last time around. But this time, I have sons who, shockingly (or not), love all things to do with battles, swords, evil creatures, dragons, and good vs. evil. So yesterday I began reading this version to my three youngest based on a recommendation of a friend.
WOW! Is it ever delightful. The illustrations are beautiful, the text is captivating and not written in simple sentence form or with simple words. But wonderfully descriptive sentences like this:
"So Beowulf went to his bed, and his men too, but in truth they slept only fitfully, for there was not one of them, not even Beowulf himself, who could be certain how the night would end, whether any of them would ever again see the light of dawn." (pg 26)

or like this:
"Grisly, grim, and gruesome --- no one word could describe this ghoul of the deep." (pg 48)

I began reading it yesterday afternoon. My daughter asked to color the picture I had for them while she listened, while her brothers asked to play with their Playmobil knights and dragons while listening. By the end of the first "chapter," Beowolf and Grendel, the Monster of the Night, they all were sitting doing nothing except hanging on every word I was reading.

I stopped and let them go (admittedly I was so tired for whatever reason I was having trouble keeping the eyes open). After a resting my eyes for about 20 minutes, my youngest son came back and asked if I could write down his narration for this part of the story. An aside - for much of our history study, we read and then the children narrate back what was read. Boy oh boy, did he like this story as I could barely keep up with all the words spilling out of his mouth as he retold the story to me.

They all asked for me to read more that evening, so while their father and older sisters were out to eat, I read the next "chapter" entitled Beowulf and the Sea-Hag. This time they didn't even ask to color or play, they wanted to snuggle beside me and look at the illustrations and absorb every word of the story.

Now they can't wait until we are able to finish the book by reading the last "chapter," Beowulf and the Death-Dragon of the Deep. I can't either. This is a fantastic story. I think I want to buy a copy of this book for our own and I also want to join in reading Beowulf with the two older girls when they begin reading it in a couple of weeks after finishing Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baby Snuggles

It was really so thoughtful of my good friend Amy to teach her son, my godson, my favorite thing to do to babies. I did it to all of my children and it is so hard to resist doing it to other babies I know and love who look so cute and cuddly. I just want to show them that love swelling up inside me by grabbing them in a big bear hug, digging my chin in the crick of their neck, grrring as I wiggle my chin back and forth.

And that is just what I got to do all last week with dear little Joseph. He is such a cutie and he loved playing And when I would stop and ask if he wanted more, he would sign to me more, more. I had to oblige of course.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Swells and Stops

Hannah's organ book came in the mail this morning. For those who want to know, it is The Organist's Manual by Roger E. Davis. She immediately took it and went over to the church to try some pieces.

Her first lesson was this afternoon. I think it went well.

After supper she was ready to head back to church and practice some more.

I hope this enthusiasm remains and her skill continually improves. I don't have any doubts it won't. She has told me all day with glee in her eyes about various pieces that are in the book. She is particularly looking forward to some of the Bach pieces. I'm particularly looking forward to the first time she plays during a service; a prelude or during the offering or a post-lude.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pleasure in God's Creation

Things I've enjoyed lately:

  • Watching the hummingbirds fight each other over the feeder outside our dining room window. One remains perched on top of the shepherd's hook and when another comes, flies down and fends them off.
  • The call of the blue jays and watching them pick just the right peanut from the feeder outside our dining room window.
  • The golden yellows with the green undertones as the fields of corn and beans continue to ripen as harvest draws near.
  • The crisp, cool mornings and evenings and the sunshine days perfect for keeping the house a comfortable temperature simply by opening and closing the windows.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Famous Men

I want to recommend the Famous Men book series. I use to think they weren't that important, just another book to read for history and I already had so much to plug through, I didn't need another book to fit into my schedule and hope to get it read as well. But over the course of last year and so far this year, I've had a chance to see just how valuable this series of books are in the education of my children and myself.

During last year's history topic of Ancient Civilizations (5000BC - 400AD) we read portions of

At one point in the year while my husband was reading with our oldest Plutarch's Lives and discussing it with her, I realized I knew who they were talking about. I had just read about that person to the three youngest from Famous Men of Rome. That was the benefit to trying to read as much in these books as possible because the people covered will be dealt with again in more advanced history books. These people really are important!

But I got really excited this week. I had read to the three younger children the sections on the Teuton Gods, the Nibelung story (which I learned is the basis for Wagner's operas), Alaric the Visigoth, Atilla the Hun, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, and Genseric the Vandal from this book:

We enjoyed discussing which of the Teuton gods four of our days of the week are named after, following on our map where these Germanic tribes came from and settled in the declining Roman empire, plus learning more about Genseric the Vandal who led the invasion and sacking of northern Africa including the city of Hippo which we remembered from reading about St. Augustine in The Farmer's Boy of Tagaste.

It was later in the day or maybe the next that I picked up Western Civilization by Jackson Spielvogel to read and take notes in preparation of discussing it with my two oldest. I immediately realized once again the importance of the Famous Men books. I was reading and taking notes on all the Germanic tribes that were invading and settling in different parts of the Roman empire. There were sections and details all about the same men I had just read to the younger three. By knowing the story of these men, it helped me understand the extra detail that was given in the Western Civilization text.

Now I'm going to make it a priority to read to the younger three all of the Famous Men of the Middle Ages and the Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation during this year's history study of The Middle Ages (400-1600 AD). It will be invaluable to them to have heard of these people as they study these time periods again and again throughout their education and life.
And next year I'll put on my list to buy and read to the younger children:

If you would like to get these for your children (or for yourself) they can be purchased from Memoria Press or from Greenleaf Press, or from the book source of your choice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Abby's Birthday

Our daughter celebrated her 9th birthday a couple of weeks ago.

She loves apples and so her older sisters and I decided to make her an apple cake. We were happy with the way it turned out for the first time ever trying fondant frosting.

Abby wanted her cousins, and some friends from church to come help her celebrate her birthday supper: hotdogs, Kraft macaroni and cheese, chips and salsa, and punch.

Then we all sang Happy Birthday and she blew out all her candles in one breath.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Here is a picture I took of the cousins in late July when we visited them after our trip up north and to the Laura Ingall's sites.

L to R: Sam, Abby, Will, Nathan, Emma, Ellie, Hannah, Cora, and Melinda

Publishing Note

As time permits, I'm going to go back through my posts and repost them with labels. I realized I should have labeled my posts from the beginning. But you, my dear readers, know that I often do things I shouldn't. My goal is to make it easier for me and you to find various posts. Please be patient as I do this over the course of time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Evilness Returns

Guess what I made today?


What's that you say?

You never tried them? Really?

That simply must be rectified right now!

Quick click here and get the recipe, then high tail it to the store for the ingredients and then into the kitchen.

You won't be sorry.

I only am when they're all gone.

Which thankfully, for the moment, they're not.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Kitchen Chores I Don't Like

In no particular order and not that I don't do them if I have to, I just don't like to do them.

Mopping the floor.

Cleaning the refrigerator.

Washing the stove.

Washing lettuce.

Hearing the question, "what's for supper?" 15 million times.

Drying dishes.

Putting away clean dishes.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Another I Don't Think Like That Post

At Abby's birthday party Michele, my sister-in-law and now close neighbor, and Mindy, a homeschooling friend in the congregation, and I were sitting in the living room chatting. The men were downstairs and the kids were all over the house and yard playing. I asked them their opinion about moving the dining room hutch and piano so that the table could be straight in the room and not at an angle.

Mindy jumped up with a loud, excited squeal and said, "I love this game." And away her brain went and ideas began flowing. Before the end of the evening, the furniture in my living room and dining room (basically one room with two half wall pillar dividers in the middle for visual division) were rearranged.

I would have never thought to move the piano into the living room like Mindy suggested. But it works and I love it. Both rooms now feel more spacious. It amazed me how simply moving the same furniture in different arrangements can make the room feel more spacious.

I'm glad to have a friend like Mindy. She thinks of all sorts of things I would never have. Plus she loves to help and share her thoughts and ideas and even her hard work. I sure have learned a lot from her.

And the dining room hutch that I asked about which sparked furniture rearrangement? It is still in the same place.