Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tis The Busy Time

Gifts are bought, most are wrapped.

Christmas dinner menu is made, and I'm starting to prepare those items I can do ahead.  Ellie made one dessert, I need to make a cheesecake yet, as does Hannah.

List for Mamaw's is made and packing will be done on Monday. Praying God will grant us good traveling weather the two days we travel to and from Indiana.

Christmas letter is written, envelopes addressed, and should be in the mail sometime.

Last week we were enjoying our friends.  What a fun time!  What a great movie!

We enjoyed decorating sugar cookies. And it is true, this is when my creative bone comes alive.

Yesterday gingerbread men, women, and trees were decorated.

And don't forget all the normal everyday things still needing to be accomplished, meals prepared, house cleaned, laundry done.  Yes, tis the busy time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Tree is Just a Tree

A tree is just a tree and reflects not on a family until the decorations are hung.  The tree is placed, the lights are strung, whether by you or the factory, but still it is simply a tree. One that could be in any house, in any family.

But once the ornaments are opened,

and are placed on the tree,

it begins to tell stories.

Of loved ones departed, of friends who live far and near, of past trips, of art projects, of hobbies and loves.

It is a scrapbook of memories for my family.

And I love it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Agree

with what she says.

And I'm so thankful that we could give her and her siblings that opportunity.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


My friend Jane posted this challenge.  I'm brave enough now to jump in and join.

I wouldn't have been a year ago.  Back then I was afraid to make a list of books to read.  That list never got  started, let alone finished, so instead I made a list of books I read, and have been doing so on Goodreads ever since.  (Yes, I'm supposed to also list them here, and I haven't done that for a long time.  I'll try to do that soon my friends.  Please,  don't define "soon" for me.)  What a joy it has been for me to see what I've read, instead of what I should be reading.

As my friend list on Goodreads has grown, so too has my "to read" list.  Plus my children also have a list of books they want me to read.  What better time than with Jane's challenge to start tackling the list?

From friends and kids to books I have been wanting to read, here are the books I Plan to Read in 2013:

  1. Term Limits by Vince Flynn
  2. American Assassin by Vince Flynn
  3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  4. An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling
  5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  8. Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas
  9. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
  10. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  2. Kill Shot by Vince Flynn
  3. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  4. The Complete Book of Running For Women by Claire Kowalchik
  5. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Note: It has taken me several days to make this list.  I now realize that I pick books on the spur of the moment.  What sounds good now, what intrigues me while browsing the library shelves.  Putting this list together is a little frightening - what if I don't like it? What if I'm not in the "mood?"  Oh well, won't know until I try, so I'm jumping in with both feet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheery Things 1, 2, and 3

Cheery Thing 1: Flowers are such a lovely way to brighten the room and the day.

On the dining room table

I think that if I had unlimited funds or a green thumb. . .
On a bedside table
 I would have fresh flowers somewhere in my house all the time.
Or on a bookshelf

Cheery Thing 2: Slippers to keep the tootsies toasty.

Cheery Thing 3: Spices to tantalize the taste buds.
I love this store

My two oldest watched me set these out.  I said, "I may have a problem."  Hannah replied, "I think you can leave out the 'may.'"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Tale of Two. . .


When I was engaged my future mother-in-law hosted a shower for me at her church.  It was a lovely day, meeting and visiting with the ladies of St. John's.  I received some lovely things, including my first Creative Memories Scrapbook and supplies.  (I've been hooked ever since.) One gift that was very practical and used every day was the one given by my future husband's mom.

It was a set of dishes.  Plates and bowls, cups and saucers, a full set she had acquired through the grocery store point system.  They were pretty, blue with flowers, and it was nice that we didn't have to think about purchasing dishes.

We have used those dishes for the last 19 years.  Pieces have broken until finally we were down to this one lonely plate.

No we didn't all share that one plate, we had bought others to use.

But I was always running short on plates, especially if company was here.  It seemed I never had enough and was scrounging for something to work.

Last summer this dilemma really reared its ugly head as we had a never ending stream of company.  I kept telling David I should really look for some more plates at the thrift store, but never did.

Until we decided to host the circuit pastors and their families for a summer cookout.  I realized that buying thrift store plates on half-off day would be cheaper than paper plates. Besides I don't really like to use paper plates or napkins.  Plus it would solve my problem of never having enough plates. So off to the thrift store the kids and I went.

One of the kids discovered one plate that looked liked our set from my mother-in-law.  They were thrilled and wanted me to buy it too.  So I did.

We can't believe how pretty this one is and how used our one remaining original looks.

I guess years of soap and silverware and wear and tear really do age things.

Now we have two plates in that set, one old and one new.  It's kind of neat to see the difference.  And also a bit frightening.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Our youngest child turned 10.

Sunday, November 11th.

The same day as his sister's orchestra concert.

His birthday then was spent first at church and Sunday School in the morning, a concert in the afternoon, and finally, the birthday supper.  Thankfully his Aunt Michele was willing to host at her house and fix the birthday supper.  Thankfully Uncle Matt, whose shares the same birthday doesn't mind his nephew picking the meal.

His requests:
Breakfast - donuts
Lunch - Overnight French toast (I added sausage links and fried eggs)
Supper - Corn dogs, baked beans, Cheetos (Aunt Michele also made some yummy chicken and had salad for us adults who needed something a bit more substantial in the protein department)

Cake and ice-cream:
Hannah and Abby decorated it after Sam requested "something Hobbit related."

His gifts:

From his siblings:
Glow in the dark plants and a new pump for his fish tank

From his parents:
A new game - he likes to beat me at it!

He wanted a body pillow ever since his sister Abby received hers

From his Grandma and Grandpa:
The Siamese cats that used to sit on a shelf in the Farmhouse dining room.  A year ago when they moved, Grandpa and Grandma asked all the grandkids what item each would like to have as a keepsake.  Sam picked these.  Grandma was delighted that he remembered when he opened his gift.

Whenever a grandchild turns 10, Grandpa and Grandma give them a keepsake bird.  All the boys receive a cardinal and all the girls a bluebird.

Happy Birthday Samuel!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Weekend Orchestra

Ellie joined the area youth orchestra this fall.  That meant the last 10 Saturdays found her, along with the rest of the orchestra, in the band room practicing.

For three hours.
Beginning at 9:30am.
Did I mention the drive to get there is 30 minutes?

But it culminated in a wonderful Fall Concert last weekend.  They gave two performances, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday.  David and I attended both and agree that the one on Sunday was the better of the two.  The acoustics were better, the lighting was better, the confidence of the orchestra was better.

Guess which one we took pictures of and recorded?

Why, the one on Sunday!

The dress requirement was black and we had our friend Rhonda sew yet another lovely dress that met the specifications.
Thanks Rhonda!

The program was as follows:

* Intermezzo #1 in F# Minor by Kalinnikov
* Ballet Music #2 in G from 'Rosamunde' by Schubert
* Suite for Orchestra, Op. 49 by Saint-Saens

  1. Prelude
  2. Sarabande
  3. Gavotte
  4. Romance
  5. Final: Allegro Vivace
* Hungarian Dance #5 in G Minor by Brahms

Whenever I upload the pieces, I'll be sure to post so you can listen, if you so desire.

Now we have a break from the Saturday practices until January.  At which time, we will once again spend 10 weeks driving her to practice which will then culminate in a Spring Concert.

I look forward to hearing this group again!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

More Little Things

A drying rack that holds all the delicates with room for more.

My blooming cactus always makes me smile.

The quilt at the foot of our bed.  The top was pieced by my great-grandma and was quilted by the quilting ladies at St. Paul's in Ft. Wayne.

These two bowls.  The brown one is from my Grandma and the white one from my Great Aunt.  The candy and popcorn are the stash the three youngest collected on the great candy hunt the other night.

And last but certainly not least, and one in which I don't have a picture to share.  The budding romance of two lovely Christian people who've known heartache.  My prayers are with you, and I'm looking forward to the happily ever after.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Have a Pleasant Flight

Our obsessed-with-all-things-Lord-of-the-Rings daughter shared with us this video:

As if she needed another reason to want to visit New Zealand.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day!

So thankful that we were able to share our favorite city with our family.

P.S.  Today is my baptismal birthday and so is Laura's!  We are God's own children!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Little Things

It is the little things that have brought a smile to my face lately.

Like finally being able to find my keys, and those of other members of the family.

Or splitting the utensils into three jars instead of cramming them into one.

Or finding jars previously unused sitting and collecting dust, and giving them a new purpose.

Yes, never underestimate the little things.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pajama Art

Where do you keep your pajamas that you took off this morning to dress in clothes for the day's activities?

On a hook in the bathroom?

On a hook in the bedroom?

In a heap on the floor?

Under your pillow?

While in Reutte, Austria we stayed in this hostel.  Our five children shared one room which had six bunk-beds and was on the other end of the hostel from our room.  That may sound scary, but it wasn't.  We were some of the only guests in the place during our four day stay and it felt more like a grand adventure and we were guests in a castle surrounded by mountains.

Each day after we came back from our wanderings in the Alps and around the small towns, we would find that the wonderful, hospitable staff had made our beds.  What they did with the children's pajamas was such a fun, neat idea, which we all enjoyed.

Isn't that simply darling?  Much better than on a hook, or in a heap, or under a pillow.

Not that there's anything wrong with that (thanks Seinfeld).

Not that it has been repeated in this house. That would mean I would take over making their beds, and there is something wrong with that!

Simply darling none the less.  Not to mention a great memory.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Better Late than Never

I just finished reading the book, Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt.

For the first time.

I'm 41.

Why didn't I read this before?  It is an excellent overview of how people lived and thought and acted during the Civil War.  It is an excellent overview of how people think and act or react to things today.

If you've not read this, high tail it to your library and borrow it and begin right now.  As soon as I was finished (I read it in two days), I went to Paperback Swap and immediately ordered a copy for our home.  All of my kids will be required to read it and discuss it with me.

I wish someone would have encouraged me to read it earlier.  Oh well, I'm glad I have now even if I'm older than the intended reader of "young people."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pork and Poppins

Last year I found the recipe for this pork roast on this website.

I wrote on the recipe, "Excellent."  And that one word sums it up well.

So yummy,  so delicious, the whole family gobbles it up faster than you can say, "supercalifragilisticexpealidocious."

Want to know a secret?  It is easy - only 7 ingredients, including the pork roast - which I bet you have in your cupboard right this moment.  Things you use all the time, like salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar, or even garlic and oregano.

There, I gave you all the ingredients.  Enjoy!

What?  What's that you're saying?

Mmmmm,  yes, mmm-hmmmm, I see.  You do have a point.

Okay, I guess it might be helpful to give you quantities.  It might be useful to have it turn out the very first time.

Here it is.

Pork Shoulder Roast - from the above website with my notes added

1 boneless pork shoulder (about 4 pounds), fat on (I used a pork arm, bone-in)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt (I've used table salt before)
1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper (I've used regular black pepper before)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use olive)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (I use balsamic)*

Place the pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan covered with foil for easy clean-up** and using a sharp knife, score the surface of the meat with slits about an inch or two deep.

Mash the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper into a paste on a cutting board with the flat side of a knife; place the mixture in a bowl and stir in the oil and vinegar. (I just mix everything in my mixing cup, and use one of those garlic presses to smoosh the garlic cloves.)

Rub the garlic paste all over the pork, being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture - this will help form a crust on the outside when cooked.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast the pork for 3 hours, covered.  Then heat the oven up to 400 degrees and uncover the roast and cook for another 30 minutes.  (Mine was ready to change the temperature after 2 and a half hours of cooking - so total time was 3 hours, not 3 and a half.)

*If, like me, you get interrupted while fixing supper, and forget to add the vinegar, don't worry.  I experimented was interrupted tonight and left out the vinegar and it still tasted delicious.  I didn't even know I had forgotten something till I typed the recipe.  I can't vouch for leaving out any of the other ingredients.  But if I try it, I'll let you know how that tastes, too.

Yes, I think you should make it.  Yes, I think you'll like it.  Yes, I want you to lie to me when you try it and you don't like it, because I want to be in denial that everything I cook people like. :-)

**It probably is a good idea to do this step.  I usually don't and my pan usually looks like this.

Don't yell, I'm practically perfect in every way.  And I do spray it with non-stick cooking spray first.  But even then, I have to let it soak for awhile before I decide to tackle it.

Just look at that baked-on, peppery, garlic paste mixed with roast juices all over the bottom and sides.

Would you want to come do my dishes?  I would cook for you.  We'd have a lovely Fall Dinner.

The menu would include Pork Roast, served with sautéd apples with red cabbage, and sautéd green beans with onions.

Sounds like a deal to me.  And then we can watch Mary Poppins.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Born Fear

I did a research paper in college on birth order.  I remember finding it fascinating and rather enlightening as I analyzed my own behavior.  The last couple of days I was reminded of that as I realized how I live my life in fear.

I'm afraid of doing something wrong so I just don't do the yard work.

I'm afraid of messing something up so I just don't start the painting project.

But I'm not afraid to do the work of either the above.  I'm much happier to be a worker bee in those situations.  Tell me what to do, lead me in the project, and I'll be your best buddy working alongside you till the very end.  But I can't seem to take the initiative to start and do the project myself.

In many ways, fear rules this first born.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I was looking through the pictures that have been downloaded onto my computer by Hannah.  These two make me smile.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cleaning and Dreaming

As I was cleaning my house yesterday I began dreaming about "the house," that perfect  house in the imagination, where everything is just right.  Here are some things that would be in mine:

  • Hard wood floors and tile throughout with cozy rugs by the beds and in front of the couches.
  • A master bedroom with enough room for a love seat - perfect for putting on shoes in the morning, and reading or watching tv in the evening
  • A master bedroom with a master bathroom
  • Bathrooms where the toilet is not right next to the wall - it is so hard to clean that way!
  • A window filled laundry room/mud room with lots of hooks storage cubbies and a big laundry room sink.
  • The kitchen sink would be the old-fashioned farm sink - I just love those.
Yes, dreaming of "the house" is fun.  Because we all know that "the house" would have no problems, everything would always be in its place and there would be a place for everything.

And now I'll go clean up that spill.  And fold those clothes.  And put away those papers and games.  And start the dishes. And. . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

17 on 10-11-12

Hannah celebrated her 17th birthday last week.

Her requests:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
Dinner: Steak, salad, and roasted cauliflower, shared with Grandpa and Grandma, Uncle Matt, Aunt Michele, and her cousins
Fruit Pizza instead of Cake

She loves tea and Tolkien.
In England at the pub where Tolkien and Lewis ate

She loves photography and pizza, especially fruit pizza.

She loves snow and strawberries.

She loves her Dad and her DSLR.

Her gifts:
From Siblings: the soundtracks to the Disney movies, Up and The Incredibles
From Dad and Mom: travel mugs for her tea, and Tolkien's "Tales From The Perilous Realm"
From Grandpa and Grandma: a beautiful tea cup - from England
From Mamaw: a beautiful teapot - from England

From our sweet baby to our sweet young lady.  From crawling to driving.  From staying close to Mom to traveling to England by herself.  From learning at home to going to college. What a joy she is to us and what a pleasure it has been to see her grow.  Happy birthday Hannah!