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Pretty darn normal

Every so often I feel the need to point out that I am not some super human person. It's not that I am under any illusion as to my less-than-perfectness, but after enough comments from others to that effect, I know it's time for another reality check. Because the truth is, I'm far from perfect. Here's a snippet of life from the past day or so, which is far more representative of life than whatever glossy magazine version people might have deluded themselves with.

We started school late yesterday morning because I sat in bed too long drinking my coffee and replying to things on my phone. We started so late that we had to skip a couple of things that we usually do.I declared yesterday Moaning Monday at one point while trying to do school, because of the outrageous amount of moaning which was going on. One child crumpled up the dot-to-dot I had given in lieu of the regular math lesson because it was perceived to be too hard. Other children decided to leave the table in a sn…

Adults and learning

Moving provides an interesting experience, in that you are meeting a lot of new people over a relatively short course of time. When you've lived in the same place for over 30 years, you just don't meet the same volume of people over time, and many people have known you for quite a while. Being the "new girl" is an interesting experience.

Recently I heard the comment, "Oh, you must be smart; you homeschool." This is definitely a smile and nod comment, because, really, what is there to say? Plus, I'm just never sure how to take it. There are so many possibilities... I'm smart, therefore I'm able to homeschool... I homeschool, therefore I've become smart... I'm smart to have chosen homeschooling. You can see the true meaning is a little unclear. For various reason, I felt as though option 1, I'm smart therefore I'm able to homeschool, was the correct meaning.

I find this to be a bit of a chicken and egg issue. I know I'm not uni…

Saturday in pictures

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It was a lovely day. Much cooler than it has been, which I love, and lots of odds and ends taken care of. First up, the crazy neglected garden. It seems I still have giant serpent gourds growing. I discovered these two today. Do you see them? They are hanging down in front of the left fork of the dead tree. The tree doesn't look quite so dead with it's gourd vines hanging all over it.


This is basil, both Thai and sweet. I think I need to make some pesto to freeze with the sweet, and I may try fermenting the Thai basil.


This is the cardoon, which is growing quite well. I think. It's big. I'm a little intimidated to cut it down and try preparing it to eat. It seems a little labor intensive, plus there are spines on those leaves. But it also seems to be a waste to not do anything with it. I'm working up to dealing with it.


Here is today's haul. Not bad for the middle of September.


Here is that haul all separated out.

Three cabbages. (There are still a few more gro…

World War II Days

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Today we drove up to Rockford to the Midway Village Museum to meet friends (the P. Family and the W. Family), because it was World War II days at the museum. It is evidently the largest WWII re-enactment in the US. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be excellent. No one wanted to leave when it was time, and there was still so much we didn't see.

Essentially, groups of WWII re-enactors come and set up camp at the museum for the weekend. Today was the school group day, which meant that we got a discount on adult tickets (we were chaperones), but we also had to navigate large school groups. (Not really my favorite thing.) We wandered around, and stopped at a group that looked interesting, and talked with them. They were all in character, and described what they were wearing and what they were doing and anything they had on display. It was truly excellent. If you live in the area, I would highly suggest you go over the next two days. It is completely worth the entr…

Blue and white pottery

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I love white pottery decorated with blue designs, and have quite a bit of it from Vietnam (and some from China and some from Greece). So, as I was pondering what type of craft we should do when we visited Vietnam, I thought some sort of pottery craft would be fun. Sometimes Pinterest is great and sometimes there just isn't what you are looking for. This was a case of the latter as I was doing research. I was on my own.

I found that there is a type of paint that you can use on pottery, then bake in the oven, and the decoration becomes so permanent that it is dishwasher safe. This sounded good. Even better, this paint came in paint markers, which I love, because they really reduce the mess factor and a a marker is easier to control than a paint brush. I then found some porcelain blanks which were dirt cheap. Of course the shipping was twice as much for each item as the actual cost, but even then, it was pretty inexpensive.

This morning was our craft day for Vietnam, since tomorrow w…

Digger truck day at Bittersweet Farm

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It all started last night with this.


Yes, that is a metal stake in the ground... the newly cut hay field to be specific. There are actually five more of them out there, I just couldn't get them in the picture. They needed to be there because this morning, there was this.


You're going to have to click on the picture to make it larger, and then squint to see it, but back there, in the hay field, you will see a little excavator at work. What is it doing, you ask. Well, the contractor is getting the ground ready for the...

BARN THAT IS GETTING BUILT NEXT MONTH!

Sorry, yes, that's kind of screaming, but it's how excited I am.

In the meantime, my ever alert children notified me that we had another digger truck digging in the front of the house, and the barn wasn't going to be built there.


When I wandered out, I saw that the excavator belongs to the township, and I discovered that they were dredging our stream because of the flooding. This also thrilled me. Not only have …

Dinner in Vietnam

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Since we started back to school, we started back in on our round the world tour. The first stop has been Vietnam. The food aspect to our tour has proven so popular, that even before we began school again, I was getting questions as to when we would be eating our special dinners and when they would happen.

Now, the trouble with Vietnam is that we have Vietnamese food somewhat regularly, and the things I cook have become just a part of our family repertoire of meals. To make it special, I needed to come up with something new and different. So I started thinking.
I have a lot of quail eggs.
Many people love any variation of meat in dough.
TM had been missing the steamed buns from the Vietnamese bakery which was just 20 minutes away from our old house.
All of these things together meant that I decided it was time to try making my own steamed buns, or banh bao in Vietnam. The girls from China call them baozi. Pretty much everyone calls them something different. In preparation I bought myse…