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Showing posts from November, 2017

Christmas posts

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Since today is December 1, with the season of Advent starting just a few days from now (really, it's not Advent yet, even though it  has felt a though it must have been some sort of Christmas season since before Halloween), I though I would gather a few old Christmas related posts together in one place for you. I write prolifically, and it can be very difficult to find things, so something I like to put posts together for easier reading. Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom, even if you aren't going to click on anything.

First, some posts having to do with potential gifts. I'm sure I am not the only one who still needs to do some significant work in that area.

New Games

Homemade Gifts

Miniature Braided Wreath Tutorial

A couple of posts on Christmas books:

Christmas Books

A Christmas Read Aloud

And some of Christmas music:

Music, Always Music

Sing With Your Children, Part 2

Then I have to throw in some random family-related posts, mainly because everyone is so very lit…

Dinner in Peru

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To go along with our craft yesterday, I had also scheduled our dinner featuring a dish from Peru. We had lomo saltado, which is a dish with sliced steak, onions, tomatoes, French fries, topped with a spicy aji sauce. We also had rice on the side.

I have to admit that I chose this dish because it used French fries. Not only are French fries good, but I have had a French fry cutting tool kicking around the house for several years now, that I needed a good excuse to try. This seemed as though this was it.

The first step was to make the French fries, which also meant figuring out how to use this handy little tool. It turns out it was far quicker and easier than I had thought it would be.

Here's my Bosch with the handy French fry maker attachment.
Look! They look like real fried.
They did, however, take a loooooong time to cook. I think it was because even with my better stove, I just couldn't get the heat high enough to cook them quickly. They turned out well, despite that, and ha…

In which I do misguided crafts so that you don't have to

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In our trip around the world, we are currently in Peru. What would be more kid-craft friendly than to do something with llamas? My children rebel strongly against anything cut-and-paste, so much of what I found on the internet as far as ideas go, were out. I did come across a photo of a little needle felted llama, who was pretty darn cute.

It got me to thinking... A. and P. did needle felting for a while, so I already had most of the supplies. It would be a craft we hadn't done before, and the whole wool and llama-thing seemed perfect. We could listen to the Incan music CD I have and make llamas. Yesterday I went out and picked up a few more needles and some brown wool to be all ready. I also decided that I had better try making one myself, since I had never actually done needle felting before. Nothing like learning a craft at the last minute to then teach to five children.

I do have five (six if you include mine from yesterday) little needle felted "llamas" sitting on m…

Turkey roaster review

As I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago, to solve my single oven colliding with Thanksgiving dinner conundrum, I decided to invest in a turkey roaster. I have now cooked two turkeys in it, so thought I would share how it all worked out.

I have to say, I think it is a pretty nifty kitchen tool, but I'm glad I cooked a practice turkey in it first, and didn't save its maiden run for the actual holiday.

I cooked two turkeys because I wanted to test out the roaster, but also because I knew there would be very few leftovers, and we all love eating turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange relish the next couple of days afterwards. In fact, some family members think the whole reason to have Thanksgiving is to create leftover turkey sandwiches. I knew I needed extra turkey. I also wanted to make the gravy ahead of time, and not after the turkey was cooked, right before we sat down. I was able to to use the pan drippings from the first turkey for the gravy. I had meant to make the gravy…

Let's have some more pictures

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It's turned into a kind of whirlwind weekend, what with Thanksgiving, children home, open houses, friends over. It's all a lot of fun, but does involve some significant time in the kitchen and not a lot of time at the computer.

First we have A. and Olive. A. likes to sit on this stool in the kitchen. Olive likes to sit on A.'s lap when she is sitting on this stool in the kitchen. This picture is unusual that Olive's back legs are on the ground. Usually, she is completely on top of Alice.


This is A. and Olive taking selfies together. Notice Olive's lovely plaid coat. She shivers otherwise when it is very cold outside.


Moving on to another animal in the house, I bring you Nefertiti, the harvest cat. (I really wish I could take credit for the name, but that honor goes to M.)


Nefertiti is a little obsessed with the seasonal table decorations, and has decided that she must be a part of it.

Here she is playing her part of the table centerpiece.
It's hard work.
The we…

Thanksgiving 2017

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I am so thankful for so many things. A place to live, a family to love, enough of what we need, and so much more besides. We spent the day with family and eating good food. There is not much better than that. Just a few pictures.

D. working on some turkey, with some hopeful friends nearby.
L. feeling the same way about the stuffing as the dog and cat were about the turkey.
The younger children's table,
The high schoolers table,
and the adult table.
The food waiting for people to fill their plates.
Followed by our annual family viewing of A Child's Christmas in Wales. Let the Christmas music begin!



Making slow progress, or a fantastically dull blog post

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There are some days when things all seem to take five more steps to accomplish than they actually should or that you planned for. Yesterday was such a day. I got my to-do list done, but my goodness, it took longer than I expected it to.

All I had planned to do was to cook one turkey (to have extra and to make the gravy ahead of time) and make some pies for Thanksgiving. In the time I wasn't doing, that, I was going to finish finding homes for the last few items still decorating my coffee table.

Well, that and drive P. to her riding lesson, pick-up a shelf unit I had found for A.'s room on a garage sale list, referee children, read at tea time, and throw dinner in the crock pot. All of that always takes a bit more time than I plan on it taking.

Problem #1 yesterday morning was realizing that when I thought I had turned our extra refrigerator warmer, so the frozen chicken and turkeys would thaw by when we needed them, I hadn't. I had actually made it colder. The poultry supp…

Reunited, if briefly

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When one of your best friends now lives a 1 1/2 hours away from you, you have to grab the times you can get together. The P. Family mom and I had a little outing to IKEA yesterday, along with 14 of our children. (Though since one of hers is in her 20's, she doesn't really count as a child anymore.) You see, I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and so I needed a bookcase.

It makes sense, really, though it can also read like a mom-version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. As you know, my current dining room is a little bit smaller than we had before, so fitting 24 people in becomes a little more challenging. I figured out how to do it, but it involves putting the large coffee table under the piano to get it out of the way. The trouble is, I currently have quite a bit of piano music stored under the piano. Of course, the obvious solution is to finally buy the second bookcase for the rest of my piano music. (Actually, no, the thought of just moving my piano music somewhere else, di…

Awash in boxes again

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With the holidays upon us, I was realizing that there were things packed away in boxes stored in our storage locker. Quite a few boxes had been living there because I couldn't figure out where it would all live, and had kind of resigned myself to waiting until we were finally able to build some more storage to get it all out.

This did not make me terribly happy, as I routinely used much of what was in those boxes, especially around the holidays. It also seemed a little silly to pay to store things which weren't being used, and that we had no room for. I was stymied.

On Friday, I had a brain storm. What if I used the closet under the stairs for china-type storage? (Yes, we actually have a closet under the stairs, and for a brief moment, D. thought it might make the perfect bedroom for him. Just for a moment, though. It is not terribly large.) The only problem with this idea was that I had already filled that closet up with boxes and boxes of old family pictures and things of th…

Teaching hand sewing

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Whenever I start to make things, I can be pretty sure that some smaller people are going to want to make things as well. This is great if they stick to their usual raid the recycling bin and tape mode, but something they feel as though they would rather do something 'real'. This type of craft usually everyone wanting to do it at the same time, but it (whatever craft they have landed on) is often just a wee bit above their ability level, and thus they all need me all at the same time.

L. has been on a kick to hand sew for quite some time now. I actually meant to teach people over the summer, and had invested in a bunch of new felt and new needle threaders to do so. But summer, well, it all escaped me. Yesterday, L. really, really, really needed to learn to sew. She was at the level of need that it was just easier to go ahead and teach her than to have to continue to fend her off. The trouble was, I have been down this path before and just couldn't face five frustrated child…

Friday bullets, Nov. 17, 17

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We are now less than a week from Thanksgiving. I have no idea how that happened. I also have no idea if we will be ready. Oh, I know we probably will, but it sure doesn't feel like it at this moment.

In Thanksgiving-related news, look what I bought.
This is a turkey roaster. This is also a turkey roaster which will cook a 20+ pound turkey. I have been struggling with having only one oven. (I know, first world problem.) But when you have had two ovens for so very long, you get kind of used to it. I am still not used to having just one. And then when I try to figure out how to make Thanksgiving happen for 24 people, I couldn't. My parents always cooked a turkey in a roaster because of the one oven issue, so I decided that is what we will do as well. Plus, it can function as a very large slow-cooker, which is not a bad thing around here. I also need to pull the turkeys out of the freezer today, and probably changing the setting on our second refrigerator should be in order as well.…

Saying yes.

Earlier today, I was thinking about the difference between my young mom parenting and my now older mom parenting. I want the same things for my children. I want secure, well-adjusted children who can practice self-control, think of others, and use their talents to the best of their abilities. What has changed is how I think they best get there.

There is a huge paradigm shift that happens as you change from parenting small children to teens and then to adults. What you thought was important turns out to be not nearly as important as you believed, plus you also realize that as much as you want the nurture half of the equation to be the bigger piece, you just cannot escape a child's nature, either. Pretty much my parenting method these days is pretty simple. Love them a lot, be a safe place to land, love them a lot, have reasonable expectations, and love them a lot. This is not to say that we are one step removed from being the modern version of Lord of the Flies, we do ask for commo…

Did you know...

that I have lots of lists of previous posts listed under the pages tab at the top of the blog? (I know, they're kind of hard to see, but they're there.) When a blog has so many words on it, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for. The only reason I can is that I can see a nice list of previous posts with a handy search engine attached. Otherwise, I would never be able to find anything, either.

For instance, under 'About', you can see the faces which go with all the initials I use and confuse you with. (When I went to double-check what was there, I realized that they are some rather outdated photos as well. Add at least an inch to every person, and maybe 5 or 6 inches for D.) Under 'Homeschooling' is a handy list of every post which has to do with some sort of learning project we did, all nicely categorized for you. There are also some more general education posts there as well. What isn't there are the posts dealing specifically with education …

Kwik Sew 3861

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I am pretty excited about having my sewing area up and functioning. I really enjoy sewing, and it's nice to be able to do it again. Because of the 'L' shape, this is an even better arrangement than the one I had before. All I have to do is swivel my chair to change from sewing machine to serger. I like it.

It's also good, because I have some girls who keep growing up, but not really growing out. This, combined with being tall for their age, makes finding dresses for them, that they also like to be tricky. It's so much easier to let them look through my patterns and then choose the fabric. I can cut the dress to fit them, and everyone is happy.

G. was the first to get a new dress because she had nothing in her closet for colder weather. She chose Kwik Sew 3861. If you click on the link, you will see that the pattern envelope shows it is for a loose shirt, and not really a dress. I had made this before, so thought it would be pretty easy to lengthen it and make a loo…