Monday, December 20, 2010

One Final Shot (for now)

A more full shot of our Christmas mantle in our family room.  See the old photo of the man to the left of the candy cane candle?  That's old Josiah Conger, a forbear of my husband.  The Santa on the right was given to my oldest daughter by my grandmother.  My stocking on the far left has been mine since young childhood.  The four center stockings were given to our children by my mother.

From this picture and the other posts of our Christmas decorations, you can see why we have about 17 large boxes of decorations (not counting the outside ones!).

These decorations have been collected over 35 years of marriage, and some are from my childhood.  I know some people like to have a new Christmas theme each year, but we like to use all of our ornaments and decorations.  I love a simple natural look, but I love all of the memories and the sheer abundance of Christmas -- the Victorian "too much is not enough".

More Christmas Tour

Here is our family room, our couch, with Christmas pillows, our Advent Wreath.  This photo was taken in early December, so we had not received many cards yet.
My small collection of nativity trees, which sits on our tv cabinet.
A shot of our main Christmas tree, the one we put the presents under.  35 years of collecting ornaments.
A more full shot of the tree.
Our mantle with stockings.

Christmas Tour Continued

These pictures are in our kitchen.  This is a little shelf unit that hangs on the wall opposite our table.  I've had the matrushka dolls since I was around 10 years old.  They are from Russia and were given to me by my best friend in elementary school.
This is a little tree sitting on a small table along that same brick wall.  I got the tree on clearance from Target a few years ago.  It was a Bratz tree, believe or not.  I chunked the Bratz ornaments and scraped off the Bratz label from the base.  I love the little glass mushroom ornaments that I found to hang from it.
Here is a picture of our kitchen table and window that looks out on my bird feeders and flower garden along the side of our house.  The window has a large sill that holds a collection of snow globes.  The shelf unit and the little white tree from above flank the window.  We have Christmas lights strung around the window and we use our Nikko Christmas china every evening from the first day of December until New Year's Day.

Christmas House Tour

Here are some pictures of our dining room, decorated for Christmas.  This is one of 2 trees that we have.  This room has an "old fashioned" Christmas feel, with a few candles on the tree held on with clips (which we dare not light!), and ornaments that are of natural materials or home-made.
Here you can get a feel for the room, Christmas cones hung from the chandelier, and our Christmas village on the buffet.

Pictures of the rest of the family room and kitchen to come in other posts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

mood music

Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Music Volume 5Well, is there anything more Christmas-y than listening to Julie Andrews et al on the old Firestone Christmas album from the 60's (at least I think it's from then)?  We used to listen to this just about every afternoon after school and all through the Christmas holidays from whenever my parents first got it (in the 60's) until I left home in the mid 70's.  Not sure if that picture is the right one or not, but it's certainly close.  A couple of years ago my dad burned it to a cd for me, along with the old Boston Pops album.  I have them playing now as we decorate the den tree.  I'll have to get on the ball and take some pictures.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Funky Garden Institute: My Garden

From my garden blog, Funky Garden Institute: My Garden: "Here is a picture of my side flower garden This is my flower garden in our side yard, between the house and the driveway. This was in ear..."

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Hannah (11th grade) is studying U.S. history, using History of Us.  She is almost done with Book 1, The First Americans.  She is working on an ACT math and science review book in hopes of bringing her math and science scores up when she next takes the ACT, probably in October.  She also is almost done with the first unit in Teaching Textbooks Pre-Calculus.  She is also 2/3 through The Science of Liberty by Timothy Ferris.  This ties the development of science to the rise of democracy and the age of reason, which dovetails very nicely with her readings in Physics, using Physics Demystified.  She will be taking college freshman English beginning this week at Christian Brothers  University, so other than having her read the Scarlet Letter over the past 2 weeks, I'm holding off any additional assignments while she is in that class.  


In the midst of having our upstairs carpets replaced and both of our full bathrooms tiled and updated, we completed our first two weeks of homeschooling for this school year.

Cree (7th grade) is studying U.S. Geography this year, using Trail Guide to US Geography.  The past 2 weeks and this week she is covering New England, doing mapping, making a chart for the states, answering research questions.  She watched a GlobeTrekker video on New England, and we made blueberry muffins and scalloped oysters for dinner.  This week we'll be making apple pandowdy and pumpkin pie.

Sequential Spelling 1Cree is using Sequential Spelling, a new program for us, developed by AVSKO for use with people with dyslexic issues.  It seems to be working well so far.

We are using Lightening Literature, which had Cree reading and working with Rikki Tikki Tavi, learning about plot structure and story boards.

In science we did some work with weather.  Cree kept a weather chart for the 2 weeks, and also kept a record of the clouds.  Although the temperatures were in the upper 90's and 100's the entire time, there were quite a few clouds to take note of.  She also did some reading on wind, currents, and hurricanes.  She also learned about bivalves -- all tying in with New England.

Our family readalouds these 2 weeks were A Break With Charity, a novel about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi, and Lyddie by Katherine Paterson, about a mill girl in Lowell, MA in the 1840's

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Science for next year

I have come to some conclusions about what we will do for science next year.  This will be Hannah's 11th grade year and Cree's 7th grade.

Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality (English Edition)Exploring Creation with Physical ScienceMicrobe HuntersHannah has expressed interest in learning about Physics, but I don't want to kill her interest with too dry and math-y a text.  I believe I will have her work through Apologia's Physical Science text, which introduces some physics concepts and has some very doable and interesting labs.  I am also planning on having us read The Microbe Hunters over the course of the summer and fall.  I will also have Thinking Physics on hand for her.

HANDBOOK OF NATURE STUDYIntermediate Science (Through Children's Literature)Because Cree will be learning about U.S. Geography next year, I think I can tie in a lot of science exploration, focusing on earth and environmental science as well as focused nature study.  I have Intermediate Science Through Children's Literature, which is divided into units that focus on particular environments (prairie, wetlands, ocean, etc) and full of science concepts and activities that will tie in perfectly as we cover the different regions of the United States.  Our Handbook of Nature Study will also come in very handy as we learn about specific plants and creatures of the particular regions.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

altered books

Back in October I saw a notice for a class for learning altered book techniques and decided to go.  An altered book is where one takes an old book of some sort and then alters the interior pages by cutting, folding, drawing on, decorating or whatever.  At its most basic, it's a cut and paste kind of job -- my kind of skill level!  Once one attends the 2 sessions of the class, one is invited to attend the free monthly gathering of the Altered Book Consortium (ABC Club) and participate in the activities (some artistic technique) and participating in one of the round robin altered book swaps.

For the round robin swaps, each participant supplies a book to be altered and chooses a theme for their book.  Then each participant takes home someone else's book and works on it and brings it back to the meeting the next month, for it to go home with the next person.  At the end, each person's book has 2-page spreads that have been created by each person in the swap.

The book I brought home this past month has the theme "Life is Good".  For my spread I decorated 6 recycled junk mail return envelopes, labeled each one with an idea for a list of "blessings", and attached three to each page, overlapping.  I had covered the pages of the book by attaching decorative papers by punching holes in each corner of the pages and tying them to the original papers with yarn.

The "themes" that I put on the envelopes were "Sparkling Moments", Great Expectations", "Where the Secrets Live", Metamorphosis", "The Loveliest of Details", and "Everyday Wonder".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Skills

I began this blog as an incentive to learn some new skills -- like how to REALLY use my mac, how to do links and "cut and paste" and all those computer-y skills that I've managed to limp along without.  Actually I could do all of those things on my old old apple performa, but the newer mac just isn't as intuitive and I just haven't had the need or desire to really sit down and learn it.  But I have determined that I WILL learn these things.

Another thing I want and need to learn is how to work a digital camera.  I am not and have never been one who enjoys taking pictures.  I like to live in the moment as a participant, not as an observer or spectator, which is how taking photographs has always seemed to me.  But, after reading a number of blogs, I can see how much photos add to the aesthetic appearance and pleasure of a blog.  So, I got myself a digital camera for my birthday last October and have just today actually taken my first pictures.

So my next endeavor will be to actually get them into the computer and on to this blog!

I can see I have much to learn.  First, if you see my first homeschooling post, you will see that I accidently linked 2 picture/links for Trail Guide to U.S. Geography.  I have no idea how that happened (probably kept my finger too long on one spot on the tap pad!) and I have no clue as to how to delete one of them!  I have looked and looked for some direction or something to click on, but to no avail. Perhaps one day I will figure it out and be able to go back and fix it, but until then there will be a double picture.

Monday, February 22, 2010

For Dinner - Pasta Spinach Casserole

Pasta Spinach Casserole tonight:  mix a pound of pasta cooked with a bunch of fresh chopped spinach thrown right in the boiling water, with an egg beaten with 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Then mix 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and Italian herbs into the bowl of pasta, spinach and egg.  Layer in a 9x13 pan with, first half a jar of spaghetti sauce, half the pasta, some mozzarella and parmesan cheese to cover, then the rest of the sauce, the rest of the pasta, and more mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (take foil off last 10 minutes).

Instead of layering this in a pan you could just mix it all up (with half the cheeses), and freeze it in one or 2 ziplock bags.  When ready to cook, thaw it, dump it in a pan, put more cheese on top and bake it for 60-75 minutes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things I Need

As I was out taking a walk today, on this the first sunny not quite so cold day in forever, I was thinking of the things I cannot do without, in no particular order  . . . .

I need sunny days to be outside in for at least a bit.

I need to touch living soil -- unpaved earth.

I need to be near living water -- the ocean, a river, the tiny pond in my yard.

I need time to just vegetate, read, think, drink tea . . . .

I need to talk to friends, face to face.

I need a large kitchen window, looking out on at least a tree, some flowers, and bird feeders. 

Wow -- I think I get just about all of these things at least once a week -- sometimes every day for days at a time!  Not a bad life at all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For Dinner

A yummy easy stir fry for dinner, seeing that it's Chinese New Year as well as Valentine's Day. Orange Flavor Stir Fry Beef with Asparagus, Carrots, Celery and Cashews.

First thinly slice some beef (I used about a pound of eye of round that was on sale for about $2.30 a pound, a good price for beef with virtually no waste). I sprinkled it with some meat tenderizer and mixed up a marinade of soy sauce, some grand marnier (because I found some in back of the cabinet -- the recipe called for sherry, but I had none -- any kind of acid or alcohol would do I think), a bit of salt and some honey. I thinly sliced up about half a red onion, 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks and some asparagus, the first of the season in that it was under $2 a pound! I heated up some oil in my big fry pan, stir fried the onions and then thew in the meat and stir fried it. I removed all of that and then put in the veggies. Meanwhile I had a sauce of soy sauce, orange juice, honey, some chinese chili garlic sauce, and some cornstarch. When the veggies were stir fried I put the meat and all of its juices and marinade back in, along with the sauce, and cooked until it thickened. I added the cashews right before serving. With rice of course.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Next Year's Homeschooling Plans

Well, I finally have some time to sit down and actually write something for this blog I set up some time ago! Since I have been pondering what to do for next year homeschooling-wise for my 2 daughters that are still at home, I thought I would write about my thoughts on that. They will be 13 and 17 next school year, in 7th and 11th grades.

For many years we have been using Sonlight Curriculum, a literature based history focused curriculum that can be used for a range of ages. So between 4 daughters I have covered the various eras 2 and 3 times already. My high schooler needs to cover American History this coming year to meet high school requirements, however I am reluctant for my youngest to cover American History next year when (1) we are finishing up a world history cycle this year, which has a strong component of American History and (2) she'll have to do American History in just a couple of years at the high school level anyways and I want to save the American History materials that I'll be using with my high schooler for then.

So -- I've decided that my 7th grader will focus on U.S. Geography. We will be using Trail Guide to U.S. Geography by Cindy Wiggers, using a notebook method, along with Time for Kids Our Fifty United States, Kids Learn America (an activity kind of book), Cooking Up U.S. History (which has a section organized by geographic regions and has good reading lists of fiction and non-fiction books from which we will draw some literature and supplimental books), and of course our fabulous National Geographic Family Atlas and the World Almanac and Book of Facts.

My high schooler will be doing American History, using Joy Hakim's History of Us, along with supplimental books and PBS programs. She will likely participate in our geography studies also, perhaps to the degree of receiving a half or full credit in geography. She will also be doing American Literature, utilizing the literature portion of Sonlight's Core 400 program, most of which I already own since her older sister did this 6 years ago.

I'll do a separate post about my thoughts on science (if I ever come to some conclusions!).