Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Toys for Christmas


Hubby and I like to have most of our Christmas shopping done before Black Friday. That way we can sit back, relax and actually enjoy December.
This year I plan on doing a good deal of my shopping at www.melissaanddoug.com and other such toy makers. USA made, educational, wooden toys are what I'm after. My children have toys from the whole spectrum and I've found that the simplest ones entertain them the most and the plastic ones often get ignored. The noisy ones usually end up getting thrown across the room (and not by me, I promise). There are some beautiful manipulatives out there. I'm also going to toss out most of the cheap plastic and paperboard toy foods they got last year because the pieces are small enough to choke on and they've been torn and smooshed and thrown about. Melissa and Doug have some lovely wooden sets of healthy foods. The plastic set was mostly fast food and junk food.
I'm searching, researching and choosing carefully this year and I plan to stay away from Walmart's toy department!

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Old Art


I drew this in 1996 back when the Christy series was on TV. In my teenage heart, I always longed for the romance to blossom between Christy and the doctor. To me, he was more man than the preacher who was kinda wimpy. The Scottish brogue sounded so much stronger than David's quivering, cracking voice. Don't bother reminding me about him still being married, and being an atheist and all that. To my teenage heart, it was ignored. Perhaps that's why parents need to be vigilant when it comes to their children's hearts.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plan of Attack for this Week


You can get this print at www.art.com
This week I plan on attacking the house with some reorganization, particularly the basement. I'm quite motivated, but I do need a good night's sleep. So, good-night.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Art



In my teen years I spent a lot of time sketching. I miss it, though I’m out of practice now. Like my singing, it has gone to the wayside. However, I thought I’d share one of my drawings with you. She’s no one in particular. She’s just someone from my mind.

Taigh Beag Sgoil ~ Home Education



I’m learning a bit more about the Montessori Method and I like it. I’ve also been introduced to Waldorf, Classical, and soon will be borrowing Charlotte Mason. They’re all intriguing and a mother could go nuts wondering which one is best for her child. I’m not worried about that. I take what I like and can apply with my littles and off I go.
I’m finding home education for my children extremely rewarding for myself. I’m more relaxed. I enjoy seeing my children explore and discover. I also love the creativity it affords me! I love coming up with lesson ideas. Last night I decided that next week I’ll let my son cut and paste a collage (he’ll be learning the letter C). I’m eager to see what he comes up with. Will he cut and paste at random? Or will he select pictures? Will he butcher with his scissors? Or will he carefully cut out what he wants? Will he be bored quickly? Or will he fill up the paper?
My 16 month old daughter is picking up on things, too. She’s more interested in scribbling and less interested in eating the crayons. When son and I are at the table, she wants to join in. Today, she carefully concentrated on the sewing card I let her try. I showed her how it works and she absorbed herself in figuring out the fine motor skill of poking the thread into the premade holes. I wanted to keep butting in, but I held back and was amazed at how she tried different methods of holding the thread to find the best way to put it through the hole.
I’m fairly bursting with ideas!


Garlic will need to be planted soon. To accomplish this, I want to build a raised bed with a hot box on one end. I’m hoping I get paid for a sewing project I did soon so I can buy the lumber for the bed at least. The hotbox may have to wait until next year.
I’m considering shallots. They need to be planted in the autumn as well.

The Harvest Season



Today, I stopped by an orchard and picked up my order of pears along with a quart of peaches, a pumpkin and a jar of local wildflower honey. Later, I put up 4 quarts of applesauce. I also was told that basil pesto made with almonds is delicious, so I’ll be doing that with my basil before the colder evenings does the poor plant in.
This week, I hope to pick some raspberries, too. I’m using it as part of my son’s homeschooling. We’re working on the letter B and berries begins with B.

Jelly Success, Friends, Take Joy



This time around the crabapple jelly was a huge success. It tastes fantastic, too. Crabapples have enough natural pectin that I didn’t have to add any. It takes longer, but it uses less sugar and the results (if successfully jelled) is delicious and gorgeous.
I encourage anyone with a crabapple tree to try making jelly. It doesn’t take that much. I only filled a grocery bag a 1/4 of the way full and made 7 half-pints and 2-full pints of jelly. The redder the crabapples the prettier the jelly.
I’m so blessed to have so many interesting and talented re-enacting and non-re-enacting friends. I really should utilize their talents more. Through my friends I could learn:
1. Spinning

2. Fencing (with swords)

3. horseback riding

4. horse driving

5. gown draping (which I will learn shortly)

6. knitting

7. crocheting

8. tambour embroidery

9. lace making
And I’m sure many other things that I cannot think of right now.
On the Tasha Tudor front, I have been wondering if her longevity was due partly to her old-fashioned living. She worked hard without overdoing it. If it stressed her out, she didn’t bother with it anymore. She also ate very naturally with fresh ingredients. Not only did she live until she was 92, but she was healthy and active to the end. Her “take joy” philosophy must have had something to do with it.
I have a bench out in my kitchen porch that I purchased at a yard sale years ago. It’s a cute, simple wooden bench that was painted blue and covered a few times with a crazy-quilt-like fabric. The fabric is torn, worn and shredded in places and I’ve been meaning to cover it with a fine linen that I’d embroider. I couldn’t think of anything to embroider on it other than Failte which is Gaelic for Welcome. Instead, I have decided to embroider “Take Joy” on it.
There are so many Bible verses out that that lift me up and I’ve got beautiful promises of God tucked away in me that I can pull out when needing a reminder of His perfect love. However, there’s just something about Tasha Tudor’s “Take Joy” that really instills in me something that keeps me out of the depths of stress, anger and resentment that I’ve lately been too capable of falling into. I think it’s because it embraces God’s Grace as well as all the worldly blessings around me. It reminds me to look to Him because He is our ultimate Joy. It helps me on so many levels.
By the way, you can purchase the DVD format of Take Joy(pictured above) at http://www.tashatudorandfamily.com/. I’m hoping to get it for Christmas or my birthday!

Studying Tasha Tudor



I’m fascinated by Tasha Tudor lately and not for her 1830’s lifestyle or simplicity (which is anything but simple). I am fascinated by her ability to fit so much into her existance and live such a joyful, peaceful life.
The dear woman had 4 children and lived without electricity and plumbing! I have 2 children and most modern conveniences and I still try to live simply and half the time I’m ready to pull my hair out!!
I really want to know how she did it. I’m assuming that she was smart enough during her children’s early years that she didn’t embark on too many projects and kept things as easy as possible. I’m also guessing she kept things like daily meals simple. I adore cooking and am guilty of too often making meals that take anywhere from an hour to 3 hours to prepare! Lately, I’ve taken to enjoying slow-simmered soups and stews at least once a week. We’re not big casserole and crockpot fans. My toddlers’ taste buds don’t like things that contain too many flavors at once. I’m not fan of so many casserole recipes that contain processed ingredients. Hubby and I don’t care for the taste and texture of many crockpot recipes. I digress….
Tasha Tudor said to “take joy.” I’m doing that. In the meantime, I’m gathering every bit of Tasha Tudor media I can find and studying her.

Smells



Mice.
I like mice. I think they’re cute. They just don’t belong in my house! Living in the country, we have many mice. We have so many mice that we have plenty of hawks who find them easy pickings.
Unfortunately, when these little creatures find refuge in my house they start leaving their droppings everywhere and making plenty of noise in the attic at 2 in the morning. They’re smart, too. Live traps and even the good old fashioned mouse traps are left untouched. Hubby gets poison. The problem with the poison is that the mice then decide to make the inside of the wall their final resting place. For two weeks it stinks!
A simmering of whole cloves and cinnamon sticks helps cover the scent and “purify” the air.
The next step is peppermint. A friend of mine let me know that an 18th century way of getting rid of mice is to put peppermint throughout your house. I have peppermint growing like crazy in my garden. I’m going to give it a try. She says it works well and makes your house smell nice, too. I’m also wondering if I should plant peppermint around the base of my house! Ooooohhhh…..imagine the smell when hubby mows it!

Vanilla Pears, Moving Furniture, Etc.



I’m heading to a local farm to pick up a half bushel of pears to turn into vanilla pears to can. I’ve never done vanilla pears before, but I have eaten them and they are so delicious!
Today, I canned applesauce.
I’m thinking about furniture rearranging. Now that the weather is getting cooler, my enclosed porch won’t be of much use unless it’s a sunny afternoon. (Someday we’ll insulate and heat it.) I’m thinking of moving my writing desk into the bedroom. That’ll give room for the chiffarobe come Christmas time when it has to be removed from the corner of the living room to make room for the Christmas tree.
I’m still wondering about where to put the children’s reading area. My brother is making the kiddos a toddler sized bunk bed which will free up space in their bedroom. Hmmmmm….
Of course, I can’t think about furniture without thinking about NEW furniture…a flat-paneled TV and a new cabinet to house it. I’m still wondering how in the world I could fit a piano into this little house!! It would help a little if we didn’t have those big vintage radiators under nearly every window! While I like them for their vintage charm, they do occupy space I would gladly use.
I also had to go boggle my mind with thoughts of built in cabinetry in the dining room! I’m looney, I know. Floor to ceiling bookcases and a built in china cabinet/hutch would be lovely. Of course, I can’t put in built in bookcases against the same wall that would be shared with the piano on the opposite side…too much weight. Hmmmm…..
And don’t even get me started on the electric or gel-fired fireplace(s)!

Answers to Prayers



You can get this print at http://www.allposters.com/.
Hubby and I have a prayer request that God keeps saying “wait” for. I admit, it’s frustrating to wait and it’s easy to get down in the dumps. However, I have had several prayer requests answered!
1. My daughter needed autumn/winter clothing and I found a box full of the size she needs in the basement that I had forgotten about. They were generously given to me.
2. My daughter needed a pair of black Mary Janes in size 5, but I couldn’t find any except in one store where they were too expensive. My mother found her a brand new pair at Goodwill and gave them to her.
3. Space is always in issue at Taigh Beag since we only have 880 square feet of it. I had scoured the internet in search of toddler sized bunk beds only to hit dead ends or really high prices. I mentioned the need on facebook and my brother eagerly decided that he’s going to make the bunk bed! In fact, I believe he’s already started on it! I will post pictures when it’s complete.

Jelly Flop


I had a jelly flop today. While the jelly was on the stove, I decided to make a cake for hubby all while trying to keep an eye on my son who was in the playroom. Well, I burnt the jelly and it tasted horrible! I had to dump it. Thankfully, my father still has crab apples on his tree, so I’ll get more as soon as I can and I’ll make sure I have no extra distractions while making it.
Crab apple jelly is just too good to flop.
I also made chicken feet broth and I have relish brining.
We’re having leftovers for dinner.

Apples and Crabapples



You can get this print at http://www.art.com/
My father has a fine little orchard. Every year I am welcomed to come harvest apples. He divies the apples among his 5 children and a few neighbors. However, only he and I get the crab apples. He makes wine, I make crab apple jelly. If you’ve never had crab apple jelly, then boy, are you missing out!
While I love sweet Taigh Beag, our property is set up in a way that makes having even a couple fruit trees impossible. It would be such a blessing to have an orchard of my own. For now, I am thankful for my dad’s dedication to his little orchard.

Books. Comfortable Books.



I’ve been organizing and cleaning the little area in the basement that’ll be used as the main school room for homeschooling. As part of my organization, I had to go through the piles of books I had on these shelves and get the arranged. Many of them are very old from the early 20th century to the 1950’s with at least one from the 1870’s. I have even more books in the living room and dining room that’ll be used for homeschooling. Many of them are antiques.
I love that in decades past there were so many readers. In today’s schools everything is so visual. Back in one room schoolhouses, they used readers. I have readers that just cover reading. I have readers that cover science, history, creative thought, art, health, gardening and even math (which is charmingly called arithmatic in these books). I have readers that are gender specific.
Personally, I’m thankful for a couple of books that address grammar. My grammar isn’t what it could be for it was briefly covered by a lovely older teacher who fought against a system that dismissed the basics.
The classical education system encourages reading as much as possible. I plan on doing just that along with plenty of hands-on fun.

Land Girls



While flipping through a back issue of Victoria Magazine I came across their fashion spread based on the Land Girls Army of WW II England! Back during the war there was such a lack of men in the country and such a lack of food that agriculture needed to be boosted on the backs of women. Thus the Land Girls Army was formed. I also found out that they have a book and a movie!
I’m fascinated by the 1940’s and the hardships these people endured with such faith, hope and patriotism. Slackness was not acceptable. Everyone was expected to do their share to ensure victory (a far cry from today’s war in the Middle East). I have an original food rationing cookbook from the era and in it they express the need for quick, healthful, economical meals to ensure the health of the Allies, to save money for the war effort, and to save time so the cook could spend more time knitting socks or what have you for the soldiers.
I’m struck by how cushy we have it now. I’m struck by how wasteful we are now. I’m struck by how much apathy there is now. I’m certainly inspired to work harder and happier.

Finds


My parents were/are book collectors. Occassionally they go through their books and lay them out for any of us children to take. Yesterday, I was given this gem of a book (among many others), “Cobbin’s Childs Commentator on the Bible for the Home Circle” from 1873.
While flipping through the book, I found this vintage calling card! Isn’t it neat?!


Fall Cleaning

My mother and I have decided to officially fall clean our houses this year. I really feel the need to do so because we live in such a small house and will be closed up in it for 5 months. There is a definate need for organization and cleaning those “corners” that so often get missed or end up collecting things throughout the year. I’m thinking maybe I should drag from room to room and garbage pail and a box for things to get rid of, plus a box for things that don’t quite have a home yet.
I’m starting tomorrow unless this cold I have ushers me to bed instead.

I'm BACK!!!

Woah, I can actually access my blog again!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Computer Glitch=New Blog!!

Due to a computer glitch, I am no longer able to post to this blog via my own computer. So, to remedy this, I've moved my blog to HERE.

Thank you to everyone for being patient!