Saturday, December 01, 2007

Away in a manger

This year I'm starting something new with the kids. I'm doing my version of Advent and I think it will help to put a little more of Christ back into our Christmas. We didn't get off to a great start tonight because I just downloaded a bunch of stuff to read about different ways to celebrate it last night and haven't found much time to read it yet, but so far I'm planning on having a growing knitted nativity scene (more to follow), a Jesse Tree with ornaments and verses talking about the ancestry of Jesus, candles (in an Advent wreath or not, not sure about that one yet), and the kids will have mangers that they will fill up with yarn or hay or something like that for each little kind deed that they do leading up to Christmas and a little doll in their mangers on Christmas morning. I'm very excited about it. Tonight I made the manger for the nativity set. Baby Jesus will be the last one knitted (unless I choose to have the wise men come some time later). I found a patter for a knitted nativity set (I'd LOVE to get my hands on this one or this one), but it didn't have a manger so I made one up. Basically what I did was:

Cast on 14, Starting with a knit row, st-st 7 rows
Row 8: Knit (makes a purl bump which will help when making up the manger)
Row 9: Cast on (knitted cast on) 6 stitches, knit across
Row 10: Purl
Row 11: Cast on 6 stitches, knit across
Row 12: St-st 6 rows
Row 18: Bind off 6 st, purl to the end
Row 19: Bind off 6 st. knit to end
Row 20: K
Row 21-27: starting with a knit row, st-st 7 rows
Row 28: K
Row 29-40: K
Bind off. Make a cardboard box (with no top) for support (something along this line):

Set down in manger, stuff lightly, sew up manger. Add crossbeam embellishments with yarn needle and extra yarn. Geo crocheted a few pieces of hay for me :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Knitted Chicken Egg

I'm knitting up a bunch of eggs for play food for the kids for Christmas and here's the pattern I came up with. I wanted a knit version of the cute Egg Babies (crochet). It's roughly based on the Curly Purly Egg pattern, but I found that that pattern knitted with worsted weight yarn on size 7s or 8s was giving me a goose egg size rather than chicken so I adjusted it slightly.

Cast on 9 stitches over 3 double pointed needles (3 st per needle), use a 4th needle to knit in the round.

Row 1: K
Row 2: K1, M1 (lifted bar increase), K2 (repeat for remaining 2 needles)
Row 3: K
Row 4: K1, M1, K1, M1 (around, will have 6 st per needle)
K in stocking stitch for 9 rows, begin decreases

Decrease Row 1: K1, K2tog*, K1, K2tog* (around)
Row 2-3: K
Row 4: K2tog* (around)
Cut yarn leaving a long tail, thread it onto a large yarn needle, weave through loops on needles, remove needles, stuff egg, pull thread snug and sew up tightly. Hide ends. Shape egg with needle.

* I think I might have invented an "invisible" decrease, or at least slightly less obvious decrease. Slip 1 knitwise, move that stitch back to the left needle (purlwise), knit 2 together thru back loops.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My journey into Ubuntu

My dad turned me on to Ubuntu (operating system) the other day, was raving about how cool it was, so easy to install. Mom had been having problems with Windows on her computer so he decided that they didn't have anything to loose in trying it and installed it on her computer.

The more he talked about it, the more I was dying to try it too. I've always been smitten by the idea of trying an alternate OS, but was always way too scared, felt totally out of my element so never did anything about it. But this time (since I knew he was there to help hold my hands), I got brave and decided to give it a try. I installed version 7.10 - Gutsy Gibbon (I think they might have released an "H" version in the last little bit, not sure).

I had to burn the .iso file to a disk, then boot to the disk to get it to start up. Ubuntu lets you test drive the OS (without making any changes to your hard drive) to see if you like it or not. I was mightily impressed with what I saw so after a little hesitation, I started the install. I got a little nervous when I got to the hard drive partitioning part, probably should have done a little more research because I did something wrong (I think I was supposed to do the Manual partitioning, but I didn't chose that) and now Windows doesn't recognize my hard drive (a 2nd drive, not with Windows installed on it, just a data disk). Windows thinks I need to format the drive. But Linux sees it just fine. Strange. I tried to format the drive twice in Windows but it said it couldn't both times. Luckily I had backed everything on that drive up the night before so it wasn't the end of the world.

Linux is a whole 'nother animal from Windows so I had to do a fair bit of asking Papa for help and searching around the net for directions on how to install programs (one of the major differences between Windows and Ubuntu) and other various commands I had to do from terminal (kind of like DOS prompt).

Ubuntu is awesome in that it detects almost everything that it should. I was immediately on the net, could see all my drives and all the files in them (even on the drive that Windows thinks is toast), my display was lovely...

I now don't remember everything I did, but I started figuring that if this was going to work for me, I'd have to be able to run certain Windows programs in Ubuntu (or therabouts). Dad told me about a commercial virtual machine program out there that would allow you to use Windows software (actually run a virtual Windows session while in Ubuntu), so I looked into it, installed the trial, wasn't too impressed.

I searched a little more and found a free gem of a VM program called VirtualBox. While it's not perfect and it does have it's little things here and there, it's so far working GREAT! I created a VM, installed Windows 2000 onto it (at first I was worried that when it said it had to format C: that it was actually going to wipe out my C drive, but not to worry, it just thinks the .iso image file "partitioned" for it is C drive, what it doesn't know won't hurt me), got it on the net (with a lot of help from DH), and I'm now in the process of Windows Update, then on to installing all the drivers I still might need, and then some of my most needed Windows software (Paint Shop Pro, Microsoft Word, Excel & Publisher, (sorry OpenOffice and Gimp, you just didn't do it for me)). Then I will be in hog heaven with access to Windows and Linux software and a super little OS to run the Linux stuff on...

...my kids' computer is next, bwahahaha!

Pros:

  • Ease of install
  • Lovely desktop theme right out of the box
  • Some neat visual effects (lots actually, wrapped up in a thing called Compiz, and they are SO fun!)
  • Price - Free!
  • The project is alive, it's constantly being developed, updated, issues addressed
  • Lots of free software to chose from
  • Not a huge learning curve coming from Windows

Cons:
  • Firefox for Ubuntu doesn't have the "copy image" command
  • Can't get the Flash Player to work in Opera
  • Wish Windows programs would work without any extra stuff needed
  • Potentially not as bug-free as non-free OSs
  • Back everything up, anything could happen during install

Favorite Linux programs so far:
Gparted - graphical partition editor, again you burn the .iso to a disk, then boot to the disk to edit the partitions. I think I should have done this even before installing Ubuntu, maybe my drive wouldn't have confused poor Windows so badly.
VirtualBox - Run Windows from Linux, access both without needing to reboot. Another little plus about VBox is that Windows loads so bloomin' fast compared to the old way of actually having to reboot the whole computer. Windows restarts in it's little VM window so I don't have to stop what I'm doing in Ubuntu just to restart Windows. Nice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yarn Harvesting

Yarn harvesting, sweater recycling, whatever you call it, it's great fun (at least for this nerd) and super thrifty. I have a thrift shop near my home that sells sweaters for $0.25 each on Thursdays (1/2 off day) and I can usually get 5 or 6 skeins worth of yarn from one sweater. I never measure the yardage, but you can make a pvc niddyy noddy or rig up any of several other ways to figure the yardage if you want.

The first thing to note is the seaming of the sweater you are looking at. There are two ways that sweaters are seamed, one is the material is knitted on a machine in large sheets, the pieces are cut/serged and serged together (like any other article of commercial made clothing). The other way is the sweater is knit on a machine, but with a precise pattern and one long piece of yarn is used (going back and forth up the sweater) and this long piece can be unraveled and wound into balls.

Here's what a serged seam (not useable for yarn harvesting) looks like:













And here's a chain stitched seam (what you want to look for):









The chain stitch is similar to the type of stitching that is done in the top of dog food bags that allows you (if you can find the tail) to rip the string right off the top of the bag and open it easily.

Here's a drawing of what to look for when getting ready to separate the pieces of your sweater. Find the side of the chain where the rounded part of the chain is closest to an edge. Slide a seam ripper under one of the chains and cut it (try not to nick the sweater yarn). You may have to loosen one or two more chains before you can start to pull the string from the other side of the seam and rip the whole seam out. Sometimes as your ripping it out, the chain might snag, just give a quick tug to both sides of the sweater and it should break free and you can continue ripping out the seam.

(more to come as I have time)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Make a center pull ball with a homemade Nostepinde

What is a Nostepinde, you ask? Well, let me tell you all I know which is really just very limited reading on the internet. I believe they are traditional wooden yarn winders that have been around for eeons, and, while they might not be as fast as a ball winder, they are a lot cheeper and really get the job done very nicely. Here's how I use the Nostepinde method with a piece of PVC pipe.













Start by holding the tail of the yarn with your thumb and fingers so it won't run away on you.













Wrap a 2" (or so) section on one end of the pipe (any dowel shape would work actually so don't feel stuck if you don't have pvc, you probably have a wooden spoon, right?). You'll be wrapping the pipe toward you and winding away from you (clockwise). When you have it well covered (maybe 1-2 layers of yarn), start winding from bottom to top on more of a diagonal. I've made a very exaggerated first wind to show what I mean. At first it won't want to go that direction and your first few diagonal winds will be rather shallow, but keep at it and it will get better.


























Keep winding and winding, turning the pipe/dowel/stick... toward you as you wrap. Eventually the ball will cover all the first couple of rows of yarn and if you wind it right, you end up with a ball that is flat on top and bottom and won't go running away on you. Tuck the tail in with a crochet hook and slide the ball off the pipe. Et voila, a wonderful, center-pull ball.

How to wind a center pull ball

First take the tail of the yarn and hold it, tail pointing down, in your non-dominant hand (for me that's my left hand).













Start winding in a figure-8 motion between thumb and pointer finger while continuing to hold the tail with your last 3 fingers.













Pull the figure-8 off your fingers and fold it in half, then continue winding over it.
















I keep my thumb over the place where the tail comes out from the ball so I don't wind over its escape route. See the little hole my thumb leaves?
As I'm winding, I turn the ball to the right and keep wrapping around. At first I'm almost going from south to north pole, but after there's a bit of a ball, I turn the ball a little off its axis and begin winding from the bottom right hand "corner" of the ball, (ha, is that an oxymoron?) to the top left of the ball which serves to make the ball a little more flat on top and bottom which is great for keeping the ball from rolling all over the place when it's finished being wound.

When I'm done, I tuck the tail in to the ball with a crochet hook. Notice the tail coming out of the center of my center pull ball.








See how nicely they stack (well if you tilt your head, lol)?


Thursday, October 18, 2007

What the kids are getting (hope they don't read my blog!)

Christmas is coming, the goose is overeating, and I'm feeling the crunch to get some toys made for the kiddos in time. Inspired by the adorable cuties at Little Cotton Rabbits, I thought I would try my hand at knitting some bunnies, bears and maybe monkeys, (not sure I'll get them figured out tho). Currently I'm working on the feet and trying to make my own pattern using short rows for the heels (like a sock with an extra large foot). I've done short rows before, but never for socks so I searched and searched for a tutorial that would explain it on a Knitting-for-dummies level and I found it. Jo from Microcrafty has a very nice, very understandable tutorial that held my hands quite nicely till I came up with a decent prototype, tho probably not my final one, have some more tweaking to do. But at least now I have a clue.

For Eli: Lots and lots of knitted (and crochet) balls, balls and more balls. Also maybe a bear or a monkey.
For Geo: Knitted finger puppets, and a knitted bear, probably some balls too
For Gigi: A knitted backpack, knitted doll, knitted rabbit, finish the quilt I started 2 years ago (!).

The list will probably grow, at least for things I'd like to make, we'll see if I have time.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back in the saddle again

I'm so glad to be back to school this week. We were off last week due to moving the last little bits out of our old house. I think Geo was ready to be back to school too, he really did really well, flew thru math which is rather unusual for him, was no more distracted than usual by his sister and baby brother. The weather was wonderful this morning, crisp, lovely. We spent awhile outside, observing and trying to draw nature. It was so nice, I may just move school out of doors while the weather permits.

My l'il boy is growing up

Eli will soon be 17 months old and what a fun little guy he is. He loves to play, has to be right in the middle of whatever is going on, he's inquisitive, curious, imitative ("talks" on the cell phone, tries to "take something apart" with a screwdriver [with us right there supervising of course], tries to turn on the stove burners, glad there's a trick to it!, tries to turn on the stereo, tries to use my computer mouse move the pointer around, tries to feed himself (messy!), is starting to try to go down stairs like a big boy, tries to play guitar...), spins around in circles until he's too dizzy to stand, he's a climber, he's fearless (kind of a bad combo)...

His favorite or at least his most used vocalization is "Dah!" like the first part of Daddy. He uses it for "Daddy," "look," "Mommy," "hey, where is everybody?"... He has kind of a low sounding voice for a baby and his plaintive "Daaahhh" is such a funny, sweet sound.

He isn't saying much at all (bah for ball, Dah), but he signs: baby, bird, dog, cat, down, more, please, eat/food, bread, banana, milk, shoes, and he meows like a cat :) That one's kind of funny. It sounds like "wow," with the word slightly drug out and the mouth wide open for the vowel part of the word. It does sound rather like a cat, but much lower than our cat's dainty and high-pitched "meow." Signs I keep trying to get him to learn are: Mommy, up, thank you, tree, diaper, bath, nice/clean, good, water, cereal, ball...

In mourning

Well, it's official (I think), my old faithful palm pilot is kaput, no more. She had been refusing to charge properly and now she won't even power up. Sigh, sniff. We had a good run, old friend, may you rest in peace.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

My Christmas List

Ha, I know it's way early and what business do I have in posting my Christmas List, but there's one particular thing that's eating away at me, I'm trying to figure out how I can beg, rob or steal (no, not really! just joking, lol) to get my hands on one. I'm thinking the days are numbered for my faithful, but old, Palm M515. The charging base seems to have a bad connection in it so sometimes it doesn't want to sync or charge the battery. Also, there's not enough space on it for the things I want to do with it (lots of ebooks for school, for example) and I'd really like one with more memory (mine only has about 15 MB, and the 1GB card that I had extra to go with my other Palm that was stolen sadly doesn't work in the m515). So I'm looking at the latest, greatest Palm offering, the T|X. Pretty snazzy with 100MB of useable space, a much faster processor, and a bigger screen area. There is some concern that not all of my programs will run on it, but I have already determined that my favorite palm database, Handyshopper, will run on it so I'm good. About the only other thing I use it for is books for school and Bible+ (guess I'd better check on that one). They are going for under $200 new/lightly used on Ebay so I need ideas of what I can do to come up with that much money (well, a little more because I'd also like a keyboard so that I can type narrations during school). Any ideas?

I make silhouettes so if anyone wants any (kids, grandkids?), I'd be happy to do some for a small (to generous) donation . Oh, and calligraphy, I've done that for pay before, maybe a saying that is special to your family, nicely penned and framed to hang in your home? I also make straw stars (Christmas ornaments), I can knit, I learned how to do stitching cards so I could make some of those to sell...

I posted an ad on Craigslist to type handwritten documents or do any other data entry needed, we'll see if I get any nibbles from that. I've also applied to a few other data entry companies, but haven't heard back from any of them yet.

I probably just need to have a yard sale, which we plan on doing in October when the weather starts to get bearable. If I could come up with something that would even just pay me an extra $50 a week, that would be great, at least it wouldn't be too long before I could get my next "baby," just having a hard time figuring out what that might be. Oh, I do have some earrings and knitting stitch markers I could sell if anyone wanted anything like that. I think they're rather pretty.

I had thought about designing and putting together homeschooling and home organization forms and selling those either as a download or as a book and I still may do that, but that would take a good bit of time so have to figure out when I'd do that.

I think I've developed a nice system for putting my Ambleside Online schedule on my Palm into Handyshopper format so that I can check off items as a I do them and I can see in detail what I'm supposed to be doing in each time slot. That makes life very easy for me. Wonder if that would be worth anything? Probably not, but hey, it might be worth a try. I'm really just brainstorming here.

Sigh :)

Let's see, is there anything else on my "Christmas List" or am I really just rabid for a new Palm?

  • Um, there are some school supplies I'd like to get (Nature notebooks, a few books that I can't download for free from the web, glue, pens, colored pencils, math manipulatives, paper, ink for the printer, supplies for other handicrafts down the road, downloads of the music we need for Composer Study)...
  • I would like another camera as I'm not sure how long ours will last, but for now, it's probably one of those things we'll have to save up for. At least they are coming down in price (since we bought ours 6 years ago), and we'll likely be able to afford many more megapixels when we do get another one (ours is only 3 megapixels).
Please pardon my blubbering. :)

Another use for ramen noodles

My dear hubby happened upon this lovely way of gussying up the ever budget friendly, but very basic, ramen noodles. Here's what he does:

Take 2 stalks of celery (cut in chunks), 2 carrots (peeled, cut up), 1/2 to 1 onion, and he's either used fresh asparagus on one occasion or mushrooms on a couple of others (I also made it with just celery, carrots and onion and used Buddha's Delight gluten & vege/mushroom mix and it turned out decent too). Cook these up with some salt or seasoning salt till the carrots are nice and soft. Blend everything in the blender to make a nice "gravy." Add one of those small cans (I'm guessing 8-10 oz.) of Chinese Braised Gluten or Mock Duck or some such thing (I think you can get them in the Asian section of the supermarket), mix with about 3 packages of cooked, drained, ramen noodles (minus the seasoning packets), and there you have it, a yummy meal (cheap too), and sure to please all eating.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Meal Planning

I've never been great about this and in the past would find myself about 11:55 am scratching my head wondering what was for lunch. Day after day that gets to be really old fast. So I gathered up some of my/our favorite recipes that were also really simple and easy to make (and pretty inexpensive too) and threw together a menu plan. Fwiw, here is my 8 week cyclical menu plan (I'll try to post recipes for some of these when I get time in the future (lol):

Week 1

  • Sunday: Spaghetti (make bread)
  • Monday: Biscuits & Egg &/or mushroom gravy
  • Tuesday: Egg salad sandwiches, Soup (Broccoli, potato, or tomato)
  • Wednesday: Patties (Gluten, potato/egg, rice /potato/egg/tofu...)
  • Thursday: Haystacks (taco salad/tacos/tostadas/burritos)
  • Friday: Mac n Cheese ( like the Tofu Rarebit recipe), Green beans, Corn on the cobb (or frozen corn)
  • Sabbath: Special K (or Cottage Cheese) Loaf, Green Bean Salad (or just green beans and/or salad), Mashed Potatoes
Week 2
  • Sunday: Pizza, Make Bread
  • Monday: Shepherd's/Pot Pie, Mashed P&G
  • Tuesday: Egg & Tomato, Sandwiches, (Soak beans for tomorrow)
  • Wednesday: Black Beans & Rice
  • Thursday: Curry (Egg, potato/chickpea or lentil...) & rice, Chipaties
  • Friday: Muffins, fruit & soup (usually a supper, not sure what to do for lunch, leftovers?)
  • Sabbath: Potato/Tomato Galette
Week 3
  • Sunday: Spaghetti, Make Bread
  • Monday: Tater tot casserole
  • Tuesday: Egg salad sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Patties (Gluten, potato/egg, rice /potato/egg/tofu...)
  • Thursday: Haystacks
  • Friday: Mac n "Cheese", (make extra cheese), Asparagus, (Soak beans)
  • Sabbath: Conch Stew, Rice & Beans
Week 4
  • Sunday: Pizza, Make Bread
  • Monday: Shepherd's/Pot Pie, Mashed P&G
  • Tuesday: Tomato Soup, Grilled "Cheese" Sandwiches (Cheese leftover from Mac n Cheese), (Soak beans)
  • Wednesday: Cornbread & chili, Salad
  • Thursday: Chicken a la king, Broccoli, Salad (tomatoes, lettuce, mayo/catsup /soymilk dressing)
  • Friday: Lunch: Perogies w/ "Nice Spaghetti Sauce," Peas & Corn
    • Supper: Muffins, fruit & soup
  • Sabbath: Special K Loaf, Green Bean Salad, Mashed Potatoes
Week 5
  • Sunday: Spaghetti, Make Bread
  • Monday: Something with rice (make extra rice)
  • Tuesday: Egg salad, sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Patties (Gluten, potato/egg, rice /potato/egg/tofu...)
  • Thursday: Fried Rice (add broccoli, scrambled eggs, onions, slivered carrots, frozen peas...)
  • Friday: Mac n Cheese, Brussels Sprouts
  • Sabbath: Pierogies
Week 6
  • Sunday: Pizza, Make Bread
  • Monday: Biscuits & Egg gravy
  • Tuesday: Egg & Tomato Sandwiches, Soak beans
  • Wednesday: Black Beans & Rice
  • Thursday: Haystacks
  • Friday: Supper: Baked Rice Pudding
  • Sabbath: 1 Dish Meal, Salad, Bread (rolls?)
Week 7
  • Sunday: Spaghetti, Make Bread
  • Monday: Tater tot casserole
  • Tuesday: Egg salad sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Patties (Gluten, potato/egg, rice /potato/egg/tofu...)
  • Thursday: Chicken a la king, Broccoli
  • Friday: Mac n Cheese, (make extra cheese), Spinach
  • Sabbath: Special K Loaf, Green Bean Salad, Mashed Potatoes
Week 8
  • Sunday: Pizza, Make Bread
  • Monday: Shepherd's/Pot Pie, Mashed P&G
  • Tuesday: Tomato Soup, Grilled "Cheese" Sandwiches (Cheese leftover from Mac n Cheese)
  • Wednesday: Cornbread & chili, Salad
  • Thursday: Fried Rice
  • Friday: Supper: Muffins, fruit & soup
  • Sabbath: Pierogies
Alternatives: Alternatives:

Spanish Veggie Rice
Tofu Stuffed Shells & Sauce
Sloppy Joes
Polenta
Mexican Lentils & Rice
Taco Style Lentils & Rice
Tomato Rice Pilaf
Meatloaf

Soup Ideas:

Lentil Soup
Potato Soup
Tomato Soup
ABC Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Vegetable Soup with Dumplings

Once a Month Treat:

Banana Bread
Dilly Bread
Cream of Wheat pudding
Fruit soup (breakfast)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Homeschool Progress

We will be going into our fourth week of homeschool tomorrow and so far so good (-ish). I seeing some improvement so that's at least good. I decided on AmblesideOnline (a la Charlotte Mason [CM]) after much reading and determining that it's at least as good as everything else out there and it's FREE! I'm also adding some of the books from Old Fashioned Education (OFE, another great site, also free!). Charlotte Mason was a strong believer in "Living Books" (engaging and interesting books on a wide variety of subjects written by one author who is passionate about their subject and draws the reader in as opposed to a committee of writers as for a dryly written textbook) and "Narration" (telling back what the student heard or read), in addition to Nature Study (another huge component and beginning science in the early grades), Bible, Art, Music, Copywork (handwriting), Dictation for grammar and spelling in middle grades, Poetry, History, Foreign Language, Geography, Literature, Handicrafts (learning to make useful things, things with a purpose or beautiful things to be given as gifts as opposed to useless arts and crafts that just sit around collecting dust). Classes are kept short so as to not bore the student causing them to "check out" and stop paying attention. School is usually wrapped up by early afternoon leaving the afternoon for free play, chores, free reading, child-led learning if they want, art, music, ...

My schedule as it currently stands:

Bible/Character Training: MW we read an OT story, TTh an NT one, and Friday we review both stories. Will start adding in memorizing family rules, Sabbath School memory verses and discussing the importance of developing a good character and manners, etc.
Nature Study: MTW Nature walk, Observation, Nature Journal (when I can get one put together for Geo), and read about Mammals. Thursday, read from one of the Among the (Forest, Meadow, Farmyard, Night...) People books. Friday, either a science DVD from the library or a science experiment from a book we have.
Math: We are doing the Math Enhancement Programme from the UK, Year 1, but I'd like to get caught up to Year 2 so will probably go a little faster than the plan laid out at OFE, or at least we'll go year round and eventually get caught up that way.
Drawing (Drawing with Children by Mona Brooke, we'll also be watching some of Jan Brett's drawing videos)/Artist (Leonardo da Vinci) /Composer (Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov) /Folk Song (Go Get the Ax) /Hymn (Children of the Heavenly Father) /Handicraft things (for this term we're going to be working on/perfecting knitting. Right now Geo is getting pretty adept at finger knitting) will be scattered throughout the week.
Literature: Scheduled reading from assigned books MWF with Free Reading (from grade appropriate living books not assigned for this year's reading) on TTh
Phonics: M-Th (McGuffey's Reader & Speller, & Word Mastery per OFE schedule)
Sign Language: M-Th, Friday we review all known signs or at least quite a few.
World History: M
American History: TW
Book of Centuries: TF Collect entries from week's readings, compile with pics and blurbs from the web, print out and glue in Book of Centuries.
Geography/Social Studies: TTh Paddle-to-the-Sea (a story about a little model canoe that makes a journey through the great lakes region from just north of Lake Superior all the way to the Atlantic Ocean), F Seven Little Sisters... from OFE schedule (I'm guessing it features little "sisters" from each of the seven continents)
Mapping: We map things on Google Maps whenever we read of a notable place.
Copywork & Memory work: M-F

I'm very excited about the coming year. I'm scouring every CM resource I can find on the net so I can fully grasp her philosophy of education. I need some help getting Geo to pay attention and narrate back to me what he heard (if he even listened). I may play around with shortening lesson times and bringing back the lesson later in the morning if needed. I think I will be adding lapbooking to our narrating in that I want to turn each narration into a little book to go into a larger lapbook (maybe 1 a month or 1 a quarter?). Need to save my pennies so I can get a little recorder so that Geo can narrate into it and I can type it out later (or use DH's laptop for dictating narrations).

I have been able to get 85% of the books required free from the net as most of them are now in the public domain. The rest of them I plan to get from the library or substitute with a suitable free alternative (Project Gutenberg and Baldwin Online are my friends :). I've put the free books I can get onto my Palm Pilot so I can just pretty much pick up and go and I think that's pretty neat.

Splintzell Sprouts

Gigi calls Brussels' Sprouts Splintzell Sprouts and I think it's the most adorable thing (she loves them btw) and I don't want to forget it so I'm blogging about it here.

Oh, also, while I'm jotting things down (and was very remiss in not getting the exact days), Eli cut his incisors about a month ago (yeah, all of them at once), and his molars came in about a month before that.

I'm a speller, I can spell ([What about] Bob's in my head saying "I'm a sailor, I can sail")

A couple of double letter words tried to trip me up but in the end I was victorious, bwahahaha
Give it a try, it's short and kinda fun :)


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Word Saving Glich

A few days ago I was working on Word and started noticing that things I knew I had saved weren't showing up when I closed the file and opened it again. It was frustrating to say the least! I did some searching around and at first I thought it might be a bad relationship between Adobe 7 & Word 2000, but was hesitant to uninstall Adobe. Instead I uninstalled/reinstalled Word (that took a good long time too tho), and it didn't fix the problem. Then I found something that suggested the normal.dot file might be corrupted so I deleted every instance of that file I could find. That seemed to be the magic bullet because now things are humming along again quite nicely, I'm once again able to make pdf files (that was messed up too) and my changes are being saved. I'm happy that it was such an easy fix.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Final Straw

They've been sat upon, bent out of shape several times till the other day they were contorted to the max (by a friend's 2 yo) and then the final straw was when Geo bumped into me when we were reading a book on the couch and ... *snap* one of the ear thingies popped right off my glasses, broke clean off :( It stinks because the only way we can replace them is to dip into our tiny emergency fund that we're trying to grow for Financial Peace University (HIGHLY recommended btw), but I can't drive without glasses, I'll be a sitting duck. It really stinks. I was so hoping they would last a little longer. Not that I won't be glad to get new glasses (my lenses look terrible!), but this is not the way I wanted it to happen (not the time either).

Friday, July 27, 2007

And now for something completely different

Have to start this with a shout out to my friend, Nichole, who gave me the idea for this new little project of mine. After looking at the extensive instructions found here, I started making my very own case bound book (like a real hard cover book that you'd buy in the store). Here are some pics and my thoughts about the process. For my part I'm sure I'm doing this "all wrong" because I don't have the right kind of glue or board or paper for that matter, but I'm doing the best with what I have and I'm right happy with the results (so far).

The first thing I did was to make 4 signatures (a stack of paper folded in half in a very basic "book fold") of 8 sheets of regular 8.5 x 11 inkjet paper (16 pages) each, folding each sheet individually to insure a nice, sharp crease before putting the folios together to make the signatures. I had already printed out what I wanted in my book (in my case my homeschool planner), laid it all out in Publisher and printed the first 32 pages front-and-back, then the next and so on till I had what I needed for 4 signatures. I figured out what I was going to use for the cloth hinges (in my case that turned out to be some green bias tape I had on hand), and linen tape (bias tape folded in half). I prepared the endsheets as described. Then I figured out where I was going to put my "linen tape," (in my case I went with 3) and marked on all the signatures where to punch the holes. The kids helped me with that part by pushing a thumb tack into each marking. Then I found a needle and some bedspread weight crochet thread that I had, and started sewing the signatures together. Then I fashioned a crude book press with a couple pieces of particle board that were lying around and a couple of clamps to hold them together. I banged on the spine with a metal thingamabob that I had handy to flatten them down a bit and make them flair out. It stayed like that all night. I glued a strip of watercolor paper on the spine, then another piece of bias tape, opened up. I made some headbands for the top and bottom of the spine and glued them on (I think I got the order wrong, but ... who cares :). It stayed like that all night. This morning I made the case for my book. I didn't have board, the closest thing to the consistency was cereal boxes, but they are much too thin so I glued three layers together to make the right thickness. They sat piled under a whole bunch of Bible Story Books till they dried. Then I found some fabric for the cover, measured it like they told me to (forgot to add the 3mm for an overhang, bummer) glued the paper strip down the middle and the boards on either side, then glued the fabric up and inside the cover. When that was dry, I put my book innards inside the cover, and with the help of some wax paper (hope it works!) I glued the flappy parts (hinges) to the inside cover of the book, front and back. In the morning, if I want, (probably closer to tomorrow evening tho), I'll be able to glue the paste-downs to the front and back cover and voila... I'll have my very own hard cover book made completely by me. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. And very economical too. I had everything on hand so it didn't cost me a dime. Glue is cheep (especially this time of year with school sales going on), cereal boxes are free, I have tons of fabric scraps, the only thing that I have to pay for is the paper which is something I usually have on hand anyway. Now I think I'd like to print my cookbook and bind it :) The possibilities are endless.

Pics added 7/28/07
















Notice the signatures in the 4th picture, the last picture shows the importance of gluing the cereal box cardboard with the pictures in (you can barely make out part of the Weetabix logo on the inside of my back cover, lol). In the third picture you can see the stitching down the center of one of the signatures. Just for fun, go find a hard bound book and find the string at the center of a signature.

He's getting so big

Our little Eli is starting to do SO many things. Not only is he running around everywhere, climbing on things, dancing to music, spinning around in circles till he's dizzy, and basically acting silly, he's also starting to try to talk (Ba for ball, bapoo for diaper, mo for more), he's learning to sign (can sign "more," "eat," & "thank you") and last night he apparently saw the moon for the first time and made sure to point it out to me. He stared and stared at it for the longest time, it was kinda cute.

Addendum 7/25/07: As of today he's also signed (copying us) car & dog. He's so into things, really understands what's going on. At supper I asked him to sign something with his hands and he immediately started signing eat and more.

The older two (after watching a couple of DVDs from the library) now know signs for: eat, drink, socks, shoes, hat, baby, flower, water, milk, sit, stand, off, on, open, close, book, help, want, more, cookie, boy, girl, mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, bird, fish, cat, dog, thank you, please, be, good, hungry, happy, play, stop, go, on, off, video, sleep and I'm sure a few more that I can't think of right now. Pretty cool. Sign language is definitely going to be a part of homeschool for us, like a second language or secret language or something :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Numbness and tingling

Well, it seems that I'm experiencing my second side effect from the wreck (besides the slight sore neck). My left arm has been going numb on me since yesterday. I feel like I need to keep waking it up. Well, it's not exactly tingly like it's waking up from being asleep, but just a weird numb feeling. I do hope that the chiropractor will be able to determine what's causing it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

He can do it himself

Eli can now bathe by himself (i.e. Mommy & Daddy not there to hold him up) in the bathtub with either big brother or big sister. Of course Daddy or Mommy are right there watching the whole time, but he does a great job. He knows to avoid getting his face to close to the water and mostly just sits and plays with toys. He does such a good job. And I think he likes taking a bath with Geo or Gigi, probably makes him feel like a big boy :) Tonight he spent half of the bath time just laughing his head off, mouth wide open, big grin, and just giggling for all he was worth. It was pretty funny. My baby is almost 1 (sniff!). Can't believe he's that old already. Wish you could put a speed governor on time.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Things are finally starting to happen

We finally got a insurance case # or some such thing so we should soon be able to get our rental. We also went in and got an initial exam by a chiropractor (we'll get adjusted some time next week after she's had a chance to look over our x-rays). The kids seemed to like her so that's good. DH was hoping that we'd get adjusted today as he's pretty out of whack in his back and his foot from mashing down on the break milliseconds after impact to avoid hitting the car in front of us. I'm really going to enjoy getting adjusted after so long.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What a day

Well, I finally got Eli to sleep at 4 this morning and was able to sleep till about 7:15 when I got up to get ready to leave for the hearing. We were late and out the door at 8:45 (Daniel was aiming for 8:30) and were making pretty decent time when we were stopped by a red light. We were sitting there, minding our own business when out of nowhere (well, from behind I guess), an old lady in an SUV came and WHaMMo! turned out small trunk into no trunk and gave us all a good jolt (and hours later whiplashy symptoms). Geo started screaming right away, Eli started crying because Geo was crying, Gigi was a delayed reaction, but she finally chimed in too. What a cacophony that was! Geo was bordering on hysterical and kept asking if we were going to buy a new car, why did that lady crash our car, what were we going to do?... on and on and on... I finally sat the older two down and we had a prayer of thanksgiving that everyone was relatively unhurt (no broken bones, no one died, etc.) and that helped them calm down somewhat. I distracted Gigi with the prospect of coloring and after awhile Geo joined in too. I couldn't put Eli down so he just wiggled and wiggled in our arms. The lady who hit us was so apologetic, she said that she had started slowing down for the light, but her new shoes had slid off the break pedal and she had slammed into the back of us. I felt really sorry for her, she certainly hadn't mean to do that and I could tell she felt awful about it. The police got there pretty quickly and we sorted everything out. Long story short it was a looong day and not a very good one either. I do hope that their insurance will cover chiropractic because I feel like I could really use an adjustment or two. Not sure what's going to happen to our car, they will probably total it and give us not enough money to cover a replacement car. That would be the worst case scenario. I'm not sure what I'm hoping for exactly. I wish it had never happened, just hoping that some good can come out of this somehow.

Sick again?!?

I don't know what we did to deserve this, but we're all (minus DH so far) sick again. I think we might have gotten it from someone at the church social this last weekend since it was a pot-luck style meal and lots of kids were there, but I can't be sure. It started with sore throat which is now gone, now we all have sniffles, then tonight I had a twinge of a headache that I ignored (big mistake) which was joined with stomach upset. I tried to go lie down at 10 pm but the headache had gotten so bad at that point (can't remember a headache that bad ever, maybe because I'm really not prone to headaches) that I couldn't go to sleep. I took some Tylenol, DH made me some hot tea which I sipped, I put some frozen stuff (mixed veggies?) on my head and went to lie down again with a heating pad on my feet (one of DH's migraine tricks, draws the blood away from the head) and before too long the headache was gone. But then Eli woke up with a fever and has been restless ever since. I never did get to sleep and Eli hasn't slept a wink (that I know of) since then. He can't breath well and I know he doesn't feel well. He's been nursing almost non-stop since he woke up and I'm not getting any sleep. I finally decided that if he's not going to let me get some sleep, that I'd come in here and let him play while I bum around on the computer till he finally starts showing signs of sleepiness. Our bankruptcy hearing is tomorrow and DH is worried about having to drive and hoping he doesn't get sick from not enough sleep so I made a bed for myself and Eli in the living room. Hopefully that'll work!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

He's walking!

Well, I think I can officially say that Eli is walking! He still crawls some but is making a concerted effort to walk more than ever and is toddling all over the house. Still very unsteady on his feet, but he'll only get better every day. He doesn't seem overly phased by his achievement, but he does seem to enjoy trying something new.

We did it!

Yesterday Daniel

1) got some Dry Gas or some such thing to add to the bad gas in the gold car and got it running again,

2) helped me get the washer working again, and helped do a few loads of laundry (!!! :)

and

3) (along with a little help from moi), got the wire hooked back up to the starter on the truck and got the truck running again.

Woo hoo, it was a good day. We still have a riding mower that won't work, but 3 for 4 isn't bad. It was kind of fun fixing things and getting them to work. Today we need to get the blinkers and brake lights running again so we can get the tags up to date.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I got the job

of doing a church directory that is. I figured with a database driven mail merge, it couldn't be all that difficult. So far I'm having so much fun coming up with different layouts (2, 3 and 4 column pictorial layouts, compact text-only layouts...) and learning more than I ever did before about mail merging in Word. Yeah, I'm a geek, but what can I say? lol

As American as Apple Pie

Our church had a social yesterday which got the kids and I out of a wedding that DH said was actually very nice and he was able to meet up with a bunch of friends he hadn't seen since academy and college. So good for him, but the kids and I had a really nice time at the social. It was at the pastor's house and the weather couldn't have been nicer. The kids played, there were veggie-hotdogs and accoutrements, and a pie contest. I took an apple pie and, while I didn't win, I overheard someone saying (not knowing I'd made it) that it was just about the best apple pie they'd ever had, and someone else agreed with them that it was really good and someone else told me that they really liked it too... so I guess it wasn't too shabby :) I was happy with it. The kids had fun even though they looked like they were going to fall apart at one point, but they kept it together and ended up having a really good time. After it was all over, I got directions to the wedding reception (a back way/shortcut) and we went and picked DH up. So we all ended up having a good time (tho poor DH came home with a headache from all the smoking that was going on at the reception). We stayed up last night taking the washer apart, then I conked out at midnight or so... feeling like a nap right about now!

My recipe for Apple Pie

1 bag of Granny Smith apples (bought cheep from Aldi), peeled, cored, sliced
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. flour

Mix the dry ingredients together and either alternate layers of apples and sugar mixture in pie pan, or mix them all together in a big bowl and pour into pie plate.

Crust:

3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. oil
a little milk, maybe 1/4 c.

Mix dry ingredients together. Add oil, mix till well combined. Sprinkle cold milk onto dry/oil mixture, mix with a fork till it starts to come together. Mix with your hands gently, don't overmix. Form a ball and separate it into two halves slightly more in one lump for the bottom crust and slightly less for the top crust. Roll out dough between sheets of wax paper. Lift wax paper from one side, flip over and remove wax paper from other side, place pie plate upside down over crust, carefully slide hand under wax paper and flip pie plate and crust over, carefully remove wax paper and gently nudge the crust into the shape of the concave pie plate. Fill with apple mixture, repeat procedure with top crust. Dot apples with a few pats of butter (helps pie not to bubble over all over your oven and tastes great too :), put top crust on. Trim crust to 1/2" from edge, fold under and flute the edge with fingers or fork to seal it and make it look pretty. Poke some holes in the top of the crust to let out steam. Bake in a 400° oven for 40-50 minutes. Place aluminum foil on top of the pie or at least around the edge to prevent over browning. Let pie cool before serving. Mmm, mmm, good.

Toasted couplers

Speaking of the washer breaking... An appliance repairman was supposed to come by Friday, but he never showed up. I started snooping around online because I was suspecting that it was a broken belt not yet knowing that our washer isn't belt driven, but rather a direct drive washer and stumbled upon the Samurai Appliance Repair Man's website. What an AWESOME!!! resource, and funny... You should go check it out, if only for the amusement factor. It's hilarious reading and it's helpful too. By reading on his site, I determined that the drive coupler on my washer was probably bad and upon finally getting the washer apart (DH doing most of the work me consulting the fixitnow.com website and telling him what to do next), found that the Samurai and I were quite right, the thing was toast. Since I had a batch of once washed, rinsed and mostly spun out diapers sitting in the washer, I was really hoping that we'd be able to get a new drive coupler today, but being that we got the washer at Sears and being that all the repair places are closed on Sunday, I'll just have to wait till tomorrow. In the meantime, this is the solution we came up with to save the dipes (I'm giving thanks for a beautiful, sunny day):

And this is only 1/2 my stash! Someday I hope to get a clothes line above the edge of the flower bed/herb garden.

A boatload of ouch

A week ago Tuesday, I was running in the house, chasing Geo when I slipped on the family room carpet, my feet flew out from under me and I landed "plop" right on my tail. OOOhhh, I was in agony. I rolled over in fetal position and just moaned and groaned for awhile till I decided that I could still feel my toes, didn't think my hip or pelvis was broken... and decided that I should try to stand. I made it to a standing position and hobbled around for awhile, but didn't feel like I could do much standing, walking or sitting. I called DH and told him I didn't think I'd be able to make lunch, but after awhile I found that I could make lunch, but it just wasn't much fun. I sat sideways on pillows a lot that first day, gradually over the next few days things started to get a little better. But I keep having setbacks, like when, last week on Thursday, the washer started making terrible noises when I was spinning out, I jumped up to turn it off; another time was when I was running into the living room to rescue Eli who was being rolled up like a burrito in a comforter by Geo and crying for help. I'm wondering how long it's going to take to heal up completely. I really don't think that the tail bone is broken, more like a whiplash to my tail bone area or strained and pulled ligaments or muscles... who knows, but I know I can now sit and stand, no problem, but when I have to bend down or pick something (or someone) up, I have to go really slowly and gingerly or it'll start hurting again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Molar magoo

I was beginning to wonder why the last few nights haven't been especially restful when I discovered that Eli is trying to sprout a couple of molars. Poor guy, that can't feel good. Another thing that doesn't help is that he hates and I mean hates to get his diaper changed, especially in the middle of the night. It's a chore the 3-4 times I change his diaper. That's why I'm so very excited that my order of Haute Pockets are coming in the mail, probably next week sometime. I think I'll be able to stuff them well and because of the stay-dry liner, maybe I won't have to change his diapers so often during the night saving us all some sanity.

Eli is taking more and more steps, standing more, crawling like a spider (up on hands and toes, I call him a little spider monkey, lol), walking with a walker or pushing a small plastic chair across the floor... It won't be long before he's walking everywhere. It's started to be a problem with him getting into my kitchen cabinets so I'm improvising (till I can get some latches) with some heavy duty rubber bands which he can't get off the handles, it's working so far.

He has started playing with shapes sorters and actually gets them in sometimes by himself, likes to hit his leapfrog drum, loves things with bright lights (like cell phones, I also call him a bug because he's attracted to light), and is very playful. He's very observant and tries to copy things he sees like holding the phone up to his ear or brushing his hair or blowing on tubes like they are a trumpet.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My current favorite pasta sauce

I found this recipe for "Nice Spinach Spaghetti Sauce" a few weeks ago and tried it as I had some fresh tomatoes & parsley and even though I didn't have fresh basil, it was still mighty tasty! It's very fresh tasting, like nothing I'd ever had till then, not the same old same old pasta sauce.

This is how I made it:

2 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar in my fridge)
1 Tbsp. dried basil (I'm sure fresh would be way better)
1 can diced tomatoes
about 1 c. frozen spinach, defrosted
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup of olive oil
1-2 fresh roma tomatoes

I wizzed this all up in the blender, then either warm on the stove or lightly heat in the microwave. It turns a slightly yucky color, not nice and red, but the taste more than makes up for it.

Tonight tho I didn't have the jar of tomatoes, but did have some leftover spaghetti sauce and some tomato juice from a can of diced tomatoes, didn't have olive oil so just used vegetable oil and didn't have any fresh roma tomatoes, but it still turned out pretty good, had it with homemade gnocchi; not too shabby.

Clap your hands all ye people

Little Eli is wowing us every day. Today he took 3 steps before plopping to the ground. Then during supper (lentil stew for him) he started signing the word "more" (and I think he said "more," but it sounded more like "ma"). At first he was signing something closer to the word "food" or "eat," bringing his hand up to his mouth, then he started (on his own), bringing his hands together. Then after supper, DH called me into the family room to show me that Eli was clapping his hands for the first time ever. I just get such joy in seeing my babies blossom into little, intelligent beings. I stand in awe of God's creative power in such diminutive creatures.

Post Script... A little later when I was helping Gigi with her bath, DH called my attention to our little spider baby; he was "crawling" down the hall on his hands and feet, a very funny sight indeed. Where was my camera when I needed it? I can just hope he'll do it again for me so I can catch him in the act.

Tater Tot Skillet Dinner

Saute (salt the onion and sweat it over low heat) 1/2 onion, diced

Add:
Diced carrots (2) & celery (2 stalks)

Cook till soft (I added some water & turned up the heat)

Add (cook till soft):
Zucchini or yellow squash, diced (1) -or-
Frozen asparagus, cut up in small pieces
Frozen peas (1-2 c.)

Add:
2 c. tater tots
Gravy

Cook till mixed & thicker. Tater tots will fall apart and resemble rice (test to make sure they are completely cooked).


Gravy:

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Amy's organic brand or make my own)
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. veg. broth powder
1 can Worthington Diced-Chick (or diced chicken with 1/4 c. gravy)

Cook together in a pan, whisk till well mixed.

Comp 001

My just turned 6 year old just wrote this today, his first attempt at writing, I thought it was cute, had to share:

The cat was happy
and said let's go to
play out side and
had lots of fun.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I've kicked the can

Canned soup that is. Canned soups are hotbeds of MSG and related substances so, for the last few years, I just haven't had a need for them. Except that for some reason, I find it hard to replace cream of mushroom soup. I found a natural version at Kroger which is ok, but not dairy free, and just the other day I came across this recipe from vegsource. I'm really so excited to find this, it seems such a simple thing really, but to have a crutch really helps me, so "thanks, Bryanna, you've done it again."

THE UNCANNED CONDENSED MUSHROOM SOUP
(use as a substitute for same)

This recipe is adapted from the book “Whole Foods for the Whole family” (NAL Books), a la Leche league international cookbook, for which I served as an editor. The recipe is a combination of recipes of mine, and 3 other contributors.

THICK WHITE SAUCE BASE:

2 T. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine (I used palm oil)
3 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
dash white pepper (I left out)
1 and 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (if you want a really mushroomy sauce, use 1 c. rich soymilk, such as Vitasoy Original, or even a soy non-dairy creamer, plus 1/4 c. liquid from soaking dried mushrooms) (I used the mushroom liquid from a 4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms)

ADDITION:
1 T. minced onion
1/2 c. minced mushrooms (from 4 oz. can)
a little oil or margarine (I sprayed a little spray oil on the onions)

Saute the onion and mushrooms in a little oil or margarine until soft. Set aside. Melt margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Whisk in the “milk” slowly. Whisk and cook until thick. Stir in the onion and mushrooms.

Gluten Wheat-Meat "Chicken"

I tried a recipe that I found here called Bryanna's New Seitan "Chicken." After reading through several of the recipes, I figured out that when the poster had posted, something happened to the amounts so some of them are a little wacky. After reading thru most of this post as well as thru some of Bryanna's other recipes from vegsource.com and her own website, this is what I came up with and notes of how I did it (based on my ingredients on hand):

2 1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. Minute tapioca
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. "chicken-style" veggie broth powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. onion powder

2 1/4 c. cold water
1/4 c. raw cashew nuts
a few dashes of homemade Kitchen Bouquet
3 Tbsp. mushroom sauce (one of Bryanna's recipes from the cycling website I think)
a few asparagus tips, will probably add more next time

Mixed the wet together into the dry in my Bosch Universal mixer and mixed on 2 for 10 minutes, let it rest for an hour, then mixed again for another 10 mintues. Then I took it out, cut into 3 long loglike pieces and boiled in:

1 c. asparagus juice (from canned asparagus)
about 1 c. mushroom sauce
5 c. "chicken"-style broth
7 cloves garlic, chopped
a few dashes of homemade Kitchen Bouquet
3 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes

I cooked the wheat-meat logs in the broth in my slow cooker on high for about 6 or 7 hours till they had swelled up and started to float. I tested them and they were done when they were more meaty and less like edible rubber (not that there is such a thing).

I like it because it kind of reminds me of the consistency of Worthington Chickettes which I used to love, but didn't love all the additives. It slices in deli-slice thickness with ease, and was very delightful in some chicken a la king that I made today. Yum-o. I want to keep trying more recipes, but this one did turn out pretty good. A far cry from the really spongy blobs I used to make that I had the nerve to call gluten steaks.

The only thing I find distressing about this is that I read the other day that slow cooking of protein creates free glutamates (like in MSG) and this is something I try to avoid so I'm not going to go overboard with gluten, but it's nice to have something to fill the "meat" gap when trying to follow non-veggie recipes (and the kids and hubby love it).

Patty, thrifty mom's best friend

My kids just love "Patties day" and my little secret is that it's really "use of as many leftovers as possible in the fridge day." Bwahahaha... But they're really pretty yummy. I usually make sure I have some leftover rice or mashed potatoes and then throw in any leftover casserole-type foods or side dishes or veggies... into the mix, add some salt if needed, bread crumbs, tofu if I have it, an egg or 2, bread them and fry in a Pam sprayed pan. Et voila, bye-bye space hogging leftovers (that no one really usually wants anyway, hello yummy patties. Just another of my dirty little secrets, lol. And in related news, a recently discovered ingredient of pot pie... leftovers.

Bye bye

Eli is learning how to wave, it's so cute. He kind of wiggles his fingers around when he sees us waving to him. I just love the cognitive things that are going on with him. You can just see the wheels turning, the light dawning about things. Like the other day he tried to open a cupboard door which he knew was supposed to open, but didn't because something was in the way. But it didn't stop him from trying and trying to get it to open.

We've started giving him some rice cereal and he LOVES it. Where's that been all his life? Well, nursing was pretty much cutting it, but not anymore, I guess.

His crawling is sometimes morphing into hands and feet walking especially over thresholds (I think because he doesn't want to hurt his feet). I also think that he really does want to be up on his feet, but just doesn't trust himself completely yet. It's kinda cute actually :)

Are you sure it isn't summer already?

My imood thingy says I'm "hot" which I'm pretty sure isn't a mood unless it means that you're hot and bothered or hot under the collar or hot to trot. No, I'm just hot, as in need of some ice water and a fan. Ugh. There's like no air circulation where I'm sitting. And we're only like a week into spring. Thankfully we're getting some weather that's going to be "much cooler," like down to the 70s. Whatever. I wouldn't call that much cooler but it'll do ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Baby Steps

Eli is starting to take his first tentative steps. He took one step for DH yesterday a couple of times, then I saw him take one tiny step today. He's still pretty wobbly on his legs, but he's starting to try. He can crawl really fast and is starting to push up with his back legs like he wants to stand, but usually doesn't. But he is letting go of things more and more to just stand there and look at something in his hands (usually).

So bummed!

We went to the local church down the road that we kinda like and after church was over and we finally got ourselves together to leave, we got to the car, Gigi said she needed to go potty. So I took her, leaving DH to get the boys in the car. We got inside and she promptly changed her mind and said she'd go at home. By this time DH was pulling up to the front of the building and we got in and headed home. Later that afternoon DH wondered where his phone was and I said "it's in the diaper bag." Then he got this "oh no!" look on his face. Apparently he had set the bag down while getting Eli buckled in and then went around to get Geo in (or something like that). Suffice it to say, it got left in the parking lot of the church. He went right over hoping that it'd still be there, but it wasn't. We called the pastor's wife and she called the few people who were still there, but they hadn't seen it. Someone else checked to see if anyone had picked it up and left it in the church, but it wasn't there. We called the local police, but they forward their calls on the weekend so I'll try again tomorrow. Along with his phone was my Palm Pilot (so bummed), my favorite sling, the kids' mini magna doodle things, some diapers & wipes, and some knitting that I was working on. DH tried to call his cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail so that was no help. We're praying it will turn up, but getting less and less optimistic. But, nothing's impossible for God so still hopeful. But, if it's truly gone, I won't be able to get another Palm for a very long time as we're living paycheck-to-paycheck at the moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SOOoooo sick of being sick

So, we're on our third virus/flu of the season (within the past 4 or 5 weeks) and I'm ready to be done! This most recent time around, I just had a cough and it was starting to get better and I was going to be ok with that, the cough wasn't too terrible. Then Eli developed a runny nose (part of the cough or something new, not sure), and now I've got the drainage which I really very much dislike, my nose is getting raw and I don't have my Puffs plus to ease the pain. Now Gigi has a runny nose too, we are just getting each other sick and sicker. I'm upping my water intake which I should do anyway, also got to sleep in a bit this morning which was SO nice. I just really long for the day when we'll be in the clear and hope that when we get there, we'll stay that way for a looooooonng long time.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Nap

(Sometimes I just can't resist the urge to rhyme, ... sorry!)

Being drained of all my sap,
I was in desperate need of a nap

My body didn't want to settle
and Eli made noise like a kettle

I thought my nap plans were a bust
But DH knew they were a must

So bravely he held down the fort
While I slept like in a resort.

(thanks DH!)

Bummed

I've been looking forward to going to the church down the road for the last 2 weeks now and wouldn't you know it, DH came down with a high fever last night (103.6) and was starting to talk goofy so I decided that it would not be a good idea to go and expose everyone at church with our virus, especially since the rest of us still have coughs and Eli is now starting to have a runny nose... So we had church here today (watching 3ABN) and we'll try again next week. It's too bad as today was potluck and we had been invited over to the pastor's house after lunch, but maybe we'll get a chance to do that another time. But I am rather disappointed. I'm so ready to be done with all this sickness!!! 'K, I'm off to pop some more vitamin Cs and Echinacea/Goldenseal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eli's bad day

Ouch! Poor Eli was the victim of gravity and distracted parents twice today. The first time we were at the food court getting lunch. Gigi needed to use the restroom so I took her. Then DH's phone rang so he put the tray of food down that he had in one hand, sat Eli down in a chair (he sits very well) so he could find his phone (in one of his pockets). In that short time, Eli tipped over (maybe reaching for DH? I don't know, wasn't there) and fell on the floor, clunking his head. Then at home, I stepped from the family room to our bonus room to say something to DH and I heard clunk/"waaaaaa!" Apparently Eli had been on the couch (he was on the floor last I knew, I didn't know he was on the couch, wondering if Geo put him up there to be with him). Anyway, it's been one of those days that I want to go sit in the dunce-mommy corner and dutifully wear my hat. Thank God there has never been a day so coincidentally bad in all of his life before now. I know that we'll be extra vigilant to make sure that he's down low, not where he could fall anymore.

On a slight side note, it's amazing how resilient little kids and babies are. Both times I checked his pupils just to make sure he wasn't suffering from a concussion or anything like that. Both times, apart from some crying at first, he's been fine, acting perfectly normal, wanting to eat, play in a baby play area, walk with his walker, play with Daddy... so thank God for that. I'm so glad that he has a hard head and a capable guardian angel.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's still so cool

Eli is just over 10 months old and he's starting to mimic big-time. He shakes his head "no" when he sees me do it, made noises into a pipe when his daddy did it, was trying to sing (bah bah bah) with a musical toy today, and pointed at me (from Grandma's arms) yesterday when he saw me walking across the yard (ok, not mimicking, but still very awesome). He's getting so good at crawling, plays better with his brother and sister now and also alone than he ever did before. He very much likes real food, gets downright insistent about wanting food so we're starting to teach him the sign for "more." I can't remember when we started with Gigi, but I think it's about time with him. I know I've been thru all this stuff with the first two, but even if I had 10 more, I would still be wowed by the things babies and kids can do. Gigi impresses me with her grasp of language, Geo does more and more things every day and shows a grasp of understanding when I talk to him that is neat (as in I can carry on deeper conversations/discussions with him than I can with his sister).

Poor Geo got yet another virus, this one affecting his lungs. Gigi, Eli and I have coughs (mine is very minor), but Geo had fever the past couple of days and has been lethargic. Today he started acting more normal tho, and his coughs are becoming more productive so I'm hoping that signals the nearing end of this bout. I'm so glad that better weather is on the way so that all this sickness can vamoose.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Church Shopping

This last Sabbath was our official first Sabbath away from our old church. We went and test drove a church about 10 minutes from our house (even closer than the last one), and we were pleasantly impressed. It's a church plant, a small church, maybe 50 members, but they did have a lot of children our kids' ages and everyone seemed to be very involved in the activities and also were very friendly. We felt right at home there. There was even a nice mother's nursing room with a window and speakers and a comfy chair and some cribs... There are speakers throughout the building so you don't miss much if you have to step out. The chairs were comfortable, the preacher was young and talented (he can sing and preach :), and there were quite a number of other homeschool moms in the church. I think with a little tweaking (adding a class for Geo so he doesn't have to go to Sabbath School with the babies, replacing snacks with a craft time, and eventually moving the ladies' rest room from its current spot near the front of the sanctuary to a better place in the entryway hall [which is in planning]...), I think we could be very happy there. It's only been planted since October and it seems to be growing fast so that could be good. It won't be this tiny forever. And it's super-convenient. But we do think we owe it to ourselves to check out 3 or 4 other churches which are sort of in our area as well just to make sure we find the best fit for our family. We want a church that has good programs for our kids so that's definitely a consideration.

Diaper Trouble

I'm thinking it's a result of the messy diarrhea diapers from Eli's 2 flus, (sorry!), but this last batch of diapers that I washed came out smelling a little off. I ignored it thinking they would air out in the dryer, but the smell only intensified. It was so bad that the smell (somewhere between sweet and skunk) got lodged in my nose and didn't want to vacate for a long time. Needless to say I had to wash them again, but it still didn't get much better so I washed them with Sport Wash (2 caps full) and they smelled considerably better after that wash, but woe to me, they still were holding on to a tiny bit of smell after the 2nd dry so here we go again, I'm washing them yet again, this time with 3 caps full of Sport Wash, hoping that 3rd times a charm. This wash certainly hasn't been worth my while with all the water and electricity and detergent I've used.

ABC Fun

One of my favorite homeschool projects has been some alphabet letters that I made for my kids to learn how to read, spell, learn the names of the letters. I bought a couple of old Scrabble games from the thrift store for about $1 each and with a medium point sharpie marker, I wrote the lower case letters for each letter on the backs of each letter tile. That way they can learn upper and lower case letters. I have fun trying to come up with words for Geo to spell and I think he has more fun reading words that way than just reading them in print on paper (though he's doing much better in that aspect as well). The colorful tiles were in a thrift store grab bag; they already had letters on them, but I darkened them up with the sharpie too.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bye Bye Babyhood

Well, Geo lost his first baby tooth tonight :) (sniff). I was on the computer, I had tucked him in bed and I heard tromp tromp tromps of not so tiny feet coming down the hall and he ran in and said (with a very satisfied grin on his face) "my tooth came out." He had gotten up the nerve to pull it himself. I had tucked him in bed with a little plastic bowl under his pillow for him to put the tooth in should it dislodge itself in the night, but it wasn't needed. I even tried to pull it twice earlier in the evening, but I don't think I gave it my all when I tugged (not wanting to hurt him too much) so it didn't budge for me. I'm kind of glad tho, it gives him more courage to be able to deal with stuff like that in the future.

Our Bible Friends

For school I do a bible class every day and my kids get very easily distracted if there are no pictures or something visual for them to focus on so I made these bible friends from the dolls and clothes from the makingfriends.com website. I also added some of my own hair and clothing accessories. It's way easy, here's how I do it. I copy the images of clothes or people or whatever from their website onto my hard drive. I open it in Paint Shop Pro, increase the colors to 16 million, select the magic wand tool, click on the white background, then go ctrl+shift+i to get the selection around all the articles on the page, copy and paste into a new image which gives me a transparent background. There might be an easier way to do this but I haven't figured it out yet. Then I take the freehand selection tool and draw around each item and paste them into a new image, I do the magic wand trick again to make sure that the image saves the smallest dimensions possible. Then I save clothes in one folder, hair and hats in another, and misc in another. I have the dolls in a separate folder too. Then I open one of the dolls, click on shoes or whatever article of clothing I want to add, copy it, paste as a layer in the doll file, move it around to get it just right, then add another article of clothing or hair, headgear... till I have the doll the way I want it. Then I copy merged and paste into a new document, crop it to the right size and voila, my very own bible friend. Here are a few so you can see what I'm talking about (I made these in b&w so my kids could color them, but they would be pretty easy to color in psp):