Monday, March 30, 2009

A New Knife

While shopping with my husband Saturday morning in a few towns over, the magnetic pull of a fancy expensive kitchenware store allured us inside its double etched doors. This sort of well-marketed store makes my senses zing as I wander around its beautiful arrangements of kitchenware, my mind is like flint not intending to actually buy anything, but enjoying the looking tremendously. Chopping and slicing with good knives is rather like sleeping on 400 thread count sheets, they are not absolutely necessary, but it makes the going so much more delightful. As we paused by the glass- covered knife display cases, we soon discovered the Henckel knives were on sale with a substantial amount of savings. My husband purchased a 7 inch santoku knife which now enables me to chop my garlic, onions or whatever kind of vegetable with complete ease and pleasure.

Tonight's simple dish was chicken with a lemon-caper sauce. I diced garlic with elegance and dexterity.

A hot water soak prior to cutting the lemon yielded more juice.


The reflections gave me the idea of yet another item that could be used as an emergency mirror when I must apply lipstick in a pinch!

A subtle tube of lipstick may be kept in an apron pocket for those "just in case" times when company is knocking on the door. I find that a little lipstick goes a very long way for giving one a put together look even if everything else is awry.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On my knees, indeed

"My dear," she said after a time, "have you a perfectly distinct, settled view of what Christ is to the human soul?"
"I do not know. I understand, of course, more or less perfectly, that my salvation depends on Him alone; it is His gift."
"But do you see, with equal clearness, that your sanctification must be as fully His gift, as your salvation?"
"No, I said, after a little thought. "I have had a feeling that He has done His part , and now I must do mine."
"My dear," she said, with such tenderness and feeling, "then the first thing you have to do is to learn Christ."
"But how?"
"On your knees, my child, on your knees!" She was tired, and I came away; and I have indeed been on my knees.

Stepping Heavenward
Elizabeth Prentiss

Monday, March 23, 2009

Embellishments

Embellish (em bel' ish) v. to add beauty to; decorate; adorn; ornament


Every year upon visiting a favorite fabric goods shop, I painstakingly (only because there are so many beautiful bolts of material) choose a pretty fabric to make Charlotte's Easter dress. A simple yoke dress smocked with lovely threads seems to appeal to my sense of spring and newness. I embellish the pleated yoke with stitches of cable, trellis, outline, bullion, and french knot.

Of course, I then transport my work here and yonder in one of the baskets I have woven, because inevitably a basket should serve a purpose and the sewing riding inside my basket adds just the perfect amount of extra embellishment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A day with heaps of splendid things

"I think the nicest thing about days is their unexpectedness," went on Rilla. "it's jolly to wake up like this on a golden-fine morning and day-dream for ten minutes before I get up, imagining the heaps of splendid things that may happen before night."
Rilla of Ingleside
L.M. Montgomery


On Friday mornings the girls enjoy our morning Bible time to include extra application readings. I have used various materials in the past but this particular morning it came from Jill Novak's , Girlhood Home Companion Magazine. This magazine is a splendid treasure including beautiful photography and wonderful stories which encourage, teach, and celebrate the total wonder and gift of being created feminine for His glory.

I love the kindergarten year. Every day, every week, every month is filled with watching a blossom unfold in your midst. And the best part for me is the lack of pressure in teaching this level because so much learning takes place in the everyday happenings of life. Charlotte has done splendidly well with the reading lessons, Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. I bought this book many years ago to teach one of my other children to read and instead chose to use another source. I dug this book up last year and decided this was the method I would use for Charlotte. It is an amazing technique, and it works!


Finishing up our geography unit on North America, specifically the United States, Rose was able to concentrate on each state's locations and its capital. A splendid review of USA geography.


Now that the rains have passed over, we headed to the muddy field to try Mr. Putter in his first outside beginner agility class. After he managed to get his "corginess" out, he was focused and performed his tasks for Rose splendidly.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dandelion Charm



Expectations soared as we were able to be outside this afternoon after a pending streak of rainy days. Indoorsy things had achieved their range of comfortable levels and we were overdue for some plain old outdoor romping.

The girls had watched Part 1 of the movie "Ice Age", ( note, I am not intending to promote this movie due to some of its propaganda bents and fallacies), alongside their father the evening I attended basket making class.
Therefore, while on our walk today, quoting one of the prehistoric creatures in the movie with great jollity they exclaimed, "O look, a dan-de-lion!"
There it sat on the curbside blooming as bright and yellow as the sunshine. I was then delightfully entertained with the story behind this quote. Two separate versions done by a voice mimicking twelve year old and facial expressive five year old.
Dandelions will never cease to charm me from this day forth.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Tisket, A Tasket.....


I like baskets. They are so friendly and their many purposes can not be argued. More importantly I have discovered a way to add them to my collection.

A free Friday evening, a fun group of women( mind you, I did not say especially crafty), three willing instructors, and supplies already provided in the fee. Viola! A basket to take home .

And your family is so impressed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wool Stories and Wool Patterns

Revisiting....
the skeins of wool yarn stuffed in crooks and crannies around my house. The reason for all this wool started with a definite preoccupation of mine many years ago which has an unmistakable similarity to the tale " If you give a mouse a cookie". I wanted to learn to spin wool so it was on to purchasing drop spindles and spinning wheels. To spin the wool of others did not satisfy, I dreamed of live fleece dotting my fields as well as greasy fleece in my hands. Therefore, the next woolly source to be acquired was a flock of sheep. Many happy hours were spent with my wheel humming and whooshing its merry rhythm. I was a spinner of wool. I was a shepherdess.

After several years of shearing and bags of fleeces sitting lonely, I decided I would send my wool to a spinnery to have it commercially spun. I believe everyone might have some sort of story to tell of their $$$$$ mistake. This was mine. But on a positive note I do have a life's supply of 16 oz.skeins of white wool from my own Romney sheep. Wool, I might add, that takes dye perfectly when it is color you desire.

I started knitting Charlotte some new mittens on a snowy day with this wool.

And bethgem asked about the pattern......

I love this book and the worn front cover can attest to its frequent use. So many good patterns to knit and each contains a delightful short story that tells of how the pattern came to be.

These particular family mittens are beginner easy and were my first choice for Charlotte's mittens as I have made them before and knew they could be knitted up quickly, but Mr. Putter shamelessly got hold of my knitting that had been carelessly abandoned on a chair and mindlessly chewed one of my #6 DPNs to smithereens. Unfortunately, I did not have an extra needle in that size.

So this is the pattern I am now using to knit her mittens. The more I looked at this pattern the more I liked its pattern, the simple waves and valleys were irresistible. I am maintaining the original plan of teal with red stripes on the ribbed cuffs, and of course a red thumb!

I am using my Knitpicks #3 DPNs. This is the first time knitting with them and they are quite fine. Silky and smooth with the right amount of glide. I will not be careless with the placement of my knitting this time.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Little Boy Blue Shower


Finding ways to give touches of blue to the shower table, cupcakes with blueberries seemed a suitable choice.These delicious vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing ( only three sticks of butter....) were displayed in the center of the table on a three tier stand. Some of the ladies did not have to be reminded to," Please help yourself to the cupcakes."

I am certainly not partial to blue foods, such as blue icing and blue candy, which rely on unnatural food colorings. But to get that touch of blue, I relented and bought these M&M almond candies. There might be something in them for pregnant women, however, because the mother-to-be was enjoying them immensely......maybe it is a boy baby thing!

No blue here, just some dainty buttermilk biscuits with ham that might make your mouth water....if you like ham biscuits.

And since this was a tea, blueberry "iced" tea was served. Because on this 78 degree day, I could not even imagine anyone considering hot tea. It is very warm today, my windows are open and the sun is pouring in causing us southern ladies to glisten. Just think we had snow on Monday and some nights had reached down into the teens earlier in the week. Some would say this is what makes the south so wonderfully appealing. I believe it goes right along with little boy blue showers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Preparations underway

Preparing .......

for a baby shower that will be held at my house tomorrow afternoon.

The glass party ware has been been freed from storage boxes hidden way back in my hall coat closet.

Shining....because it is happy to be doing what it was intended to do.


Tying.....

blue checked ribbon around glass candlesticks.

A touch of blue to remind one of the blue skies from whence storks fly.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

For Ailments

Several years ago a very bright person told me about Sambucol ( or Sambucus, black elderberry), an immune booster syrup with earned bragging rights. Especially helpful during the cold and flu months, it can be given as a daily supplement or just when exposure to sickness or the beginnings of an ailment in any form have struck you or anyone in your nest.

Real life scenario: Rose came down with a bug last week, the same one that has been spreading around this area: head and body aches, low fever, fatigue. I immediately began to dose Charlotte and myself spoonfuls twice a day and we stayed well. Sometimes it might mean a less severe case of a sickness and a shorter recoup time. It's efficacy has been proven in my home more times than can be counted. I am one of its cheerleaders for life!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunshine Highlight

"Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy......" John Denver

The morning's brilliant sunshine was bursting forth into the kitchen and warming us both inside and outside with its intimate appeal. The glowing rays of the sun were not just on our shoulders, however, but were spreading brightness and zeal all over us, making us feel like toast topped with marmalade.

It certainly did make us happy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion.....

March has come in with the beginning blooms of forsythias and 5 to 6 inches of wet snow covering the ground.



Many dreams have come true even without the lure of Disneyworld for these southern girls. All the rain turned into a lovely snowfall late yesterday, and Rose actually set her alarm in order to get up early....to play in the 25 degree snowy weather.


Charlotte and her friend, Eli, ventured inside wet and shaking from the cold requesting popsicles. They then settled down at the kitchen table and a 100 piece puzzle was undertaken. In the past I would have a desirable jigsaw puzzle on the sidelines ready and waiting for the first snow to fall. I do so love to do puzzles! I can still recall the days when I had toddlers and the challenge of keeping them from reaching up and grabbing the pieces. Now I am enjoying any assistance I can give to two five year old puzzle lovers.

Oh, the dilemma of finding another pair of mittens or gloves multiplied by all the constant visits of going out and coming in with wet mittens to search high and low for another dry pair...they do not have to match, however....that's my solitary way of thinking anyway.

I thought I would knit Charlotte a new pair....teal with red stripes. This pattern is very easy and can be worked up rather quickly to keep little hands toasty. Little can beat the merits of 100% natural wool.


Snow and Bake. If I had my own cooking show, maybe that could be the theme....I get so fired up to be in the kitchen on snowy days. My kitchen should be warm, inviting and have the wafting smells of spicy cinnamon rolls baking, fresh bread rising, strong coffee brewing, and beef stew simmering. And at least for today..... it did.



This recipe for cinnamon rolls is one I have been making since 1991. It was taken from a small publication originally and I have adjusted it for my own use through the years.

Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar(you may use honey)
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry yeast
3 eggs
5-7 cups flour( I use 2 cups of whole wheat and 4 cups of white, unbleached)

In large bowl combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour and yeast. Heat the milk, butter, sugar and salt until butter is melted.Cool (115-120 degrees). Add eggs.
After mixture is cooled, pour into the flour mixture and stir in 3-4 cups of white flour with a wooden spoon( you may prefer to use all wheat).

Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in large oiled bowl, turn once, cover and let rise in a warm place.( about 60-90 minutes).
Punch the dough down, divide in two, and allow to rest about ten minutes.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
In separate bowl mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
Roll dough into 12-18 inch rectangle, brush with melted butter. Coat the dough with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Now the true fun begins, starting at the long edge begin rolling, lightly pulling the dough as you go and sealing the seam.Slice the rolls with dental floss about 1/2-1 inch. Spray pans with cooking spray. I have used round cake pans, which makes a lovely gift, or brownie and sheet cake pans. Cover and let rise until double.
Bake 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Icing
Mix 1-2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour over cooled rolls. You may do this while the rolls are warm, but I like the icing to stick firmly...we like the icing!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Movies and Music for Rainy Days

Rainy days have a tendency to make droopy eyelids. And two days in a row might even cause lugubrious tendencies. Therefore, other forms of inside entertainment are sought.


Smocking bullions on Charlotte's Easter dress kept my fingers busy, while the girls and I were able to use inside time to watch Hallmark's showings on the movie renditions of Janette Oke's books, Love Comes Softly all the way to Part Six, Love's Unfolding Dream. Rose enjoyed them but inquired as to why they must be so sad at times.

A time to play the piano. Mood music of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata and Fur Elise fit the bill rather nicely. My imagination was free to run aloft as the legatos and crescendos caressed the ivory and ebony keys. Jane Austen took center stage naturally.

the 13th of October

Friday, the 13th, and at last the weather has turned cooler. I breathe deeply as I turn off the air-conditioner and slide open a few windows...