Friday, May 29, 2009

Simple Living is Just Plain Hard Work!

I love wood heat. There is nothing like the tangy smell of wood burning, and the dry and efficient heat that comes from a homely wood stove. But going from the dumped wood in our yard, to realizing the visualization of wood stacked neatly in the basement, takes perseverance and hard work. Lugging wood isn't a light chore. However, it needs to be done, and we don't mind because of the end result.

Gardening is fun.. but hard work. It isn't just putting in the seeds or transplanting tender little plants. That is only the beginning. Sure, we get a reprieve right after we plant before the weeds come up. Then the routine of weeding begins. It continues until the food is harvested. Even then the work isn't done.. there is preparation and canning or freezing to preserve the food we grew. That is hard work, but very satisfying.

Some things aren't so demanding, but just as satisfying. For example, a friend of ours gave us 7 lbs. of red kidney beans. He said we could plant them or just cook them up. Our gardens are full, so today I cooked them up. I will freeze them and they will be ready for use in a quick casserole or chili or soup.



I also have a huge bag of black beans to cook up. Those are especially good in chili.


For some reason quilting to me has always been a symbol of living simply. Maybe it is the thought of after making clothing that I can use up the remnants in something useful and pretty.

Then there are special quilts for special occasions where I buy the fabric just for a quilt, like the one for my niece's wedding. I have been enjoying this rare luxury. I prepped the fabric and started cutting out and sewing this week. I have been working on this little corner blocks for the Ohio Star blocks in the quilt. The quilt has a combination of two blocks. The Ohio Star, and Shoo fly.



I have to do 52 of these little blocks for the Ohio Star blocks. The method I am using to do the quarter square triangles is foreign to me. It is using something called the Bias Square method. I can't say I like it very much. I prefer using the layered square technique. The author claims the Bias Square method is more accurate than any other method, but I beg to differ. The layering technique is much easier, faster, and has way less waste, plus I find it is just as accurate. Other than that, I am pleased with how it is going together. At least I can say I learned a new method.

Our days right now are pretty relaxed. We have had several rainy, gray days in a row, and though I expect some restlessness to start settling in, everyone seems okay for now. We have had a few hours here and there where the kids could go outside, though it was pretty soggy out.

The kids have been enjoying "Meerkat Manor" on Netflix. The episodes are 20 minutes long, so they are easy to insert here and there throughout the day. The pool is almost ready for use, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. The kids are impatient, but I keep telling them not to worry, there will be plenty of hot, sticky days we will enjoy cooling off in the pool. Now, I wonder if I can get Dale in? He is not a swimmer. In fact, I can't even get him to walk barefoot on the beach when we are in Maine. So, we'll see. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Memorable Weekend

Okay.. here is a megabunch of pics and the like of our weekend. Hang on to your seats, grab a cup of coffee, and all you grandparents and aunts and uncles who couldn't make it, maybe you'll enjoy this post. You all were missed, but we still had fun. At least we can share it with you here!

The only attendees this year were Grandma Post and her friend Harold Abbott. Grandma came with gifts for the kids... a bagful of goodies, if you will.



She also brought the "non-birthdayers" a little something. Here is a little gift for Isaac, which I plan on NOT using for a long time yet.



Mr. Abbott and Jerusha seemed to hit it off really well. Here they are writing on a little white board gadget from Grandma Post. Mr. Abbott was very impressed Jerusha could easily write some numbers!

OOOPS... lost that pic. Hmmmm... anyway, here is a pic with Isaac and Mr. Abbott.



Instead of the traditional birthday cakes, we have taken to doing cupcakes with a "decorate it yourself" assembly. Here are some samples of the creative decorators! Some of us were lame and just wanted to indulge in the mint chocolate chip ice cream. I'll you figure out who that was. ;)









Another diversion from tradition was that we had no wrapped gifts to hand out this year. They had to work for their present! We had a scavenger hunt. This was so much fun, I think I will do it again next year.

The first clue:
"This is the beginnig of a little trail,
To get to the treasure must not fail,
It is for all in the birthday throng,
And all other in the family can come along,
The first clue is hidden inside,
The place where gardening tools like to reside."





They rightfully guessed the shed, and off they went. After a little searching they found Clue 2:
"The second clue leads to a shady space,
Where children like to have a reading place,
There are swings and a ladder to aid a climb,
Go and see what you can find."

That place for us is the tree house, and off they ran at top speed.



Clue 3:
"Everyone likes a juicy treat!
Especially one so red, cruchy, and sweet.
Roses are red and violets are blue,
But this is a fruit, now find the next clue!"



After hunting in the watermelon plants, someone got the bright idea.. "Hey, maybe it was an apple!"



I never thought about the watermelons, but it just added to the fun. They found clue number 4 and read the following:
"That was too easy, now you must think:
Where do you find something cold to drink?"

That lead them to the fridge, and after much plundering inside it, found the clue on top of the fridge. Hehehe! Dale planted that clue, so even I was wondering what happened to it there for a bit.

Clue 5:
"Well done! Now you must go,
Where in the winter there is a BIG pile of snow!"

For us that is by the basketball court. Mr. Butch purposely plows a huge hill from the driveway and church parking lot for the kids. They slide, make tunnels, it is a lot of fun. I missed them finding that clue, because I was checking on Isaac who was in the middle of a marathon 3 hour nap.

Clue 6:
"Just one more clue and you will see,
What the treasure could possibly be.
The Gatekeeper is your daddy, yes it is he;
Your treasure is locked up, and he has the key."

They went to Dale, who had their present in the van, all locked up and hidden under a bunch of bagged clothes and stuff for Salvation Army.

video

Hopefully that video works!



Monday Dale was home since it was a holiday, and Butch dropped off this big, heavy mower, sans blades and motor for the kids to play with. He had heard how they liked to have the regular mower off and in neutral and push each other around the yard. Now they have this old junkie one to do with as they please.



Dale started setting up the pool. First we had to make a level clearing.



Then put down this plastic to protect the bottom of the pool from any harp edged rocks sticking up.



Fill the rim with air.



Start filling it with water. I wonder how many gallons it will take. We didn't do more than put enough in so we could finish getting the wrinkles out of the bottom.

Jerusha was sitting in her chair waiting and kept asking.. "Is it almost done?" Uh, I don't think so!





Meanwhile, I was doing laundry and tending to Isaac. Everyone was eager to "help" Dale with the pool. We are working on putting more water in it today. We'll run the hose for a while, then turn it off to give the pump a rest, then turn it back on. This could take quite a few days!

Isaac enjoys being outside. I can usually sit next to him and knit for a while. We had fun watching the pool being set up, and looking forward to many hours of cooling off later when the weather heats up.



Now... on to that quilt!!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thank You, Ginger!

My friend Ginger gave me this award:



Thank you Ginger! How sweet! BTW.. stop by Ginger's blog. She is doing some lovely photography. :)

I would like to pass this award on to:

1.AmandaJean at Crazy Mom Quilts
2.Winona at Cat Lover and Quilt Maker
3.Regina at Homeschoolmummyx3
4. Evening Shade Morning Latte
5.Dell at PrairieBlog
6. Dana at the 50 Lb. Feedsack
7.Jenny at Prairie Mama
8.Amy at The View from Hidden Valley
9.Abbi at Proverbs 31 Living
10. Anne at Under the Elm

Have a great weekend everyone! Today we are on to the Birthday Bash! Can't wait!

Friday, May 22, 2009

TADAAAA!!!!!



"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Oh yes, oh yes... today was our official last day of school! We are taking a well deserved break. I have some finishing paperwork to do, and the three olders will be taking their standardized tests when they arrive in the mail. But we are DONE!

Formal schooling may be finished for now, but certianly not the projects we are involved in. Today was a very busy day, to say the least. This morning we did some indoor tasks. Jerusha helped me make some Amish friendship cake. She was a sweet little helper and did a good job stirring while I added ingredients.



Here is the finished cake. Boy it smelled good baking!



We also made some cupcakes for the birthday bash tomorrow. The countdown is on! The children have figured out how many hours and minutes. Too bad they aren't excited about it!

We also finished up our planting. We planted broccoli, lettuce, potatoes, onions, more peas, and some sunflowers. Benjamin has done so much to help me in the garden. I am proud of my son and his willingness to do so much of the grunt work and bending over for me.



We also had the laundry lines full of clothes and freshly washed diapers, and some towels. The laundry was folded before supper while I was mowing, and Dale was putting up the freshly painted flagpole with the new flag. He also put up the patriotic swags at church, and the girls watered flowers for me.



One of the things I like about the flag pole is the cross on the top.



I had to take a little break from mowing to feed Isaac, and while I was doing that Jerusha climbed on the mower (which had the blades disengaged and was off anyway) and started singing the theme song to "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".



After some fiddling around, Dale got the weed whacker going and spent about 45 minutes doing some trimming before it got too dark. He also fixed the long ago broken door handle to the front door. Benjamin had rigged a temporary fix, but it was time for a real handle. I'm thankful for my guys and their talents and inginuity!

It wasn't all work today. We did have some play. My friend and her daughter were over for our weekly tea time, and the kids later had a water balloon fight. Also, during naptime I was able to finish piecing the top to a wall hanging I started making a while ago. It is one of those projects I work on inbetween other stuff and I have nothing pressing to work on. You can guess how often that happens. The outter border is made from seminole piecing.





Well, Isaac is ready for his nite-nite feeding, and I am exhausted, needing a shower, and hungry. Have a blessed weekend and Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tunnel Vision Hazard

More planting was completed yesterday. We planted flowers at church, put down more mulch in the beds, my friend Mary gave me some rhubarb plants to start so Benjamin helped me put those in. We also planted zucchini, yellow squash and 10 rows of corn, and replanted the peppers closer together (I found out I had them too far apart. Apparently peppers like close fellowship.. same with the corn). We also planted the brussel sprout and watermelon plants. There was the usual run of laundry, chores, and schoolwork for those who still have it.

In the afternoon a gentleman from our church dropped off a box from the food pantry that he helps with. He has been doing this weekly for a while, and we appreciate his thoughtfulness. The kids were excited about the gooey, sweet donuts, and I was excited about about 5 lbs of black dried beans, and 5 lbs. of red kidney beans! Today is going to be pretty hot, so I won't do anything with them today, but as soon as possible I am going to cook them all up and freeze or can them for easy, quick use in the near future. There are lots of things to do with dried beans! They are good for you too, and cheap.. especially when you get them for free! LOL There was also bread, some cookies and some lettuce, a few tomatoes and cucumber in the box. For several weeks we had been getting macaroni elbow, tuna fish, canned sauces and veggies, a little bit of this and that, and ultimately a HUGE cabbage. It's like a mystery gift whenever he drops off a box full of food.

As I said, today is going to be hot, possibly hit 90 from what I saw. Most of the kids are sporting colds right now, too. I decided that we would wait until this evening when it cools off some to do any more planting. Meanwhile today, we are washing bedding, clothes, doing school work (to those to which it applies), I need to finalize our Rod and Staff book order, catch up on some desk work, catch up on some folding that I have been ignoring because of all the outdoor work, start the crock pot for supper, make cornbread, and get some ironing done. I *might* even start cutting out for my neice's quilt for her wedding. I washed and ironed all the fabric, so I can just slap down the cutting mat, get out the rotary cutter, ruler and directions and go at it.

My mind has been so focused on "the garden" that I was put into a panic last night while I was getting ready for church. I suddenly realized, I had plotted and planned everyday this week in such a way to cover the outdoor work, and hopefully finishing planting by this weekend before the birthday bash. Great! Fabulous... but I forgot something. Ummm... cleaning the INSIDE so our guests won't run away in fear! LOL. Also, we will be making cupcakes instead of a big cake. We do a D-I-Y decorating cupcakes. The kids love that. As far as presents go... well, that is a secret. We have something very special planned. Those of you that can't make it (nudging grandparents and absentee uncles and aunts here) you'll have to wait until after this weekend to find out. If you listen carefully, you may even hear the kids scream when they find out.

So, with that bit of suspense, I am going to rotate laundry and start delegating some chores.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So Much for That Assumption!

I assumed as things winded down for school that our days would be freed up. Honestly, that hasn't happened! It seems that as soon as a block of time is free, we fill it with something else. This past weekend was wicked busy. We aren't usually quite as busy, well, actually we are. I used to get a kick out of certain young wives (and some older ones) that used to brag in a forum I was in. They would write a thread about housekeeping saying on a Friday evening "Oh, everything is done so all day Saturday and Sunday can be family time." I could just see them puffing out their ruffle-aproned chests with a big badge that said "Ain't I so holy?" on it.

Wellll... for us Saturdays and Sundays are busy. See, my husband does this thing called work. In fact, he has two jobs. He is a pastor of a church, and he works another job to help pay the bills. That leaves very little time for blowing a whole day on "nothing" but "family time".

We have family time, but it is all of us working together to get ready for the week ahead. Saturdays usually finds me doing piano lessons. My husband and one of the older children are out on visitation. By the time they get back around lunch time, piano lessons are finished, and hopefully some cleaning done. Saturdays are our usual cleaning days during school weeks. Thankfully, now that things are not so busy, we can work on it Fridays so that helps free up Saturdays. Well, there's the rub, because now that the weather is springy, there is a whole new category of "things to do."

Outdoor work, for example. Usually we have gardens to weed, the flower beds at church to weed, the church to clean, and the grounds for church and parsonage to mow and keep up as best we can. At any rate, God created six days for work, and one for rest.

But I digress....

Back to last weekend. Friday we had tea with my friend and her daughter. All the boys played outside. Saturday we had spring cleaning at the church in the morning, followed by a barbeque. Then the deacon and his wife and our family did our yearly trek to a popular farm and bought flowers for the flower boxes and walkway at church. I also got some stuff for our Memorial garden and vegetable garden. It was our plan to plant the church flowers when we got back, but we were scared off by torrential rains, thunderstorms, and a tornado warning. Weren't we wimpy? Before going to bed I made a huge crockpot full of spanish rice, and a cherry pie.



Sunday was the usual. We had sunday School, morning service, and our monthly fellowship dinner. Monday was a "blah" day for me, but I managed to wade my way through all the laundry, did the usual meal planning and grocery list making for the week, and supervised chores and what little schoolwork there was to do.

Today was a beautiful day! 70's, a nice breeze, and just perfect for being outside. It has been a productive day, and a very enjoyable one. This morning after breakfast and morning chores were done I hung out the laundry. Then we tackled a bunch of things on our outdoor "to do" list. Benjamin was a wonderful help to me today! His schoolwork for this term is completed, so he has been very eager to help with the garden. This morning he pulled the grass up around the fruit trees down to the soil, with Josiah's help. Then they spread manure around the bottoms, and mulched. The girls watered the trees well.

Then I went on to put in the flowers in the memorial garden. I put in a new lavendar bush. It is small now, but is supposed to grow to be about 3 feet wide. Here are some pics. The first one has the lavendar plant to the right of the pic.



The "blank" area to the top left of the garden is where I planted the gladiolas the other day. I hope they come up! They will be so pretty there as an accent flower.



Here is a center shot of the garden. I think it came out very pretty!



I had that all tidied up for about.. oh 5 hours when we got a load of wood delivered. He dumped it right next to the garden, barely missing my new lavendar plant. Elizabeth measured and she said the wood was about an inch from the plant. Yikes!

After I was done with the Memorial Garden we started planting in the big veggie garden. So far we have 12 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants, and four rows of peas. Next will be corn, then the green beans, Benjamin's watermelons, and then whatever I have room for. I have discovered that I bought way too many seeds for the size of our garden. Hopefully the ones I don't use will hold over until next year.

For lunch we had an impromptu picnic outside. Isaac had fallen asleep in the stroller and slept a really long time. I ate next to the stroller, but the kids ate in their tree house. I am rather proud of that tree house as my oldest designed and built it pretty much himself. Jerusha's spot of choice was in one of the swings.






I was pleased to see the little herb container I started in the kitchen sprouting up. I planted the seeds about two weeks ago. Here they are growing nicely:



I just love watching a Daddy with a baby! My favorite pics of Dale is when he is napping with the baby. Just melts my heart! In this pic only one of them is napping.


I have finished all the immediate sewing list for this summer. The girls helped by making their slips. I used a simple A-ling type pattern from McCalls Ruffle and Lace series. I had to alter the pattern up to fit the girls, as the sizing only went up to an 8. The twins are in about 12's. The "Need it NOW!" being caught up, I have been working on a block for the fancy quilt I have been gradually making over the last couple years. This is just the center block for the Carpenter's Wheel. I am awaiting directions to complete the block from a friend online. Then there is only one block left, and I can start piecing the top! I can't wait!



This evening Elizabeth and I went for a 45 minute walk, then I went for a short bike ride with all the older children.

The rest of this week is packed. I am hoping to finish the planting by this weekend. Also, Dale has been working on repainting the flag pole. He also fixed the weed whacker so I can get some trimmming done after mowing later this week. Saturday will be our annual May birthday bash. I was going to do an "end of the year" recital for school, but decided that due to the lack of attendence, we'd just skip it and enjoy the day.

Whew... there is the update for the last couple days. Is anyone else as tired as I am? Goodnight and God bless!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And So It Begins....



We officially have a teenager on the premises! Happy Birthday Benjamin! I tremble... but not because of the famed "teen age" years fear. More a fear of ... oh no, how much more CAN he eat????? Thank God for Aldi!

We have been working on some outdoor stuff on these gorgeous spring days as time allows. School has the priority. We are soooo close to be done, that we are not taking any time off. I think everything will be all finished inside of a week. Yay!

Meanwhile, I have been trimming lilac bushes, weeding in the Memorial garden and planting gladiola bulbs, and I weeded around the baby blueberry bushes, put manure down, and mulched, and of course, we had the garden dragged so now it is all ready to plant. My plan today was to get going on the planting, but it is rainy, so I will have to catch up on a few things inside. It has been so nice out I haven't been able to resist the temptation to ignore the indoor stuff and go outside. Below are some pics of what we have been up to.









Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Missed Monday!

I had a blog post all planned out yesterday and just plain never got a round to it. You know those things... those little round "tuits". One of these days maybe I'll get a bucket full of them and catch up on a few things around here that I haven't had time to get around "tuit". My mother in law was the first one I ever about those pesky little "tuits' from. So, for one Christmas, I gave her a small child's sand pail (new of course) with a bunch of juice can lids that I had cleaned and written "tuit" on. She got a chuckle out of that. That was many years ago, before we had children and I had time to sit and write "tuit" a hundred times for no good reason.

We have gotten around "tuit" on several projects around here anyway. I finished a set of dressed for the twins. Jerusha's dress is one handed down from when the girls were that size. She just wanted to be in on the picture, the little ham.



We've also been working on school, and getting loose ends tied up. I think all the regular testing is done, and we need to order the standardized tests for the twins and Benjamin to take this year. We are late on doing that, but it will have to do. Here are some of the activities we have been doing. One is a lapbook on astronomy. We also finished up a lab book on the U.S. Constitution. I will be posting the more about those with corresponding links that we found helpful in another post. For now, here is a sample pic of two of our lap books:



We have been doing piano/recorder during the year for music. A lot of times I have a rotation of sorts set up for different activities... someone at the piano, someone at the puter, someone reading history, or whatever. After about 20 minutes we rotate. In the afternoons, during quiet time, they do their individual work.





For Mother's Day, Dale had offered to take us all out to eat, but I really wanted to just stay in, relax in my comfy clothes, and have some delicious blueberry pancakes. In the afternoon I got a nice nap, and while I was resting, the children gathered up our recycled craft supplies (ie... juice containers, cardboard, and the like), and made some airplanes, WW1 style. They have this game on the puter called Red Ace Squadron, and got the idea for the planes from that. I must say, they were very creative, and I enjoyed seeing what they came up with.







It is customary for the church to give each mother and young lady a flower for Mother's Day, and the girls all gave me theirs when we got home. They were very pretty, deep colored, red carnations.



Today was one of those days that started out with taking one step forward, and about 10 backwards. We are SO ready for a break from schoolwork! Thankfully, we are almost finished, and only have a few little loose ends to tie up. All the major subjects are done. We are working up finishing book and research reports, memorizing Romans 2, a few more Spanish lessons, and I think the twins have a few reader stories left to do. Other than that, we are pretty much done. Through the sumemr we will be practicing piano, some sewing for the Fibers of Faith group, and math review for Esther starting in a few weeks. Oh, and reading. Our kids LOVE to read.

After an awkward morning, things got rolling just fine. Through the course of the day, all the regular chores were done, I mowed the lawn, and we had the garden plowed and the kids helped Mr. Butch (yes, they really call him that!) shovel and spread shale at the end of the church driveway to fill in a couple of major potholes. We'll be spreading gravel soon, too. Also, Mr. Butch said he would be back to use the drag on the garden. I was so thankful to hear that! He made our garden about 25% larger, which still doesn't make a HUGE garden, but the thought of raking all the furrows out was somewhat daunting. I can't wait to plant! Here are a couple pics:

Mr. Butch plowing the garden:



The kids riding in the back of Mr. Butch's truck back to the house. (No one have a heart attack here.. the house is in back of the church property. Our driveways even connect. He never drove them on the road. )



Isaac has been trying to roll over. He hasn't quite got the hang of it yet, however! I told him he didn't have to be in a hurry, but babies seem to have their own opinions of these things.





This next pic was after I had freshly changed a diaper and was getting him dressed. Yeah, I admit it, I helped him all the way over. He is just so stinkin' cute!



Blessings from our house to yours!