Thursday, September 30, 2010

Isaac In His New Soaker

I just couldn't resist posting a pic of my little ham. Here he is, sporting the latest in this fall's fashion creations....

Now back to your regularly scheduled mad sewing spree.....


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Felted Soaker

Remember the soaker I posted about yesterday? Well, it was WAY, I mean WAYYYYYYYYYYY too big for Isaac. The knitting came out wonderfully, but it was gigantic on my little man so I decided to purposely shrink it in the dryer.

I resulted, of course, in making it "felted". Also a lot smaller, but it will fit Isaac now, at least. I like it felted because it is a little thicker, and feels more sturdy. On the downside, there is very little "stretch" to the middle part, and thus not too much growing room. It also takes FOREVER to dry after a quick hand washing. However, it is usable, and I still love it.

I started another one yesterday only to frog it out. I had started it the same size as the one I ended up felting, but didn't want to have to felt this one, so I restarted a size smaller, after taking some measurements. Hopefully, this one, one be ginormous on the little cutie. Anyway, here is the "felted" soaker:

Today I am working on pressing the HST's units I made yesterday, and starting the sewing together of a bazillion little 2", 2-patch units. I am hoping to have all these put together and pressed by tonight. Somehow, between schooling, chores, and chasing Isaac around, I'll try to get it done!

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Multicolored Soaker

I finished this up this morning before things got rolling here. I was intending on finishing it up last night, and had about two dozen stitches left to cast off when it was time to put Isaac down for bed, and then spent some time with Dale, then we hit the sack. It was a very busy day yesterday and I slept like a rock!

This morning after my Bible reading time I had time to finish up the soaker before breakfast time. I love the colors in this! So fun!

Right now I am lanolizing it and then will block it. Time to start the next one...

Oh, and yesterday I also cut out all the pieces for the lap quilt. I will be working on that in between jumps (hopefully) and knit in the evening while winding down. I am picturing the finished lap quilt in my mind, and can't wait to see it come to fruition. Hopefully it will look and nice in reality as it does in my imagination. :)

Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Diet Trick to Avoid Article

Can Eating Too Few Calories Stall Your Metabolism?

Learn why cutting out too many calories can keep you from losing weight.
By Krisha McCoy, MS

(Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD .)

If you're like most people who want to lose weight, you want to lose it fast. So you may be tempted to make drastic changes in your diet to dramatically reduce the number of calories you consume. But what you may not know is that eating too few calories can actually backfire and sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

"It would make sense to stop eating [when you are trying to lose weight], but it actually works in the opposite way," says Kimberly Lummus, MS, RD, Texas Dietetic Association media representative and public relations coordinator at the Austin Dietetic Association in Austin, Texas.

Calories and Your Health

The most effective way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you expend, creating a calorie deficit. But if your calorie intake dips too low, says Lummus, your body could go into starvation mode. "Your body will start to store fat because it thinks it is not going to get anything," says Lummus. "You will be at a point where your body is kind of at a standstill."

Lummus says that when your body goes into starvation mode, your metabolism slows to a crawl, burning calories as slowly as possible to conserve its energy stores. This is why people who cut their calories too much may reach a plateau and stop losing weight.

Eating too few calories can be the start of a vicious cycle that causes diet distress. When you cut your calories so low that your metabolism slows and you stop losing weight, you probably will become frustrated that your efforts are not paying off. This can lead you to overeat and ultimately gain weight.

"It is so hard to sustain cutting calories and eating too little. What typically happens is that the person will go in the opposite direction; they will just become too hungry and go into a binging mode," says Lummus. "Because you are getting frustrated by not seeing any weight loss, you just sort of throw in the towel."

In addition to sabotaging your weight-loss efforts, eating too few calories can also harm your health. When your body goes into starvation mode, you are at increased risk for the following:

Abnormally low blood
pressure and slow heart rate
Heart rhythm abnormalities
Electrolyte imbalances, especially potassium deficiency
Hair loss
Brittle fingernails
Loss of menstrual periods in women
Soft hair growth over entire body
Trouble concentrating
Swelling in your joints
Brittle bones

Coming to Terms With Calories

Remember that calories are not your enemy. They are a vital part of a healthy and energetic life. "Your body needs a certain amount of calories just to sustain proper function," says Lummus. This is why fad diets that force you to cut out too many calories leave you feeling lethargic, shaky, and ready to give up.

Instead of opting for a fad diet, find a reasonable eating and exercise plan that allows you to lose one-half to two pounds per week. There is evidence that people who lose weight at this rate — by making better nutrition choices, eating smaller portion sizes, and exercising — also have the best chance of keeping it off. Make a plan to adopt new healthful habits that you will be able to stick to indefinitely, and always allow yourself a little wiggle room for special occasions.

Last Updated: 04/03/2009
This section created and produced exclusively by the editorial staff of © 2010; all rights reserved.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY September 27th....

Outside my window... Gray, drizzly, and cool. Perfect day for working on a quilt!

I am thinking... How much can I get away with delegating so I can work on my grandmother's quilt?

I am thankful for... The busyness of life, with areas of restful, lazy days.

From the learning rooms... More of Autumn unit study, more Lit study on Huckleberry Finn, and the basics, and music practice.

From the kitchen... Menu planning, shopping list making, and hopefully some sort of inspiration for a quick and easy supper tonight.

I am wearing... green tie dyed t-short, brown 3 tired skirt

I am creating... a lap quilt and knitting a couple of soakers for Isaac.

I am going... a Fibers of Faith meeting tonight

I am reading... Just finishing up "The Sinking of the Titanic" and "Under the Lilacs".

I am hoping... to get more sewing time in today that I am imagining I can.

I am hearing... The gentle movements and soft occasional chatter of the children.

Around the house... Laundry, general picking up, the usual Monday schedule.

One of my favorite things... making things to give to others.

A few plans for the rest of the week: sewing like crazy!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

For guidelines go to:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One Project on HOLD, and Another on HIGH PRIORITY

Sometimes a quilter has got to do, what a quilter has got to do. That is all there is to it.

I started Isaac's quilt this past week, but didn't get very far. I have been plagued with this notion in my head about a special quilt to make for a very special lady in my life who is turning 90 at the end of October. There is going to be a big birthday gathering, catered, and we will definately be there.

All along another special lady (Hi MOM!!!!) has been saying "No gifts" but how can I resist making a lap quilt for the woman who got me going on quilting? Anyway, with approval from that organizing special lady ( Hi Mom Again!!!!) it was agreed a gift given at home before the party would be fine, so off I went with Esther to the rag shop after lunch today.

This particular little quilting shop is going out of business. Boooohoooo! I'm so sad to see them go, but since they were having a sale, I figured what could it hurt to get the fabric I needed for my Grandmother's lap quilt?

What harm? Well, we'll see after the credit card bill comes in. :D

I had an impressive list of general supplies I needed, but found when we got there that there was really very little left as far as rotary cutter blades, quilting notions, and thread and needles, etc. And I noticed their stock of fabric is about half or less of what it was before the sale. Their inventory is definately going quickly! We were able to find some goodies however.

Some hand quilting needles that I am in desperate need of! Yeah, size 8... beginners size, I know. I think my grandmother uses 12 or smaller. I also found some quilting needles for the machine.

I couldn't resist this little booklet pattern. It looks simple, easy, and cute. I even have fabric on hand to use for it already!

I am a closet fat quarter lover. But I never really know what to do with them other than a disappearing 9 patch or something like that. This book was full of great ideas and designs, and I'm looking forward to using it soon!

Esther and I both oooh'd and ahhhhh'd over these already made Amish blocks. There are 6 finished blocks per pack, sampler style. She wants to learn the art of hand quilting, so this winter we will put sashing around the blocks and hand quilt it together. This is definitely not a quick project!

I have always wanted to do an Amish quilt project, and this was a great opportunity to get started on one. I even had on my list some fabrics for starting an Amish style lap quilt.

Last but not least, here are the fabrics I picked out for the lap quilt for my grandmother's birthday. Just in case you are wondering, this quilt will have to be done by or before October 30th. And just to make it more interesting, we may be gone the week before that on vacation. Any bets as to whether or not I can pull this off? It will be all machine pieced. I am using THIS pattern.

Well, I need to go prep fabric and get going! No time to waste on this project!

Have a blessed day everyone!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things Are Looking Up... again!

It is amazing how much I feel "fully equipped" now that this box arrived in the mail. It came yesterday during a very busy time. I shoved it under the little table in our kitchen, out of the way. I new by the return address what it was, and I was so ecstatic!

Well, you can see a certain feline of the family here using it for his own purposes. This isn't the first thing he has used for his throne. His Highness used this bundle of paper towels we recently bought for making wipes as his personal resting nook.

Seriously, this is getting to be a bad habit. Last winter I found him in a basket under the table. Look, I have proof!

Maybe there is a 12 step program for cats.

Enough about that... without further ado, here is the shiny new, crack-free, family sized CROCK POT! ( applause, applause, hooting, hollering, and the hallelujah chorus inserted here)

I'm so happy to have a working crock pot again. Let the menu planning begin!

Seriously, wasn't that way more interesting than the septic tank update pic?

:::: GRIN ::::::

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP's turned to FO's

Here are a couple of projects I just finished up yesterday. Both of these have been WIP's for a while. (That means: "Work In Progress") So, don't be impressed by how quickly these seem to have appeared.

First up, is my Minimalist Cardigan. It is finally officially DONE and folded , and in my closet waiting for sweater weather. I LOVE the yarn I used... so soft and lovely I just loved knitting this up. I started it in March. I just put it in my closet yesterday. Three were several weeks when I didn't work on it for one reason or another, but still, it took some doing to get it done.

I faithfully blocked that thing last weekend and pieced it together, and tried it on... and almost cried. It was horribly ill-fitting. Ask my mom. She was there to witness this catastrophe. This cardigan was part of a Knit Along in a forum I am in, so I went back and posted about it, and got some good ideas. The shoulder seams were way down on my arm, and look sloppy, floppy, and just plain ugly. The sleeves were too wide, especially at the cuffs, IMO. I posted, researched online, then took it to my knitting expert friend at church Sunday night and we discussed the situation. As an amateur seamstress, I knew in my head how to alter it to fit. However, I was frightened to do anything to all that moss stitch I had spent so much time and energy on! You see, the alterations involved some resewing of seams, overcasting on the machine, then ruthlessly chopping off inches of worked moss stitch.


My expert knitting friend agreed with what I had to do. I was about to ask her to do it (with pay, of course) when she said:

"I think you should do it, so you'll have the experience behind you and be more confident if you ever have to do it again."


I gulped and said "okay", and Monday I took another gander at the whole thing and started taking out the sleeved and undoing the sleeve seams. That was a nice straight seam, and easy to alter, so I would practice using the sewing machine on that nicely knitted fabric. Not easy, since it is extremely stretchy.

I marked where the new sleeve seam should be and gulped again and went for it. Then I did a tiny little zigzag over the seam allowance.

I gulped..... then trimmed off the excess.

I really liked the end result, and was encouraged, so I did the other sleeve. That one came out perfectly too.

It was getting late so I decided to tackle putting the sleeves back in the next day after a good rest.

This was a bit tricker, because I had to set the sleeve IN from the edge of the armhole a lot differently than you would normally when sewing. By taking in the seam a couple inches, it alligned everything where it was supposed to be, The trick was getting both armholes the same, and sewing around that long curve without stretching the knitted moss stitch too much. That stuff is VERY stretchy!

All said and done, I am pleased as punch with the result, and feel I can wear my Minimalist Cardigan with confidence now. Bring on the cold weather!

Close up:

Oh, you may notice something is missing.... like 26lbs. :)

The other WIP turned FO, and a much shorter story (for now) is the boys' wall hanging I made for their room. The seminole piecing was a must. The Indian motif in the main fabric just screamed out for it.

Close up of border:

Back ( I just love that rich purple!):

Why I said it was a short story "for now" is because I am preparing a tutorial on how to do that wonderful Seminole piecing. I have a boat load of pictures to organize and then type out all the directions. Hopefully by this weekend I should have it completed.

Next under and on my needles is a quilt for Isaac's second birthday, and a wool soaker for Isaac.

Soon to come is a bunch of fall and winter sewing; more "chore" type sewing.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things Are Looking Up

It is amazing how a couple days of things breaking, dying, falling apart can reap weeks of trying to put it all back together again.

Our big van seems to be fixed. If you hear a slight hesitation in my voice, that is because... there is. I'll claim the van as "mine" again, but the other van is shot. Dale thinks it is the transmission, and right now it looks like we are going to be in the market for a second vehicle. The poor old van is just tuckered out, and we don't want to sink a lot of money into it to keep it going. Hopefully that will all be resolved over the next few weeks.

The crock pot issue is resolved. Dale called Kitchen Aid and they are sending us a new insert for a discounted price. Fine with me. I just want to use my crock pot again!

As far as glasses go, Esther and Benjamin both got new frames. Yay! Amazing how much better they can see with proper eye wear. Of course I had to get them both to model. You can see their enthusiasm here.

(Excuse Esther's messy hair... I had just called her in from playing outside)

Then there is my tall ham.

"Benjamin smile!"

"No, SMILE, as in show me your teeth."

I tried again but he got distracted by a certain sister who was doing bunny ears behind his head. SO helpful.


"Okay, you know what, just look natural."

Not that natural wisenheimer. .

"Come on, just one nice smile!"
(I swear he is worse than a two year old!)

Nice! There is that handsome face I love.

We have been up to other things besides messing around with the camera. I started a quilt for Isaac for his second birthday coming up in December. Yeah, I anticipate it taking me that long to do it, even though it will be machine pieced and quilted. Pretty soon I will have to drop all my "fun" sewing for "chore sewing" for this fall and winter. I am giving myself to the end of September, then I need to get a wiggle on it. If I finish his top before then I will jump right into the fall/winter pile. The other night I spent a great deal of time pressing a billion of these four patch units.

Jerusha has been a busy little bee lately too. She helped me make some banana bread the other day. She is proving to be quite a good helper!

We get our eggs from a friend. They are farm fresh and tasty! We usually get some duck eggs too. Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs, and are very rich. Their shells are like titanium... extremely hard to crack. They are fantastic to eat, but we generally use them in baking. Here is a picture of a smaller duck egg and a large chicken egg. The duck eggs is still bigger, even as the runt of the dozen.

Of course after the bread was out and cooled, we had a little tea party that afternoon. Who can resist the smell of fresh banana nut bread?

After she was my little helper in the kitchen I let her loose outside, where she proved that she was quite industrious.

She played with Isaac for a bit while I tortured, um... chased and tickled some of her siblings.

When I was done she got busy painting the little lean-to they all constructed a while back. (Please note, no real paint was harmed in any way during the filming of this event. That there is mud paint.)

There is just a bit of what we have been up to. The weather is turning decidedly "Fall", and we are in the midst of taking down the pool and putting the AC's away for the winter. We are also finishing up stacking wood, and looking forward to starting the applesauce making next month or so.

Have a blessed day!

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Before I start this, I just want to say that if you have been trying to access my blog over the last couple days and got a "Malware Warning", I apologize! I didn't see it until yesterday, and spent a good deal of time taking care of it. I *believe* the problem is gone. I haven't seen the warning up, and everything scanned clean, so...

I'mmmmm Baaaaaack!

That being said... here is my Daybook post for the week:

FOR TODAY September 21st, 2010

Outside my window... Wonderfully chilly! We were down in the 30's overnight. I love fall!

I am thinking... "I love fall"

I am thankful for... Autumn

From the learning rooms... Starting unit studies on Huckleberry Finn, and AUTUMN!!!! (anyone see a theme here????)

From the kitchen... breakfast is cooking, and we will be making bread soon.

I am wearing... Pj's and bathrobe. :P

I am creating... a knit soaker for Isaac, altering the sweater I worked all summer on, and hopefully finishing up the boys' wall hanging over the next couple days.

I am going... No where.. not without a vehicle.

I am reading... "The Sinking of the Titanic" from Vision Forum. It is excellent! Also reading "Under the Lilacs" by Louisa May Alcott on

I am hoping... To work my way through the alterations and some mending so I can get back to some quilting before I have to drop everything for the fall/winter sewing list.

I am hearing... the pot in the kitchen whistling, soft chattering, but basically it is pretty quiet right now.

Around the house... Bread making, laundry, general chores... the usual.

One of my favorite things... cool, crisp mornings.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I think we actually have a "normal" week for a change! Wow!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


For guidelines go to:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Knitting Project Finished!

This is a Vine Lace Dish cloth I just finished last night. After several froggings and restarts, it went along smoothly enough. There are a couple of very minor mistakes in it, but oh well. If you can't see them, I'm not going to point them out.

I used the pattern from a link on Ravelry. You can find the directions HERE. Honestly, it isn't as hard as it looks. I love watching the pattern form as I knit. I'll definitely be doing another one of these in the future!

Next up on my needles is finishing my minimalist cardigan. Actually, the knitting for that is completed, I just need to put it together. Now that the weather has turned decidedly "autumnish", I can think about wearing more than a t-shirt. After that is done, I'm starting an upsized BSJ for Isaac. If you ever make a Baby Surprise Jacket, be warned: the pattern is addicting! It is cute, has a million variations, and works up quickly with a very little bit of seaming to finish.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Secret Project Revealed

I didn't want to post about this until it was done, sent and received. It is a baby quilt for a friend online who recently had a preemie. The chances of her seeing it here were slim, since life was crazy for a while, and then their computer got ornery, but I didn't want to take any chances. She has received the quilt, so now I can post a pic of it.

Congratulations to Shanna and Jarret on their newest blessing!


Monday, September 13, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY September 13th...

Outside my window... Sunshine and much cooler temperatures than we have been used to this summer. Fall weather... ahhhhhhh!

I am thinking... what am I going to make for the fellowship dinner this coming Sunday? I'm not sure I can even function without my crock pot.

I am thankful for... Busy days, and days of rest.

From the learning rooms... Finishing up our Bee Unit study, and getting ready for the next one.

From the kitchen... Nothing interesting going on there right now.

I am wearing... green shirt, and brown 3 tiered skirt.

I am creating... a Vine Lace dish cloth, wall hanging for the boys room, and starting a quilt for Isaac.

I am going... Nowhere... not with our current vehicle situation! LOL

I am reading... "Under the Lilacs" by Louisa May Alcott (, and just started "The Sinking of the Titanic" from Vision Forum. It is excellent. Also, still making my way through "Master Your Metabolism".

I am hoping... For Benjamin's glasses frames to come in soon, and for a working vehicle to go and retrieve them.

I am hearing... Isaac playing, music practice going on, and a little soft chitter chatter here and there.

Around the house... going through the routines of my typical "organizational day".

One of my favorite things... singing with the whole family.

A few plans for the rest of the week: start of online violin lessons for Esther and I, hopefully new glasses for Benjamin, and hopefully the vehicle and crock pot crisises settled one way or another.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing :

If you want to particpate in the Simple Woman's Daybook please go to:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

May We Never Forget

I know there are tons of articles, shows, interviews, and blog entries today about 9/11.


I hope we as Americans never forget the tragedy that happened and never get "bored" of remembering those fallen and their families in prayer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Finished Object...

I love it that I get to use that title again! LOL...

this Baby Surprise Jacket was finished a couple weeks ago but I couldn't post about lest the person it was a surprise for saw it on my blog before she got it in the mail. I heard from her the other day: she got the package, and loved it! Whew. Sometimes picking a color for a baby can turn very wrong. Have you ever noticed how very few babies have the right coloring for pastels and look horrid in them? I tend to NOT do pastels for babies because of that.

Anyway.. here's the BSJ:

Bee Unit Study

We are just finishing up a unit study on bees. I have used the Brandenburg unit study for the most part, but did some of our "own thing" here and there.

Three were some excellent web links available. One was on how bees were created and not evolved. This link tells a little about that. We also learned about the different kinds of bees, and what their jobs are. There were a couple of fun links for simulations. My favorite one was when Elizabeth was the Queen bee and killed off all her colony. I asked why she did that, and she said:

"They didn't bring my coffee in time."

A girl after my own heart!

We learned about honey and how bees communicate to each other where the honey can be found. We also learned about nutrition. We baked these awesome whole wheat, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. They are made with honey, no sugar, and with applesauce, no oil. Delicious! I think I already posted the recipe for that.

We had a huge beehive in one of our trees this summer, and after it was knocked down, we salvaged a piece and got to study it over.

As a craft today, we made this beehive mobile, and attached it to the chandelier above our table. Fitting for us, don't you think?

Isaac wanted to be part of the fun, apparently. He took his turn on the computer. :)

I would highly suggest the Brandenburg study! You can follow it exactly, or as a guideline. Sometimes we follow their lesson plans, sometimes we don't. They always have some very nice links and free updates to the files,handouts, printouts, craft ideas, book and video recommendations, and beautiful pictures. I got mine at during their awesome end of summer sale last month.

Happy learning!

The Saga Continues....

I know this may sound paranoid, but why is it when I need wheels, the vehicles go on strike? I can go all summer without really needing the van and it works fine. Then I hit a season of needing to do eye doctor, and soon dentist appointments, and right now, the vehicles are not reliable. Here is the general update:

Esther's glasses are on order. For now she is making do with a pair that don't have a strong enough prescription.

Benjamin's glasses... what a fiasco. Dale had called Tuesday to see what our insurance covered as far as replacement glasses. He talked to them, and they checked things out and said yes, he could get a pair, but the lady that did that was out from an accident. There was a new gal in, but she had no clue what was going on. Due to Benjamin REALLY NEEDING glasses, they said, just bring him on up, they'd get it figured out.

I also called them after talking to Dale to confirm we could go up on Tuesday. I could kill two birds with one stone that way, so it worked out for us to go up in the afternoon. I got everyone packed up, leftover schoolwork, diaper bag, etc. We got there and Benjamin was in the office for 5 minutes and they said "Oh, we can't do this today. The lady isn't in and the new girl doesn't know where stuff is yet." They gave him a card and said to call back Wednesday AFTER 5pm. I was irritated, to say the least. They told both Dale and I that it was okay to go up that day.

It was later that day when all the van trouble started so I never called them back, and Benjamin is still using taped up glasses which are not holding up at all. I'm calling up there today and seeing if they have enough info on file that they can just order another pair just like the ones he has. Oiy vey.

Long story short... the big van looks like an easy fix. Dale got under there and looks like the wires to the starter are corroding and just need to be replaced. The white van.. that is another story. We are going to have to take it down to the mechanics and see what is up. We may be in the market for a new second vehicle if the tranmission needs to be replaced.

No news on the crock pot. Our attention has been elsewhere. I miss it though. Today isn't so busy a day so I'll probably call them at some point and see if we can get a replacement crock. Hopefully it won't take until next year to get here.

Oh, and just to add lemon juice to the paper cuts, yesterday two of the boys were fooling around and knocked over a living room lamp. Thankfully the lamp survived, but the bulb did not. Then the bulb in the other lamp went out just because.

I am thankful that my sewing machine and coffee maker are unaffected by these mechanical melt downs. And the computer. But no offense, I would rather the computer died than my sewing machine or coffee maker.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We Seem To Be in A Rut

You've heard of them, right?

Some get into home schooling ruts where they need to shake things up with new activities or curriculum to recharge everyone and renew their vision. Some get into cooking ruts... then there is a flurry of new recipes from book, websites, and magazine articles. There is nothing wrong with any of this. You just don't want to be in the rut we are.

Everything seems to be breaking down at the same time around here. I am chuckling about it. Sort of.

You already know about the hand beater and crock pot and the glasses. There were some minor things... like the ink cartridge in BOTH printers needing to be replaced... but yesterday and today, this stage has taken a more serious turn.

Yesterday, on the way home, the transmission in the old white van started giving out. Dale said he couldn't get the trainy to shift into a higher gear and thus had to drive very slowly on the way home. So, he took the big van (a.k.a... MY van) today to work. He figured on the way home he would stop and get transmission fluid as there appeared to be a leak in one of the lines in the white van. He stopped, got the fluid, got back in MY van, and....

..... it wouldn't start. Oh please. The lights worked. The radio worked. The power windows worked. Everything worked, but it wouldn't start. Wouldn't even pretend to try and turn over. He turned the key and nothing happened. Not even a click.

So Dale calls me from HIS van (at least until it is fixed it is "HIS" van) and tells me he is stranded. I'm thinking... "and what am I supposed to do? The van he left here doesn't work." I was trying to figure out how to get the man home. He said he would call a friend of ours and get a ride from him. Whew.

What a mess. Dale called back a few minutes later and said "I'm not stranded anymore!" He had gotten under "HIS" van and fiddled with wires and smacked the started and wouldn't you know it? It worked! So, he got home, but obviously, the problem isn't fixed. Not with HIS van. And apparently not with the white van. He put the transmission fluid in and took it for a spin, and it didn't seem to help much. That can't be good.

So, we'll see what happens next. Hopefully nothing else will give up the ghost here. I'm wishing I could put some sort of force feild up around my sewing machine. Thankfully, so far, it seems unaffected by all the mechanical drama.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

After a long, busy weekend, our neighborhood is in full swing with all manner of buses, trucks, and traffic this morning. Today is the first day of public school around here. I admit it, I am grinning to myself smugly as I sit with coffee, in my pj's, and watching a few of the early risers working on their schoolwork here... in their pj's. It is so nice to be able to not have to worry about catching a bus! Or packing lunches! or making sure everyone is up and dressed and fed and teeth brushed at O'darkthirty and shoved out the door on time.

This morning there is trash pick up and recycle pick up. The sun is out. Things just feel like they are all moving along and every one's regular routines are kicking in. We are no exception to that. It has been a busy weekend here!

Friday night we had some friends over who stayed the night. The next day while we visited I did a bunch of cooking for Sunday. I made a New England Lobster Pie, which was excellent. It was better than where I had it up in Maine at a certain local restaurant that attracts lots of tourists during the summer. I'm sorry to have to say it, but it really was better. I was thinking about not posting the recipe and keeping it as my "secret recipe" but since I got it off the Internet for free in a public domain, I guess I will just post the recipe. That will be a different entry however. I also made whole wheat dinner rolls, and we had lemon cheesecake for dessert. I'll post that recipe in a little bit as well.

In my humble opinion the cheesecake was a tad overdone, but that wasn't any one's fault. And truthfully, no one complained. Why all the fancy cooking? Usually on Sundays I like to keep it simple, but we had company. No,not our friends from the previous days (Hi Chris!), but and evangelist that we had in all day. He and his wife came. I always get a little nervous with a first time meeting, but this couple was lovely, and we had really good fellowship with them.

What does that have to do with the cheese cake? Nothing... I just got off on a tangent.

Anyway, about the time the cheese cake was due to be removed from the oven, Isaac was sitting on the bench next to Benjamin, who was playing a game with our friend's daughter (and losing, as he had been with every game they played that day.. HA! Go girl!).

Isaac somehow managed to slip off the bench. I was in the kitchen busying about, so I was right there, but didn't see exactly what happened. He cried, I picked him up, checking his head. A few years ago, when we first moved into the house, Caleb had fallen off the exact same bench, same spot, and ended up with stitches in his chin. He was standing on it, and his foot slipped, and his chin broke his fall on the way down. I expected to see at least a bump on the back of Isaacs head since he had slipped off from sitting and knocked into the wall behind him. I didn't see any bumps, and was almost feeling relieved when Dale said "He has a blood stain on the back of his shirt."

After a hasty inspection, we found Isaac had a nice little gash in his back that was obviously needing more than a band aid. It wasn't very long. Apparently the corner of the register nailed him on his way down. Poor little guy! By this time he had stopped crying and was wondering what all the fuss was about. I cleaned the wound and put a couple of butterfly bandages on it and then Dale and I went off to the family urgent care center. Thankfully, my friend could stay with the other kids while we were gone.

Isaac charmed all the nurses and was a real champion. The doctor checked him over and said "I don't think we'll do stitches. We'll use glue."

Oh, I could have kissed him. Stitches are so traumatic for little ones! They just don't possess the understanding to know that it will help them after the initial discomfort. I knew when I first looked at the cut that it was going to need help closing up and I assumed "stitches" and that is what tore me up. I knew it would be traumatic for Isaac. The glue is a wonderful thing, and though the wound still needed irrigation (which Isaac did NOT enjoy), it was quick and easy and won't have to be taken out later. Whew!

Sunday was much more pleasant, to say the least. We were up way too late Sunday night but it was worth it. It is wonderful when you hit it off with the special speaker. LOL. Of course, two preachers gabbing... that can go on and on for a while.

Labor day was not laborious for us. We slept in and took it easy all day. It was what I call a "whatever" type of day. We didn't go anywhere, we didn't do any of the chores we could have done. We just really needed a day to just hang out and relax. I think Dale did more than I did, now that I think about it.

Oh, a couple more casualties over the weekend. Both Esther and Benjamin broke their glasses. Esther's broke on the top of one of the eye glass frames. Benjamin managed to break his INDESTRUCTIBLE (supposedly) glasses right in the middle of the nose piece. So, this week I'll be seeing about getting replacements. Esther definitely cannot go without hers. She is blind as a bat without them. Dale did a quickie fix on them, but tape only lasts so long.

Also needing replacing is our crock pot. I could just cry. It was given to us about a year and a half ago. About 3 months after we started using it, it developed a crack in the bottom that curved in a half circle, following the curve of the design. It didn't go all the way through, so no leaking, and I just continued to use it. Then, a couple weeks ago, it got another crack in the side, and that one leaked. I feel like I lost my right hand. Dale got online yesterday ( told you he did more than I!) and found out a lot of people had the same problem with the same product by Kitchen Aid (yup, I'm naming names). About a year after they started using the crock pot, these fatal cracks developed. The company has been just sending replacement crocks out. I'm hoping they will do the same for us. I love that crock pot. The size is perfect for our large family, and I love all the different settings on the base. The base is fine, by the way. Just the crock is cracked. Does that make me a crack-pot?

Another recent casualty was our hand beater. No great loss. I wasn't crazy about it anyway. It was supposed to have 6 settings. It had two: OFF and HIGH-FLING-IT-ALL-OVER-THE-KITCHEN. All the other settings never worked right, and finally, not at all. The reason why we tossed it is that it was doing some arching inside the handle. Not good. Making chocolate chip cookies should NOT be life threatening. So that was replaced with a better unit that has all working settings and has a whisk attachment to boot!

In the area of crafts, I have finished another dishcloth. I was going to start another one with a more intricate design, but was so tired yesterday I didn't dare. I worked on a throw I started a couple years ago. Very simple knitting, and great for when your brain is fried. Today I am ready to start that more involved dishcloth.

I used Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth pattern, you can find it here:

If that link doesn't work, let me know. There are dozens of free, cute patterns on that site, but sometimes the link is a little ornery and you have to try it a couple times. Here is the dishcloth:

Have a blessed day!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Great Expectations

I use that Charles Dickens title with the attitude of Mark Twain.

Great expectations.. that is what we have for our children. Right? What parent doesn't? We want to see our children excel in life, and live the American dream in persuit if life, liberty and happiness. We want to prepare them and do everything we can to make sure they are able to live their lives to the fullest.

I think we may be getting carried away.

Recently a group of moms I am in was discussing how much kindergarden has changed since we were that age. I am astonished at what is becoming the "norm" for 5 to 6 year olds. You may have noticed along with me and several other moms, that there are a ton of pics of kids on Facebook. 5 year olds literally passed out after a day of kindergarden. I have been reading about how instead of "play time" (which has many important and real developmental benefits for younger children, by the way), acedemic materials such as math and phonics and science are being crammed into those young brains fast and furiously in the hopes that some of it will *stick* and give them a leg up on... what? First grade? Life? These pictures depict small children just home from a DAY in kindergarden, and passed out around 3:30 in the afternoon, and sleeping through until the next morning. I've read where some of the 5 or 6 year olds have homework EVERY DAY! I recently read of a school district in Chicago that extended their hours to 8am. until 5p.m.

You have got to be kidding me.

What ever happened to playing with blocks? Using play dough? Coloring? Having stories read aloud to a group of kids sitting on a cheery rug? Playtime with other children? Milk and cookies?

Apparently these things are to "infant" to be part of kindergarden anymore. Apparently the fine motor skills that block stacking, cutting, pasting, or coloring develop aren't needed to learn to write anymore. Apparently creativity is no longer an important part of mental development (for learning how to think out of the box later in life... we know as adults that solutions seldom are easy as something found in a text book and we have to get creative sometimes). Oh, forget the milk and cookies. Every kid and his brother are lactose intolerant now, and cookies aren't a nutritious snack, so that is out.

I am all for instilling a sense of work ethic into our kids, and striving for excellence and all that, but is this rigorous type of schooling neccessary for our 5 to 6 year olds? Is it even healthy? I don't think it is.

Oh, and as a home schooler, don't ask me about socialization of our children. Given the current trend of working our youngsters to death at an early age in school, I can guarentee my kids are getting more "socialized" than the 5 year old who spends all day in a classroom with his peer group, unable to play because of all the crammed information he is getting, and then crashing and burning when he gets home until the next morning.

I honestly don't get the whole socializing thing anyway. What is so important about having time with their age group? My oldest is a teenager. I don't know of any teenagers that I want him emulating. My children thankfully have grown up around older people, and are able to talk to them as comfortably and naturally as they can a child. When they grow up and have a job or a family, they are certainly NOT going to be around only their peers. All age groups will (and should) be a part of their life, and they should feel comfortable and natural around all ages, not just their peer group. The adults they converse with generally have good communications skills, manners and knowledge. Why would I want them spending more time with snotty nosed little brats who scream, yell, hit, or get petulant at the least provocation? I don't need them learning any more bad habits or attitudes. They have plenty of their own already. I don't need my teenagers thinking it is normal and right for them to hate their parents, siblings, and all authority figures. A little time with their friends is fine. But I don't want them getting their "socialization" skills from their peer groups. No thank you.

There are may other benefits to home schooling. Abbi at Proverbs 31 Living lists a few very sweetly here. Please take the time to read her excellent post on parenting with less stress. I totally agree with her post on this!

So, while the kids in public school are working hard at learning things they will forget before they hit the sack that night, and then coming home to be too tired to do anything but crash on the couch, we are going to be doing hands on projects as much as possible, with lots of time to swim, bike ride, play Wii, watch a movie, play kick ball, or just hang out together as a family. There is something to be said for a gentler, slower pace of learning. Actually there is a lot to be said for it. Your brain will generally retain more information if it is given over time, and repeated. Cramming may give you some facts.. but for a short time. I crammed for many tests while I was in school. I don't remember anything from those cram sessions now. It got me some good grades, but no real knowledge or appreciation for the material I was studying. I certainly didn't enjoy it.

More and more I am so glad we are home schooling. It isn't easy, and it keeps this mama very busy, but I wouldn't do it any other way. I would hate to subject my children to the abuse that some of the school systems inflict upon their students in the name of "education".

End of rant. I'm going to plan a fun day of learning with my children.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finished Dishcloth

Esther and I have been doing some tag team knitting. Here is a simple yellow dish cloth we worked on together. It is a basic garter stitch with a crocheted edging. Isn't it cheerful? Esther says she doesn't want to use it now because it looks so nice and new.

I am starting another dish cloth and she will be too soon. What I love about the dish cloths is that they are a great "instant gratification" knitting project! And, we really need some new ones.

I have a couple other finished projects that I can't post just yet. Stay tuned. ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is It Worth It to Splurge on Organic Food?

I just couldn't leave it alone. After my posting about the chemicals and poisonous add ins that manufacturers put in our food, I just have to follow up with this article I read recently.

Your Organic Food Guide

Are organic foods worth the splurge? The answer: Some of them.

By Sara Calabro

Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Organic food is in. Whether it’s Oprah interviewing Michael Pollan, the world’s best-known pro-organic food writer, or your neighborhood grocery store posting signs for its stock of organic foods, you may feel like messages about organic food benefits have exploded in recent years. And you’d be right: In less than 20 years, the organic food industry has mushroomed — from $1 billion in 1990 to $20 billion in 2007. In 2006 alone, sales of organic foods and beverages grew by 20.9 percent.

One message in particular — that organic food increases longevity — is especially compelling. Pundits and media outlets have latched onto this organic food benefits claim, hoping it’ll serve as the ultimate incentive for Americans to go organic.

But the scientific community is divided on whether organic foods offer enough health benefits to justify the added expense.

12 Organic Foods That Are Worth The Cost

A recent study in the United Kingdom looked at the nutritional quality of organic foods and concluded that there was no significant difference between the benefits derived from organic and non-organic foods. In response, organic food advocates discredited the study, claiming that the researchers downplayed findings in favor of organic food and failed to include important factors such as antioxidant capacity.

So, which organic foods live up to this claim of increased longevity? And which are the best organic foods to buy — worth the extra cost? One of the commonly cited reasons in favor of buying organic is that organic foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, have fewer pesticides. Many of the pesticides that are used on conventionally grown food were approved before the scientific and medical communities began actively researching the link between pesticide exposure and disease. Only in recent years has great attention been paid to how the food we eat affects our quality of life — and how long we get to enjoy it.

A recent study from Tennessee State University looked at how certain compounds affect our immune systems. Researchers concluded that, among others, DDT, a pesticide that’s used to control insects on food crops, decreases the function of natural killer (NK) cells in the body. NK cells are the body’s first line of defense against viral pathogens and tumor cells. A decrease in their function means an increased susceptibility to cancer and certain viruses.

The following fruits and vegetables have been identified as requiring high levels of pesticide use when conventionally grown, so, as a general rule, they are safest when grown organically:

Bell peppers
15 Foods That Don’t Have to be Organic

Fruits and vegetables that are conventionally grown with relatively fewer pesticides include the following:

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes
Facts About Organic Food Labeling

In addition to fruits and vegetables that are directly sprayed with pesticides, contaminants often make their way into the rest of our food chain through conventional animal feeding systems and industrial pollution. Recent studies have shown evidence of pesticide residue in certain fish, eggs, chicken, beef, and lamb.

Organic animal products, like organic fruits and vegetables, are grown in certified farm fields and processing facilities that operate without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. However, not all organic foods are free of pesticide residue, so it is important to perform your own detailed research before spending extra money.

Organic labeling can sometimes be deceiving. Only the "100 percent organic" label denotes a completely organic product. Under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, however, products that contain 95 percent organic ingredients can also be labeled "USDA Organic." To qualify for a "Made with Organic Ingredients" label, the product must be made with 70 percent organic ingredients, while products with less than 70 percent of organic ingredients must limit organic labeling to the ingredients list.

Beef and chicken, and their associated by-products such as milk and eggs, are relatively easy to label. For example, there are clear standards for when and where livestock can be treated as organic. To qualify as organic, the land on which the livestock resides must be chemical-free for at least three years. These standards help simplify decisions about whether to buy organic beef, milk, chicken, and eggs.

Chemical-free farming also greatly reduces the need for antibiotics. Animals, such as cows and chickens, grown in conventional settings are given more than 24 million pounds of antimicrobials and antibiotics per year so they can fight infections and grow larger. People who ingest large quantities of foods containing antibiotics put themselves at risk for developing resistance to antibiotic medicines.

As for fish, the USDA's National Organic Standards Board in 2008 passed criteria that could lead to the adoption of organic labeling for fish. But the concept of "organic fish" is controversial because of the challenges associated with protecting water supplies and fish feed.

A commitment to organic eating can be an important one for you and your family. But before shelling out extra money for organic foods, it's wise to pay attention to labeling and to know what’s worth the cost.