Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bubbles...BIG Bubbles

I can tell September is almost here. The weather is turning cooler in the evenings, our calendar is filling up with activities and the neighbors went back to school. I've been trying to get the kids out of doors since the weather has been so pleasant and we remembered we had this great Klutz Book of Bubbles, Bubble Thing included. I love the Klutz company and their wacky fun. The boys had a superb time making these larger than life bubbles today. Ingredients: water, dish soap and the Bubble Thing. I have been working with the boys on not referring to every item as the "paper thing," the "plastic thing," etc. and here is a toy that officially has "Thing" in it's name. Nolan thought that was pretty funny.

Now, off to the grocery store....the boys used all my dish soap and I need to do the dishes!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Homemade Toys

Alice of A Number of Things wants to hear what hand made toys you make. Check out her blog for the reasons and send her some of your ideas. I sent over a link to my Hundred Acre Wood animals and then as I was thinking about what else I have made, I looked on the floor and realized that Nathan and Nolan made their own toys for the cats. Here you see Gizmo and his often played with little fleece mouse. It was made with scraps of polar fleece and stuffed with polyfil, catnip and a crinkly paper. Handmade by the boys, one for each cat. Both of our cats ADORE these little mice and play with them often. Sorry about the cat hair on the pictures but where there are cats, there is cat hair.

For some other posts about handmade toys click here and here and here (this one wasn't even made for a kid but I love it anyway). Ok, here is a really cute shot of homemade love.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Writing and Sewing

I have a few minutes before school begins to show you what I've been up to. School went very well yesterday despite the fact that the kids had their first real writing assignment. The assignment was to write about a personal experience. We came across the following words in our grammar book about a blind girl named Helen (sound like someone you've heard of?) who was discouraged because something she wrote was so similar to another person's writing that he accused her of copying. She wanted to give up. A friend encouraged her to write about something that happened in her life because no one else could have that exact experience. So she did and her writings are now encouraging others. Remember our Bible lesson from Joshua 1 yesterday, "Be strong and courageous." What a theme God gave us yesterday! This is why I love homeschooling!

Well, what I began saying (maybe I need a writing course) was that the kids did an excellent job with their writing assignment and school was finished by lunch time. After a quick trip to my favorite bookstore (aka the library) I had some sewing time. I had finished this pillow:
and wanted to use up my brown fabrics to make some fall/winter items. Here's what I came up with:Coasters because they are so easy to make and a nice gift to give. These turned out so well that I may make another set. There is brown striped material on the back. A little purse (measures about 5 inches square) to carry your change or MAC card.And a tote bag. The inside has the pockets in corduroy. The corduroy was left over from a pair of pants I made Nathan last year and the stripe were kitchen curtains at one time. The French words fabric was left over from curtains I made for my sister-in-law. I love using up my stash. Due to our newly imposed tightening of the belt, I'm back to my old use-what-you-have mentality.

Today is my darling husband's birthday and also the Feast of St. Bartholomew. If I have time I will post some more about these two events later in the day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bible Study

This morning we resumed our study of the Old Testament after spending the first few weeks of school (yes, we began school in July) reading stories from Once Upon a Time Saints by Ethel Pochocki.

Last year we began with Genesis and studied from the Creation of the World through to the Death of Moses. I read one chapter out of the Bible per day (I use my old NIV Bible which isn't a Catholic Bible but is much easier to understand. We'll switch over to a Catholic Bible when we get to those books that are missing!). I am using the Greenleaf Guide to the Old Testament to guide our study. I don't read every single chapter but have given them the chapters with the "meat of the stories."

After reading the chapter and asking some questions to make sure they have gotten the "gist" I have them draw a picture of something that was interesting to them from the chapter. Now, you must remember that my children are boys. These drawings have turned very interesting. I let them do whatever they want unless it is disrespectful to our faith in some way.

Last year we hung the pictures around the school room. Since the wall space is taken up, this year I bought the kids each a blank book. Here are some pictures to give you the idea:

This was from today. We began with Joshua chapter 1. God was speaking to Joshua about taking over Canaan. Four times he told Joshua, "Be strong and courageous." This was the sticking point for the kids. Here they are beginning their artwork.
Nolan decided to write "be strong and courageous" in hieroglyphics.
As you can see by the below pictures, whenever God is speaking, the thought balloon comes from out of the sky. This is Nolan's completed picture. The little red guy with the staff is Joshua. Last year he drew the exact same fellow but he was blue. Blue guy with staff is Moses, red guy with staff is Joshua. I love the way their minds work.
Nathan is much more literal in his approach. The blue stick figure is Joshua, the red and yellow stick figures are the Israelites.
Below is the picture of our school room. These are just some of the pictures the kids drew last year.
Here is one of Nolan's drawings from last year. This was from the chapter in which Joseph has all of the Israelites move to Goshen in Egypt. We had carefully kept a record of all the generations as they were listed in the Bible and who died and who married who (it was very interesting) and so Nolan knew exactly how many people came from Canaan to Egypt and drew each and every one of them. The -4 means the people who died and the brother who was already in Egypt.
Here is one of Nathan's from last year. This is a picture of Joseph in prison in Egypt. The part about the mice was just a nice add on from Nathan.
Finally, I often light a candle (although this can be very distracting as well) and find a good sprinkling of holy water helps our day. We end our study with a prayer. We are praying the rosary one decade at a time right now and today did the decade about the Crown of Thorns. I use a Holy Communion Book Nathan received and the prayer for this decade said,"Give me strength and courage to follow you..." Fits right in with our Be Strong and Courageous theme. Coincidence? We don't think so.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday Morning, 4 am (again)

If you are a regular reader of my blog (anyone...anyone...) you may have noticed that I am often awake at the wee hours of the morning. I blame this on my heritage of farmers. Actually, I have no idea just why I tend to wake up at 4 am. I often think that God wakes me up to pray because that is usually what I do. This morning after my rosary I realized that sleep was not an option. It was 4:30 am. So I hopped (ok, crawled) out of bed and started the coffee brewing. Yes, I am a coffee addict. I can't get along without it. So, coffee in hand I headed to the computer to check email. I always secretly hope someone has bought something from my Etsy shop. Not today. 5am...I decided to work on my appliqué pillow. My friend Paulette gave me a book about Baltimore Album Quilts and I am using the first pattern for this pillow cover to go in the living room (aka Mike's music teaching studio). The thing that always occurs to me about appliqué is how much it reminds me of sculpture. Only in that the applique appears out of the solid block. In my case it appears because I drew on the pattern which is quite a bit different than sculpture but you get the idea.I realized that I am in desperate need of new needles. I am blaming the fact that my stitching isn't so swift on the dull needle. It couldn't possibly be because of my technique. No, definitely the needles.

While sewing I decided to watch a show about Mammals. One of our extravagances is a subscription to Netflix. Netflix allows you to web stream certain movies for free if you are a member. So from 5 to 7 am I watched two episodes of the Life of Mammals. Wow! I highly recommend viewing. (the host discusses evolution quite a bit for those who are hesitant about such things) The photography is fantastic and each episode focuses on one type of mammal. I watched one on marsupials and another on insect eaters. I can't wait to watch them with the kids (if I can stay awake that long).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heather Bailey Floral Baby Quilt

Well, here is the finished product. The picture is dark as we have had quite a few rainy days and artificial light does not do justice to any picture.

Not only do I love working with these beautiful fabrics, I love "meeting" and talking with new people. Because this was a special order using the fabrics that someone already had, she and I did a bit of email conversationing back and forth. This quilt is for a little girl named Katie. Beena (her mom) said she would send a picture of Katie with the quilt once she receives it. As long as Beena gives permission, I will post the picture.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Special Order

Did you ever see anything that you thought was so beautiful that you wanted to cry? Well that's the way I feel about Heather Bailey's Freshcut fabric. After I made my quilt in a day and listed it on Etsy I received a request to make another one using different Freshcut fabric that the buyer already owned. The fabric came in the mail on Saturday and I began working on the quilt today. The above picture shows the work in progress. Heather, you are amazing. Keep designing more fabric!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Twinkle Little Star Bread

Here is my sure-fire-never-fail method of getting Nathan and Nolan out of bed. Twinkle Little Star Bread. Perhaps you have enjoyed this tasty breakfast treat under a different name. I don't know what other people call it but when the boys were little (I mean REALLY little) I began making them this for breakfast and used a star cookie cutter for the hole. Nolan began asking for "Twinkle Little Star Bread" and the name stuck. We used to make up new and exciting words for the song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star but I won't horrify you with a retelling. Since one of my new ways to save money and use existing resources has been to eat most of the food in the house before going grocery shopping, we are getting low on supplies. We did however have bread, butter and eggs. For those of you who have never tasted this artery-clogging treat, here's the recipe (with pictures of course):

Cut out a shape from the middle of a piece of bread.
Put a pat of butter into a frying pan and heat until melted and bubbling.
Add bread and center cut out to pan and crack one egg into the bread hole.
Wait until you can see the underside of the egg getting white. DO NOT TRY TO TURN TOO SOON or the yolk may break. This takes practice. Flip bread pieces very carefully.Heat only a minute more so the yolk is still runny. Use the star to dip into the yolk and enjoy the tasty breakfast eye opener. Serve with comics for best results.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

For Mary...

To the Blessed Virgin Mary on the solemnity of your Assumption....Thanks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Today is the Feast Day of St. Maximilian Kolbe (scroll down to August 15)who traded his life for the life of a husband and father during WWII. It is an amazing story. I am trying to incorporate saint days and the Liturgical Year into our lives more and more. Today I told the kids to try to do something extra special for someone else in memory of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I challenge you to do so too.
The above picture is Nathan using the Phonetic Zoo. He loves it! Actually both boys do. I think their favorite part is the headphones but also being able to do the entire thing on their own. Frankly, I love that aspect myself. Nathan has hated spelling for so long that it is a small miracle to see him excited about it again. This is the second day we've used it but I have high hopes.
As you can see, we have started school. We actually started doing work the last week of July. The kids didn't even complain. I figure we will be really glad to take a week off in say, February, when we are all driving each other bonkers and I'm ready to send them back to school.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Holland Market

Today Amy and I were stand holders at New Holland Market. It was not a good market day. Well, it was not a good day for selling quilts, or coasters, or totes, or felties. No, I didn't sell one thing.

It was a great day to sit outside and talk to a friend. I think that was totally worth the day. Thanks, Amy, for being a great friend and for making the time fly by.

Here are some pictures from market today. The top picture shows the new set-up for my quilts. It was a bit windy in the morning so I had to pin them bottom and top but this method helped show off some of my quilts a bit better than I have done in the past.
Here are Amy's newest creation: burp cloths. It made me want to have a baby on my shoulder just so I could have the most stylish burp cloth around. She should have these up in her etsy shop soon. Below are some of Amy's flowers that she and her husband grow around their house. Don't those tomatoes just make you want to take a bite and let the juice run down your chin?And here is the best picture I could get of the pinwheel quilt. It certainly did get some attention which was nice. It looked so nice hanging there in the breeze and sunlight.

Friday, August 10, 2007

End of a Great Week

I finished it on Thursday. The pinwheel quilt. I will try to take a good picture of it at market tomorrow as I want to hang my quilts in a new way to show them off. These are some close ups. This quilt makes me think of going to grandma's house, snuggling with a good book and some homemade cookies.Speaking of a good book, I am reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. It is his autobiography. He was WAY smarter than me and so I don't even know about 1/3 of the vocabulary he uses but I am blown away by this book. The spirituality of it all. His conversion is so interesting to me in a way that is helping to continue my conversion. This may sound weird if you are not Catholic. As a former Protestant, I used to think you were converted once and that was all there was to it. I now know that conversion is a process that lasts a lifetime. I can not at this time express the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around in my head because of this book. I have just never read anything quite like it and it is impacting me in so many ways. Maybe later I can talk about it more. Maybe I will never have the words.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Quilt in a Day

I am getting ready for market day. This Saturday Amy and I will be at New Holland Market. I am excited for a new venue. New Holland is a very different place than Lancaster City and I am eager to see how the crowds differ. My kids have been at camp all week and so I have had the opportunity to get some things finished. Actually, I have been working on my pinwheel quilt and it is just taking forever to quilt. I actually quilted for one entire day and several parts of days. I am determined to finish the quilt by Saturday if I have to stay up all night to do it. The plumber is coming today to fix our bathroom pipes and so I am planning to go to the third floor (the kids room) where it is air conditioned and quilt. I just can't stand having a heavy quilt on my lap when the temp is between 90 and 100 degrees.
The quilt in a day occurred due to this horrible heat. I wanted to see just how "fast" I could whip up a quilt that looked great. I also wanted to do it without hand quilting to avoid the quilt on my lap as much as possible. I also wanted to use the rest of my Heather Bailey fabric stash and knew it would look best if not cut up too much. I "quilted" on the machine using embroidery thread (pink on the top, green on the bottom) using a shell stitch. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually like this quilt. It measures 38x40 inches. I am incapable of making a quilt that has normal dimensions.

The plumber is here, the kids need to go to camp, the husband is off to Philadelphia for his bass lesson and the third floor is calling my quilt. I hope to have the finished project to show by tomorrow.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mail Call

We had some exciting mail today. Not one, but two packages. Wow. The first was for Nolan. He saved up his bucks (which isn't easy for him) and ordered a Sonic Heroes computer game. When it came it didn't work. He was crushed. I used it for a lesson on consumerism. We contacted the seller who was eager to please us. Nolan sent back the original package and today in the mail received a new one that works! This was a great lesson in patience as well. We all remember how hard it was (and is) to wait for something we really want. I was sort of glad this happened because I was able to teach the kids about the importance of checking your merchandise thoroughly before throwing away the packaging so that it can be returned if necessary. I love life lessons. Also delayed gratification was really taught here.

In the next package was something for me! If you remember this post, I was t
alking about the Phonetic Zoo spelling program. A friend of mine from our homeschool group knew someone who not only used it but was selling it! I was able to spend less than half the price of a new copy. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet but I am excited. Nathan and Nolan didn't think it looked quite as fun as Sonic Heroes.

Now this little fella didn't come in the mail but it was Nathan's special package today. This is a Monarch Caterpillar. Nathan has loved butterflies and caterpillars for so long, I can't even remember how it got started. We have a massive amount of milkweed growing in our backyard. In case you didn't know, butterflies will only lay their eggs on the plant that their caterpillars will eat. Caterpillars are picky insects and usually prefer one type of plant. For the Monarch it is the milkweed. There are others they will eat but I can't remember which ones. I think hollyhock may be another. Nathan snapped this picture and I asked him if he wanted to write about it but he said I could do the honors!

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. I used Sacred Space for the reading and prayer this morning. I was struck by the part of the reading that says (my paraphrase) that the disciples were overcome with sleepiness but they stayed awake and were allowed to see Moses and Elijah and Jesus transfigured. It really struck me that we need to stay awake even though we are often overcome with sleepiness so that we can experience the extra special blessings that God provides for us. Often in my life I am so tired just from living in this world that I want to give up. It is this "tiredness" that can often keep us from experiencing the Joy that comes from Jesus. On this hot August feast day, I encourage you to stay awake and experience the joys that God has prepared for you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday WIP

I have noticed in my blog lurking that often the blogger will show a work in progress on Friday. I have no idea why this is but figured I'd do the same since I don't have anything finished to show. I gave you a preview of the above quilt a few days ago. I have been working on this for quite some time. The pinwheel blocks measure 7 inches when sewed together so the quilt should be about 35x49 inches when finished. I think it speaks to me of August because it is so bright but also contrasted with the white. I was craving this. I told my son that quilting is much more enjoyable in the winter because the quilt itself keeps me warm while I am making it. In the summer it is more of a chore. Right now I am quilting in the white spots.
The above work in progress belongs to Nathan and Nolan. This is a salt crystal garden. We have wanted to make it for a long time but had trouble finding the liquid bluing. I knew it could be ordered but never got around to it. One day while picking up some laundry detergent I spied it in the isle. It conveniently had the salt crystal garden directions attached. I need to look up the science behind it but you will need cut up sponges, liquid bluing, ammonia (yuk), water and salt. It took quite a few days before we began to see the crystals. In fact we were pretty sure we hadn't done something right when all of a sudden they began to grow. They do grow fast. I had to add the blue kitty to the picture, not just because he is blue, but because Mrs. Stewart on the bottle seems so disapproving of the whole affair. I'm glad she wasn't my mother!

Finally, I won't show you a picture of this, but we had the plumber here (again) and this time he installed a brand new sewer pipe in the basement. Believe me, this is not something you want to have leaking in your basement. Next week we get to have him back to replace the pipes leading from the bathroom to the basement. What fun!
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