Thursday, May 26, 2011

the Weekend never felt so Good

There's nothing like working full time to help you appreciate the weekend. I have a nice long weekend coming up. As far as I know, there is nothing planned. In fact, two of Mike's gigs have been canceled. I'm kind of glad. It lets us just be at home and be together.

We've got a few new things on the horizon. 

We joined a CSA. 

We're looking into buying only grass fed beef.

I want to make my own shampoo.

Homemade: How-to Make Hundreds of Everyday Products Fast, Fresh, and More NaturallyYes, you heard me, my own shampoo. Last year at the library book sale I bought a book called Homemade. If you read my blog or know me, you know that I make my own laundry detergent. I love it. It is so quick and easy and cheap. Wait, I think the proper term is inexpensive. (Exact WORDS, Greg.) this fantastic book that I bought for $1 is a recipe for homemade shampoo among other things. Actually, there are several recipes for shampoo. The first is my husband's favorite: Beer shampoo. There's Dandruff treatment, Sun-Streaking Rinse, Chamomile Shampoo, Thick Hair conditioner for everyone (unless you have thin hair like me...) Salad Dressing conditioner, Shampoo residue Remover for Blonde hair (I'm a brunette) and Instant Dry Shampoo (it's just cornstarch). I love it. I think I'll try either the Beer shampoo or Chamomile. There may be a post in the making.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Lastly, I recently bought a bit more leather to make some pouches. The leather was cheap, only $1 a piece. When I went to buy the hardware (magnetic snaps, d-rings and clips) I couldn't believe the prices! Wow. $5 for one snap. No way. I'm re-designing my bags. I hope to have some time to work on them this weekend. I have three and a half days off. 

Ok...remember when I said lastly? I lied, apparently. I'm also reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. VERY INTERESTING. There are some really evil companies and politicians out there. I guess I'm really not surprised. I just want to try to put the best food into my pie hole.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Reading

There is no better time to read than the lazy days of summer. Sitting under a tree on a sweltering day, lounging by the pool, hiding under an umbrella at the beach. All good spots. A hammock strung between two trees would be delightful but I don't have one of those. Maybe I should put it on a dream list for the house....

Anyway, I was pondering summer reading for the boys and first thought I'd check my book shelves. Here's what I've got without having to lift a finger:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry
  • Milkweed by Jerry Spnelli
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
  • Lord of the Rings part 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
  • Selected Poems and Letters by Emily Dickenson
  • The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter (this is Nolan's favorite series and he is DYING for his brother to read some of the books. I may make book one mandatory for Nathan).
I haven't decided how to implement summer reading for the boys. They've always been fond of earning things so I may just get my creative juices flowing and see what I can come up with. It just makes things fun, I think. 

One thing we haven't done for a while is to read a book out loud as a family. I'm thinking we'll start one soon. I might read Lord of the Rings or Watership Down. We have a lot of bunnies in our yard so the boys might get a kick out of their adventures.

If you have favorite books for summer reading.....tell me, tell me!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Need versus Want

Do you remember that Mike and I were redoing the kitchen? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Well, after a little reminder and pretty pleasing, Mike got back on the kitchen band wagon. I love that man. He's been painting up a storm. We got to the ceiling (finally). I was faced with the ceiling fan dilemma. 
 You can see the fan (upside down) above. It was perfectly functional. Not a think wrong with it. I just don't like it. In fact, I find it down right ugly. So here's the dilemma: Do I buy something new and throw out something old just because I want to? I do think in our society we worry too much about our wants. We have so few real needs as compared to some others in the world.

So what to do? Mike and I finally decided that we'd only replace the fan if we found something that we adored. Ok, and something that wasn't too pricey. Just FYI, our plan in the next 5-10 years is to gut the kitchen, rip out a wall and make a larger kitchen. That makes me not want to spend a lot of scratch right now fixing things up. Especially when they aren't broken.

Enter one trip to Lowes and Home Depot. Nothing was speaking to me at Lowes. You have to remember that we redid the kitchen in a 1950's-ish manner. Of course, ceiling fans weren't around then. So....trip to Home Depot. 
We found the above fan. Now you have to remember that our kitchen is teeny tiny. This fan has the smallest blades I've ever seen. I didn't even know they made fan blades that small. It's perfect for our small kitchen space. It was $50. We donated the old fan to our local Habitat Re-Store. So I don't feel totally horrible about getting rid of something that worked fine. 

Someone else may love it........right?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chickie Fun

I'm making chicks. I have a spot in my office that needs a little fun. These are definitely fun. If you want to make some of your own, Myrle and Eunice have the pattern. Chick it Out!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Finally, a bloom in my yard. This is my Rhododendron in the front of the house. It's really the simple things in life that I enjoy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Getaway and a Gift.

The photo above is one of the magnificent waterfalls that can be viewed if you hike Rickett's Glen. Many months ago, Mike and I decided that we could really use a weekend away. A weekend away together. A weekend away together but without the boys. To some people that may sound terrible. Really, though, I think it is good for your marriage to get away. Mike and I love to camp and hike. We don't mind terribly if the weather isn't the best. Our boys like camping and hiking ok. It's not their favorite thing in the world. So Mike and I decided it would be nice to spend a weekend together, doing something we love and allowing the boys a weekend with my parents. 

As I said earlier, the above photo is one of the waterfalls from Rickett's Glen. It wasn't, however, a photo from this weekend. That picture was snapped last year when Mike and the boys went to the Glen. This weekend was so cold and rainy I didn't want to take th camera out on our hike for fear of ruining it. Turns out the rain tapered off about 30 minutes into our hike so I could have taken some photos. Oh well. Those falls aren't going anywhere.

Despite the cold and the persistent rain, Mike and I had a lovely time. So much of it was spent in silence. We spoke when the mood hit and talked about many different subjects but we also spent a lot of time in companionable silence. One of the things that has kept our marriage strong is that we don't feel the need to always be doing or thinking about the same things. We have many activities that we both enjoy doing, and I think that is important. We also have our differences. In most things (like music and books) we overlap in the middle but also have our extremes. We're like a Venn diagram often. Personally, I think that's healthy. We respect those items that one loves and the other does not (for me, Frank Zappa falls in that category). We tease each other about our obsessions that are not shared but for the most part we have much in common and enjoy our time together.

One thing that we enjoyed about this weekend was what we called our gourmet campfire fare. Friday night we had Salmon and Asparagus on the coals and Saturday night's feast was a beef and veggie coal fry. Delicious. Again.....not something the boys would have been very thrilled about. They had pizza with grandma and grandpa. They were happy, we were happy.

Of course, we were glad to set off for home this morning. It was raining and damp. We packed up as soon as we left the sleeping bags. We were home by lunch and happily unpacked and cleaned up (ok, except for the soggy tent. That'll have to wait for a sunnier day) by the time the boys walked through the door. We were happy to be a reunited family. 

That's when I got my gift. Last week on Mother's Day the boys informed me that my present was late in arriving. Apparently it arrived on Friday after Mike and I left. Guess what? They presented me with an iPod Touch!!! They boys purchased my case and Mike the toy. Wow! What a surprise! I'd been using Nolan's for a while and was really enjoying it. With all the driving I've been doing I loved having my music all in one place. So now I'm getting ready to personalize that gift! App store, here I come.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Communion Gifting

 I've got my first communion gifts down pat. They always come from Alice Cantrell. For girls, I gift Tea and Cakes with the Saints. For boys, Tin Cups and Tinder. You just can't go wrong with those two lovely, lovely books. People rave and want to know where they can buy more. So, what to do when the boy receiving his First Communion already has Tin Cups and Tinder? You go to plan B.
Plan B took me a little while to formulate. I think working at a job away from the house has slowed my brain function a bit. Just a bit. I was able to remember a little etsy shop I discovered one day when perusing Catholic Icing. The shop is called St. Luke's Brush.
I asked about a favorite saint and was told St. Michael the Archangel. A few clicks of my mouse and a little emailing with the shop owner and I was the happy recipient of a beautiful wooden St. Michael. I wasn't satisfied, however. I just felt that I should MAKE something too. I flipped through my copy of Tin Cups and saw a reference to pocket saints. Apparently, during the first half of the 20th century, men carried little metal statues of Jesus, Mary or a saint in their pocket when they were away from home. I loved this idea for my little St. Michael. So I whipped up a little leather pouch that hooks around a belt loop. St. Michael fits inside, but so would a million other little odds and ends that boys tend to pick up on their journeys.
Happy First Communion!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finding Time

A paper pieced pillow I made for my office chair.
We all have the same amount of it, don't we. Time, I mean. Everyone is given 24 hours in each and every day. Of course we all have different responsibilities. Our needs and wants vary as much as the flowers that grow in the garden. Wonderful, isn't it? 

Now that I'm working full time I'm trying to figure out how to manage my time at home. Responsibilities have shifted in our home and I've been relieved of some duties that used to take up quite a bit of my time. Remembering that my lovely husband is more than capable of taking over the responsibility isn't usually too hard but letting go of my old role as Stay-At-Home-Homeschooling-Mother isn't as easy. I'm working on it.

I do adore my job. I love getting out of the house everyday and learning new things and talking with people who want and need help. It's very soul satisfying. I feel energized at the end of the day. I feel blessed to have been able to get a wonderful job so quickly when so many haven't.

So what's this post all about? It's about finding some balance in my life. I have loved writing this blog and cherish the memories that are stored here. For me it's not so much about who reads it, but that I have a snapshot of our life that I can refer to. A virtual photo album, if you like. I will continue, at my own pace. Just as I will continue to sew and garden and exercise and spend time with my family. 

Of course, there are things that I must make the decision to leave for now. I'm still not sure what they are. Some of them have left me just because they occur during the day when I'm at work: directly homeschooling, summer volunteering at VBS and Work Camp. There is sorrow in the leaving but joy in knowing that God is present in all that I do.

So my thoughts today are on time management. After I do what NEEDS to be done, what is left that I WANT to do? Food for thought.
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