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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Field Trip to Remember . . .

Each year in February and September, Colonial Williamsburg hosts home schoolers at a great discount and also offers special programming.  While we have never taken advantage of the special programming, we have taken advantage of the discounted tickets over the past several years. 

When we first went Williamsburg, the kids were 11, 8, 8 and 5.  Daniel wasn't born yet.  I had made the girls colonial dresses and they had a blast dressing up and going around Williamsburg.  For Christmas that year, they all received colonial related gifts - - the boys got costumes from Vision Forum, handmade haversacks with spyglasses, maps, compasses and a pack of "colonial" cards, along with a tricorn hat.  The girls got new handmade dresses and caps.  Except for Jenna, they've outgrown dressing up, but we still enjoy our trips to Williamsburg. 

Some of our favorite places to visit are the Wig and Perugmakers Shop, the Brick Yard, the Cabinet Makers, and the Blacksmith's.  Year after year, I am constantly reminded of how well Colonial Williamsburg keeps alive the traditional ways of making things.  The bricks made in the brickyard are used for building within Colonial Williamsburg.  Each brick is laboriously shaped by hand, allowed to dry and then bake in a kiln around the clock.  The blacksmith constructs hinges to be used on doors, nails to be used in building, and other various items like handles, weather vanes, etc.  The cabinet makers reconstruct moldings and furniture by hand to be used in the various buildings around the town.  The gardens and fields are planted each year, not only to teach the visitors, but to be used in the cooking demonstrations, to feed livestock, and propagate "heritage" plants. You can buy these "heirloom" seeds at the garden store.  And, the visitors are even sometimes allowed to participate in keeping the traditions alive.  Dave and the kids (even Daniel) helped clear the field of corn stalks, which would traditionally go to feed the livestock later in the winter.  Some children were helping to mix the clay with their feet for the making of bricks.  We got to watch the food made at the Govenor's Palace and ponder whether we would eat Macaroni and Cheese with Tongue (can we say eeeewwww!).  The fritters the cook was making smelled quite yummy!  At the wigmaker's, we found out that if we had to ask how much the wigs typically cost, we probably couldn't afford them!  In the past, at the cabinet maker's, they've had the harpsichord open to play (this year it was closed and locked to Andrea's disappointment).  And, the weaver allows us to feel the raw materials and finished products that are made there.

Colonial Williamsburg could rely on modern methods for construction and furniture and all that, but that they choose to do and make things in the more traditional way is what draws me, and I am sure others, back year after year.  And, it is what makes visiting Williamsburg a unique experience, even after visiting several times, there is always something new to discover!  If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!  While we visit, we usually camp (we have a travel trailer) at American Heritage RV Resort.  Camping helps to make the trip more affordable, since most of our meals can be eaten at the campground or packed (lunch).  Plus the cost of camping is a bit less than the hotels in the area.  American Heritage has camping cabins and models that can be rented. 

You can find more information on Colonial Williamsburg's Home School Experience here.  You can also find out information on visiting Historic Jamestown and Yorktown during the same time periods here.  I am not certain if Jamestown and Yorktown offer their tickets and programs in February.

Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Crafty at Heart . . .

Skip to My Lou has her Holiday Craft, Sew and Bake Along up - - great ideas for holiday gift giving.  Yes, I know it's only September, but for somethings, you need to start early. 

Check it out here:
http://www.skiptomylou.org/holiday-craft-along/

I am looking at making those scrumptous looking oreo truffles!  Yummmmm! 

Jennifer

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pattern Crocheting

I know I haven't posted in quite a while.  We've been busy here getting our school year started, decluttering and cleaning the house, and preparing for Daniel's second birthday.  Has it been two years already!!!!  In some ways, it seems as if he has always been part of our family, and in other ways, it feels like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. 

I am working on crocheting Daniel a blanket with Thomas the Tank Engine on it.  I doubt I will be done in time for his birthday - - it is a week from today, but I am going to put more effort into it this week. 

I had never crocheted from a pattern before, and it has been quite the learning experience.  While it is all single crochet, it can be difficult dealing with all of the colors.  You cannot simply change colors for one or two stitches.   I've learned to carry the different colors, drop them when not needed and pick them back up again,when I do.  The hardest thing to deal with, though, is the tangle of yarn that ensues.  I've developed an inexpensive way to keep the yarn much neater.  Yes, they will still get tangled, but they are much easier to untangle.  I guess this would be like the bobbins suggested, but a homemade version.

You will need:

Clothes pins - - the kind without the spring.  You can find these in the craft stores in the doll making section.
Rubber bands - - not large, but not tiny either.  About 1 - 1/2 inches should do it.

Materials needed.

Place yarn and rubber band (gumband as we would say in Pittsburgh) under the
clothespin in the dip between the head of the pin and the body.

Loop the rubber band over the yarn and through the other side.  Pull tight to secure.

Wind a few yards of yarn around the clothespin.  Bring the rubber band down and secure by
looping the rubber band over the "leg."  This will keep the yarn from unravelling.


 One last tip to crocheting a project that takes more than one sitting.  Use a marker to keep your last stitch in place by securing it to the stitch below.  This will also prevent little hands from undoing your hard work. 

Stitch marker is looped through the current stitch and
 the stitch below it to secure it in place.
Well, that is all I have time for right now.  I am off to Mass and then run a couple of errands before we head home to start on schoolwork. 

God Bless,
Jennifer

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gyros with Homemade Pita bread

I was asking for menu input this week from my dear husband.  He added things like stuffed cabbage, ham, and gyros, of all things.  We love gyros.  Growing up in Pittsburgh, you could usually find a good gyro place somewhere.  (The same could be said of places that made pizza and hoagies, too!)  So, you can imagine I was a little leary of making them at home.  I am not sure there is a way to duplicate that carved off the bone lamb. 

I had recently downloaded the Betty Crocker cookbook app for my phone and looked up Gyros.  Sure enough, there was a recipe there and so we decided to give it a try.  In looking for Pitas at the store, I found that they were mostly hard, not soft like the Gyro joints' pita shells, so I decided that I would have to make those, too.  Out came the Joy of Cooking cookbook - - one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. 

Dave found lamb at the Whole Foods that is located on the ground floor of his office building.  Granted lamb isn't the cheapest meat around, but at $6.99 a pound, it's less expensive than the gyro joint.  Dave and I found the recipe to be delicious and a good substitute for the local gyro place.  The pitas were soft and warm, coming straight from the oven.  The recipe calls for ground lamb, which makes it easy to work with and to infuse the flavors of the various spices that were added.  We would definitely make this again, which is a good thing since there are 6 more "patties" in the freezer!

Here is the recipe as printed from the Betty Crocker app.  I did not change anything.

Gyros:

Ingredients -
4 pita breads (6" in diameter)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 T chopped fresh mint or 1 t dried
1 t sugar
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped (3/4 c)
1 lb ground lamb or beef
2 T water
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano leaves
1/4 t pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 c)
2 T vegetable oil
2 c shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato chopped (3/4 c)

Directions: 
Split each pita bread halfway around the edge with a knife; separate to form a pocket.
Mix yogurt, mint and sugar in a bowl.  Stir in cucumber.
Mix lamb, water, lemon juice, salt, cumin, oregano, pepper, garlic and onion.  Shape mixture into 4 thin patties. 
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook patties in oil 10 - 12 minutes, turning frequently, until no longer pink in the center.  Place cooked patty in each pita pocket.  Top with yogurt mixture, lettuce and tomato. 

Okay - - I will admit that we grilled the patties instead of cooking on oil.  We also used non-stick foil on the grill. 

For the pitas - - do ahead since they will have to rise for 1 to 1 - 1/2 hours.

Ingredients -
Combine in mixing bowl:

3 c bread flour (I used King Arthur's Sir Galahad flour, or you could also substitute whole wheat for some or all)
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
4 t active dry yeast

Add:
2 T butter, melted
1 1/4 c water (room temp)

Mix by hand or with mixer with dough hook attachment.  Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic.  The dough will be tacky but not sticky.  Transfer to an oil bowl, turning dough to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled - 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down, separate into 8 balls.  Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Preheat oven and baking stone to 450 degrees (F).  If you don't have a baking stone, you can use an upside down baking sheet. 

Roll out dough on a very lightly floured surface into a thin round.  Spray stone with a mist of water (I just put a pan under the stone and put some water in it.)  Wait 30 seconds and place as many pitas as you can on the stone without the pitas touching.  Bake for 3 minutes (until puffed up) and then wait 30 seconds before removing from the oven.  If you leave them in for too long they will not deflate.

Note:  I baked my pitas one at a time, so touching wasn't an issue.  I place the hot ones coming out on top of the ones that were cooling which allowed the others to stay warm.  They were yummy and reminded me of the ones at the gyro shop.

So, there you have it  - - gyros made at home!

Happy eating and God Bless!
Jennifer

Friday, August 5, 2011

Redwall Tea

I don't often post about something the boys are doing - - let's face it, they are not much into crafts.  But today, Alex (13) got up and asked if he could search out recipes for many of the dishes that are in the Redwall Books.  He spent much of the morning copying, pasting and printing out recipes for such delights as "Hot Root Soup," Mossflower Wedge," "Honey Scones," and "Meadow Cream."  Many recipes (reader created) can be found here.  He collected the recipes and put them into a binder with page protectors.  He is looking forward to making many messes in the kitchen!

Alex is a big fan of the Redwall Series.  He has consumed (I would say read, but Alex doesn't read, he consumes books) many of the series and has purchased them on his own so that he can enjoy them again and again.  He even listens to them on his MP3 player.  I haven't asked him why he reads and rereads, but he must find them enjoyable over and over!  


Of course, we had to try out some of the recipes, so we decided to make a "tea."  For the "tea" (we had no tea to speak of), we made Scones, Meadow Cream and Strawberry Fizz.

What a fun way to spend time with Alex!  I think that this may end up as a Christmas present under the tree - - SSSHHH! Don't tell!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cleaning tools for kids

In the Spring, 2011 issue of Living Crafts, I found directions to make some cleaning tools for kids.  These "dust bunnies" are one.  To make them, I used a micro fiber dish towel that I had here that did not do a great job drying dishes.  They had a nice rolled edge already on them, so I used the edge for the opening.  I copied the pattern and pinned it to the towel and then "embroidered" on the lines with the zigzag stitch (per the diretions).  It worked out great and the dusters are cute and Daniel-sized.  Hopefully the dishcloth  will work better as dusters? 



They also had directions for making this dust mop - - I had some challenges.  First, I am a beginner knitter, so I wasn't sure of the directions. Plus, I had never even crocheted loops, let alone knit them, so that was new for me. 


See all those loops!  I was going quite quite "loopy" from making all of the loops.  It took time and patience - - something I don't have a lot of but I am quite happy to get these "toys"  oops - - tools done for Daniel.

Be sure to check out Living Crafts.  They also have some free craft patterns available.   I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Summer issue. 

Enjoy!
Jennifer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul and Bottle Cap Necklaces

Happy Feast Day for Saints Peter and Paul!  We were blessed with daily Mass today - - Andrea and Alex served with Father James.  Daniel slept through all of Mass, which is another blessing since I got to listen to the readings today.  The first reading from Acts was about Peter's imprisonment and then how he was rescued by an angel.  The second reading was from Timothy and the Gospel was when Jesus changes Simon's name to Peter - - the Rock.  In all of these, there are gems to be mined. One gem I mined was the idea that God listens to our prayers and even answers them.  I am sure Peter was praying hard while in prison for God to rescue him.  And he did, in a miraculous way, too. Rather than put our hope in people, we are reminded that our hope is in God.  I really wish daily Mass was in the works for us, but the expense of gas coupled with the distance and time makes it out of the realm for now. 

On a side note, we are making these bottle cap necklaces today - - the directions are available here at Skip to My Lou.  We flattened ours more than the directions - - big oops on my part but they still look fun.  The bottlecaps I had were from a science kit that we are not currently using, and luckily, they are patriotic!  These will be great for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.  The girls are making them for their friends now.  


Andrea wearing one of her creations.


I am having a blast finding little craft project that are fun and practical (which means they don't head to the garbage soon after they are made) for the girls to do.  Yes, I have boys, too, but they don't seem to be as interested in the painting and pounding.  Perhaps I should look at something for them to do.  HMMMMM!  Any ideas?

Jenna working on necklaces.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fourth Tuesdays - Bookmobile Picks

We are soooo lucky to have a Bookmobile in Washington County, MD that comes to our homeschool.  It has been a blessing.  Not only do we not have to go to the library, but we get to check out books for a whole month, request books from the library stacks (and other libraries through interlibrary loans), and not have late fees if we forget to return a book or the bookmobile doesn't make it one month. 

I've been trying to pick up homemaking, knitting, crocheting, gardening, type books when they come.  I can request them, too, but lately, I've just been making do with what is on the bookmobile or what the lovely ladies have found. 

I picked up Do It Gorgeously by Sophie Uliano.  It looked quite interesting and skimming through it I saw directions to make a pillowcase nightie, a no-sew baby sling, tons of recipes for everything from toothpaste to night creme to food for your baby and family.  I will have to look at it more closely.

I also picked up Two-Bite Cupcakes by Viola Goren.  This book features recipes for cupcakes that are run the range of sweet to savory.  I am not sure I will try the salmon and chive ones, but the Mexican ones may get made.

For cooking, I picked up Taste of Home's Fast Fixes with Mixes.  Some of these recipes look promising - I was looking at one called "Colorful Vegetable Bake".  This may come in handy when the zucchini starts to come in!

The wonderful women on the Bookmobile also brought me two beginning knitting books and I kept Chicks with Stick's Guide to Knitting.  I've gotten a couple of dishcloths under my belt so far.

Along with these books, I also picked up some picture books for Daniel, who also picked out some for himself for the first time.  Usually he would pull the books off the shelves.  This time, he happily piled them up with the others to be checked out!  How cute!  The others get to make their own choices from the bookmobile.  They love it almost as much as I do and always make requests from the ladies! 

God Bless!
Jennifer

Craft Activity - - Garden Markers

Jenna paints some garden markers.
 Today we made the garden markers as shown on Skip to My Lou's Summer Craft Camp.   I found the canning lids at Big Lots ($1.50 for box of 12).  I picked up the paint and dowel rods at JoAnn's, though I could have probably gotten them much cheaper at Home Depot. 

I first sprayed the lids with a matte white spray paint and let them dry (which they did quite quickly).  The girls then painted them with acryllic craft paints.  I allowed them free reign - telling them I only needed the middle of the lid clear to write the names on.
Andrea also paints some markers.
Seeing this craft gives me the impetus to now save the used lids from canning and those frozen oj containers to use for next year. I think we will also make a set for Grandma and Aunt Maria for their gardens.  We will leave them blank so that they can write the names of their roses and other flowers on them. 

I am happy to say that the garden is looking great.  I do have to get outside one of these mornings to weed and mulch (so that I can keep the weeds down and the moisture in).  These markers add some more charm to the garden and in our potted herbs.  Below are some pictures of our finished markers.




Thanks, Skip to My Lou for something fun and beautiful to do with my girls! 

God Bless,
Jennifer

Summer Craft Camp

Summer is here and pretty soon, I expect to hear those words every parent hears - - what are we going to do today?  or can we do something fun?  or even the dreaded, I'm bored!  One thing to check out is the Summer Craft Camp going on at Skip to My Lou.   Check out the garden markers - - I think I will have the girls start working on them - - that way I remember what I planted where!  These would even make a cool gift for Grandma's and Aunt Maria's roses! 

I also like the sewing cards - - perhaps we can make some of these in a more sturdy version for Daniel - - I'm thinking items to go in the "Alphabet Basket".  Alligator, anyone?

The girls would probably like the bottle cap necklace craft.  I will have to see what I have and start digging out the craft stuff.  I am sure I can find most of the stuff somewhere.

Skip to My Lou is a fun site, full of homemade, handmade gift giving ideas. 

Enjoy & God Bless!
Jennifer

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lemon Pasta sauce

This is one of my favorites from www.allrecipes.com

4T butter
1 Cup heavy cream
2T fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Cup beef/chicken/ beg broth
1 Lb pasta

In pan, combine butter, cream and broth.  Simmer over med heat until reduced by half.  Add lemon juice and zest and set aside. 

Add pasta and toss.  Serve.


Now, I also add about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.  The lemon gives the creamy sauce a light summery taste.  The original recipe calls for a tsp of lemon zest and a tsp of lime zest.  I use what I have.  You can also add grilled chicken -- yummmmm.

Enjoy and God bless!
Jennifer

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reading

I am going through my homeschooling library to see what I can part with and what I would like to keep.  Sometimes it is hard to let go.  The thought that I may be able to use this for Daniel is nagging me a little.  But I am weeding through it slowly.  I made it through history and science so far.  I have some on the religion shelf that I will probably offer up (I've already done some, but know there is more).  I also have to go through the myriad of books on the literature shelves.  We've collected so many. 

I am not sure about you, but I have a hard time saying no to books.  I am thrilled that the kids all have some love of reading.  Books become gifts for Christmas and Birthdays, special Feast Days, and even as rewards for good behavior or a job well done.  My kids can "waste" time reading and often, I will find them sneaking off to a far corner of the house to read rather than do their school. The neat thing is that their reading is something that they own, and their habits and tastes reflect each of them. 

Jeremy loves the fantasy fiction, as do all of the others.  He can read and enjoy other genres, too, though and did enjoy Huckleberry Finn and the Scarlett Letter. Both books that I had him read for American Literature this year.  Now, that is not to say that he enjoyed everything I made him read.  He found Poe a bit odd and James Fenimore Cooper difficult to get through.  He also did not enjoy Don Quixote last year - - thought the stories were too repetitive - - old senial man gets in trouble, his valet gets him out and then he gets into trouble again.  A simplistic viewpoint I am sure!  He loves the adventure, and if it has a little bit of magic or dragons in it, so much the better.  As the oldest, he is constantly trying new things - - the first at many.  He will be the first to get a license, the first to leave home . . . or so we think.  At 16, he is realizing that he is on the cusp of something new, something exciting.  The beginning of the end of his childhood and the start of adulthood. I am sure that can be both frightening and exciting at the same time.  He realizes what he wants to do is almost the same as what he is able to do, if that makes sense.   Just as Huck is able to tramp around the countryside, he is beginning to realize that he is able to make some of his own decisions and live with the consequences if need be.

My daughter, Andrea (13), also enjoys the fantasy fiction.  Andrea's style is a bit different from that of her brothers in that she likes the "romance". I guess this appeals to teen girls - - that sense that somewhere out there is a prince or someone special for her. Someone who will understand her and need her. I get it! Isn't it everyone's desire to be loved by someone special? My problem here is that she also is enjoying some of the more popular teen fiction, of which I abhor to some extent.  I've tried weeding through some of it and don't allow all of it in my home.  The ones I do allow, we take time to discuss some of the more problematic elements.  I am sure these books speak to teens living in today's culture and it is sad that they reflect the culture so well.    

My Alex is a devourer of books.  Also 13, he is the one who will read and reread books a gazillion times over until the book's cover is falling off and the binding has loosened.  The others don't wish to allow him to borrow their books because of this!  He enjoys a myriad of fiction, tending to the fantasy, but will also read fictional biographies, historical fiction, mystery, etc.  He would rather read than watch movies sometimes, allowing his imagination to work.  You will often see him listening to books on his mp3 player over and over and is the one who will always ask for a new book.  Ranger's Apprentice, Eragon, The Lord of the Rings, Rick Riordan's books can all be found on his shelves or scattered about his room.  I often wonder what he thinks about when he reads. 

And then there is Jenna - - at 10, she still enjoys the Little House books.  She also enjoys other historical fiction and some of the "dime store paperback" series that have become popular, both from my days and beyond - - Nancy Drew, Babysitter's Club, etc.  She often reenacts the Little House books, dressing up and playing with dolls.  She will make up beds for her dolls and have "teas" in the playset in the yard.  She will pick wild onions and flowers, creating a world for herself and her dolls.  She welcomes anyone who wishes to join her into this world, and sometimes hoping for that bossom friend to come along, as Anne of Green Gables would say.  I would keep her this way if I could! 

I am sure there is twaddle, as Charlotte Mason would call it, among our books - - and I am sure we don't adhere to the philosophy that for every "new" book you read, read an old book, but it gives me comfort to see my kids curled up with a book every now and then.  And, in my joy, it doesn't bother me if the kids sneak staying up late to read by a flashlight.  I remember doing that every now and then, too.  And while I am thrilled they are reading, I always try to maintain some sort of interest in what they are reading and to try and point them to good books when I can. 

God Bless,
Jennifer

Sunday, June 19, 2011

St Francis

I made this little St Francis as a quiet doll for Daniel during Mass.  I had packed a couple of the wooden saint dolls before, but they get too noisy, so this is a great alternative.

Jennifer

Sent from my Windows Phone

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Letting go . . .

I am sure there are many homeschoolers out there that are like me - - you know you're out there.  You have stacks and stacks of curriculum hanging around waiting for the next child to come along and use it.  This is usually a good idea -- especially if your children are close in age, but what if the gap is more than two years - - should we save it?  Curriculum changes, the students change, newer,better stuff becomes available, so why do we hang on to it?

There are many reasons we hang on to old curriculum.  Most often it is because we have another coming along (or are hoping for more to come along).  Other reasons can be for nostaligic reasons, passing it on to your children to use with their children (yeah, right!), or because we just have a hard time parting with "stuff" in general.  That last one can be hard for me.  I have "stuff" all over the house that has been hanging around waiting for me to do something with it.  I have been trying to let go of it, but it is difficult.

I contend that most of the school curriculum hanging around can be sold to help pay for the things you need for next year.  Sure, some of the items are worth hanging on to, but if you have more than a few years between kids - - like I do - - then perhaps it is worth passing on some of these items.  Here are a few reasons:

1.  If there are more than 2 - 3 years between children, it is best to sell off older curriculum now.  It is worth more now than it will be later when the company decides to bring out a newer edition. 

2.  Space = Money - - the space that is taken up by old curriculum can be better utilized. 

3.  You will feel better letting go of "stuff" and knowing someone else will be putting it to good use.

4.  While you might really love a curriculum, it may not fit the next one coming along, and you can always repurchase it if needed.   Remember by then a newer and better edition maybe out.

5.  You can use the money gained to help offset costs on next years "stuff."  Just think of all the items you can sell off to help pay for next year's books!  It's almost like found money.  Sure, most of the items will go at far less than what you purchased them for, but if you buy some of the items you need used, it will greatly reduce your costs. 

So what should we keep?  Classics - - time tested books that withstand generations.  Here are some that will stay on my bookshelves, not just for the kids to enjoy, but for me and my grandchildren, too:

1.  Ann Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study
2.  Burgess' Bird Book for Children
3.  Adventures in Grammar Land (Nesbit)
4.  Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (E. Nesbit)
5.  Classic novels - - Little Women, The Little House Series, etc.
6.  Classic picture books (okay - - Daniel is two and so these are appropriate to him) - Blueberries for Sal, Time of Wonder, Corderoy, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Caps for Sale, etc.  You know the  ones that beg to be read over and over again.
7.  History stories - the D'Aulaire books - Abraham Lincoln, Greek Myths, etc;
8.  Saint books - The Vision series, some of the TAN books
9.  Catholic Treasure box books (okay, I will be saving these for the Grandkids, too!)
10.  Holling C. Holling books (great classic science and geography stories)

I am sure there are more to add to the list, but notice what is not on there.  I will not be saving textbooks (unless I will be using them within a year or two).

So, what are you waiting for . . .

God Bless,
Jennifer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A is for . . .

I know - - Daniel is only going to be 2 - - I am hoping to make learning part of playing and will start introducing letters, numbers and colors to him this fall.  So, I am working on items for an "A" basket. 

Some of the materials we will be using are:

1.  An Alphabet of Catholic Saints by Brenda & George Nippert
2.  1 is One by Tasha Tudor
3.  Alphabet letters cut from sandpaper (I cut out letters and glued to cards)
4.  Moveable letters (I will probably buy some wooden magnetic ones)
5.  Color cards, blocks, etc.
6.  Printables from Montessori Printshop

I am also in the process of making an apple puzzle (I have it cut and sanded, I need to paint it.)

As part of our "A" learning basket, I am going to put things in that begin with the letter "A".  I have an apple that I needle felted (directions can be found here).  I am on the lookout for an alligator and possibly an astronaut.  I have letter/picture matching cards that I downloaded from here.  Along with these, I painted St. Anne (along with Mary as a child) and St. Anthony to add to the basket and our Saint friends collection.  These will be in the basket for the time we are doing the letter A and then come out for feast days.  I used the picture in Nippert's book as inspiration for how I painted St. Anne and Mary (giving credit where it is due) so that Daniel could identify them from the picture.  I may try to needle felt the alligator (shouldn't be too hard, I hope!)
Needle felted apple, St. Anne with Mary and St. Anthony


Lacy, at Catholic Icing, has some neat ideas for crafts.  And, I will certainly look at Elizabeth Foss' site for her Along the Alphabet Path story and as suggested by Jessica at Shower of Roses, I will be painting a saint to go along with the book. 

The other thing I hope to do is to start introducing Bible stories.  The Catholic Toolbox has Bible Stories from A to Z, with links activities, coloring pages, songs and more.  It has so much that I will probably be able to mine this little gem for years!

That Resource Site also has some Catholic Alphabet posters, but unfortunately, these cannot be used for letter/sound recognition since they don't really correspond all that well (like a is for altar, e is for eucharist) for teaching beginning sounds. 

I also downloaded some Montessori printables from Montessori Printshop.  I have the Alphabet cards, the Autumn matching card, and Apple Life Cycle cards.  I am not sure how long I will spend on one letter, but was thinking perhaps 2 weeks, unless interest slows.  I also hope to find picture books that will go along with our theme.

That will be our language tasks.  For numbers, we will simply read and count things - starting with one and going up.  The Tasha Tudor book is absolutely lovely and I was happy to find it at the homeschool conference I attended this past weekend. 

We will also practice some practical tasks, like pouring, setting the table, making the bed and dressing.  I plan on making a "placemat" for Daniel that shows him where to put his fork and napkin, plate and cup.  This way he can learn where everything goes.  It's not that easy though since you also have to show how to handle the plates, forks and glasses so that things don't break (can I go back and teach the others?).  Making the bed shouldn't be too hard since Daniel now has his own little bed and just has one or two covers to pull up.  Dressing will probably be the hardest.  I hope to make my own "dressing frames" which shouldn't be tooo hard, just takes time.

For our sensorial, I am hoping to buy the pink tower, which we will stack, arrange and rearrange to our hearts content.  I had bought a set of nesting blocks hoping these would work and while they help to teach size and stacking, there are some limitations.  I will also be making the geometric shapes trays - - with Dave's help.  I have printed the color cards and will also make touch boards.  Many of these templates came from Teaching Montessori in the Home:  The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock.  Highly recommend it.  I know it is an older book, but she gives great practical advice for making your materials and how to use them.

For Culture, we will be working with land and water trays (I hope to make these or will use a tub for a sand/water table).  I also printed off the Land/Water/Air cards from Montessori Print Shop.

I wish I had looked into this for the older kids when they were younger, as I am sure they would have benefited greatly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Better Late than Never

At least that is what I'm hoping for!  I've been wanting to get the garden in for some time.  Thanks, Dave, for tilling and going to get the plants for me.

God bless!
Jennifer

Sent from my Windows Phone

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Cool Montessori Freebie for Everyone!

Montessori for Everyone has a really cool freebie for the month of June - - It is a Natural World chart.  You can download it here.  This could be helpful even for those who do not use Montessori.

God Bless!
Jennifer

Monday, June 6, 2011

Something fun!

I have started a new blog aimed at my adventures in couponing and frugality.  I am not a very frugal person by nature and so this is very difficult for me.  Though I will say that using coupons and saving are pleasing, the work involved sometimes isn't.  Anyways, you can check it out here.  Some of the information on sales may be local to this area.

God Bless,
Jennifer

PS - - Pray for me!  I have to buckle down and get ready for our hs portfolio reviews tomorrow.  They have been postponed twice already.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Movie Express | Regal Theaters Select a state

http://www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress/default.aspx?zip=21782

$1 Admission now, but still reasonable.

Fun with Jenna


We were at the beach when Jenna saw these dolls called, not kidding, "Ugly Dolls."  She wished for one, but the design was a bit simple and I thought that we could make it.  So here is a picture of her doll.  She helped to do all of the hand sewing and stuffing.  I did all of the machine sewing.  We made a great team, didn't we?

This is the last posting for today - - I just wanted to share a few pics.

God Bless! 
Jennifer

A picture tells it all!


I have a picture of each of the kids in Grandma's swing when they were babies.  Grandma's swing is a favorite with all of the kids, and Daniel is no exception!  We made a quick trip to Pittsburgh to drop off Andrea to help out Grandpap while he recovers from shoulder surgery.  I hear she is a tough, but good physical therapist and doesn't allow him to "cheat" on his exercises!  Pray for a quick recovery. 

While you are at it, please also pray for Jenna's friend, Curtis.  He is a 12 year old boy who had been born with a heart defect and has undergone open heart surgery.  This was a necessary operation, and so keep him and his recovery in your prayers, too. 

Saturday Morning Crafting

Little Lamb Pillow
Things were quiet around here early this morning.   I was up and unable to sleep, so I worked on my newest felted bowl, which I finished.  I also started on another dishcloth, but ripped out the stitches - - something just didn't seem right, so I probably miscounted or something. 

Later on, I was playing around today with some fake sherpa and felt that I have laying around here.  The sherpa is really soft and warm feeling. I had been crocheting and knitting earlier with wool, so this little guy is right up that alley!  A cute little pillow to rest on Daniel's bed. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blue Jeans and frugality

Like most people nowadays, I love a nice comfortable pair of blue jeans.  Unfortunately, many of today's styles start at the hips and for women like me, that usually results in jeans that you are constantly hiking up.  At least, that seems to be a problem for me these days.    Whatever happened to jeans that came up to the natural waist????  I found that rather than purchase the jeans from the "petite" section, I can purchase them in the regular section.  These jeans usually have a longer rise since they are made for generally taller people.  The only drawback is that these jeans also have a much longer leg (even if you buy ones marked short).  

On one recent shopping trip, I did find some jeans that came up high enough, but were entirely too long (by about 4 inches).   Luckily, they were on sale, and I figured that I could possibly hem them up.  I had seen an article some time ago on purchasing jeans that were too long "on sale" and hemming them in a way that kept the original bottom hem in a consumer magazine that discussed ways to save money.  My mother-in-law, who alters clothing, said she has been doing this for years, especially for jeans that have that decorative topstitching on the bottoms.  I had her do a couple of pairs for my daughter as I peered over her shoulder so that I could see the technique.  The jeans turned out great for my daughter, so I thought it would work for me also.   Here are the instructions that I found on-line, so you can see how it is done.

So, this evening, as I had some time to myself, I sat down and hemmed my jeans.  Not too bad for the first time,Now I don't have to be too afraid to buy those jeans that look nice and are on sale just because they are too long! 

God Bless!
Jennifer

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a day!

My husband thanked me at the end of the day yesterday.  It wasn't anything in particular that I, or we did.  I think it is more what we didn't do.  For the most part, we were all home.  We did a bit of work (note the bed in the previous posting), but we spent a lot of time playing.  Dave and the kids swam in the pool, rested, cooked on the grill and ended the day in front of our outdoor fireplace making smores, drinking a beer.  He said it was probably one of the more enjoyable days he has had.  Great weather helped to some extent, but I also think the relaxing time, of having a clear schedule (yes, there is plenty to be done, but yesterday wasn't the day to do it), and just having everyone home was pleasing to him. 

I have to remember to plan for more days like this, where we focus not on the things that need to be done, but on each other, enjoying each other and playing around. 

Hope you all had a Happy Memorial Day!
God Bless,
Jennifer

Monday, May 30, 2011

Beach, birthdays, and a bed

It has been a couple of weeks since my last posting.  We had our yearly trip to the beach with Dave's family.  It was so relaxing and enjoyable and we all had a great time.  The kids seem to get more and more out of our trips as the years go by.  This year, they enjoyed boogie boarding in the surf quite a lot!   Daniel loved the but was not too sure about the ocean itself.  I particularly enjoyed the fact that there was nothing pressing me - - nothing to get done.  I could crochet at my leisure, especially during Daniel's nap time. 

When we got home, the girls had their dance recital.  Each year we get more amazed at their accomplishments, and this year was no different.  I enjoy watching them perform and this year, you could really see the growth in their abilities.  No longer are they looking for guidance from the sidelines.  It was enough to bring tears of joy to a mama's eyes!

Our next big celebration (May seems to be a month of celebrations!) was the twins birthday.  They are officially teenagers - 13!  They each had a friend over.  We put 26 candles on their cake - 13 on each side so that they could each blow out 13.  I could say that it seems like yesterday that I was bringing them home from the hospital, but I'd be lying.  I will say, though, that time does seem to be going by quickly.

This weekend was also Memorial Day weekend - - a time to remember those who have kept us free - - those who have come before and gave either all of their lives or a portion to keep us safe and those who are serving today in our military.  I pray for all families who have loved ones far from home, those who have come home broken and those who have lost their lives.  I am not sure how much we, here at home, realize the sacrifice that is being made by member of our military and their families, far removed from the battle and the terror that must be there.  It's almost as if we are disconnected from the reality of the war, kept busy with our lives, not realizing the sacrifice that these brave men and women make for us.  I know many do live with the reality of the wars, but there are also just as many who don't.

That brings me to the last thing - - the bed.  You can see Daniel sitting on top of it in the picture.  Just before we left, I was thinking about how to come up with a toddler bed for Daniel.  Right now he is sharing our bed and really it is getting time to move him into his own little bed.  He will still be in our room, but in his little corner.  I found this link to an upholstered  toddler bed.  I batted my eyes at Dave (okay - I asked him) to help me make it today, and he did! He and Alex put together the wooden frame.  Andrea and I upholstered it with a really cute ivory with lime green toile and then made the bed.  Andrea sewed a pillow cover.  I had found the ABC fleece at JoAnn's and thought it would be great for his bed.  We then added his quilt that I had made him before he was born.  Dave jokes and says that Daniel probably won't sleep in it, but he does seem tickled by it right now.  I owe Dave pretty big, though, because it was awfully hot and he was dripping with sweat while he slaved away for me!  Boy, I love that man!


Currently, I am working on learning to knit.  I am teaching myself to knit by sewing some "dish cloths".  I am not sure if I will have the heart to use them as thus and am thinking of stitching them together into a blanket.  That is, if I get past the first one!  I am using them to learn - - kind of like a sampler.  I have found the Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting to be extremely helpful, though I am not sure I will have the book long enough to complete any of the projects inside.  I'd like to try the men's hat they have in there for Dave and the boys.  I currently have the book on loan from the library so perhaps I will have to ask for it for my birthday. 

Well, I am going to sign off for now - - the pool is calling me!  God Bless you and Happy Memorial Day!

Jennifer

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Felted basket

I am so excited!!!  I was crocheting this without knowing how it would turn out.  I wanted something more basket like, rather than just a bowl.  I washed it once, and it was still pretty floppy.  I washed it again, and it felted more , but still floppy.  I washed it a third time and stuck it in boiling water, and wow.  What a surprise for me!!!  I used Paton's Classic Wool Yarn.  It shrunk quite a bit, but it is nice, soft and the sides hold.  I don't have a pattern for this, but will be doing more as I make baskets for our shelves, so I will try to get a pattern together. 

God bless!
Jennifer

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Felted Bowls

I was picking up some more roving at the Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, PA the other day and they had all of these small roving balls in this really cool felted basket/bowl.  It was tempting to buy it outright, trust me. 

I thought that I could perhaps make a felted bowl.  I am not a knitter, nor much of a crocheter, for that matter; but I thought that I could manage with the little I do know of crocheting.  Really, most of crochet is based on four basic stitches - single, half-double, double and triple (or treble) crochet. 

Small Felted Bowl

This little grey bowl with the pink edge was my first attempt.  I love the feel (it is very soft) of this bowl.  It wouldn't hold much and the sides are soft, rather than stiff like a basket, but it would be good for holding little things, like on a dresser and such.  Unfortunately, I really didn't keep track of my stitches and ripped and reworked it so that the bottom would be flat, so I quite lost track.

Larger felted bowl
My next attempt at making a felted bowl is this dark brown/ecru color.  This time I kept track of my stitches, and so I have a pattern that I can share with you.  It is a little bit larger than the other one and I alternated the brown and ecru.  I also added a scalloped edge on this one.  The pattern is available here.

To felt the bowls, I placed them in the washing machine, set it on hot wash, added a little mild detergent (Woolite) and let it go on a quick cycle.  I am thinking the longer cycle would work better, because I had put the second one through a second quick cycle and it looked even better. 
The picture doesn't do these justice, but they are cute. 

I also wanted to share with you this cute little hen with her baby chick.  The pattern for these can be found here.  There is a story to go with them in the newest issue of Living Crafts.  I have to thank my friend, Mary, for introducing me to this magazine!  The Knitting Cottage sells back issues for $2 (Yippee!).  The newest issue also has instructions for making cleaning tools (dust mop and dusters) for your little kids.  I am excited about this.  Daniel has been "helping" me sweep for a while now and the little broom I picked up at Toys 'R Us is really useless.  They always have some little needle felting idea, as well as knitting, crocheting and natural craft ideas. 

Well, that is the post for today!  I best get moving along! 

God Bless,
Jennifer

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the day to break out those macaroni necklaces your children made for you in preschool - - that is if you still have them - - and proudly wear them.  It is a day to celebrate both being a mom and having a mom.  It is a day to pay tribute to the mothers who have been part of our lives, as to celebrate our own motherhood.  Because, let's face it - - being a mom is tough work, but I will say that being a mom is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had.

I remember the day that I held my oldest son all day - - my first day home from the hospital.  All I could do is sit and marvel at how perfect he was -- how tiny and how perfect.  It reminded me of how imperfect I was.  And I was a little overwhelmed with the emotions of being home and having this little guy to care for.  I must have cried most of that day.  I had called one of my friends, but she wasn't home, so I talked to  her mom for about an hour.  I think I cried more than I talked.

The next time I came home from the hospital with twins.  Again, I marvelled at how perfectly formed they were.  How precious!  We had some issues with jaundice to work out, which kind of scared us a little, but these two babies were so loved.  How God had entrusted me with them, I will never know.  Thank gooness, he equips the called, because I don't think I was equipped to begin with.  Of course, God gives us helpers.  Unlike my first time bringing a baby home as a single mother, I was blessed with my husband this time around.  Along with my husband came his wonderful family.  And I continue to be blessed through his family.  

 The third trip home from the hospital came around Christmas time, as we brought our younger daughter home on December 23rd.  Usually, I wouldn't prescribe having a ton of people around, but as a new mom at the holidays, having family all around us was great.  Everyone came to see us since we had moved away from our hometown.  I got to sit and didn't have to lift a finger.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law took care of everything. 

Sadly, the fourth trip home, didn't include a trip home with our son.  Born at 17 weeks gestation, little John Marie woud be buried in the plots that my husband and I had purchased so that he could be buried with us.  John Marie's birth, though heart-breaking, gave us a new appreciation for life.  Again, he was perfectly formed for his gestational age.  You could count his fingers and his toes.  You could see his eyes and ear buds.  We heard his heart beat at 6 weeks gestation -- when he was the size of a grain of rice and we got to hold him, small though he was after he was born.  Yes, we were sad, but God still provided us with plenty of blessings in this little miracle. 

This last trip home from the hospital, we came home with our youngest dear son.  We worried through this pregnancy, especially after the miscarriage of the last one.  By far one of our more positive experiences in the hospital, Daniel stayed with me just about the entire time.  Born two years after the miscarriage and nine years after his sister, we were, and still, are thrilled to have him with us.  I look at him and I see the others - - Jeremy, now 16, learning to drive; Andrea, now 12, who is growing into a beautiful young lady; Alex, her twin, still rough and tumble and a "love-sponge", and Jenna, now 10, who still wants to be the baby every now and then.  Having him gives me a new appreciation for them and where they are at in life and how far they've come - - reminding me of how limited our time with them truly is. 

 As a mom, our children tend to define our lives.  At least for the time they are with us.  We truly are blessed when we welcome children.  Even though not every day is sunny, having them on our journey called life, makes it less lonely and more bearable.  They provide us with the occassional tears, but they also have a way of providing us with a ton of laughter. 

God Bless you all and Happy Mother's Day!
Jennifer

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Added Pages - Updates

I am adding a page for crafting links - - I will try to keep them categorized under headings and will comment on the ones that I have used.  This way, the projects that I find will have a home for easy finding.

I have also added a page for Ordinary Time, Montessori Resources (recent), and I've added to the Lent and Easter page. 

Enjoy & God Bless!
Jennifer

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A cute picture


I normally wouldn't post this often in one day, but Andrea was playing around with the sheep and gnomes that I made.  I guess my gnomes can second as shepherds.  Enjoy!

In Christ,
Jennifer

Now for the sheep . . .

Little Felted Sheep
I had been planning on making the sheep for the Good Shepherd play set from wood, but that idea fell by the wayside when my friend introduced me to needlefelting!   What better thing than to have sheep made from - - well, wool!  I love the look of the sheep with the wooly fur (see previous post for links to tutorials for animals), however, I do not have that wool and would probably have to get it from somewhere on line, so therefore, I am making do with what I have.

The tutorial at Knitpicks is easy and quick for making sheep.  I made some modifications, as I do not have black paper clips, so I modified and used pipecleaners and I do not have dark brown wool, so I used grey instead.  I imagine that you could also use black for the face, too,but I don't have black either.  I added eyes to the first one I did, but I think I like them better without them.

I had to modify the instructions, because the pipecleaners will not go through the felted wool as I imagine paper clips would.  So instead of poking them through, I laid them over the sheep and used wool and felted them in place (see picture below).  

Lay leg down and use wool to "felt" over the leg
and secure it in place.  You will bend the legs down
when you are done. 

This picture shows both legs "felted" in place.
This seems to work out and they came out quite cute!  Each one took about 20 minutes at the most to make.  Another hour and the flock will be complete - - but school and activities are calling me.

God Bless!
Jennifer

Needle Felting - - More fun stuff

These two little gnome dolls were fun to make!
The one in the little green coat came first - - hence the huge eyes - - but still kind of cute.  I found that you really need to use a tiny, tiny amount of wool for the eyes - - and what you think is tiny, still may be too much!  The tutorial for these little dolls are found at Dabbled.org.  Now if I can find directions for the little sheep she did, as well,then I can make the sheep for the Parable of the Good Shepherd! 

Needle felting can be addictive and fun!  What is also great is that it doesn't take much time to complete a little project, which is great for those of us for whom long projects usually don't end up finished (so says the cross stitch that has been in the closet waiting to be finished for at least 16 years!). 

Here are some more links to tutorials and directions for little felted things - -

Hummingbird - I did attempt this one, but didn't like how the wings turned out, but something to work on!

Sheep - Haven't tried this - and don't have curly wool - - - but they are sooo cute!  Here is another site for sheep.

Toadstool - - a perfect accompaniment for those gnomes, eh?

Little Bird

That is about all I found on a brief troll of the web so far today - - but I am sure there are lots more out there.  Now to find those sheep!!!

God Bless,
Jennifer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Juan Diego Video Giveaway!

The lovely ladies over at Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints are offering a giveaway of CCC's Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe.  The contest ends May 10th.  There are some things you need to do to enter.

We love many of these CCC movies.  They are great for celebrating saint feast days or could be pulled out if you are studying certain countries - - (Juan Diego - Mexico, Fatima - Portugal, St. Patrick - Ireland, St. Bernadette - France, etc.).  The stories are very well presented and the illustrations are very good.   I have one child in particular who would watch these over and over. 

I have been hoping and hoping that CCC would add to their line of saint titles.  It appears that there is one, The Adventures of the Apostle Paul, that has been added to their list.  I will have to look more closely at that one and perhaps see if it can be added to our Christmas wish list.

Recently, we have cleaned out our VHS collection.  The CCC videos are some of what we held onto because they are so treasured here in our home.

So, hop on over to Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints to enter their giveaway.

God Bless,
Jennifer

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter to Pentecost

 
During Lent, we did a good job of keeping up with the nightly readings for our Jesus Tree.  I thought that perhaps we could turn this into a liturgical year type of activity.  During the time from Easter to Pentecost, there are around 14 readings, which breaks down into two readings per week.  I took the readings, assigned a symbol for each reading, and thought that we could stack them, sort of like layers of a cake and put a candle on the top for Pentecost, since it is the birthday of the Church! 

You can find the instructions, readings and symbols at the following links:

Page 1: Instructions
Page 2: Week 1 - 3
Page 3:  Week 4 - 6
Page 4:  Week 7

I am working on something different for Ordinary Time, perhaps focusing on the parables.  I think I found 24 distinct parables in the Gospels!  I just want to check and double check and work on the end project before I share.  I hope to be done before Pentecost.  I will also be working on the Good Shepherd play set for our Sacred Play Space.

May God Bless you this Easter Season!
Jennifer

Felted Angel Doll

Felted Angel Doll
I had an idea last night about felting to a felt doll form.  I thought I would try it out and the results came out quite cute.  I am beginning to love working with wool roving!  This really wasn't too hard to accomplish.  I've made pattern available for the doll body: Page 1, wings: Page 2., and instructions for sewing:  Page 3.

After sewing the body, you can needle felt directly to the body.  I needle felted the face, hair, dress and embellishments directly to the doll.  For the heart, I used a cookie cutter, placed the wool inside the heart and needle felted.  I did not wet anything in creating the doll.  To make the stem, you can use either wool yarn or just twist a small bit of roving and needle felt to the dress part.  The other embellishments were done in a similar manner.  I will most likely make another one, so perhaps I will photograph the steps and make a tutorial for it.  If you have any questions, please ask. 

God Bless,
Jennifer

PS - - I mentioned that I used a cookie cutter to felt the heart shape.  I saw a picture of someone using a "mold" to felt that resembled a cookie cutter and thought why not!  This is sooooo easy to do and you can use any shape you want.  Just cut the roving to fit inside the cookie cutter and needle felt.  You can turn it over so that you can do both sides. Once you are done, you can felt it to the doll or whatever you are embellishing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crafting Day!!!

Yesterday, I invited a friend of mine over for a day of crafting.  The kids could play while we could work and chat - - kind of like quilting bees of the past, right? 

Mary brought with her, her wool roving and needle felting tools.  She showed me how she was making this Blessed Virgin Mary doll, which she generously left for Daniel.  (I think I am going to add it to the church bag - - it won't make as much noise hitting the pew as the wooden saint dolls do!) 

Felted Mary doll


As we were crafting, the girls would drift in and out looking at what we were doing.  I was working on the banner of Pope John Paul II.  My daughter, Jenna, saw the dolls and asked if she could try making one for a gift.   Below are two of her dolls - - one she made with Mary, while the other she crafted later.  She enjoyed making the dolls, and I enjoyed the fact that she was enthusiastic.  Many times, she will get frustrated with crafts that are too involved.  These were easy and she needed only a little help.  I think I see a future birthday or Christmas gift here!

Jenna's dolls - Mary helped her with the one on the right.
The one on the left is her creation.


I had so much fun working on crafts the entire day, I think this will have to be a monthly occurrence.  Any takers?

In Christ,
Jennifer

PS - I mentioned the Knitter's Cottage on Iron Bridges road as a local to me source for roving.  They also carry some felting supplies, like needles and starter kits.  I highly recommend a trip to this little store.  The Mennonite sisters who run it are very nice and helpul. 

I would also like to find an online supplier, if anyone has any experience here, that would be great!

Thanks!

Bl. Pope John Paul II

On Sunday, Pope John Paul II will be beatified.  It is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  What a fitting day for the beatification! 

We will be reading Lolek, The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II.  We also have a movie here that we will watch as well. Over the past few months, I've been making some wall banners.  I've tried to tie it to a saint or other theme for the month.  Since Sunday is the day for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to make this wall banner for May.

Pope John Paull II
Wall Hanging
Lacy, from Catholic Icing, had a link to here, for a stained glass pattern that I used.  To make this banner, you will need the following materials:

2 patterns (one on cardstock and one on regular paper)
Pen
Sharpie
Heat 'n Bond
small pieces of fabric (about 4 inches x8 inches) in the following colors:

P1 - light peach (or skintone)
P2 - dark peach (or skintone)
2 different white patterns (W-1 and W-2)
B1 - background blue
B2 - blue for eyes (you only need a very small piece)
G - Gold
GR -Grey

2 - black fat quarters or pieces of fabric and batting (one will be the backing to the wall hanging and the other will be your background fabric. 

Black thread
Sewing Machine

Step 1: Label your pattern pieces for each color on both the card stock and the paper pattern. You can look on the original stained glass to see what color goes where.

Step 2:  Prepare the fabric by ironing heat 'n bond on back (cut to size - - heat 'n bond can ruin a perfectly good ironing board cover!). 

Step 3:  Trace pattern pieces onto backside of fabric (you will need to turn the pieces over so that it will be in the right direction when you put the pieces together).   I cut out some of the pieces, traced them and then cut out more - - usually one color at a time.  You can also work your way down from top to bottom and assemble as you go.  Please note that some pieces may require some trimming. 

Step 4:  Press from top to bottom during assembly.  Press by bringing the iron down on the fabric.  Try to avoid moving the iron back and forth as it may causes piece to shift.

Step 5:  Add decorative accents (like the corner pieces, "Totus Tuus", etc.

Step 6:  Layer your batting and top piece.  Trim if necessary.  Place it on to the backing and finish.  There are many ways to finish a small quiltig project. I turned the backing up an folded it over. 

A few notes - you want black lines to show, so that it has that stained glass effect.  You may need to trim some pieces as you work out the pattern on the fabric.  Be sure to clear any clippings before you iron (otherwise, you may inadvertently iron the clippings on).  Also I cut by color, but could just as easily cut a section, lay it out, iron and then continue that way.   I would try to iron as I worked so that I didn't lose small pieces and the pattern didn't shift.

Anyways, there it is and thanks to Chantel for a neat pattern that I was able to adapt for fabric use!  I hope to also get a wooden saint doll completed for our saints collection.

God Bless,
Jennifer

PS - - I was just thinking that the patterns for stained glass would make wonderful wooden puzzles - - the tray kind.  You could combine some of the features so the pieces wouldn't be quite so small and then hand paint them.  Chantel has a pattern for Pope Benedict - - quite larger than the one for Pope John Paul II.  I was also thinking that this could be done with scrapbooking papers and then mounted and framed.  Lots of neat things you can do in place of stained glass.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!!!

Andrea and Daniel coloring eggs
Happy Easter! What a blessed Easter we are having!    On Holy Saturday, the kids colored eggs with their aunt.  It is always fun to watch the little ones color eggs!  Daniel was no exception.  We also made some Pysanky eggs for the first time.  We had made some of these earlier in Holy Week, and we had brought the supplies with us and so that we could make some with our aunt.  It is kind of cool to build layer upon layer, dipping and then laying down more wax.  You truly never know what you are going to have until when you melt away the layers of wax to reveal something quite special.  The eggs we made were not all traditional Pysanky designs.  Andrea made one that was whimsical, with Peeps on both sides.  The one in the back there is inspired by Starry Night. 
Pysanky Eggs - some done traditionally
and some not.

After Easter Sunday Mass, we spent time with our family, which was fun for all of us.  The kids enjoy seeing their cousins. 

Today, we went up to a friend's house for an egg hunt and do some activities together.  We began with a decade of the Rosary (the Resurrection), then while the big kids hid the eggs, the younger ones made the Divine Mercy Jesus from Catholic Icing.  After the craft, we made the Resurrection Rolls (also from Catholic Icing) and then the younger kids went to hunt for eggs, while we got the snack baked and all the other food put out.  I must tell you that the craft was great - - easy to do and suitable from the oldest (11) to the youngest (1-1/2).  The Rolls were also a hit - - they taste like cinnamon rolls.  Definitely a recipe keeper!  Now it will be hard deciding whether or not to make these more than once through the year!

We are not getting any "school" done this week, which is okay - - while we will buckle down next week, it's fun to take time off to celebrate in a special way.  Catholic Icing has some great ideas for Divine Mercy Sunday and for Pope John Paul II's beatification.  Be sure to check them out.  I am looking at possibly doing something with the stained glass pattern for JPII.

God Bless,
Jennifer

Some more notes - - at Learn Pysanky, they suggest farm fresh white eggs over supermarket eggs.  I am not certain where to get farm fresh white eggs, but I do have some brown egg layers in my backyard.  I picked out the lightest of the brown eggs I could find and used those for our Pysanky eggs.  As you can see, the dyes worked great, so I don't think the dye is an issue with egg color.  I am thinking the part that you would want to show white would just be the brown of the egg instead of white - which could be a preference thing.  Perhaps when we replace our flock, I will get some white egg layers, but for now the brown eggs worked fine.  We also used the brown eggs for coloring regular Easter eggs and they worked fine with those dyes, too.  I was glad not to have to buy eggs!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Last Supper - Holy Thursday Mass

Wow!  What an amazing Mass we had last night!  What is it about Holy Thursday Mass that is so special?  It is not just one thing, but many things - - from the humility of the priest washing the feet of his parishioners to the processional to the temporary tabernacle to the stripping of the altar.  Each one of these things whispers Christ to me. 

In past years, the parishioners chosen have included teens, women and men.  This year, our priest had only men chosen.  Twelve - - one for each Apostle.  To see our priest in humble service washing feet is the reminder for us to go and do likewise.  While I don't think Christ means for us to literally go around washing feet, there is that call to humble service.  The kind of service that doesn't seek thanks or accolades of others.  Humble service in the little things, like doing laundry without complaint (that's for me who has always had issues with laundry).  Humility can be a hard thing.  Who doesn't like a thank you for what they've done?  How many times have you heard, or even said, "A "thank you" would be nice."  Our Lord reminds us in the Bible that we should pray, fast and give alms in secret so that our reward will be in Heaven.  I often remind my children that when they are seeking gratitude for a little act of kindness that instead they should be looking to store treasures in Heaven and perform their deeds without seeking gratitude.  If you are looking for gratitude then you have been repaid, like those who pray, fast or give alms with loud claxons.  I, too, can use these reminders about gratitude.  As a mom of five, there are times when I seek "gratitude" for the things I do for my family.  Let's face it, it is a human thing to want gratitude.   Lord, let me serve others with humility, without seeking gratitude or accolades. 

The procession and resultant, empty tabernacle, is a poignant reminder of Christ's "descent into hell," or the three days in the tomb.  There is something about not having Christ in the tabernacle that is both sad and frightening, something that the Apostles surely felt after Christ's death.  Sad because, as Catholics, we are so used to having Christ in the tabernacles of our churches.  We can sometimes take it for granted.  I reflect on communities where churches have closed due to dwindling populations or lack of priests to serve them.  How sad it is - - especially in once thriving communities where people were use to walking to church and where life centered around the parish.  It is also frightening.  I think and reflect on all of the places in the world where celebrating Mass is akin to criminal activity.  Or where Christians suffer under unjust laws.  How many tabernacles lay empty due to any of these reasons?   Lord, I pray for all of those communities and for us., that we may always be able to turn to you in the Eucharist.   

St. Mary's in Hagerstown is a nice little church.  At one time, it was a little more ornate with beautiful moldings.  Some of that had been stripped away in some of the refurbishing, but the church still retains its beautiful stained glass windows, some of the beautiful molding, the altars and statuary, and its communion rail.  The altar is always beautifully dressed in linens.  There is a barrenness when the altar is stripped.  Again, that sense of loss, sadness, of being alone.  We cry out, "My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken us?"  However, we wait in joyful anticipation, because we know what will happen in three days - - Christ will rise from the dead.  For just a second, though, think about the disciples on that first Good Friday - - they didn't exactly know.  Take a minute or two to contemplate  their anxiety.  Did the faith of the Apostle slip a little though as they waited in the Upper Room?  I am sure Mary was there to offer some consolation, most assuredly a comforting presence to her son's disciples.  And, if they had really considered our Lord's teachings, they knew He would rise from the dead, as promised.  

Our faith is centered around Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven.  After all, it was in His death that He sacrificed Himself for us all.  It was in His resurrection that He triumphed over death.  And it is in His ascension that He returns to His father, glorified, and waiting for those who would follow Him. 

Have a Blessed Triduum!  And a Happy Easter!

God Bless,
Jennifer