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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!

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,

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!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lemon Pasta sauce

This is one of my favorites from

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!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


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,

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.


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,

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!

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!

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,

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

$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! 

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!