Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Daughter's Creation

I thought I'd share a link to my C's blog--she has posted extensive pics of her latest mini garden project, and I find it impressive, even though it is MY "lovely kitchen" in the background!
(Which means, yes, it is on MY countertop!)
So, I get to enjoy the minis while I look at dirty dishes. It's good.

Here's the link. Enjoy.

She would also appreciate a comment! :)
---but I'm just a braggy mama--

~april

A Birthday Tablescape

Saturday night I had the privilege of preparing a meal of celebration in honor of my husband's 40th birthday. Just a quiet evening with our children and our parents, I wanted it to be calm and relaxed, but special--a time for him to just be able to enjoy good food and the warmth of those who love him.

We started Saturday morning with the table setting.


I found the tablecloth at Tuesday Morning this past week--I loved the roses and the BLUE. It's a nice start to my table linens for this new, LARGER table.

The dishes are my wedding china--Wedgwood "Watercolour". Stemware is Mikasa "French Countryside"--also from our wedding.

Flatware is Community Plate by Oneida--a vintage set I found at Goodwill for a BARGAIN several years ago.


Tiny bird salt-and-peppers came from Cracker Barrel, just last week. Adorable, and they worked PERFECTLY with the colors in the tablecloth.


My daughter helped me put the table decorations together...the sweet brown pots and the fun moss balls from Dollar Tree worked really well with my huge hurricane vase that was a gift from my husband's mom several years ago.





A few candles, some forced forsythia stems in blue bottles, and we've GOT it!


On the menu:

Jambalaya, cooked in his grandmother's cast-iron pot. Nothing makes it better!


Shrimp & corn chowder. Yum!


Cucumber and tomato salad.


Asparagus in a balsamic/soy vinaigrette.


Yummy homemade rolls from the freezer that C made several weeks ago.(They didn't last long enough for a photo op! :)


And, the grand Finale--Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake--

oh. my. GOODNESS.

Made by the best-ever bestest best friend in the whole world, Alli.


It was SO good. How good? My father-in-law NEVER-ever-ever-NEVER-EVER touches sweets when we have the dozens of "special" occasions each year. He actually ATE a slice of this cheesecake.

I am so glad Alli doesn't SELL them because then I couldn't afford it, I'm sure, but it was SO GOOD.


After dinner, three of the kids presented their interps for upcoming speech class. I think the grandparents liked that!


It was a lovely, quiet, conversation-filled evening. I hope it's the start of another really good year.


I love you, B! Happy Birthday!


~always yours,
a.


Linking this post to Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life, Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch, and Vintage Thingie Thursday at ColoradoLady! ;)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time to Talk


I chatted on the phone awhile with a great mom-friend this morning. It was nearly an hour that we talked, and as I hung up, the familiar twinge of guilt came up to tackle me. "You just wasted an hour on the phone!" it said. So I thought, what DID I accomplish during that time?

Well, we talked about:
  • Bible study-for moms and for teen daughters. Why is there so little available for girls in training them to love God and His Word, rather than just focusing on the "struggles" that many(not all!) teens face? It's hard to find age-appropriate materials that don't make the GIRL look like the center of the universe, instead of pointing her to a relationship with God who MADE her--and HE IS the answer to all those other "struggles."
  • Teaching kids to read and the funny things they come up with when they're learning to sound out words.
  • How we need to always be alert to hear what our children are saying AND alert to the environment and how it's affecting them.
  • Husbands and their work schedules.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Toddler vocabulary.
  • Doctor's office visits.
  • Breakfast and grocery shopping/menu planning.
  • Field trips.
  • Church.
  • Sunday school.
  • Getting together for a meal and a visit.
  • Speech club.
That's a LOT of ground to cover in under an hour--and I know I don't even remember everything we discussed. To top it all, I was not idle during that time; I recall that I ate breakfast, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded it back, wiped the counters, cleaned out both sinks, washed the dish drainer, and tidied the living area . . . there may have been more.

So, to the guilt that wants to steal my contentment, I say Go Away. I am NOT wasting time! Even if I am "just talking."

~april

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And we baked. . .

I thought I'd post a quick rundown of our latest baking excitement. We received the Homestead Blessings dvd on breadmaking back in December, and finally tried our hand at bread.

And rolls.

They both turned out really yummy! The girls on the dvd were fun to watch, and they made the process both understandable and approachable. My girls had fun with this!



Saturday, January 15, 2011

New School Year-2011 Curriculum

I thought in the name of killing two birds with one stone(a figure of speech that is odd to use in a house with FIVE resident feathered critters!), I would write down just WHAT my kids are using as a backbone to their school time this year. It will help ME to see it in writing, having it on the blog will be hopefully a place I won't LOSE my list, and perhaps someone will find it interesting or maybe even helpful.

We start our new school year this month. Our state requires 180 days and a letter of intent until high school, so it's easy to keep up with requirements. What is NOT so easy(as any homeschool mom can avow), is FEELING like you've done enough. I have been using the time since Christmas to do some much-needed planning and laying out of systems--things that are very difficult for me to put together, for some reason. I find it is necessary to keep everyone contributing well to the good of our family's life, otherwise any structure would simply go out the window(and often does despite my longings and best efforts contrariwise *sigh*).

Let's see; I have one in 8th grade, 6th, 5th, and 1st this year!

For writing, C is enrolled in an Institute for Excellence in Writing course through Veritas Press Scholars Academy, and has been working on it since September. This has blessed our family immensely, as she has a GIFT for words, and a strong stripe of procrastination and stubbornness(ahem! like her mom!). This combination made attempting to teach her to write quite the showdown anytime I tried. Result? Give up! Keep the peace! She has been really challenged by her VPSA online course, and her father and I have LOVED the results. Definitely worth the hefty price tag in this case. I am doing random language arts assignments(mostly from the Beyond FIAR books) with the other two girls--hoping to find something that will work well on a more consistent basis.

Math for all three girls is now Teaching Textbooks. Math 7 CD Sleeve
Again, the price tag is hefty, but to have the little voice on the computer teaching math FOR ME is so very worth it--my husband and I have three English degrees between the two of us--as the t-shirt says, I'm an English major; YOU do the Math! So far T.T. has done an excellent job for us.

The Boy will be using Math Mammoth. I like the print-out-what-you-need aspect(great to use for workboxes!), and I find the pages are just colorful enough to be interesting without being distracting.
cover for Math Mammoth Grade 1-A Complete Worktext
Grammar will be facilitated by Sonlight Grammar 5. Grammar%205%20Set
This is a good program for older children who already have a firm grasp of parts of speech. It does a lot of review, but the kids are looking at actual passages of literature, rather than canned sentences. That appeals to my literary side!
C and J will both do this one. The Redhead will be doing daily worksheets from a workbook I picked up at the teacher supply store. We had tried Daily Grams and Easy Grammar, but she found the intensely printed black and white pages daunting. This one is colorful, at least.

The Boy will continue using Hooked on Phonics for reading. I will also be starting him in A Reason for Spelling level A as soon as I think he's ready.
A Reason for Spelling: Student Workbook Level a [Book]
Vocabulary, C will be in Wordly Wise book 5, while J and the Redhead will be in book 1. I find the exercises quite challenging! I will also be testing the girls on these words for spelling.
Wordly Wise, Book 5, Grade 8   -              By: Kenneth Hodkinson
Science will be Noeo Biology II for the younger three kids. The program itself is rich enough in both information and interesting experiments, without being overly hands-on, but it does use Usborne books, which does not thrill me, as I find them overly evolutionary AND hard to read. I do think that the assignments will be "just enough" and will work well with a center and our new workbox system, though.
C will likely participate in the Noeo as well, but she will be on her own doing work from Evolution:The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2: Living Fossils.
Evolution:GrandExperimentBook-Vol2Autographed

History is where we have the most questioning and wiggle room. I am looking at Pandia Press' History Odyssey--Modern Times Level One. Again, Usborne surfaces as a primary spine, but it also uses Story of the World, so I feel like it will be rich enough, without too many projects! I had hoped to do a year of straight American History this year, but the company I had wanted to use doesn't have the curriculum available till mid-February, and I need to get started sooner than later.
History Odyssey, Modern Times - level one
Also, the History Odyssey will allow me to meet once a week and work alongside a friend so we can do "co-op" one day a week with history, science, and art. In addition to History Odyssey, we will be adding reading from American History sources and some activities from Beyond Five in a Row volume 1.
Beyond Five in a Row, Volume 1: Ages 8-12
Art will be (at this point)mostly using the Picturing America materials. Since we will be heavy on American History this year, I thought the emphasis on American art would be appropriate. This material is written for classroom use, but I like that it is also multi-level by age, so it is easy to tweak for a homeschool.

Let's see. . .Math, Grammar, History, Art, Science, is that it? I am sure there's more, but that is PLENTY to get started right away! I hope to add in either Latin or Greek this year, in earnest. We will also be doing scripture memory Simply Charlotte Mason style. I love their box system.

Add in all the handcrafts, cooking, artistic pursuits and books that get read around here, and I think it looks like a pretty rich time!

Hope you enjoyed my little list. Feel free to ask questions!

~april





Homemade King Cake.

We had to try it. They're just too expensive to buy, have a short shelf-life, AND it's hard to find a really really GOOD one.


Not too bad. Looks convincing!

Inside of the slice--texture LOOKS right.


It was so good we had to make two!(ok, actually the recipe made so much that I had to split it to bake, but STILL! We were glad we had TWO!)

Will we make them again?
Yes, oh yes.

~april

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I WON!

Oh. My. Goodness.

Let me explain first. I am one of those people who never, EVER, EVER-EVER won anything spontaneously or otherwise IN MY LIFE.
Ever.
Seriously.

You can imagine my surprise then, back just before Thanksgiving, when a bloggy friend of mine--Laura at Decor to Adore emailed to let me know I had won her giveaway. I was shocked. Stunned. Thrilled. Excited.
Dubious.
ME?
Yep.
A week later the sweet little package arrived full of goodies--I only wish I had been using a camera rather than a cell phone, but I was so excited that I was doing good to even remember that I needed a picture if I would be blogging. . . .
A box chock-full of Thanksgiving/Fall goodies. Napkins, dish towels, soap, lotion, salt and pepper shakers, a cute little scarecrow(who will perfectly replace the one I discarded because the cat ate it!). . .notepad and other goodies. FUN! Plenty to keep me OFF the "seasonal" aisle at the local big-box store NEXT fall, let me tell you! (My husband thanks you too, Laura!)

~Please excuse the countertop mess also inadvertently in the picture. We live in my kitchen!~

So the holidays ensued. Christmas in all its tinsel and glitter and GLORY. . .
Fuzzy picture to indicate passage of time--aren't I CLEVER???

THEN, on New Year's Eve, I received an email from Minimaker--Gaye--that I had somehow been randomly picked to win HER giveaway--on her blog, My Small Obsession.
This week the package arrived with the MINI things in it. Enough mini goodies to get my new dollhouse up and running for Christmas stylishly-and-yet-vintagey(how did she KNOW that was a perfect fit for me?)!
Teensy shiny-brite-like ornaments, a Grinch card, a LETTER--to Santa, or FROM a loved one overseas? A mini-mini dollhouse kit--CUTENESS!
A mini television with the mini dvd already playing-- A Christmas Story. . .
"It's a MAJOR AWARD!" ;-)
These cookies take the cake--TINY CUTENESS!!!!! Sorry the picture is fuzzy. Not to indicate time passing, but just to indicate my less-than-wonderful camera HATES my shaky hand AND up-close picture-taking! I wish you could see the detail, especially on the tiny Santa face cookie!

Ah, rolls of gift wrap and ribbons in a beautiful gift bag. Isn't it wonderful? The bag is just one-and-a-half inches tall!

I am so excited(Did I say that already?)!

So here is my official blog-world THANK YOU to these two fun, creative, giving ladies who have blessed me with PRETTIES.

Do me a favor and hop over to check out their much-better-than-mine blogs. They both really do wonderful work!

NOW, I am really wanting to do a giveaway, but am wondering what in the world lil' ol' me could offer. . . still thinking it over, but KNOW that it is percolating around in my wee little brain.

I still can't believe I WON something! :)

Happy day to yoU!

~april

Wordless Wednesday-Fashionista?


Friday, January 7, 2011

Birthday Flowers for the New Year(and the 12 year old)



We had flowers on New Year's Day to dress up the tables for my sweet J's 12th birthday party.

Her big day was actually Tuesday, but you can't really HAVE a birthday party on a Tuesday!
I love that she arranged her candles into a "J"! Berry Chantilly. Mmmm.(It's not a flower, but it IS beautiful! And yummy. Did I mention yummy?)

Dutch Iris. Snapdragons. Freesia.
They SMELL so wonderful--despite the slight headache I am prone to have if I stay too close to them for LONG.


We had gigantic, gooey, SCRUMPTIOUS cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing for breakfast on her birthday Tuesday. This was her "cake" since we had done her party already. Don't drool on the keyboard, okay?

Birthday girl. Sweet smile.


One last beautiful blossom.



Perfection.


Have a lovely weekend!
Linking to Fresh Cut Friday over at Rose Vignettes.
~april

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vintage Christmas Pretties

Please forgive me if it seems that I'm at least a couple of weeks behind where the calendar says I SHOULD be. It feels that way too, but I have been going through old pictures and blog posts-not-yet-published this week, along with the dozens and dozens of pictures we took at Christmas, so I decided to do a quick post for today of some of my Mom's beautiful vintage Christmas things. Of course, there are quite a few non-vintage items mixed in, but I think my Mom does an AMAZING job arranging all her pretties for Christmas. (I may be partial, but see what YOU think! Her house is so warm and sweet, with little welcomy touches everywhere, but especially at Christmas!)

And so the tour begins:
As you would come up the walk to Mom's front porch, there is this little scene:
I love the old hand pump, set up as if it were ready to work, and the millstone used as a base for the bird bath. Then, a small wheelbarrow that my brother had as a young one is placed next to the front door, containing festive holiday tins. I forgot to take a picture of her front door!

If YOU were to visit Mom's, this vignette would greet you beside the door:
I love this old piano, the clock on the wall above it that used to hang in my Grandfather's fireplace room, and the little pretty things she has set out on the piano(including grandchild artwork from years past).

Up close, a pretty little girl and a lovely vase.
A closer shot of the little singing angel girl.
That sweet pink rosebud is almost enough to make ME want to leave her on display all year!

On top of the piano, another old clock(what a great face! lol!), and three little ceramic bells that have been around for at least thirty years--I remember one night some school child came by our house selling them for a fundraiser for his school. I was seven, I think, at the time!

Mom found these whimisical candles this year. Aren't they CUTE?
Rubber boots!
Only SHE could get away with displaying them in Lefton candleholders, I think. :)

Moving across the room, we see the largest vintage Christmas item in the house: the TREE. It was a prize my Grandmother won at Woolworth's one year in the late 1960's. There is nothing like it to make ornaments show off oh-so-prettily. Mom keeps wishing to get a new tree, but I say "don't you dare!" It IS pretty, all dressed up.

Close-ups of a few of my favorite ornaments:
I love this shiny-brite.
And its friends.
Mom loves birds!


Though we don't ever set out to color-coordinate the tree, it amazes me how the colors ALL go together so well at Christmas.
A reminder that
"At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." He is the King of Kings!
The woodstove, complete with cookies and milk(my kids do this though they've known*about* Santa since they were big enough to talk!) AND stockings, hung with CARE.
Moving around the room from the woodstove, there is the organ, which holds a beautiful angel trumpeting the Good News: Christ the Savior is born!
We also have these quiet little deer that I loved so much when I was a child. They appear to be peeking out between trees, though they are hiding behind the music holder instead.
There are little villages in a few places:

Notice the sweet little angel girl and reindeer!
Here we see two little Lefton ladies out for a walk in the "snow". These monochrome houses are so pretty! I should have cropped the picture, but I didn't, so now you get to see part of Mom's music collection. :)

And finally, in the kitchen, the true heart of the home, there is not quite so much to see, but it is still lovely. On the sweets table, Mom has this little tin. He holds a yummy treat EVERY year--holiday M&Ms. MMMMMmmmmm! One of my favorite decorations, still!
He's guarding the cookie jar!

And finally a picture of almost the whole crew just before Christmas dinner. Dad was holding the camera, but you can see my hubby, me, Mom, the Redhead, J, C, the Boy, and my dad's brother. We had a fun time all together for a special day.
It was a very Merry Christmas!

Thanks for putting up with my late-seasonal posts! I am linking today to Vintage Thingie Thursday over at Coloradolady-pop over there to see some FUN things!

~april