Thursday, November 27, 2008

a psalm of thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD say this-

those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

those he gathered from the lands,

from east and west, from north and south


Some wandered in desert wastelands,

finding no way to a city where they could settle.

They were hungry and thristy,

and their lives ebbed away.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way

to a city where they could settle.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for

his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,

for he satisfies the thirsty

and fills the hungry with good things...


Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he saved them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and

the deepest gloom

and broke away their chains.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for

his unfailing love

and his wonderful deeds for men...

Psalm 107

may you have a blessed thanksgiving day reflecting on incredible goodness of our LORD.
everyday gift: His unfailing love

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cranberry Thanksgiving

i began using Five in a Row unit studies in our home school when C was in first grade, 6 years ago! it has been our tradition to revisit Cranberry Thanksgiving as part of our thanksgiving celebration every year. we also read Molly's Pilgrim, and Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, among others. we watched a travel video about massachusetts which gave us a tour of a cranberry bog and the many historic sites.

the cranberry bread turned out delicious. it was good with a little cream cheese. we baked it in two small loaf pans instead of one so that A could take some with her for her family's thanksgiving dinner. ( they will be having their dinner at the hospital as her brother has been very sick with lymphoma. please pray for bryce!)

B and her friend, A, rinsing and sorting the cranberries in the "bog"
they also enjoyed the bounce test!
did you know, that the blossom of the cranberry reminded the pilgrims of the cranes who waded in the marshes. they called the fruit "crane berries," later shortened to "cranberries".
cranberries are one of the few native fruits to north america. blueberries and concord grapes are the others. it is amazing the things you learn when you are a home school mama! ;o)

chopped cranberries

nice job cracking the egg!

in goes the orange zest, it smelled so good, so....well, zesty!

... don't forget the clean up!

everyday gift: tangy tart cranberries

the barn

i wish we had an old fashioned barn raising where all the neighbors come. the men work like crazy and pull the barn up in a day, the women put out a potluck spread and visit while the children run and play... our barn raising was not quite so romantic, but none the less, we are excited to have our new barn.

stalls for animals

C with his dad by the new barn. this day they were planting our orchard at the future homestead site: 2 pear trees, 2 cherry trees, 10 apples trees (macintosh, red rome, jonathon, honey crisp, and gala) ...if you can call them trees, they look a little more like twigs. it might be awhile before we are baking those pies! i'll post pictures sometime of the new orchard.


everyday gift: a barn raising

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the thanksgiving box

our latest keeper meeting focused on the upcoming thanksgiving holiday so we made a craft that would help them and their families live with gratitude all year long. whenever you find a reason to praise and thank God during the year, you write it on a piece of paper, date it, sign it, and pop it in the box. when thanksgiving comes around, you draw out the slips of paper and remember a whole year full of blessings that might otherwise have been forgotten. i hope it will give them eyes which notice even the smallest things that God has put into their lives.

the girls suggested things they could write down and add to their boxes right away:

"i am thankful that i was adopted."

"i am thankful that i was kept safe when a deer hit our car today!"

"i am thankful that i still have nelly!"

"i am thankful that i have a birth mother."

such sweet offerings of praise! those girls touch my heart every time!

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

we had a a lot of fun doing our craft. we used colorful fall napkins and modge podge to decorate the outside of the boxes, added a Bible verse on thankfulness and ribbon. thank you to janet for sharing her craft expertise with us all!

the girls with their thanksgiving boxes

hearts filled with love and gratitude

[my inspiration for our boxes]

everyday gift: scraps of paper which testify to God's richest blessings.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a roller coaster day

what a day. it started out just fine. the boys were out the door on time after a scrambled egg breakfast, lunch boxes in hand, homework complete. B cheerfully began her school time. and then i looked out the window. the bunny gate stood open. just a crack, but open wide enough for an escape. while B worked quietly on her math, i slipped outside to check, and sure enough, the hutch was empty. i quickly walked the yard and around the house. no sign of miss nelly. my heart sank at the thought of breaking the news to B. i waited until she finished up her work before telling her that i could not find nelly. she jumped to her feet and set out hopefully to find her. i could hear her outside calling and bribing her with a carrot. i joined her in the search but i must say, i was rather pessimistic about finding her. i tried to be positive, but her optimistic calls became frantic and than she began to sob.
there is nothing worse for a mother than to see her child's heart breaking. i hugged her, rocked her, told her we'd wait and see, suggested setting the coon trap with a carrot, maybe she'd show up tonight. and we prayed.
a little while later, i glanced outside toward the hutch...and i saw a miracle. she was back in her hutch munching on her bunny chow. thank you, Lord! i shed tears for the second time in one day over a bunny.
B with the prodigal bunny
so after a very traumatic episode, we moved on with some fun. tonight was B's night for' (that is: Kids In the Kitchen, in case you missed it last time). she planned her menu and had a wonderful time cooking up our dinner. and it was so yummy. i tried not to hover as she used the paring knife to make the fruit salad, or stirred the cheese sauce on the stove top. she really did a great job.

today's dinner special:
ham, shell macaroni and cheese, corn, fruit salad

chef B checking on the pasta, ahh, yes. al dente. perfecto!
slicing strawberries for the fruit salad

everyday gift: a small miracle in answer to the prayers of a child

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


i am behind in posting about our five in a row adventures... we had fun with Madeline in france. we took a nice tour of paris and the museums via some good library books. we also learned about the french artist, monet enjoying the book and video of Linnea in Monet's Garden.

B, in her french beret! and i had a little french picnic in the living room with grapes, cheese, french baguette with baked brie, cookies and some "wine"... grape juice ;o) (and yes, i know! i grabbed the wrong red, white and blue flag...B pointed that out when i downloaded the pictures. at least i can be proud that she learned something about france!)

everyday gift: a little trip to paris

Friday, November 14, 2008' on thursday = Kids In the Kitchen

my dear friend amy has inspired me by having her son do the cooking sometimes, calling those special nights'. i have set aside thursday nights at our house. while it is all in good fun, i think it is also some serious learning for the kids. there are so many kids who grow up not knowing how to cook because they were never given the opportunity to try or maybe because they grew up eating meals out of the freezer, box, or drive through. so i was glad to see S's enthusiasm when i presented the plan.

S was our first guest chef last night. he got to choose the menu with a few criteria: 1) it has to be something that can be cooked with little supervision. 2) it has to be a somewhat healthy and balanced meal. 3) it can not be lobster. S chose this menu:

shrimp and broccoli alfredo with bowtie pasta
crescent rolls

impressive, huh? it was pretty simple with a jar of sauce and pre-cooked frozen shrimp. he chopped the broccoli, boiled the pasta, and assembled the ingredients, cracked open the tube of rolls, and poured the applesauce into a serving bowl ~ presentation is everything, ya know. ;o) and it was delicious! his staff, C & B, set and cleared the table.

yeah, i think i'm going to like' !

everyday gift: family gathered around the dinner table

tis the season of pumpkins

okay, read this with your best Forrest Gump drawl...

pun'kin bread, pun'kin muffins, pun'kin pancakes, roast pun'kin seeds, sausage and pun'kin soup, pun'kin souffle, pun'kin tarts, pun'kin pie, pun'kin cookies, pun'kin bars...

we have really been loving our pumpkins this year and i have some yummy recipes to share. enjoy!

cinnamon and sugar pumpkin seeds

4 cups dried pumpkin seeds (remove from the pumpkin, rinse, and spread out on newspaper to dry over night)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar, divided

mix the pumpkin seeds with the melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and half of the white sugar. spread on baking sheet and roast at 350* for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. remove from the oven and stir in remaining sugar while still warm. cool. store in an airtight container.

spiced pumpkin seeds

4 cups pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbl seasoned salt
1/2 tsp worchestershire sauce

mix pumpkin seeds, butter and seasonings. stir to coat. spread on baking sheet and roast as described above.

pumpkin & sausage soup

1 pound italian pork sausage
1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 medium mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. each of basil, oregano, and thyme
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (or 15 ounce can of pumpkin)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

brown the sausage, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in a large pot. drain the fat. add the pumpkin, broth, and seasoning. cover and simmer for 20 minutes. add the cream and simmer an additional 10 minutes.

pumpkin scones

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips

egg glaze: 1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon milk

mix together dry ingredients and cut in the butter. in a separate bowl mix together wet ingredients and chocolate chips. add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until they just pull together. do not over mix. transfer to floured surface and knead 3-4 times. pat into a circle and cut into wedges. place on a baking stone or sheet. brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with sugar. bake at 375* for 20 minutes. serve with pumpkin spice butter.

pumpkin spice butter

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

combine and mix until creamy.

everyday gift: pumpkin orange

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a fox in a box

isn't this a beautiful fox? someone witnessed him being hit by a car and gave it to my father in law, joe, who loves foxes. he took it to the taxidermist who created this beautiful glass table. apparently joe had no place to put it, so we inherited it. (now i live in fear that my wild active boys will somehow break it!)

i must say, it has come in handy during our school time twice. first while reading dr. seuss, and now as a specimen for our science study!

B has written a nice report on foxes and we are working on a sketch of a fox by its den.
earlier this week, mark had a holiday from work, so he was home at lunch time while we were reading Vulpes aloud. the chapter described vulpes with his mate, fulva in their den with their litter of pups. after i was finished reading, mark calmly says, "i can show you a fox den, if you want." what do you mean, "if i want?!?" of course i do! how perfect would that be as we are finishing up our science lessons on canines? so mark took us out to the woods where he had spotted an old fox den while he was scouting for deer. i love it when little details like this come together and make our learning such an adventure!

B peering down the old fox den, never mind the cold and rain!

everyday gift: another learning adventure

Sunday, November 9, 2008

miraculous answer to prayer?

well, we thought for a moment that B's prayers had been answered. we looked out back to see two beautiful paint horses grazing in our pasture. we did a double take. they seemed to appear out of nowhere! B was thrilled! "can we keep them???"

when we got over our shock, we realized they are our neighbor's horses who had escaped their own fence. we closed the gate on our pasture and called to let them know we had their horses corralled. but we chuckled all afternoon over them...

this isn't the first time i've glanced out the window to find a surprise in our pasture. there's the time i saw our new born crea standing on wobbly legs, born to a llama we had only owned a week! and the time we found twin lambs born when we actually thought our rams were fixed. and the time we looked out to see our chickens chasing a mama skunk and her babies into their burrow. and seeing an eagle soar over our farm...

everyday gift: no end to the surprises around here

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Anne of Green Gables

last week we had the opportunity to see Anne of Green Gables at the theater, my mom and karla joined us. a few of B's keeper friends were also there with their moms, making it a really fun girls' night!
playcrafters allows charitable groups to sell tickets to their dress rehearsals, benefiting 100% from the sale. this time it was the boys' school.

playcrafters is celebrating their 80th season! when it began, they performed where ever they could. it wasn't until 1960 that the barn was donated to the community group. i love going to the barn. they have most certainly enriched our community with their theatre.

the stage is literally in the loft of the old barn.
i love the high ceiling with it's rafters showing.
this place definitely has a lot of atmosphere!

girls' night out :o)

chatting before the play begins

ordering hot chocolate after the play... never mind that it is 10:15 pm...

B with anne, played by our piano teacher's daughter. she did a wonderful job!

everyday gift: a girl's night at the theater

Thursday, November 6, 2008

autumn pleasures

a fall center piece

sugar baby pie pumpkin

making pumpkin puree and roasting seeds

"ewwww. this feels so cool, mom! are you sure you don't want to put your hands in here?!"
B really loved sorting the seeds from the pulp. we will let them dry before seasoning them and roasting them.

our autumn nature table. some of these items were collected recently on our nature walks, others are from our on-going nature collection. we have really been enjoying our fall nature study by jane claire lambert.

there is nothing quite like raking in the wind.

leaf impressions

just a quick 'thank you' to melinda from the fiar boards who inspired this project! :o)
you can check out her blog for instructions.

everyday gifts: enjoying the things that make each season special

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

grilled lamb chops with rice pilaf

this was very, very good! (thankfully the kids separated themselves enough from our spring lambkins to enjoy this meal, too!)

grilled lamb chops

marinate chops with a little olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, salt and freshly ground pepper. i grilled these to about medium to medium well, to please my family...i prefer medium rare!

rice pilaf

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
dash of salt
1 bay leaf

combine these ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. cover and reduce heat. simmer for 45-50 minutes. meanwhile....

prepare vegetables:
1 cup onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red bell pepper
1 carrot, grated

saute vegetables in 1 tablespoon oil plus 1 tablespoon butter, about 2 minutes. stir into cooked rice.


everyday gift: lamb chops

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

i voted...

and now i'm praying.

everyday gift: enjoying the many freedoms of the USA

Monday, November 3, 2008

saturday with my american girl

after reading the book, The Saturdays, B began dreaming of her very own saturday to go and do something really special. she wanted to see the american girl place in chicago. after all, she has been doing extra chores and saving her money for the kit doll ever since seeing the movie this summer. she was about half way to her goal of $90. she dumped her kleenex box out to count her savings: 2 $10's, 2 5's, 11 $1's, 28 quarters, 2 dimes, and 8 pennies = $48.28. i was amazed. i didn't think it was realistic that she could make it that far! i would have let her go further, but i wanted us to make this special trip before the christmas rush, so i gave a donation toward her goal, and loaned her the remainder. she will fold clothes at 50¢ a load, vacuum the living room, and clean the guest bathroom in the weeks to come to pay for her debt.

B and kirsten, buckled up and ready for the trip

B and kirsten outside of the american girl place, water tower place, chicago

oh. my. look at all those red bags!

beautiful glass elevators in water tower place.
oh, the funny feeling in your tummy as you fly up to the seventh floor!

we had pasta for lunch at the california pizza oven

(thanks, mom!)

chicago's old water tower

pigeons everywhere!

seeing horses made the trip complete for B!

horses and carriages lined up
we had a fabulous time! i really cherish these specials times we can have, "just the girls". B's expression was priceless as she shopped and gazed at the beautiful displays for each of the historical dolls. and the store clerk's expression was also priceless when B pulled out her purse and dumped her money on the counter to pay! ;o)

everyday gift: my american girl and her dolls