Category Archives: Books

P365 – Day 72 (Rambling w/pictures)

It turns out when you stay home and actually spend some time homeschooling, an incredible amount of learning goes on. Hmmm. I’m going to have to ponder this a bit more. I went to the store for a few groceries but otherwise, spent the rest of the day focused on the children and school. Perhaps it is the contrast from yesterday’s busyness that makes today seem so productive. Or maybe it was our utter lack of progress Monday that spurred on our productivity today, whatever the cause I was very pleased with all we accomplished.

three boys

Look at these boys, eagerly poring over a computer screen. No doubt they are working on math drills or spelling words. Oh, wait, that’s Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Oops, not school at all. Not pictured in the background is Tim fighting scoundrels on his Pirates game. Definitely a computer moment for the men folk.

David did his table work (Horizons math, Explode the Code, and Italics) and then sat down for an hour of reading with me (and Sarah). Points for doing school with the little ones. I love the Bible study/devotional book we are going through these days. It’s called My ABC Bible Verses – Hiding God’s Word in my Heart by Susan Hunt. Each letter of the alphabet has a Bible verse and a short story applying the scripture. The discussion section has you recite the verse three times and then go back and review the previous verses. Tonight David and Sarah went over the verses with Tim and were able to remember almost all of them. Definite points for children actually remembering something from school. Double points for scripture memory. We’ll have to keep working on the whole application thing.

abc book

Rachel and I checked math lessons. More homeschooling teacher points. Joshua and I caught up (well, tried anyway) on dictation tests. Loss of points since we are very behind and didn’t finish both quizzes. Daniel and I worked on our China log. No points as this should be done every day and we missed yesterday. We read two (long – I know this because the kids tell me, in dismayed voices, how many verses in each chapter) chapters of the Gospel John as well as Chapter 13 of Proverbs. Points for scripture. Double points for extra passages are canceled out by the fact that these are chapters we should have read over the weekend. We read several books on China and pulled out the Ancient China Treasure Chest. Points for hands on activities. Don’t we sound like a model homeschool!

Does anyone else keep score in their head like this?

By the end of it all, Rachel was begging for a break and Daniel had already slipped off to see the end of David and Sarah’s movie. Since they were watching Barbie Fairytopia, you know he was desperate. Ah, it was still good day with lots of homeschooling teacher points.

Too bad it ended with Sarah and Rachel both getting sick.

flushed cheeks SArahsarah reads

I don’t know if Sarah felt unwell or if she just sat down to read and Daniel decided to set her up with a cozy little reading nook. Whatever the case, she ended up with this snuggly spot and fell asleep by dinner time. Sleeping in the middle of the day is NEVER normal for my bunch of rowdy, rabble rousers.

rachel on the couchrachel

Rachel ate a little dinner and rallied thanks to some meds. She came down around 11 pm, asking for a water bottle. She looked flushed and felt feverish so I presume the meds have worn off. I don’t think she’s going to be up for a piano lesson tomorrow morning. Did I mention that we have been incredibly healthy, as a family, for the past six months, maybe year? Tim and I are praying for a quick recovery for the girls and protection for the rest of the family. We’re greedy that way.

Rapid change of topics (hence the ‘rambling’ title).

Joshua and David have this wonderful friendship. I love to watch them together. They wrestle and fly paper airplanes and read books on Big Blue. Lately they have been slipping outside for Swing Ball and storytelling. Joshua is weaving, for David, an elaborate tale of several kings and their exploits. I don’t know the details except for a few names I overheard, Fred and Schmedlap (sp?) and something about a chicken. The stories and game usually come to a halt when I come outside. Obviously I’m the “wrong kind” of audience for Joshua’s stories. So I content myself with looking out the window. I watch them laugh and play together and marvel at the special bond between brothers.

joshua and david

One day he might catch up to you in height, Joshua. Watch out!

david swingsjoshua swings

Just another piece of our crazy, precious life. As Tim often says, “This is the BEST family in the world.” With no offense intended to the rest of the population, I’m inclined to agree with him.


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Recipes and Veggies and other Tales

I’ve been thinking about the subject of cooking these days. I’ve known average, good, and excellent chefs in my travels through life’s meals but have often wondered what is it that determines their status. Is it presentation? Variety? The ability to follow a recipe? Creativity?

Some illuminating (or at least amusing) quotes:

“The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went.”

“The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance.”
Bryan Miller

“A good cook puts something of himself into the preparation — he cooks with enjoyment, anticipation, spontaneity, and he is willing to experiment.”
Pearl Bailey, Pearl’s Kitchen (1973)

“HAM AND EGGS – A day’s work for a chicken; A lifetime commitment for a pig.”

“A clever cook, can make….good meat of a whetstone.”

“Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four; unless there are three other people.”
Orson Welles

Recently I’ve been enjoying two new cookbooks and sensing, in them, the possibility of becoming a better cook. Also I have been blessed by some creative chefs in my acquaintance. One of whom came to my home and prepared this amazing salad (Thanks Jennifer!!) that introduced me to several new wonderful green vegetables.

rainbow chard?

Name this vegetable!

Jen's salad

Jen’s delicious salad.

After enjoying the leftovers of this salad for several days, I went to the grocery store today and bought large bags of fresh fruits and vegetables. The kids were thrilled to have the fruit bowl stocked again and snacked on strawberries all day.


For dinner tonight I put these greens together to make a yummy salad. I’m afraid it was a bit stretching for my (“I would be fine with iceburg lettuce”) family but at least two of them ate a big plate full. Jen introduced me to bok choy and I am already a HUGE fan. It’s sweet and crispy and perfect in salads. I haven’t tried it cooked but I read at this organic greens site that it is also good in stir-frys.

I have been so bored and frustrated with vegetables lately. I eat a fairly healthy diet that includes a hearty serving of vegetables at both lunch and dinner. After almost two years of following this food plan, I’m a little tired of the vegetables I’ve been preparing. How lovely to discover some new things to add to my repertoire. Several of the greens are ones I’ve avoided, fearing they would be bitter in a salad. Instead, I was thrilled to discover swiss chard and kale have subtle, pleasant flavors; perfect for a green salad.

I’ve already mentioned this cookbook but I want to bring it up again in order to share a recipe or two. Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson


I’ve made the cornbread muffins twice and they have been a huge hit each time. They are easy to prepare and cook beautifully.

Moist Savory Corn Muffins
1 can (14.75) creamed corn
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
8 tbs butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Set 12 cup muffin tin in over to heat while you make batter.

Put creamed corn in microwaveable dish and heat until comes to a full boil. Stir in 1 cup of cornmeal to make a thick, pasty mush (if not stiff, microwave another 30 seconds). Whisk in buttermilk, eggs and butter.

Mix remaining 1 cup cornmeal with flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and stir until just combined.

Remove muffin tin, spray with cooking spray. Fill tins. Bake 15 minutes (until golden brown). Serve.

This evening I made the Yorkshire Pudding/Popovers recipe from the same book.

1 1/2 cups instant (quick mixing) flour, such as Wondra
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
4 large eggs
2 tbs butter, melted

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Mix milk, eggs, and butter in small bowl. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture; stir until smooth. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill 3/4 full.

Set oven to 425. Bake for 35 minutes (starting with cold oven and w/o opening oven door).

These puffed up so beautifully I had to call the children in to come and see the yummy sight.

kids looking

kids smiling

The pictures I took of the popovers while they were baking in the oven didn’t come out and I was too busy putting the rest of dinner together to capture the finished product on film. Unfortunately I thought they looked like they were browning too fast in the oven so I took them out before the 35 minutes were up – they rose beautifully and then fell just as beautifully. Thankfully they were absolutely delicious and no one seemed to mind their fallen state at all. I will try these again soon.

The other cookbook that is the focus of my attention these days is Sunday Suppers: Informal American Home Cooking by Melanie Barnard (who seems to have also written several cookbooks for William Sonoma). My aunt (one of those excellent chefs that I noted earlier) gave me this book for Christmas. I believe when someone whom you admire gives you a present regarding their talents and gifts you should give it some careful consideration. I spent a good portion of the day reading/devouring the recipes in this cookbook (at stop lights, while waiting for the children at the Y, when I should have been making dinner). This book, in particular, carries the unique distinction of personal, hand-written notations from my aunt in the margins of her favorite recipes. What a precious addition to an already yummy book.

I am eager to get into the kitchen and start mixing and stirring. I hardly ever cook with lamb or pork and there are several delicious looking recipes featured in these two in the cookbook. My family is in for a real treat.


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