Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Brothers in the garden

 This evening I asked the boys to go pick some green beans and cucumbers from our little garden.  Honestly, I've pretty much neglected it this summer, but we've still ended up with a nice little crop of zucchini, beans, and now a few little cukes . . . oh, and quite a few tomatoes!  They were happy to show off their harvest. :)

Josiah has the hardest time giving a *real* smile for pictures.  Oh well, he is cute and funny anyway!

Sam, on the other hand, has no trouble giving a real smile!  He likes to ham it up for the camera. :) 

I'm thankful for what a good help our kids are becoming, not just with the garden, but around the house too.  They are a blessing for sure!  Oh, and I made a yummy recipe with the green beans for supper.  Two out of three kids really liked it, and I did too!  (Jim ate it and said it was good, but he's not a big fan of green beans. :))  Here's the link: Lemon Garlic Green Beans.  Easy peasy, and tasty too!

Edited to add: I also put up a new post at Eating for Two! :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Jumping back in

Apparently I am now a once-a-month blogger!  Oh dear.  You know how sometimes you have so many things to write about, you don't know where to start?  Time goes by, more things happen, then I have MORE to write about . . . and so, since I'm already "behind," I end up not writing about anything, because I've already missed so much. :(  Anyway, as of today I am attempting to jump back into the blogging world, and we'll see how it goes.  Fall is right around the corner, and with it comes school and a new routine, and hopefully I'll be organized enough to actually fit blogging somewhere into my schedule.  Life is zipping by so fast, and I really want to record the moments!!

It's hard to believe we are already in the last month of summer! :(  We have enjoyed having less structure to our days, getting to sleep in (pregnant mommas need lots of sleep, right? :)), and doing some fun family activities.  Last summer I instituted "Friday Adventures" as a regular part of our week.  Every Friday we would do something fun, usually away from home . . . whether it was just a walk on the local nature trail, or a trip to the beach, or the science center.  Twice we got to do BIG adventures, going to Battleship Cove and Plimoth Plantation, as part of the "Free Fun Fridays" that a lot of museums in MA take part in.  I had hoped to do the same thing (adventures) this summer, but I've found that being pregnant makes it a little more difficult.  We have gone to the science center twice (before Ohio), and we're planning to go a few more times.  We haven't accomplished a beach trip yet, but hopefully soon!  The weather actually hasn't been super hot, so we haven't been itching to swim as much as some summers!

Today I am working on making a big batch of spaghetti sauce to can.  
Our tomatoes haven't done too great this year, but we did have a few pounds of them, plus I knew I had some in the freezer from last year.  Um, well, I had more in the freezer than I thought.  I think I had two summers' worth in there!  The kids hauled up gallon bag after gallon bag for me yesterday afternoon, and I thawed them on the counter overnight.  Now they are simmering on the stove along with onions, peppers, garlic, spices, etc. (I use this recipe but leave out the oil.)  I think we had around 30ish lbs. of tomatoes total, which should make for quite a bit of sauce.  We will enjoy it this winter on pizza, spaghetti, and anything else we need sauce for!

I've been doing some thrifting lately, and that's always fun!  One of my happiest finds was this set of dishes which go perfectly in our home.  I got everything on the table for $25!
 The dinner plates have bears and trees; the salad plates have canoes and trees.  The beige mugs and cookie jar/canister coordinate, but have moose/trees (the cookie jar has a bear on one side and moose on the other).  The brown bowls/plates are not part of the same set (they're Fiestaware), but they were all being sold together in spite of that.  The red/beige set has 6 dinner plates, 6 salad plates, 8 mugs, the moose plate, the cookie jar, and bear and moose salt and pepper shakers.
Whoohoo, what a deal!!  My other super great deal was this pair of Bogs boots for $2.

 My friend Patty saw them at the thrift store and mentioned them to me at church Thursday night; she thought they might fit Josiah.  I went in the next day and they were still there!  Yippee!!  They are a little big for him, but they are in great shape, and will probably fit him this winter or next.  Bogs retail for around $78, so you can imagine my excitement over this find. :)  Sam had a pair that we got several years ago for around $20 at another thrift store, and I thought THAT was a good deal.  He wore them pretty much all the time for 2 years, till the outer fabric started to get holes.  I'm hopeful that these will last Josiah just as long (and he probably won't wear them quite as much as Sam did), and maybe we will still have them for the new baby to wear eventually, or to pass on to a friend.  We also hit an unexpected dollar day at one of the thrift stores on Weds. of this week; we ended up with 7 pieces of clothing and 3 beanie babies for the kids (a quarter each).

I've been working on organizing and planning for school a little bit.  We will be starting either on Labor Day or the day after.  I have all my curriculum now, and last week I printed off some free planners from The Old Schoolhouse, and had them spiral bound at a local print shop.  They are pretty simple, but I hope they will help keep us a little more organized this year!
 The Sonlight box arrived . . . we are continuing last year's core, so this box wasn't as big or exciting as most years.  Still fun to check out the new stuff, though!
 The planners . . . Julia already claimed hers, as you can see. :)
 A little bit of the inside.
I'm hoping to incorporate some more Charlotte Mason-type stuff into school this year.  Specifically notebooking . . . IF we can fit it in, and IF the kids seem to enjoy it.  I'm not sure on either count.  :)  I absolutely love this blog that has so many great freebies for notebooking and other extras, that fit in with the Sonlight cores.  This lady has done a fabulous job and she makes all her resources available for free!!  I also found this great series of blog posts at Intoxicated on Life about planning for a new homeschool year: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  I will be taking the time to read through them this week; they look really good!!

In other (important!) news, Jim and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on Aug. 7.  Can't believe we have been married that long!!  We went out for supper to celebrate, having had our "big" celebration with our getaway back in March.  Here is a collage of pics from our supper out, that I took with my iPod:
Jim ordered what was called the "Death by Burger."  Well, the waitress accidentally put in an order for the "Double Death by Burger."  It contained 36 oz. of beef (YIKES!).  In spite of a valiant effort, Jim was only able to eat 1/4 of it--we brought the rest home!  The best part was that because of the waitress's error, the manager deducted the entire cost of the burger, so it was FREE.  Gotta love restaurants with stellar customer service!  We had such a nice time and it was good to get away for a little while.

I've made this post long enough, and have barely put a dent in my list of things to blog about . . . but I'll wrap it up for now.  I also put up a new post (finally!) at my pregnancy blog.  Thanks so much for reading!!  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Long time no write . . . and a trip adventure to share!

Whew!  I can't believe I let more than a month go by between posts.  It's not like my life has been THAT crazy/busy . . . but the time just got away from me.  And we were gone for a little over a week on our annual Ohio trip (more about that later).  We got home late Sunday night, but this week has been full with trying to catch up on things, reporting for jury duty (thankful I didn't end up getting selected!), grocery shopping and library, and a midwife appt.  The summer is flying by at breakneck speed and I am trying hard not to think about school, yet at the same time knowing I need to at least START thinking about it . . . oh yeah, and buying the things we will need for it, too. :)  We are continuing last year's Sonlight core, so we don't have to make a huge purchase right now, but the kids will need math, language arts, etc. and I need to get all that figured out and ordered.

Jim is super busy with work, too (a GOOD thing!), so I'm really glad we got that week away to just relax.  Although we kept pretty busy out there, and there's never quite enough time to fit in all the things we might like to do . . . but at least it's a change of pace!  I'm hoping we might be able to fit in a short camping trip sometime in August, but we will see.  I feel like we could use some "just us" family time before the baby arrives and we get even busier! :)

Before our vacation, we were having one of THOSE months.  You know the kind--where almost everything that can go wrong, does go wrong?  In our house, things don't seem to happen in threes . . . it's more like sixes. :)  Our dishwasher was only working about half the time.  Our water stopped working a couple of times, too (we think there is something wrong with the pump in the well).  Jim was doing a bunch of work on his truck, and kept running into more and more issues he needed to fix.  My big stand mixer broke for the third time--there goes making 4 loaves of bread at once, twice a week!  A bear got into our chicken coop 2 nights before our trip, breaking a window and leaving Jim with yet another thing he had to fix before we left!  (Thankfully all the bear took was one of the feeders--no chickens.)  Oh yeah, and it was super hot and muggy that week, which made it not-so-fun trying to get packed and ready for our trip!

 The window the bear broke
Boarded up hole where the window used to be

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining. :)  It was actually almost funny, how so many things went wrong all at once.  At one point I commented to Jim that I wondered if we were even supposed to go to Ohio this year, with all these things happening!  Well, we finally got on the road, very early Saturday morning, July 5.  Ahhhh . . . we could relax now.  We were in Jim's truck with working A/C, so the ride was comfy.  We had gotten a nice start around 4 am, and everything was going smoothly.
 Happy travelers somewhere along the way

Sleepy traveler!

We were on track to get to my in-laws' around 6 pm, so we were pretty happy about that!  THEN, we had just crossed into Ohio, and suddenly the truck started bouncing around all over the road (keep in mind we were going around 70-75 mph) and Jim was having a hard time controlling it.  It wanted to pull to the left, and there was nothing he could do but hang on.  We went flying into the grassy median between the north and southbound lanes and finally came to a stop.  It was pretty scary, but we really saw God's protection as we didn't hit anyone, we were in a place where there was grass instead of concrete barriers, Jim was able to keep calm and get us slowed down and stopped, and the kids didn't even realize we had a problem until we got stopped (they were watching a DVD at the time and just thought the road had gotten really bumpy).  Jim checked to see what was wrong and discovered a bolt had fallen out of the track bar, which centers the axle (technical terms which I don't fully understand, but let's just say it was a necessary little bolt and now it was gone!).

To keep a long story a bit shorter . . . we were able to call highway patrol, and a trooper came by and called for a tow truck for us.  He made sure to request one that had a big enough cab for all of us to fit in.  It seemed to take forever for the guy to come, but everything seems longer when you are stuck!  It was probably about an hour, and we found out later that the driver was called in to work because both the other trucks and drivers were already out on calls, and he lived about 20 min. from the shop, then the shop was another 20 min. or so from where we broke down . . . Anyway, let's just say we were very thankful to see him when he finally got there!  He assured us there was a mechanic coming into the shop also, who would be able to get us fixed up and on the road again.  Well, he did . . . but it took another hour and a half or so because he didn't have the exact right parts and he had a lot of trouble getting the nut into the place where it needed to go on the bolt (it was a very tight/hard to reach area to work on).  Jim wandered around the garage and talked with the mechanic a little bit, while the kids and I hung out in the truck and watched DVDs.  VERY thankful for our portable DVD player, as it definitely helped pass the time!  We had broken down around 2 pm, and finally got back on the road just before 6 pm.  The rest of the trip went fine, and we arrived at the farm just before 10 pm--4 hours later than planned, but very thankful to have arrived in one piece! :)
 The truck getting loaded on the flatbed
 First ride in a tow truck!  Still happy travelers. :)
Jim's and my second ever ride in a tow truck--the first was about 15 years ago in his old red Ford that left us beside the highway in Michigan!

So that was our big trip adventure, and hopefully we won't have a story like that to tell ever again. :)  We saw God's provision and protection in so many ways, though; I just wanted to share some of them.
While Jim was out of the truck when we first broke down, the kids and I took a minute to pray.  We prayed for a few specific things and it was really neat to see God answer.

  • We prayed that God would give Daddy wisdom in what to do: He realized the best option was to call 911 and they took care of us from there!
  • We prayed that the tow truck driver and the mechanic would be nice people to deal with: They were both very nice, very kind, and helpful.  We couldn't have asked for better guys to deal with.
  • We prayed that the mechanic would be able to fix the truck the same day (this was iffy, being a Saturday--we didn't know if the shop would even be open!): He came in specially to take care of it and had us fixed in less than 2 hours.  Even though it seemed like a long wait to us, it was sure better than waiting till Monday, or Jim trying to find the parts and tools to fix it himself, which would have been kind of difficult without a working vehicle!
  • We prayed that the tow and repair wouldn't be too expensive: We were floored when they only charged us $145 for both.  I was seriously expecting it to be more in the $400-500 range, especially considering that both guys had to be called into work on a Saturday.  Huge answer to prayer!
It was really neat to be able to see these specific requests answered and to share that with the kids.  I hope it was a bit of a faith-building experience for them.  And they did wonderfully through the whole thing!  That was a huge blessing, too.  Nobody whined or complained; they took it in stride and we were so proud of them.

Sorry this was such a long post, but hopefully soon I will get back to writing shorter updates, a little more regularly. :)  I did update my pregnancy blog today as well, if anyone is interested!  Hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aprons, Yogurt, and Other Randomness

Before I forget, I need to answer a couple of questions that have been asked!  First, Nikki asked what pattern I had used for the aprons I made last month, and I forgot to reply.  I figured it would be good to mention it in an actual post rather than a comment, since others might be interested too.  I just checked, and unfortunately that pattern appears to be out of print now. :(  However, I bet you could find it online somewhere, maybe Etsy or Ebay?  Here is a picture of it--the number is McCall's 5643.  And FYI, I adapt it a bit every time I make it--I basically make View A, but without the flap thingy on the top, and with the pocket for View B instead (except this time I changed up the pocket a little).  I also make it reversible.  So I buy two coordinating fabrics (2 yards of each) and use the second fabric for the main part of the lining.  It's kinda hard to explain, but basically everything is double sided--if the two fabrics are polka dots and checks, you'll have a polka dot and check fabric on each side.  If you end up sewing one of these, you can look back to my original pics if you need it to make more sense. :)

Also, Joey had mentioned that I should post a yogurt tutorial since I've been making it a lot lately!  Instead of that, I'll do the quicker and easier thing--point you to the original blog post with its own great tutorial!  It's found here on Trina Holden's blog.  I have made yogurt three times now (most recently with whole milk instead of 2%) and it has turned out great every time!  The kids love it and Jim eats it with granola nearly every day.  I think it is yummy as well, and I love to put it in smoothies.  

I updated Eating for Two last week and forgot to post about it here--I know some of you discovered it anyway, but just thought I would mention it for those who hadn't!  

Another link I wanted to mention . . . some of you may be familiar with the Fresh Modesty blog.  I stumbled upon it a while back and while the girl who writes it is a whole lot younger than me, I love her style and I especially love her denim skirts!  I think they are really flattering, and I have been eyeing her ebook with 2 skirt tutorials for quite a while now.  I still hope to get it eventually and make myself a skirt or two, plus it would be a handy resource for sewing for Julia as well!  Anyway, she has recently embarked on a new business venture called Fresh Apparel, where she will be offering her "Errand #17" skirt for sale (a limited number will be available at first).  She currently has a Kickstarter campaign going to raise the money for the first batch of skirts.  Now, these will not be cheap--but they WILL be made in USA, and well-made by the sounds of it!  So I wanted to throw out the info in case anyone would like to donate to her business.  (You can donate any amount of a dollar or more--but there are incentives for donating higher amounts.)  You can go here to read all about it!  The campaign is fully funded for the first round of skirts, but she would love to read her "stretch" goal for a second style, and there are three days left to do it.  

We are getting a lovely soaking rain tonight; we haven't had a good rain since we planted the garden over a week ago, so I am thankful!  We have a few small shoots coming up and our tomato plants all look pretty good, but hopefully the rain will help encourage things along a bit.  Everyone but me is in bed; Julia was singing along to the lullabies on the iPod a few minutes ago, and I am headed for dreamland soon myself.  Hope you are all having a great week!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Links, Pictures, and More

I gave myself permission to take some blogging time today. :)  First, I posted in my pregnancy blog for anyone who's interested . . . and now I'm going to chatter here for a little bit!

I'm making homemade yogurt today for the second time ever.  I made 3 quarts a couple weeks ago, and it was so easy, and came out great!  I used Trina Holden's recipe found here.  I'm also trying a new granola recipe.  I tried a molasses granola a few weeks ago which was pretty good (Jim and I both liked it, but the kids didn't), and then a friend shared a chocolate almond granola recipe which is what I'm making today.  It smells really yummy!  I actually didn't have any almonds on hand, so I threw in a bunch of coconut instead.  And I used coconut oil instead of canola, and substituted brown sugar for some of the honey to make it cheaper.  Granola and yogurt is a nice, fairly healthy breakfast or snack, and I used to make granola all the time, but got out of the habit in the past year or so.  I really need to get back to it!

Another thing I need to get back to is menu planning.  Can you believe I haven't menu planned consistently since mid-April?  Oops!  Now that I have more energy again and actually feel like cooking more often, I need to make a plan. :)

We had 3 new baby chicks hatch this week, so that was the big excitement around here!  Our Henny Penny is such a good mama.  This was her third time going broody, and her second successful hatch.  Last fall she hatched 6 chicks (only 5 survived).  This time she hatched 2 on Memorial Day, then the third egg hatched sometime between Tues. night and Weds. morning.  The babies are sooo cute, and we enjoy the fluffiness while it lasts (because it doesn't last long!!).  Here are a few pics.  No names yet, but I'm sure the kids will come up with some soon. :)

These are the first two hatched:



 Then after we moved them all to the little coop for extra protection, this little guy hatched:

Jim is finally done with the work on his truck!!  It's put back together, repainted, and it looks like we might even have a working air conditioner soon (which would be awesome, since we plan to drive it to Ohio later this summer)!  Anyway, Monday was the day he painted it.  Our garage is under our house, so I spent a lot of time outside so I wouldn't breathe in too many of those nasty fumes.  With the way the timing worked out, he was going to need to put the clear coat on around 3 am the next day . . . so we decided that the kids and I would sleep in the camper that night.  The kids slept great, but it was a short night because none of us went to sleep till after 10:30, and Sam woke up (and consequently woke the rest of us up, except Josiah) sometime between 4-5 am.  YAWN . . . But at least we weren't breathing in paint fumes. :)  And after the two older kids got up and out of the camper, I went back to sleep for a while . . . until I was awakened again by Jim and Julia sweetly delivering breakfast in bed!  Meanwhile, Josiah (our champion sleeper) kept snoozing till sometime between 7-8 am, I think.  By afternoon, the rest of us were pretty tired and Julia actually fell asleep on the couch . . . and we got everyone to bed early that night!

Last weekend was a busy one, too, as I was working on sewing reversible aprons for graduation gifts for two sisters, whose party was on Saturday.  Here's how they turned out (some of you long time readers might remember that I made aprons from the same pattern for gifts about 4 years ago, too)!  The only "problem" is that I have always made these for gifts, but so far haven't made any for me!  I think I need to change that this summer, since some of my old faithful aprons are starting to fall apart. :) 

The blue one is my favorite . . . 

 But I also love how bright and cheery the pink is!

Julia will be getting some cute new skirts out of the leftover fabric from these, too! :)

One more link before I go . . . I think I raved in my last post about the Read Aloud Revival podcast, a brand new one that I am loving!  Through that podcast and site, I heard about this summer reading program, Traveling Through the Pages, that I am thinking about having my kids do.  It looks like a lot of fun--I just need to get organized and think of some rewards/incentives I could use. :)  

Well, gotta run and put leftovers in the oven soon for supper . . . so happy I don't have to cook tonight. :)  Hope you are all having a great week!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bits & Pieces

I really like to write more focused posts most of the time, but lately it seems a lot of my posts have been random snippets about life.  I'm learning to be okay with that . . . I figure at least writing something is better than nothing!  Besides, I know some of you really like the random posts. :)  So here are some bits and pieces from our life lately.


  • Jim has been working on his truck this week and some of last week.  It needed new fenders and rocker panels to pass inspection.  I am always in awe of how much my hubby knows how to do! This looks like a really daunting job to me, but he just jumps in and seems to automatically know how to fix stuff.  There has been lots of noise, rust pieces, and paint in the garage this week.  I told him by the time he's finished, it will be almost like having a whole new truck. :)

  •  He was also able to purchase a trailer recently.  This will be really handy for transporting tools to different jobs; sometimes he can even leave it parked at a job instead of lugging everything back and forth every day.  He has a fairly big job coming up soon where he will be especially thankful to have this option.

  • Spring has finally sprung around here.  Until last weekend, we barely had any leaves starting to come out, but now everything is getting nice and green.  BUGS have arrived also. :(  It is so nice to see lots of green after a very white winter!  We have quite a few pretty flowers around already.  

 Trillium
 Not sure what the white flowers are, but they are growing on some kind of small tree--maybe some kind of wild cherry?
I was delighted to find a patch of at least 6 lady's slippers growing up near the woods--not open yet, but soon!
 Tons and tons of violets!

  • Jim set up the camper on Sunday to air it out after the winter, and check for mouse action.  Thankfully there was no sign of mice (yay!), and the kids have been having a blast playing in the camper.  We even did school in there on Monday!

 Julia through the screen :)
 Boys playing with their cars

  •  Last fall, our neighbors invited us to an informal kids' soccer group at our local ball field.  Our kids LOVED it, so when they started it back up a few weeks ago, we were super excited.  I finally remembered to bring the camera last week…here are a couple pics.  

 This has been a really fun way for our kids to learn a little bit about a sport, as well as meet some new friends and learn to play on teams with other kids.  Plus it gets lots of energy out and they sleep great on soccer nights! ;)  Well, they actually sleep great most every night, but I can tell they are a little extra tired on soccer nights. :)

  • This week I was so blessed to score a super deal on a huge lot of maternity clothes.  Now there was no way I *needed* this many clothes!  But I saw this lot on a local FB yardsale group, and the lady was selling 81 items for $40!!!  Even the used items I've been buying have been usually $5-10 each, and this lot had a bunch of summer clothes in it--tank tops and tees, capris, etc.  Even a denim skirt, which has been on my wish list!  Some of it won't fit or isn't my style, so I will pass it on or consign it, but Jim thought this was such a good deal that I should go for it, even though I didn't need this much stuff.  You can't beat .50 cents apiece for name brand maternity clothes. :)  Now I just need to make room for it . . . which will involve a lot of sorting and organizing of my regular clothes!



  • We are still plugging away at school.  In the home stretch!!  The kids mostly have writing and language arts type stuff left . . . Julia also has a few more days of math, and so does Josiah.  Both the older kids have about 2 weeks left of their Writing With Ease books (copy work, narration, etc.) and they have about 1-2 weeks of their handwriting lessons.  I'm planning to continue working on Josiah's reading lessons through the summer, as we're not as far as I'd like in that and I hope to get him reading a bit more proficiently before we get into first grade.  We also got way behind on our Sonlight books, and science, so I'm planning to keep working on those through the summer until we catch up to where I'd like to be.  Once we have the workbooks out of the way, the SL and science books are the "fun" part of school anyway, so I shouldn't get too many complaints about continuing. :)  
  • Remember how I mentioned my newfound love of podcasts a few weeks back?  Well, here is the original post that inspired me, over at Trina Holden's blog!  Apparently she added some stuff to it and republished it, so it showed up again later.  (Side note: I love Trina's blog . . . one of my favorites!)  Today when I was walking on the treadmill, I tried out the Read Aloud Revival podcast, Episode 1.  Wow.  Talk about inspiring and excellent stuff!  
I guess that is enough randomness for tonight . . . especially since I've been working on this post since last week. :)  Hopefully once school is finished, I can get back to a slightly more regular blogging routine.  



New update at Eating for Two!

I am still working on a real post for this blog, but in the meantime I wanted to let everyone know there is a new post on my pregnancy blog. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tintin Before Bedtime

There's almost nothing cuter than two kids reading Tintin on the couch (especially when one of them is wearing a fancy sequined tiara and veil ;))


unless maybe THIS is even cuter . . . big brother reading out loud to little brother.


And yes, I am sadly way behind on blog posts I want to write . . . lately I've been too busy or too distracted with all kinds of things going on, trying to finish up school, etc.  Just this week I'm finally getting back to setting goals and making a to-do list for each day.  I feel like I'm getting some energy back and things are feeling more "normal."  My next midwife appt. is next Monday, so I will definitely post a pregnancy blog update then.  In the meantime, I hope to get another post or two up here, as well. We'll see. :)