Thursday, March 26, 2015

{phfr} Glassblowing, cake, cuckoos and clotheslines


~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ with the lovely ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter

Wow, I haven't participated in a {p,h,f,r} day in so long. Here's hoping this gets me back into the swing of things.

We took a field trip to a local glassblowing studio that is owned by one the families in our homeschool group. We've been there before, back in 2007 but BigBoy didn't remember much of it so when the chance came up again to go for a demonstration, we took it. The owner and his team were working on a sculptured glass project which is different than a blown glass project. One of the guys took time out to give us a demonstration. He made a glass ornament, a glass flower and a fluted glass bowl.

 Glass ornaments
 Demonstrating how a glass ornament is blown.
 Glass blowing studio field trip with a demonstration coming up. The hottest place to hang out on a cold, rainy day!
 Making a glass flower
Just one piece of amazing artwork hanging in their studio. There were so many things I wanted to come home with!

 My kids were very happy that I tried out this new recipe for an Extreme Chocolate Cake in a Cathedral cake pan to honor St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. I seriously thought it was going to flop when I put it in the oven. The batter was soupier than soup! But it tasted amazing and made it out of the pan with only a few cracks that were easily repaired. I topped it with a simple chocolate glaze. It was awesome. Might have to make another one for Easter. (I did follow one reviewer's advice and replaced the boiling water with hot decaf coffee. I think it makes the cocoa taste richer. Also, the Cathedral pan that I have is too small for all this batter. Only use 3/4 of it and place the rest in another pan so it doesn't overflow and mess up the bottom of your oven and make you have to scrub and scrape it all off. Ask me how I know.)
My happy is this… my cuckoo clock. My grandparents had a beautiful one in their house. I wish I knew who had it now. I think my uncle, maybe. I loved that clock. I loved the tick tick tick of it. I loved hearing the cuckoo in the middle of the night when it was too hot to sleep. Knowing how special their clock was to me, my husband surprised me with the on my 30th birthday. It's is a real German cuckoo clocked shipped from the Black Forest. It's smaller than the one in my grandparents' farm house, but it's got the cutest little deer on it and trees and logs. I really love it. It has stopped working a few years back and we tried everything we knew or could find online to fix it. Nothing worked anytime it started up, it would stop again. So I left it on the wall figuring that we'd have to find a clockmaker to fix it. Well, something inspired Sean to take it down, open it up, clean it throughly (like he would an old computer) and it's working again! He doesn't know what he did to fix it, but it's fixed and Miss Cupcake has been just as enthralled with it's sweet cuckoos, just like I was when I was little. 


A ribbon tied to door knobs, a basket full of unmatched socks and a handful of clothes pins... that's entertainment! 

Seriously… if you have a toddler, try this. She spent about an hour hanging socks and then taking them down again. So much fun! So much quiet!

 Look at my cutie pie babies the first time they visited the glass blowing studio! So tiny. So cute! Seems like so long ago and yet only yesterday. So big now. So fast. Hang on to those tiny ones as long as you can.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today, we celebrated with a fruit rainbow served with whipped cream clouds and real Irish soda bread. None of that raisin and caraway stuff here! According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, once you put raisins in it, it ceases to be soda bread and becomes tea cake. My kids love the real stuff.
My only complaint is that I find it hard to get a good, deep cross in it. Oh well, I guess I just have to try, try again. (My kids are cheering for joy. This is good soda bread!)

Just a quick reminder… if you want to order something from my Etsy shop, you have until Friday to do so. I'm closing up shop on Saturday, March 21st for a few weeks in order to give everything a chance to arrive before Easter and to prepare for Holy Week with my family. Thanks for understanding!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Etsy shop update

I am all caught up on orders for right now. If you placed an order prior to yesterday, then it is on its way to you already! I plan to shut down my shop on March 22nd (unless I run out of supplies earlier) so that all orders can be filled and mailed out with plenty of time to arrive before Easter and I can spend Holy Week focus on my family. I did want to mention that right now there are a couple of items other than kits for sale. First, there are two beautiful pairs of fingerless gloves hand knit by my daughter who you all know as Sunshine.

Also, I have a couple of ready made dolls if you are looking for a basket filler for a littler person who's not yet ready to do embroidery. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

See Me Homeschool {blog hop & link-up}

I kind of feel like I should call this "See Them Homeschool" because my homeschooled aged kids are all of the age and temperament that they can go about their day and accomplish their tasks without my direct interaction. Since I'm the last to post in this group, maybe what I'm really offering you mamas-of-all-those-little-ones is a little glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Please know that all your hard work is doing so much good. Someday, your kids will be doing their work on their own too, taking charge of their education and really embracing it as their own challenge (that is… if that's what you want them to do). You're helping create good habits now while they are young. Our days didn't always look like this… these days are the fruit of hard work and effort along with a healthy dose of discipline and a generous amount of fun. Hang in there. It's worth it!

I took these pictures last Thursday (February 19th) which I realized, after the fact, is the busiest day online for my high school kids. They each take two online classes and three of them are on Thursday. The Professor is taking Latin and Literature. Sunshine is taking Grammar and Composition. It was also the day before BigBoy's monthly book club so I was busy preparing for that when I wasn't tending to Cupcake's needs. As you take a peek at our day, please bear in mind, my kids are:

The Professor: 17 years old, high school junior
Sunshine: 15 years old, high school freshman
Rain: 14 years old, 8th grade
BigBoy: 10 years old, 5th grade
Cupcake: 3 years old with a mind of her own

Now the purpose of this project was to provide you with a photo essay of our homeschool days. (You can read my very wordy essay in the How I Homeschool Series here.) I will try to stick to that but a caption or two might break through my wordless resolve. Sorry. And, just as an aside, I am posting pictures of my older kids with their express permission. Privacy and respect is very important to teenagers and their preferences always come first.

Most days, by the time I come out from the shower or from taking care of/snuggling with Cupcake, my big kids have already had breakfast and are hitting the showers themselves or getting in a little exercise.
She can do it all by herself!
The hardest part of my day… keeping Cupcake busy!
In the meantime…
Lunch time!
(I get Cupcake's and mine. They get their own.)
The Professor emerges from his study desk in our bedroom for a well earned lunch and some personal reading time. Husband and I stay in touch via Gmail chat almost every day. During lunch, I like to check in with him. After lunch it's back to work checking math, practicing the piano, starting a new literature book (horsing around)… even Cupcake gets a little time to work on some phonics on the big computer. {Darn it… no more talking now.}
Exploding toilet… not a typical homeschooling activity. 
The end of the day included my teens making dinner together. Home Economics, Baby! It totally made up for the regurgitating toilet that everyone swears they didn't jinx.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Etsy shop open for Lent!

I am opening up my shop for Lent but I'm not sure I'm going to have any ready made dolls this year. My husband will be traveling and that's when I turn to crafts to keep me sane keep me busy but we'll just have to see how it goes. I am making kits for dolls. You can choose the pattern you want and I will transfer it to a piece of 100% cotton fabric with a temporary ink. My idea is that kids will use these kits to make their own saint dolls and explore a new handicraft. The temporary ink is so important for kids who might find it hard to stay on the line. When their doll is completed, the lines just wash away. But due to the temporary nature of the pattern, it is a little fragile. Environmental conditions and water of any kind can make it fade or wash it away so they should be used within a few months of being purchased.

Each Saints 'N Stitches Pillow Doll Kit comes with a saint pattern on pre-washed cotton fabric, a complimentary backing fabric, full skeins of DMC embroidery floss with enough thread to complete the design and a color chart. I don't provide line by line instructions for each individual design; instead I hope that your children will enjoy using their creativity to decide what to outline and what to fill and follow their own desire to learn new stitches. These kits can also be used by moms to make dolls for their kiddos or by siblings to make dolls for their little brothers and sisters, if they want to.  I am making a limited number of kits available for purchase today but will allow for more orders as I fill the ones ordered first.

Thanks to everyone who has enjoyed these dolls and kits! I hope your children love them.

Monday, February 16, 2015

See Me Homeschool {blog hop & link-up}

Just wanted to let you know about a fabulous little blog hop & link-up going on until the end of the month hosted by Theresa of Ordinary Lovely and Micaela of California to Korea. Micaela hosted the How I Homeschool series last year (you can find my link here) but Theresa's take on this one is a pictures only representation of a typical homeschool day. I will be posting my pictures on February 27th so stop back by then but in the meantime check out the other homeschool photo essays or post yours and share it via the link-up! If you don't have a blog, you can use #seemehomeschool on Instagram, Facebook, or wherever else hashtags are accepted.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Last minute valentines...

My husband and I like to make little valentine cards to celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine with our children. We usually go for something punny. Sometimes we have so much pun, we can't stop ourselves. It's a sickness, I know.

Here are some I made up tonight. If you have leftover chocolate coins from Christmas, you can use those. (Yeah… right.) Ok, so then check your local Hobby Lobby or World Market. Ours carry them year round. Heck… you could even put a handful of real coins in or go to the bank and get some shiny new quarters or fancy gold dollars! Always impressive to little ones and big ones too. 

If you want to surprise your kids with this valentine treat tomorrow, you can find the printable cards here. I printed mine on ivory card stock and glued it to pink card stock. Pop everything in a sandwich sized zip top baggie, cut off the zip top and tie it up with a ribbon. Easy peasy. I really like the way the joke sticks up above the coins and the sweet message is hidden below. 

{I also made a version that can be used by your kids to give to friends. It says, "I like you just the way you are." You can find that one here.}

Happy Feast of St. Valentine!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tolkien, Jackson and Hope

I am late to this party, I know, but I just saw the Battle of the Five Armies yesterday and it was such a good movie. It's been our tradition for the other two Hobbit films to let Sean take the three big kids to the movie theater and let me have a "date" with BigBoy watching them when they came out on DVD. This year, BigBoy thought he was ready to see it on the big screen with the teens and since we surprised everyone with a Hobbit Movie Marathon of all three movies back to back to back, he got to see the first two in the movie theater too! Not being one for battle scenes, I was content to stay home with Cupcake. But the four who made it through the marathon (with the company and moral support of some dear friends) really wanted to get to see it again and they wanted me to go with them. It was very important to them and I was so honored that they wanted to include me, I couldn't say no. I did make them promise to cover my eyes or at least warn me when any severed heads went flying.

So, that is what we did yesterday afternoon and I am so glad that I went! Not only was it a great time to get to spend with my big kids without any toddler tantrums, it was also an exceptional movie that I enjoyed discussing with them on the way home.

They asked me when I started to cry because, of course, I blubbered like a baby. For the record…it was when Bard was seeing his children being attacked in Dale and he couldn't defend them right away. That combination of a father not being able to reach his children coupled with the son who was trying to man-up and protect his sisters just did me in. Bard is my hero! He was always the first to lead but never gave in to the power that he could have wielded and his family always came first. I really loved the character and checked with The Professor many times to make sure he didn't ever die on screen (because I don't think I could handle seeing that).
Such a good leader, such a good daddy… except maybe that using your son as an arrow rest
and sight window thing, but I'll forgive you.
We talked about the instances and examples of fatherly love in the movie which led us to discuss Thranduil and Legolas' relationship. I know that Peter Jackson made more of that relationship than Tolkien ever did and that the character of Tauriel was completely made up, but I have to wonder if Tolkien wouldn't approve of the intimations Jackson made, given the chance, because here is what I got from them…

Thranduil's wife was killed in battle and you get the impression from his son, Legolas, that he never discusses it because he's kind of cold and aloof, being a snooty tooty Elf King. But when Tauriel says, "If this is love, I don't want it. Take it away from me, please! Why does it hurt so much?" and Thranduil responds, "Because it was real." I really got the sense that he actually loved his wife so much that losing her hurt him more than he could bear so he shut the door on his pain and all emotion, thereby shutting out his son too.
Kind of cold and seemingly aloof.
This led us to compare and contrast Thranduil and Elrond (who is a favorite character of The Professor's). I didn't know this, but my Tolkien scholar told me that Elrond's wife is still alive. I assumed that she was dead since we never see her. They said that she had been wounded and went to live in the West. So, Elrond knew he would see her again. He had the hope that people of faith have that someone who is gone is not gone for good and forever. Sometimes, that hope of seeing our loved ones again is what gets us through the unbearable pain of losing them. The power of hope...

Elrond was a more feeling father. OK… he didn't love the idea of his daughter marrying a mortal, but he still gave his consent. They had a closer, more loving relationship. I would even argue that Elrond's ability to love and care made him the wiser leader, too.
See! So much warmer and fuzzier.
Thranduil certainly felt for his people and tried to make decisions that protected and benefitted them, but Elrond was a leader who choose to see how the Elves fit into the grand scheme of the whole world and made decisions that benefitted everyone, not just his own kind. (Plus, there is that whole "lowly Silvan Elf" thing which makes me think that Thranduil had some issues or at the very least a serious class/rank thing which isn't the best quality in a leader.)

So, I'm not sure Peter Jackson intended to put all of that in there, but it really struck me as a striking contrast and was the beginning of a great conversation.

If you've seen the movie, what did you think? Anything you want to talk about even though the party is over and they're turning out the lights? Let's clean up some empty cups together and chat!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Oh, hello!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stay away this long. I would say that "we've been busy" but it's really just that we've been doing "life". We celebrated ProLife Day (January 22nd) by celebrating 17 years of The Professor being in our life.
A cozy pair of hand knit fingerless gloves from Sunshine!

Reading a card from Rain
He's growing into such an amazing young man that we are honored to call our son . Shortly after our celebration, Sean headed off on a business trip to Boston. The Boston that was just shut down by record amounts of snow…
yeah, THAT Boston!

Before he left though, he built a new countertop for the dry bar. We have wanted to get rid of the white laminate countertops for a while and create something that would match the built-in side opposite it.
Before with the old white laminate tops… they were not always decorated with such pretty food.

...more during...

Done… just needs to be stained.
 I have discovered that I am not a staining kind of girl. It was terrible. It smelled. It seemed so arbitrary… what the color looked like in the can vs. what color it turned the wood. I had to mix stains to try to match the already stained side but then try to figure out number of coats. To condition or not to condition was another agonizing decision. And then don't even get me started on the oily polyurethane problem that had two master carpenters and the customer service rep at Minwax scratching their heads! It's done now and I have decided it will be a cold day in you-know-where before I willingly take on another staining project. Even though it turned out really nice! Home improvement projects should not be traumatic.

Both sides. There is one tiny piece of trim that needs to be put back on underneath the tall countertop. It had to be removed to get the old countertop off. 
Looking from the dining room into the dry bar. 
Since my husband still wasn't back after the third coat of poly dried, I painted these mason jars as therapy… to make up for the trauma of stain.
Ahhhhh… beautiful paint. So tidy, so predictable, so comforting. These are a set of ombre colored jars that I intended to use as vases on the new bar or just for fun because they are pretty. I used this tutorial if you want to paint some pretty jars too or if you need some paint therapy.