Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making Tree Decorations

Hubby and I decided to get a smaller Christmas Tree and retire our old one. Well, Elf # 3 decided she wanted it, however it was one of those huge round eight foot tall trees and she had very few decorations. So Mrs. Claus,Elf #3 and Elf # 2 decided to round up the rest of the little ones and get to business.
We gathered up every scrap of construction paper, scrapbook paper, yarns & ribbons, stickers, color pencils, markers, crayons, white glue, glue sticks, scissors, pencils & erasers, glitter, and Christmas Craft books.

There was hot cocoa to be made, a round or two of Jingle Bells, snipping, clipping and merriment. A nibble of a cookie or two.

There were even a few Christmas cards threw in.

 All in all it turned out to be a pretty productive afternoon. We ended with more than enough decorations for that big old tree.

Christmas Tree

Just a quick drop by to let you into our Christmasy world around here. This week well look at the tree. The boys made the paper chain and I'll tell you it took a ton to make the crazy thing long enough to wrap the tree, but they had fun. Yea, we still have the turkey hands hanging up on the windows. They are just too darn cute to take down.

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Granny's Sleigh

Here's a sleigh for you! It was my grandmother's prized Christmas decoration. Every year it sat on the mantel when she was alive and it still sits on my mother's fireplace mantle every year.

 Its porcelain with 24 kart gold trim. It's very heavy and large. It consists of the Santa in a sleigh and two reindeer. It is very beautiful, the pictures don't do it justice. Sorry I'm so late getting this listed. The boys are all down with colds.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Are Off And Rolling

Today began with a drag. The long Thanksgiving weekend and colder weather left us a tad bit off kilter. The boys are coming down with colds and laying around. The pump went out on the washing machine. The leg broke off the boys bed frame. What to do, what to do? I whipped out three bags of fresh cranberries, some fishing line and needles.

The boys strung cranberries to drape the fireplace mantle. We read our first Christmas countdown book- Snowie Rollie. I made a pan of Chocolate Chip Pan Cookies - yummy. Then we put a small bag of santas that Joseph was wagging around on the tree to finish it off, we put up our tree on Thanksgiving night every year. Collin is itching to put the lights on the house but since he has a cold and the weather is yucky I told him we'd try to give it a go this coming weekend. Tonight we watched Shriek's Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Can't wait until next Monday - A Charlie Brown Christmas will be on - it's my favorite Christmas Cartoon.

Hubby brought in the mail today when he came home from work and we received a couple of seed catalogs. He's in awe over the tremendous variety of tomatoes. We are planning on putting in nice vegetable garden in the spring for freezing and canning next year. Don't you just love the slower pace of the cold season? Just cozy back with a hot cup of tea (or coffee in hubby case) with a magazine or book, a fire in the fire place, kids on the floor in front of it drawing pictures or playing checkers and all's right with the world even when it seems to go wrong.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thrift Shops and Learning Resources

Since we follow a 12 week on and 4 week off schedule we will be out of school through December. However, I have learned over the years that when the boys aren't working on anything that long that isn't constructive for the mind - the mind tends to slow down in its function. Miss Mason was on target when she tells us that a child needs Something to Love, Something to Do, Something to Think About. With this information on the back burner of my memory I began searching for something that I thought the boys would like to do but still be learning. But I kept drawing a blank. Then I made a trip to the thrift shop with my mother and Edmond (our oldest son). Edmond and and I searched the shelves of games and toys for educational treasures and BINGO!!! Here's what we came up with.

 A complete 1979 Science Fair Kit - 150 in 1 Electronic Project Kit for $2.49. What a deal - did anyone see me dancing in the aisle? The boys have seen these in homeschooling catalogs for $50 and up so it was always out of our reach. So this is a real treasure for them.

We also found a Science Fair AM Short Wave Radio Kit for $1.49. I'll read to them from the Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia on Electricity and Circuits and we'll check out the links for more information as we move through the holiday season. A very relaxed schedule for Wildwood Academy and they don't even know it!

I found a wonderful Curious George Paint Set for $1.49 and My First Book of Time with large fold-out clock for $1.00 for Joseph. The paint set was perfect timing since he's in his "George stage" and we are reading through The Complete Adventures of Curious George.

Last year about this time hubby and I found at the same thrift shop a Thames & Kosmos Chem C1000 Kit for $4.98 (retails for $89),Thames & Kosmos Elementary Microscope Set for $11.49 (retails for $100) and a new copy with dust jacket of The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay. Both of the kits were never used - still in shrink wrap so they were used for Christmas presents. We have truly been blessed in finding wonderful items for our homeschooling life at this thrift shop over the years.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Persimmon Bread

Don't you just love the glory of autumn's bounty! Here is a recipe I ran across in an old book off my shelf by Rodale Press named Have a Natural Christmas 1980 that we are itching to get at. I'v added vegan alternatives.
Persimmon Bread
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses or agave nectar
2 eggs, beaten (can replace with tofu, banana or applesauce to equal 2 eggs)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup persimmon pulp**
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we'll use walnuts)
1/2 cup raisins, lightly floured (we'll use golden)

Mix the first three ingredients, then stir in remaining ingredients. Bake in two 8x4-inch well oiled bread pans. Bake for 1 hour at 300F. Makes two loaves.

Okay, the boys and I are awful about making muffins and loving them. So as with every quick bread recipe we get - we'll be using the well oiled muffin tin instead of a loaf pan.

**Choose ripe soft persimmons when purchasing them. Simply wash them and run them through a food mill to remove the seeds. The resulting puree can be used immediately or frozen in small batches (8-ounce yogurt containers work well here) and store for future use.
How we're off to the farmer market (Joseph's favorite place to go) today for some persimmons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Old Book

This is my latest read Hiawatha by Henry W. Longfellow - the full epic poem. I acquired it several years ago at from a thrift shop for a couple of dollars. I decided it was time to read it through. The book is showing its age,yet it is still in good condition. The copyright date is 1889.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Autumn Dinner Menu

With the cooler weather and an itch for soup I searched the frig for autumn fruits and vegetables for this perfect seasonal recipe.

Winter Pear, Apple & Butternut Soup
(from Cooking By Moonlight)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, peeled, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, diced
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, chopped
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 cups of vegetable broth
Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup coconut milk

In a heavy bottomed soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, and cook gently, stirring frequently until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, squash, pears, apples, curry powder and brown sugar, sauté for 10 minutes. Add the broth and season to taste with salt & black pepper. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash and fruit are tender, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup carefully with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender). Return to the puree to the soup pot, and add the coconut milk. Gently warm the soup through, being careful not to boil. Serve with rye croutons. Serves 6

Rye Croutons
5 slices of German rye bread
Non-hydrogenised soy margarine
Spread the margarine on one side of the bread. Pop it into a hot broiler until crispy, then turnover and repeat with the other side. Remove from the broiler and cut into small squares.

Serve this with a fresh salad of mixed baby greens and the following brownies for desert. These are the best brownies ever and very rich – big time yummy!!

Wolfie’s Chocolatey Moist Brownies
(La Dolce Vegan! By Sarah Kramer)

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 12 ounce pkg. soft silken tofu
½ cup oil
½ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175degrees C.) Lightly oil and 8x8 inch pan and set aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, slat, cocoa powder, and sugar and set aside. In a food processor blend together the tofu, oil, water, and vanilla. Add the walnuts and tofu mixture to the flour and mix together gently until “just mixed.” Pour evenly into the baking pan and sprinkle top evenly with chocolate chips. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into squares. Makes 6- 8 brownies. These can be frosted; however I have found these to stand alone on their own wonderfully.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Birthday Party 2008

Welcome to the Black Hat Diner a place where all the elite ghoulish gather for a nip, a sip, and horribly good fun. There are only two rules. Number one - eat, drink and be scary. Number two - see number one.

This year we had a kids dress up party for Joseph's birthday. He and his big brothers are waiting not so patiently for their creepy, little friends to arrive.

The menu was simple yet yummy. Fried Rice, Wontons, Mozzarella Bites, Blue Corn Chips with Onion Dip, Carmel Corn, Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, Candied Bon-Bons, Sunset Punch, and Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Frosting.

Sunset Punch is a mixture of 2 cans frozen orange juice concentrate, 1-2 liter of Cream Soda, 1 -2 liter of 7-Up, and 1/4 cup of grenadine syrup. Combine the juice concentrate with the two bottle s of soda in a punch bowl. Then drizzle the grenadine syrup around the inside edge of the punch bowl allowing it to drip through the mixture. For special effect I added a bloody ice hand to float about.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Buttercream Frosting recipe came from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The frosting recipe is heavenly and we are planning on using it on toast and between cookies.

The Wontons were simple. I simply made a filling of fried ground beef, onions, garlic powder and Braggs. (a really good soy sauce!) I also made a filling of chicken flavored seitan, onions and Braggs.
Then I rolled them up and fried them.

The Candied Bon-Bons were simply a red velvet cake mix that I mixed with one can of cream cheese frosting. Hand rolled into balls and refrigerated untill solid. Then I dipped them in white & chocolate candy melts and slapped sprinkles on them. I got this idea from Bakerella.

And of course I didn't have anyone back down from the table of goodies.

After dinner it was time for Joseph to blow out his big six candles. He's officially a big boy now, or so he thinks. Our big boy is the guy in the yellow hat in the picture above this one he's thirty.

Now it's time to go outside and carve the pumpkins!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Fanciful Twist Halloween Party 2008

Come along my pretties and you shall see wonders of darkness and creepy delight. Step beyond my porch if you dare, a black widow spider is waiting for you there. Do you hear the cackling laughter high in the sky? Its time for the witches to arrive!

Rattle Bones Jim

and his stepbrother Ben Booregard will show you the way to the door.

Joy, oh, joy - wonders of delight this year
we're having two gathering nights.

Toss a nickle in the cup, park your broom,
and rub the pig for good luck.

Bats and spiders are our trusty pets but please
don't harm them if they give you fret.

Step into the my parlor and meet some friends.

In a bed of black glittered poison ivy is where you'll find my sisters - Broom Hilda, Millicent, Hazel, and crazy old Vie. Pumpkin Pete brought a late date Bessie Booregard. But isn't that Ben's old thing.... Oh my!

Be sure to watch out for the little ones who are drifting
around.Charles and Rosie are wide-eyed with excitement as
they spot what's in the chair over there.

Pick a treat if you are brave. Mr. Smythe is
very protective of his goodies from the grave.
Don't for get to visit the emporium while you are here.

To stock up on all your supplies and ware for your magical fare.
What will it be... werewolf hearts, flies, pixie hands, graveyard dirt, spiders or rats?

Perhaps scorpions, eye of newt, or broke butterfly wings? Are you in need of fairy wands for that special spell? Ours work really well.

A mysterious door with warnings galore, however if you feel the need to relieve yourself you'll have to brave what lies
beyond... the potty room door.

It's still early and there's plenty of time for more so come on around the corner to explore.

Did you remember to buy your new broom
for the new year this month?

Group photos will be taken in the out in the back forty inside the conservatory. (Just a note here- this is a copy of the last Halloween picture taken with my grandmother in 2003. It is has five generations in it. I'm on the back row in the middle.)

Maybe a trip to the wax museum is your thing.

Giggling Goober can't wait to dine.
He has an appetite for anything divine.

The diner is open with many eats and treats, however,
You'll have to come back because the cauldron is still a bubbling.

Don't forget to return on Monday and I'll have all the
wicked good eats and treat & recipes
from my family Halloween bash
that is happening Saturday night.