Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Out With The Old; In With The New

Change and technology are challenges for me but I stumble along and do my best. Ever wonder about the simplistic style of my blog - it is a wonder I even have a blog! Much of the wonderful things I see others do on their blogs, I have not yet stumbled on how to do that, so it is left off from my little corner of blogdom. Centered pictures, a few words - that is about my limit. So - on to the phones. I have been using, for years and years, my wonderful and faithful StarTac phone (on the left above). Granted I have never been able to figure out how to get a message off from it (I warn friends don't leave me messages on the cell, they are lost forever on there!) But I can make it call friends and family when I need it. Alas, it is analog and soon doomed for oblivion with the digital changeover deadline coming up soon.

But cell-phone-man, #1 son, is looking out for him mom! For Christmas I got a new, easy to use phone (on the right above). No fancy gimicks - I could never learn them anyway. I don't text and I don't snap pictures - so that is all a waste for me. I have committed to learn how to retrieve a message on this phone, however! It is the least I can do. And since my phone is so often dead when I go to leave the house, #1 also got me the car recharger - a must for me. They all know me so well!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

Well, maybe "Christmas Tree" isn't such a great title for this post - mostly this is Fluffy enjoying the warm sun and a little Christmas spirit.  Our best tree putter-upper and decorator is #3 son. He has always taken to this task with great ideas - I will forever remember one of his first - the "Toilet Paper" tree - rolls and rolls of it stuck all over the branches that he could reach (it was one of those giant packs). Not unwound or anything, just the full rolls looking like big snowflakes! I think he was only about 6 years old and I was taking too long getting the ornaments out for him, so he improvised.  Now #3 not only decorates (minus the TP), but sets up the tree and gets the ornaments out of the garage  -  And to accommodate the cat, we placed a tote in the window next to the tree with his "pillow" on top of the tote. Do we spoil our cat?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Hoodie - Final Chapter (Almost)

Well, this one for the Princess is done. Just in time - we have some cold weather that is supposed to be coming in by tomorrow.  I do have one more to make as a Christmas gift - but that one is already cut out and should go up faster. I worked out some bumps with my "trial run". I will be writing a review of the pattern at http://sewing.patternreview.com/ This came out so-so, but the princess likes it and I try not to look at the errors. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

T-Shirt Dress Update/New Ministry

The Holt family recently visited our church. They are Baptist missionaries to Sierra Leone, Africa - and they want to take along a box (or several) of the girl's T-shirt dresses that I have been making when they go back to Africa to be distributed to the girls in the Children's Home they are establishing. So I now have another project - and I am so excited about it. I am collecting up remnants of cotton fabric and thrifted T-shirts as I find them in the local thrift stores, and accepting materials from others that can't make the dresses, but wish to help with finding the materials. I have it down to about an hour a dress, so I can do up a number of these over the next several months (in between my other projects!) I am also willing to take ready-made ones to include in the box I send to them. (Make them pretty, modest, and cool - Sierra Leone is hot.)

Sierra Leone is ranked by the UN as the worst county on the planet to live (Yes, the worst - whole planet). The people are in desperate need. Over 40% of the population is under the age of 15 - the long civil war (now over) left many orphans. The Holt's can easily take the dresses with them when they go back later this year - as opposed to me shipping them and having it cost a small fortune. I need to send the dresses on to them by about June - so from January to June, T-shirt dresses are a priority.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Ministry of Suffering

Poor little Snowman. He was accidentally dropped into the oven while the Princess was removing a pan. No one noticed his plight until the flames were visible inside the oven door and the smoke detector went off. I had originally planned to write a funny story about the ensuing circus of events - but every time I look at this Snowman's face smiling above that charred mess, I keep thinking of the spiritual lesson there. And then this morning in my daily Tozer on-line devotional I read this:

December 12
Trials and Pain: Forced to Our Knees
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. --2 Corinthians 12:7

The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God's victory over him....

We might well pray for God to invade and conquer us, for until He does, we remain in peril from a thousand foes. We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration.... Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. Then He invades our natures with that ancient and eternal life which is from the beginning. So He conquers us and by that benign conquest saves us for Himself.
The Pursuit of Man, 45,50.

I certainly don't enjoy suffering, but I love (really love) the results it brings. It is tough to stay focused sometimes on that end result. I think that is why sometimes the Lord sends these little mercies, like this smiling snowman combined with the Tozer devotional, to remind me that the fruit will be worth all the toil.

Truthfully, I am not suffering more than a few minor inconveniences. I have friends that are blessing me in the midst of their very difficult circumstances. And I often think and pray for those Christians in parts of the world that are truly suffering for their faith.
See: http://www.persecution.com/

So I rejoice in the head cold I have, the financial challenges, the time crunches, and decisions regarding the future. I rejoice in some of the trails I have already walked through (there were some biggies there) and I rejoice that there will be others to come. All refining me in order to love and serve my Lord even more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Sewing With A Purpose. This is a sewing contest held at the Stitcher's Guild Sewing Forum found here: http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php#6 You just click on the SWAP 2009 tab and I am entered under the title: Fourkid 2009 SWAP - Skirtin' The Issue .

Anyone can enter, you just sign up and say you will enter. I am doing it with no expectation of winning anything - although I understand if you finish the requirements within the time frame everyone does get a small prize. I entered because this year's parameters fit my needs very well, and I am always putting off sewing for myself. I need some new, everyday clothes! I have always been motivated by these types of events. I am very non-competitive against others, but I love a challenge to myself.

So from now until April 30, 2009, I will do updates on my progress, both here (under the SWAP title), and at the Stitcher's Guild Forum. The official rules are at the website noted above, but the gist of it is to complete 11 garments in the allotted time frame. Of the 11 pieces, 6 must be tops, 4 must be bottoms, and one outer garment. All individual pieces must be able to be worn with each of the other pieces. The pieces must reflect your everyday weekly lifestyle.

I have chosen to do 2 or 3 skirts and 1 or 2 jumpers. Either way it will end up as four bottom pieces (jumpers can count as a bottom piece as long as every top can be worn with it.) My colors for the skirts and/or jumpers will be navy, dk. brown, tan, and blue denim. For the 6 tops, I am still in limbo on most of them, but to get started I have chosen to use the pattern pictured above in the maroon cotton fabric also pictured. This is an OOP (out of print) pattern I found at a thrift store for 10 cents. The fabric I bought new at Jo-Ann's.

For my outer garment, I am tentatively planning to knit a shawl. I found some attractive and easy free patterns on the web and have wanted a shawl for some time.
This is my most likely choice to make as of now:

Christmas sewing has pushed my personal projects to the back burner - but I am hoping to have this top done by Jan. 1, and all my other SWAP projects decided on, patterns ready, and most fabric in hand, also by Jan. 1.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hoodie - Part 2

No, this isn't the Princess's hoodie - yet. This is our 2nd (and final) mock up cut from an old sheet and basted and pinned together. Before cutting into the more costly fleece, from which it is very hard to pick out wrong stitches, I wanted to check the fit. I have blended 3 sizes - extra small sleeves (they run very full), to small shoulders and then to medium at the hips. The first mock up had the shoulders droop way too much. So I took an inch from the length of the shoulder seam. This also pulled the sleeve up a bit shorter (which it needed). I think the shoulder seam is still a little long, but this is where it stays. The fleece should cover some of this up, and if I fiddle too much I will undoubtedly make a bigger mess than I am trying to fix. The bottom length is right where she wants it, so I will add an inch and a half hem allowance to the front and back pattern pieces. The mock up sleeves currently have no hem, so when properly done, they should be just about right. I am hoping to get the fleece version cut out tomorrow - but so far, none of this project has gone as I planned - we will see what the morning brings.

Sew Much Comfort

From their website:

Serving Those Who Serve Us
Sew Much Comfort provides adaptive clothing free of charge to support the unique needs of our injured service members from all branches of the military and national guard. The need for adaptive clothing continues to grow as American military members are injured serving their country. Each week, many wounded military members arrive in the States from Germany for extensive medical treatment for bullet and shrapnel wounds, burns, head and limb injuries and amputations, while tens of thousands are still in the recovery process. These medical conditions require large fixator, prosthetics and casts that are too bulky to fit under ordinary clothing or underwear. Sew Much Comfort is the only organization providing adaptive clothing in large volumes to attempt to meet those special needs. 

I am a volunteer sewist for this organization. They need more sewing vounteers, donations of goods or cash, and most importanly - if you know of any veterans that need their adaptive clothing, please refer them to the Sew Much Comfort website. You can link to it from the title of this blog entry, or from my "favorites" sidebar. I only know how to make the pants right now - but I just took a "working with knits" on-line class, in part, so that I can learn how to do more adaptations. 

Here is a 6 minute video (the address just below) that documents the care wounded veterans receive. The crew in this case is flying into Bagram air base in Iraq. #2 son has been to that base many times. He would pick up and deliver the night vision equipment (among other things) for repairs. 


**side note - I once asked #2 son why the night vision equipment broke so often. Were they made of inferior parts or design? His reply - No, they are fine - they just don't work too well as a football! 

Friday, December 5, 2008


Singing.......definitely not my talent. I have other talents, so I don't feel to badly about not being able to carry a tune - except that I love to sing. My mother says I am always flat and a half beat behind - she is correct. My mother can sing and so can the Princess, but they don't like to sing like I do. I sing a lot. I can really ratchet up the volume too (I learned how to do that while working on a bus route to carry kids to church.) Only the family gets to hear the song of the Valkyrie, but it is legend. It does seem to get kids up out of bed in the morning, and the dog doesn't even howl - oops, we don't have a dog!

Back in the college years (and those bus route years) I was actually in a church choir and a college glee club! I had two really great friends (they would have to be!) that made sure they always stood next to me and we had a hidden signal (elbow in the ribs) whenever I flatted out. I even learned to do some songs pretty well. In college I sang in a Christmas special with all the combined school choirs. I sang the alto part of Handel's Messiah - the whole thing - and only got a few elbow-to-the-ribs during that entire performance. Granted my little voice was only one of about 300, but in practices it was only one of about 40. That could have created havoc.

Are you ready for the irony? My mother actually named me Patti Page! Really. Not even Patricia - but Patti - right there on my birth certificate. Such a cruel twist of fate - or was it hope? Well that hope was dashed at an early age. She knew by the time I was three I couldn't carry a tune. How you ask? (You did ask, right?) Because my grandfather had a state of the art sound system in his home and in the early years I was often asked to sing "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window" for any and all guests. It was blasted to every nook and cranny in his very large home. By the time I was five, such requests for the "doggie song" grew rare - they learned - I did not live up to my namesake.

Plus side to being Patti Page:
I was never anonymous - I was the first name every teacher knew on the first day of school.

Down side to being Patti Page:
I was never anonymous - I was the first name every teacher knew on the first day of school.

Biggest annoyance to being Patti (you don't need the "Page" for this part):
All those insistent teachers and rude "official people" that think I don't know my own legal first name. "No, I am not a Patricia; my name is Patti (with an "i"). Would you like to see my birth certificate?"

I e-mailed Patti Page a while back. I told her I had the same name as she did. (She wasn't actually born a "Patti" like me - I didn't say that to her, though.) She was very nice and wrote me back - though of course I didn't print it out before I lost my copy in a computer crash, oh well. I am on her mailing list for her maple syrup products, and I visit her website from time to time. I even have some of her CD's. I am not too keen on the "doggie song", but I love the Tennessee Waltz - that is probably my favorite of her songs. I don't have her Christmas CD - I probably need to get that one soon.

For me, heaven will be full of songs - fun, glorious, on-key, right pitch, correct timing, very loud songs!

(btw - since 1980, Dh has robbed me of my fame. I can no longer claim to be a "Page", but I do still get the snide remarks asking for my "legal" first name - "Are you sure you aren't Patricia?")

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving - the Day After

We had 20 here for a great dinner, some jammin' time, and lots of conversation. We used the clubhouse to contain us all. It was a beautiful breezy day. My newly engaged niece (brother's daughter) brought her fiancee. The Princess had her best friend join us. And it came out that even though my dad did tell the forestry officer we were related to Daniel Boone* - that isn't true. I think that was part of some discussion he recently had concerning why he couldn't use the dogs to run panther in the Everglades. (He feels he should be able to do so - and the game warden seems to disagree!)

We had turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, cranberry suace, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, butternut squash, mashed potato, turnip, peas, green beans, rolls - and more. Dessert included apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies and cake - and more. The Princess made this yummy punch.

After there was some jammin' time. The guitars came out and we heard songs, new and old. My brother is a songwriter and we always get some new ditties when he picks. His son and my #2 son join in.

We end the evening back at my folk's home with stories of family, while the youngers played Uno. It is sad to see everyone go separate directions - but so blessed that they all took the time to gather for one day a year.

*Note - but we are related to Daniel Webster, Zebulon Pike, Hannah Dustin, and George Washington. And our ancesters did arrive in Plymouth in 1621 - missed the Mayflower by a year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chalk Art

I just love being a "Grammy". Today Dh called me outside to see the evidence of the grandchildren's games (they live next door). I left off making the pumpkin dip, peanut butter pie, and the blueberry cake and joined him on our little street. This is so adorable (only a Grammy would be so impressed with chalk marks on the street.) The top picture is my favorite - do you see the person? It seems his legs shoot right out from his chin! And those hands and feet are circles. In the bottom picture, just to be sure you know that 10 is the last hopscotch box, it is labeled "end".
**disclaimer - we live on a dead end street in a closed off complex - so there is no traffic here.

God's Creation

The view outside my home two nights ago.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trailer Restoration - The Beginning

Sad, isn't it? About 14 years ago we traveled all over the East coast and in Florida in this trailer and had wonderful family vacations using it. Then we got bogged down with our farm and no vacation money to be had - and the poor trailer sat and sat. We were approached by an individual we had known for a few years who was now in desperate need of a home - and we felt that now the Lord had a new use for this dormant trailer - so we sold it on payments. This is where it gets murky - and I need to be careful - but the gist of the story is the individual defaulted and we didn't see the trailer again for years and years - I would have to look it up, but it has been at least 6 years. We had no idea where the trailer or the individual was, and so the situation sat in limbo. I must confess to occasional fretting over it, but my Dh was not concerned and was in favor of just letting it be.

Fast forward all these years and suddenly there is our trailer (and yes, it is still ours as we have held the title all these years and only a small portion of the sale price was ever paid.) It was sitting on property adjacent to some undeveloped land we own in another part of our county!!! From what we have been told, it was resold (without proper documentation) and moved to this spot sometime in the recent past. We repossessed it with the aide of #3 son's mighty van and some borrowed trailer tires.

And now the challenge begins........
The goal is to restore it to a family vacation trailer once again. We now have the time and means to travel a bit and we want to use it to attend some functions this summer. All fabric items are being tossed - and my challenge is to make all the curtains and cushions. We will also toss the carpet and put in all vinyl flooring. Those are the easy parts! I will update the progress now and then.

On another topic - the Hoodie.
I had hoped to have it done by today - but my goals always seem to exceed my abilities. I did finish two other significant sewing projects I had planned to do as well (a Christmas present and a pile of mending) - and the hoodie has progressed nicely, just not done yet. The pattern is traced. I basted together the mock-up cut from an old sheet and fitted it to the Princess, and then took the mock-up apart again. Now I just need to transfer the adjustments to the traced pattern and then cut the actual fabric. Sewing it up should go fairly quickly, but I am not putting a date on when as Thanksgiving is almost upon us and my sewing time will be fragmented for the next several days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hoodie - Part 1

This is one of my weekend projects. The Princess saw this fabric in Walmart and loved it (she is dangerous to take shopping!) It is a very soft fleece - and in one of her best colors. To make the hoodie I had to actually buy a new pattern. I almost always get my patterns at the thrift store for 10 to 25 cents each - but this is a simple, useful, and multi-sized pattern, so it was not too painful. (I know the stores have pattern sales, but I needed it then - and it was discounted....and it wasn't any more than some of the vintage patterns I have bought on-line!)

So, sometime in the next 24 hours I will trace out her size, and do a mock up using old sheets to check the fit - and hopefully the real hoodie will be done by Monday night - that is my goal.

Updates to follow..........

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More T-Shirt Dresses

These are dresses #3 and #4 (#2 was given a new home before a photo was taken.) I won't post every dress I make - I just wanted you to see a variety of ways this idea can be used. For these dresses I just did straight sides - not even a hint of an A-line. It just fits the fabric better to do straight sides. As long as the gathering is at least 2x the circumference of the bottom of the T-shirt, it has plenty of room to run and play. The bottom of the shirts were both about 15 inches across the front. I doubled that to get the circumference (30") and then made sure that each dress had at least 60" of fabric to gather up along the waist. I don't get too exact - it depends on the fabric I have available. I want to do one up that is 2 and 1/2x the circumference and see how that looks - I just didn't have enough fabric this time to try that.

The red, white, and blue version was a red T-shirt and I had the blue remnant on hand. It is just about one yard of fabric. I added a red bow and a white heart button I had on hand for an embellishment. That may not last too long - but it is cute and adds a bit of extra that makes it look less "used".

The green T-shirt came with the palm tree embellishment on there already. I had some pieces of a fabric from a mother/daughter dress that the Princess and I wore for last Mother's Day. I did not have one remnant piece big enough for the whole skirt - so I pieced it. There is a front and back panel that are the same width, and then two side panels that are the same width as each other, but slightly narrower than the front and back panels. They don't actually line up on the side seams, but wrap around a bit to the front and back. As long as they are even it looks intentional and okay. The greens in the T-shirt and the froggie fabric are exact matches - It looks like I planned it that way. While I didn't know it would work out so well - I know the Lord did, even last year as the original mother/daughter dresses were made!

The #2 dress not pictured was a brown T-shirt that I used striped fabric to make the skirt. It was a white base with brown, orange, and a few other colors arranged vertically. Because it was a bit see-through, and I have no guarantee that it will be used with a slip for modesty, I lined the skirt in that version - very easy to do. I then used a hand sewn yo-yo of the striped fabric with an orange button sewn in the middle of it as an embellishment and then attached at the waist.

These dresses are for some little girls in my church. Won't it be fun to see them wear them? Since I have it figured out so that each one takes only about an hour to make from start to finish, I plan to make several more. They are very relaxing to do in between larger projects. I am so grateful that others before me wrote in other blogs how to do this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Salute

After a weekend of duty at Camp Blanding the soldier that was in these boots looked just as tired as they do. I am glad these boots didn't have to go to Iraq this year, but they still get tough workouts. These are actually fairly new boots - the pair that did do Iraqi Freedom duty actually wore off almost all their sole and #2 son tossed them out. Now he wishes he had kept them, but soldiers don't think that way when they first get home. At first it is just to get rid of, or put away, all those reminders of living a war. But it has been several years now since he has returned to the USA, and even now we still get new snippets of stories as #2 is more comfortable relating to us stories of his year in Iraq.

Our school district participates in Veteran's in the Classroom Program. This week #2 son gets to spend a day in a middle school classroom relating tales of living American history to school kids. He has collected up the few artifacts that did make it home and that I have saved for him, his two commendations, and he has made an outline of ideas to talk on concerning military life. I am guessing that of all his dangerous encounters with hostiles, the episode with the camel spider will be the most dramatic!

On this Veteran's Day, I appreciate all the men and women that served our country - and even now are in harm's way. God bless them, their families, and give wisdom to our leaders.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The October Challenge - Final Report

This was a great challenge. I have used up many items in my pantry that I haven't been inclined to touch for ages. No one starved, no one was injured, and no one lost any weight! The savings were not as great as I had hoped - my expectations always seem to exceed my realities. But we did put aside $200 to help pay down a bill- and that is a great beginning. I think some of the incidentals took up more money than actual food. And we could have saved more if I had done more baking from scratch.

This next month we are going to try to put aside the same $200 amount. We did do some significant grocery replenishing on November 1st, but stuck to a list of basics. We celebrated with a family favorite of Quesadillas for dinner - and watching a DVD episode of The Andy Griffith Show (Dh keeps saying I am a lot like Aunt Bea - hmmmmm.)

An unexpected savings came in the way of a broken AC unit. It is starting to cool off here - and though some of the afternoons are pretty warm - especially in the upstairs area - we are toughing it out and just letting the unit stay broken until springtime. Usually this time of year we keep the AC going during the day - so we are not putting out funds for a repair bill - and we expect to see big savings in our electric bill the next few months. In the end no matter how much we save, it won't cover the repairs costs - we actually need a new unit and have kept this one limping along for almost two years now - but we can at least delay for now and see what the Lord brings to us for the spring. Now we are enjoying the fresh air, cool nights, and lots of birds and squirrel chatter.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Princess in Concert

The Princess had her first band concert with a local community band. She is playing flute. It was a medly of patriotic songs and marches in celebration of Veteran's Day at a local mall. It was wonderful. God bless our veterans and our current troops.

Rolled Oats

We have had slightly cooler weather here in central Florida - and the boxed cereal is long gone (see the Oct. Challenge posts). In order to accomodate #3 son's leaving time for work, I have had to get up early to cook up the oatmeal (oops, rolled oats). That is a good thing - 1.) I am up early and 2) Ds gets a good hot breakfast. My definition of early is 6 AM, so don't feel sorry for me - I should be up then, but had gotten lazy and was sleeping in until 7. I like being up and getting everyone breakfast, so horray for the October Challenge!
I buy my rolled oats in a 6 gallon pail from BreadBeckers. http://breadbeckers.com/ We have a local co-op group here that orders 4 times a year. I don't order every time, but usually at least twice a year. In fact the next order is due in a week or so, so I will need to check my stock of rolled oats, rice, and wheat berries. The 6 gallon pail of the rolled oats lasts me about 4 winter months (I use them for cookies, and other recipes too) and I generally go through a second bucket for the rest of the 8 months of the year.
Cooking details - Plain rolled oats take a looooong time to cook, and that is not a good morning for me. I have found that if I soak the oats overnight, then in the morning they cook up fast and creamy. For our family I put 4 to 4 1/2 cups of rolled oats in a pan and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Cover them with water so that the water is about a 1/2 inch or more above the oats. No exact measurments needed. Put the lid on the pan and leave on the counter to soak overnight. In the morning I add a bit more water (I don't measure water, just add as needed - so that it looks right) and turn the burner on to medium heat. At this time I also add some pure maple syrup and brown sugar to the pan. Sometimes I will add cinnamon too. I stir it every so often. In about 10 minutes it is creamy and hot - Done! Most of the family likes to eat their oatmeal plain; I like a little milk on mine. The picture looks like a lot of milk, but it is really just a bit - there is a full bowl of oatmeal in there.
Everyone likes this and I make it about 4-5 times a week during the winter months. On the other days of the week we will have pancakes or homemade coffee cake, and occasionally eggs and all the fixings. I still haven't made the granola - that is also good to have on hand, though not everyone here likes it. Everyone here does agree that the oatmeal sticks with you until lunch time. A great start to the day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The October Challenge - Part 2

So far we have done fairly well. There was a bit of a misunderstanding of the goal - but that is still fine. My goals are always a lot higher than my ability to attain them. I had originally hoped to keep the whole month to a very low cost - but Dh thought the time frame was for a pay period (15 days). So we are already over what I had hoped we would spend -- but the good news is we are still saving a lot of money. We may continue through the first couple weeks of November - we will see when we get there.

The first two weeks were fairly easy - there was a lot on hand. We still have a lot of food, but it is not as "visible". In place of the boxes you go and grab, I have to actually make the food. The family sees flour and eggs and milk - not the good food it makes up into. And we all have to learn to see snacks as something more than a bucket of ice cream or a bag of chips.

We have lots of meat still in the freezer, and plenty of grains and beans. We have bought produce as needed, but do have a supply of frozen and canned vegetables. We have had:
*hamburgers, frozen corn on the cob (I had two partially used bags of this in the freezer and didn't realize it) and the rest of the frozen french fries.
*homemade beef, rice and vegetable soup with Jiffy corn muffins.
*spaghetti and meat sauce
*oven roasted sirloin steaks in stoneware with mashed potatoes, frozen corn, and canned green beans.
*for snacks I have made pineapple scones, bran muffins, a cake, cookies, fruit smoothies and brownies.

On the menu tomorrow is oatmeal for breakfast (I soak my rolled oats overnight and in the morning they cook up creamy and fast), leftover soup and/or grilled cheese for those home for lunch, and supper is the guys fixing up the last of the boxed stuff in the freezer since The Princess and I have a late night with music lessons and band practice. I will fix a snack for the guys before we leave the house - maybe some date bar cookies or chipless choclate chip cookies.

This has been fun and stretched my creativity in food preparation - and I am getting lots of space freed up and easy access to cleaning cupboards and the refridgerator.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pineapple Scones

I made these twice this past week. They are a delicious comfort food around here - each batch lasted under 24 hours! This is an old family recipe - I know it goes back at least to my maternal great grandmother. I have tweaked the recipe over the years. I like my version best (it is more cookie-like rather than scone), but I will include the original version (the way I received it) as well.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Patti's Pineapple Scones
1 - 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (with all its juice)
4 c. flour (I freshly grind my own whole wheat flour)
5 t. baking powder
1/2 c. sugar (I use cane sugar)
1/2 c. oil (I usually use light olive oil)
2 eggs
I generally break and beat the eggs in the oil and then I just dump all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet (I use a Pampered Chef stoneware cookie sheet.) Cook at 350 for about 15 minutes - they will not get browned, but be firm to the touch. This is actually a doubled recipe - I get about 36-39 scones.
Let them cool and frost.
For frosting I just use a half stick of very soft butter, a box of 10X sugar, 1 t. of vanilla (I make my own) and enough water to make a smooth frosting.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Original Pineapple Scone Recipe
2 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
add 1/4 c. shortening and mix with your fingers. (My mom used Crisco - I suspect that before that it called for lard.)
then -
Drain 1 small can of crushed pineapple (keep the juice) -
Break 1 egg in 1/4 c. of the drained pineapple juice and beat well.
Add to the batter, and then add the pineapple.
350/15 minutes
These are also frosted when cooled.

Monday, October 13, 2008

T-Shirt Dress

This is a little dress for Grammy's Other Angel. It is a thrifed size 4T tee-shirt that I cut off just above the waist. I used a piece of fabric I purchased in a bundle from e-bay to make the skirt portion. In order to stabilize the waist, a piece of leftover hem lace was first sewn along the raw edge of the tee-shirt. You don't have to do that, but I think it will keep it from stretching out along the waist area. I top-stitched the waistline on the bodice portion catching the seam allowance and hem lace in the top-stitching. The bottom hem is a decorative stitch in the same orange thread used in the top-stitching. It fit well and was declared A-OK by the recipient.

I have 3 more shirts ready for their transformation. I want to continue to do them for the granddaughters - and also make some for busy moms in my church that need extra play clothes for their little girls. There are many tutorials on how to do this on the web. I used this one: http://hskubes.blogspot.com/2007/02/t-shirt-dress-how-to.html This is my first try, and I am a slow sewist - but I was able to do this up in about two hours. I think that after I do a couple more I will be able to get it to under an hour each. They are fun and instantly gratifying.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!!

As of Sunday, October 12, my sweetie, The Teacher, is 60 years old. (sigh) Somewhere there is a parade taking place today - some might think it is in honor of Chris Columbus - but we know it is really just for you :)

The Wife

*edit - I added a picture of the cupcakes the Princess made for her Daddy for his birthday. She is our cake decorator!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Cow Bag

Another recent sewing project for the Princess was this shoulder bag. The Princess delights in anything "cow", and found this fabric about a year ago at Walmart. I neglected sewing it up for a long while, but finally this past June it was finished in time for Camp Meeting in GA. I also wrote up a review on it at Pattern Review. You can read it here: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&reviewnum=32846

Monday, October 6, 2008

Deployment Update

The 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (Jacksonville, FL) deployed yesterday to go to Iraq. They left without our #2 son. He was scheduled to go with them right up to a few days before the Deployment Ceremony - instead he helped set up chairs and park cars for the other families sending off their loved ones. We aren't exactly sure why #2 was left on homefront detail, but we are happy he can stay here for now.

Every bus carrying our soldiers was escorted by members of this group - they were great.

(**The links were incorrectly done before - they should work now.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The October Challenge - Week 1

The first week has been pretty easy. We already had a lot of groceries on hand. Some of what I used includes the following:

From the freezer I used: a package of pork loins, chicken, pot pies, finished up two already opened boxes of sausages, and the kids used some frozen pizzas.

From the can foods shelf I used - yams to make a sweet potato casserole and corn nibblets.

From the boxed stuff on hand: Kraft mac and cheese, a cake mix, pancake mix, and some boxed cereal.

Snacks: We had homemade brownies and the cake that the Princess made. We were also using up items we had on hand (I think there were some pudding cups and granola bars around.)

Produce: potatoes and eggs.

We bought: bread (must make some!), milk, and canned crushed pineapple (I want to make pineapple scones.)

Next week should be pretty easy too - crunch time will come after the 15th!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Little Pink Dress

A very simple pattern that I managed to make quite complicated - but it is done, and loved by Grammy's Angel. (Note - the BBQ sauce was not a part of my original design. )

This is a pink striped seersucker fabric. I made it a bit too small around the chest - so added a 1 inch panel down both side seams. I flipped the vertical stripes to horizontal for that strip by using the cross grain - and have to admit that I like that little touch. The pockets have a bit of scrap vintage ribbon across the tops, but it was a great accent. The fabric was thinner than I realized at the first fitting - so I lined it, after the fact (think seam ripper!) That went better than I expected, but challenged me. Vintage Simplicity jiffy pattern #5291

Sewn with much love poured into it.

Homeschooling - Poured Out

*Sometimes people just ask the wrong question. They don't mean to. It is after all the obvious question - but it is still the wrong question. How do you teach the difficult subjects - you know, like algebra and physics? See, they are worried about subjects as if that was the hard part of home education. Well, first there are tutors and group learning and videos and so on. And then - not all students need to do all the "harder" subjects, or even any of the "harder" subjects depending on their life goals.
*But none of that is the really hard part of home education. The really hard part is that you (mom) have to give up yourself. You have to like your children (not just love them), and you have to like being with them - all the time. And then you have to take total responsibility for their education. The real question is, "Are you willing to give up all of yourself and walk a new path that has no mile markers, signposts, or rest stops ?"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ambassadors' Academy

During the last weekend of August, #2 son was able to attend The Ambassadors' Academy in Los Angeles. This training is done through Ray Comfort's ministry called Living Waters.


1. Open air preaching at street corners.

2. Witnessing one-on-one, although in this case the several young people would flock around #2 son and talk with him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The October Challenge

In an effort to pay off a few bills that have crept into our life - we are going to abstain from buying groceries during October (actually starting from now!) We will get the few things of necessity - like TP, fresh produce, and butter - that I can't otherwise obtain - but that is all. The goal is to keep spending under $150 for the month for groceries and supplies.

* I have all the grains and beans I need and a freezer full of meat.

* I am putting a stash of rags out where they are handy instead of paper towels.

* When the boxed cereal runs out - we use the bucket of rolled oats and homemade granola.

* Bread will be homemade - I have buckets of wheat berries ready to grind up.

* All snacks will be homemade - including the pudding.

* I have a stash of canned goods that just need a creative touch.

I will post an update or two as we go along - and then a final report at the end of October. Maybe we can make this a habit! Feel free to add helpful hints of ways you have economized.

As an extra (and because it is the only photo I could grab without assistance!) here is Fluffy, the Princess's kitty.


Wedding Pictures

1.Anna and Josh married.
2.First kiss - ever.
3.Keller parents and Duggar parents bless the newlyweds. I love that Anna is holding her mom's hand.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beginnings - Poured Out and a Wedding

I have been blessed by others many times this weekend. There are many people who have poured themselves into my life, not because I deserved special treatment, but because they love the Lord and obeyed his calling on their lives to reach out to others. Most do not even know how they have blessed me, or met needs only the Lord and I knew about.

Here are a couple:
* Mrs. C. at church just offered Dd (Princess) and I a box of Wilton cake decorating pans and supplies. This is something Princess has long aspired to do. We have completed level 1 (with the bare necessities) and are planning to do level 2 soon. This gift is a treasure that we could never afford to buy for ourselves, but more than that, it is an honor to be entrusted to receive these jewels.

* Mr. S. at church saved up two huge bags of aluminum cans for son #3. In fact several of our friends do this for him. #3 uses the cans to help buy gas for Penny Pingleton (the giant, 25 yo van he drives.) The financial help is great - but more than that it is an investment of encouragement and care into a young man's life.

* ...and then there is "The Wedding".
After losing track of a high school/college friend for 30 some years, I was welcomed as a sister back into her family's life. I have always admired Suzette's humility and meekness, as well as her unfailing love to follow the Lord. But don't be fooled into thinking she is weak; she is strong and faithful in even the smallest things.

Her 20 yo daughter, Anna, just got married this weekend to Josh Duggar. http://www.ja20.com/home.html Every adult member of the Keller and Duggar families (and many of the children) went out of their way to greet each guest personally and thank them for coming to share in the joy of this wedding. But I want to especially note the example of Michelle Duggar that was poured into my life late that Friday evening as the bride and groom whooshed out of the church parking lot in a tin-can-trailing vehicle. Michelle is 6 months pregnant, tired, and just experienced the first of her children getting married. Yet, she never rushed anyone away that wanted to talk with her. She also patiently dealt with her children's needs while talking with guests.

But what I will always see when I think of that night is Michelle's tears as I sought to encourage her by saying that we pray for her and her family - especially that they will remain standing strong and faithful to the ministry they have been given. I felt so small and humbled that my paltry efforts were so appreciated. When someone tells me they are praying for me - how do I react? I can honestly say that never was I moved to tears of appreciation.

Oh, for a softer heart to hear God.