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Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking it Easy

I went to bed at about 12:45 last night (this morning). I had a LOVELY Mommy's night out scrapbooking with the girls. There was a snowstorm, so many of the girls chose not to come, but those of us who did come sure had fun! I haven't scrapbooked in about a year and am very behind. I just haven't taken much time for creative things and I think starting again lastnight got me on a roll!
This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago on an excursion to a lake near us. It was a sunny, relatively warm day and the kids had a blast tromping through the sand and perching on the driftwood.
Today I'm going to do a little cooking for the weekend. I'm trying to implement some new diet changes that my doctor wants me to try. That is always interesting and mind bending.
Winter has settled on us again. I don't mind. I'd rather have snow than dreary, dirty mud. I pray you are all having a beautiful day. May you, like I'm trying learn, to count your blessings and see the joy in the small things and beauty in the ordinary! - Nanette

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Its Raining, Its Snowing

We've made it to that time of year when the weather gets a little less predictable. Right now it is snowing. We are going out on a date tonight, so I hope it doesn't get too bad.
I'm waiting for The Wood Artist to get back with the children from music and ice skating lessons, then we will go. I'm thankful for grandparents living close by who can babysit!
I was amused by this photo-op of Laughing Water practicing her guitar. She looks barely awake enough to focus! What a sweet pumpkin!
I'm enjoying this week - no expectations - other than my own, which can get carried away at times. I'm trying to lay low, though.
Mr. Blueberry Eyes started reading lessons a few weeks ago and is doing so well at it. He is more eager than just about any of the students I've had. So fun! His Papa is reading a chapter book to him at night about Kit Carson and he is just eating it up. The Wood Artist was telling me something that Kit did with horses and Mr. Blueberry Eyes corrected him - vigorously stating that it was mules!
Laughing Water is quite nearly done with her goal of earning all of her Adventurer Honors. She is just working on gymnastics. It has been a little hard for her, but she is really digging in and conquering it. Our living room has been turned into her arena as she gets out the mats and tries her dives & rolls and cartwheels and headstands. It is fun to see her blossom in that. I've felt that our homeschool's weakness is P.E. and I really wonder if I should have had her in gymnastics or ballet or something before now. I struggle, though, because music is important to our family and if I add too many classes in this and that, it will be too much for all of us. How does one know where to draw the line - music abilities or physical abilities. That is hard to pick. -Nanette

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kenya or Bust!

Yesterday was the day! It was a day that has been months in coming and was it ever fun! Thirty-three people showed up to help us load 27,000 pounds of books, clothing, garden equipment, toys and stuffed animals for the children at the Fiwagoh Mission Orphanage in Kenya. There were also enough sewing machines, fabric, buttons, and thread to start a whole sewing industry!

The forty-foot container arrived early and one of our friends volunteered to supervise the packing. It turned out that he was
an amazing stacking/packing/cramming magician. I had been
worried that we had so much stuff that we would have to leave some of it. Not so! Indeed, between Pack-Man and the fact that the container sent was one foot taller than I'd been told, we had space left over. This made me really sad, becuase I felt that I hadn't maximixed the load! However, one of my friends, Ms. Resourceful, asked the truckers if they would stop by the Community Service in town. By this time, the truckers were swept into the spirit of the day and heartily agreed - adding that there would be no extra charge! There, we added masses of

bedding, caps, towelling and stuffed animals, bringing the load to nearly full!
The above picture is of one of the new washing machines filled to the brim with shoes. We packed all kinds of nooks and crannies full of good things.
The last thing brought out was an Elmo doll. By this time, the crew was getting a little tired and giddy. Someone attatched him to the wooden crate at the back and we wrote, "Kenya or Bust" on it. We also wrote some other sweet messages to the children on it.
I must say I got a little choked up as the truck pulled away. It is the culmination of a dream and a huge project. I can't wait to get pictures from the other end! I know this will not be the end of my involvement with this mission. I have a passion for their agricultural development and plan to help get a shipment of heirloom seeds to them, as well as finding sponsors for their staff to attend a Kenyan agricultural school. I also hope to help find sponsors for the children. So far, only about 50% of them have sponsors.
But for today, I'm basking in the warmth of having this project done. I plan to relax a lot more and do more fun stuff with my kiddos and their Papa. - Nanette

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Garden Plans


This picture takes me back to a lovely day last summer when the neighbors were unloading a winter's supply of hay for their horses. Mr. Blueberry Eyes and his two friends from across the fence stood in the safety of our garden fence to watch the whole thing. The were so cute- three little towheads in swimming trunks.
Right now my garden is so full of snow that I can't get the gate open. But, today I spent a lot of time laying out on graph paper my plans for our family's 2009 garden. I'm going to try my hand at growing beans for drying this year - like pinto beans. I also want to grow enough tomatoes to make salsa and canned tomatoes to last all winter and enough tomatillos to make a roasted green sauce to last all winter.
This year, with the economic downturn, we have been eating largely from our garden stores and stocked up staples. It was with that knowledge and the idea that I need to grow stuff that I can preserve, that I carefully laid out my garden map.
I've promised some of you that I would post about my new favorite seed catalog. Last year I tried their seed and was thrilled with the robust quality of the plants. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is my new addiction. I've been scouring its pages since around Christmas and will keep referring to it throughout the growing season. Here is the info for it:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
(417) 924-8917
2278 Baker Creek Road
Mansfield, MO 65704
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
On another note, do any of you know if one can use saw dust for cat litter? I have some from The Wood Artist's projects and would love to save some $, but I don't want to have a feline disaster on my hands. I'll look forward to hearing what you have to say. -Nanette

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Perfect Weekend

So, this is how you "lay out" in the North Country! It was a balmy 10 degrees the day we took these pictures - one that made you want to put on that string...snowsuit and bask in the Vitamin D streaming into your eyes!

I went skiing today, too. Only this time, it was by myself, from my front door. It is a beautiful, sunny day and there were a few inches of fresh snow covering the hard snowpack and it was the perfect ski conditions.

I stayed home from church today. Sometimes, the Sabbath should be spent truly resting! Besides, Laughing Water is feeling a little poorly and needed to not spread the "love" around! So, after my ski, we spent the morning snuggling with the Mighty Hunting Hound in our jammies in bed. We passed the time by drooling over seed catalogs and planning a profusion of color for our summer gardens. I spent a long while on the tellie with Granny Flash discussing seeds. It was truly fun.

The Wood Artist presented me (while I was still asleep) with a homemade Valentine's present - a nearly full-length mirror, framed in a wooden piece of an old piano we used to have. He had written sweet nothings on it with my lipstick. It is very beautiful!

I was planning a Valentine lunch, but The Wood Artist and Mr. Blueberry Eyes got invited out to lunch at church, so we'll have that for supper. We may even get to celebrate grandpa's birthday with him if we can get him to answer his cellphone!

Now we are eating salad and Laughing Water keeps stealing snitches of mine. I think it is time to send her for a therapeutic hot bath! - Nanette

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feeling Corny

One of my favorite crops in last summer's garden was my painted mountain corn. It is not a fresh-eating corn. It is a flour corn. It grows in rich hues of deep burgundy, nearly black, purple, yellow, and mauve. My children and Mr. Blueberry Eyes' friends from across the fence took great delight in helping shuck the corn, oohing and aahing over the the colors they discovered.

I laid the cobs out to dry on a stand in my garage and left them there for several weeks. When they were hard and dry, we

twisted our rubber-gloved hands over them to remove the kernels and left them in a bowl.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to making it into cornmeal in my grinder. I put the mill on the "cereal" setting and was delighted with the cornmeal that resulted. It was a pale, cream color with lots of red, purple, and blakish specks in it. It was truly beautiful.
But it was the flavor of the cornbread that excited us most. It had
a yummy, nutty flavor that is unsurpassed.

I held some of my seed out so that I could replant. I'm glad I did. I use a seed catalog that carefully tests their heirloom seed for GMO contamination and I was sad to see that my Painted Mountain corn wasn't in that catalog this year. I'm worried that maybe it didn't survive the testing process.

But, I still have my seed and I can plant lots of it and save my seed from year to year. I decided to test its germination rate so I could know what to expect. Out of 10 kernals, 10 sprouted. That is amazing, considering that much corn has a germination rate of about 30-40%.
It was quite an empowering feeling to make a finished bread product from what we had raised in the garden! Yummy! - Nanette

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Recital

Last Tuesday, Laughing Water had a guitar recital and Mr. Blueberry Eyes had a violin recital. I'm so pleased with their work this year. Laughing Water has always performed well, but Mr. Blueberry eyes is my wild card. He will perform well IF he decides to perform. I had a great deal of anxiety that he would bolt from the room. Knowing what havoc this could create for the teacher if one bolted, I was beside myself. I finally came up with a plan. Bribery and corruption have their place! Since Mr. Blueberry Eyes shares my weakness for Chai tea, I told him that if he played

like a gentleman, he could have a Chai when he got home. Of course, to be fair, I offered the same to Laughing Water. I made it clear that I didn't care if they made mistakes, but they must respect their audience. I couldn't believe it! They did very well. Mr. Blueberry Eyes played with better tone than at home! Whew!
So tonight I'm sitting here in my living room listening to the muffled sounds The Wood Artist and Mr. Blueberry Eyes having their nightly snuggle/chat. Old Faithful is laying on the floor beside me, feet twitching with dreams. The Mighty Hunting Hound just had a run-in with Hong Kong Feline or Chubs Kitty - I'm not sure which. Laughing Water is reading a book in bed. I'm so tired that I feel like I could drift off at any time!
Lastnight, I had a rare treat. My mother took me out to a local gourmet pizza place. They had huge tables in private, comfy booths. While we dined on huge Greek salads and a thin crust Athenian pizza, we laid out our favorite seed catalogs and began to plan, scheme and dream for our summer gardens. What fun! We even had a fun chat with the lovely waitress who brought us our food and Thomas Kemper root beers. She was delightful. Unfortunately, we lost track of time and when we finally realized it was time to leave the establishment, not a diner was left and only a small clean-up crew was in the back. How embarrassing! Graciously, no had said a word! We had SO much fun planning exotic experiments!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Race

I promised I would post again soon, but life has taken me by storm the last few days! I'm almost finished with my Kenyan container, and the paperwork is looming large. One benefit is that I'm learning how to use Excell on Microsoft Word. Less than two weeks and I will be done, done, done with it. It will feel good to know it is on its way. There have been some great things coming in for them, including money for two new, heavy-duty washing machines which I purchased yesterday.

A week or two ago, we had a lot of fun attending a pinewood derby race. The children, and especially The Wood Artist, had worked hard on their cars. Laughing Water designed a ladybug with a tophat and a handlebar mustache made of black wool roving. She named it The Gentleman Bug.
She took first place for quality finish.

Mr. Blueberry Eyes designed a classy little racer driven by a Roman soldier. He took second place for speed. Both were thrilled.

That night was a bitterly cold night, but clear as chrystal, so we took advantage of the night sky to work on their Astronomy Honor. Since I'm not well versed in the stars, we had a friend on the cell phone, talking us through identify stars and constellations from her house in another part of our valley. Another friend helped us identify the very bright light as the planet Venus. It was a gorgeous, fun, and exhausting day.

And, now, I'm inclined to make a promise of more posts soon as I have a great assortment of things to write about, but I'm going to refrain from promising! The Wood Artist has the kids on the ski slope today as they are skiing with the homeschoolers. That enabled me to get my house clean in between helping a student. Next post will be about the recital. Nanette

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