Fun in the Kitchen

So, my Mom got me this incredible cookbook for Christmas – Building the Family Cookbook by Suzanne Fowler.  Not only does it have some great recipes, but it’s a simple way to incorporate a Catholic culture into something we do every day – cook!  Each recipe celebrates a saint’s feast day and gives a short history of the saint’s life and achievements.  Alex loves to ask what we’re going to make each week, and he listens patiently as I explain why we celebrate the life of that particular saint.  I can see this cookbook becoming a staple in our home year after year.
On January 1st we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and for the first time in my life I made a soufflé.  Despite my best attempts to sabotage my own cooking, it came out quite delicious (and fed us for four days).
On January 4th we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton with Colonial Brown Bread.  I haven’t always been the biggest brown bread fan, but this one was slightly sweet, very rich and almost gone in no time.
On January 6th we celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord with a King’s Cake – another first for me.  Alex loved every messy step and although I almost succeeded in burning down the kitchen, we all enjoyed the final results and Daddy got the baby!
The Making of the King’s Cake
 
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On January 17th we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Egypt with a very savory Pork Roast, although I just slightly overcooked it.  I don’t cook pork often!
This past Friday we made Cheese Arrows to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Sebastian and it’s the first recipe that hasn’t turned out well.  Edible, but I’m certain nothing like they were supposed to taste.  We’ll hope we do better with that one next year!
We have some great recipes coming up this week and Alex and Daddy will be particularly excited to see St. John Bosco’s Pizza by the Yard…

H and I Week

We’re a little behind.  We keep getting distracted…by science, by Thomas the Train, by the beautiful weather outside (yes, that’s right – while the rest of the country is experiencing the joys of winter, it’s like spring here)…and by just about everything else.  So we are just finishing up H and I weeks.  Here are a few of the highlights:
Week H
As we continued along the alphabet path, we met Herb Twopence and learned a little about St. Helen.  As our Montessori exercise Alex learned how to wash dishes.  I thought it would only last a few minutes – I’m always surprised by how much children at this age want to help, even if it involves chores.  He loved washing dishes and continued to wash the same plates and cups for over 30 minutes.  It left the kitchen a bit wet and both of us soaked, but it was a great learning experience for him.
For science we learned about what food is for and what we should eat.  We also studied a little bit about light.
For math we played with pattern blocks again and used our 100s chart and color tiles to count by 2s.
For art we learned what art is about and we tried the foil squeezing activity from First Art.
For geography we talked about ice and snow and Antarctica and the Arctic circle.  He had a lot of fun exploring the kinds of animals that live in the cold regions.  We also looked for Hawaii and other words that begin with H on the maps.
Alex made the H is for Holy Spirit Dove craft from Catholic Icing.
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Our reading included:
  • Harry the Dirty Dog
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • How Birds Got Bright Feathers from Stories Around the World
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (we missed this one on G week)
  • Honest Abe from Children’s Book of Heroes
  • Help, Help from Dick & Jane
  • and many others!
Week I
Along the alphabet path this week we met the flower fairy Iris and learned about Saint Ignatius.
For language we spent some time learning signs for I words like ice cream and insects.  Of course we had a Do-a-Dot and he loves tracing letters in the sand so we reviewed the whole alphabet so far.
For practical life we practiced bead stringing and button stringing.  We also read a silly story about using the word please – it must have stuck though because I noticed him using the word please more than usual!
For science we talked more about food and the path it takes through your body.  I get asked this question a lot, so he was really interested in reading about it.  Alex and daddy studied more about light – daddy showed him all the things he can do with a flashlight and how to bend light to make a rainbow.  He’s been asking me every day now if I can bend light.
For geography we discussed deserts and the creatures that live there.  We also looked for Idaho and other I words on the map.
Other reading this week included:
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
  • Hero of Indian Cliff from Children’s Book of Heroes
  • The Ivory Wand from Stories Around the World
  • I Knew You Could
  • and many others!

Purses…

Now that Christmas has come and gone I can finally post a few pictures of some of my purses that were purchased as gifts.  Cousin Cathy lent an artistic hand with her beautiful choices of fabric for some of these.
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my very first zippered coin purse

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I’ve added a new “small” size to my herbal hot/cold packs

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As soon as I download my pictures from the camera, I’ll have a few more of my most recently completed purses and zippered pouches.  Stay tuned…

Introducing Inspired Moments Gifts!

I have been busy.  
Really busy.  
I’m not one to sit around and wait for things to do, so being busy is nothing new to me.  But being this busy is and I’m exhausted.  And elated, because the launch of my new business, Inspired Moments Gifts has gone really well and I’m enjoying the work immensely.  I’ve sold a number of my purses, gift bags and hot/cold therapy packs already and I’ve had a number of requests for more!
Give me just a moment to show off a few of my creations.
Construction of my very first purse – The Hold Everything Wallet
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My second purse, The Everything Bag
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My Fabric Reusable Gift Bags (various sizes and styles)
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My Hot/Cold Herbal Therapy
Made with 100% flax seeds and dried lavender

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My Sunday Afternoon Bag (not so secretly my favorite)
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Most of these items have already sold, but I still have a few available (hint, hint).  I’m already spending my few last available brain cells on ideas for new styles coming up this next year.  I’m absolutely thrilled to admit that I have enough orders right now to keep me busy until the end of this year.
Happy sewing to me!

“C”hallenging “C” Week

Our “C” week was one of those weeks where you find yourself glad you homeschool because nothing works out quite like you plan, no matter how hard you try to keep to a schedule, it just doesn’t happen, and yet, despite it all, your child learns everything you hope for simply because you can make it work however it fits best.
We read about the Columbine Fairy this week and Alex took a particular interest in the lovely illustration in the flower fairies book (first time he’s really looked at the book).  He loved it when we got to the part about this week’s saint, St. Cecelia.  He pronounces it “Ceeeee-sila”!  Funny because I know he can say Cecelia if you ask him.
He now starts his week with a request for his Do-A-Dot art page, even though we don’t actually color it until Thursday.  In fact, he is so insistent that I started printing him out other Do-A-Dot art sheets and he proudly hangs them on the wall with his letters.  Here is this week’s C Do-A-Dot art:
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I found a super-cute Ten Commandment’s Train Set at Christian Preschool Printables that I printed on milk filters for the felt board.  Of course if it goes on the feltboard, Alex loves it:
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We did a Montessori exercise of carrying a chair, which at first I thought would be a little silly since he’s been carrying around his little blue chairs for months.  It was very interesting to see how closely he attempted to lift and move his chair, just like I did, once I actually demonstrated the proper way to carry a chair.  It’s hard sometimes to remember that many of the activities I do around the house without much preparation or thought, are learning tools for little minds.
We did the Catholic Icing craft “C” is for Crucifix.  I found the cross for $1.00 at Michael’s Craft Store and Alex really enjoyed coloring and gluing the picture of Jesus onto the cross:
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We had a great time exploring a few of our new Usborne Books including the Picture Atlas where we learned about the Universe, and the Look Inside Science where we learned a little about what science is.  He did the lessons all over again with Daddy this weekend and without missing a beat he can tell you all the planets, in the correct order.  Maybe he’ll grow up to be an astronomer.
We had some great reads this week which included:
  • Curious George
  • The Cat Club
  • Castles
  • Inside the Castle
  • Clever Aisha (from Stories Around the World)
  • Camping Out (from Farmyard Tales)
  • Caps for Sale
  • Crictor
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (we’ll never get far away from this book)
  • … and the list goes on
We baked chocolate chip cookies, which Alex proudly proclaimed were for “when daddy comes home”.  He waited all afternoon to hear the garage door open so he could share a cookie!
And of course we couldn’t have finished “C” week without a few dinosaurs starting with C…we played the dinosaur fishing game and we haven’t quit since.  My version of the dinosaur fishing game was ridiculously easy – we have a sea creatures puzzle that comes with a wooden fishing pole that has a magnet attached to the end.  We have a dinosaur memory game that has a bunch of small cards with different dinosaurs on them.  Put a paper clip on the cards, take the wooden fishing pole, and Go Fish!
So ends our C week along the alphabet path…it was with great excitement that we opened our box of Scholastic books today, just in time for D week!

Baked Alaska!

I owe you a post all about “C” week, I know.  But I have so many things to blog about and so little time!  Or, really, I just can’t wait to post about my beautiful birthday cake and cake almost always takes precedence over everything else in the world, so here are some yummy shots of my first-ever taste of Baked Alaska. 
Note: I’ve waited thirty-something years for this, but it was worth every bite. I’ll be forever grateful that Dad possesses those cooking skills you need for an endeavor such as this or I’d be waiting another thirty-something years to try it.

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Y.U.M.  Need I say more?  There’s an entire, beautiful half of cake left in my freezer, calling out to me…You’ll have to stare longingly at my cake and wait until tomorrow to learn about our adventures during “C” week.

Birthdays

I love birthdays.
  1. They are a celebration of life.  I love life.
  2. They include my family.  I love my family.
  3. I usually get at least one book.  I love books.  (This year I got two books)
I love birthdays because I don’t have to cook.  There are two days out of the year that I refuse to cook, and my birthday is one of them.  I love my husband and son and I love to cook for them the other 364 days, but on my birthday I take a holiday from cooking.  
Anyhow, here are a few highlights from my day:
This year Mom took Alex and I out to lunch at one of my favorite places to go for good, wholesome, healthy food – Central Market Café.  The sweet potato fries are delicious – and the poor little bird with only one foot that shared with us thought so too!  Here’s happy moment at lunch today (yes, even on my birthday we had some not-s0-happy moments too).  Alex loves to give kisses.

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Dustin and Alex took me to another of my favorite spots in town to get some good down-home southern comfort food for dinner – Hoover’s.  You simply can’t go wrong with chicken fried steak, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and fried okra.  Comfort food for sure!
After dinner we stopped in at the Austin Farmer’s Market at The Triangle and came home with a few things we haven’t had before.  And that’s saying a lot since we try just about everything!  The band playing this evening inspired Alex to start a dance, which in turn inspired every little girl under the age of 5 within the park to join him on stage, which everyone else thought was super-adorable.  Ahhh.  I love that little boy!
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Off the subject of birthdays now and on to other things – Alex’s quilt is finally done and now has taken the place of his Dick & Jane quilt on his bed.  I would never have finished…who am I kidding – I would never have gotten started – if it hadn’t been for Mom and all her patience, time and closet full of material.  It may have taken forever (seriously, this may have been the slowest-made quilt in history) but it was worth every triangle we cut out, and every crooked stitch I sewed.  I’m not sure when I’ll make my next quilt, but I do know it should never be bigger than the one I just made, or there’s a chance it will never be completed.  I am a year older after all, and there isn’t all the time in the world to sew…
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And finally, those long-awaited pictures of the pulley system that Dustin made for Alex are here.  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer!

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(Those little dinosaurs show up EVERYWHERE in this house!  It was only a matter of time before they stopped by to check out the freshly painted wood.)

Ironing? Who does that?

I do apparently, being the Good Wife and all.  Finally, after 12 years of marriage, I ironed my husband’s clothes.  All of them. 
Now I know why I haven’t ironed in 12 years.
But they look pretty spiffy, if I do so say myself.  I even made an attempt at my own homemade spray starch.  Thank goodness I didn’t ruin any clothes.  It may have been good enough for my grandmother, but it wasn’t any good for me.  Maybe I didn’t get the right mix of water and cornstarch.  Maybe you do have to cook it, although many recipes say you don’t.  Maybe my spray bottle didn’t have the right kind of sprayer.  There are so many variables for such a simple recipe (could just be I’m not cut out to make ironing starch – lacking those skills in the kitchen and all).  Turns out properly starching your husband’s work clothes is more complicated than one would think.
Now I know why I haven’t ironed in 12 years.
Then my mom came to the rescue and introduced me to Mary Ellen’s Best Press Clear Starch Alternative.  A little miracle in a bottle.  Smells nice too.  My husband now has an entire closet of dress shirts and dress pants all neatly pressed and ready to wear.
Maybe I will iron again before another 12 years pass.  We’ll see.