Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Now that my children's (and my own) teeth are coated in sugar, tummies are bloated from Twizzlers and blood sugar levels are out of control it's time to say Good Bye to another year of Halloween and Trick or Treating. This year we hit 7 homes and the pumpkins were full. When I was a kid we got a roll of Smarties or a Dum Dum at each stop. Now they get a juice box, baggie of candy bars and granola bar at each stop. Ray's pumpkin was so heavy he could hardly carry it. I was lucky enough to come away with a pile of Almond Joys, one of my favorites; lucky for me no one else likes them.
UW-Madison is known for their huge Halloween party. This year local officials tamed it slightly. Still there were 230 arrests, a police officer broke his wrist and a total of 30,000 party animals in attendance. The title of the news article included the word calm. How can that be? It's everything but calm in my livingroom after a good night of trick or treating and that's with only 4 kids and 2 adults. There were no arrests, no broken wrists, but still not calm. Our local newspaper reported on this Madison party as well and the last line was a quote by a police officer saying this year was a success. Is this how our society defines success? A party that gets so out of hand that police officers and the mayor have to barracade State St. and charge an admission to 30,000 (down from 100,000 last year) mostly drunk costumed college students? A police officer breaks his wrist in a chase and that's called a success? 230 people were arrested and that's called success? How can 230 people be arrested if it was a calm night of partying? Don't arrests happen when things get out of control? I'm baffled by all of this! Read more here and here.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I blogged about this little girl before and now she's famous. Her mother Dawn Johnson has written a book about her life (all 20 months of it) and you won't believe her story. Grace's scripture is from Ps. 118:17 - I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. Here is a bit from the dust jacket of the newly published book.
- Baby Grace as a brand-new infant was abandoned naked in this field in southern Ethiopia. Hidden under the bush, by this tree, she was found with a noose tied tight around her neck. Baby Grace was left to die in desolation, surrounded by hyenas, wild dogs, and vultures, not to mention the scorching sun.....laid over her fragile, weak body in hopes of her not being found. But God.....she was found gasping for breath, barely alive........
The biggest news ever is that she is a perfectly healthy walking, talking testimony of God's love for each and every human being. Looks like she's getting a brother within the next 6 months, too. This family is incredibly obedient to our Lord and is always working to do His will.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup cranberries, whole or chopped
1 cup diced, peeled apple
1 cup chopped walnuts
Combine ingredients in order listed. Place in greased 9x13 or 10x15 pan. Top with a mixture of 2 T. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes depending on which is used. They are done when the top looks set and dry.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Here's another way we learn at our house. Marbles are named according to the states that were introduced during map skills. Then Grace teaches Lou how to say each name and where that marble should "play" according to where it's located in relation to Wisconsin. This sounds like a confusing game, but for some unknown reason they like to play this.
And another. If you fall in the ditch during cranberry harvest and your hip waders get wet, you'll learn quickly, when you put your boots on the PEET boot dryer, that heat rises.
I would not call us unschoolers, however, I do have unschooling tendencies and the idea is so tempting to me. Children learn so much by living and enjoying life. I learn so much by patiently watching my children live and enjoy life.
- Now that's something to be proud of.
Lou wants Faith to come over to play; I had to explain that Faith doesn't like to come over unless her mother comes along, but we'll be going to her house in November so the moms can quilt and all the kids can play. Her response, "moms, moms, moms....all they do is stuff for themself".
- At that I just bit my lip and continued clearing the table, making bedtime reminders, loading the dishwasher, washing the overflow dishes by hand and switching over the laundry.
How a cranberry grower's wife knows it's harvest time
- she opens up the travel coffee mug to find cranberry leaves mixed in with the remains of the cold coffee
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Everyone is tired. Ice covered the beds until 11 am. A hydraulic pump blew a gasket. They are working until dark. The kids miss having daddy at our regular meal times. The kids miss having regular meal times. Only 8(?) more days of this. DH said it's time for me to start planning an after harvest vacation. YES!!!! Oh, and the sun shone all day. Praise the Lord.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
We have a parish mission this week, Sunday through Tuesday. The topic is healing our relationships with others by healing our relationship with God. I truly yearn to attend. Mass will be at 7:00pm, which will definitely not work for us for many reasons. We tend to eat dinner around 6 pm, we are in the middle of cranberry harvest and our schedule is very unpredictable, I refuse to take 4 children to a mass that interferes with their bedtime routine. I guess I won't be going. DH reminds me that charity begins at home. He doesn't mean we should be self serving, but should take care of the basic needs of those at home, first. Once those needs are met, there will be plenty of opportunities to help and give freely, without feeling guilty about letting down those closest to us. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then everyone at home pays for it as I scurry around trying to take care of home and the obligation, neither being done well. Soon enough, too soon, I'll be able to attend all the missions I want, as my sweet children will grow up and move on. For now, my most important mission: supporting my hardworking husband and caring for my children.
Friday, October 20, 2006
DH sent in a crop estimate earlier in the summer. The crop looked good and the estimate reflected that; late summer fertilizing came and the crop estimate was looking a little over zealous. He flooded each bed and watched as the dark red berries disappeared into the dark acidic water. He was disappointed, the crop that was thought to be there, just wasn't. As he started beating, one by one the cranberries just floated to the top. The beds were 2/3 covered (and in some cases, even more) with beautiful crimson colored fruit. All he could do is think of the loaves and fishes story. He commented that he knew how those 5000 people must of felt when the food never stopped coming. He witnessed the miracle for himself, right in central Wisconsin during cranberry harvest.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
1 bottle of good Vodka
2-3 whole vanilla beans
Place the vanilla beans in the Vodka and let steep. Ready to use when the Vodka smells like strong vanilla.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
1 can cranberry sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix
2/3 cup French dressing
Put chicken, single layer, in baking dish. Heat remaining 3 ingredients and stir until blended; pour over chicken. Cover with foil; bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Then uncover and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with rice.
Cranberry Harvest Day 3
What was once a bounce in their step has now become more of a dragging of the feet. Everyone's muscles are sore and they are wet and cold to the bone. Tomorrow's weather is predicted to be sunny and the crew will have the day off; DH has to beat a couple more beds before trucking can resume. Tonight we might actually get some snow/sleet mix, but it won't be the first time in October that we've had snow. Usually cranberry harvest brings: hot sun, driving winds, pouring rain, unnecessary snow and bone chilling cold all in a two week time span. They say if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin, stick around a few minutes, it'll change.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. oil
grated zest from 1 orange
juice from 1 orange plus water to make 3/4 cup total
1 beaten egg
1 cup cranberries (whole or chopped)
1 cup nuts (I like walnuts)
Sift or fork together first 5 ingredients, set aside. Beat egg and add oil, zest and juice. Stir in dry ingredients. fold in cranberries and nuts. Pour into greased 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Use toothpick to test for doneness.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I think that was a very sweet way of saying that I was a bit crabby last night. Kids who normally have no tact sometimes surprise me with their thoughtful truths.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
5 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon pieces
1 cup sunflower kernels (salted or unsalted)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Combine in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
1 cup salad dressing (Miracle Whip Light is my favorite)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined using a fork or wire whisk. Add dressing to salad mixture and mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Lee: "I didn't think that (Chihuahua) was a dog, I thought it was one of those animals...."
Mom: Interrupting Lee, "You're thinking of a Chincilla."
Lee: ".....that climbed and hugged trees."
DH: "A Koala"
Lee: "Yeah, that's it."
Lou: "I thought that was a food."
DH: "That's a chimichanga."
We all got a good laugh out of this and I just had to preserve this memory by blogging it.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
For the 2nd year in a row I get to listen to this book read aloud by one of my children. Robinson Crusoe (unabridged) is a great story. This version, which is just right for a skilled beginning reader, is a lovely story with simple sketches that have intrigued both of my readers so far. The text is very repetitive, but never boring. The words used are basic words that all children use in their everyday conversations and writing. It helps them to identify these words quickly and gives them a chance to learn to spell these words. After only 4 days of Lee reading this he can already spell the word "water" correctly; I believe because he's seen and read it so many times in the story so far. The so called chapters are only a few paragraphs which, for a young boy who has so many more important things to do, is just right.
Cranberry Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cranberries, whole or sliced
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream together the sugar and butter; add beaten eggs and stir well. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Mix in nuts and cranberries. If using frozen cranberries and butter the batter will be very stiff and hard to spread in the pan, but will work out great. I always use that combo. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly golden and looks set. Let cool completely (in hiding).
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. soft cream cheese
1/4 cup soft butter
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat cheese and butter, add vanilla and milk. Gradually mix in sugar. Spread over cooled cranberry bars.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Although this photo isn't from our cranberry harvest, it's from our neck of the woods and was featured in our local newspaper last week. This is what I see for two weeks every October. It's a beautiful sight. Cranberry marsh tours are available in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon and maybe Michigan. Check it out. It's a great idea for a homeschool tour. Any fruit or vegetable harvest can be interesting.
2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups cranberries, sliced or whole
Beat well first 3 ingredients, add milk and stir. Sift together dry ingr. and add to liquid mixture. Stir in cranberries. Place into greased 9 inch pan and bake at 375 degrees, 35 - 45 minutes. Check for doneness using the toothpick method.
Cook slowly in double boiler or microwave until sugar dissolves, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup cream. This sauce does not thicken. Serve warm over cranberry cake.
This recipe came from my mother-in-law. She was a great cook and this is one of my husband's favorites. He likes to taste the tartness of the cranberry so I leave the berries whole and we do not serve with butter sauce unless having company.
Monday, October 9, 2006
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups cranberries
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Boil hard 5 minutes. Add cranberries; boil gently for 15 minutes, stirring ocassionally. For whole berry sauce, pour directly into a mold or glass bowl. Cover loosely and refrigerate until jelled (at least 4 hours). Whole berry sauce may also be served warm. For strained sauce (no skins and few seeds), press through a mesh strainer with the back of a wooden spoon. Or my favorite way to do this is to triple the recipe and then strain using my Back to Basics food mill with the berry screen. I pour the cranberries into the hopper and turn the handle until all the sauce has come through. Stir and pour into hot sterilized jars pint jars and seal. Invert for 5 minutes. Turn upright and listen for lids to seal.
For tips on find canning jars or other canning info check out Thrifty Homeschooler.
We took in two deer to be processed. We'll be getting back italian sausage links, hot italian sausage links, bratwurst patties, garlic summer sausage and breakfast links. What a blessing it was for DH to get two deer in one night. The meat is always welcome when the freezer gets low. We'll cut the gun deer into steaks, stew meat, roasts and hamburger, that's assuming we get deer during the gun deer hunt.
The Civil War was the topic for our "Today's Lesson". What I thought would take 3 weeks ended up taking about 6 weeks. We read about the events leading to the war, President Abe Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant and a number of historical fiction picture books. The kids colored pictures of soldiers, drummer boys and nurses; labeled a map of the United States and identified the free and slave states. We watched two great animated videos, one on Abe Lincoln, the other about Harriet Tubman. We made hardtack and gingerbread. Grace made a paper mache project and Lee made a parachute; both of these ideas came from a Civil War activity book. Later today they are going to draw and color flags while I finish reading one last book to them. I've had a great time learning about the Civil War, it seems like I'm learning most of it for the first time, even though I'm a college graduate. That's not too surprising, though.
Today we made pasties for lunch. They are cooling now and making the whole house smell yummy. The basic recipe is: 2 cups rutabaga, 2 cups potato, 1 cup onion, 1 lb. ground meat and lots of pie crust. We used seasoned pork sausage and homemade pie crust (enough for 2 double crust pies). Each one of us made our own and suited it to our taste and hunger. Now for the test; time to ring the dinner bell.