Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring is Here!

It seems so strange to be writing my first spring post on the last day of March, but until recently even the pretty days have required long sleeves and jackets!  I know downgrading to jackets means spring in many places, but here in southeast AR, it doesn’t feel like spring until the sleeves can be short.  And that usually happens long before the end of March!! 
But, I am definitely not complaining.  I am not a summer gal – all of the other seasons are fine with me.  Delaying spring just a bit means delaying summer just a bit.
But we still do enjoy the spring!
The kids have thoroughly enjoyed being outside.  They’ve spent a good deal of time either in our backyard or on the church playground over the past few days.  Yay for sunshine!
And, of course, there’s their all-time favorite enjoyment…school outside!!Outside school
Much more fun than school inside on a cold, rainy day, wouldn’t you agree?  (Okay, so I guess that’s pretty fun, too – at least by the looks on their faces!)
School Olivia has designated a small sketch pad for drawing as much new growth as she can.  Today she combined her sketching with another favorite past-time – tree climbing!
Liv in a tree
Yes, we are excited about spring.  Oh, and spring also means that we get to start our second school growing experiment!  We’ve delayed our corn and bean growing for a few weeks waiting for a combination of warmer weather and uninterrupted weeks.  Next week we’ll get all of the prep work done, and a week from Friday we’ll expose our seeds to water!  I’m sure we’ll have a lot to share on that in the coming weeks!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Random Pictures

There's not much news of late, which is not a bad thing at all!  It's nice to have a dull day or two now and then!

On Saturday we went to Monroe to do some Sam's shopping and wish Doug's mom a happy birthday.  I forgot the camera, so I have no pictures, but we had a great visit.  We enjoyed lunch and then did a bit more shopping with Doug's mom before heading home.  The girls wore Grandma's Red Hat hats around all day and loved it!  They were so cute - yep, I regretted the absence of the camera.

So, since I don't have pictures of our sillies in Grandma's hats, instead I'll share a few random pictures.

Here's Angie doing some after-school reading on Benjamin Franklin.  Why she chose the dining room floor, I'll never know!  
This was taken after we got home from being gone for several days.  Mina missed Livie so much - she plopped down in Livie's lap and didn't let her up for quite some time!
Early morning peekaboos.
And this is from today.  We've never actually seen a spider's egg.  I've seen egg sacs before, but in each of the ones I've opened (out of curiosity), the little spiders have already been well-formed.  Well, today we found a dying spider on the underside of the seat of Steven's three-wheeler.  She had apparently recently finished her egg sac and had very little energy left.  Not wanting a whole bunch of little spiders running around, I reached in with a stick to go ahead and kill her and then intended to burn the egg sac.  As I reached in, the egg sac burst open exposing a bunch of little translucent balls.
Typically I burn egg sacs, just to be sure no baby spiders survive (no, I don't like spiders).  Out of curiosity, I held the lighter to the little eggs to see what would happen if I tried to burn them.  They exploded!  We all gathered round as I put the flame to the little eggs.  It sounded like miniature popcorn popping! 

Yes, I admit it.  Sometimes I get pleasure from strange things, and I'm teaching my children to do the same.  It's so much fun!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easy Quiche Recipe

I've mentioned quiche a couple of times in posts this week, so I thought I'd go ahead and share that recipe.  Quiche is a huge favorite in our house.  Angie has requested it as her birthday dinner for the past three years.  This week I decided that she needed to learn how to make it.  So, here's the recipe for the one we made this week and a few tips for adapting it. 

Chicken & Bacon Quiche
Ingredients:
Pie crust
Precooked chicken, cubed or pulled, about a cup to a cup and a half
Precooked bacon, approx. 6 slices, crumbled
1/2 cup light cream or evaporated milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 eggs
grated cheddar

Directions:
Lay pie crust into pie pan or quiche plate. 


Use a fork to score the crust. 


Sprinkle meat into crust.


Sprinkle enough grated cheese to cover the meat.  


Combine cream, soup, and eggs in medium mixing bowl and blend well. 
The blending can be done by hand, but we like to use a mixer or immersion blender to get the creamiest blend (Angie loved the blender!).


 Pour egg mixture over meat and cheese, allowing mixture to fill the cracks and crevices in the meat and cheese.


Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and eggs are cooked through.  (We were so excited to get our to the table that I forgot to take a "completed" picture, but it's pretty easy to determine doneness on a quiche.)

Adaptations & Suggestions:
  • We used to use store-bought pie crusts, but I finally got to the point that my homemade crusts were turning out decently. So, I started making them in bulk, rolling them in wax paper, and storing them in the freezer.  When I need one, I just pull it out and let it thaw for an hour or so before using it. 
  • Almost anything that goes with eggs can be used as the filling.  We've done breakfast quiche with sausage and/or bacon.  We've had ham and broccoli in our quiche for years.  I've also seen suggestions of various other veggies - corn, peas, carrots, spinach (best to use lightly cooked fresh spinach leaves), asparagus, etc.  I've seen shrimp, crab, and other seafoods recommended as well.  We've also done pork chop.  Also, play with the cheese types for flavor variety - or leave off the cheese. 
  • The can of soup is not essential - you can increase the cream to 1 cup and leave off the soup.  The soup just adds a creamier texture.  Any cream soup that goes with your fillings will work.  Cheddar cheese soup also works to give it both the creamier texture and a cheesier flavor. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just When I Need It

There are some days I just don’t want to homeschool.  I have a list of other things that I want to do, if only I didn’t have to teach the kids.  Not just short-term chores that I could take a day or two an accomplish, but life goals. 

I used to feel guilty about such feelings, but I don’t anymore.  It doesn’t do any good to feel guilty and press them down.  It’s better to just admit them and pray through them.  And God beautifully encourages me each and every time.

This week – before it was even two days old – has proven to be the week of encouragement. 
It started early in the school day Monday.  I realized we were on spelling lesson 106, so I told the girls we had 74 days of school work left in the year.  (We’re on a year-round schedule, aiming for an end of July completion with a few scheduled breaks in the middle, so we’re right on target.)  They got so excited!  Olivia exclaimed, “That means only 74 school days until I can start 4th grade!”  And Angela followed with, “And I can start 2nd grade!”  I chuckled and asked them if they didn’t want a break from school.  Their answer?  “Well, I guess we could take a break, if you wanted to.” 

Then came yesterday.  Not to divulge family secrets or anything, but  bedwetting is hereditary on my side of the family.  And, all three of our kids deal with it.  Olivia was almost five before she could stay dry all night.  Angela is 6 1/2 and just now beginning to see progress.  We told her we would reward her for five dry nights in a row.  The last time she managed that streak, she was ecstatic with quiche for lunch as her reward.  This morning marked a new five-night streak.  I told her I was going to need to think through a reward because I hadn’t been diligent to have one ready.  She said, “I think my reward should be to get to do extra history today!”  What?!!  That’s a reward?!


It was a reward for me!  My children love to learn!  And, no matter how much I struggle through being their teacher, I get the incredible blessing of being a part of that learning.  And that, my friends, is enough to remind me that there is nothing I could be doing right now that could trump being their teacher.

And, by the way, Angie got a quiche for lunch yesterday.  She has no idea how easy she is to reward! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simple Woman’s Daybook

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Outside my window...beautiful, sunny spring weather.
I am thinking...about how to structure this day and make it a productive one.


I am thankful for...creative ideas that God bestows upon me. I can never come up with anything creative and successful until I seek the Lord's guidance. But, once I do seek His help, the ideas come flowing!


I am wearing...denim capris (yay!), ¾ sleeved pink and white flowered top, sandals.

I am creating...Easter skirts for myself and the girls, and trying to mentally process an adaptation to a shoe pouch pattern – trying to rework it to fit into the girls' closet.

I am remembering...to rejoice.


I am going...to fill out an application for seminary soon – hopefully this week.

I am reading...nothing new this week – must finish Here Burns My Candle this week and start a biography of Isaac Newton.

I am hoping...that it does work out financially and time-wise for me to pursue my Masters alongside Doug while still being diligent to teach my children.

I am hearing...Olivia moving chairs in the dining room so she can sweep; Steven playing the keyboard behind me, creating a cacophony of music as it clashes with the music I have going in iTunes. I just might have to turn off iTunes for a bit! :-)

On my mind...adoption.
From the learning rooms...preparing for our newest growing experiments with corn and beans, now that the weather is warming up; biographies of Eli Whitney and Martha Washington; the Crow Indians; the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe; about to start a bigger memorization challenge – Olivia has chosen excerpts from “The Song of Hiawatha” and Angela has chosen “Paul Revere's Ride.”
From the kitchen...quiche at the request of my lovely princesses – planning to have them make it today – and the need to plan out the menu for the rest of the week.

Around the house...lots of laundry to be caught up on.
One of my favorite things...a love for learning.

A few plans for the rest of the week...a visit from my sister today, church tomorrow, a couple of days to just be home, and then a Saturday trip to Monroe.

A picture worth sharing...it’s not quite as loving as it looks – Steven’s intention was to squish his sister, not snuggle with her!  And you can tell how much she minded! 

Snuggles & Squishes

Monday, March 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I fully intended to have this ready to post on Friday.  But, Doug and I went on a marriage retreat last weekend and I just didn't get it done with everything else I had to get ready.  So, there just might be two recipes this week - we'll see if I actually get a second one done Thursday or Friday!

Anyway, this recipe is one of two granola bar recipes that our family enjoys.  These granola bars resemble a chewy granola bar.  Sometime within the next few weeks I'll share the recipe that is more similar to the Quaker Oats breakfast bars.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter (we like to use half crunchy and half creamy)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
3 cups oats (either quick oats or regular can be used, depending on the texture you desire)
1/4 cup raisins, mini chocolate chips, or for a more blended chocolate flavor just chop up some dark baking chocolate

Combine butter, honey, and peanut butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a rolling boil and continue boiling for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in oats, then chocolate or raisins.  Press into 8x8 pan. Let mixture set until firm, but not hard.  Cut into 16 bars, then chill in pan until completely set.  Store in an airtight container.

Our additional tips:

  • Line the pan with wax paper, letting the ends of the paper slightly overlap the edge of the pan.  This makes for easy removal and cleanup.
  • We usually double the recipe and use a jelly roll pan - they get eaten too quickly in our house to just do one batch at a time!
  • If the mixture seems too dry and crumbly as it sets, it makes a great granola!  Suggestions for preventing dry, crumbly bars: moisten the oats with a couple Tbs of water before stirring them in; make sure to cook over medium heat, even if it seems to take forever for the mixture to come to a boil; if the mixture begins to seem even the least bit stringy, remove it from the heat immediately and mix in the oats. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Attire

It's that time of year again!  Actually, it's later than usual.  Typically "that time of year" comes in the middle of February because we're starting to see some spring weather and need the short sleeves and capris.  But not this year!  Even today - the latter half of March - I'm in long sleeves and feel a bit chilly!  I love it!

But, knowing that spring weather really is right around the corner (this is the south - it will come overnight and catch up by surprise!), I took the opportunity to go ahead and get the clothes sorted.  I started with Steven's last weekend.  It just thrills me to see how God has provided for our little boy!  He had just what he needed - and a lot of what he loved.  I wish I could share with you my mental picture of his face when he saw the awesome Thomas the Tank Engine shirt!

This week I've worked on the girls' stuff a little bit each day.  We're trying to truly keep out only what they will wear and what has something to match.  So, the sorting and mating of things is taking a bit of time.  Also, their drawers are narrow and deep, and it's been really hard for them to keep everything neat and to actually know what they have.  So, the reorganization has added extra time to the process. 

On Tuesday we had the massive "try-on" day.  The girls were downright goofy!!  We were all rolling with laughter, trying our hardest not to wake Steven up early from his nap. 
We were so blessed once again with an absolutely perfect selection of clothes.  Just what they both needed and wanted. 

Once Steven did get up from his nap, he was exceedingly helpful as well.  After all, someone had to hold down the drawers while they were empty and waiting to be refilled!  With the help of his puppy and silkies, Steven managed the job quite well!
I confess that there are some days I wish I could just go shopping for the kids and buy them cute things, but that's just because the restless bug hits and I want to spend money - not because they don't have an amazing supply of clothes.  There can be no greater provider of things like their clothing than God.  He just amazes me every season with the perfection of what He has led people to hand down to us.  The clothes match my kids' personalities and physiques, and there is always more than enough.  No amount of shopping could ever produce what we are just given. 

Of course, that's not to say that I don't still pull out the sewing machine and the fun Razorback material and make sure my kids are appropriately outfitted each year with that one extra and very necessary outfit! 

Thank You, Lord, once again for perfect provision!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Simple Woman’s Daybook

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, March 1, 2010

Outside my window...sometimes sun, sometimes clouds – overall a very pretty spring day. It's nice to have spring actually be cool rather than going from a cool winter to a warm spring. I could get used to this!
I am thinking...about the girls' clothes and their current storage system which just doesn't work all that well. Contemplating how to improve upon it.
I am thankful for...hand-me-downs and that Friday's court case was canceled so that we know Doug will not have to report for jury duty on Friday.
I am wearing...dark jeans, a white lace-trimmed tank top, a long blue chenille cardigan, and sandals. I was wearing the construction paper crown the girls made for my birthday, but it fell off.

I am creating...well, actually just assembling someone else's creation. I have a skirt and an every day sundress in the works for me. I'm contemplating matching skirts for myself and the girls from some gorgeous pink flowered material.

I am remembering...Olivia being little enough to wear some of the beautiful summer dresses we're finally passing on this season – and noticing how incredibly grown up she seems now, especially in comparison.
I am going...nowhere today. Hopefully that means we'll get to both finish school and finish the girls' clothes today.
I am reading...the same books I was reading last week, with the exception of Start Here, which I finished on Sunday.

I am hoping...that Doug is on tomorrow's jury so he doesn't have to report again on Thursday but is able to instead get in a full day of work.

I am hearing...Olivia explain something to Steven, Angela playing with a tea set in the back room, chairs being moved in the dining room so Olivia can sweep.
On my mind...several friends in need of prayer right now.
From the learning rooms...Martha Washington, Osage Indians, beginning a long memorization project (the girls chose two different projects for the first time ever), a variety of science topics.
Pondering these words...

“If our God is the same as the God of the New Testament believers, how can we justify ourselves in resting content with an experience of communion with him, and a level of Christian conduct, that falls so far below theirs? If God is the same, this is not an issue any one of us can evade.” J.I. Packer, from Knowing God

From the kitchen...quiche – trying a new “flavor” - chicken and bacon instead of our usual ham and broccoli.

One of my favorite things...things that are new and fresh.

A few plans for the rest of the week...the chance to go on a marriage retreat with Doug Friday and Saturday! It's specifically for pastors & wives, and we are so incredibly excited!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Delights

There are times when it seems that my kids will just never learn.  I teach them and tell them the same things over and over again, sometimes in patiences, other times not so much.  Yet, the next day, next hour, or even next five minutes I have to tell them all over again as if they'd never heard it before!

Naptime with Steven has fallen into that category.  Steven is a typical three-year-old who doesn't like naptime.  Unfortunately, he still needs it - not every day, but at least three or four days a week.  Every time I tell him that it is naptime, he bursts into tears letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that he does not want to take a nap. 

Steven likes it when I sing to him as I'm putting him down for his nap, but lately his naptime tantrums have gotten so bad that a couple of weeks ago I started telling him I couldn't sing to him any more if he wasn't willing to go to bed cheerfully.  Of course, that just broke his poor little heart - not to mention mine! - but I stood firm.  I knew I had to break the crying at some point.  I had let it go on too long as it was.  So, each day I'd tell him it was time for his nap, he would start his crying, and I would remind him that I couldn't sing to him because of his crying. 

Until today...

As naptime approached, I asked Olivia to pull out Steven's clean sheets (it's bed-changing day) so I could make his bed.  As I was making his bed, I noticed he asked me a couple of times if it was naptime yet.  That's not untypical - he wants to know exactly when his torture is to begin.  I told him that it wasn't quite time, so he went back to playing with his cars in his sisters' room. When I finally did tell him naptime had arrived, I braced myself for the tears.  Instead, he jumped up, ran to the doorway, and said, "Yes, ma'am!" in the most cheerful little voice.  I dropped the pillow I was casing, turned, and just stared at him in shock!  Just to reinforce the attitude adjustment, he emphatically - and still very happily - said, "Yes, ma'am!" one more time and then grinned from ear to ear.  I scooped him up in a huge bear hug, and he squeezed back as hard as he could.  He was so proud of himself!  And I was incredibly proud of him!  When I put him down, he quickly went to potty without being asked and came right back to the room.  We sang together while I gathered his lovies, and then I "flew" him into his bed. 

It's moments like these - moments of realizing that months and even years of persistence does pay off - that I feel the most immense joys in parenting.  Sometimes it's something as simple as a nap or mealtime victory.  Other times it's a huge spiritual mile-marker.  Either way, times like these remind me that I am making a difference - I am doing something useful.  And, these precious children will be the evidence of that.  Thank You, Lord, for confirmations of progress!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flour Tortillas

Our recipe for this week is one the kids really can make on their own.  I help because it still does take a while for the girls to exert enough pressure to rolls the tortillas out thin enough.  

FLOUR TORTILLAS

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4-6 Tbs shortening
~1 1/4 cups warm water**

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.(This is Steven's specialty!)
Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives.  Add water a little at a time to form soft, non-sticky dough.  Knead dough for 3-5 minutes.  Divide dough into 12 balls for large tortillas or 24 balls for smaller (soft taco size) tortillas.  Let rest for at least 10 minutes. (The girls and I take turns cutting in the shortening and we all form the balls.)

Roll each ball out on a well floured surface.  Roll the balls out as thin as possible - they should be slightly transparent but still able to hold together. (Angie and I take this job.)
There are several ways to cook the tortillas.  We like to use the griddle. A dry skillet warmed over medium heat works well, too.  Some experimentation might be necessary to get the right temperature.  The goal is to cook the tortilla about 5-10 seconds on each side, producing nice, brown speckles on the surface of the tortilla in that amount of time.  Adjust heat settings as necessary to reach that heat balance.  It is okay to take longer or less time to cook - medium heating just produces the best results.  (Olivia is our master tortilla cook.)
Lay out two clean dishtowels, one on top of the other.  As soon as you pull each tortilla off the heat, place it between the towels, stacking the tortillas on top of each other.  This keeps them soft while they wait to be consumed or bagged.

Serve warm or store in an air-tight container or bag. 

*You can use white flour, whole wheat flour, or anything in between!  Wheat flour does change the texture of the tortillas, so our recommendation is to start with a 2:1 ratio of white to wheat flour and then increasing the amount of wheat flour in subsequent batches until you find your favorite ratio.
**You will probably not need all of the water with white flour.  If you use only wheat flour, you might actually need a good bit more water than this.  The goal is for all of the flour to be absorbed and the dough to be very manageable without being sticky.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Family

Last Thursday was another extended family day.  We were headed up to Judsonia for one last visit with Mom and Dad before they returned to Jordan on Saturday.  But, on the way we got to make a very, very special stop.  We finally got to meet Abigail after six weeks of waiting!!  It's crazy that they are only two hours away, but it took us six weeks to work out the visit.  We were so excited!  Everyone (except Steven) took turns holding her...
Okay, so maybe we're a little biased, but we thinks she's absolutely precious!

Then we headed on to Judsonia.  Tim and DeAnn were there as well, so we had a lot of fun with them, Mom and Dad, and my grandparents.

Tim was messing with an old typewriter when we got there.  Olivia was immediately fascinated!
Of course, then Angie and Steven had to have their turns with Uncle Tim and the typewriter!
(Aren't they handsome?)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Welcome Jack!

I just looked at my stash of pictures and realized there are several things I haven’t blogged about yet!  Things like meeting sweet little Abigail for the first time.  Things like our last visit with my parents.  So, I’ll definitely have to get busy over the next few days.  (That’s what I get for taking a few days off from this blog!)

But first, I must introduce you to our new sweetie, Colby Jack.Jack 1Cats, as a general rule, are not sweet and lovable.  But, there are occasionally those cats who really do love people.  They are rare, and they usually have to just happen along.  That is what happened with Colby Jack, an orange and white stray who wandered around my parents’ house.  We tried for two months to not bring him home, but we finally just could not resist any longer – especially considering that our other two cats are far from lovable!Jack 2 When we first got him home, he was not a well cat, and we were concerned about his recovery for a few days.  But, he finally began to perk up after a couple of days.  He still spends most of his time on the couch, but now he does it because he’s a typical lazy cat, not because he’s still sick.  We’re working now to fatten him up a bit – to get his body size to match that of his head and feet!.Jack 3Smokey and Mina were not at all happy with the new addition, and went on a hunger strike for a couple of days.  They were terrified of Jack, even though he did nothing other than lie on the couch for the first couple of days.  He didn’t even eat as he was trying to get well!  They’re finally to the point of resigning themselves to his presence – now they just avoid him. Jack 4 He loves to be loved on, obviously!  When we show any indication that we’re going to go pet him, he immediately rolls over onto his back and sticks his diminutive belly in the air to be rubbed. 

It’s definitely fun to have a sweet cat around the house!!  Maybe he’ll rub off on the other two…but I’m not holding my breath.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Monday, March 8, 2010

Outside my window...I have no idea, other than that it is dark – I am sitting in a little cubby kitchen area of a hotel room and can't see out the window!


I am thinking...about seminary and wondering exactly how everything is going to play out over the next few years to allow Doug to finish his Mdiv. But not worrying, because God led us here and He'll be faithful!


I am thankful for...the decision to wear comfortable clothes today since I forgot my pajamas!


I am wearing...lightweight black knit pants and a black cami.

I am remembering...our time living here in the Memphis area. There was much frustration, and I don't like this city, but there was also much good – especially in the way of friendships. Good memories.


I am going...to bed soon and then to more activities at the seminary tomorrow.


I am reading...far more books at one time than is characteristic for me. For review, Start Here by Alex & Brett Harris and Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs; for Acteens, Growing Godly Women by Donna Greene and A Young Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George; and just because I want to, Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I am hearing...sleeping children and the sitcom we're playing to wind down.


From the learning rooms...squeezing in whatever we can in the midst of everything else going on this week.


From the kitchen...nothing – it's dining out until we get home tomorrow night!

Around the house...a great need of cleaning.


One of my favorite things...spending time with my wonderful hubby.

A few plans for the rest of the week...house cleaning, going through spring clothes, grocery shopping.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Honey Wheat Bread

Family time in the kitchen is a big deal to us, but I am realizing how little I post about it!  Maybe because I have so few pictures – we are all enjoying ourselves in the actual cooking, and I don’t pull out the camera much.  So, I’m going to resolve this issue by trying to get back to posting recipes regularly – hopefully once a week. 

My most requested recipe is the one I use for our bread, so I thought I’d share that one first!

I use an adaptation of the Honey Wheat Bread recipe on the back of the whole wheat flour bag.  Here’s my adaptation:

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cups white flour

2 pkg (4 1/2 tsp) Rapid Rise or Bread Machine yeast

2 1/2 tsp salt

4 Tbs dough enhancer

1/2 cup honey

4 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces

2 1/4 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.  Add honey and butter.  While beginning to stir in honey and butter, slowly add water.  Continue mixing and adding water little by little until a slightly sticky dough is formed.  (For stand mixer,use the dough hook,  turn the mixer on to speed 2 and add the water slowly.)  You might not use all of the water, but a slightly sticky dough makes for softer bread. 

Once a nice dough has formed, knead the dough in the stand mixer on speed 2 for at 2-4 minutes or by hand 7-10 minutes until dough is smooth.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and let rest for ten minutes.  While the dough is resting, grease three loaf pans.  Divide the dough into three balls.  Roll the balls out into rectangles with the width of the rectangle roughly matching the length of the loaf pan.  Roll each rectangle up from like a jelly roll, sealing the seam and ends.  Place the rolls seam-side down in the loaf pans.  Let rise in a warm location (I use the oven with the light on, especially during the winter) for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size. 

Bake 25 minutes in 375 degree oven, or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Turn loaves immediately out of pans onto wire racks to cool. 

Be warned – fresh loaves of bread are very tempting and will bring hungry mouths running!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Upward

Our Upward Basketball season ended this Monday night with our final awards ceremony. 

Here are the Rockets!  This is the team I coached with the wonderful assistance of my amazing hubby.  Isn’t it a good looking team?

Upward 3 And, not to be biased or anything, but here are my favorite players ready to play!

Game Time

I got a lot more shots of Liv’s team (the Spurs) than my own – maybe because I was free to take pictures instead of having to actually coach!  Here’s part of her team.

Liv's Team 2  Liv's Team 1 Liv PlayingAnd then there was poor little Steven.  He was too young to play on a team, but he was such an incredibly good boy!!  Here he was patiently watching us – I think this was at a practice.

Upward 2We are glad it’s over, but we did have fun.  Angela wants to be a cheerleader next year, but Olivia just might want to play again.  She had an awesome coach who really, really worked with her this season!  We are so thankful for him!  Olivia learned a lot. 

I hope that my team learned even half as much as Olivia did!  

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For today, March 2, 2010


Outside my window...cloudy, cold, and very breezy. I've heard the beautiful sound of my wind chimes all day – that has been sweet.


I am thinking...about how much I have been able to blog lately, especially on this blog. It's interesting how sometimes there seems to be an abundance of blog material while other weeks go by with little or none. Of course, opportunity to blog is also a great consideration!


I am thankful for...the blessing of homeschooling and the fact that we will accomplish everything we need to through the course of this year while taking rest days when needed, taking trips when needed and desired, and having a great deal of fun through the course of it all.


From the learning rooms...George Washington, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution; a science switch-a-roo – waiting for warmer weather for our corn and bean growing experiments and focusing on ecology for a few days instead; finally turning Olivia's completed research paper into a presentable form (it has been tabled for a few weeks); reading Toliver's Secret.


From the kitchen...discovering all of the ways we can use our new soft pretzel recipe . (Yes, I will be sharing the recipe soon, once we're finished with a few more experiments.)


I am wearing...jeans, a purple sweatshirt, and tennis shoes; hair down.


I am creating...a Mary Kay order and a gift for niece Abigail who we hope to finally meet on Thursday!


I am going...nowhere today, and it feels nice. Much “going” is anticipated over the coming week, so today is a blessing.


I am reading...Growing Godly Women by Donna Greene


I am hoping...for a smooth transition back into our walking routine – it's been a long time.


I am hearing...the victorious meow of a cat who has conquered an evil pencil, children playing (pretending they are announcing basketball games), the aforementioned chimes, the heater.


Around the house...school books for next year awaiting my attention.


One of my favorite things...watching Angela and Steven in their enjoyment of one another. There was a time when the two of them did not get along well at all!


A few plans for the rest of the week: Wednesday – school at church; Thursday – one last visit with my parents before they return to Jordan; Friday – a chance to get a few things done at home; Saturday – Doug to church for men's work day, me at home packing for a very quick trip to Memphis next week; Sunday – starting a new Bible study with the Acteens (I'm so incredibly excited!); Monday & Tuesday – celebrating my birthday on the road to Memphis; attending preview day at the seminary while trying to finalize anything Doug needs to be re-enrolled (and no, dear Memphis area friends, unfortunately it's not a visiting trip – we'll wave at you in much love while passing through!).


A picture worth sharing...

A new member of the family! Jack will be returning home with us on Thursday. (shhhh...don't tell the kids – they don't know yet!)


Monday, March 1, 2010

Preschool Excitement

I think I've confessed before that preschool has not been easy for me.  I am discovering more and more as each year passes just how spoiled I was by our time at MDO.  The girls were taught so very much every Monday and Thursday, and it really satisfied their hunger for learning.  Without MDO, it's a little more challenging to satisfy Steven's desire to learn.  Teaching a preschooler is time-consuming, and it's hard to carve out enough time to satisfy him while still successfully teaching the girls.  I run across so many homeschooling parents who have the exact same struggle, so it is definitely helpful to know I'm not alone!

Over the past few months, Steven has wanted one thing - to have "independent work" like his big sisters, namely math and writing.  A couple of weeks ago I started handing him coloring sheets.  He has always bucked against coloring objects.  He has just wanted to draw freely.  But, I coaxed him into working on these letter pages.  I was exceedingly proud of his first conscious attempts to stay inside the lines! (And no, there was no help from Mommy.)
 
 

Then, our books began arriving, including two brand new books for Steven.  Oh, was he ever excited!  I did a great deal of research and had decided to go with the preschool books in the Explode the Code and Wordly Wise series - and then I made a sudden switch. 

First, I found a Brain Quest workbook for preschoolers.  It was labeled for 4-5 year olds, but several of the reviews said there were activities that could be begun with 3 year olds.  It looked so good, and it was inexpensive, so I ordered it.

Steven and I sat on the couch the day it arrived and thumbed through it, page by page.  He was thrilled, and so was I!  It is perfect, and has activities he can do now, but also activities that will keep him challenged until we start KG, a year and a half from now.  It covers phonics, a variety of math concepts, some science, and some general life information.  Some of the activities are independent, and some will require help.  He is so proud of his big workbook!

The other book I ended up with was the Handwriting Without Tears preschool book.  We use HWT for the older girls, having gotten started with it because of the rave reviews over the ease of teaching left-handed students to write well.  I had initially thought there was no real reason to start so early on HWT with Steven, but then I had a chance to flip through the workbook at Mardel one day.  I was sold! 

He loves it already, and not just for writing and coloring.  He also uses it as a guide for his current favorite puzzle - an alphabet train puzzle.  He looks at the alphabet chart in the front of his book to know what letter to search for next in his puzzle. 

Of course, we haven't completely sold out to worksheets and independent work.  We're still enjoying games, flashcards, and manipulatives as well.  I confess that I still greatly look forward to the day when Steven and I begin his KG work (even though I'm not ready for my baby to be that big!).  But, it is fun to finally be excited about the challenge of teaching my preschooler!