Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scalloped Pineapple

Here is an unusual sounding, but delicious, recipe that I often take to pot-luck dinners. I got it from my Aunt Lana. It's great for Easter meals, also.

Scalloped Pineapple
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter-room temperature
3 eggs

Blend together in bowl to make a batter.

1 can crushed pineapple, undrained (sweetened or unsweetened)
4 c. cubed white bread

Moisten bread with a little milk poured over it. Mix moistened bread, pineapple and butter/sugar/egg batter together in casserole. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Also good warm on ice cream. (Note: You can double the sugar and the butter if you wish. The original recipe had it that way. I have cut them in 1/2 with no noticeable loss of flavor.)

Pretty Pie

Our church women held a pie baking lesson at church last Saturday. Daughter L. went with Godmother Bonnie and Cousin Brittney and brought home this beautiful apple pie, made with her own two hands! Delicious! She is quite a good cook anyway. She loves to eat, and will often make dinner or supper for us. She commented, "That wasn't so hard!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Senior Pix

I had great fun Sunday afternoon taking Senior pictures of a friend of Daughter A's. Sarah has a bubbly, sparkling personality. Her family is in our homeschool group and are very dear people.


Daughter L. was confirmed on Sunday with two other kids. We had a lovely service, and enjoyed having so many loved ones with us. She was especially glad to be in the same class with her best friend/cousin/"godbrother" Spencer. She figures he is her godbrother, since his folks are her godparents and her folks are his godparents.

Butterflies and Beans

Butterfly fun at Daughter W's co-op class this week. (She calls it "Friday School.") They have been studying life cycles in her first grade class. She came home with four beans in a paper towel in a cup last Friday, and she tenderly managed their sprouting all week. We just planted them this week, and she is enjoying watering them. This Friday she brought home a green tissue paper butterfly, and we had to make a friend for him. While we were at it, we made some more tissue paper butterflies that I helped her K class make last year. Spring is all about new life, and we're heavily into it around here!

Here is the process:

Clothes Pin butterfly: Cut several tissue paper squares, approximately 6" x 9". Gather the centers and tuck into the mouth of the clothespin. Fan out the wings. Trim corners of wings to a more rounded butterfly shape, if desired. Bend 1/2 pipe cleaner in 1/2 to make a "v". Roll each pipe cleaner tip into a small circle and glue the bent point into the mouth of the pin for antennae. Color body with markers. Glue on googly eyes. Fly!

Butterfly on a stick: 1. Give each child one sheet of card stock paper. Turn it horizontally.

2. Cut a long tube shaped body and a round head shape from tissue paper. Lay vertically down the center of the paper.

3. Layer two pieces of tissue paper squares and cut a rounded, elongated shape. Separate paper and lay out for top wings on paper. Choose another color of tissue paper, layer two squares, and cut another rounded shape. Separate and lay out for bottom butterfly wings.

4. Cut two slim antennae and put on head.

5. After shapes are cut, paint a little glue thinned with water where each piece will lay and place the pieces on the paper. You can use brushes for this or fingers work fine, too.

6. Cut or tear shapes to decorate wings and glue down. Gently cover the finished butterfly with more of the thinned glue over the top. (Dab lightly, don't rub through the paper.)

7. Let dry.

8. Cut around butterfly.

9. Glue or tape large craft stick on back and watch the butterflies fly around the room!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quartered Leaves

This is a favorite art project I have been doing for years. The three big kids and I did these when they were small and I have used it many times since. Simple with impressive results.

Here is the process:
1. Draw a grid quartering your paper. If doing this for a class, you may want to do the grids ahead of time.

2. Hand out dried, pressed leaves of various types and sizes. Students can trace the leaves in outline on their papers, being sure that some of the leaf is on each quarter. Leaves can be straight or tipped. It helps to not get too detailed unless the kids are old enough to outline carefully.

3. Choose two colors and color in alternate sections of the leaves with one color. Be sure to color all partial bits of the leaves in each section with the same color. Color the other two sections with the other color. Now do the opposite colors with the background.

4. Any medium works for this. I like it for a watercolor introduction. (Be sure to use watercolor paper-very worth it for the results.) Instruct the kids to do each section and let it dry a bit before doing a section that touches it, UNLESS they want the colors to bleed into each other. I have done this with markers, colors, pastels, colored pencils, watercolor pencils and always have good results. A set of folded cards with these leaves on the front would make a lovely homemade gift.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Matisse Shapes

This is an art project we did in our homeschool co-op classes earlier this year. The idea came from Kinderart.com, under Matisse Cut-outs.

Here is the process:

1. We looked at selected pictures of Matisse and learned a little about his life and work. At the end of Matisse's life when he was weak and could not paint any more, he began to make elaborate paper cut-outs. He was in his 80's when he died, and he felt that the cut-outs were his best work. This is a very interesting story in art and is a good illustrative life lesson.

2. Students were given colored paper and paper scraps, scissors and glue sticks. They were to cut out shapes without drawing them first and lay out a Matisse-like design, or copy a Matisse composition from references provided. Above left is a copy of Matisse's The Horse, The Rider and the Clown and on the right, the cut-out study I made of it with construction paper cut-outs.

3. After cutting out and arranging their compositions, students glued the pieces down. It was hard for them to cut without drawing at first, but soon they all did well.

Corn Planting Begins

After a few rainy days this week, the men got into the field to begin planting this year's crops. (Picture by Daughter L.)

Cake Fun

Daughter (in-law) MacK. (married to Son D.) was in a cake decorating contest this weekend. We spent a fun afternoon at the mall watching her decorate her Flying Saucer/Alien cake. She took first with her traditional purple and white wedding cake, and second with her unique Grand piano themed cake.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Picasso Peace Doves/Pattern Practice

Pictures (L to R) (1) Rachel W., Canaan K., Sam S. (2)Maria B-H, Adrian J. , Daughter M, Caleb I.

We are back to co-op classes after missing one week for Easter. We can hardly believe there are only three weeks left in this semester!

This week we did a nice drawing project based on Picasso's peace doves. It also allowed for a review of patterns and line. We found out that simple line drawings may be quite difficult to render and talked about capturing the "essence" of an object. We had several students who wailed that they "could not draw." This phrase is not allowed in my art classes. (Maybe we have spent too much time on "crafty" art projects with our ethnic art unit.)

We spent a good amount of time sketching and looking at how to study and revise sketches to get an end result we liked better than our first attempts. Eventually everyone had a successful project, and the "wailers" found that they truly did like their drawing results. This was a satisfying and successful project. I found the idea at Incredible Art Lessons at Incredibleart.org.

Here is the process.

1. We referenced Picasso's peace doves and talked about the symbolism of doves (and olive branches). We talked about how simple Picasso's dove line drawings were, and noticed how different they were from much of Picasso's most famous works. We also noted how much skill it takes to make a really good simple line drawing.

2.We used a practice sheet to draw Picasso-like doves and then drew one on blue paper, making it large enough to fill the center of the paper. Then, the student pointed to the center of their dove with one finger and drew imaginary "rays" out from that central spot to the edges of the paper with their other (writing) hand, starting each line only from the outline edge of the dove. Do not put these lines too close together, or there will be too many areas to fill in.

3. Each student chose one color to outline the dove and the rays. We used oil pastels for this project and students were also allowed to use black Sharpies if they wanted.

4. Each space outside the dove should be carefully filled in with a pattern. I had them try to do a different pattern for each space. I drew a variety of pattern types on the board for them to work from, and also encouraged them to think of their own patterns. Color choice for pattern was open. The center of the dove was left plain.

Homemade Easter Poster Coloring

Daughter M. and Daughter W. were coloring these Easter pictures to send to friends. M. is sending hers to a friend/penpal in WA, so only colored 2/4ths of hers, so that her friend can color the other 2/4ths. Long distance coloring fun! W. is sending hers to her pen-pal in town.

I drew these on large sheets of packing paper that came in a shipment of something in the mail. They are about 19" x 17" and are actually smaller than some I have made in the past. I had forgotten that I used to draw these "poster coloring pages" at Easter when The Boys and Daughter A. were young. They would color them and we would deliver them to their great-grandparents and grandparents for Easter. I see all the giant floor coloring pads they sell now, and it makes laugh. Maybe I was "before my time."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ellis Peters-Favorite Things

I just finished this installment of the famous Brother Cadfael Mystery series this morning. I think this was the best one yet. Several parallel mysteries, and the usual excellent characterizations and superior writing in this one. Ellis Peters and Brother Cadfael are definitely on my Favorite Things list. (Click on my full profile in the sidebar to see my other favorite authors.)

A few outside reviews:

-"An enlightend blend of scholarship and fine writing..."-Chicago Tribune
-"There's such life and humor and insight and history...writing is elegant and subtle..She crafts such thoughtful sentences that you have to slow down and savor each one."-Michele Ross-CNN
-"Each book an elegant little mystery, gracefully written, cleverly plotted and richly detailed, full of the sounds and the colors and the customs of 12th century England..."-Cleveland Plains Dealer
-"A beautifully detailed portrait of the 12th-century abbey life, and this novel's (The Holy Thief) focus on St. Winifred gives readers a wonderful glimpse of the brothers' spiritual life." -Baltimore Sun

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Blessed Easter Indeed!

(l to r) Cousin S., Daughter L., and Daughter M. who have done Easter egg decorating together since infancy
Mom's favorite Jordan Almonds, from the Easter Bunny
Easter Baskets (and dog Josie)
Living-at-Home Family this morning in Easter Finery, (Son J. came to church and dinner also)
Our Church Sanctuary
Easter Table Setting

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blessed Easter

Easter is God's way of saying "I Love You Forever." A blessed Easter to you all.

Christmas Card Gift

This is a Christmas Craft we made for our homeschool co-op teachers a couple of years ago.

Here is the process:

You will need:
smooth, fairly flat rocks
Modge Podge
acrylic paint
brushes, scissors

Most cards are printed on rather heavy paper, so I cut out the shape to fit the rock I was using (slightly smaller than the rock face), and then placed the card face down on the counter and wet the back with a rag or spray bottle. Let sit a bit and then gently rub off the back layers of the paper to thin it. Do not rub completely through. This can be a little tricky, so if you are doing this in a group, you may need adult help or do it ahead of time. Let dry.

If the rock is not flat enough, the paper will bulge up when you glue it down. You can sometimes cut a short line from the edge of the image towards the center in that spot and overlap it to lay down smoothly. Rocks are avaliable at crafts stores, etc.

Modge Podge the image to the rock. Smooth and dry. Modge Podge over the top. Dry and repeat as desired. Modge Podge will dry clear. When the rock is totally dry, you can paint along the edge with acrylic paint, or perhaps glitter the edge with glue and glitter.

Dove Charms

Here are some dove charms I made for favors for a party at church. The doves were found in the wedding section at the dollar store. I bought some pearlescent white paint and painted them so they didn't look cheap. I used a small drill bit to drill a hole through them, then beaded them up. Quick, cheap, easy and fun craft.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009


Tradition is the wisdom of time distilled into an act. -JGS

Let us not discard the wisdom of tradition for novelty and excitement.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Around the Farm

It sometimes amazes me what beauty is right in our (literal) backyard. How a place so familiar and common offers up such beauty is a recurring reminder to observe mindfully wherever I am.

Daughter L. (13) took all these pictures right here around our own 12 acre farmstead. I like this series a lot. She has a "good eye."

Give and Take

Friend Ana met me at co-op yesterday with the statement, "Tell me you brought your camera!" "I brought my camera," I assured her. And off my camera went to her Jr High and High School art classes. It jumped back and forth between our art rooms all morning. Bloggers need their cameras, I am learning.

But the real lesson is not that bloggers need cameras, it is that people need community. It made me happy that Ana needed something and felt comfortable enough in our friendship to ask me for it. Too often the message in our society is: "Be independent and do not need anyone's help!" There is a richness and comfort in having your own people (community) that you can call on in need, or be called upon by them in their need.

When I was in my teens, we had a lovely young neighbor family on a farm near us. Our families did a lot together, and loved each other. The wife would do anything for you, and was always there to help if you needed her. But, she was extremely uncomfortable receiving help from others. You just could not do anything FOR her. Thus the relationship was warm, but never entirely comfortable.

We all need help sometimes. You are giving a gift when you help others, but don't forget that you are also giving a gift when you need others' help:

It makes me feel necessary and wise when my friend Brenda calls me for crafting advice for her youth group work.

It feeds both my friend Lori and I when we get together for "therapy" (lunch) and share all our kid raising struggles.

It is a comfort to me to know that my friend Nancy will take my kids and shuffle them along at co-op if I have to be gone, and I am pleased to know that she can call me for the same.

My friend Bonnie makes me lemon bars every year for my birthday, and it delights me every time.

My sister sometimes calls me at the last minute for emergency child care, or recipe or homemaking advice-I am so glad someone thinks I am an expert in these areas!

My friend Mary says I "ground her"- I don't fully understand what she means by that, but I surely like it that my friendship is a help to her in some small way in her busy, interesting life.

My friend Karen drove four hours and was my "personal attendant" when my oldest son was married. She did everything from scrub kitchen cabinets to oversee and decorate the reception hall. Invaluable.

My friend and "spare mother" Lois has helped me with everything and anything over the years. There have been many times in my hectic child-raising years that I calmed myself by thinking, "I could always call Lois."

So, relax and open yourself to others. Ask someone to help you, or accept kind help when it is offered. If you do, your life and others' will be richer and better for it. It is blessed to give AND to receive.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Snow

Daughter L. was sneaking my camera out to take snow pictures the other day. Snow in late March. Very usual around here. There is another 7-12 inches predicted tomorrow. We have been missing the recent large storms, so we may get lucky again this time? With L's confirmation this weekend, I hope so.

Great tree picture by L.

Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

Today in co-op art we made tissue paper Easter eggs. This is a simple, cheap, nice looking project, with just the right amount of messiness.

Daughters M and L blew out eggs for several weeks, until we had 60 for our two classes. I wanted everyone to be able to do two. We used what we could, but the cats ate a lot of them. (We live on a farm with 6 outside cats.) The girls also did another 30 for a friend's church project on Palm Sunday. (Note on egg blowing: It is well worth buying the egg blowing kit from Ukrainiangiftshop.com. There is a little drill and an egg syringe that works wonderfully for blowing and rinsing out eggs. No more tired cheeks.)

Here is the process:

Each student got a paper plate, a square of waxed paper, assorted colored squares of tissue paper and a little Modge Podge in their plates. Modge Podge comes in matte, shiny or glitter. Check to see that you're buying the one you wanted. We also had scissors and wet cloths avaliable on each table.

A small amount of glue is rubbed on the egg with a finger and the paper is glued down in the desired shape or design. More glue, more shapes are added until the egg is covered, or the design is finished. Overlapping the paper gives a great effect. The dots are easy to make, but you want to layer or fold the paper and cut many dots at one time and then separate them. Much faster and more efficient.

After the egg is finished, go over it again with more Modge Podge to smooth and cover the whole egg. Set it to dry on the waxed paper. Since we were sending these home still somewhat wet, I brought plastic cups and each child layered an egg, waxed paper and another egg into the cup to transport. Names on the paper plate and the cup help with ID while eggs are drying or traveling.

The eggs in the carton on the first picture are some that I brought along as examples. My kids and I made them in past years.