Monday, June 29, 2009

Miss Julia Series

I just finished the 10th book in a delightful series by Ann B. Ross. Her Miss Julia series in one of my favorite things. Miss Julia is a plain spoken, very proper southern woman who continually finds herself in improper situations. Thankfully, she is confident in her abilities to straighten things out properly.

A lighthearted, humorous series about small towns, changing mores and subtle personal growth. Every book is a delight. Great summer "reads."

L to R: First and latest book in the series; For more information, go to

Sunday, June 28, 2009

God is Love

Here is another cute, simple craft we did this week in Bible School. It would work for many lesson themes.

I already had a sack of 1" "mosaic" squares cut from Fun Foam, so I laid them on paper in a cross shape and made a "frame" pattern around them. Then I used the pattern to pre-cut Fun Foam crosses in various colors. If you have older kids, they could do the cutting themselves.

Let the kids choose the colored squares they want, glue the squares down, and add letters. (Aleen's Tacky Glue works great for fun foam.) We used peel and stick letters, although regular stickers or even markers would work too. We put a peel and stick magnet on the back so they could use them on their fridges. The class did a great job on theirs, don't you think?

Note: I have one of the old "guillotine" (slices with a descending blade) paper cutters, and have found that you can use it to cut Fun Foam. Makes the squares quickly and easily.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Salt and Light

Our Bible School lesson on Thursday was the parable of Salt and Light. (Matthew 5:13-16.) Our craft for the day was a lantern with see-through salted panes.

Here is the process:

1. I bought pre-cut, foldable boxes with cut-out frames from Oriental Trading company. You could also use found cardboard boxes, and cut the frame windows out yourself.

The kids and I made panes with clear Con-Tact paper cut to size. We sprinkled salt from a shaker into the middle of one piece, then sealed it with another piece on top. Make four of these "panes".

2 For the top frame, I sandwiched the Bible verse between two sheets also. The bottom frame was left open for the votive candle.

3. The kids glued pre-cut to size (by me) tissue paper squares to the edges of the frames in any color they liked. We used liquid glue in a glue tube, but glue sticks or watered down Elmers (school) glue would work also. Warn them not to glue anything on the bottom.

4. Use tape to secure the panes inside the box on all sides except the bottom opening. Set the lantern over a battery powered votive candle to make it glow safely. (I found them at a dollar store.) The kids loved the candles.

Bible School

Bible School week! I had a busy week teaching 9 first and second graders. Our Bible School is from 9-1 each day. Our theme this week was Good News Clues. Here is a picture of my class with the spy glasses they made to search for Bible clues. Friday our lesson was from Matthew 6:20-21 and Matthew 13:44-45 about storing up treasures in heaven, so we made banks and had a penny and pearl search.

Here is what we did.

I saved salsa jars and spray painted them (with the lids on) in cream. Then I removed the lids and spray painted them gold, to go with the treasure/heaven theme. I used a hammer and wedge to punch a slot in the lids for coins to go through. The ragged back of the slot was very sharp, so I ran a bead of glue from a glue gun over it. This worked great to cover the sharp edges and make it safe for little fingers.

In class the kids painted the jar body with acrylic paints. We used paper plates for paint trays, and I used a favorite trick for paint bibs. Smoothed out plastic grocery bags fastened by the handles around their necks with clothespins are a effective, cheap, readily available paint bib. (See pictures.)

Sunburn Fix

Summer's here, and we occasionally get too much sun. A year or two ago, I tried some of this Mary Kay After-Sun Replenishing Gel. This product is one of my favorite things. You need to understand that I am cheap when it comes to make-up. Any make-up I buy is from the Dollar Store and Wal Mart. After-Sun Replenishing Gel is cool and soothing, and really helps the skin after excessive sun. I willingly pay whatever it costs for this name brand fix.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Movie Night

We had movie night last weekend in Cousin O and O's backyard. Great fun.


This is our garden this year. The weeding is great! Our first peas will be ready in a day or two. The girls are enjoying these three planters in the rhubarb patch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Necklace

The Necklace-Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives -Cheryl Jarvis

A quick, light, thought provoking read about women, friendships and needs. Recommended.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

We finally used some of our rhubarb this year. Last week we made jam with some flats of strawberries left over from a friend's graduation party. I made some for the fridge/freezer, but also dug out the canning supplies and canned a batch so the "little" girls got an idea about how canning is done. YUM! This is the recipe I used.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

4 c. rhubarb, thinly sliced
2 T. lemon juice
4 c. strawberries, sliced
10 c. sugar (I used 8-still plenty sweet)
2 pkg of fruit pectin
1/2 t. butter (keeps jam from getting too foamy)

In large kettle combine all except sugar. Bring to full boil. Crush fruits if desired. Add sugar, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Return to boil and boil for 1 minute while stirring. Remove from burner and skim foam.

Spoon jam into 1/2 pint canning jars. (Pour jam into a 4-cup glass measure first, and the spout helps pour it into the jars with no mess.) Leave 1/4 " head space. Wipe jar rims and screw on scalded lids firmly. Place jars in boiling water canner. Boil for 5 min. Remove jars and cool, several hours or overnight. Check for seals. (Lid's bump is popped in. If any remain un-sealed, refrigerate and use within a month.) Makes about 12 half-pint jars. If you do not can the jam, it can be refrigerated about a month or frozen several months.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pre-sewing Project

This is what I call a pre-sewing project. It is actually fun for any age, but safe and forgiving for the very young "wanna-be" sewer. I found these shaped plastic cross-stitch grids at WalMart. We also bought plastic needles (make sure the head will fit through the mesh) and a color variety of thin ribbon rolls. (Each is under a dollar at Wal Mart). Daughter W. started these last year when she was 5. The other girls did some too. Great for in the car, if you ziplock everything into one package!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Husband, Cars and BJ Thomas

Date night! Husband and I went downtown to Automania with Brother B and D. last night. Son D. and Mac and Son J. met us there. "Picked up" Sister K. there as her hubby was working a booth. It was 89 degrees and sultry, then later in the evening it began to rain lightly. Lots of fun to stand in the rain and hear their headliner act , B. J. Thomas, sing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", and other classics of his. I heard him in concert while in college, 29 years ago. I'm not so "into" cars, but the colors and graphic images were great. (Tell me which shot is your favorite!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We made mini-banners for a Sunday School class today. My friend Nancy makes banners in her home school quite often, and I used theirs for inspiration.

I did not want to mess with the traditional loops and rods for hanging these, and knew that a string from corner to corner would not hang right. I saw an old cereal box and cut out strips and punched a hole in the middle. Glued to the back, the strip supports the top edge and provides a frugal hanger. I found that using the sticky peel-off felt made this project much easier to complete in a short class period. The letters are peel and stick, also.

L to R: Daughter M's project and Daughter W's project. (She had to alter her design.)

Women's Night Out!!!!

We had a great evening out last night. All the adult women in Husband's family (who were able to) went out for supper at a nice resturant. We talked and ate and laughed together for about 3 hours. We hope this will be a regular event. These women are a rich part of the tapestry of my life.

"One of the sweeter things in life is when your relatives are also your friends." JGS

L to R back: Myself, Gaylin, Andrea, Dena, Kris
L to R front: Alison, Mother/Grandma Lorna, Karen

"Bubble" Pizza

Bubble Pizza

Brown 1 lb. hamburger (add green peppers, onions, salt as desired)

Drain and add:
14 oz. jar Ragu with mushroom sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

2 tubes buttermilk biscuits, cut into 1/4ths

Cut the biscuits into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. (Sprayed with Pam.) Distribute the hamburger Ragu mixture over the biscuits and gently stir it up and spread evenly over bottom of the pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese (about 2 c. shredded) on top during the last 10 minutes of baking. Add pepperoni, mushrooms, pineapple, canadian bacon, olives, etc. as desired before cooking.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Play Days and Puzzles

Yesterday we hosted a Summer Play Day for our homeschool group. It's a fun, easygoing re-connect time for us when there are no co-op classes over the summer. (Although I'm not sure why we need to re-connect when we see everyone at Summer Singers, drama camp, Shakespeare camp, weddings, graduations, play dates, service projects, etc, etc. over the summer!) We will host several more play dates this summer.

It was a slightly chilly day. As one mom said: just cold enough that the moms needed to huddle around the table with coffee and tea, and just warm enough that the kids disappeared outside all afternoon. We had the usual home school moms' discussion about a range of subjects including ; word etymology (Luddites), library books, fairy wings, Roman and Medieval fashions, blogging, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, curriculum and home remodeling.

We also touched on the best kinds of puzzles, and I was able to share our collection of Springbok puzzles. These are one of our favorite things.

When we were first married, Husband gave me a "country decorating" themed Springbok puzzle for Christmas. I was not all that thrilled, but thankfully was wise enought to hide my feelings, and be properly grateful. When we became snowed in and enjoyed a couple of snuggly days putting together the puzzle, it quickly became one of my favorite presents.

I had never liked puzzles. I don't like those that one has to sit and stare at for hours to find one piece to fit. Springbok 500 puzzles are not like that. It is easy to find and work a section and move along at a satisfying pace, without it being too easy. I learned that the Springbok 500-piece puzzles (usually found at Hallmark) are beautiful, well-made and fun for early grades to adults. Now whenever I go into a second-hand or thrift store , I peruse the puzzles and occasionally find a Springbok. We have never been disappointed in them.

Sweet Sisters


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Gorgeous Yard Flowers

The peonies are out and gorgeous. Our white ones were here when we moved in some 12 years ago. They had to be relocated when we added on to the house, and this year they are frilly, soft and HUGE--like flower pillow clouds. The pink ones are much smaller and tighter, and were planted in just the past few years. They have fainter, sweeter odor than the white ones. Lovely! This year I planted some new red peonies. Can't wait to see them bloom in the years to come! I LOVE the "old time" flowers. They remind me of my childhood and of my Grandma G. who lived just 1 and 1/2 miles across the pasture.

The other flowers: pansies on the back porch, orange poppies (planted by the former landowners and enjoyed every year) and new burgundy tiger lilies planted this year along the east side of the house, near the pink clematis vine. (Pictures by Daughter L.)

Art and Friendship

Art helps you to live just as directly as friendship does. -Nuala O'Faolain

(To this, I would add nature, which is, of course, God's artistry.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Home Visit

Daughter A. was home for almost a week to attend the wedding, and visit the "home folks." Here she is with a couple of her "fans" the night before she went back to school. She finishes her course of massage in August.

L to R: Angela, A. and Holly

Watermelon/Lemonade Stand

While the rest of us enjoyed the wedding last weekend, Daughter W. enjoyed an overnight with distant cousin Piper. The girls LOVE to be together, but the 4 hour commute makes it hard. Since the wedding was in their area, it worked out great to drop her off. She and Piper did many fun things, including having their own lemonade/watermelon stand.


Parenting is not a spectator sport.-JGS

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Drama Camp Week

After a week of drama camp (9-11 am each day), we viewed 8 wildly successful plays, 5 on Thursday night and 3 on Friday night. An ice cream reception each night sweetened the deal. It's amazing what they can accomplish in this short of time. Every play was truly good.

L to R: Daughter W. as one of the lambs in Gusty the Goat, Daughter L. as the ex-girlfriend in the Beast of the Baskervilles, and Daughter M. as the poor servant girl in The Pearl of Scotland (click pictures to enlarge)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wren Music

This little Wren sings his heart out every morning on our front porch. He has a nest all made and is looking for a mate.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stillwater Wedding

Last weekend we enjoyed the beautiful wedding of my college girlfriend Karen's daughter, Sara. The next day we went along to their boat to wind down after the big event. A lovely weekend that we were thrilled to share in.

Pictures, l to r-Friends for 30 (!) years, Daughter L, Husband, Daughter A and Daughter M., Father-of-bride Doug and Beautiful bride Sara, Son D. and his best man (from his wedding 3 years ago)Adam (my friend Karen's son), the girls and Daughter-I-L MacK on the boat