Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Here is a little bit messy, quickie Easter project. I saw this paper Easter grass and thought maybe I could make cute nests out of it.
Ten Thousand Villages is one of my favorite things. You can find them on-line at tenthousandvillages.com if you do not have one of their "real" stores near you. Cool stuff!
Friday, March 27, 2009
That reminds me, Daughter A., who is in massage school this year, used to make Barbie clothes out of old socks. Works great. Cut the ribbed sock leg to length and cut a couple of arm holes. Dress Barbie.
(click individual pictures to enlarge)
This week in co-op we were studying Inuit carvings, which were done on soapstone, bone or tusks. The Inuit (meaning "the People") used to be incorrectly called Eskimos, which means "raw flesh eaters." Traditionally, their carvings were stylized, highly smoothed animals, sometimes worn as amulets.
We have been practicing carving bars of soap at home all week in preparation for today's co-op classes. The girls and I ended up doing 11 different carvings. All art classes from 3rd to HS tried out carving today. It made a nice change from other mediums, and it was eagerly absorbed and enjoyed. We went through about 60 bars of Ivory soap in just a few hours!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Other times a grown up woman needs her mom: when she has morning sickness, when she has a newborn, when her kids hit a milestone (graduation, confirmation, prizes conferred, etc.), and when she wants to go on vacation without the kids!
"I am a child again and a longing unutterable fills my heart for mother's counsel." -Laura Ingalls Wilder
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Brown 1 lb. hamburger, drain
Open a can of green beans, heat, drain.
When everything is ready and hot, stir it together. Done and delicious.
I "invented" this many years ago, and it still works great and tastes good for a quick meal.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Today we had another successful ethnic art exploration at co-op: Australian Aboriginal Dot Painting. The original idea for this project came from the excellent elementary art blog artprojectsforkids.org . The snakes on the dark paper are renderings of a project from this blog. The 3-4th graders worked on these today.
I am also using the book Art From Many Hands-Multicultural Art Projects by Jo Miles Schuman. This book is very detailed and true to the real processes and materials used in ethnic art. It is full of ideas and projects and historical/cultural information. I am using it as a reference and idea book, and am generally developing my own simplified processes to make these explorations more accessible and attainable for our classes.
Today the 5-6th graders did a different dot painting project that I worked up from looking at Aboriginal paintings on line. The picture with the filled-in blue snake is the example I made to show in class. The large E's are not letters, they are symbols for bird tracks! Here is the process:
1. Aboriginal art is traditionally done on black or brown/red backgrounds. I used white paper today since we were going to use non-traditional pigments that would show better on white. We used large animal shapes in the Aboriginal elongated style. After making a simple sketch of their chosen animal in the middle of their paper, students outlined them with markers.
2. If desired, students could add some traditonal shapes such as campfire, fire, boomerang and animal tracks.
3. Q-tips were used to fill in with pigment to mimic the traditional Aboriginal dot style. We used moistened watercolor pigment (Prang box) to dip the Q-tips in. Several dots can be made per dip. Tempera or acrylic paints would also work well. This would be a neat project to try on smooth wood with acrylics. Very little paint is needed for lots of dots.
Familyfun.com also has a great Aboriginal dot project using paint sticks to make musical clap instruments. This is a favorite site of mine for high quality crafts projects. (Owned by Disney, so you know the quality will be good.)
Pictures from L to R, top to bottom: Claire F., Maria B-H., Emily W., Catie A., myself and Claire B.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Because my birthday is one day after my dad's, we have lots of pictures of us together. This one must have been sometime in the early 80's, when I was first married. ( I remember the dress and the Sara Palin hair.)
Here is the story of my birth: Mom wanted to have this their second baby on Dad's birthday, so she was sorely disappointed to wake up the day after and still be pregnant. Dad said she might as well get up. She said she wasn't getting up "until she had this baby!" When she did get up, her water broke. She had no pains, but the doctor made her come to the hospital anyway. When she got to the hospital, the nurse said she would have to do a check. Mom replied that since she had not had any pains, it would be useless to check her. The nurse insisted, then gasped, "Mrs. G! You're going to have this baby right now!" Which she did, sans any pains.
So the truth is that my mom never had a pain during her labor with me, and since she always insisted she never felt better than when she was pregnant, I have only ever been a blessing to her! Ask her, she'll tell you! (My husband thinks this story is enough to gag anyone.)
M. made these necklaces for her two friends. Another little friend, A. sewed her own flannel pillowcases for each girl. (She is one of M's most cherished friends and a favorite around here.)We value and enjoy our home school co-op friends so much.
M's One Cup Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onions
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1 c. finely chopped/cubed potatoes
1 c. water
1 can (14oz.) baked beans
1/2 c. BBQ sauce (we like Jack Daniels or anything with honey)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (opt.)
Brown meat in skillet, drain. Add vegetables, cook, stirring occasionally, 5 min.
Stir in water. Reduce heat to med-low and cover. Simmer 10 min. or until vegetables are tender.
Add beans and BBQ sauce. Stir. Cook 5 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. (States that it makes 4 large servings. Serves 5 with leftovers at our house.)
This recipe comes from a free quarterly publication called Kraft Food and Family. I like their simple recipes that use ingredients I probably already have in the kitchen.
kraftfoods.com/connect or the online magazine is kraftfoods.com/foodandfamily
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My dad grew up on a farm just a mile and a half from where he and Mom farmed when I was growing up. We saw Grandma and Grandpa G. nearly every day. Dad had an older brother, Donald, who was killed in a hunting accident when Dad was about 13, and has a sister Marilyn. The kids were all about 5 years apart in age.
Mom and Dad met on a blind date when my mom was on this end of the state attending nursing school and working is a small hospital in Dad's hometown. She says she thought he was "an idiot," and he says he was. Something sparked, though, and they were married in 1955.
Before marriage, Dad was in the service and fixed airplanes. He farmed for 40 years. He was also an insurance salesman for many of those years. After retiring, he drove tour buses for awhile. Dad can fix anything mechanical, but remembers that people are more important than machines. We kids learned that with his calm acceptance of any car accidents we were in. He was always an innovator, and we had things like snowmobiles and interesting farm equipment. Even today, he is driving a motorcycle in his 70's. He was the National Corn Picking champion two years in a row in the 1960's. He loves to travel, eat and talk to people.
As a father, he always loved my mother. He made sure we were in church every Sunday, and that our friends were always welcome in our home. He encouraged us to follow our interests and talents, and always supports us emotionally. He and Mom welcomed a wide variety of people into our home and practiced hospitality: they were foster parents for about 40 years, they had families in transition and unwed mothers live with us, they invited foreign visitors and strangers into their home. I don't know how many youth group meetings they made time for or prepared and provided food for over the life of 5 kids's raising. But I do know they enjoyed it and did it joyfully.
Dad took us with him while he worked. We went along to the neighbor's, the sale barn, the implement dealer and into the tractor cab. He had time to swing the car through the yard at night when we arrived home from things to look for bunnies. He taught us to mow, walk beans, fix things, do chores, and enjoy life and people.
He has been a great Grandpa, and is always ready to take a grandkid along to a show or lunch out. He lets them practice driving before they are of age. He takes them to theme parks and will stay as long as they want to. They have let three of our kids live with them for a summer or a year during their post high school years. When our big kids were young and Dad and Mom lived close, the kids thought it was a great treat to go to the dump with him. When he drove bus, he would sometimes take a grandkid along on day trips or tours. When he and Mom lived in a motor home and travled for a few years, they would often take one or two kids along for a week or so.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Ya' done good.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Easter series in the second picture were some I did in 2007. The larger blue flowered egg at the top of the first picture is a goose egg. Most of the rest are duck eggs. (We are fortunate that our cousins keep birds on their farm. ) The center blue one is one of the first eggs I ever made. I designed the pattern, too. I still like it a lot. As you can see, I do many non-traditional designs. The sunflower is adapted from a children's book, and the lowest black one's pattern comes from a dress I used to own.
The Ukrainian tradition states that as long as Pysanky are made, good will continue to overcome evil in this world.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Last Saturday, Daughter M. and I took an Ukranian Egg decorating class offered by our homeschool group. As I do Pysanky (Ukranian Eggs) myself, I went along to assist and picked up some great tips. I have been self-educated, and don't meet a lot of Pysanky artists, so have gleaned all my education on-line or from books.
This week we have kept out the egg supplies and are blowing eggs in preparation for some Easter projects at church and co-op, so it has been easy to try our hand at a few designs. The first two pictures are a couple of eggs I "whipped out." Eggs in the third picture are by Daughter M. The one in quarters is the one she made at the class. The other four she made here in the last couple of days. The fourth picture has one black Pysanky egg, done by Daughter L. The other 4 eggs are decoupaged by Daughter W. who is still a little young to participate with permanent dyes, melted wax and flame.
The best Pysanky resource in America is the Ukranian Gift shop in Mpls, Mn. Ukraniangiftshop.com. Several years ago I received their beginners kit for my birthday (from Husband) and I have made many eggs since. Their catalog is amazing and lovely to look at. Well worth ordering.
Not sorting?!? I can't imagine it! That's not how my mom taught me to do it! I remember when my she introduced me to the intricacies of washing clothes. One day, she told me to "come down to the basement"-she was going to teach me to wash clothes. " I don't want to learn!" I replied. Didn't matter.
The basement under our old farmhouse had hand-hewn redrock stone walls with bare dirt showing between. We had a cellar door to the outside, next to the inside stairs. The basement was chilly and clammy, and the washing machine and dryer ran steadily down there. My mom showed me how to sort, wash, dry, hang and fold. Sometimes we "hung things out" to dry on the clothesline. Then they smelled great.
Mom was an expert. She had tons of energy and was a great housekeeper, cook and mother, and she washed thousands of loads of washes. Still today (2009-and in her 70's) she is "famous" with her kids and grandkids for washing everything in sight, and liking it!
When she was first married in 1955, she ironed too (even sheets!), but after 5 kids and about 30 foster kids, she did not iron as much, although she still enjoyed it. I once told her that her old clothes that had been washed many times were whiter than many people's newer clothes. This observation pleased her. To me it was normal. I began to notice this area of her expertise after I began having my own kids and was buying secondhand kids clothes. Some of the nearly new things were already so grey! I was not used to that. Growing up, our stuff was clean and bright, no matter what we got into, or how old it was.
Learning how to wash clothes well was a very useful lesson that prepared me for life in a home with a farmer husband and six kids. I am like my mom, in that I actually enjoy washing clothes. Sometimes we hang things on the line, here, too. (Ironing is another matter, altogether!)
Here are some of the "washing whites" things I learned from mom:
1. Always wash whites alone. Do not mix with colors or they will get greyer. Darks and reds can go together in cold, but NEVER mix whites!
2. Whites should be washed in the hottest water you can use safely, and should be rinsed twice. The second rinse removes even more soap residue, which dulls clothes.
3. As I said, too much soap dulls your clothes. Cut back to about half of what the manufacturer recommends on the detergent bottle. (I have a front load washer now, and it is THE greatest! You can do LARGE loads, with less detergent, less water. Things spin out and dry faster. Wear is reduced. Blankets and pillows and most stuffed animals can be washed at home, because there is no agitator pulling on them. Air dry afterwards. )
4. Fill your washer with the water, soap and whitening agent (non-chlorine brightener-I like Oxi-Clean) of choice, put in the clothes. Stand there and watch it agitate a couple of minutes, then turn it off and leave it for an hour or more. (I often leave my white loads to soak overnight.) Come back later, start washer and do the usual wash cycle. Things will be brighter.
Friday, March 6, 2009
My Father's Loving Eyes
My Grandma M. taught in a one-room schoolhouse on the western prairies of our state. One Christmas holiday when I was about three, our family was at her schoolhouse on the last day before Christmas vacation. The school was having their Christmas party and everyone was excited. Suddenly, the door opened and in walked Santa Claus with a sack over his shoulder! It was a little scary, but exciting!
As my three-year-old eyes followed Santa around the room, I backed in closer to my Mom. "Mommy," I asked, "Why does Santa have my daddy's eyes?" Even in my fear and ignorance, I recognized my loving father's eyes.
Today there is sometimes debate in our churches about the appropriateness of calling God "Father." Some people point out that not all fathers are good fathers, so it is hard for their children to hear God called "Father." That may be true, but I wonder if it could also be true that God called himself Father for just these people. People betrayed by their earthly fathers need a loyal, fair and loving Heavenly Father that can show them what a true father is like. God, the Father , "will never leave them or forsake them," or us.
Our Heavenly Father "gives us good gifts" (Luke 3:11). He sent us His Son so that we could be with Him forever. And when things look a little scary, we can recognize our Father's eyes in the loyalty and care He gives us.
Additional note: When I read a word I do not know, I have to look it up. I have an old pocket dictionary on my bed that I use. I mark each word and the page it is on. Daughter L. (also a voracious reader) is starting to do this too. FUN!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Donna's Lemon Cake With Glaze
1 small package lemon jello dissolved in 1 c. boiling water. Stir well and let cool a bit.
Stir all together:
1 yellow cake mix (white works too)
1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cooking oil
Add the cooled jello
Beat for 3 min. at medium speed. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min. With a fork, poke many holes in top of HOT cake, which is left in pan. Pour on lemon glaze. Spread gently.
3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 c. lemon juice