Thursday, November 28, 2013

Faith Hope Love

And so we come up to Thanksgiving week, and there is, as always in our lives, so much to be thankful for. I made these script pumpkins for my friend whose husband passed away suddenly this month. We have been able to come beside several of our dear friends/relatives who have endured some great losses in recent months.  "These three things, Faith, Hope and Love" become even more real and important during such difficult times. We have felt honored to be included in their suffering. We don't understand. The questions are large and often unanswerable, but during this time I have had one phrase repeat itself in my heart: God knows.

Day Before Thanksgiving

We had a great day with school off and lots of cooking together: pumpkin pie, apple pie with G. friends' apples (to bake from the freezer), buns, mashed potatoes, strawberry fluff frozen dessert.
 Carrots and celery prep, with help from the always capable Miss O.

 Pumpkin mints for favors by the littles, with some help on the side from M.
Mr. O concentrates. They played that they had a factory and Mr. O had them organized. If anyone ate a pumpkin, they were fired. I think they might unionize.
They are tiny pumpkins and don't look like much, but there are more than 80 there!
Recipe is simple:
1 stick butter or margarine (room temp.)
1 Tbsp. evaporated milk (or other milk)
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. extract (flavor of choice-peppermint, maple, vanilla, etc.)
red and yellow food coloring
whole cloves
Whip butter and milk with mixer. Add powdered sugar gradually. Mix well. Add extract and food coloring to make pumpkin orange. Roll pieces into small balls. Make pumpkin grooves with round toothpick rolled along sides, top to bottom. Place on waxed paper and push upside down whole clove into top for stem. Let dry and harden before storing.  (We often make these with Sculpey clay for fall crafts. Bake according to clay directions.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Prep Recipes

Making a list and checking it twice, and deciding on final menu for Thanksgiving. This year I plan to try this turkey recipe from a homeschool "niece's" posting on FB (Thanks E!)

Homestyle Turkey, the Michigander Way from All Recipies

Original recipe makes 16 servings 

1 (12 pound) whole turkey
6 tablespoons butter
4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried mind onion
2 tablespoons seasoning salt

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Rinse and wash turkey. Discard the giblets or you can add these to pan if these are anyone's favorites.
2.Place turkey in a Dutch oven or roasting pan. Separate the skin over the breast to make little pockets. Put 3 tablespoons of the butter on both sides between the skin and breast meat. This makes for very juicy breast meat.
3.Combine the water with the bouillon, and sprinkle in the parsley flakes and minced onion. Pour over the top of the turkey. Sprinkle seasoning salt over the turkey.
4.Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 4 to 5 hours. For the last 45 minutes or so, remove the foil so the turkey will brown nicely.

And I plan to make this cranberry salad recipe that our family has made for years. It is delicious and seasonal.

Bishop Salad

1 recipe ground cranberries, made the day before (recipe below)
1 8 oz. carton Cool Whip
1 can crushed pineapple. well drained
chopped walnuts
1/2 bag mini-marshmallows

Stir all together. Serve.

Ground Cranberries

1 lb. cranberries, washed and picked over
1 apple, cored
1 orange quartered, with rind
1 c. sugar

Grind and mix. Cover, refrigerate and let sit several hours or overnight to blend flavors. We used to run it all through a hand grinder and the cranberries would pop and the juice drip on the floor. Now it can all be ground in a food processor and mixed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HB #28 No. 2 Son

Husband and I went out for supper last week with Son J and girlfriend Samantha. J. turned 28 on Sunday, so it was a good time to get together. This picture is a throwback to 2011 when Sam graduated from nursing school.

Church Love

Loving on their daddy.
Cousin love. Brit (their dad's cousin's kid) L., Lynds (their grandpa's cousin's grandkid) and M. Figure that out. We just say cousins and it works great. We are rich in relatives.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Altar

I was asked to make a fall arrangement for church. The dried stems were already bought. I tied the cattails together with rubber bands, and used a twisty to hook the wheat stems around the bottom of the cattail stems. I had to connect the base of those two to a leftover silk flower stem to make them tall enough to stand above the bottom grasses. The bottom grasses were tucked into the corn base around the bottom.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flies and Shaded Pipes

Last week we studied flies. Not a lot of drawing or crafting opportunities to enrich the text there. We did some "complete the drawing" and some coloring. In art, we explored shading with another good lesson from

Even though my little class ranges in age from 5 years to 6th grade, we get along well. I am constantly impressed with how well our 5-year-old keeps up in art. You can see which picture is his and you can also see what a great job he did. We also had a guest artist-our senior art teacher sat in. Mrs. B-H did the first picture in this series. Daughter W. did the last one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Birthday, Who?

 We had a lovely lunch out Sunday after church to celebrate Daughter A's TWENTY-FIFTH birthday. Oh my! From l., W., Bret, L. Lyndsay, M. MacK, A.

Sat. night we enjoyed celebrating with our friends C. and S. for their SWEET16 birthday party and dance. They had a Dr. Who theme, and I helped make and decorate the sheet cake. I know so little about Dr. Who (BBC television show) but did learn that this Smurf blue police call box is a time machine.

For those interested in the construction of the cake, this is what I did. I bought blue cake mix and used one and on half boxes for the sheet pan (about 12" x 15" x 1" deep.) Make the rest of the batter into cupcakes. I bought blue frosting in the can and used the color pack from the second cake mix to color two cans of frosting a darker color. The canned frosting was too aqua and not "Smurfy" enough. The second cake mix stayed white and 1/2 box was swirled into the blue mix of the pan and the other 1/2 went into cupcakes with a drop of blue food coloring swirled into each of them with a toothpick. There was plenty of frosting for both the cake and cupcakes with some left over. The words at the top of the cake were found in a picture on-line, copied to my pictures on the computer, cropped and printed out to the desired size. I ironed freezer paper onto the back of it so the moisture would not seep through the paper. It worked pretty well. The windows are just waxed paper with Sharpie-markered blue lines for the panes. The lines of the doors were etched into the frosting with a toothpick. The door handles began their life as the sealing foil from the frosting cans. At first I was just going to put rectangular shapes as the handles, but decided to cut them so they looked curvy. I accidently bent the center of one while cutting and wha la! Cool handles! Basically just cut capital "I" shapes to size and curve the skinny center part. I love it when a plan comes together!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I have wanted to learn tatting for a long, long time. Tatting is an old hand art used to make lace. Last month, Friend Linda invited me and Daughter M. to take a 4 week tatting class. It was interesting, and we learned the basics. We enjoyed learning the skill, but we decided the return for effort is not really worth the time right now. The green and red strand above is my work from a 3 hour class.

Monday, November 11, 2013


 A visit from Witchie Poo. (Friend Lori dropped by.)
The big girls had a murder mystery party and W. and I went to our K. friends to trick or treat together. (She's the owl.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013


The week before Halloween I selected two art lessons for my class from my favorite site
For this night scene, we used chalk pastels. Messy, but satisfying. Trees are always a good thing to practice and kids enjoy drawing them once they learn to  keep the ends of all branches tapered and pointed. Above, clockwise from top L.: Daughter W., Elea, Ian, Gideon
These black cats were simple. They turned out very well and were a good chance for cutting practice. The idea was to have them on small separate  squares so it looked like the cats were looking out a glowing window, but once they started gluing, several of them thought it would be fun to place the squares more randomly.
 Daughter W.
5-year-old Gid

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Francis H

This week we lost a dear friend, neighbor and spiritual leader in our homeschool group. Over the years our kids have spend countless happy hours driving together to activities and in each others' homes.
Our friend died.
He was such a good man.
He was a man of faith.
He once considered seminary, but instead served his wife and family of eight children and many grandchildren.
He was the one we always asked to pray in a group setting if there was no minister around.
He served his church and community.
His mission was helping people and speaking the truth in a way they could listen to it.
He was goofy and lit up every party and room he came into.
He answered the phone like a crazy man. It always took a minute to realize that it was not a wrong number, it was just Fran.
He worked hard.
He was honest.
He knew God.
He was Godly.
He loved deeply.
He was a lawyer and judge. He would help people as righteously and honestly as he could, and they would pour out their lives and hearts and troubles to him. They would try to explain away why their lives were screwed up, and he would ask them, "How's that working for you?'
He was a second father to my younger kids.
His birthday was on the 4th of July. I guess God did that because Fran was a celebration.
He was larger-than-life.
Now he is living the Larger Life.

Snow Men and Little Women

Every week L. and M. babysit for an afternoon each with their cousins Nick and Rebekah's kids. This week L. and the kids made a huge snowman with the new snow. Gus had to make a face on every snowball.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


 Daughter M. got her pointe shoes. So pretty.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dragonflies and Damselflies

I developed this craft for a grade school entomology class. It can be used to make beaded dragonflies or damselflies, depending on the size of beads you choose.
You need a jewelry wire about 8 inches long and assorted beads. Choose two medium sized beads for the eyes, and string one a few inches onto one end of the wire and twist. (above)
String the second medium bead on the short end next to the first bead and twist the wire to secure it.
 For the head, add a larger bead to the long end, and push it up under the eyes.
Select appropriately sized smaller beads to string under the head to form the body. Dragonflies will have declining sized beads, damselflies bodies tend to be all one width. Add enough to get to the length you desire. Cut end of wire if necessary and bend tail end up to hold beads on.
To make the wings use a full pipe cleaner and fold it in half around the body right under the head. Take each lose end and bent it back to the body. Wrap the tip to secure it to the body and form wing. Repeat with a second pipe cleaner for the second set of wings.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Damselflies and Fall Leaves

After we "did" crickets and dragonflies, we covered damselflies. Our little class was lucky enough to see a tiny, bright red damselfly outside on one of our first days of co-op. We made damselflies out of wire, beads and pipe cleaners. I thought they turned out really well. Tutorial to come.
We made fall leaves out of polymer clay the same day. Painting them with gold paint takes immense concentration. (above) This is a really great fall craft that is fun to take home and keep. They are pretty successful for most any age, and make a nice introduction to clay work. I made this up a few years ago for my co-op art classes, and it is "pinned" many times on Pinterest. Here are instructions.