Thursday, April 30, 2009

From Horror to Homey

The first time that we came to see this house before buying it I was sceptical. The add said wonderful things - in our price range (red flag: something we want that we can afford!? Yeah, right.) Then when we pulled up, I was even more doubtful.

It wasn't until we got to the kitchen that I was SURE I could never live here. I was silently thanking God that I'd never have to live in such a dump.
The above picture is from our second actual walk through before we bought it (the kitchen really is a good representation of how the whole house looked - a disaster!) I was no more excited the second time around! A couple of my favorite aspects were the hole in the floor and the cracked and peeling counter tops. Please do notice the beauty of the drop down ceiling. My sis-in-law stood up on the counter and poked her head up there one of our first days of living here, and announced that there was a reason someone ingeniously covered it up. The ceiling was falling down.
The very first thing that we did was replace the counter tops. I had dreams of granite but that quickly ended when I found out how much it would really cost to install. Even the second and third choices were ridiculously pricey so I decided I did love laminate after all, at $30 for our whole kitchen from the stock colors at home depot. It was super easy to do too.

Then Mr. Right and I tried out his new tile cutter and put up a new back splash all around. I picked the classic white subway tiles, it looked really easy to do. It ended up being a little bit of a challenge because the walls are not even. Anywhere.

I painted all of the cupboards inside with a new coat of glossy white. I love them because they are the original with the bead board inside. We bought an above range microwave and had two additional cupboards made, one to go on the side of the microwave, long and narrow to fit all of my cookie sheets. The other with a bubble glass front above the microwave that is wired for lighting. I took the handles off of all the cupboards at least a year ago, thinking that painting cupboards was easy. It's not. We had someone working on them last year but he quit the job after doing a few. I have cute knobs waiting in the wings for when that project is finished.

I think you can tell from the after picture that we no longer have that horrid drop down ceiling. That went and so did the old plaster and lath. That was a mess!!! Mr. Right put up drywall.

As you see, he also finished the floor (go here to see before pics). There was one bad spot in front of the sink, where water has been dripping for 100 years. But, I am happy with it overall. It looks a little rustic.

Thanks for visiting my new old kitchen. Come again!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dandelion Jelly

I just found this book: Good Old Days in the Kitchen Edited by Ken and Janice Tate. It is a compilation of stories and recipes from people that grew up around the turn of the century to about the 1930's, all of them memories from the kitchen.

I really enjoyed it, so much so that I sat down and read it cover to cover. One of the recipes caught my attention, dandelion jelly, who ever heard of such a thing?

Well. Teach us, generations of the past, because we are an ignorant lot! Apparently there is a long list of benefits we can receive from eating what we thought was just a flowering weed for boys to bring to their mommies in bunches with fat, grubby little hands.

Since my dandelions are in full bloom (you know, the ones I painstakingly cultivate out back) I thought this recipe was very timely!

Dandelion Jelly

Pick 1 quart of fresh dandelion blossoms (take care to avoid any that might have been exposed to herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.) Quickly rinse blooms with cool water to remove any insects. Snip of green collars.

Combine cleaned blossoms in a saucepan with 2 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Set aside to cool.

Strain liquid, pressing petals with fingers to extract juice.
Measure three cups dandelion liquid in to a saucepan; add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 (1 3/4 ounce Sure Jell. Bring to a boil.

Add 5 1/2 cups sugar, stirring well. Boil for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Put in jars and seal.

***UPDATE: I tried this recipe and it turned out beautifully (I processed in a water bath canner for 5 minutes btw), a very mellow honey like taste.***


Oh my, when opportunity knocks, you'd better answer.

I'm sure that I'm not the only women who has read Titus 2 and, with a sigh, dreams danced in my head of a mentor to help me along this journey of womanhood. Ah ha! Now this has come along and, I, for one, am jumping at the chance!

There is a give-away attached to all of this...

Here I am quoting directly from The Tie That Binds Us, "This week's give-away at Our Lifestyle of Learning is commencing a new Mentoring Moms theme. This new Mentoring Moms section will have articles submitted by moms that have a lot to share from their down in the trenches experiences. Each month a new mentoring mom will be featured and she will write a new article for us to ponder on each week. Coming in May, Kris from Wierd Unsocialized Homeschoolers will be the first mom to share in May. I've followed Kris' blog for some time and she is a wonderful mother. I know you will enjoy meeting her.

Back to this week's give-away. In keeping with the Mentoring Moms theme, we have a 3 month subscription to The Homemaker's Mentor to give-away to one person that brings in 2 new members to Our Lifestyle. Blog about it, email your friends, facebook, tweet, or call them! Make sure that they put your name down as the person that referred them so you get the credit. If YOU are new, then guess what? You count for 1 person and you just need to invite a friend. There is even something for the 3 runner-ups. They will receive a sample of lessons donated by The Homemaker's Society. Winners will be randomly drawn on May 2nd.

What is The Homemaker's Mentor?
If you have ever wished for a friend or older woman to hold your hand and teach you skills you have always wanted to learn, The Homemaker’s Mentor is for you. A friendly hand reaching out to help you with lessons that can make your homemaking experience joyful and rewarding. As each lesson is learned your homemaking skills increase and are refined. Though the hustle and bustle of life may surround you and your family, your home will become a welcome haven for all who enter. You will find a deep enjoyment in being a homemaker by learning from older, like-minded women who have traveled the way before you and can look back and help you overcome life’s struggles as a homemaker."

Go sign up today! Free, easy, access to the answers to your homemaking questions!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Week in Pictures

My littlest one riding our biggest horse. She's a daring one.

This is what our kitchen floor looked like. When we moved in we took off layers and layers of linoleum flooring, plywood and more. What was left was this green felt on the hardwood. I was ready to go buy something at the home center but my purist husband thought otherwise. He really wanted to restore it back to it's original splendor.

Scrapping, scrapping, scrapping. The floor had too many layers of felt-ish stuff on it. The sander couldn't take that off, so it was done by hand.

The sander that we rented from Home Depot.

Here's what the floor looked like after the scraping and sanding.

Of course, Macho Man had to try this big machine out. Although the floor looks great in these pictures, there was still much to be done. Mr. Right then began filling cracks with wood putty and then sanding that with a hand sander.

The preschoolers playing in shaving cream.

Big Sissy went to help her former cake decorating teacher with some orders that she had. She really enjoys going to Alena's because she continues to learn from her. To Sissy's surprise Alena slipped her some money on her way out the door.

She was so excited when we got in the car and realized that she'd gotten $50 for her day of work!

In the garden, my peas are up, I've seen little green shoots coming up in the carrot squares and I've found some green leaves in the cabbage section. Until just yesterday I was really discouraged about all of my lettuce, none of them were showing any signs of life. Then I saw some spinach finally!

Someone lost his two front teeth!

If you wanted to spend any time with Dad this week, it was through the bars of the chairs while watching him work.

Macho Man turned 11! Here he is opening his card to find out he's taking riding lessons beginning next week. He was so excited!

Mr. Right is still working on perfecting the kitchen floor right now!

Free Organic Gardening Subscription

Here's a great freebie. If you sign up here, you are lead to another page where you can request your free subscription. Maybe you've been considering organic gardening since my last post?

Genetic Modification

Looking well to the ways of our household means more than dusting and laundry. It means keeping a keen eye out for your family's well being, that includes what comes in and what we bring in to the household. What you brought home from the grocery store today for one. Genetically modified food... what do you know about what you are feeding your children?

Here is part one in a three part YouTube series.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

School Stuff

I've been walking with Mama-Aya - our kids are participating in an upcoming marathon together and we meet at the park to walk really slow around the track and run our mouths a hundred miles an hour do some serious training ourselves while our kids get in shape.

The topic comes up, as it inevitably will between two homeschooling moms, curriculum. What's the plan for next year? Mama-Aya, she's got it planned out to the $dollar$! I feel a little, um, behind. So I decided to put my plans and purchases out there too. (They are nothing like hers, just goes to show that homeschoolers are different!)
So here goes....

Big Sissy is in 10th grade - how this can possibly be, I don't know - this year. Here's what's on here agenda:

Math U See Geometry - Thankfully, we've already bought the rest of the math that she needs to finish high school. I'm requiring her to take this class and Algebra 2 to complete her high school math. I think she was relieved to know that there will be and end to math and she can see the light.

Rosetta Stone Spanish 2 - Last year she took French using Power Glide tapes. Although she felt like she learned a lot, Rosetta Stone is far above the other program. However, it has been difficult for us as we've switched through several computers this year and you have to start over every time. That's been frustrating and there is some catch up work to do with Spanish 1.

A Beka World Literature - She enjoyed this year's Themes of Literature and wanted to stick with the A Beka program again.

Spectrum Science - This will be a big expense for us this year. Some of the materials are consumable but a good portion can be re-used by the next high school student in the family. She took Rainbow science two years ago and, although she didn't love it, I appreciate the fact that it was a true lab science class but I didn't have to fish around for an orange, a globe and a flashlight 3 minutes before the experiment was to begin, if you know what I mean. The book is really well written with great pictures and everything you need to do everything is in the kit. When I saw that, I new it was for us!

Washington State History - This is required by the public schools and I thought it was a great idea. It's important to know the history on the state in which you live.

Bible Study - No ideas here. I need something good.

Music - We are thinking about looking for a voice teacher for Big Sissy. She's completed all of her the things she wanted to learn for this year, cake decorating, sewing, quilting, except for this last one, singing lessons. It's been cost prohibitive, but I think we're really to jump in.
Current Events - We subscribe to multiple magazines: God's World News, Acts and Facts, World, Seasons at Home (that one isn't exactly current events but has a lot of practical info for women but also the whole family).

Macho Man will be in 6th grade this year:

Horizon Math - He did do Math U See for the first two years and did miserably. I finally gave up on it and switched him to Horizon and he's done so much better! Sometimes it is good just to switch, forget your pride, forget the time/money investment, do what's best for that child. So for him, I forgot about the super great, hands on approach to Math U See. Now he does workbook pages. And likes it.

Building Spelling Skills - I used this with Big Sissy too, after tons of trial and error to find the right program. There were many tears in our house over the unmentionable big orange spelling book (I am withholding the name in case any of you also have similar emotional issues due to that program!) The only difference now, with Macho Man, is that I make him get them all right before he moves on. Works for us.

Rod and Staff Progressing with Courage - Every year of homeschooling I've had Macho Man in the Plaid Phonics workbooks. This year I have to face the fact that my little baby is in sixth grade with a post high school reading level. His test scores do show that he needs help on all the fun things in English like parts of speech and diagramming sentences. So, Ive decided to go with the sixth grade book, it sound just like what he needs.

A Reason For Handwriting - I love these books. He's got boy handwriting. Good combo.

Discover 4 Yourself - He's doing the Revelations books next year. Great studies for kids.

The Colors Science - Same as Big Sissy, but for 5-7 graders. Expensive, but again, worth it!

History - None. Really. I just get some good books for him to read. Get rid of your TV, video games, and computer and you too will find yourself with an avid reader than eats up any and everything you bring home.

Geography - Well.... I do have a map on the wall....

Creative Genius will be in 1st grade:

Horizons Math - Easy. I do have the Math U See stuff for this grade, we'll see how it goes.

A Reason For Handwriting - Just yesterday he did his first page with a verse on it. I'm going to frame it, it's just precious.

Plaid Phonics - When it's good, stick with it.

Art - classes

Reading - I am using Bob Books with him this year. Depending on where he's at next year we'll begin easy readers and, it seems to me, they just straight in to Boxcar Children and other chapter books from there.

Other than these things listed, I try my best to do lots of family activities, building and remodeling projects with Dad, cooking and kitchen projects with me and other educational-y things. And, really, when you are a homeschooling mom, everything you do turns in to a teachable moment.

Our Weekend

This weekend was SO busy. The kids and I had a garage sale to earn money for their up coming trip. My husband, however, was on his own at home sanding my kitchen floor. He had several days off in a row and am so glad he chose to spend it working on my floor! The sale went really well, we earned $400 for the trip by sitting out in the sunshine on Friday and Sunday.

Saturday, being the sabbath, we rested. All of us. We had lunch at the park before Torah study. This picture sums it all up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A New Album from Alaina and Roman La'Voy

Although the release date has yet to be announced, I’m looking forward to a new and independent album from two promising artists. Alaina and Roman La’Voy have been recording tracks for Empty Rooms With Sounds of Prayer. With tracks like Oseh Shalom the album is recognizably Jewish and is still kitschy enough to be called messianic…but its kitschy cool. The sound is definitely folk…but folk frum. It’s going to be a CD with a vinyl soul.

When asked, Roman La’Voy explained that for him the most important track on the album is one entitled Teach Me to Overcome “because,” he said “every one struggles in faith.” The album strikes me as a refreshing folk soundtrack behind a Torah life.

Preview a selection from the album and show your support at

(I just copied and pasted this from my brother's blog... forgive me Tim... but I just LOVE Roman's last CD. I look forward to hearing this new one.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hanging Laundry Inside

I love laundry. It starts out a wet, stinky, squished up mess and comes out fresh and clean. But I didn't really know the depths of my true love for laundry until I started hanging it outside. I leap out of bed in the morning when I know I have some ready to go out in to the sunshine. I'm not kidding.

But what about those other days? Days like it was here today, wet, cold, raining? When you know you are spending 60 cents for each load that you throw in the drier, you start to get creative. Here's my solution....

here you see an toddler bed turned on it's end. My daily average for laundry is about three loads a day, when my line gets full outside (or if the weather isn't cooperating), I start on the banister in the upstairs hallway and fill the toddler bed with all the little stuff like socks and baby clothes, it can hold a lot! This way, there is no waiting around to do the next load, I can dry it all at once.

Have one of these hanging around and not in use? Try it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unleaved Recipes and a FREE download for the holiday

Check out the great recipes here! If you are interested in observing or just teaching your children about the Biblical holidays be sure to download the book there too. It's very good.
And, if you want to know what's on this pizza, here it is.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Layered Passover Dessert

We had a very tasty dessert given to us a couple of days ago and we just finished it off today - for breakfast!

The cook who brought it to us insists that it must be made with homemade pudding. But - if you don't tell her I won't either, you could do this with instant pudding.

Layered Passover Dessert

Using a 9x 13 pan, layer sheets of matzo on the bottom
Next layer vanilla pudding
Next layer is strawberries
Continue to layer until pan is full
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and all leftovers, it just gets better the longer it sits!

To serve: Slice bananas in the bottom of a bowl or parfait glass, add layered dessert, top with real whipped cream (none of that fake stuff in the plastic container, okay?). Feeding it to your children for breakfast may score you a nomination for the Mom of the Year award.

Friday, April 10, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

My dad called. He said that we didn't have enough pictures of our Seder (!) and he wanted to see everyone who came.

This is Al and his wife, Emma. Al comes to Torah study on Saturday afternoons. They brought a good friend of theirs, Alva, who has recently returned from a trip to Israel.

This is Hector. He and his wife, Susan and three children came. They live around the corner from us and have been learning about their Jewish roots for about a year or so. They've come over to welcome the Shabbat with us many a Friday evening and now are lighting candles and baking challah at home too.

Judy and David are a nice couple. Judy comes to Torah study and loves all the children. I especially enjoy talking with her as she has her master's degree in Early Childhood Education. I was in childcare/preschool during my working years so I enjoy her wealth of knowledge in the area.

Here is one of the Seder plates.

This is my dear friend, Alena. She's ready to have her baby any time - she just got her birthing pool out and blown up today. I know what a sacrifice it was for her to come, she's not feeling well here at all but she made it along with her husband and two little girls.

I had to add a picture of my kids. I can't resist.

Here is a shot from the head of the table.
In my previous post you will see two of our favorite ladies, both widowed, Sandy and Peggy. They also attended, Sandy brought her daughter, Ami. Mike and Karen are the couple that were directing the dinner, Mike teaches our Torah study group.
This one's for you, Dad!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mother - Daughter Moments

Anyone remember that TV commercial? Was it Palmolive or Ivory soap or something that asked you if you could tell which one was the mother and which one was the daughter???


While Sissy and I stayed home (things were not as done on the big day as I'd previously hoped) to iron table cloths and tend to last minute details, Mr. Right took everyone else to the park. He snapped this picture when the older four were riding in front of him. I just loved it!

While they were away we worked hard on getting things ready. The tables had been a source of worry for me. With beautiful borrowed, gold-rimmed place settings and crystal glasses, they turned out to be perfect. Why do I always worry? My husband says, "It always works out." whenever I fret over the little details.

As people began to arrive, women were talking in their groups and

the men in theirs.

Our fearless leader directing from one end of the table and

my husband reading from the other.

My daughter and her friend, Rebecca, provided entertainment by singing Kadosh.

Our dinner menu came in courses. First the traditional matzo ball soup, a green salad, and then the main course with lemon chicken, red potatoes and glazed carrots. We rounded out the meal with a layered matzoh, strawberry and pudding desert. (Sorry, no pictures here. I was running around like a crazy getting everyone served!)
Many cups of juice and

and glasses of wine later....

Oy vey!