Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Last week I was driving through town when I saw a man raking piles of pine needles. There was already a huge stack of bagged pine needles. So I stopped and asked him what he was going to do with them. He said he had already taken 142 bags to the dump. Arrgh! So we came home and got the truck and brought home the remaining bags. This morning my children and I tried to beat the humidity and laid the mulch on top of landscaping fabric. Last year there was a strip of grass between the pool tarp and the hydrangeas and it was always overgrown and ugly. (Yes, I know I didn't prune my hydrangeas last fall!)

This evening when Lizzie and I got home from violin lesson, we ate a delicious dinner that Maggie made. We had a rice salad with avacados, artichokes, green onions and waterchestnuts. With that we ate chicken and dumplings. Everyone loved it but Ruthie, but the fact that she ate 2 nutbutter biscuits before dinner probably had a lot to do with it!For dessert, Maggie made Apple Pie Bars from the September 2004 issue of Country Extra (Reiman Publications). Of course, Maggie made all these dishes dairyfree and eggfree. She is going to post the recipes on her blog this week.
Before violin lessons, Lizzie and I dashed into one of our favorite stores in Leonardtown. It is a kitchen store called Quality Street Kitchen and Catering. This link takes you to their blog which has lotsa great pictures. This store is a wonderful place to browse. Most of the items are high end kitchen items. Today Lizzie and I bought two pineapple upside down cake pans that we had special ordered. Tomorrow I will show you a picture of the pans and a sample cake...hopefully! But if you are ever in Leonardtown, please stop here. (They also offer cooking classes that are well-known around here.) This picture shows only half of the store. We've also been in there when they were cooking in preparation for a class or catering event. Smells heavenly!
Sometime this summer I will post a visual tour of Leonardtown to entice you to spend a long afternoon there. There are so many quaint little stores. So go park your car behind the thrift shop and plan to eat al fresco at the Cafe des Artistes, then walk from door to door windowshopping.

Hubby is home now, so time to go reconnect and find out about his day. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, May 28, 2007

This is Maggie playing around with Mike's flying gear (this is for flying in jets). Mike made it home from Canada safe and sound. Then he was off early on Saturday for his Barbershop Chorus' competition in Reston, VA. Even though they sounded better this year than ever before, they got lower scores! Oh well. They have fun doing it.

Recently Maggie made Beefaroni for lunch. It was sooo delicious and dairyfree. Beefaroni used to be one of my favorite homeschool lunches. Just 1 lb ground beef, 1 jar of V8 juice and 1 lb of elbow macaroni. Cook until the juices are soaked up and then add your favorite cheese. Maggie used the nondairy cheddar cheese sauce that she posted on her blog page. It is so yummy!We worked outside today doing lots of weeding, mulching and planting. Then we set up the pool. We will fill it all night and tomorrow morning it will be ready to go. We have a 15x32' pool that we got from BJs three years ago and we are so pleased with it. I rarely have to vacuum it. When the water temp gets too hot (about 3-4 times a summer) we throw four hoses in it and syphon the water to my nearby flower gardens. This pool is much easier to maintain than our old inground pool. We even have a pool light that we hang over the sides for nighttime swimming...my favorite time!

The girls and I zipped down to a home on base who was giving away a huge bag of fabric scraps on www.freecycle.org. There are some wonderful calicos as well as 10 yards of denim! I bagged up the rest and will drop them off at the thrift shop. We stopped at Joann's Fabrics on the way home and tried to find a decent dress pattern since our old one got worn out. We found one that might work...with a little help. The sleeves need to be lengthened and the front needs to be brought up for modesty.

Maggie and Anna are going to BJU in a few weeks for missions camp, so we need to get busy and sew! They need to take most of their own food, so we are researching Seal a Meals. If you have any advice about which model is best, please let us know! Our friend Anna recommends the model with a sensor that won't allow the food to get mashed. That sounds good to us...but adds another $50 onto the bill!

I would like to recommend a website, www.gcfl.net/911/ for this memorial day. It is actually dedicated to the fallen on 9/11, but reminds us that this is the primary reason that we are at war now. It takes awhile to download and takes about 15 minutes to view, but well worth it. I'm not sure what age is appropriate. Probably older than eight. I would consider Ruthie too young. The music is also offensive so use the mute! I know there are lots of videos memorializing 9/11, but I think this is the best.

Hope you had a relaxing Memorial Day. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, May 25, 2007

I got an email today from a local friend (her sister was my roomie at BJU) who homeschools her two boys. She sent me a website from MIT offering free courses. The website is http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html. According to my friend Lynn, MIT tried distance learning online but the concept didn't work out for them. So they have kept the online courses and made them available to the public. Take a look. There are a number of different courses.

I just want to say that I am not recommending MIT as a school choice and I have not checked out the courses. But hopefully you have raised your children to be discerning by the time they are youths. Anyhow, I welcome all comments you have about this website.

Aren't the roses beautiful? Mike brought them home today for no special reason. How sweet is that?! And tonight we had the most delicious dinner. Fried squash, sauteed green beans, watermelon, potato cakes and sliced tomatoes. It was wonderful. I got brave and dipped the squash into egg before dredging in flour and tonight I am paying the price ~ I itch all over. I thought egg was something I shouldn't overdo, but now I'm thinking I need to be just as diligent with egg as I have to be with dairy.

Today I got a comment from Deb who writes her wonderful Mountain Musings blog that I always enjoy reading. She recommends the Blue Indigo Bush for my Courter's Quarters area in Bypass Lane (see previous post). So tomorrow I want to call around and see if I can find one. I sure appreciate the recommendation. I'll let you know what I find!

I noticed that our Mennonite plant stand across the highway is filled to overflowing with flowers and plants. But so far I have seen few cars this year. I will have to go see what they are selling. One of my Mennonite friends works there, young Elsie. It is always fun to stop and talk with Elsie.

Tomorrow promises to be hot with severe thunderstorms in the afternoon, so I plan to get up and moving early (relatively!).

Thanks for reading and many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Six years ago, my Dad had 5 bypasses to his heart, an operation that saved his life. When Dad recovered, that was the last we saw of him. For the first time in several years, he felt great! He went fishing, traveling, hunting, things that used to require too much energy. But when Dad was going through his surgery, I had a small baby and couldn't go up to the hospital until after his surgery. I also had a need to do something very physical. Do you know what I mean? So I went out in our woods and cleared out the many stumps and woodpiles leftover from building our driveway through the woods. I was praying for Dad every minute.

Anyhow, by the time I was finished (it took 3 days), Dad was well on his way to recovery and we had a wonderful little path through the woods. My children call the path "Bypass Lane" in honor of Dad's operation.

The next summer I had some bricks leftover from our fireplace and chimney construction, so I made a little area in the woods for my loveseat glider and tables which were a gift for Mother's Day. I love this little area. I call it the "Courter's Quarters" in honor of my hubby's and my courting days. (Actually we courted on a loveseat in front of my parent's woodstove. I made sure we brought that woodstove with us and it's in our basement waiting for future courters!) I need to sweep away the anthills and stuff more moss between the bricks.

This same neck of the woods is where Maggie keeps her five bunny cages. This is wonderful because it allows just enough sun to keep her bunnies comfy but is nice and cool in the summer.

Every year I try to add at least one plant to Bypass Lane. So far I have a rhododendron, 2 azaleas, and 4 hostas. This year I want to add something with color. My only rule is that it has to be a perennial.

Tonight we spent a lot of time practicing. Our family is signed up for a lot of special music at church next month.

At dusk, my children and I put on boots and went snake hunting. We have a few woodpiles around our property, so we had lots of fun. The only snake we found was a juvenile cornsnake that is popular on our property. We decided to ignore him. Maggie really wants to find a copperhead to tan. Better luck next time.

Mike is in Canada for a few days, so life here is very relaxed. We planted our new hydrangeas. Went to the farmer's market and got some more watermelons and strawberries for dinner. Everything was delicious!

Enjoy this beautiful weather. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This past weekend we went to Virginia to visit with my parents at their weekend home. It is a beautiful waterfront home; actually it is a waterback home since the pier starts at their back door! The children had fun swimming, jet skiing, and fishing in the warm weather. Why the picture of the crab? Well, we ate a bushel of crabs! Only $65/bushel which is an unbelievably low price for these parts. Thanks, Dad. It was so much fun.

Our weather today is delicious. Warm with a breeze. The nights are still cool.

For the past 46 years I have been trying to learn patience. It is not a natural part of my temperament. If something needs doing, I like to get it done...now! So today I am going to study and see what the Bible says about patience. I will let you know what I find out. I will probably read Job, too.

Why the emphasis on patience? Well, the icemaker isn't working, the lawn mower shredded its belt when I mowed over a piece of twine, a pipe in the cellar is leaking, a piece of soffitt on the house came off so the bats have access to our attic, the porch railing broke, and lots of little things need fixing. It isn't any one little thing that bothers me, it's the whole lot! It's awful how I spent the whole weekend on vacation reflecting on the unfortunate in this world and then I come home to these minute inconveniences and immediately count myself among the less fortunate. Oh for the patience of Job!

Today is the day my children help their Grandaddy fix dinner for the church folks, so they will be off soon. I hope to stay home since I am still in recovery mode from vacation. Most of the 12 loads of laundry are still pegged on the clothesline. But if I am needed, I will go.

Have a wonderful day and be sure to study God's Word.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Happy Birthday Allen and Lizzie!

Hard to believe it's been eleven years! Twins are so much fun to watch. Allen and Lizzie are especially close. Many times we will be driving somewhere and I will peek in the rear view mirror and see them snuggling or holding hands. Every night before lights out, they always wrap up their day by talking a few minutes. It's their special time.

Tomorrow we are going to VA to visit with my parents at their weekend home. The children are very excited. I think they expect to fish from dawn til dusk. Anna and Maggie enjoy the kayaking. I just enjoy the whole trip.

Mike has been in CA for the week and he will come home on Friday, then drive to VA to be with us. This has been a hard business trip for Mike. Lots of work, early mornings and flying. He normally enjoys flying, but this week it's been hard on his stomach.

Maggie had flight class tonight. She is wrapping up the final lessons before her solo flight.

Lizzie got a BB gun for her birthday. She really likes it. I bought Allen a DVD on knife throwing since he's always been interested in learning how. So I bought him a DVD called Knife Throwing for Fun featuring Michael Pearl, the famous author of To Train Up A Child. Michael Pearl's website www.nogreaterjoy.org contains lots of wonderful reading. Mike and I highly endorse the To Train Up A Child book by Michael and Debi Pearl. I also ordered Allen the throwing knives that are recommended but they haven't arrived yet.

Well, today was warm and humid, but fortunately not humid enough for the air conditioner. I really enjoy having a covered wraparound porch on all four sides of my house because it keeps the sun out but the breezes in.

Tonight was AWANA awards night at church. Anna, Allen and Lizzie won top awards for Bible memorization. I am so proud of them. They sure worked hard this year.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I am showing you this picture of a weather doppler to show how closely we missed a major storm here in Southern Maryland. We are just south of the L in Lusby. Didn't get a drop but sure heard the thunder and saw the dark skies! I enjoy following this doppler on www.wjla.com/weather. It is more accurate than any weatherman's predictions!

Tonight we stirfried asparagus and bokchoy with onions and garlic, and it was so delicious! My daughter, Maggie, now has her own cooking blog! So many people have been asking for Maggie's vegan recipes, so Sarah set her up with a blog. Her address is www.maggiestestkitchen.blogspot.com. Sarah says to give Maggie a day or two to post her recipes. The picture above shows the setup Maggie made (in the pantry) to hang her latest cheese experiment. She's trying to come up with an "aged" cheese taste. I'm sure it will be a winner!

Ever since our family has found out that we tested "off the chart" for dust mites, we've been making some drastic changes in the way we live. First we got rid of everything in our bedrooms except a bed, a box of kleenex and a trashcan. Then we bought the expensive allergyfree sheets and zipped our mattresses into them. Then we started allergy shots which should kick in our own immune systems to cure our allergies (90% success rate!). We also started vacuuming our rooms every 3 days (we have no carpets upstairs) and dusting like fanatics.

Now I am starting to work on the other parts of the house. Today I got a free futon from www.freecycle.org. I picked it up this morning and stopped by Walmart for their allergyfree mattress cover. I'll zip the futon mattress into this. Now I have to find a large zipper (preferably 60" or wider) and make a fabric cover for it that can be washed weekly. I bought some $1/yard fabric at Walmart that is 60" wide and looks nice. I think I'll go to our local amish store for the zipper. If not, I know the amish store in Charlotte Hall has one. While I'm there I'm going to stop at the thrift shop and drop off our upholstered sofa set, complete with a million colonies of dust mites! Too bad the sofas are still in good shape.

Did you know that dust mite allergy is the leading cause of allergies and asthma?

Today I started on the mowing and weeding until I was afraid to be out in the pending storm. The children and I stayed home from church because of headcolds. Mike has a deacon's meeting, so he'll be home late. Can't believe it's almost Thursday already!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Today Lizzie had her violin lesson with Mrs. V, who happens to be the best violin teacher ever (and no, we're not biased!). Mrs. V is sweet and smiles a lot. She definitely has the gift of teaching and encouraging. Lizzie has learned so much this year. We especially appreciate all we've learned about emphasizing relaxation techniques. Every Tuesday when we are driving home from lesson, Lizzie thanks me profusely for letting her take lessons.

The other nice thing about Tuesday is that while Lizzie and I are at violin lesson, Maggie is home cooking up a storm! Today she made several different kinds of candies and candy bars. They taste even better than they look! And for dinner she sauteed bok choy and made Party Mashed Potatoes, which are mashed potatoes with dairyfree cheese, bacon and onion. Not low cal! She even made a new version of her best dairyfree nacho cheese which is better than ever. Yummy.

The picture above shows the chocolates she made. The top left looks and tastes like a chocolate crunch bar. The other chocolates have caramel centers, nougat center and graham crackers centers. Normally these chocolates wouldn't be hard to make, but making them dairyfree is particularly tricky!

We bought the molds for Maggie's candy bars and chocolates from Cakes N' Things in Waldorf. They have a wonderful selection. You can also find them online but by the time you add shipping costs, you will pay double. The Waldorf store doesn't have an online website yet.

My Bible verse that I have been meditating on today comes from Psalm 19:14. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." I wish everything I said were acceptable to God.

Years ago I used to read a magazine that was written by Quakers. The editor was describing a business meeting he had attended that day with his fellow Quakers. It was a very quiet meeting because the Quakers have a rule that they live by. "Never speak unless you can improve on silence." I was so impressed with that rule, so I googled it to see what I would come up with. I found, "old spanish proverb" "old irish proverb" "ancient chinese proverb" "old danish proverb" "life rule of buddhist monks" etc. It's like I always say, Biblical principles work no matter what culture you come from!

Hope your windows are open and you are enjoying the luscious breeze.

Many blessings ~ Kathie