Thursday, February 28, 2008

Graceful Designs by Hannah Girotti

Hannah Girotti launched her new website today called Graceful Designs Cards. She will be selling handmade cards using her own photos, stamping and watercolor pictures. I enjoyed looking at her selection and they are beautiful. If I had to use one word to describe them, I would use inspiring. Just beautiful.

Hannah is a homeschool graduate, and the daughter of my friend, Deb from Mountain Musings. Hannah is a maiden of virtue who is being a blessing to her parents while pursuing a Biblical approach to daughterhood. What a role model for our daughters.
I enjoy living the country life. You just never know what is gonna happen! Tonight we got a visit from Charlotte, my neighbor's pet pig. Boy did she squeal when they came to claim her! Charlotte lives many acres away (1/2 mile), so I was surprised to see her. At least she didn't dig up my daffodils the way my other neighbor's pig did. :-)
The commissary had scallopini veal marked down for quick clearance, so I obliged. Tonight Maggie made two different styles. One had lots of herbs including fresh chives, garlic and parsley, the other with breadcrumbs and balsamic sauce. They were absolutely delicious. She served them with wagon wheel pasta. Guess that makes it a western style meal!

Dad came over again to chat in front of our roaring fire. He sure enjoys being warm.

We have altered our "Read the Bible in a Year" plan to "Read the Bible in 2 Years." It got to be too much when we missed a day and had to catch up. The good part is that we are learning so much.

Tomorrow is a busy day for me, so an early bedtime. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I enjoyed seeing Anna putting Ruthie to sleep. Seems like yesterday that my girls would beg to rock Ruthie to sleep. I remember Sarah and Maggie enjoying the twins when there were two babies to hand over! How time flies.
Maggie had fun making another quilt block. She didn't realize until she was finished that the small blue squares weren't all facing in the same direction. That's okay, I remember making many sewing goofs. It is hereditary. My mother made me a maternity dress with a one-way design of hearts...but all the hearts were upside down!
Ruthie made these masks in art class today. The theme was "in like a lion, out like a lamb." I can't remember how March came in, but it's gonna go out like a lamb. I'm still waiting for a good snowstorm!
Today in ukulele class, I had so much fun with Georgie. We sang a few songs out of this book. The wonderful thing about this book is that all of the songs are in the key of C (the uke is a C instrument, the guitar is a G instrument). What was really neat is that Georgie was able to hold his own while I sang the harmony part. Wow!

Maggie had a rough night, so she stayed home from cooking class. So I had to think up a cooking lesson really quick. The Lord blessed me and we had a great time. We made a pineapple upside down cake, pasta with olive oil, seasonings and parmesan (I let them decide on the seasonings themselves!), and then I taught the three boys how to pop popcorn on the stovetop. They ate it all, so I guess they like their own cooking!

Dad came over for tea this afternoon and brought a large pot of spaghetti for dinner. What a delightful treat! We sat in front of a roaring fire and enjoyed relaxing after a week that has been much too busy. Tomorrow is a slow day, so I hope to catch up on schoolwork, housework, and snuggletime.

Enjoy the remaining days of winter. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Grand Prix Results

So what do you think?! Lizzie won 2nd place in design, and Allen won 3rd place in design and 2nd place in speed. They are very pleased!
There were 57 cars entered into the event.

This is a closeup of the track. The screen in the back shows the scores.
A lot of creative minds! The only sad spot for us was Anna's jet car. The rules got changed this year and her car was rejected. There were a lot of tears, so Anna came home and took a long walk in the woods. All better now. Hopefully next year the changes in rules will be announced before the race.

I got a lot of cleaning done this morning, no more thrift-shop kitchen. I also got a lot of sewing done this afternoon...but not for me. My nieces needed to have their gymnastics costumes altered for their competition tomorrow. Yikes, it was hard work! I hate altering. I would much rather start all over and sew the clothes from the beginning. And the stretchy fabrics didn't help!

But it's all done. I'm going to join my children in a Dutch Blitz tournament and hopefully have an early bedtime.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

For those of you in my homechurch, remember to pray for Pastor who is preaching in Mexico tomorrow. I figure he'll be preaching around 3 o'clock our time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Awana Grand Prix Weekend at Church

Every winter, our church hosts a Grand Prix for the children who attend the AWANA program at our church. This year it is open to the public. The car kits go on sale in January. There are rules about how much the car has to weigh, so there are weigh-ins. My children love the whole Grand Prix process ~ choosing a design, cutting it out, painting it, weighing it, and racing it. Poor hubby gets a real workout helping with the whole thing.

So here are our cars, starting with Allen's:

Ruthie's truck is supposed to be a model of Grandad's truck:
Lizzie had fun painting her pencil car:
And of course, Anna's jet car. Can you tell she's the daughter of a pilot?
The Grand Prix has two categories of prizes that are broken down into ages. But for the most part, there are winners for speed and winners for design. Every year we've had a design winner in our family. Never a speed winner. Anna's jet is designed so that she can easily slip off the wings and tail when she goes to race her jet. I'll let you know the results tomorrow!
I needed to buy some more coffee creamer this week and almost missed it in the store. There is only one store around here that sells Silk soy creamer in the plain flavor. The above picture shows the old creamer on the left and the new carton on the right. What a difference! While I don't recommend soy products for anyone, this creamer is the only nondairy creamer that I can stand. I am on a coffee thing right now (goes along with the cold weather) and enjoy a cup in the morning and a cup in the aftnoon.
And looky what I found in Walmart today! We just recently got a new Supercenter and I still haven't discovered all the new products. But this dark chocolate bar is very big and only $1.97! Twice as big as the health food store's bar for half the price. I bought the 70% cocoa but they also had an 80% that is, of course, healthier. It's just harder on my tummy.
Just one more thing to say about healthy foods. Are you still using Splenda thinking it is a wonderful sugar substitute? Splenda recently lost a lawsuit and now they have to admit that Splenda is a neurotoxin just like Equal and Sweet and Low. And Splenda can no longer claim that it is made from natural sugar. But if you are like me, you never believed it to be healthy in the first place.

I have been gone from home almost every day this week. My home shows it. My kitchen looks like a donation drop-off for a thrift shop. I will be staying home from the Grand Prix and doing major cleaning and sewing. If I am successful, I hope to make a bunch of sourdough doughnuts. Talk about motivation!

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength." Isaiah 40:29 What a balm to my weary body tonight.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Friday the 15th was my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. They were married in a blizzard in 1958. When the wedding guests arrived, the flurries were starting up and two hours later when it was time to leave, there was 2-1/2 ft of snow in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Tonight was our night to help Dad cook dinner for his church, so I couldn't get a picture of them together. Here's Mom enjoying her cake. Mom loves cake. Anyhow, thanks so much Mom and Dad for being married for 50 years. It means a lot to me that both of you (as well as my inlaws who have been married 57+ years) have given us such a gift.
Here we are in the kitchen at Dad's church. It was a lot of work today because Dad always gives the folks many choices of dishes. But not as many people showed up, I think because of the snow (counted 95 folks). Tonight I brought home a whole turkey, a whole ham, chicken wings, baked beans, salad, rolls, chili, and lots of little leftovers. I'm thankful it's in the 30s outside because there is no room in my fridge!
Maggie and Anna have fun posting the menu for Dad. This morning we had homeschool co-op. Here's Lizzie enjoying her quilting class (they had one missing because of sickness):
And Maggie taught her boys' class how to make gnocchi that they loved (and they, too, were missing one due to sickness):
And my ukulele class is doing wonderfully! And yes, we too had one missing because of sickness. So tonight we finally got home at 8 o'clock. I was nervous about driving on our mile-long dirt road with two major hills, but the Lord was gracious and it was uneventful.
My children immediately went sledding. See the large aluminum bowl in the picture below? I bought three of these bowls for $15 on eBay a few years ago. I thought I was going to use them for salads and such, but was I shocked when they arrived! They are huge. Perfect for sledding!
Yesterday I went into our basement and found all the snowsuits lying around in piles, so I told the children to put them away in the bins. Tonight Anna was all excited and said, "Mom, thank you so much for making us put the snowsuits away yesterday. That was the best thing that ever happened to us!" Only my children would reason that it wouldn't snow while the snowsuits were easily accessible:-)

Hope you are enjoying your weather wherever you are. We are supposed to get snow for another hour or so, then another system on Saturday evening. Hope it's a doosie...with electricity so I can sew!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grandad's home! My parents came home from Texas yesterday and today we had a nice visit from Grandad. (Mom was home unpacking and preparing for today's first day back to teaching.) It was so much fun to sit and talk with him.Last night after church services, my friend Sonya brought some games to play. The younger crowd enjoyed playing Aggravation, while the rest of us played Dutch Blitz. We came home and continued playing Dutch Blitz until midnight. Most of the older youth played soccer in the gym.
I have many bolts of bandana fabric that I bought at Walmart for $1/yard. So Maggie designed this quilt block from them. Isn't it beautiful?! My daughters all enjoy playing around with colors and seeing what goes with what.
Today I made some sticky buns for fun. Except for 1/2 cup of unbleached white flour, I used all whole wheat flour. They were delicious but next time I won't use as much cinnamon. They sure are disappearing quickly!

I am seriously considering switching my eBay selling over to a different online auction. Ebay's new pricing and feedback system have left me disillusioned and disappointed. I have stopped selling for now but will let you know if I switch.

This past Sunday, my family sang in church. We didn't know until afterwards that we had been recorded. So if you'd like to hear us, look for the box on the sidebar.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What a busy weekend. Last night we went to my friend Sonya's home for dinner and games. Another family was supposed to come but they called in sick. My share of the dinner was rolls and dessert. I made my usual sourdough rolls but this time I added cracked wheat. They were delicious. To make your bread or rolls with cracked wheat, just soak one cup of cracked wheat in one cup warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and add to dough. My whole family loved the taste ~ like fresh wheat.Sonya's home had lots of flowers too thanks to Valentine's Day. I didn't get any pictures of game time because I was too busy having fun.
Today we went to Anna's piano recital. She played, "A Time Forgotten" by Melody Bober, one of my favorite composers. Anna played it perfectly.

I made chuckwagon stew for dinner but we ended up eating it after the recital. Fortunately there's enough leftover for another meal. I had to borrow an onion from my neighbor this morning, so this afternoon we gave her new onions and a jar of stew. It is so nice to have neighbors like them!

The girls and I have been practicing for our special music tomorrow. We are having so much trouble with our piece that we are deciding on a Plan B.

Mom and Dad come home from Texas tomorrow evening. We can barely wait.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

We started our Valentine's celebration at Homeschool Co-op. Ruthie had fun making this heart project. As much as I was dismayed at the idea of the whole valentine's party thing, I ended up enjoying myself. The children (at co-op) were very giving, and I got many hugs and best wishes from my students, along with their cards, candy!
Brittany's family went all out and gave flowers to the teachers and helpers. What a delight!
Our family ended up giving these simple cards. We didn't have any color ink in our printer, so we had to do with the basics. It ended up being a last-minute project because we were hoping the postman would bring the new ink refill (it was in the mailbox when we got home from the party). But that's okay, my children enjoyed punching out the hearts and gluing them on the cards.
Yesterday Mike came home from work with a rose for each daughter and me. Aren't they beautiful?
He gave us a freshcut bunch too. So our kitchen is looking pretty spring-like! Maggie spent the afternoon making a very special dinner for us. It was sooo delicious. We started off with these soup bowls of fish chowder:

Then we had sauteed green beans and baked tilapea:
And for dessert we had chocolate truffle with cream sauce:
I almost forgot to take pictures as each dish was served. Maggie made chocolate hearts to go on the truffles, but forgot them until afterwards.
The hearts are supposed to stand up in the cream. The whole meal was dairyfree and eggfree.

I John 2:10 says, "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light." Valentine's Day for us was a time of celebrating our love for each other as well as our love for our Saviour, "We love Him because He first loved us." I John 4:19

I hope you had a loving day also. Today is back to reality with schoolwork and chores. We are singing for special music on Sunday, so we are practicing a lot.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Aunt Esther's Sourdough Rolls

For ten years, I worked (as a teen) at a Christian camp called River Valley Ranch. It was a complete western-style ranch located in northern Maryland. I enjoyed every moment I ever spent there. I was babysitter (for the ranch families), store girl, cleaning girl, kitchen aid, counselor, and many other things that didn't have a label! The above picture was taken during our weekly rodeo.
The ranch had a saloon (snack shop), jail, old town meeting house, hotel lodge, pool, etc. Even had a working stagecoach. The picture above was taken outside the jail (where the workboys lived). The wranglers would goof around for photo ops (these are the Grey brothers). Every summer, Steve (Nevada Steve) and Esther Homoki would come to RVR with their big trailer. Uncle Steve did rope and horse tricks in the rodeo, preached, drove the stagecoach, and generally hung out in the kitchen being a, well, a... troublemaker! Aunt Esther worked in the kitchen. For as ornery as Uncle Steve was, Aunt Esther was a sweetie. Never an unkind word and always willing to work hard. She was the perfect missionary wife.
I took this picture in 1980 because this is how I would always remember Uncle Steve. Can you tell by his expression how ornery he was? His son, cowboy evangelist Lee Homoki, runs a cowboy camp each summer as well as his usual preaching circuit. You can read about Uncle Steve in a biography called, "From Sunup to Sundown: The Story of Nevada Steve Homoki," by Patricia Timbrook.

Anyhow, my last two years at RVR I was the counselor for the worker girls. I spent a lot of time alongside Aunt Esther in the kitchen. On Saturdays, after the rodeo, the ranch would serve a Chuckwagon Dinner which consisted of the best stew and sourdough rolls that Aunt Esther had made. Well, I've finally come up with a recipe that tastes exactly like her rolls. Here it is:

Sourdough Rolls

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm potato water
1 tblp yeast (1 pkt)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in potato water. (Just cook 1/2 a potato in water for 5 minutes or add 1 tbsp instant potato flakes to water.)

Heat milk and butter until melted; cool to lukewarm.

Combine starter, yeast mix, milk mix, sugar and salt. Add flour to make a stiff dough; knead until smooth and elastic. Don't be intimidated by the stiffness of the dough.

Place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat; cover and let rise in a warm place, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls (I always get 15).

Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Brush lightly with butter (optional) and bake in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Don't they look yummy? The best part is that you can slow-rise these rolls. Make the night before and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then shape into rolls in the morning, and bake after church. Yummy!

I wanted to show you the inside of the roll. Not like a light, airy yeast roll. But also not doughy. Just right! (But it is easy to undercook. I like to turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes ~ just in case!)

Now I'm on the hunt to find Aunt Esther's Chuckwagon Stew recipe. So far I've looked at many cowboy stew recipes and none come close. Oh the thrill of it all!

We're off to Homeschool Co-op. Maggie is making a lasagne so she can show the finished product to her cooking class. Smells great!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

PS ~ Lizzie found our first tick this week and it was a deer tick, so be careful!