Friday, February 13, 2015

Gettin' a Little Crafty!

Now, I think most women I know are like this. They go to a boutique or something, see something cute and simple that someone there is selling for $50 and say with disdain, "Fifty Dollars!  Good grief, I could totally make something like that!" And then they go home and forget all about it until the next time they go to a boutique and see something cute that they could "total make!"
 Well, at Christmas time that happened to me. Only, I didn't forget about it. I went home and did it.  It all started when I went to this Women's Ministries event at my mom's church.  Part of the evening was a "mall" of home-based businesses and you could do some shopping.  They had all sorts of cute things, but one of the booths was selling some darling signs for $35. Basically, the vendor had taken some re-purposed wood (read, old wood, found in someone's barn somewhere), cleaned it up a bit and stenciled the Nativity in black and touched it up with gold paint. It really was cute, but I'm thinking, "Thirty-five dollars! I could totally do that at home!"  And then I found a blog that showed how to actually do signs and it seemed pretty easy!
 So, I decided to try it. My dad had some re-purposed wood (the stake on this sign is actually some old base-board, so it's beveled a bit, but hey.... it was free) in his barn and I followed the directions on this blog, using old craft paint and stencils and ..... voila'! I made these darling signs. I made a ton of them too, and gave them as Christmas gifts.  I'm very excited to get all the weeds out of my garden so I can put these two signs in their new homes.

Here is a gratuitous picture of my cat Socks. The kids took it. She's sitting on top of the Christmas tree, which is on top of Hubby's old car.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Music to My Ears!

We bought a piano last summer. It was kind of spur of the moment and if you know us, you will know what a big deal that was, because "spur of the moment" is definitely not us!  But, we decided that since we believed music lessons to be important, we should probably get a piano.  So, we did. But, how do you go about purchasing a piano? We knew we probably didn't want to fork out the dough for a new piano, but we also knew enough to not search the want-ads or Craigslist.  We'd heard all the stories about people getting "a real good deal on a used piano" only to find that when they tried to get it tuned, it was really a piece of unsalvageable junk!  But we decided to start at the piano store anyway. The kids were at Grandma's so we had the whole day to ourselves, and we decided we were just going to look. That was all. We never spend a big hunk of money without sitting on the decision for a couple of days, anyway. 

The piano store was really nice. I love pianos. I took lessons for many years growing up and while I am by no means a virtuoso, I can sit down and entertain myself quite well.  The salesman was very nice and knowledgeable. And he didn't pressure us. The best way to get Hubby and me not to come back to your store is to apply any sort of pressure whatsoever. Anyhow, we looked at a few new ones and then we looked at the used ones, and the salesman assured us that they were very picky about the pianos they bought used. I fell in love at first sight. A beautiful used Baldwin studio piano. It sounded beautiful. It looked beautiful. It was the right price. And so...... we bought it. Right then and there. No thinking about it. No shopping around and comparing prices. Just plunked down the credit card and did it.  And we are so happy with it. Missie Lou and Duh-duh started lessons this fall. They are doing so well, too! They had their first recital at Christmas and I was so proud.  Learning to play the piano and read music are skills that you can enjoy for a lifetime. I've never known anyone who regrets having to learn to play the piano.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bonus recipe day! Persimmon Bread!

OK, so I promised you I'd get you the recipe to my yummy persimmon bread. And today is your lucky day. I was thinking about it today,  because we as a family ate two whole loaves of the stuff. Just today. I was amazed. It was delicious. And yes, it is made out of persimmons. This kind of persimmon.

 This is a hachiya persimmon. My dad grows them.  They are a beautiful fruit and they are good to cook with. Some people actually eat them raw, too. My grandma used to. She'd wait till they were good and ripe (you have to wait till they are very soft and mushy or your mouth will pucker like there's no tomorrow) and eat it with a spoon for breakfast every day they were in season.  They are full of vitamins and very good for you, too. I prefer to eat the fuyu kind of persimmon, though, which is more like an apple.  It's crunchy and sweet and not so picky about being perfectly ripe. Anyhow, hachiya persimmons are good to make cookies and persimmon bread. And here is the recipe:

Persimmon Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg    (although sometimes I just throw in a tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie spice instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg and that's really good, too!)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup chopped nuts
several handsful of raisins

Mis dry ingredients.  Make a well in center.  Add rest of ingredients.  Mis until moistend. SPoon into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I know you'll love it. It's delicious!

Friday, January 30, 2015

This Past Week...

I haven't been blogging this past week. We've been sick. Don't worry, we don't have the measles. Seems like that's the big thing in the news lately. No, it's just a stinkin' cold that's been going around. Baby started getting sick about a week and a half ago, and then we've all had it to some degree. We're all coughing and hacking and spewing snot all over the place. Not terribly much fun. I have a sore throat right now. I don't think it's strep. But I do know it's the second cold I've had since Christmas and I don't like it.  This morning I slept till 8:00. Usually I'm up around 6:30-6:40 or so, but I just couldn't do it this morning. And since the only other kid who was up was  Baby, I just decided to let her play in my bedroom while the other kids and I slept.  And  you know what? We still got all our Friday schooling done. I find that to be amazing.  Just another testimony to the efficiency of homeschooling.  Started school at 9:00, did Bible, Greek (yes, we are doing Greek and loving it, I'll blog about that at a later date), Reading, Math, Health, Science, Writing and Bubba is just finishing up his Latin right now at 2:38 pm.  The only thing we skipped today was music appreciation. Oh well! Anyhow, so, that's what's going on around here. We're all getting a little cabin feverish because we haven't been going out, because we've been sick. And being a good mother, I don't want to expose everyone and his brother to our germs. Even though my kids are really good at coughing into the crook of their arm. So, we haven't been doing piano lessons or practices or anything!  Although last night we did go to Duh-duh's first basketball game. He did great. He hasn't played basketball before, so there's definitely a lack of experience going on there, but he wasn't any worse than any of the other kids out there, and he played with a lot of vigor and assertiveness. I don' want to say "aggression" because that kind of has negative connotations, but he was assertive out there and loved to handle the ball. So, I believe that when he gets enough experience he should be pretty good. So, I'm hoping that next week we're all feeling better.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's For the Birds!

I started up a new hobby this year. Hobbies and I don't generally do very well. I don't collect things. Collecting things becomes expensive (you have to generally buy the things you collect) and you have to store or display the collection, which can easily turn into clutter.  I'm not good at crafty things.  Most crafty things don't turn out well for me. And crafty things can become expensive, too.  I  used to cross-stitch. And that was fun, but then I couldn't figure out what to do with all my finished projects.  I used to scrap book. Talk about expensive. And what a mess, too. If I had a room dedicated to hobby/crafty things, that would be one thing, but I don't have a dedicated craft room. So,  I'd  have to drag out all my stuff. And then organize my pictures. And then do the work. And then put it all away. That didn't work out so well! And yes, I did try the digital scrapbooking. Meh! Not for me.  So, I don't have a great history with hobbies.

However, this Christmas vacation I was on a message board I frequent and they were talking about bird-watching. And I looked outside and I saw... a hummingbird feeder,
and a bird feeder
that I had made using a plastic plant saucer screwed on to the top of a tree prop,
well out of reach of....and I thought to myself,  "Hey, I can do bird watching!"
So, with some Christmas money I bought a binoculars, a bird guide and made a nifty little bird journal with a notebook and I decoupaged it using bits of tissue paper and watered down glue.

 It's been a fun hobby. And one that is manageable.  I just need to remember to keep the bird feeder and the hummingbird feeder filled.  We have a lot of hummingbirds around.  This one is an Anna's Hummingbird. I never would have known that before. I would have just thought it was a hummingbird, but now that I'm a bird-watcher, I actually try to identify the birds I see.

 I found this wonderful website Cornell University Ornithology to help with bird identification. It even has a great ap I put on the iPad.  So, between that ap and my Sibley's book I can tell you that what you are looking at is not just any old sparrow, it is a Lark Sparrow.  And that's not just any old finch, it is a House Finch. I do wish we had some more interesting birds in out backyard, though. Basically it's the sparrows and the finches. I have spotted a couple of Scrub Jays and a pair of Mourning Doves. And there are Great Horned Owls down by the river, but they are out only at night.
And I do work at journaling. I don't do it every day, but I try to keep up with it. Nothing fancy. Just a brief weather report, a list of the birds I see and a few comments if there is anything noteworthy to report. So, this has become a fun and manageable hobby. Nothing to buy, nothing to store, but definitely lots of new things to learn!