Monday, July 30, 2012

Garden Update - Growing Beans and Planting Greens

Since my garden update last week the beans have come up fairly good. These are all Lima Beans and Golden Wax Bush Beans.

The kids played in this section of the garden for awhile this morning  while I was doing some other outside work. But then I planted collard greens, mustard greens, cauliflower, cabbage and lettuce and this area. 

I got a handful of cherry tomatoes off this plant this morning. Yummy!

~ Linking Here ~

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Do Kids Spell Love?

Kids spell love T-I-M-E. ~ John Crudele

I know this in my heart. I know this in my head. But I still have to constantly take myself in hand and be sure I am spending the time, the real, in the moment, often spur of the moment, time with my kids. 

One of the biggest ways the kids (especially the three oldest) seem to need me to spend time with them is simply listening. And with my ADHD like brain, sometimes simply listening to a very long, very detailed description of last Little House on the Prairie or Heartland episode watched, or being told the value of a myriad of different rare coins, or being given the exact measurements of every part of the table a child is building gives my attention muscles a serious workout. I find myself tuning out, or changing the subject, or going back to what I was doing without really paying attention. But I've been working hard to really truly pay attention, to respond, to ask questions or make comments about what they've told me. Because I really do want to know what's going on in their lives, and I really do want them to know that I love them, and this is what they need from me right now. 

What my youngest seems to need the most at the moment is physical closeness or contact. Sometimes I feel like I've grown an extra appendage. And it's not a small one either - he's five years old and tall for his age. But, for whatever reason, it seems to be what he needs right now. So I work with him under my feet, hanging off my arm, or leaning over my shoulder. Some nights I sleep with him snuggled up against me - or kicking me in the back. Of course, there are times when it simply doesn't work for him to be right there in the middle of what I'm doing. And sometimes I just get impatient and try to get him to find something to do somewhere else. And then I remember that the time will come soon enough when he's grown and gone and I'll miss these times. And I snuggle him up and give him a good tickle or we rock and sing his favorite song. 

Because really, this moment is all I have. And if I want my kids to know I really love them, I will try to give them the time they need.

~ Linking Here ~
The Better MomTitus 2sdaysHeart & Home Tuesdays!Living Well WednesdaysHomemaking Link-UpEncourage One Another

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade Biscuit Mix and Mini Meat Pies

I love the convenience of biscuit mix but I do not love the price of buying it by the box. So after looking at a number of different recipes, I finally made a batch of homemade biscuit mix this morning. It's really very simple to make and very economical, definitely cheaper than buying from the store. 

Here's the recipe I used for the biscuit mix.

10 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking powder
2 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender. You should have small lumps throughout the mixture. 

Stir in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to three months.

Then I had to try this and see if we liked it. I tried it out by making Easy Mini Meat Pies.

To make the meat pies I combined six eggs, 3 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups biscuit mix. I poured a small amount of this batter into the bottoms of 24 muffin cups. Then I put a little chopped ham and grated cheddar cheese in each cup. For seasoning I sprinkled on a little garlic powder, salt and pepper. I then filled each muffin cup until it was almost full with a little more batter. I baked these in a preheated over at 375 degrees for around 25 minutes. 


These could also be filled with ground beef, bacon, pepperoni, a variety of vegetables, or whatever other filling sounds good.

~ Linking Here ~

Jo-Jo Bob - Created by Amanda

Linking to many of these of wonderful Wordless Wednesday link parties. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review - Surviving Your Serengeti

It's been some time since I read Surviving Your Serengeti by Stefan Swanepoel, but since I somehow didn't get a book review written at the time I wanted to share one now.

I received this book from Booksneeze to read and review and I really enjoyed the book. Although it's been awhile since I read the book the lessons stuck with me. In fact, I read it once for myself and then read it again to my teenage son and daughter as part of our homeschool work. 

The book is written as the fictional account of a businessman and his wife on vacation in the Serengeti. The businessman is facing trouble with his business and his wife has recently been laid off from her job. This is a trip they won and they are taking a little time to get away from it all before returning to tackle the problems they face. While in the Serengeti they are privileged to meet an old friend who is very familiar with the Serengeti and the animals who live there. Over the next few days this friend shares his knowledge of the animals and their strengths that help them to survive in this sometimes harsh environment and then applies these lessons to life and business. 

It was a simple read and yet the principles taught have continued to stay with me and I've heard my children talk about them as well. There is also a quiz to take to help you find your own particular strengths. I would definitely recommend this book as a valuable resource. 

10 Things About My Husband

For the next five Tuesdays I thought it would be fun to help you get to know my family a little better by sharing ten things about each one of them. 

So this week I'm starting with my husband, Doug.

1. He has worked at McKee Foods Corporation as a machinest for the last nineteen years. 

2. He is an EMT and volunteers with our local rescue squad.

3. He teaches children's Sunday School and also is involved with the children's ministry on Wednesday night during the school year and teaches Summer Bible School.

4. He is a good mechanic and does nearly all the work on our vehicles and also works on a lot of friends' vehicles as well as small engines.

5. His idea of a good day is to spend it at home, doing work around the house and spending time with the kids.

6. He is calm, steady and reliable.

7. He's fun to cook for because he likes nearly everything.

8. He is seven years older than I am.

9.  He is the oldest of two boys in his family.

10. He recently became active with the Boy Scouts because Austin wanted to join and the Boy Scouts strongly encourage a family member to join with them if possible. 

Next Tuesday's 10 Things post will be about my oldest son - Austin. 

~ Linking Here ~
focus on the good in your husband

The Creative Art of Housekeeping

What really does work to increase the feeling of having a home and it's comforts? Housekeeping creates cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety, and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home. 

Whether you live alone or with a spouse, parents and ten children, it is your housekeeping that makes your home alive, that turns it into a small society in it's own right, a vital place with it's own ways and rhythms, the place where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else. 

~ Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts - The Art and Science of Keeping House

Do you ever look around at the end of a long day, in which a large portion of the time was spent doing mundane housework - cooking, cleaning, laundry and organization and wondered if it was really worth the effort? Or did you have a quiet sense of satisfaction, knowing you had made your corner of the world a better place? I've ended days both ways and often with mixed feelings. 

I love the passage quoted at the beginning of this post and i'm going to go through it here bit by bit with some commentary.

In the first sentence, a question, I believe the author is acknowledging that feeling we so often get that there's really very little use in these pursuits. Especially if there are children and maybe a few pets, it often seems things come undone as fast as they are accomplished. And I've been know to say, half seriously, that I don't expect it to stay clean, I just don't want the dirt to get too deep. But there truly is value in these efforts that may not be seen at first glance. 

Look at the list of blessings that good housekeeping  creates in this quote: cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety. That's quite a list with some very significant benefits. Somehow I'm not taking my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof) quite so lightly now. 

And I love the second half  of the sentence ". . . and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home." In other words, the work that goes into creating a clean, orderly, beautiful home helps to create a place where each person can truly be the best version of themselves, do their best creative work, grow in mind, body and spirit, and show love and respect for other family members or guests in the home. 

The author goes on to say "Whether you live alone or with a spouse, parents and ten children, it's your housekeeping that makes your home alive. . ." When I first read this I thought is was a bit of an overstatement. But as I thought back in my own experience to the times when my home was most neat and orderly and how different it felt from the times when is was most disorganized and out of order, I realized just how much truth there really in this statement. 

". . . . that turns it into a small society in it's own right, a vital place with it's own ways and rhythms." I think this is my favorite part of this whole quote. I like the idea of my home, my family and life at Walnut Acre being like a small society with it's own unique ways and it's own beautiful and productive rhythms. And if it's a healthy and thriving society it will have a positive impact on the larger society around it. Idealistic? Maybe. But I'd rather reach for an ideal than settle for the mundane. 

". . . the place where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else." Once again the idea of home being the place where one can be one's best self is brought out. This is what I want for each of my family members and for each person who comes into my home. 

Suddenly housekeeping does seem to be such a mundane set of chores after all, but rather a privilege, a blessing and a creative art.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paper Plate Dinosaur Crafts

As part of our dinosaur unit the last few weeks we made some paper plate dinosaurs. I found the patterns for these dinosaurs at Making Learning Fun.

Amanda cut out the pieces for us.

We started out making the Pteronadon. I stapled the pieces together and provided the kids with construction paper, craft foam, glue and crayons to decorate them as they wanted to.

Then we made the Brachiosaurus. Once again Amanda cut the pieces out for us.

I provided the craft supplies and let them use their imaginations and come up with creative versions of the Brachiosaurus. 

Our last paper plate dinosaur was the Ankylosaurus.

These paper plate dinos have been a really big hit with the kids. I've seen them acting out adventures with their dinosaurs later in the day and proudly showing their parents when they went home.

~ Linking Here ~

Garden Update - Hoping for the Best

When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let us be in a position so we are able to not only feed ourselves through home production and storage, but others as well. ~ Ezra Taft Benson

This is what keeps me trying to have a big garden this year although it seems the odds are against me. I'm not even completely sure why I'm having such a hard time. My early crops went in well and produced well - the radishes, carrots and lettuce were wonderful. But then, through a myriad of circumstances out of my control, I just couldn't seem to get the next planting in. I finally bought lots of seeds, so late they were on clearance, and am in the process of getting them planted. I'm hoping that our fall will be mild as they have been the past number of years and we will have a late frost so that these plants have a chance to mature and produce. Even if I lose some things I bought the seeds at such a discount I'll still come out way ahead. I'm hoping to also plant a large planting of fall crops as well. 

This is what I have going on in the garden now.

The Lima Beans are just beginning to come up.

Golden Wax Bush beans are also coming up.

Somewhere in there are beets and turnips. They are actually growing quite well in spite of the weeds.

CJ's corn is looking pretty good.

Michael has sunflower seeds growing on the windowsill.

I have cherry tomatoes growing in pots on the porch . . .

. . . as well as cress . . .

. . . and parsley.

And for a little color and variety we have some flowers hanging on the front porch as well.

And that's what's growing here at Walnut Acre.

~ Linking Here ~

Sunday, July 22, 2012

He Gives Life and Purpose

With all your science - can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul? ~ Henry David Thoreau

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. ~ Genesis 2:7

 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. ~ Psalm 139:14-16

God has a plan for each of us, a plan He knew before we were even formed. He made us, formed us, breathed life into us with this plan in  mind. Each plan is unique to each specific person, and each person is uniquely made to live out this plan. So pay attention to how you are made, what talents and interests you have been given, and which activities make you feel like this is what you were meant to do. Ask Him for guidance, take the time to listen and to hear what He has to say, go to His Word for direction, and know that He has a plan. He has a plan for you and he has a plan for me, and neither of us can live the other person's plan. It was for this reason He breathed life into our bodies, placing a light, a soul, within us.

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith theLord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

~ Linking Here ~

The Balancing of the Clouds

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge? ~ Job 37:16

~ Linking Here ~

Scripture & a Snapshot

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Walnut Acre Weekly - Michael's EEG Results, Gardening and Crafting

Walking With the King
The fear of the Lord - that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding. ~ Job 28:28

On Our Nature Walks
With all the blackberries there are to pick right now that's exactly what we've been doing on our nature walks. Sometimes the younger ones don't want to pick blackberries and play instead and that's fine too. 

In the Garden
Monday we planted lots and lots of lima beans. I know it's really late in the year but I decided to still go ahead and try. As strange as the weather is lately maybe I'll get lucky and it will stay mild this fall long enough for them to mature. Also, CJ pulled weeds in his corn patch for nearly an hour.

Tuesday I did some more planting and CJ and Austin pulled more weeds. 

Other Outdoor Fun

We Are Learning
We worked on our dinosaur unit a little more although we got a little sidetracked and didn't get as much done as I had hoped.

We Are Creating
These kids have been on a sewing kick this week. I have threaded so more needles and tied more knots this week than I probably had for the last year. But I'm so glad to see them creatively and constructively engaged so I'm not complaining.




Other Notes and News
The Dr. called Thursday to let us know the results of Michael's EEG Friday. He said it was an abnormal EEG and called it abnormal epileptiform discharges. He was calling the neurologist and was hoping to get back with me sometime yesterday but I didn't hear anything so I'm guessing it will be Monday. I really have no idea what this means in general or for Michael specifically. 

On a different subject - I've decided to try writing a Walnut Acre Weekly instead of my usual Walnut Acre Daily. I'm hoping this will give me more time to do some other writing as well. 

This Week's Quote
If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~ Abigail Van Buren