Monday, March 30, 2009

Moon Rocks??!

So, today Youngest Son had a report due. A report on an explorer. The choices ranged from the 1500s through the present day. Hmmm, an explorer from the 1500s who floated a merchant ship over to the New World, or an astronaut who blasted a space ship to the moon? It was no contest. Youngest Son went with Neil Armstrong---first man on the moon.

And what's a presentation without some sort of visual aid. So, last evening found me googling "moon rock cookies" on the computer. And can you believe it . . . I found a moon rock cookie recipe! On my "to do" list, then, today---"make moon rock cookies for presentation."

And here they are:

Hmmmmmmm?? Now, I have obviously never been to the moon, nor do I pretend to be any sort of a space scientist, but let me tell you, if Neil Armstrong were to see these cookies I don't think he would even be slightly confused between "Moon Rock Cookies" and what he scooped up off the lunar surface!

Such as they were, the little "moon rocks" were each then folded up in "space wrap"
and brought to co-op in a large glass bowl for distribution.

Should you ever be tempted or have need to make moon rock cookies, the recipe follows:

Moon Rock Cookies
(with my apologies to any moon rock who may be reading here)

2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
3 cups oats

Combine sugar and cocoa in medium sauce pan. Stir with whisk. Add milk and stir until combined. Slice butter into mixture. Heat on low just until melted. Bring to a full boil and boil for 1-3 minutes (or until a small amount dropped into cold water forms a ball). Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Add oats. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.

And if you are thinking, after reading this recipe, that this looks a whole lot like no-bake chocolate cookies from your childhood, sssshhhh!, don't tell. Google and a whole class of 4th graders think they're moon rocks.

Good job, Youngest Son!!


I love my "fives." In a family with five children, I often find groups of fives that represent my kids and warm my heart with thankfulness for the "fives" in my life.

(Five lunch boxes stand ready at the door for co-op day.)

(Five portraits of newborns in a vintage christening gown.)

(Five piles of laundry waiting for Kiddos to get their hind ends down stairs and get them folded!)

(Five silhouettes at sunset)

(Five charms to wear over my heart)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Contemplations - A Tiny Seed

"Consider the mustard seed, a seed so tiny it can fall to the ground and lie unnoticed by human beings and birds alike. Given time, though, the seed may sprout into a bush that overtakes every other plant in the garden, a bush so large and verdant that birds come and nest in its branches. God's kingdom works like that. It begins so small that people scorn it and give it no chance for success. Against all odds, God's kingdom will grow and spread throughout the world, bringing shade to the sick, the poor, the imprisoned, the unloved."

Philip Yancey

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fog and the Fireplace

Today was a grey, drippy, chilly, foggy day. The kind of chill that goes way down inside you, and no matter how many layers you pile on the top, you want an electric blanket for your bones!

The Kiddos found the four walls of the house and the company of each other tiresome. The dogs paced over the wood floors. I shivered inside my fleece and jeans.
Time to light the fireplace and

to pull out some new yarn to cast on for a couple of dishcloths.

The household settles down. The fireplace draws us in . . . and warms us, inside and out. The drips slide soothingly down the glass. Fresh grace for a rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Very Great Mystery


is what greeted my eyes when I opened the pantry late this afternoon. An extra-large, jumbo pack of Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish, freshly ripped open, enjoyed, and left . . . hanging . . . absorbing the moisture of the air and dangling precariously on the edge of the wire pantry shelf, ready to fall either onto the questionably clean floor or into the unquestionably dirty trashcan. Someone was being lazy, irresponsible, and selfish with their snacking habits. Someone was going to be found and directed back to said pantry, clip closed this bag of snacks, and forevermore remember that food costs money, gets stale, and needs to be appreciated. The lecture was already gaining momentum in my mind, and it was a good one!

First to question the suspects.

Oldest Daughter (The Logical One): "Mom, you know I can't eat dairy or wheat. Of course I didn't open the bag of Goldfish." (slight toss of head)

Oldest Son (The Strong-Willed One - therefore, the one who always gets blamed for everything!): "I just ate breakfast at noon and I'm full and I've been studying in my room all afternoon. I promise you, this time it wasn't me!" (warm sideways hug for extra emotional appeal)

Middle Son (The Social One): "No, not me. I was at Ricardo's house and then we stopped by to get Mike and the three of us went to Ahnkit's and Michael was there and we called Chase and he came over and then all of us went to Sean's garage to play ping-pong and I suggested we have a humongous scooter race so that---what are we talking about? Oh, Goldfish? No, I haven't been here all day." (giant freckled smile)

Youngest Son (The Dreamer): "Goldfish?!!!!! We have Goldfish??!! I didn't know we had Goldfish! Can I please have some Goldfish, Mom? There are still 22 minutes until dinner!!" (wide open, expectant eyes)

Youngest Daughter (The Baby - therefore, the one who doesn't get blamed for anything!): "Mommy, I can't even REACH the Goldfish!" (slightly pouty lower lip)

So, there you have it. No one opened the Goldfish that are now slowly softening in the Southern atmosphere. Any other suspects? Man of the House at work, The Dogs have not successfully developed their manual dexterity to the point where they can open the crimped top of a chip bag, The Cat passed away 6 months ago, and even I (in my various states of inattention and distraction) would probably remember eating a handful of dry cheddar Goldfish.

Yes, we have on our hands a Very Great Mystery. And I can bet these mysteries don't just happen at MY house!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Table to Welcome Spring

Now, this is a mess! And I'm speaking, here, of the center of my dining room table.

When I first put this little arrangement together, it was perfect for winter. The splitting seed pods of the crepe myrtle looked as stark and bare on their dried branches as the landscape outside. And when the candles were lit, they glowed softly in their lantern holders. But now we've bumped into the seed pods over and over during the course of the winter, scattering them everywhere, the lanterns are dusty, we're needing a fresh tablescape to look at and remind ourselves that spring is HERE!!

These adorable little tin pails (Target!) popped into my cart this weekend, and I picked up some perky pansies and Easter candy.

Table arrangements do not happen to be one of my creative gifts. For me, it's got to be simple, simple, simple, and if you can bring an element of the outdoors indoors, so much the better!!

So, Middle Son punched holes in the bottoms of the tin pails. (If you look closely, you can see these pails were only $1 each!!)

I did a little planting. And opened a bag of Easter candy.

And there you have it . . . a very simple and sweet centerpiece that reminds me of the fresh new life and bright, happy colors of the season.

Oh, wow, I love spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


"Once you've experienced a life of faith, it ruins you for the ordinary."
Loren Cunningham

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Needles, Cotton Yarn, and One's Own Hands

Mr. "Brooklyn Tweed" would laugh. That would be Mr. "Brooklyn Tweed" who spins his own yarn, designs his own knitting patterns, knocks them out in a week, and photographs in such a way that his creations seem to be not quite of this common world. Yes, Mr. "Brooklyn Tweed" would be downright tickled. And I'm okay with that. Because I am proud! I have finished yet another of my humble dishcloths and am beginning to feel quite at home with the simple knitting concepts of knitted "lace." Very simple knitting concepts, I might add. It's not stunning and it's not perfect, but it's mine!

After this, I'm going to do a couple more dishcloths, and then I'm going to move on to something a little more exciting . . . to me. I'll show you when I decide what that will be.

In the meantime, I'm going to wipe counters with this and clean glasses with this and polish my sink with this and marvel every time I hold it that it came from 2 needles, a $1.50 ball of yarn and my hands. Why does it feel so dadgum good to have created something?

Come to think of it, Mr. "Brooklyn Tweed" had to start somewhere too. He might smile at my excitement over a knitted cotton dishcloth . . . but I think he'd understand.

(By the way, you can find the pattern for this dishcloth here.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Naughty Dogs

Meet Chase:

Meet Husker:

Our two dogs. On normal days, on normal weeks, man's best friend, defender of the property, comforter in sorrow, salt of the earth. On normal days rules are remembered . . . rules like where to sleep (your own threadbare dog bed) and where to pee (outside).

But not this week. No, this week rules were forgotten, guidelines abandoned, authority trashed.

The first was a minor, albeit appalling, infraction that could be overlooked.

What is this?? A dog on a couch?? An absolute no-no in our house!! This scoundrel was taking advantage of my being out of the room and jumped up to comfort Middle Son in his hour of distress . . . stomach flu.

The comfort was obviously noticed . . . appreciated . . . enjoyed. This transgression was motivated by love. This can be forgiven.

The next infraction, however, pushed all boundaries of grace and unconditional dog love. The incident began innocently enough with a visit from My Mom. My Mom who pet sits for a living. My Mom who smells (to the canine nose) like many and varied dogs and cats. My Mom who entered Husker's front door with the smell (to the canine nose) of many varied invading and marauding dogs and cats. It was not to be tolerated. Husker greeted her and all the invading and marauding smells at the front door and immediately knew what he had to do. Mark his territory. Tell all the smells and the visions and feelings they conjured up who was boss, who lived here, and the boundaries of his domain. So, he lifted his leg and marked. All over my curtains. All over my custom . made . dry . clean . only . silk . curtains.

Rules have now been remembered, guidelines restored, authority re-established. Grace is given. He is, after all, only a dog with the need to enforce his territory. He knows he was wrong, the guilty face says it all.

He is still loved.

And now I'm off to the dry cleaners.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bliss in Ethereal White

I found delight and inspiration tonight between the pages of a magazine cover. I found page after page of a house dressed up all in white and accented with snow white knitting. ::Sigh::

Now, let me hasten to say that not one of these pages would work in any room of my house. No, my home is decorated in saturated deep red and warm, soft golds and deep mahogany leathers and touches of earthy, mossy greens. But this house, this between-the-pages-of-the-magazine-cover house, is a house I can live in in my dreams.

In my dreams I can live in an old farmhouse that has white-washed wood floors and a long pine table where we pull up creamy, distressed ladder-back chairs and white organza curtains billow at the windows and giant bunches of snowy hydrangeas sit up on the mantlepiece.

There are four reasons why this house only exists in my dreams:

l. Children,
2. Pets (namely one shedding golden retriever and one muddy shepherd mix),
3. Dirt,
4. My inability to ever get #1-3 completely under control.

No, a snow white house is not a good mix with these 4 factors. But I can dream. Oh, I can dream!

These fabulous pics came from Vogue Knitting Presents Debbie Bliss. I can only imagine what multiple skeins of pure white cotton yarn would look like after living on in my house for 6 months as I attempted to complete an entire coverlet! But isn't it pure joy to look at??!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Spicy Bite of Cajun

Last night, as suppertime approached, I began to haul out ingredients for the meal and started noticing how fresh and yummy everything looked---bright red pepper, creamy half & half, crunchy green onions. So, I thought I'd take a picture and share a recipe. Isn't that the nicest thing about blogging? You take the things that can be such a daily, mind-numbing drudgery (like cooking dinner every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year after year---help, I'm getting a panic attack!!) and suddenly by putting all the ingredients together and snapping a quick picture, cooking dinner becomes quite enticing . . . exotic even!!

This is a Southern Living Magazine recipe that I've tweaked a little for us.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

12 oz. uncooked linguine (I used spaghetti)
2 lb. chicken breast, cut in strips
1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning, (ATTENTION: I use HALF
of this amount, and it is plenty!)
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 cup butter
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thingly sliced
1 8oz. pkg. fresh mushrooms (sadly, except for me, this
household does not appreciate this succulent ingredient, so I've
never tasted the dish with this addition!)
2 green onions (white and lt. green parts only), sliced
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with Cajun seasoning and 1 tsp. salt. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute' 5-6 minutes or until done. Remove chicken.

3. Add bell peppers, mushrooms (::sniff::), and green onions to skillet, and saute' 9-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates.

4. Return chicken to skillet; stir in half-and-half, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add pasta; toss to coat.

And voila', there's dinner. It got a thumbs up from the Man of the House, was eaten up by the Kiddos (several found creative ways to hide the peppers out of sight), and even the dog didn't turn his nose up at the scrap tossed his way. A successul meal if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All Things New!

Don't You Just Love

How Every Spring

God Pulls Out All the Stops

To Show Us Once Again

That He Has the Power

To Make All Things New!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stomach Flu . . . Yet Again

Has anyone ever noticed how in a family of 7 the stomach flu never really goes away?

It first meanders its way through each individual member of the family, giving the requisite 3-day incubation period in each before showing up in its full-symptomed glory, person . . . by person . . . by person. This process,then, takes a good 3 weeks to complete before everyone in the family has been included in the virus's first invasive journey.

By this time, Person #1 in the "sickness lineup" has been well and healthy for approximately 2 weeks and their immune system has completely forgotten its "specific immune response" that is supposed to help it remember exactly what the virus looks like and how to beat it when it is again encountered. Forget what your 5th grade health teacher told you, 2 weeks is definitely long enough for the healthiest of bodies to be primed and ready to again fall prey to the virus's second invasive journey, just as Person #7 in the sickness lineup is beginning to again feel well and healthy.

How do I know all this? Because this is exactly what is happening in our household as we are full into Round 2 of this Invasion. I assume this must just continue to cycle over and over and over until, blessedly, the heat of the summer will burn away the virus. (Where do stomach flu viruses go for the summer anyway???)

And if you are an immunologist, an infectious diseases specialist, or a 5th grade health teacher and think I haven't got my facts right . . . sorry, you haven't lived in my house this winter!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Twirling and Dancing

Ooooh, did I have fun yesterday afternoon!!

To fully explain, I must back up and tell you that there once was a time when I could dress Oldest Daughter in long, smocked florals, little Mary Janes, hot pink capris, grosgrain ribbons, and twirly skirts. And then she turned 10 . . . and 12 . . . and 14, and along the way we lost every bit of the bows and the flowers and the twirls, until presently I find on my hands a 16 year-old that wears jeans and tee-shirts and jeans and tee-shirts and jeans and tee-shirts. And for goodness sake nothing in a print!

To my great delight, then, I still have a 5 year-old Youngest Daughter who adores dresses, dances while trying on skirts with ruffles, giggles over bright colors, and thinks my fashion sense is impeccable.

And boy did we giggle over bright colors at the consignment sale yesterday afternoon!! We giggled over them and tried them on and scooped them up by the handful. And we came home with the most mouth-wateringly delicious fabrics to be found. (And, might I add, for 1/5 of the price of retail!!)

Just look at these pinks and oranges and melons:

And what about these delightfully sherbet-like blues, greens, and aquas.

Mmmmmm, someone hand me a spoon!

And what does a five year-old do when she loses herself in her colorful, ruffle-ful, girly-ful clothes?

She dances!