Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I heard that last week in NYC was Fashion Week.
Well, we are a long way from spring around here (we are long way from NYC too) but we have a few of our own fashions to share.

Our first designer loves the princess look and doesn't shy away from accessories.

In menswear, business attire is always appropriate...
...but for the modern man we have robot-wear.
For the man who craves adventure, western wear is a good choice.
For the more mature man we have a darker look.
And finally, the outfit that is sure to become the uniform for busy moms everywhere...

Monday, February 22, 2010


Family traditions are the fibers that weave us together.  Through these shared experiences, individuals are created into a unified story. 
A story with many characters, with chapters of happiness, loss, trials and triumphs.  A story to share and pass on.  

My list of 1000 gifts continues...

26.  the chipped blue pot and ancient wooden spoon that served up my Grandmother's wild      rice at every holiday occasion during my childhood
27.  sisters mixing up our Saturday morning pancake tradition
28.  pasta night at our house complete with candles and "Italian Dinner Music" 
29.  Tuesday night pizza and Wii tournament 
30.  tucking in my children with the same technique my Grandmother used - a tight head to toes "tuck-tuck"
31.  the sleds that have given rides to 4 generations of my husbands family
32.  introducing children to old family traditions - rolling the minulati
33. the train running around my Grandparents Christmas tree that now runs around mine
34.  the powdered sugar donuts that Santa leaves along with a new toothbrush

Thank you Lord for the traditions old and new that bind us together.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010


One of the pleasures of winter that I have just discovered is snow ice cream.  I can't believe how good it is!  I grew up in Oklahoma and although we had cold temperatures and the occasional snow we just put up with winter knowing it would soon be over.  Since moving to New England I have really enjoyed winter as a beautiful season that extends way beyond Christmas and has surprising delights.

I have to say I was skeptical about snow ice cream.  I thought for sure it would be more like a snow cone; sweet slushy ice that can only dream of being classified as ice cream.  
I stand corrected.  

Look at this!  My kids and I made it in a matter of minutes.  No turning the crank in the hot sun until you think your arm will fall off.  No adult telling you that making homemade ice cream is a test of patience and endurance.  
It's quick, and delicious and only takes a few ingredients.

If you are lucky enough to live in snow country you must try it.

Snow Ice Cream 
Here are your basic ingredients:
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups packed fresh snow

for vanilla-maple flavor: add 2 tsp vanilla, reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup and add 1/3 cup maple syrup  

for strawberry:  add 1/2 cup chopped frozen strawberries and one of the following - 1/4 cup strawberry Quik drink mix or strawberry pancake or ice cream topping

for chocolate: add 1/4 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup and 1/4 cup instant hot chocolate mix or chocolate drink mix such as Quik or Ovaltine

First mix your ice cream base and head outside. It's best to mix it up and enjoy it outside.  
Here we have set up an ice cream bar on our snow covered picnic table.  
These are the flavor bases.
Collect 4 cups packed snow for each flavor.
Dump the snow in the flavor base and mix quickly - licking the spoon is optional.
Even daddy wants seconds.

Friday, February 19, 2010


The Power of Half by Kevin Salwen: Book Cover     
Have you heard of this book?  
It is an interesting story that has been making the rounds on all the news shows.  I took my son to see the author and his daughter speak at a local school earlier in the week.  We bought a copy of the book.  Here we are with Mr Salwen and his daughter Hannah.

So the story is -  The family made a radical decision to stop the forward motion of always wanting more, upgrading their lives, so to speak, with newer cars, bigger homes, fancier vacations, and the next rung up on the career ladder.  They sold their home and gave half the money to help others.  Very inspiring story that has sold lots of books but also gained a few naysayers. When you read the book you realize they are not the typical American family.  They sold a 2 million dollar, 6000 square foot, historic home in Atlanta.  So a family of 4 in a 1 million dollar, 3000 square foot home, still sounds pretty nice. When I asked what was the thing they were afraid to let go of during the process of downsizing that they were surprised to find they didn't miss at all, Hannah's answer was the cool old elevator in their home that went up to her room.  Yikes!  I was hoping for a more profound answer.  

Having said all that,  I still found it a thought provoking idea.  The idea behind the title "Power of Half" is a great concept. 
     "Why half?  Because it's measurable.  Often when caring individuals see social problems, our gut reaction is "I ought to do more."  But "more" is too vague to be useful, and we usually end up not doing much of anything.  By contrast, "half" provides a metric to live with, a way to set a standard to push us to achieve." (from the book's introduction) 
They also describe a moment when they really got how much a little to them means a lot to someone else when they participated in the opening of a corn mill in a small village in Ghana Africa that cost $6000.  It was a life changing moment for the villagers and the same price as the braces on their son's teeth.

I'm only a few chapters into the book but we have had a few discussions around the dinner table about what "half" we could give. You could give half your clothes,  sell half your toys, give half the time you normally spend watching television to helping others.  Half of something is tangible especially to children.   We are thinking on it and hope to unveil a "half" project of our own soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


FINALLY!  I know the news shows have been full of stories about the entire east coast buried in snow.  Canceled planes, closed schools, and the bustle of busy cities quieted and slowed by a blanket of snow. But we have been living with the same old crusty snow since mid January.  All the storms have been south of us.  Last night it began, and this morning we woke to a new, cleaner, softer, whiter world.  Lovely.

I made a new friend in blogland named Corinne.  She has organized a group of New England bloggers to meet together in March.  I'm looking forward to it.  Corinne wrote a pretty post post about fresh snow and you can find it here.

We are off to walk on the trail in the new snow.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Maybe I'll get a tattoo.  

I've never considered it before but I have finally found my motto.  

My only question is - where would I put it? 
 It needs to be somewhere accessible.   When I am breaking up the third argument of the day, tripping on Legos and cleaning up spilled milk,  I will see it and become a woman of poise rather than the fire breathing dragon I feel like.  Actually, I think it might be most effective if I had it stamped across the forehead of my children....  

On second thought maybe I'll just buy the mug.

or there's this version...
...which is less desirable but sometimes more accurate.
Sorry, it's just been one of those days!

I'll be back tomorrow with something more inspirational.

interesting footnote:  I read on Wikipedia that "Keep Calm and Carry On" was a propaganda poster developed by the British government during WWII but then never used. It was filed away somewhere and forgotten about. Interesting story here.

Monday, February 15, 2010


The air is cold,
the sky is gray,
the snow is old and crusty.

At this time of year we look for the light and lean toward the warmth.

the list of thankfulness continues...

13.  a hot mug of Earl Gray tea
14.  hot chocolate 
15.  heads covered in hand knit warmth
16.  the warm glow of the lamp at my desk
17.  a crackling fire
18.  warm fuzzy slippers
19.  the light breaking through the cold dark morning
20.  finding the sunny spots to share

21.  warm cookies
22.  flannel sheets
23.  snuggling on the couch to watch the Olympics
24.  a home with an efficient heating system
25.  heated seats in my car

Thank you Lord for filling our hearts and our homes with warmth and light.

Saturday, February 13, 2010



When my father died I received a shabby cardboard box filled with years of research on his family history.  Over the years he visited small town courthouses and libraries and made copies of documents.  He collected newspaper articles, old letters and photos.  I have carted this box around over the past 8 years, through 4 moves to 4 different states.  I have rummaged through it a few times but am never sure what to do with it all.  It holds the stories of strangers; of soldiers in the Civil War, southern plantation owners, pioneers out west, and struggling farmers.  All these stories in bits and pieces, on scraps of paper and in faded handwriting.  

This morning I remembered that there was a small collection of postcards belonging to my great great grandmother  Miriam Goss. She was a woman who at the turn of the century had a homestead in New Mexico.  I pulled them out and tried to decipher the delicate handwriting.   I shared them with my daughter.  My daughter, who shares my interest in things historical.  My daughter, who wants to be Laura Ingalls.  To our delight we found several Valentine cards.  Most have funny little messages, snippets of a life so very different from ours.   

"Will you go to my house and put out the cat and close the rain doors and water my chickens?"

"I know you are lonesome.  Don't dry up and blow away.  I am coming."

"Having pretty weather.  Going to town today."

"Been fun walking around here.  Got me a pretty dress .49cents."

"How are you.  We are well.  Dorothy is as fat as a pig."

These are not stories of passion and romance but of the the commonplace.  
They are details of real life shared by people who loved each other.
We decided to decorate our table with them in honor of Valentines Day.  

"If you will be my Valentine
We'll skip along together-
We'll not mind poverty or wealth,
The measles or the weather."

Friday, February 12, 2010


Dear Readers, (all 7 of you)
Thank you for all your comments about how impressed you are, and how beautiful the blog looks and how wonderful my writing is.  It makes me so happy inside!
I live in a world where not much is accomplished that I don't have to start all over again - take laundry for example.  My goals as a mother are so long term that I can't even see them from here.  So I live on faith that if I work a little each day,  eventually I can look back and say  "All that work paid off.  I did a good job."  

So back to the blog... It's fun.  In 30 minutes and a few clicks on a keyboard I have made something pretty, and useful and something to share that makes me feel accomplished.  So be impressed people! 
Today I added a few new features: 
 (And here is where my confession starts and I begin to look less impressive)
- One reader (my brother) asked about subscribing to my blog. Push a button.  There it is.  Sign up to receive an email every time I write a new post.
- At the bottom of each new post you will find links to older posts on similar topics that you can go back and read.  It's called "link within" and it looks really professional.  Again, one push of a button and it's cataegorized and listed for me.  See below.
-  I now have permanent pages listed so that newcomers to my blog can read the original     "Welcome to My Blog" post and "The Yellow Shoe Story".   
-  Also a list of  "places I visit" can be found in the side column.  These are links to other blogs I like to read that have inspired me.  Click on any one of these and you will see that I am an amateur in blogland. 

Bibbity Bobbity Blog!  It's MAGIC!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


There is no way I could really narrow down children's books to a true top 10.  There are so many good ones and I am a sucker for a picture book.  I bought them before I had children.  A good picture book doesn't have to be reserved for the little ones.  Many people believe that when a child becomes a fluent reader and moves into chapter books, that picture books are a thing of the past but I disagree.  These books, well told and wonderfully illustrated, teach vocabulary, creativity, expression and they are just plain fun to read aloud together.  Here are the favorites in our family.

#1  A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker  - Molly and I love this book! We have been known to read it 3 times in a row.  The illustrations are charming, the story is sweet and it's full of fun phrases.  Just be sure to give the mouse a British accent when he asks for "a spot of tea".  
A Visitor for Bear  
#2  Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban - I remember reading the Frances books as a child.  They are classics.  I was delighted to find that they have released new versions with the same illustrations but in full color.   Bedtime for Frances is a new - old favorite.

#3  Any home with boys would enjoy Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon. It's actually a sequel to the earlier How I Became a Pirate but this one is even more fun when the pirates return to visit the boy and end up babysitting his little sister. Again, it's how you read it.  It's more fun if you emphasize the pirate talk!

#4  Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae  Pirates and dinosaurs plus funky colorful illustrations - it's a hit in our house.

#5  Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and beautiful illustrations by Jane Dyer  This book is for me.  I would read it without children.  It beautifully illustrates such topics as what it means to cooperate, be trustworthy and compassionate all in the most simple terms.  There are 2 gorgeous sequels called Christmas Cookies and Sugar Cookies that are equally wonderful.

#6  Anything by Richard Scarry is fun, fun, fun.  The details and action packed illustrations have kept my kids busy for hours.  They never get tired of these books.

#7  The Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor is another delightful read about a tiny family living in a snow globe.  It has charming illustrations and is one we pull out every winter.

#8  When Jesse Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest is a beautifully written and illustrated book about immigrants coming to America.  My husband and I toured Ellis Island last spring and I picked up this book in the gift shop.  It really is a story for all ages.

#9  The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau is another one for all ages.  It is a beautiful story of what brings true happiness.  It is a feast for the eyes with colorful detail and one of those stories that you feel good about sharing with your children.

#10  Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen This is not your typical farm animal book.  It is full of fun lines like..."The geese are nearly perfect- at least they act that way." and "The sheep are silly.  They are so silly the geese can hardly be blamed for wanting to pinch them. Still, there's something sweet about sheep even if they aren't clever."



LEGOS!  What can't kids do with them?  My dear children have sunk to new lows in the excuses as to "why we can't pick them up yet".

child #2:   "Look mama, we made a new game!  You count how many times I can hop around on one foot".
mama:       "Shouldn't you pick up the Legos first.  That might hurt your feet."
child #3:   "NO mama!  That's the game. (implied "DUH!"in tone of voice) You have to hop around without landing on any Legos."
child#4:     (nodding agreement vigorously with thumb in mouth)
child#2:    "Yeah mama.  My best try was 27 hops!" (big smile)
child #3:   "Mine was 11."
child#4:    "Count me mama, count me! (begins hopping)
mama:      "Is THIS what you have been doing up here?" (while I've been on the computer for the past 30 minutes).
children 2, 3, and 4: "YEP!

I'm so proud.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ellie received this fun book for Christmas and it is right up her alley.  We found the time over the weekend to pick up some supplies.  Here is the project my little artist has started. 
 The green background will be sewn up into a pillow.  The bunnies are waiting to get their clothing stitched on and she wants to make a little yellow sun above. 

Felt is such a fun and easy project for children (mamas too!)  

Monday, February 8, 2010


To create: To cause to exist or bring into being.  To give rise to.  To produce through artistic or imaginative effort.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..."  Genesis 1:1
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female." Genesis 1:27
Is there any wonder that we feel the need to create?  To make, build and produce?  We are like our Father.  
So my list continues... today I am giving thanks for the ability to create.

5.  for the work of little messy fingers
6.  for the concentration on little faces
7.  for the creation of smiles and constructions
8.  for the ability to create and enjoy music
9.  for the warmth and aroma created in a kitchen
10.  the color choices... not just 1 shade of blue but a multitude
11. the thrill of seeing it all come together
12.  the vastness of Creation

Thank you Lord for creating in us a desire to follow in your footsteps; to create beauty, to make something on a blank page, to create change, to create memories.