Friday, October 31, 2008

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Fridays are unofficially called "goof off in school day". I have not shared this name with the kids. Our work load is a little less than the rest of the week, so this frees me up to “kick it up a notch.” While we start every school day with memory work, on Fridays I try to do a memory game of some sort. Last Friday we played memory hopscotch.

This idea came to me via H.O.T.T. Tips newsletter from Amy Pak. Amy puts out an amazing newsletter! She gives great ideas for history unit studies and other teaching tips - she puts a lot of time into these newsletters. They have been a tremendous help!

My kids are a bit young to play hopscotch “professionally.” So the rules were adjusted and the game was quite informal. Questions are asked and the one that knows the answer gets to toss the bean bag and hop along! It is nice to have a little change of pace for me and the kids. Yet, please, don’t tell them they are learning!!!

P.S. I looked up Hopscotch on wikipedia. It was kind of fun to learn some of the origins of the game. You might enjoy a little trivia reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

(Josh Post) Well with all the various trials that have gone on this year it should come as no surprise that not very many new projects have come out of the shop this year but at last the wheels of progress have begun to turn and new pieces are beginning to emerge once more.

The life of this project began as a design idea for a relative in WI who was looking for a small table and so I drew up a design and saw the initial project completed by my Grandfather in his shop in Cable, Wisconsin.

Having seen the project in photographs I decided that it would be a fun project to build for myself and so I began to construct a matching pair the first of which is seen here while the second is entering the final stages of construction. (See future posts for details!)

I am holding this table hostage here at our home in Northern VA to encourage my parents to come and visit, because, “Happy Birthday Dad!”, this one’s for you.

"True ornament is not a matter of prettifying externals. It is organic with the structure it adorns, whether a person, a building, or a park. At its best it is an emphasis of structure, a realization in graceful terms of the nature of that which is ornamented."

-Frank Lloyd Wright

I Think I Can....

Day 1

I am going to attempt what seems to be the impossible – finishing a knitted project. My sweet MIL (mother-in-law) taught me to knit this year, and I am forever in her debt for introducing me to this headache that I have had ever since.

I taught myself to crochet about five years ago and I have enjoyed this pastime. Yet, in so many ways, I wish I had learned to knit before I learned to crochet. There are so many things that are just done so much easier with crocheting. For instance, if you make a mistake crocheting just pull out the stitches until you are to where you made your mistake. In knitting this is a grueling process of pulling your stitches and sticking them back on your needles and hoping you didn’t drop any stitches.

Now that I have gotten my complaining out of the way let’s move on to what I love about knitting: knitting has a nice, calming rhythm and I love the feel of knitted items. I want to get good at both knitting and crocheting for there are many fun projects that incorporate both.

So this is my first real attempt to finish a knitting project. No more playing around with the needles pretending I am busy (Quiet! I am counting!) It is time to get down to work and make something with this new skill! I will be posting a picture of my work each day. I hope this will keep me motivated to finish.

Besides it would be nice to have a new scarf this winter!

Note: Scarf pattern is Meandering Rib Scarf.

"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the
dictionary." ~Mary Kurtz

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I know it's early...........

I know, I know.... Christmas is still 2 months away. But hey, I'm not the first to bring this topic up lately. The stores seem to be ready for it and I have seen a large number of blog posts about the topic already. So that being the case I just wanted to pass on some info that might help you on your way to having a "Peace on Earth" Christmas. For the past 4 years or so I have been following Cynthia Townley Ewer's Christmas Countdown. It starts at the end of October every year and is a great tool to get yourself organized for Christmas. For six weeks she posts planning sheets, ideas and to do's.

I'm a person who loves lists so this site feeds my check off addictiona. I have used the site for so many years now and have found what things work for my family which saves me a lot of time and as we all know time is a precious commodity at Christmas.

One of the best lists is an evaluation sheet. It helps you to decide what made the season special last year and what was not worth the time. I also ask the kids each year what they remember about last year's Christmas and what would make this year memorable. We all seem to go year to year not remembering any of the gifts we gave or the gifts we received, but we do remember the special things we did with family and friends. This is why it helps to take a few moments each week before the rush of the season comes to really think what is truly important. The countdown starts Sunday so check it out.

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at
Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with
legs?" -G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Draw Pictures All Day...

"If you foolishly ignore beauty, you'll soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you wisely invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life." - Frank Lloyd Wright

(Josh post) My lovely wife is always encouraging me in new creative endeavors and after seeing the enjoyment that she has had sharing her projects and thoughts here I have decided to join in (after much prodding to do so) and share some of the things that are happening on my side of the family too. As with anything, starting is always the most difficult part and so instead of wringing my hands and looking for just the right type of thing to begin with I've decided to start with the thing that I am most often doing which is design.

People often have a lot of conceptions about what I do as a landscape architect and most of them usually revolve around a central idea which is, "Landscape Architects, you guys draw dirt...right?" Well to a certain extent that's true but fortunately my days are also full of a lot more.

The one idea that I find people have most often is that they expect you to have a "philosophy" which guides everything you design. This does seem to be the case with all the shows on cable these days (although I am unsure as to what philosophy directs someone to paint rooms hot pink and glue grass to the ceiling) but it would seem to me after being in this business for going on ten years that tv is really the only place where it exists. Now certainly I have ideas about how things should be done and the other designers that I know do as well but either we just don't have enough ego or a lot of all that talk on tv is just glam for the cameras, for me, my philosophy comes down to this, I am "Dedicated to the Proposition that All Designs are Created Equal" (to steal a phrase from one of my favorite composers, Peter Schickele) and to steal a phrase from Duke Ellington "If it looks good it is good." It may not sound as good as the guys on HGTV but in the end it works for me.....

Small Towns

"Human nature cannot be studied in cities except at a disadvantage--a village is the place. There you can know your man inside and out--in a city you but know his crust; and his crust is usually a lie." - Mark Twain's notebook, 1883

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Remington, sleepy town is awakin'!

I live in Fauquier County, Virginia, which prides itself in being an agriculturaly friendly county. One side of the county is horse country and the other side, where I live, reminds me of Indiana, where I was born. All this fresh "dairy air" feeds a hidden desire I have inside of me to farm. Since I am not really skilled nor do I have the time to farm my family has decided to try and support our farming neighbors.

This has started me on a search to find local places to buy food that are convenient for us. This is where Remington comes in. Remington is a small; old town that has seen new life in recent years. A store opened a few years back that has brought some nice change and needed shopping to this once sleepy town.

The Farmer's Wife
If you are ever in the area stop by, it's just such a pleasant place to shop. My husband loves to shop there and makes a comment about it every time we get in the car with our bag of groceries. If you can please a husband on a shopping trip you have stumbled on something worth while! The Farmer's Wife has a lovely bakery, deli, and dairy section. They are now carrying meats from local farms, and they carry local produce. They have just about everything you need to stock your pantry, and a good amount of organic items. The main reason we continue to go back is the milk! Milk sold in glass bottles - there is nothing better! If you live in the Mid-Atlantic area please take a moment and go to Trickling Springs Creamery's website and see if they have local delivery locations near you. You will not be disappointed! I would love for those of you that have bought milk or other products from Trickling Springs Creamery or if you have visited The Farmer's Wife in Remington to please leave a message and share your experiences.

Recently Remington has started to renovate some of the old buildings on main street. It is really looking nice downtown. I am thrilled that they are showcasing the beautiful architectural features of these old buildings.

Let me add one more plug for this little town. Stop by Groves Hardware. They have everything, and they know what they are talking about. Unlike the "helpful and friendly" folk at Home Depot and Lowes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Things!

It seems that life is dishing up a lot of things new! It has been some years of thinking to myself, "this blogging stuff really looks fun!" I am sure it is the same with a lot of bloggers out there- months of thinking they should start a blog and then finally taking the plunge. I decided to take that plunge when I started thinking of my days as a blog entry. It seemed to me if so much time was spent in dreaming- I should do something about it! So here I am with another new thing, wondering where it will take me!

New things should come in pairs (it's safer that way). So with the new starts, should come a little celebration with a new recipe. And with the new season upon us- Pumpkin Rolls it is!

My daughter is in Kindergarten and was introduced to a new letter this week. The letter "B"! And every new letter should be celebrated with a fun project! "B's" project was making "BUTTER"! How fun and arm tiring. So do a little celebrating with us!


1 pint mason jar

1/2 C heavy cream

Pour cream into mason jar. Put lid on tightly. Hand to child and cut them loose, shaking wildly. The cream will turn to whipped cream and it will feel like nothing is moving in the jar. Keep shaking! All of the sudden you will see the walls clear and you will be left with butter and buttermilk! YUM!

Pumpkin Rolls

1T yeast (SAF yeast- the best!)

1 C warm water (or you can heat up the buttermilk left in jar)

1/3 C honey

3T butter- melted

1t salt

1/2C powdered milk

1C canned pumpkin

1-1/2 t ground cinnamon

3/4t ground cloves, nutmeg, and ginger

4 to 5C all-purpose flour

You can easily make this recipe by hand kneading or using a mixer with a bread hook. I used my food processor with the kneading blade.

1. Dissolve yeast in water in food processor. Let sit for 15 min. Yeast should be nice and bubbly.

2. Add all ingredients but the flour. Mix for a few seconds.

3. Now add one cup of flour at a time until the sides are clean. Let it knead for a little longer, then place in oiled bowl.

4. Cover and let it rise for about a hour until it has doubled in size.

5. Punch down and separate into 32 pieces. Roll into balls and place in two greased 9" round pans(16 rolls per pan).

6. Let rise for about 30 minutes, until double in size.

7. Place in oven and turn on to 375 degrees. Bake for 25-35 minutes. They should look nice and golden on top. Brush with a little butter while they are warm.