Monthly Archives: February 2015

Late February Snow and Sharing lunch and Zentangle with Friend

Snowing ~
We got about 4″ or more after this picture. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of it when it was done.

Well, it has definitely been cold. I’m glad for this because when I have to open up my windows in February I am very concerned with how hot it will get come May, let alone August. Here in OK, I think August is the hottest month of the year. My favorite temps are from mid-50’s to mid-70’s, much over that and I am getting too hot and cannot cool down. Because I’m so warm-natured, I like it when it is cold so that I can actually wear warm clothes and/or cover up with a blanket, or both. :) I know that there are those that think I’m nuts but that is ok, I tend to think they are nuts for liking temps over 90º. ;)

As I mentioned on Tuesday, we finally got some snow! It was very very pretty. BUT Tuesday when I asked Tiffany to go get the sleds out when she fed the animals, she informed me that the sleds were no more; they had dry rotted and were thrown away, unbeknownst to me. :(

On Sean’s way home from work, he made two stops looking for sleds but came home empty handed, as there were none to be had. He was told they don’t carry them. What?!? So now I will have to be on the lookout for them myself or look for them online for those rare years when we have enough of that beautiful white stuff to go sledding.

As I was looking at my facebook newsfeed and saw my friends in the south (VA, SC, and such) posting their wonderful snowy pictures, it dawned on me that I seldom see my friends in the north posting pictures of their snowfall and saying how pretty it is. :D I do have a homeschooling friend in Minnesota, I think, that has posted a few here or there but I have lots of family in Ohio and I do not recall a single snow picture from them.

I lived in Ohio when I was a child until I was about 13 years old. As I reminisce about those times, I remember snow on the ground come Thanksgiving and then not really seeing the ground again until around Easter. NOW I KNOW that this is probably not very accurate but I do remember snow falling on Thanksgiving and I do remember dirty snow piles still being on the ground very near Easter, maybe not really in the same year but that is how I remember it – Hey! It was a LONG time ago. ;) The problem with snow there is that it falls and sticks around forever and just gets all dirty and nasty, with fresh white falling on top of it from time to time. What I like about snowfall in Oklahoma (and what I remember from my twenty some years in Virginia) is that it may snow nice and heavy but within a few days it’s outta here! Thus we don’t generally end up with those dirty, nasty, ugly, piles of snow.

So we had some pretty snow on Monday. It got slick enough out that it took Mike and Sean twice as long to get home as normal. Tuesday they both stayed home as the snow began melting as soon as the sun came up. By 9:00 am, I was already seeing my sidewalk steps and they had not been shoveled. As of yesterday, there was not even any tiny little bits leftover in the shadowy spots of the yard. ;)

Then it was so nice on Wednesday that I got hot and had to turn on a fan. Then yesterday it was very cold again. I actually got to wear a fleece long sleeve shirt for half of the day. ;)

My friend Gwin came over for lunch yesterday and we had a very nice visit. I got to share my joy of Zentangle, which can be seen here by clicking on Wonder Wednesday in the menu above. At first she didn’t believe she could do it but then I showed her how simple it was and she was amazed. I think she just may try her hand at it sometime very soon.

Well, I’ve rambled enough for today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Stay warm.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

March Holidays and Observances

Owl Week ~ LifeOfJoy.meIt is hard for me to believe that March will start this weekend. When my children were young, time seemed to pass so slowly but now it seems to be going by in a blur. At any rate, I thought I would share some ideas for study this month.

Usually there are several food related observances but they are a bit slim this month. Here are the few I found:

  • National Frozen Food Month – I guess we can look forward to some sales on some of those frozen fruits and vegetables, maybe. Most likely there will be sales on those frozen dinners/entrees. I did see that Hussmann will be giving away one freezer each week in March via the Easy Home Meals facebook page.I guess we could celebrate National Frozen Food Month by preparing some freezer meals for easy cooking later. :)
  • Quinoa is the grain of the month – So I guess now is a good time to try out this low carb grain. I’ve seen recipes for fried quinoa, which looks like vegetable fried rice. I’ve also seen some salads that look decent by merely searching “quinoa” on Pinterest. But maybe the recipe you want to try though combines quinoa with peanut butter; this one looks good.
  • National Peanut Month – America’s Test Kitchen has a really good peanut butter cookie recipe. My favorite way to eat peanut butter cookies is topped with chocolate frosting. :)
  • National Caffeine Awareness Month and National Nutrition Month

Here are just a few non-food related observances this month:

  • Credit Education Month – this would probably be a good idea to talk about with the high school age family members. I believe Dave Ramsey and Crowne Financial have some materials to help teach about finances from a biblical perspective.
  • National Craft Month – pick a project to work on as a family or find age appropriate crafts for each of your children to do individually.
  • International Mirth Month and Humorists are Artists Month – check out some fun comedians like Tim Hawkins or Bananas Comedy website or on youtube.

Want something a little more scholarly? How about these:

  • National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week
  • National Words Matter Week, for the writer in your family
  • National Sleep Awareness Week (ok maybe not scholarly but necessary for good health)
  • Read an e-book Week
  • Severe Weather Preparedness Week

If you use Five in a Row curriculum, you might consider ‘rowing’ Owl Moon because next week is Festival of the Owls.

My main resource for finding observances is Brownielocks.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Zentangle Challenge(s)

The Diva Challenge this week is to use tools you’ve never used before tangling. I have never used one of my gold scratch and sketch tiles before, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. It was actually easier to tangle the tile than it was to get a picture of it to put on here.

First I tried to scan it. That did not work at all and I have no idea why. In my way of thinking, the scanner is a light that scrolls across the tile slowly, so it  should be able to picture each bit better than any other method but alas, it only picked up a few gold dots in a couple of spots. I tried all different settings and adjustments I could find and not a one of them worked! Ugh!

Out came the camera. I knew I was going to have a lighting issue. I always have a flash or not flash issue when I take pictures. Then I have trouble being still enough as I take an unflashed picture to keep it from being blurry. Consequently, it is going to take several pictures to actually show the tile in its entirety.

This first one I took (without the flash?) under the light on a lamp stand. The tile is slightly curled from how it has been stored, which has been rectified and they are now laying flat. Thus the upper left corner is hard to see, as is the extreme bottom right corner.

Foil Scratch Off Tile ~

I know shading is really important in my tiles and so I tried to do a little bit with a few lighter lines scratched under flux and a shadow under mooka. But I figured it probably needed more so I thought I’d try using the pencil, knowing the lead would be a bit shiny on the flat black. I’m still not certain about the result though mostly I think I don’t like it. Here is a picture where it is very apparent.

Shading visible ~ LifeofJoy.meThen I realized I have a clear cube that will hold the tile flat. So I put it in there and took a few pictures. I’m pretty sure I used the flash because there is one spot that is reflecting pretty harshly in each one but you should be able to get the gist. Notice that the “shading” is not visible from this angle and lighting. :\

In box with flash ~

Lifeofjoy.meAgain ~

Scratching off the black is not smooth at all and thus not a very relaxing feel. I do like the shininess/bling of it though.

No Flash ~

I drew my string and border in pencil as usual, so it does show up a little bit still. I’d love to hear your suggestions about what to shade this with. I guess I need to find some yellowish pencil or something for future tiles since I have 19 of these gold ones left. ;)

I intend to participate in the It’s A String Thing Challenge this week too, so that is why this post is titled the way it is, as I will add that tile and it’s pictures and stuff here too (I think). ;) Except that this post is getting rather long now, so I’ll have to decide later. ;)

I also want to say thank you for the sweet comments on last week’s entry. Suzanne, you are right, I am hard on myself. (I always strive to do better). I feel sorry for my family because I have been hard on them as well and I homeschooled my children all their school years.

I really appreciate ALL your comments! They are so encouraging! Please keep them coming.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chocolate Snow Cream

Yay!!! We finally got some decent snow!!!! See!

Snow on Pond ~

But as of the taking of this picture, it wasn’t good enough to go sledding yet. See the rocks?

Still seeing rocks ~ LifeofJoy.meNice Big Flakes ~

It snowed until around 7 or 7:30 last night, so there may be enough snow now. But last night we had enough fresh snow to make some chocolate snow cream! We haven’t had any in a couple of years because although we did get some snow, it wasn’t enough clean snow to make snow cream.

I’ve made snow cream a few different ways but this is my favorite because it isn’t gritty.

First get a big bowl of clean snow.

Snow Cream ~ LifeofJoy.meNext add a can of sweetened condensed milk and 3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder.

Snow Cream ~

Now use the mixer and blend! If it looks too wet, add some more snow.

Chocolate Snow Cream ~ LifeofJoy.meOh! You could add a little vanilla extract if you wanted but I forgot tonight and it was still good. :)

I hope you enjoy the dessert of the season! :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Nurture your Marriage by Respecting your Man

Love and Respect ~ LifeOfJoy.meI guess the thing on my mind this week is respect. I have a difficult time understanding what respect is or more accurately, how to properly show respect to my beloved. Unfortunately, I think I’m better at disrespecting him. :(  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to at all! At times I think I’m being funny but I think he may feel disrespected by the things I say. I know that I can easily anger him with my words, although unintentionally.

The Bible tells use that we are to take up our cross daily. I guess part of that is not saying things that, although I’m trying to be cute or funny, hit my beloved the wrong way. It is not easy because men and women think so differently; thus it takes a lot of effort. This is an area I am still working on.

Another thing that I’ve worked on over the years is giving up my right to be correct and thus prove him wrong. Proving my love wrong does not strengthen him, it belittles him. I should never want to belittle him – not in private and definitely not in public.

Another area that I have failed in is how I talk about him to my children. You see, my children, especially once in their teen years, were my friends. Since we were home together all day, every day because I homeschooled them, I would frequently let my frustrations out with them around and sometimes I would even let out my frustrations to them. This is not a good idea because it tears down their father in their eyes. :(  I have had to work at correcting this error, which has not been easy, because just like once things are seen, they cannot be unseen, the same goes for what is heard, cannot be unheard.

One thing I have learned is that if I do say something negative about him, I need to immediately say two nice things about him. This does not give me a license to talk negatively about him but it can help to put him back into the right perspective in my eyes.

Of course, it is imperative not to talk negatively about your spouse in public. That is a sure way to drive a wedge into your relationship! It is so much better to say good things about your man to others. Brag on him and let him hear you doing it. Don’t do it so much as to allow pride to set in but find the perfect balance that allows him to feel loved and respected.

It’s a small thing to do to nurture your marriage.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Sunday Lunch ebook and Last Weekend’s Church Party

I saw this really neat resource yesterday. It is a pdf entitled Sunday is Served; Sunday Lunch Simplified with Once a Quarter Cooking available from Eat Better Spend Less website. It is free to download if you subscribe to her site. I was very interested in this ebook, so I subscribed as required.

It is an interesting idea. It seems that Beth, the author, likes to utilize her freezer to streamline the cooking process. In this ebook she has a rotation of four meals for each of 3 months and changes each season. Remember this ebook is for Sunday lunch only. I really like her idea and am giving some thought to how I can adapt her ideas to some of my own recipes. I prefer to have hearty meals on Sunday afternoon and just have a snack later in the evening. Most of the recipes in this ebook are for lighter meals which would leave my family wanting a bigger meal later in the day.

I actually prefer slow cooking recipes like a slow roasted chicken and crock pot mashed potatoes. I just need to give this some thought and see how I can create a similar system using my own recipes OR what I can plan for the evening that would make the lighter lunches work. It really is a neat idea. I recommend getting the ebook for yourself.

Church Fun ~  Last Friday was the church party I mentioned. I had a lot of fun and I hope everyone else did too. I wish we would have had more time to prepare, mostly so that the people would have known what to expect and thus more Dinner Table ~ LifeOfJoy.mepeople would have come but we had a good turnout, even though the 20’s and 30’s generation wasn’t there. Then we probably would have had a bigger turnout if it hadn’t been Valentine’s Day weekend. ;)

It did seem that the people enjoyed the mix of games, soloists, fellowship, door prizes, and old videos. We had spaghetti, rolls, salad, and  German chocolate cake for Picture Time ~ LifeofJoy.medessert. I was able to procure four door prizes and some small game prizes.

All these pictures were taken as we prepared and none were taken once we got started. :(  But it appears that at least a few people saw something that was picture worthy. ;) Hee heeJust about time ~

We did a fun little scavenger hunt for the kids with the end prize being a goodie bag. I took a picture of the sweet lady that made the goodie bags and on the bag made 7 clues and cut the picture into the 7 pieces. Each clue led to another clue and after obtaining all the clues the children were to turn the pieces over and put together the puzzle. Then they were to go to her to get their prize.

Pretty Tables ~ LifeofJoy.meIt gave the kids some time to burn off some energy and the adults time to fellowship for about 10-15 minutes as they finished up their game (counting how many ‘chef dudes’ I’d placed around the room and lobby).

Oh! One word of caution, if you ever put edible game pieces on the dinner table, be Nice Decorations ~ Lifeofjoy.mesure to tell them not to eat them until the appointed time. :D I had jars with peanut butter M&M’s in them on each table for a guessing game. The winner at each table won the jar of candy. Since I didn’t make this clear, some tables ate some/most of the candy before the game. It made for some fun banter between me and the attendees.

Best Front View Pic~
You might be able to make out the lighted tree on the side.

Overall, it was a good night and I think most everyone had fun. Now to begin planning for our next fellowship party in a few months.

I guess I’m done rambling for today. I hope you have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Libraries, Birds, and More

Bramble ~ LifeOfJoy.meAs I was looking through to see what I should share with you today, I saw that it is “Beat the Heat” Month. I had to google this to see what it meant and was surprised to see that it has to do with spaying animals. Not where my mind was going on this cold February day, I can assure you. ;) You can use this as an opportunity to educate your children about animals.

Games That Teach (in some way)

My kids learned a lot about animal propagation from the Nintendo game series, Harvest Moon. They also learned a lot about farming, life cycles, and how to save and invest money. They said that Viva Pinata, is another game that they learned a lot from.

Library Lovers Month

It seems that I can find something to do with books or libraries in just about every month and February is no exception. It is Library Lovers Month. The library we generally go to has recently had a renovation. Unfortunately Tiff and I do not feel it is all for the better. You see, it now feels more industrial . . . it also seems as if they are trying to make it a community center.

We have lived in our county for 10 years now and have never been to it’s library. Since Tiffany did not appreciate the renovations at our usual library, one county north, and we were in our county’s city, we decided to visit our library and see what it was like. We loved its warmth and closeness to the books. See the renovated one seems to have gotten rid a lot of books as there are lots and lots of empty shelves there. But I digress . . . find a way to show your library that you appreciate what they offer during this, Library Lovers Month.

Self-Esteem and Expect Success

I also found that it is International Boost Self-Esteem and International Expect Success month. I do caution you though to not boost your child’s self-esteem so much that they become prideful. It is a hard line to find and tow, but necessary. Kids really need encouragement but too much praise and they can easily become prideful which is obnoxious to others. It is good to teach children that if they do certain things, they can expect success but success just doesn’t fall in your lap, you have to work for it.

National Bird Feeding Month

It is also National Bird Feeding Month. To participate in this, you could do something as simple as purchasing a small bag of bird seed and letting your child toss some in the yard and watch what birds come to eat it. Just the other morning I found that there are some chickadees that were perched on the limbs of the mimosa tree outside my son’s window. I don’t know why but I love these little black and white birds!


Homeschool Freebie of the Day has some good freebies this week. Today is “Nature Study Made Easy.” There is one on plants, one on stones, and one on Presidents also available this week. I believe tomorrow will be one on composers. Check them out and see if there may be something there to help you in your educational journey with your children. I have loved this resource throughout our children’s education and believe it can be a blessing to you as well.

I hope this has been some help to you today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DC#205 combined with String Thing #80

For starters I just have to thank those that left comments on last week’s tile. They are greatly appreciated and are truly encouraging!!! Thank you ever so much!

Now, I must admit that I did not like the Diva Challenge this week. She used the Chinese New Year as the theme and asked us to work in a goat. At first I copied her goat string but decided I did not want to do that, so in my tile you will find a teeny tiny little goat head on the bottom left corner.

Since I was less than enthusiastic with the Diva Challenge, I thought I might try my hand at the String Thing challenge. The challenge uses string #80 and the two tangles to utilize were both new to me. As is sometimes the case, the one that looked easiest turned out to be hardest for me, namely Inaura, and the one I thought would me most difficult turned out to be easiest for me, Kozy.

DC205&ST80 ~

I don’t believe I will share this with Tickled to Tangle even though I did do the challenge because I just don’t like it that much and don’t really want my first time sharing there to be one that I’m not all that happy with. I do like it better smaller. See? But I’m still not very happy with it.

DC205&ST80 ~

I thought I’d show where the string was, so you could get an idea of why I did what I did with it.

String ~ LifeOfJoy.meI bet I would have liked it better if I had done another Kozy in the bottom right corner.

Oh well, it is what it is. I did enjoy learning Kozy and will probably play around with it a bit more in the future.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Crispy Hash Browns

Well, here I am again bright and early on Tuesday morning with no pictures of any food! Ugh! When will I learn?

I guess I’ll fix me some hash browns in a little while and take some pictures as I do. Is it hash browns or hashed browns?

I want to share a few tricks I have for getting them done AND crispy.  ;) My family likes the crispy part, like the ones you get in that famous fast food store.

Shred about one potato for each person. I use the large hole grater.

Hash Browns ~

Shredding Hash Browns ~ LifeofJoy.meHash browns ~

Heat oil of choice, I prefer coconut oil, over medium high heat in large skillet; I prefer cast iron. (Here I’m using my small 8″-ish skillet so I can show you how to get them crispy when they are piled in the pan but usually I would use my 10″-ish skillet, so they get done quicker.)

Heating Oil ~

Spread shredded potatoes in the skillet evenly. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Hash Browns in pan ~

Cover with lid. This is one of the secrets to getting them done without taking forever. Check in about 5-7 minutes. You want them to be golden brown on the bottom. When they are crispy, remove the lid, and flip so that the crispy side is up and the soft side is on the bottom of the pan. If the skillet has become dry, add another teaspoon or two of oil.

Hash Browns cooking ~
These could have stayed on the other side for another 30 seconds or so but it’s all good.

Cook this side with the lid removed! This keeps the crispy side that is up, crispy but if you put the lid on, it will soften the crispiness of the potatoes. Cook for about 4 minutes or so, until the bottom is nice and golden crispy.

Now for the tricky. If you have a LOT of potatoes in the pan and there are not enough crispy parts, put your spatula under the crispy top hash browns and move them to the side, exposing the soft potatoes underneath.

Getting more crispy potatoes ~ LifeofJoy.meSecret to Crispy Hash Browns ~

Now, flip the potatoes crispy bottom over allowing those soft potatoes exposure to the hot skillet – again, adding more oil if needed.

More Crispy Hash Browns ~

Crisp this side now too. Continue this process until your potatoes are desired crispiness.

Crisping the final side ~

I hope the pictures help you follow what I was saying. Now that I’ve created this method for getting nice and crispy hash browns my challenge is not crisping all of them and actually having some soft potatoes left between all the nice crispness. :)

Single Serving Crispy Hash Browns ~ LifeofJoy.meI know, not the best picture and the plate is chipped, but hey, I’m just being real here. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Traveling Through Life Together with God

I was stumped with what to write for the post today. So I asked Mike what are his thoughts on marriage. Now, I must say that my beloved is a man of few words, so it did not surprise me when he didn’t have much to say.

Here is what he did say:Marriage Carriage ~

Marriage is like a carriage
That two people ride in,
Go through this life
Share things together
Love one another

(With that I was reminded of where my middle son, Sean, gets his poetic-ness from, because I am not readily poetic. ;) ) He was kind of just being silly but the truth is that sometimes married couples are more like two people driving on the same road in separate vehicles sharing their lives in a limited fashion than going through life in the same vehicle. When you jump into the same vehicle, there is only one person doing the driving but because we are in the same vehicle we can communicate easily, decide together where to go, and have shared experiences. {An interesting thought I had when thinking about this is that when we travel, I help by navigating (reading the directions and looking out for road changes and such and relaying them to him as he drives).  In our marriage, he makes the final decision but I help by sharing things that I see or helping to navigate through our life.}

I then asked him, “What makes our marriage work?” To which he responded:

  • Our commitment to God and each other through the ups and downs
  • Get closer to God  and your marriage gets better because He ordained marriage from the beginning.
  • With God all things are possible.

One thing I’d add to this is that when we got married, we committed to forever. Divorce was not an option for us. Or as my dear friend Joyce put it, there is no “out clause.” There have been moments when the only reason we stayed together was because we had no other option. (Now I will point out that there has never been any biblical reasons in our marriage for a divorce either: no abuse, no adultery, and we’re both believers.) Those moments passed as we confirmed our commitment to work out our differences and feelings, giving more care and attention to what we do and say, trying not to offend the other and making a little more effort to show the other love in a way they feel loved.

I hope these thoughts can be of some help to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº