Monthly Archives: February 2015

Procrastinating Week

running late ~ LifeofJoy.meI don’t know why I do it but I put things off. It isn’t like I don’t want to do them exactly, or that I have other things more pressing because, quite frankly, I cannot begin to tell you what I did instead of what I really should’ve been doing.

I had my sister Sondra over for lunch on Wednesday. We had a good visit. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, but I never thought to do it. I guess because I’ve been busy homeschooling, which used to take up much of my time. At least I was smart about her coming to lunch on a church night, in that I fixed extra of lunch so it could be doubled as dinner for us before running out the door to church.

It seems that the times I don’t want to go the most, because of being tired or lots to do, that one of two things happen: either it was exactly what I needed to hear or the complete opposite, I should’ve stayed away because I really should’ve gotten the other thing done that was pressing. This time both things happened. The youth minister spoke and he said just what I needed; it is so nice when you hear exactly what you need to hear right when it is needed.

We are having a party/family dinner tonight at church. I’ve been asked to MC and sing a song. Well, I had some contacts I had to make at church Wednesday night in the preparation for that. Thus we ended up staying longer after church was over than normal and I got home later and Mike wanted me to come to bed, so I did. Well, I still didn’t have my blog post ready for yesterday morning. I figured that there really isn’t anyone that was waiting on me to post it, so I would work on it when I got up early Thursday morning . . . I slept in an hour. Ugh!!! Talk about procrastinating! I never got the complete post up until about 3:00 pm! Ridiculous! Then to show me I was completely wrong, when I talked to my daughter-in-love Lauren, she asked me when I usually post – 5:00am usually, and then I told her my story. So now I know, if no one else looks at my blog, she does. ;)

Lauren ~ LifeofJoy.me
The Birthday Girl

Lauren prefers fruity dessert to chocolate. In years past, she has asked for my no-bake strawberry cheesecake for her birthday celebration dessert. (Her birthday is the 14th.) This year I showed her a recipe in my new cookbook, Cook’s Country Cookbook, for Strawberry Poke Cake, which uses real strawberries instead of jello and she said she’d like to try that this year. Well, said cake takes about 4-5 hours to bake, so I needed to get busy on it by noon or so . . . at least I did that. Thankfully her choice for dinner was an easy one, San Fransisco Chicken over noodles – I just wish I would have remembered that we use a whole bag of noodles because I had to make the rest of the bag after we sat down to eat. Next year I think she wants egg rolls with it too, which is fine because if she goes with the poke cake, it can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and I don’t see why the cheesecake couldn’t too.

I have much to do today because I still have to run to the grocery store for our groceries for next week, which is usually a 3-4 hour run, if I don’t have to do some serious shopping at an extra store.

I still don’t know what all I did yesterday! I had things I really needed to do for tonight but I didn’t get them done.

Bad picture but better than nothing. :\
Bad picture but better than nothing. :\
Girls Teamed Up ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Another bad picture but at least I snapped a couple to include. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, we had fun playing Nintendo Land last night. Brian and Lauren left around 9:30 and I still didn’t get this post prepared last night. At least it is up within the proper hour today.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time, God bless!

Michele ºÜº

February Observations and Learning Opportunities

Cherry Month ~ LifeOfJoy.meFebruary is:

  • Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month
  • National Cherry Month
  • Grapefruit Month
  • Sweet Potato Month
  • Hot Breakfast Month
  • Bake for Family Fun Month
  • Barley Month
Next Week is:
  • National Pancake Week
  • National Date (fruit) Week
Fig Week ~ LifeOfJoy.me
I’ve never seen a fresh fig before. Hmm . . .
Individual Days:
  • National Gum Drop Day (15)Fat Tuesday ~ LifeOfJoy.me
  • National Almond Day (16)
  • International Pancake Day (17)
  • Chocolate Mint Day (19)

I always find it fun and interesting to see what foods are featured each month. You might try working them into your menu this month, who knows, maybe you’ll find a new food you or your children love.

If you aren’t in the habit of having a hot breakfast, you could give it a try one morning and see if it makes a difference for your family. Or you could make it as a special weekend treat. I like to make a hot family breakfast, ok brunch by the time I get around to it, a couple of Saturdays a month. Everyone is happy when I say, “I’m making ______ for breakfast.” As with most kids, mine love anything that involves syrup and because I want it to be healthier for them, I buy real maple syrup, not high fructose corn syrup, even though it is considerably more expensive.

I had fun researching this “Bake for Family Fun Month” observation. Turns out there is a really good ‘lesson plan’ over at the Home Baking Association‘s site, contributed by one of their members, Clabber Girl. The ‘lessons’ are broken into weeks but all the weeks appear to be available already at Clabber Girl. Domino Sugar has a nice informational page on baking with kids. If you are interested in finding more about Barley and maybe having some baking family fun with it this month, you can check out this site.

 

 Washington ~LifeofJoy.mePresidents Day (16th)

Monday is President’s Day. Brownielocks has a good webpage on the history of Presidents Day. The Washington Post posted some good information on the origins of Presidents Day last year and can be accessed here. The US Parks site has some good info too.

 Links for Learning
Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (17th)

As I mentioned before, I did not grow up celebrating Advent, Lent, Epiphany, or any other such thing. But as I learned about holidays as I homeschooled my children, I learned about them and found there were some good ideas to some of these observances.

Next Wednesday begins Lent, the season of fasting in preparation for the observance of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus. During Lent foods like meat, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were considered restricted. Thus to keep food from being wasted, they would have a feast to use up many of those items. According to ShareFaith.com,

The English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs as possible before Ash Wednesday began. In France, the consumption of all fats and fatty foods on this day coined the name “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.

Lent Begins (18th)

It is hard to believe that as of next Wednesday, Easter will be just 6.5 weeks away. How will you prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus?

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Heart Zentangle

This week’s Diva Challenge is #204 Valentangle, which is to use hearts as the string or tangle hearts or use red, pink, and white. I saw the String Thing Challenge #78 had a double heart string and was to use specified heart shaped tangles.

Heart Shaped Zentangle ~ LifeOfJoy.meI really like Adele’s dual heart string, so I chose to use it for my string. I re-learned with this tile why I like to practice new tangles before using them on a tile. I had to shade this one heavily to cover up the places in the new tangles where I learned what not to do. ;) You know, there are no mistakes in Zentangle.

Now I have to say that I like this one much better smaller because you cannot see my overlaps as much.

I started with the upper right hand heart shape and was attempting to do Heart Line variation in rows but missed it somewhere and it got all screwy. Then on the lower, upside-down heart I attempted to use Adele’s LG (which stands for Love Grows) except that I already had the largest heart shape made, so I tried to draw it in reverse and it didn’t turn out so well. Thus I used the outer two lines and used the simplest form of Hearty. Then because my lines were all squonky, I added some more lines and then some dots to try and make it a little more presentable.

Then I finally figured out how to draw heart line without lifting my pen and dared to draw the under heart. Like I said, lots of shading and not looking too closely saves this one. ;) (But I will be brave and include the large version of the tile as well.)

Heart Shaped Zentangle ~ LifeOfJoy.me

OH! I want to thank all those wonderful people that post comments! It truly does bring me joy. I was replying to each one but realized you may not be seeing them and it is just a waste of my time. If you comment on this one, please let me know if you ever go back and look at the replies, because if you do, I will most certainly continue  but if not, I’ll make sure I post my thanks with each new week.

As always, if you desire to see more of my Zentangles, click on Wonder Wednesday on the menu above.

With that, I bid you adieu! Have a great week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Brownies!!!

Brownies from Scratch ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Mmmmm, mmmmm! Homemade brownies . . . from scratch, not a box.

This has been my go-to brownie recipe for years and years! I tend to under bake them a bit so that they are fudgey, not cakey.

First combine the cocoa, baking soda, and 1/3 cup of oil. This is how it looks now.

Making Brownies step 1 ~ LifeofJoy.me

This next step always amazes me. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Brownies step 2 ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Wait for it . . .

Keep stirring . . .

Thickened Batter ~ LifeofJoy.me
Wha la!

Now it is thickened, like magic!

At this point you add in the other 1/3 cup of oil, sugar, and eggs and stir. Then add the flour, vanilla, and salt. Then pour into greased pan.

I used to make this in a 13×9 pan but that makes the brownies a bit thinner and we’d each eat two anyway. So now I make it in a 9×9 pan and they turn out thicker, like this.

Single Brownie ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Hershey Cocoa (I don't care for these made with any other)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup oil (divided)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Combine cocoa, baking soda, and 1/3 cup oil.
  2. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir until it thickens.
  3. Add sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup oil and stir.
  4. Add in the flour, salt, and vanilla and combine.
  5. Pour into lightly greased pan.
  6. Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes if in a 9x9 pan or 25-35 minutes if in 13x9 pan.
  7. If you wait to remove it from the oven when there is no batter left on the toothpick when checking it, you will have cakey brownies instead of fudgey brownies. Check 5 minutes early and keep checking until desired doneness.
http://lifeofjoy.me/brownies/

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Handling Disappointment with Grace

Love with Grace ~ LifeOfJoy.meEven when things don’t go as we’d like or even as we had anticipated, it is important to be flexible, kind, understanding, and loving. I’m not saying displaying these attributes is easy but it should be the goal and I believe it is attainable.

Mike came home from work on the 27th of last month and was not feeling very good. His tooth was bothering him, as well as his knee. To say I was disappointed is an understatement but I had a choice to make. I could either pout, nag, and be belligerent overall or I could be kind, understanding, and loving. I am happy to report that overall, I did well but I was not perfect as I did make sure he knew I was disappointed, which I should not have done. But, there is always next month!

I’m sure some people would have an extremely tough time with this, looking forward to going out once a month and then not even getting to do that, but as I have mentioned before, Mike and I are both homebodies. We really do enjoy just being together at home. Consequently, actually getting ourselves out of the house is not an easy job. We enjoy ourselves when we do get out but it isn’t much different than being at home together. I guess we are kind of odd ducks.

Years ago I read an article about turning your children’s hearts towards home by not constantly going and doing and acting like being out and about doing things is so much more fun than being at home. I have realized that Mike and I have our hearts turned towards home. We enjoy just being with each other – not necessarily engaged with each other but content being in the same room. If he is extra tired, like he was last night, and goes to bed early, I feel out of place. I guess, my heart is towards him.

That is what I think love is about. It is about feeling something is out of place when you aren’t together. (Not that I could spend every waking moment with him, as I need my personal time. But I don’t like to go a day without him either.)

I hope you find a balance between time you need to yourself and time you spend with your hubby.

Until next time, remember to give him grace and God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Friends, Orchids, and More

Lovely Gift ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Really Big Plant, Very Little Pot

It amazes me how quickly and yet how slowly time seems to pass. Last Friday seems like it was just the other day and yet it seems like it’s been much longer. As I’ve already mentioned, I had two sweet ladies over for lunch last Friday. They showed up with a very large, beautiful orchid.

Normal Life Cycle ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Dieing Blossoms :(

I have a very bad track record with orchids! Mike has bought me orchids several times in the past. One time he even brought me plant food specifically for orchids but alas, I have successfully killed each and every one of them. So when my friends walked up with this huge orchid, “Oh good, another one for me to kill!” just slipped out of my mouth. I did not mean to be ungrateful! Honestly I didn’t!!! I was told to only give it a bit of water once each week.

Pretty Blooms ~ LifeOfJoy.meThey said the reason they got such a good deal on it, they think, is because it needs to be transplanted. Needless to say, I’m nervous about that process as well because I know this can cause a plant to stress and possibly die. Now I need to get a bigger pot! (I’m just going to throw in a few more pictures of these lovely orchids, even though they are not the topic of the rest of the post. ;) )

Orchid Blossom ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Gorgeous Colors!!!

On a completely different subject, I have agreed to do something at church that is completely out of my comfort zone. Since I generally offer to help in the kitchen for church events, when I was being asked to do something, I was certain that is what it was going to be until she said that someone else was handling the meal. Then I was confused about what she was asking me to do . . . my mind was reeling. Then she asked me to get some entertainment together for the event next week. I was shocked! I usually agree to help in any way I can but this one really pushed me . . . she let me think on it for a couple of days and then when we talked again, I realized I only needed to find one or two. I hope I can do it because I said yes.

Now, I have had plenty to do this week and yet I have hardly accomplished anything this week! I have no idea why I let myself down like this! I have got to get a grip and get busy. I haven’t had one of these kinds of weeks in a long time but there is no condemnation . . . I will rise above myself and press onward.

On another note, Brian, my oldest son, is having a video gaming party at his house tonight. Thus Lauren, his wife, is going to come out here and spend the night. We are looking forward to having a good night together. I’m not sure what we will do but I know we will have a good time.

Well, I need to run; it’s going to be a busy day!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Fun Learning

Make Learning Fun ~ LifeOfJoy.meI found a saying years ago that has stuck with me and, I think, my children too. “Find the fun in what needs to be done.” You see, there are always things that must be done and generally those things are not very fun in and of themselves but if you can find a fun way to do the mundane, you might just create some fun memories with your children.

One of the things I used to do was to give each child a job, like one empty the dishwasher, one, sweep the floor, and one tidy up the living room while I vacuumed. I’d then say, ready, set, GO! and we’d all run to do the assigned job and race to see who got done first. It put some fun into what needed to be done. :)

My main academic goals in educating my children were to teach them to read, write, do arithmetic, and how to learn. These goals can be achieved no matter what subject is used. So, why not include some fun topics.

Here are some websites that provide some ideas.

I have always loved Brownielocks because it is so thorough! This link is to the main page, on which you can see some major events for the current month. On the left hand column there are links to all of the holidays and observances for the month, as well as a link to a menu for all of the months. Here is the direct link for February.

Not too long ago I heard of a fellow homeschooler that makes a listing of some fun days, observances, and holidays. Her site is Confessions of a Homeschooler. Here’s the link to her listing for February.

If you sign up for CurrClick’s newsletter, they will send you a link for a Teachable Moments Calendar in pdf format. It is actually pretty nice and you could print it out and let your older children pick one of them to research prior to the day and share what they learned with you and their siblings.

Holiday Insights has a very good website as well. Click on more and unique days and it will bring you to a page with links for each month’s holidays and celebrations. Both are great pages. They have links to pages with more information about he holiday or observations.

Another site I have used in the passed is Holidays.net, which has been revamped since I visited it last.

I just found a new website that is very nice looking. It’s Days of the Year.com . But like I just said, I just found it so use at your own risk. ;) The Holiday Spot is another site I just found that looks rather interesting, as well as 36tee5.com. Check them out at your own risk.

It is National Haiku Month.

Links to help you out:

  • Kidzone which has examples and worksheets
  • Teaching Haiku Poetry is a very plain site with links to help teach haiku to different grades.
  • Poetry4kids has a useful page as well. Then there are word games that may be helpful to your children.

I won’t overwhelm you with links. I hope you have fun with Haiku throughout the month. For fun, there is a haiku level on the old Spyro: Year of the Dragon game for the Playstation.

I hope you will find these helpful. Enjoy a hot breakfast, since it is Hot Breakfast Month, maybe waffles with maple syrup, since today is Canadian Maple Syrup Day. Or maybe some Nutella, on this, World Nutella Day. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DC#203: UMT: Athitzi

When I read a new zentangle challenge, I usually complete my tile before I look at any participates’ tiles, other than the sample provided by Laura on the challenge. I changed that today after I read the UMT (use my tangle) challenge. I fill parts of my tangles with lines frequently but when I saw Athitzi was a bit confused with how to use it exactly.  So I went through all links on the link up to see what people did and what I liked and didn’t like.

I found that I liked the look of rows of athitzi overlapping or in a spiral the best. I tried to get my lines close together but that would’ve required slower strokes than what I wanted to do and I would’ve gripped the pen too tightly and cramped. The directions from its creator Eleanor Holt said that it is drawn from the wrist.

When I started my tile, I was so focused on getting athitzi done well that I forgot to start with the dots and border. I had a plan so I didn’t need a string and thus forgot the rest and ended up using the entire tile from edge to edge, which made it a bit difficult to blacken it in properly.

Here is my tile before shading.

Athitzi and Hollibaugh ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Wow, it would appear that I need to wear some glasses that are a bit stronger. ;)

Here is the same tile after shading . . . I’m not sure I did it justice though. I’m thinking I probably should not have emphasized the spiral as much as I did. Oh well, live and learn.

Shaded DC#203 ~ LifeofJoy.me

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all those that visit my blog and an extra big thanks to those of you that take the time to leave a comment. I try to reply to each one and am looking for a subscription plug-in for my blog to allow you to receive my replies if you so desire.

Also, if you are interested in other pieces I have created you can see those posts by clicking on Wonder Wednesday, which is my art day. If you are interested in good recipes, that would be Tasty Tuesday on the menu above. On Mondays I write on the subject of marriage and on Thursdays I write about educating or raising children. On Fridays I tend to ramble about what I’ve been up to.

I hope you have a great week!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Peach (or whatever) Cobbler

Peach Cobbler ~ LifeofJoy.meI invited two sweet ladies over for lunch last Friday. We had a delightful time. I fixed Minestrone, Cat Head Biscuits, and then Peach Cobbler for dessert. I love this peach cobbler recipe. Actually it is whatever you want it to be cobbler.  It is so very simple that I can whip it up while visiting with company and generally less than an hour later we have a fresh hot dessert.

Begin by preheating the oven to 325º. Place one stick of butter in a 13 x 9 pan and put it in the preheating oven.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium size bowl.

Cobbler Dry Ingredients ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Stir in 3/4 cup of milk.

Cobbler Batter ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Remove pan with melted butter from the oven before the butter begins to brown at all.Melted Butter in Cobbler Pan ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Pour batter into pan with the melted butter.

Cobbler Batter ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Pour fruit over batter, spreading it evenly over the batter. I moved a few peaches around to make it more even. Pour in the syrup and all. You also have the option of using fresh fruit.

Fruit Cobbler ~ LifeOfJoy.me

The recipe says to bake for 50-60 minutes. I set my timer for about 40 or 45 minutes so that I check it then. Remove it from the oven when it is golden brown.

Cooked Peach Cobbler ~ LifeOfJoy.meI probably could have left it in a little bit longer but we were ready for dessert. ;)

Cobbler with Whipped Cream ~ LifeOfJoy.me325

Peach (or whatever) Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • One of the following:
  • 3-4 fresh peaches, cut
  • 2 cups fresh berries
  • Regular size can (16 oz?) blueberries
  • Large can fruit of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. Place butter in 9x13 pan and put in oven to melt the butter.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in milk.
  5. Remove pan with melted butter from oven.
  6. Pour batter in pan and level out a bit. Do not mix in butter, just even out the batter a bit.
  7. Spread fruit evenly over batter, don't stir it in. If using canned fruit, include the syrup.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes (but check it in 40-45 minutes).
  9. Remove when golden brown on top.
  10. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
http://lifeofjoy.me/peach-or-whatever-cobbler/

I have to admit that I prefer this with frozen blueberries (and sometimes add in just a bit more than 2 cups).

I hope you like this recipe.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

February and Feeling Loved

Feeling LovedIt is a new month; February is here. The month of love, a month to be sure my hubby knows how much I love him and feels my love for him.

I have asked him to think about three ways that he feels loved and have written down my top three, so that we can share them with each other.  I believe this will help me express my love for him in ways that he will actually feel loved.

We didn’t do so well with last month’s Love Calendar from the Dating Divas but that won’t keep me from trying again with February’s Love Calendar. Download and print yours out today. :) I’ve downloaded mine and will make it my laptop’s lock screen and print out a copy to put in the frame in our bedroom where Mike and I can see it frequently.

Good marriages don’t stay good without some tending. It takes some effort. Put forth some effort to think of things that you can do to make your spouse feel loved. Dating Divas has many ideas to pull from.

I will make my love a homemade card for Valentines Day because that is what he prefers. It stretches me because I have a hard time finding the words to say to express my feelings adequately. I, on the other hand, prefer purchased cards because they are more beautiful and have deeper sentiments. Thus Mike will probably spend some time in the card section of some store, probably Walmart, to find a card for me. Each of us doing for the other that which will make the other feel loved most.

Well, I have nearly two more weeks to figure out what I will do for him for Valentines Day, which I clearly need.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

PS. I just realized where some of these thoughts originated. ;) It was with this really good article that I read on a marriage blog written by a Mathew Jacobson. I visit his wife’s site from time to time, Club 31 Women.