Monthly Archives: March 2016

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day ~

The article I’m sharing with you today is short because it is Saint Patrick’s Day and there is more than enough information packed into this small article. I got it from the email newsletter of  The Teaching Home. If you don’t get this newsletter, you should; it has lots of great stuff in it but not so much it is overwhelming.

I hope you find this helpful.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

St. Patrick’s Day

by Cindy Short and Sue Welch

St. Patrick’s Day

presents an opportunity to teach your children the true story of Patrick of Ireland, who at the age of 16, was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. After he found God while herding pigs and escaping, he returned to his home in Roman Brittan, and later returned to Ireland as a humble and brave missionary!

We have included many excellent resources, a free unit study, and free e-books below.

•  Free 5-day St. Patrick Unit Study from Knowledge Quest. Includes: biography about St. Patrick, research, and report; science, nature, and craft activities; timeline, mapping, and lapbook activities; and an Irish dinner.

•  Free 23-Page E-book from Living Books Curriculum, St. Patrick’s Day Holiday Helper. Includes: a biography, rare illustrations for picture study, a recipe for soda bread, and more.

•  Read more about Patrick in the online article from Joyful Heart, “Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?.”

•  Read a shorter account (on for children of Patrick’s life and how he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.

•  St. Patrick’s Breastplate: Read this poetic prayer, listen to and see it sung in an Irish setting, and study vocabulary, geography, and comprehension questions.

•  Free eBook: Confession of St. Patrick. Read this brief story of St. Patrick’s life, told through his own eyes.

Copyright 2016 by Reprinted by permission.

St. Patrick’s Day

It’s time once again for me to share some art. I had high hopes of having more than just one tile to share today but I got busy doing other things and it just didn’t happen. :D

iamthedivacztSaint Patrick’s Day is this week and thus the diva challenge is “Touch of Irish.” I think I went with a shamrock as my string last year because that is what I first thought to do this year. :D Consequently, I tried to come up with something else. So I thought I’d do a foreground and make some shamrock “holes” in it.

I drew the small shamrocks first and proceeded to make them the foreground instead of the background. Oops! Oh well . . . I could have erased the shading and changed it but I can never get all the graphite completely removed; so I just went with it.

I like MacDee and always think it is Irish-like but I guess it is really more Scottish-like . . . oops again! :D LOL I used it anyway, on half of the background and used knightsbridge on the other half. Then after I drew both background tangles I felt like MacDee was missing something, so I did a variation of knightsbridge, in gray, in the squares of MacDee.

Well, that’s my process, so here’s the tile.

St Pat Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy 08 microns seem to be about out of ink. I’m going to have to get some more or something else to use to blacken tiles. ;)

Thanks to all who posted comments last week. Comments are so encouraging and very appreciated! Thanks in advance to any who take the time to comment on this post as well. :)

I hope you have a great week and a happy St. Patrick’s Day. BTW, did you know that it is said that St. Patrick used the 3-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity (God = Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)? I thought it was an interesting tidbit.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Minestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was never really very fond of soup. I don’t recall having many soups growing up. We had Granny’s Chicken Soup and sometimes we had chili but other than Lipton’s Noodle Soup when I wasn’t feeling good, I don’t remember having soup.

Thus in our early years of marriage, I made very little soup. But in the past seven or eight years or so, I’ve found some soups that I love (and my family likes too). This minestrone is one such soup.

Start by dicing two medium ribs of celery

Minestrone ~

and one medium onion

Minestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meI add a small drizzle of olive oil to my dutch oven and then cook the celery and onions over medium heat, until they are softened as much as you like.

Minestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meRemove the casing from the chicken sausage links, if you didn’t buy it in bulk and add that to the softened onions and celery.

Minestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meMinestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meMinestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meMinestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meBreak up the sausage as it browns.

Slice carrot. I use my mandolin on the thinnest setting so that it gets thoroughly cooked, the way my family likes it. :)

Minestrone ~

Add all remaining ingredients except ditalini and parmesan.

Minestrone ~ Lifeofjoy.meStir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, covered.

Add the ditalini and stir. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or so, until the pasta is done.

Minestrone ~

Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon over each two cup serving.

Minestrone ~

It only has 340 calories per two cup serving but that is based on using a whole can of corn and a half cup of green beans. My version would have a little less than that except that I saute my onions and celery in a little olive oil, so that adds extra calories. If you want to keep it low, use water or a non-stick skillet or spray with a little oil.

The leftovers are also wonderful. I usually have to add a bit of water when I reheat it because the pasta and barley tend to soak up most of the moisture.

Minestrone ~



  • 1 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage (casings removed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (approximately 16 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14-19 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons dried pearl barley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Drizzle a little olive oil in dutch oven. Add diced onion and celery and saute over medium high heat. When they are softened, add sausage and brown.
  2. When sausage is nearly browned, add sliced carrot and garlic. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the water, broth, tomato paste, kidney beans, corn, green beans, barley, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes.
  5. Add Ditalini and stir.
  6. Cook until the pasta is done, about 10 minutes or so.
  7. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.


Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Heart Check

Heart Check ~ Lifeofjoy.meGod has challenged me today to a heart check by asking me these questions:

  • How have I shown Mike I love him over the last several weeks?
  • How have I shown him respect?
  • Have I shown him appreciation for all he does?
  • Have I verbally thanked him?
  • Have I been a good steward over the money he works so hard for (in the areas I am in charge of — groceries and such)?
  • Have I been a good steward over our home (and cleaning it)?
  • Have I kept my tone out of the nagging, grating level? (The tone of my voice when talking to him.)
  • Have I shown him I care about him by making up myself (dressed, hygiene, hair, makeup)?

These are the questions He asked me; yours may be different. You may only have one or two questions to review.

First Corinthians tells us that love does not seek its own. It is not about your spouse and what he or she should be doing. If you are doing things for your spouse to get him or her to do things for you, you need to ask God to help you change.  Pray for your spouse and do what you can (and should) do. It just matters that you are actively pursuing being the best spouse you can possibly be.

So that’s my heart check. How’s yours?

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Trees, Ice Cream, and Other Ramblings

Wow! We are about to enter birthday season here. Lauren is the first birthday in the family for the year but is a full month before Tracie’s (my baby sister). Sean’s is soon to follow and my nephew Justin is just two days later. We will get a break until May and then we begin celebrating something nearly every week.

Blooming BPT ~ Lifeofjoy.meOur Bradford Pear trees are looking good! My parents bought us these trees about ten years ago and they were no taller than me, when planted. They have grown considerably.

This one grew some branches lower on its trunk than is normal. We considered pruning them off but I stopped Mike, insisting that one day my little grandchildren would appreciate having a tree with low limbs on it that they could climb easily. ;)

Mike took this picture earlier this week. Now the blossoms are giving way to leaves.

In other tree news, the plum tree we planted last year has blossoms on it too. This concerns me because I triple-checked that it was an edible fruit bearing tree. I had no clue that this tree would blossom before the leaves grew, so I hope it grows fruit too. (I know, I’m showing how little I know about growing things.)

Within the next few days, Tiffany and I are going to have to walk the property and mark all the wild Bradford Pear trees and Redbud trees on the property, while they are in bloom. Otherwise we can’t tell which ones they are because as I’ve already acknowledged, I don’t know a whole lot about growing things. ;) Any way, we will be clearing some paths and I don’t want to knock down any of those beautiful trees, so we will mark them while we can still tell what they are. :)

Sundae ~ Lifeofjoy.meI believe I mentioned that we bought a small chest freezer last month. Within a couple of weeks, I bought a big tub of ice cream. We love ice cream around here. :) Tiff and I had some small sundaes the other day because we wanted our sweet thing after lunch rather than after dinner.

Scrumptious! This one had neapolitan ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and slivered almonds. Mmmm Mmmm!

Next week I will be letting you all in on that secret I mentioned several months ago! I can’t wait! Actually, I think I have two biggies to share next week! I’m really excited but I bet you couldn’t tell, huh? Did I use enough exclamation points? LOL

OH! One more thing, we had a meeting lunch at Cracker Barrel last Sunday with some people from church. I got the shrimp platter and it was delicious!!! Seriously! It was really really good. One odd thing though, they had ‘fried’ chicken three different ways that we saw. Tiffany got the Fried Chicken Special and her chicken was really really good. Mike got the Chicken Fried Chicken again and it was good but Tiff’s had a better taste to the breading. Then there was also a buttermilk fried chicken, I think. I didn’t realize that one restaurant would ‘fry’ chicken more than one way. Everyone enjoyed their meal.

Well, I’m going to run for now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Literature Resources

Literature Resources ~ Lifeofjoy.meToday I’m sharing an article that shares some wonderful resources for free literature. :) I knew about some of these but others were a surprise to me.

I hope this will be helpful to you!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Literature Resources

By Andy Harris

Literature is one of the pillars of any educational system, and of course the key to literature is reading a lot of books. Fortunately, many of the great books we often want our children to read and hear are available for free if you know where to go. There is certainly value in traditional paper books, but it’s also possible to supplement traditional materials with E-Books and other online resources. You do not need a specialized E-Book reader to read literature online. Most of the resources I describe in this article can be read on a computer, a tablet, or even a phone.

U.S. copyright law allows books to be released into the public domain some time after the author has died. (The exact time span has changed through the years but is now seventy years after the author’s death, in most cases.) This means that a book that was written before the 1930s may be available for free if you know how to look.

Note that not every book that is in an electronic format is available for free. However, there are many resources for purchasing E-Books online legally, including, the iTunes store, and more. For this article, I will focus on the free resources you might not already know about.

Project Gutenberg

Any discussion of literature on the web must begin with Project Gutenberg. The basic idea of this project is to gather all the literature that is in the common domain and make it available to anyone. The result is an excellent online library consisting of thousands of books in many languages. Check out the site to get a feel for the various offerings on this incredible site.

Most of the books on this site can be downloaded in a number of formats that can be read on a normal computer or any E-Reader. Since the site focuses on books in the public domain, these tend to be older books. Many of the classic books you may want to assign for a literature class will be available on this site. Note that the site offers a wide variety of books, and not all topics are suitable for children. You will definitely want to be with children as they look for materials on the site. (There are no objectionable images or words on the site itself, but there are some works with prurient content in the archive.)

Online Books Page

The Online Books Page is a project of the University of Pennsylvania library. It includes more than a million titles available to read freely on the Internet. While it has some of the same content found within the Gutenberg Project, it also has materials from other sources. I have found this to be an especially good resource for nonfiction materials and books that have more recently entered the public domain.

Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project

This wonderful resource contains hundreds of children’s books (mostly from the 1930s and earlier). Although most of the titles will not be not familiar to modern readers, you’ are likely to find interesting books to read together. The history section is especially interesting.

LibreVox Audio Books

This site offers an interesting alternative: free audio books. While these books are available as downloads that are quite a bit larger than their more traditional cousins, audio books can offer lots of fun for long car rides or while you are commuting. All of the books are read by volunteers, so the quality can vary, but reading part of a classic book to add to the archive might be a very interesting project. It’s possible to download an entire book at once or to subscribe to it as a podcast.


Bibliomania is an interesting site that gives you access to a number of the same E-Books that are available on the other sites. The most intriguing part of the site consists of the other resources, including a teacher’s research center, study guides (many written by Oxford scholars), and research resources.

Free Video Lectures

A number of universities have begun releasing videos of popular courses online for free. (Several of my own classes are available in this format.) The site has complete courses on a number of interesting literature topics, from Dante to the New Testament.

There’s always debate about whether students should read study guides. Personally, I think they can be helpful after reading a book but are no substitute for reading the actual work. Still, they can be useful, and students will definitely find them, so parents or teachers should know about them. This site features nice guides for many works. Each book includes overviews, character summaries, and discussions of themes and concepts in the book at hand.

Shakespeare Resource Center

A study of Shakespeare’s works is important in any literature program, and additional resources can help students get a more complete appreciation of those works. The Shakespeare Resource Center offers a number of helpful tools for studying these works, including synopses of every play, a detailed biography of Shakespeare, a series of resources about Shakespearean language, and a number of interesting essays and articles about the Bard of Avon and his works.

Consider making use of these resources as supplements to your literature program. If you find anything I missed, please feel free to stop by my website and let me know about your discoveries: .


Andy Harris is a homeschool dad, father of four great kids, and husband to the greatest homeschool teacher ever. He has taught all ages of students, from kindergarten to university level. Andy is the author of a number of well known books, including HTML/XHTML/ CSS: All in One for Dummies, Game Programming—The L Line, PHP6/MySQL Programming for the Absolute Beginner, and Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies. For more information about his books, to see where he is speaking next, or to just say hi, please stop by his website:

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.


DC#258 Rautyflex

This week’s Diva Challenge is a “Use My Tangle” challenge to use Rautyflex by Kathrin Bendel. We were forewarned that Rautyflex takes a considerable amount of focus and it did. ;)

I decided to use its simplest form even though I think I will like the wavy form better when I can play with it a bit more. The simplest form was challenging. Ahhh, duh! This is called a challenge not just an assignment or suggestion. ;)

I picked string# 196 from tanglepatterns. Since the tangle was very angular, I wanted a string that was a bit curvy.

I decided to put rautyflex up front and center and then proceeded to look for tangles that would go with it but not overshadow it. I’ve been wanting to try using antidots for a while and this seemed like a good opportunity. When I first drew this tangle I crosshatched the centers but didn’t like that, so I filled them in and then wished I had left them crosshatched. :D Oh well!

I wanted something a bit airy for the top section and settled on floatfest but struggled with shading it. It is what it is. ;)

DC#258 Rautyflex ~

I’ve been considering doing a few more tiles each week and will share them here on Wednesdays. I hope I follow through on this.

Thanks in advance to those that make the effort to comment. I really appreciate it!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Hash Brown Omelet

Hashbrown Omelet ~
(Bad picture)

Last Saturday I could not figure out what to fix for breakfast. (I usually like to wing it and just fix what I desire at the moment.) I finally settled on hash brown omelet. I haven’t had it in years. The one problem though is that is calls for 3 cups of shredded cooked potatoes and I didn’t have any nor did I have any frozen hash browns. Then there is the fact that I have no microwave readily available either, so I had a wrinkle to work through.

I decided to just shred 4 medium size red potatoes.

Start by frying 4 pieces of bacon. Sean bought this wonderful turkey bacon the other week, which we had frozen. This seemed like a good time to use it. :)

Hash Brown Omelet ~

Fry the bacon and then I removed it from the pan and added the onions and green peppers that I chopped in the mini food processor. Next time I’ll just chop them myself because there were still some larger pieces and my kids don’t prefer chunky, crunchy cooked veggies.

Hash Brown Omelet ~

I added a tiny bit of oil because the turkey bacon left no grease behind. Then I added a little water when my pan was dry again, so the onions and peppers had a lot of nice bacon flavor in them.

Than add the shredded potatoes with a bit more oil. Stir to incorporate the onions and peppers into the potatoes.

Hash Brown Omelet ~ Lifeofjoy.meCover and cook on medium-low until potatoes are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, crumble the bacon, shred the cheese, and beat the eggs.

Hash Brown Omelet ~ Lifeofjoy.meI measured the milk in a two cup measuring cup and then added the eggs, salt, and pepper and beat the eggs in the measuring cup.

Then add the cheese and bacon to the eggs and combine. Pour over hash browns.

Hash Brown Omelet ~

Cover and cook on low 8-10 minutes, until the egg is completely set.

Hash Brown Omelet ~

I wish I had taken better pictures of the final product. I’ll have to make it again soon so I can update the finished pictures. I also need to get some colored plates because these white ones make my potatoes look gray. :o

Hashbrown Omelet ~

Hash Brown Omelet


  • 4 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon)
  • 3 cups shredded cooked potatoes (I used 4 red potatoes, raw)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded (4 ounces)


  1. Cook bacon til crisp.
  2. Leave 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
  3. Saute onion and pepper in drippings. When they are soft, add the shredded potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Cover and cook over low heat until bottom is crisp and brown.
  5. Blend eggs, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and dash of pepper.
  6. Stir in bacon and cheese and pour over potatoes.
  7. Cover and cook on low 8-10 minutes until the egg is set.
  8. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. (For several years we made it on Thanksgiving morning.)

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Love is a Commitment

Love is a Commitment ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is hard to admit that I am in need of an attitude adjustment sometimes. Seriously! Friday was one of those times for me.

It had been a busy day and I was tired. I was cooking dinner when Mike and Sean got home from work. Evidently I was a bit snippy. Of course, I thought I was acting perfectly normal but then I got upset at something that was said.  Again, I thought I was behaving within acceptable ranges.

As it turned out, I ended up getting frustrated several times in a very short span of time. It was then that I realized that although I may have “had a right” to be upset at what had been said, I have given up my right to be right and needed to change my attitude quickly.

Of course, that is easier said than done! I proceeded to take a couple of l-theanine, just in case I was having mood issues. I still had to make some attitude adjustments, putting aside my emotions and feelings of not being wrong.

Mike did his part as well. Before long, things were back to normal. However, things could have gone very differently; I could have ruined the whole evening by insisting that I was justified in my attitude and that it was all Mike’s fault.

You see, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. What matters is that Mike and I keep a good relationship. What matters is that we grow and mature. What matters is that we each put the other before ourselves. (Once again, I feel I must put out this disclaimer, that this is for normal marriage situations, not abusive ones.)

Mike and I vowed to be together for better or worse. Well, sometimes it seems a bit worse but that is okay. We just push on and work things out because that is what we vowed to do. Too many times people would rather quit than do the work necessary to keep their vows.

People get the feeling of falling in love confused with love. They miss the butterflies they felt when they first fell in love and confuse that, for no longer being in love. Love takes work and is more than a feeling. You can get those feelings back but you have to work at it. You have to be intentional. People get comfortable and caught up in the mundane tasks of living life and think they have fallen out of love with each other but this is not the truth.

Think about the things you did together when you fell in love. How did you act? What did you say? How did you fix yourself up? Are you still doing these things? Maybe it is time to return to some of them. Will it be easy? Probably not but I would bet it is better to rekindle the feelings you have with the one you vowed to be with than to scrap it all and find someone else.

Love is a commitment and takes work but it is worth it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring ~ Lifeofjoy.meI love my Bradford Pear Trees and daffodils. They are a sign that Spring is very nearly here. :) The problem I have though is that many times it is so warm in January and February that my poor trees get confused and begin to bud. If this happens then I get a bit nervous because in years past my poor tree never actually bloomed; I guess the buds froze or something and it went straight to leaves.

Signs of Spring ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s a nice enough tree but what I love about it is the blossoms in the spring. So, if it buds and then goes straight to leaves, I feel cheated! LOL

I took these pictures at dusk, so they aren’t the best but at least I managed to get a few to include in this post. :)

Signs of Spring ~ Lifeofjoy.meNot only are my Bradford Pear Trees showing signs of spring but even my daffodils are blooming. You may wonder why I emphasized the word my in that last statement. You see, my daffodils tend to bloom later than all other daffodils in the area. Seriously! My parents live about 8 miles due west from me and their daffodils tend to bloom a couple of weeks before mine. Daffodils even about one to two miles from here tend to bloom before mine. It is truly odd.

Signs of Spring ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs if those were not enough signs, even my rose bush, which I extricated from the vines several weeks ago, is starting to grow leaves. :) It does seem that some of its stems are no longer alive though. :(

It should probably be pruned, but it is going to take me some research to learn how. My parents had rose bushes at at least one house we lived in but I don’t ever recall seeing them prune a single bush. Mom must have done a whole lot of stuff while I was in school as a child. ;)

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at all these signs of spring since it is already March 4th. It is nearly time to plant carrots, radishes, lettuces, and  any cruciferous veggies we decide want. Oh! And potatoes! Can’t forget the potatoes!

Mike wants to plant the potatoes in five gallon buckets this year. He thinks that may help eliminate the pest problem we had with certain of the potato varieties last year (or was it the year before last?).

I need to get my order placed for the fruit trees that we need to re-plant this year. The pear tree is doing well because it is older but it’s the only one, I’m afraid.

Last year we got a plum tree from Sprouts. It seems to be doing okay too. We will probably need to plant a new nectarine tree and maybe another plum tree as well. Depending on the cost of the trees, I want to get some strawberries and blueberry plants. I like to use the cash rewards on our credit cards to purchase these kinds of things. It makes them seem free. ;)

I hope the signs of the seasons changing are surrounding you and bringing you joy.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº