Saturday, August 11, 2012

Experimenting with Tea

Our relaxed summer schedule is so awesome.

DD13 decided to see what our different teas tasted like over ice.  She brewed several glasses of tea and we were able to come in and sample each one.  Pomegranate Pizzazz was a favorite.  I liked the Earl Grey.  Acai Berry was popular as well.

I think the Vanilla Caramel Truffle would have been good as a latte. 

Who can drink tea without cookies?  Chocolate & White Vanilla Chip cookies that I made yesterday are on the counter. 


Sunday, June 24, 2012

When Screens are Shut Off

I often ponder the technology in our house [which consists of one - yes, one - TV, computers (3 of those)  and a Wii console.]  When I ponder these things, I wonder how much do we really need them.  A few years back, I put a block on the Disney Channel because I did not want my kids to start talking to me the way Hannah Montanna talked to her dad.  Many people laughed when they heard this, but we held tight to the ban on Disney. 
Recently, I started reading a book by Jen Hatmaker called "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".  Wonderful, thought-provoking book.  We have so much in this country that we take for granted.  I daresay, we have too much.  Much of what we have distracts us from the important stuff. 
Although I limit "Screens" at our house, I have taken a stronger approach since the weather warmed up.  It's fun to see what the kids will get into when they are not allowed to veg out in front of a screen.

Big sister cutting little brother's hair.

Cooling off with the garden hose.

Today, DS8 prepared a stir fry for me.  Can you guess the ingredients?  Let me help....
Cucumber, celery, and romaine lettuce

He also added some spices to it.  (We wouldn't want a bland stir fry, would we?)
He said he chose spices that looked like they went on steak. 
Red pepper, pepper, parsley flakes.
I ate the whole thing with an appreciation that only a mother can have and gave some constructive criticism by letting him know that the next time he didn't have to use so much red pepper.  It's an hour later and my mouth is still on fire!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finding Time

There is a delicate balance between activity and busy-ness.  As things are clearing from my calendar, I am slowly finding the time to do the things I love to do.  I love to be with my kids and experience them.  The time they are in my life is so temporary.  I love to take walks, read, quilt, browse blogs and Pinterest, and cook.  It's amazing that I am finding the time to do those things again.  I started on a quilt that was to be given to my daughter for Christmas 2010 and finally finished it last week.  That should not be.  She should be the priority and that quilt should have been done long before this.  I'm beginning a new quilt for my second daughter.  I am planning to make it a priority and get it done before her birthday in October.  I have another quilt project that I have been working on for years.  That is for my bed and can wait.
The beautiful part is that DD13 loves to sit with me while I am engaging in handicrafts.  She will often help or come along beside me with her own project.  I love that time I get with her.

 This is the quilt I finished last week.  Even though it has a Christmas theme to it, DD14 says she loves it.

Below are fabrics I have chosen for my next project.  It will be a rainbow quilt and I'm hoping to find yellow brick road fabric to use for the trim.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time for Tea

This past week has been crazy.  I've heard that from just about everyone I have come into contact with this week.  For some reason, everything is falling on this second full week of June.  For us, it was a dance recital, karate camp, my son's 8th birthday and a class on tea.  For now, I will focus on the tea class and maybe I'll come back to the other stuff later. 
Tea has always been a time to slow down for me and after such a busy week, this was the perfect ending.  My girls, ages 13 and 14, had the opportunity to take a tea class with a friend who we met through homeschooling.  She knows so much about tea and I felt it was such a wonderful opportunity for us that she was offering this class through 4-H.  The girls attended 2 classes prior to this week where they learned about tea - what it is, where it comes from, some cultural traditions, etc.  Then this week, they went on a field trip to Georgetown, Va to visit a Chinese tea room.  They got together one more time to prepare foods for the tea we enjoyed this evening.  All of the families came to this perfect outdoor setting with perfect weather and it was the perfect ending to our week. 

They made their own tea blends, including Chai, Chocolate Vanilla Mint, Rose Mint, Tarragon Sage with Mint. Also, Ancient Forrest and Darjeeling.

The girls are getting ready to serve tea.

DD13 serving the younger siblings.  All of the children waited so patiently.

DD13 gave a quick speech about the field trip to the Chinese tea room.  She spoke about the tea she tried, how it was prepared and the food she had.  Her tea came as a little ball that was put in a glass pot where it "bloomed". 

DD14 gave a quick speech about the Chinese tea room. 

All of the food was made from scratch by the girls and their moms.  Fruit salads, cucumber sandwiches, russian tea cakes and marbled eggs were just a few of the delicacies served.

Teacher of the class and hostess of the tea this evening. She provided such an amazing experience for these girls that I think they will remember for a very long time. Thank you, Maureen.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Picture Study - Caravaggio

Over the last two years, we have been attempting to make our co-op more Charlotte Mason friendly. We have incorporated picture studies that seem to be a big hit.

During our winter sesssion, we are studying Caravaggio. I will caution you that if you choose to do this artist, he has produced some very graphic works. Lots of beheadings in particular. So I sorted through the paintings and found these four that I felt were "family friendly". Each is filled with symbolism and it has been a joy to explore each piece with the kids at the co-op.

To go along with each work, I have made copywork pages that I leave out at the co-op for parents to take if they wish.

Caravaggio was an Italian artist with tremendous influence on the Baroque Period. Each of the paintings is a depiction of a Bible story from the New Testament, so it seems natural to incorporate scripture with each of the pieces.

· Adoration of the Shepherds ~ Luke 2:8-18

Symbolism includes:

  • Bare feet - walking on holy ground

  • Rock on the ground - Earth (Jesus came to Earth)

  • Linen in basket - Death shroud (Jesus came to die)

  • Bread in baske - Bread of life

  • Carpenter's tools - Jesus earthly occupation

· Rest on the Flight to Egypt ~ Matthew 2:13-15

This picture is divided in half. The left half symbolizes the earthly. The right side symbolizes the heavenly.

Symbols include:

  • Three-leafed plant - the holy trinity

  • Rocks on the ground - Earth (Jesus came to Earth)

  • Oak tree - I'm sure this is a symbol, but I don't know what it means

  • Bare feet - holy ground

Calling of St. Matthew ~ Matthew 9:9

Jesus is calling Matthew to follow him. The tax collectors on the far left don't seem to notice Jesus and will miss out on all that Jesus brings. They are entirely too focused on their money. The youth in the middle of the piece seem a little startled, but interested. The room seems somewhat dark, but those looking toward Jesus have a light cast on their faces. Jesus is the light of the world.

Supper at Emmaus (1601) ~ Luke 24:13-35

Jesus is clean shaven, which makes him unrecognizable. This is the moment when Jesus is recognized. His followers are astonished, yet the man who is serving the meal doesn't seem surprised. I'm certain each food item on the table has some significance, but am unable to find what it is. The white tablecloth would indicate purity. I am continuing to research this piece to try to find the symbolizm that might be included in it.

Caravaggio was known to have a violent temper and ran for his life from many towns around Italy*. His general disposition may explain why so many of his works contain violent subjects such as beheadings and crucifixions. The four pieces we will focus on are more family friendly and are rich with symbolism.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weight Watchers

What a difference a year makes. This is me, before and after Weight Watchers. I lost a total of 50 pounds in about 9 months and am very pleased with the Weight Watchers program. You can see the date stamp on the first picture of December 2010. The second picture was taken at the beginning of November 2011.

One of my measuring sticks when I first walked in was the question "Can I live like this for the rest of my life?" Quite honestly, any weight loss program will work. But can you live eating only meat for the rest of your life or just eating special, very expensive food that you have to order through the mail? I cannot.

I've tried Weight Watchers before and was in pain because I was so hungry. The program changed at the beginning of 2011 and I thought I'd give it a try. And I continually asked myself "Can I live like this the rest of my life?" After a year, I can honestly say that yes I can live like this. It is a healthier lifestyle based on choices I make.

I still choose to go to Chinese food buffets (my absolute favorite), but I'm careful not to overdo it. I look for the healthier options and if I want a heaping plate of General Tso's chicken, I get it. I just don't do that every day. That is something I might do occasionally.

Weight Watchers has helped to make me aware of portion sizes and food choices. For that I am very grateful.

I am currently a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. This is going to help keep me on track with my lifestyle change. Even though I only have to weigh in once a month, I am planning to weigh in every week. Knowing myself as I do, I know that I need the accountablity and that is okay with me. This is part of the lifestyle change I can live with.

One last note: I believe that most of the time, weight gain/loss is an emotional issue. If you are not willing to deal with what is really at the core of your weight issues, then no diet plan in the world is going to help you. It takes commitment, but also a healthy attitude toward food and activity.