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Archive for April, 2010

Today when I walked downstairs into our basement,  I could feel the decluttering urge become unbearable.  I can no longer resist.  Our basement has never been a place that we have kept spic and span, but it is not usually this bad.  We normally survive because we keep our main living areas generally tidy and decluttered.  Right now, our basement is such a disaster that it has become virtually unusable.  While it is supposed to be a place for storage, laundry duties, rec room relaxing, exercising and sewing, it is almost impossible to do those things in its current state.  I’m off in a few minutes to the hardware store to buy some nice, strong black garbage bags to stuff full of almost everything in my path.  I hope our favourite thrift store has lots of space available!

Are you inspired to do some decluttering?  SimpleMom had a post yesterday on 4 Common Roadblocks to Decluttering you might find helpful.  There are loads of great decluttering resources on the internet for the how-to, but really, I think the mental blocks we face are really the issue.  The how-to can be helpful, but really…you pretty much just toss stuff or put it in the thrift store bag, right?

I’m not sure how our homeschooling will go in the next few days, but I really need to be able to access the summer clothing and my sewing machine, so I’m diving in. 

Wish me luck.

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Socks for Someone Six

Plain, chidren's ribbed socks

After my monthly knitalong in March featured a very intricate and involved pattern, I was ready for a no-brainer.  I had a beautiful skein of yarn in my stash that was just enough for a child’s pair of socks.  (The yarn is a Louet Gems 100% superwash merino, fingering weight in Wendy Knits Sunrise colourway.)  I decided to make a plain, 2 x 2 ribbed pattern with a fleegle/gusset heel.  I almost don’t need a pattern anymore since these are so simple.  One thing I love about plain socks is that I can knit them without looking for the most part, making it really easy to participate in conversations or even to read at the same time.

I made them extra big since we are just entering into the warm season and I want them to fit all fall/winter.  My six year old has super-skinny feet, so a ribbed knit is a good choice for her since they hug her feet and legs well.  I added a little picot hem at the top just for a little fun girly-ness, too.

Picot Hem

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Going Green

Before you start groaning, it’s not the regular, trendy type of going green I’m talking about.  Of course, all the cool kids are doing this, though.  I’m talking about Green Smoothies!

Gotta love that green moustache!

What is a green smoothie?  It is a freshly blended drink crammed full of raw greens and usually featuring fruit as well.  The basic premise is that we need many more fresh greens than we normally consume and this is a super-easy and tasty way to incorporate them into our diet.  The drinks are a beautiful GREEN colour.

Green Smoothies have intrigued me for a while, now, so when the book I had on order at our library, Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko, came in I was very excited.  As I flipped through this short, easy to read book, I settled on a planned approach to testing out some of the recipes.  I picked 5 recipes that I wanted to try and listed the ingredients I would need to prepare them.  Then,  I simply added them to my weekly shopping list and we were all set! 

Boutenko suggests starting out slowly.  Sometimes gung-ho newbies will try to dive right in with supergreen smoothies (ones that often feature large quantities of strong-tasting greens) only to be turned off.  She advocates using the ‘beginner’ recipes first to get yourself accustomed to the taste of green smoothies.  Using plenty of tasty fruit, even sweetening with dates if necessary, is important so that you look forward to your morning smoothie.  (She says you will quickly find yourself craving more greens in your drinks.)  I have tried sometimes in the past to toss a little spinach or kale or romaine into our morning smoothies.   Sometimes, the result was good and sometimes not.  I was looking forward to using actual recipes and we were not disappointed.  The recipes we tried to were delicious and the greens, rather than tasting out-of-place, blended right in and seemed to ‘fit’ in the smoothie.

I took the approach Boutenko suggested with my children.  The drink was there if they wanted it, but no one had to have any.  I found that my four youngest (8 and under) all asked for smoothies each day.  Baby Guy, at two years old, had multiple helpings, which made me very happy as he has not been a huge veggie fan up until this point.  I don’t know if it was co-incidence, but yesterday, he had THREE helpings of salad at dinner when he has not wanted any in the past before.

I’m looking forward to making lots more of these smoothies in the future.  I may even invest in the book…or perhaps just drive my librarians crazy by taking it out over and over.

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Making your own cultured dairy products is not only highly nutritious, but also seriously easy. Seriously.  Have a look at Making Cultured Buttermilk, Keifer and Sour Cream at Heavenly Homemakers and when you do make some buttermilk, try their Creamy Orange Cooler.  By the way, if you don’t have the special culture for buttermilk, you can easily just buy a small container of buttermilk from the health food store and use the instructions in the Heavenly Homemakers article for making subsequent batches using buttermilk saved from your last batch as the culture.

I really enjoyed this Simple Mom post on The Beauty of Living Slowly. I hope it will inspire you with some wonderful ideas for slowing down.

Design House Digital had a neat post on making some seriously snazzy gift wrap and bows. It would be much nicer for our family birthdays than our usual scrunched up, used gift bag.

Reading Aloud to Children has so many wonderful benefits. Steady Mom’s blog tells all about the advantages of doing so in The Importance of Reading to Children.

Enjoy your weekend.  I hope you are able to spend loads of time together with your loved ones considering the beautiful gift of our Lord 2000 years ago.

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Photo courtesy of Onilad

If you are like me, you may have been reading the blogs of other mamas and see the beautifully planned Lent and Easter preparations others have been doing with their families. If you are also like me, you long to do something special, but haven’t gotten it together to carry through such a lovely plan.  It would be very easy to beat ourselves up and give up bothering to do anything at all for want of doing the best, but I think this would be a big mistake.  So, today with a simple plan and a very few simple tools, I jumped in to create a meaningful Easter Celebration for our family.  I will share my plan with you in case you’d like to join me.  If you are reading this on Saturday or Sunday and haven’t done anything, I urge you to just jump in where you are.

Materials Required:

  • Bible or Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos
  • Notebooks or just plain paper
  • Pens/Pencils and Pencil Crayons
  • Candle and matches or lighter

Let’s Begin.  Each day for today and the next three days following, we are going to follow 5 simple steps:

1.  Prepare
2.  Read
3.  Reflect
4.  Pray
5.  Record

1.  PREPARE: Have everyone picture this day two thousand years ago. What was happening?  Why do we celebrate this particular day?  Don’t feel you have to give a long lecture or anything overly wordy at this point.  Simply remind the children what was going on.  For example, today, Thursday, is the day we remember Jesus last full day on earth, the day He celebrated the final Passover Supper with His beloved friends, the evening He was betrayed and arrested.

Light a candle. We do this to remind us that each time we devote ourselves to reading God’s word, talking to Him in prayer or partnering with Him in our lives, Jesus, the Light of the World chases away a bit more of the darkness in our hearts and in the world.  Lighting a candle seems to help quiet and focus children and adults alike.

2.  READ:  We are reading from the Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. I find, especially for our little ones, that this well-written book helps God’s story come alive.  (We also read daily directly from the Bible.)  You may choose to read from this book or directly from Scripture.

Thursday:
Child’s Story Bible:  chapter 44 “In the Upper Room” through chapter 48 “Jesus Before the High Priest”
The Bible:  Matthew 26:17-end; Mark 14:12-end; Luke 22 (read one or all three for some different perspectives and details).  There is also quite a bit in the gospel of John, which you may want to read, but the passages that apply to today are much longer.

Friday:
Child’s Story Bible:  chapter 49 “When Pilate Washed His Hands” through chapter 51 “The Sun Becomes Dark”
The Bible:  Matthew 27:1-61; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28 through all of chapter 19

Saturday:
The Bible:  Matthew 27:62-66
This was the Jewish Sabbath, so there is little recorded that anyone ‘did’ this day.  It is a perfect time to reflect on the devastation and horror those who loved Jesus would have been feeling.

Sunday:
Child’s Story Bible:  chapter 52 “The Stone is Rolled Away” through chapter 54 “The Risen Lord”
The Bible:  Matthew 28; John 20:1-23

3.  REFLECT:  After a reading, I have the children narrate (tell back in their own words) what has been read, giving them an opportunity to make the story their own and me an opportunity to hear what the Lord has impressed on their hearts from what has been read.  Not everyone gets to narrate on a given day, but everyone needs to be prepared to narrate if called on.

4.  PRAY:  When we finish our readings and narrations, we join hands and I ask if anyone has anything they want to say to Jesus. We spend some time praying together and then I close when everyone seems finished.  One child blows out the candle.

5.  RECORD:  Finally, everyone including me, takes out their journal and we simply record something that has left an impression on our hearts. Our journals are pretty dollar store books with lined pages, but please don’t feel you have to run out and buy anything.  Just use plain paper and put everyone’s papers together in a binder or a folder for now.  Sometimes, someone simply writes a word and decorates it with coloured pencils.  Sometimes, it will be a scripture copied out.  Sometimes, it is a prayer.  Little ones generally draw a picture.  Even our two-year-old has a little notebook, though it is really just to keep him busy and included while we record our own impressions.

That’s it.  Very doable and also meaningful. I would really enjoy something that lasts longer leading up to Easter, so today I am going to record on my calendar for next year, probably for February, to consider what I might plan.  However, if life doesn’t allow me to do anything more lengthy, I will not miss out on the chance to celebrate with my family in a simple way.

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