Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Artistic Pursuits

My girls love all things art and craft related, so I knew they'd be thrilled when they found out we were going to review Artistic Pursuits. And I was right. 

We received Grades K-3 Book One to review. Because this is an art curriculum, it is necessary to purchase art supplies to use with the curriculum. The company was really on top of things, they sent me a letter ahead of the book with a list of the necessary supplies, and those needed for the first few lessons highlighted, so that I could get the supplies and be ready to start when we got the book. You can order the supplies along with your book, here, or click through to the supply pack for your book to see a list of supplies needed and get them yourself locally. If you scroll to the bottom of the art supply page you'll also find links to purchase the supplies at a discount from Blick Art. Because we were travelling when we received the letter, I didn't have time to order the supplies online, so I just went to our local craft store to get the supplies for the first few lessons. I found that if I get the rest of the supplies over time, using the store's discount coupons for the larger items, it will work out to be about the same price as ordering the pack from Blick. Additionally that allows me to pick and choose which things we need per child (a pencil, paint brush, etc) and which things they can share (the watercolor crayons).

The website says that these books require no teacher preparation, but I've found that's not quite accurate. Perhaps in a well-stocked art classroom that would be true, but some of the lessons say things like "your teacher has a variety of pictures for you to look at" that ummmm . . . I don't have magically available :) In that case, there was the option of looking at the pictures or going outside and finding things in nature and conveniently the weather was nice that day so I just sent them outside, but it showed me that I *do* need to read over the lessons ahead of time. Overall, however, there is very LITTLE teacher prep required, as long as you have the listed art supplies on hand. 

The curriculum combines teaching about art, art appreciation, and hands-on projects so that it is a complete art curriculum. Each book includes 32 lessons so it will cover a whole year of art (one lesson per week). 

Each lesson talks about some aspect of art, examines a famous piece of artwork (a color picture of the art is included in the book so you don't have to have art prints on hand), and then has an assignment for the children to do using the techniques or whatever that were discussed in that day's lesson. Today's lesson talks about how artists use photographs to give them ideas and allow them to paint things that wouldn't sit still to be painted or whatever. Then the assignment is to find a photograph they like, and use it as the basis for a picture they draw with watercolor crayons, then paint over.

The book we are reviewing is designed for a grades K-3, I'd say that's accurate. Little Bit wants to "do art" with her sisters, but I usually just give her water colors or something. I don't think much younger than 5 would understand the techniques and concepts presented, though they might enjoy drawing/painting/etc along with older siblings. Older children who haven't had a ton of art would probably enjoy doing this along with younger siblings. I'm enjoying learning along with my children. Artistic Pursuits also has a Preschool book for ages 3-5, and books for older children (Grades 4-6, Junior High, and High School) so unless you're wanting to do art all together, it's easy to get a book that's the right "fit" for your child's age.

Maybe it's just my children, but hands-on art seems to be a winner with all learning styles. This provides the structure that more structured teaching styles would appreciate, but the lessons are short enough, and the children are eager enough to "do art" that it's fit nicely into our eclectic-leaning-toward-unschooling approach as well. A visual learner could read the text themselves, my auditory learners are happy to let me read it to them, and of course getting to try each lesson's techniques out for themselves appeals to the kinesthetic in everyone.

I'm sure creative, artistic mamas (or papas) could do something similar without a book, but for those of us who are art-challenged, this series is a great option. And $42 for a full year's art curriculum, that can be used with as many children as you have, it's a great value!

The girls have been enjoying this book immensely, and I plan to continue using it the rest of the year (though during the review period we've often done 2-3 lessons per week, and now we'll probably cut back to one every week or two, just to free up time for other things we're working on). Sassy loves everything about it. MiniMe loves the idea of it all, but her perfectionist tendencies are getting in the way. I finally told her that she wasn't going to  be allowed to continue if she kept thinking she had to produce PERFECT, photograph-like paintings and drawings.

I love that the lessons are short and require very little prep-work. I like that a variety of mediums and techniques are presented. I like that I'll be able to use this same product in a few years with Little Bit. One of the main products that have been used so far are watercolor crayons and I have to say, I'm not a fan of them. My children just aren't understanding how they are supposed to work, even when I've showed them. They hear "draw a picture" and so they draw a picture, with the detail typical in a drawing, then they are supposed to go over that picture with a wet paint brush to get the water-color effect and it smears all their detail. They're slowly getting it, but I think at this age, it would have been better to either just let them draw with crayons, markers or colored pencils, and not have "paintings" or let them actually paint. I wanted to use the product "as suggested" first to get a feel for things, but I think going forward when water color crayons are suggested I'll give my children the choice to use them, or another medium (either one we've learned about, or regular water colors, or the typical children's art supplies that we usually use).

Be sure to check out the Crew Blog to see what my fellow crew mates thought of the Artistic Pursuit books (we all chose which book to review, so you'll also get information about the other books.


Disclaimer: I received the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Biblical (Jewish) Holidays

I've mentioned several times over the last few months that we've started celebrating the Biblical (Jewish) Holidays.  I thought I'd share a little more about that, and some of the resources that have led us on our journey.

As I think is the case for most Christians, I was raised with the understanding that Jesus fulfilled the Jewish holidays so they no longer needed to be observed. The one exception being, as a Seventh-day Adventist, we still keep Sabbath since it's commanded in the 10 Commandments and is a memorial of creation, which wasn't fulfilled.

Then a few years ago I happened to be reading something written by someone who DOES keep the Biblical holidays as a Christian (I don't remember who) and mention was made of the fact that the spring holidays pointed to Jesus' first coming and the fall holidays point to His Second Coming. That threw me. If the fall holidays point to his SECOND COMING, why aren't we still celebrating them? It has been on my "to study" list ever since, but never made it to the top of the list. I DID, at some point when it was on sale, purchase the ebook version of Biblical Holidays, but never found time to read it.

Over the past year or so I *have* done more studying/reading/thinking about Sabbath, and how God intends it to be celebrated (not just kept). As a part of that journey, I discovered a wonderful company called Wholesome Learning. Their products are available from both Currclick and the TOS Store. One thing to note, for some reason, the mp3 files from Currclick have a kind of strange sounding voice saying something about "this file was purchased from" that takes some getting used to. The TOS mp3s don't have this (or anything like it, obviously it wouldn't say it was purchased from currclick). So, if the price is the same, I prefer to purchase the audio files from TOS for this reason.

So anyway, I discovered Wholesome Learning, and purchased their mp3 Let's Celebrate the Feast of Shabbat. At that point, the girls and I listened to it. They liked the idea of having a special meal, but not the blessings and such. So we started small. We decided that soup would be a good Shabbat (Friday night) meal and accordingly we went to TJ Maxx and found some pretty bowls and "fancy" glasses. We started lighting candles and setting the table nicely on Friday night. And I started getting Challah bread sometimes. For a long time that's all the girls wanted to do with it, and that was fine. . .

Meanwhile, this fall, someone on a message board I'm on mentioned that Rosh Hashanah was coming up in about a week. I had my typical "oh yeah, I need to research the fall feasts" thought, followed by the (also typical), but it's coming up so soon, I don't have time to study it properly to celebrate them this year . . . and then I thought back to what I'd been learning/realizing about Shabbat. Regardless of whether or not any of this is "required", it's a chance to celebrate God! As I've told the girls several times, to God, it makes no more sense to say "we have to keep Sabbath" than it would to them for me to say "we have to celebrate Christmas" (that was a real ah-ha moment for them LOL). And what I realized this year is, I don't HAVE to have all the answers, my children LOVE any chance to have a party and whether the feast days are required or were done away with or whatever, there's certainly nothing WRONG with celebrating God's leading. So we decided to just "jump in".  I dug out my Biblical Holidays book and started reading about Rosh Hashanah, but I also remembered Wholesome Learning and went looking. Sure enough they have an mp3 called Children, Let's Celebrate Rosh Hashanah! and also a Rosh Hashanah Scavenger Hunt. The Children, Let's Celebrate was a great way to introduce Rosh Hashanah to my girls. It gave us a starting point, then I was able to read them bits & pieces from Biblical Holidays to help them understand more about it. We had great fun, I talk about it a little bit in this post. I should note that the weather didn't cooperate for us to use the scavenger hunt, so I filed it away to use next year, it looks like great fun!

And so began our journey into the world of Biblical Holidays. The girls are LOVING it! What child wouldn't jump at the chance to have extra PARTIES!! We've continued to use the Wholesome Learning mp3s as a great intro and then supplement with information from the Biblical Holidays book and various online sources.  While the individual workshops are wonderfully affordable, you can also get a"bundle" product to learn about all the (or at least most of the) feasts.

Jumping back to our Shabbat celebration, once we began learning about, and celebrating, the other Biblical holidays our girls were ready to add to our Shabbat celebration. One Friday evening they decided they wanted to wear scarves on their heads. With their renewed interest we relistened to the workshop about Shabbat again and added more pieces. Now they were interested in learning the Hebrew blessings, so we're working on that (I found this little ebook helpful in teaching them the Hebrew blessing for the candles, I'd love it if they made more of these for the other blessings). We've also started making our own challah bread which is not only yummy, but cheaper and healthier than store-bought!

This has been such a fun journey for us. As we move through November we are already making plans to celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas next month. It's fun to see my children soo excited about what God has done!

Before I close I want to mention one other product-line I've been enjoying from Wholesome Learning. When I was reading the Dahveed series (GREAT BOOKS, by the way, I'm impatiently waiting for her to release book #4!!!) it really inspired me to learn at least a little bit of Hebrew, I don't have much time, or brain-power to try to learn it like an "adult" (giggle), but I noticed that Wholesome Learning has a "Read Hebrew Today" program. The price is reasonable, and it's geared for young children on up, so I decided to try it. I am LOVING it!! I won't be translating the Bible, or carrying on conversations in Hebrew anytime soon, but it's giving me a starting point that I can fit into little bits of time in the car or wherever and I'm having fun with it. I'd like to introduce it to my girls, but figure right now we need to stick with Spanish and not confusing things with a 3rd language. So for now it's just for me! 

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon, Currclick and the TOS Store. Items purchased through the links in this post will provide me with a small commission from these companies. I only recommend products that I believe in and all opinions are my own!

Weekly Wrap Up - November 12

We had an extremely uneventful week, due mainly to the fact that I was sick all week (nasty cold, still hanging around, grumble grumble). The girls have been coughing some but nowhere near as sick as me. Which is good, but I'm struggling to be much of a mommy, sigh . . .

So, after last week a few baby steps toward getting caught up on housework, this past week has been another jump back. The girls have done quite abit of the meal prep, but I figured asking them to do too many chores on top of that, while I sat in the recliner and did nothing, was asking abit much. So hopefully I'll feel better soon (VERY soon, since I have a moms' group scheduled at MY house this Wednesday, sigh . . . I'm praying the weather will be as nice as it was a bunch of this past week and we can move it to the park, worst case, they'll see how we really live LOL) and we can get back on track.

So let's see. We had lovely weather most of the week so I bought myself a little bit of resting time by sending all 3 girls outside to play for spurts of time.

We've moved on to the "Pilgrims" unit for history, which is coinciding nicely close to Thanksgiving. My voice hasn't been up to much read-aloud-ing, so I had them read their independent reading books first, and finally started Squanto (our read aloud) on Friday.

Also to save my voice, we put the Christmas symbols lapbook on hold and have gone back to our regular Bible plan for this year. We fell into a lovely pattern where all 3 girls gather at the dining room table and play with playdough while listening to the Bible chapters. It keeps Little Bit much happier with things than when we tried to listen in the family room. Now she asks "is it time for school yet?" LOL.

Little Bit has also embraced our Spanish routine. She loves getting one-on-one time with each sister while the other is doing vocab with me. I let her choose who will go upstairs (or outside) and play with her first.

Our other main subject right now is Art. The girls are absolutely LOVING Artistic Pursuits (look for a review next month), and beg to do it every day. I've been aiming for 2-3 days per week right now, to get a good sampling of the lessons before the review period is over. I'm planning (and have warned the girls accordingly) to settle into a routine of doing Art once a week after the review period is over.

We need to get back into our Insect studies for nature/science, but for now I've let that slide to the back burner (to make time for art more days per week) and we're listening to Jonathan Park CDs whenever we're in the car and calling that science (they are AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME creation science stories. Click the link in my sidebar to check them out (and get me a slight commission if you purchase through the link).

And that has pretty much been our week. Nothing very exciting. A sick mommy will do that, sigh . . . but we keep moving along with things and that's what's supposed to happen :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up - November 6

After our eventful weekend last weekend we had a quiet week.

AND after all our travelling in October, it was time to get back to chore packs and try to find our house under the clutter.

While Rodney  was gone we had some fun trying recipes that I've had on my "to try" list but were things Rodney wouldn't like. The girls were excited to help cook these new dishes and overall they were a hit. Some of the recipes we tried (and liked) included:

Butternut squash mac & cheese (Sassy insisted she didn't like it, because she doesn't like squash, but I still don't think she'd have been able to tell there was squash in it if she hadn't known. For that matter, I'd love to see what Rodney thought of this, see if HE could tell the squash was in it).

Dutch Baby Apple Pancake (I LOVED it, the girls said it was too "eggy")

Easy Italian Pasta Bake (we all LOVED this one! It will definitely be a go-to recipe whenever Rodney's out of town (he doesn't like tomato sauce so he wouldn't like it).

Baked Apple Oatmeal (Sassy declared it "too oatmeally" but the rest of us liked it, and *I* generally do NOT like oatmeal, but this was yummy!)

Taco Corn Fritters (we all liked these too, and I love that they can be made ahead and frozen, will probably keep these in mind as a lunch option when we travel too)

Meltaway Cabbage over egg noodles (Sassy LOVED this one. MiniMe and I both ate it fine, though I'll admit it's not the best thing I've ever eaten. But if the kids like it, it's a healthy, inexpensive dish so I can go with it. Little Bit didn't like the cabbage but was happy to eat the plain egg noodles).

So those were our cooking adventures while Rodney was gone.

Otherwise we were doing school, and chores and such exciting things. The girls WERE excited to start our latest review product, Artistic Pursuits, anything art-related is a hit with them, and this has been no exception.

We were all happy to have Daddy come home mid-week. Little Bit especially was THRILLED to have Daddy home. She went RUNNING to him when he came in the door and would NOT let go of him all evening. The next morning instead of getting up and fussing about wanting to nurse (I was in the shower) or going and bothering her sisters, she headed straight downstairs to find Daddy and cuddle with him until he had to go to work. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Christmas Lodge

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura Lane, our new winner!

I love Thomas Kinkade's artwork, and I love Christmas movies, so it was a no-brainer to say yes when I was given the chance to review Thomas Kinkade's "Christmas Lodge" DVD.

This morning while the girls and Rodney were visiting Grandmom I curled up with a pumpkin spice latte and some leftover apple dutch baby pancake and thoroughly enjoyed this movie!

Of course, I got impatient and STARTED watching the movie before the girls left, so as soon as they got home this evening they begged to finish watching the movie, so now we're watching it again, hee hee.

In a nutshell, this is a movie about a city girl who rediscovers Christmas Lodge, a mountain lodge her family used to visit when she was a little girl. Now it's falling apart, and she decides to help the current owner get the financing and help he needs to renovate it and re-open the lodge. In the process she brings her family closer together and falls in love.

It's a great, feel-good movie that I suspect will be a Christmas favorite in this house full of girls! One consideration, there are quite a few references to grandma being in heaven and "speaking" to her, etc. which goes against our belief, that those who have died are sleeping until Jesus comes to raise them again. But since the belief that the dead in Christ go straight to heaven is the belief of most Christians this isn't surprising and I'll gladly accept this in order to have a wholesome movie where unmarried couples get SEPARATE rooms when they go away for a weekend in the mountains, grace is said before meals, and prayer and God's will are prevalent throughout!

I highly recommend this movie!!!!

And now the fun part, I get to give a free copy of this DVD to one of my readers!!! If you'd like a chance at winning this video, leave a comment for each entry opportunity below, and make sure to include an e-mail address or other way for me to easily contact you:

  • Mandatory Entry:  What's your favorite Christmas tradition?
Additional entries (leave a separate comment for each)
  • Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect (see side bar)
  • Like my blog on facebook
  • Follow me on twitter 

And now the "fine print" giveaway open to US addresses only. You must be over 18 to enter. Giveaway closes on November 10 at 8pm Eastern. Winner will be notified and will have 2 days to reply or another winner will be chosen.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services 

mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I 

only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 

"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TOS Crew Review: The Person I Marry


A couple years ago at a homeschool convention I happened to stop at a booth in the vendor hall that had absolutely GORGEOUS children's books. The artwork is beautiful paintings, not the silly drawings that are so often used for children's books. I didn't have the money to purchase any of the books, but I have to admit I wandered back by several times during the convention just to flip through them, and they stuck in my mind.

PhotobucketFast forward to this year's crew, and we were give the opportunity to review The Person I Marry from Bower Books. As soon as I clicked through to their site on the review interest form, I recognized the books as the beautiful ones I'd seen in the vendor hall, and jumped at the chance to review it.  I have to admit, I was disappointed to find out that, rather than a downloadable ebook, we received a link to an online version of the book. But at least we were able to read and enjoy this BEAUTIFUL book!

Since the twins are currently in a "we're too old for picture books" phase, I told them before we started that yes, this is a picture book, and yes, little kids would enjoy it, but it also has a message for older kids, kids their age, and even teenagers and young adults. I don't know if my comments "worked" or if they were as enthralled by the beautiful artwork and lovely text as I was, but they listened to it without any complaints.

The author did a good job of keeping the book applicable to boys AND girls. So my girls spent the whole book trying to decide "who" was talking, a boy or a girl LOL.

At the end of the book, when I asked the girls about it, they not only said they loved it, but decided they each need their own copy. The back page of the book is a lined page that the child can list his or her own list of traits to look for in a husband/wife, and that was the reason each girl wants her own. We talked about how they also wanted to be able to sit down with the book on their own and read through it more slowly, thinking about each trait that is mentioned and how it applies to their life. And so, this book is going on their Christmas lists this year. A copy for each of them, and possibly one for Little Bit as well, though I may wait a couple years to get her her own copy.

This book absolutely is NOT just for homeschoolers!! It's a lovely book that can be enjoyed by little children, tweens, and teens. Actually *I* enjoyed the book as well, did I mention I love the artwork? But obviously it's abit late for me to be considering the traits to look for in a husband ;-)

It's a nice flowing text to read aloud, and, as I mentioned, my girls, who love to be read to, specifically said THIS book was one they wanted to be able to hold and read on their own as well.

The Person I Marry is available on the Bower Book website for $11.99. Be sure to take some time to look at all the other beautiful books available, with topics ranging from Heaven to friendship to adoption.

Also stop by the TOS Crew blog to see what my fellow crew mates have to say about this lovely book.

Disclaimer: I received access to an online version of this book in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Weekly Wrap Up - Snow Edition

So I actually have an excuse for being late with this week' wrap-up! We had a snow storm this weekend!!! From Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon we didn't have power and then when the power came back on we didn't have internet until today (Tuesday, but it might be Wednesday by the time I get this posted). So . . . I'm just not dedicated enough to try to write a blog post on my phone, sorry!

Ok, so back-tracking to the beginning of last week. . .

Sunday and Monday were just normal days.

Tuesday afternoon we left with Rodney to go to the Scranton area. Honestly, the hotel's indoor pool, and of course, time with Daddy, were the main draw. We were at Steamtown not too long ago, and there's an admission charge if we go without my parents (who have the "old people national park pass" that gets them, and their "party" in free). The coal mine tour sounded kind of cool until I saw the admission prices, they're not outrageous, but I decided it was more than I wanted to pay to wrangle Little Bit in a coal mine.

As we were going out to the car to go to supper that evening I grabbed some brochures in the hotel lobby and jokingly told Rodney that there was a big antique store nearby. The big girls latched on to that and REALLY wanted to go, so that became our plan for Wednesday. Needless to say, they also wanted to swim, and of course an antique store isn't an all-day excursion for 8 year olds (and certainly not for a 2 year old). When we dropped Rodney off at the treasurer's house, I saw that the antique store was near her house. So I told the girls we'd go back to the hotel, swim and do school that morning, then go out for lunch (the hotel website hadn't mentioned a microwave or fridge so we opted to just eat out this trip, turned out we DID have a microwave and fridge but for 2 nights I decided it wasn't worth finding a grocery store and getting food for in the room when I hadn't brought dishes or anything with us), then drive to the antique store while Little Bit fell asleep, let her nap in the car till she woke up and then we could go to the antique store, then go pick Daddy up. Turns out, he got done sooner than expected and texted me to come pick him up just as Little Bit was waking up. So we coerced Daddy into going to the antique store with us after we picked him up. He wasn't real excited, but it worked alot better for me because he was able to take Little Bit outside while I stayed with the big girls in the store. They were enthralled by it all, and we ended up finding a cool candle holder that holds 8 small candles. Not an official Menorah, but it will work nicely as one and the girls thought it was cool to get something at the antique store.

That evening we went to Uno's for supper. The girls didn't remember ever going to an Uno's, the one near us closed a couple years ago. A "new" thing, or perhaps just that store's thing, was that when we were seated the guy who seated us gave each of the girls a ball of raw pizza dough that they could shape however they wanted and then the waitress took it back to the kitchen where they sprinkled the dough with cinnamon sugar and baked it, then brought it back out to us. So the girls thought that was really cool and it kept them well entertained while we waited for our food.

Thursday we came back home, and Rodney happened to see on facebook that they were calling for SNOW on Sabbath. So I altered plans slightly to make sure to get all grocery shopping and such done on Friday.  Rodney left Friday afternoon to visit a friend in Florida for the weekend (great timing, huh?).

Sabbath morning it was still rain, but the forecast still said we'd be getting snow, starting mid-morning so, since I'm a wimp when it comes to driving in snow, and Rodney was gone, the girls and I chose to have a "home church" day. We sang songs from Little Bit's Sabbath School program and discussed various topics the big girls wanted to talk about, it was nice. Then just after I'd gone in the kitchen to start fixing lunch the power went out. It had blinked several times that morning, but this time it stayed out. We ate apples and cheese for lunch, then I put Little Bit down for her nap and read to the big girls while she slept.

The power came back on late afternoon so I cranked the heat up, knowing it could go out again (it was still snowing) I wanted to "store" as much heat as possible while we had it. We went outside to see how things were (I wouldn't let the girls go outside while the power was out, since we didn't have a way to get warmed up if they got cold). When we went outside and I saw how many BIG branches had fallen, I told them that even with power they couldn't be outside, too many big trees near our house! We went back in and cooked supper and the power went off again right after we finished cooking supper, and stayed off until noonish on Sunday. We ate our supper, lit candles, and talked, played guessing games and sang songs until bedtime. At bedtime I decided since the power was out, that it would be better if we all slept on the living room floor. For one thing, our main floor has 18" thick stone (I think, it's covered with stucco, but the interior walls in the basement are stone so I assume that's what's inside our main floor walls too) walls which do a pretty good job of keeping heat (or cool in summer) in, but upstairs are normal thin walls and not real-well insulated, so I knew it would get alot colder upstairs than downstairs. Also I figured if it got really cold, we could all share body heat if we were all sleeping together. We have 2 small LED lanterns but one is tempermental about turning on/off so if we were all together we could have the one working lantern easily accessible for anyone who needed to go to the bathroom or whatever, although the moon on the snow provided pretty good light. And my final reason, that I didn't mention to the girls, was my fear of trees falling on the house. I figured if one of the big trees near the house DID fall, or a big enough branch to come through the roof, the main floor was a safer place to be than upstairs (again, those thicker walls, plus farther from the roof).  So since MiniMe's normal bed is a king size feather mattress topper folded in half, we brought it down and laid it out flat for us to all sleep on (not a super cushy bed, but as soft as when the girls sleep on the floor in hotels. I knew I wasn't likely to get much sleep no matter what) then they each had their own twin down comforter (Little Bit and I shared hers) and I spread my queen down comforter over all of us, though that ended up being too warm. Once we were quiet and in bed the snow/ice/branches falling off the trees and landing on our roof was constant, and loud, enough that even from downstairs it sounded like someone was walking around upstairs. So that was Sat night.

Sunday morning it was chilly, but still in the high 50's according to the thermostat in the living room, so not too horrible. Still no power. Our "emergency plan" for heating food when we don't have power is to use the grill on the front porch, which would work well if dh was here, but I have to admit I've never used the grill AND Little Bit was being really clingy/fussy. So I knew if I tried to go out there and cook breakfast (and heat water for coffee and hot chocolate) it would mean either taking her out with me (and at least one big girl to watch her so I could focus on figuring out the grill) so we'd ALL have to be out in the cold, or have her literally standing at the door screaming for me the whole time and I didn't like either option. We don't keep cold cereal in the house (after this experience I've decided I should at least make sure to keep a batch of granola in the freezer for "emergencies") since the girls don't like it, and it's not a healthy or economical choice anyway. And did I mention I wanted coffee? So, as I looked out the window, I was pretty sure I could make it up the driveway (it had been plowed on Sat. afternoon and, in retrospect, I'm thinking the plow must have come back through during the night, though I didn't hear him) and if the driveway was that clear, roads probably were ok, and we could go to Starbucks! Regardless, by that point I needed to recharge my phone (had been texting to dh pretty regularly to keep him informed about our status, plus it was my source for weather and stuff), which I figured I could do in the car. So I told the girls we were all going to go out to the car. Little Bit could watch the DVD player in the car and my phone could charge. IF I could make it up the driveway and the roads were ok we'd go to Starbucks. If not, at least we could warm up, Little Bit could watch the tv she kept asking for, and my phone could charge. The big girls were great help at cleaning the car off and shoveling the little area between the back of the car and the plowed part (and Little Bit was perfectly happy to sit in the car and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while we worked).  Once we got the car cleared off, we were able to get up the driveway easily enough, and our road was clear, though LOTS of branches down along the sides, or pushed off to the side. The main roads were snow-free and trees had, again, been moved to the side. The stoplights for the first while were out and a road not very far from us was closed and we could see a HUGE tree completely blocking it. But Starbucks was open (and doing a brisk business LOL).

After breakfast we went home, hopeful that our power would be back on, but we were disappointed. It was still out, but we went ahead and did some school and around noon the power came on, but the cable and internet were completely dead.

The girls and I both decided we appreciate heat and electricity more after living without it for a little while, and are very thankful that we were only without power for one day.

The girls also mentioned that it was kind of fun to spend an evening just talking and playing games and stuff instead of all doing our own things, so we agreed that we'd have an evening like that (but with light and heat LOL) on a regular basis.

So that's what our week last week, and the first day or so of this week, were all about. The snow was pretty, but sure did alot of damage!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegetable Broth Powder

My kids will eat broth made with this plain! I call that a hit :) Almost anytime a recipe calls for chicken broth or vegetable broth, I use this instead. This makes a large batch to keep in the pantry and use as needed.

1/4 c celery seed
1/4 c dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp ground savory
2 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground sage

Combine all in a mason jar, shake to mix. Shake before using. Use 1 tsp mix per cup of water to make broth.

adapted from this recipe