Friday, August 28, 2009

Prayer for Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.Originally dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Audrey in 1957.
- Fr. Al Volpe, Cameron Parish, LA

Honey Lavender Ice Cream & Ginger Pennies

Honey Lavender Ice Cream & Ginger Pennies (pdf file) for Tasha Tudor's Remembrance Day
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. half-and-half
2/3 c. honey
2 T edible lavender buds, dried
2 large eggs
1/8 tsp salt
Bring cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender just to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from heat. Let steep, covered, 30 minutes.
Pour cream mixture through a sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium heat. Do not boil. Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add half of the cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking.
Pour egg mixture into remaining cream in saucepan and cook over medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it coats back of spoon (170 to 175°F on a candy thermometer), do not boil.
Strain custard into a bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 3 hours, or overnight. If it all seems too cruel to wait that long, set bowl in a larger bowl or pot with ice and salt and stir constantly 5 minutes, or until chilled through.
Pour custard into an ice-cream maker and follow your machine's instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tasha Tudor Day

We celebrated Tasha Tudor Day last year over at Storybook Woods and we'd like to encourage everyone to take a moment (or two) and read a Tasha Tudor book (or two, or three, or four) to remember this wonderful artist on her birthday...August 28th.
As I'm slowly going through my old blog, I'm reposting our Tasha Tudor day from last year into this post.

* * * * *
Something happened as we celebrated Tasha Tudor's birthday today. The day was less rushed. The baking and painting calmed us. I didn't fly around the house in a desperate attempt to accomplish...whatever. I focused on what I do best...building a home and making lasting memories for my children.
I knew that by observing this day I was walking in the footsteps of a wonderful mentor...a woman who Took Joy in everything she did and Found Peace in her life. She was always purposeful, never frantic. She was always meaningful, never harried.
If only for one day this month, I took meaningful time in the day...time from my schedule, my children's schedule, the world's schedule...and found joy and peace in a day of meaningful, intentional activities. If only for one day, I paused in the world as we know it in the 21st century and I made my children pause to look at life in the hands of an artist.

Seeing life through the hands of an artist gives us a very faint picture of God's picture frame. The work of an artist is meaningful because it shows us that this life is not all about hurricanes and rising fuel costs and co-op packets and blisters on heels after soccer practice and dirty laundry. If life were only these things then the human race wouldn't have lasted all these thousands of years. Artists remind us of the glory that surpasses our understanding. Artists get our attention in the mist of the day's muntane activities and instruct us to, "Listen! Stop! Be Still! Be Still and Know!" Artists teach us that if we lay aside all that the world offers, we see the beauty and tranquility that the Lord created for us.
And in replication of our creator, we can use our hands to create a fraction of that beauty in our homes.
I did, at one point, look over the activity on my sitting room table and thought, "Dear me, I should be cleaning up."
I did, at another point, look over the banquet of flour and cookie dough on my kitchen table and think, "Dear me, why didn't I postpone all this?"
But, in the footsteps of Tasha, we kept on, creating, puffing flour over our hands, rolling sweet dough under our rolling pins, smearing mod-podge on button boxes, and enhaling the artsy smell of paint on our Swallow Post.
And now the day ends with a tempting table set for my little Tasha Tudor fans. They know her by name. They know the peace and calm that comes from bending their heads over her books and soaking in the beauty and comfort of Tudor living.

Today was spent in true Tasha fashion. We didn't sit around and worry about things we have no control over. We took joy in being together. We didn't spend our time in frantic running around. We found peace within our home. That is Ms. Tudor's greatest lesson.
If you can put one thing into this day, I would suggest having your "children pause to look at life in the hands of an artist." Picture up a Tasha Tudor book and enjoy it with your children. We could all use this wisdom, the grace, this peace, this beauty.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's a Lifestyle

Author Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle has been hosting a Back-to-School Week at her Domestic Church blog.

Today, I attempt to articulate how homeschooling is over and beyond "school" done at home. Much more. It's a lifestyle.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Beauty and Benefits of Broth

My friend Wendy shared this article and I thought it might be of interest to some:
Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions

Wendy is fixing to start a "broth project" as soon as the weather changes. I'm anxious to hear more about it. The girls and I might even have to plan a trip to her house.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Simple Spaces Daybook

This is my own Cajun Cottage version of the Simple Woman's Daybook
Outside my Window...
Hot. Hot. Hot.
I am thinking ...
about what Peggy wrote: "I am feeling... a bit looney after looking over too many links of late...must delete about half of those blogs, especially the ones that leave me feeling hyper by soo many links in their entries, not-up-to-date with so many crafts, sewing and whatnots they are doing or less than what I am because of all the "showiness", a new mantra or perhaps revised one for my blog takes place...ah, slow, simple, quiet, restful are watch words I want to show here at the simple woman blog."

and Kim shared: "I agree. Slow, simple, quiet, restful is what I am after. Good watchwords for the new schoolyear as well. And we are moving slowly this week. So slowly I am not even properly formatting this entry. : / "

I agree...totally!
These daybook entries are wonderful journaling and precious time spent in mindful purpose. They should be slow, simple, quiet, restful reflections done with a slow, simple, quiet, restful spirit.
I am thankful for...
For this old house.
From the schoolroom...
First Day of School (rather peaceful)

Here is our schooling corner. We spent today in the living room on the sofa and a bedspread on the floor. The schooling corner stayed neat and uncluttered. :-)
From the kitchen...
Seasoned, buttered, herbed chicken in the oven.
Here is my new little kitchen "nook".
I am wearing...
Blue-jean shorts, blue flip-flops, blue T-shirt from a place I've never been: Cape Hatteras
I am creating...
Spaces in my house.

(Meme's old buffet.)
I am going...
To SPAR then to adoration.
I am reading...
Through my old blog trying to move and save old posts before deleting (still doing this...slowly)
I am hoping...
I can keep these spaces cleaned and decluttered.
I am hearing...
the news and the crackle of a wrapper
I am praying...
for the Snow and Barrett families on their sorrowful passions
Observing the Liturgical Calendar...
Our new lazy-susan w/ Magnificat prayer booklet and prayer journal. It has a story to tell and one day I'll get to tell it. :-)
Around the house...
One of my favorite things...
Cleaned and decluttered spaces.
A few plans for the rest of the week...
That summer water party I promised Annie in spring and wrote about doing last week.
Must find some pointe' slippers for Chelsea this week. Must!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

First Day of School

Getting back into a routine, holding myself accountable, and giving my husband a place to go when he feels the need to ask: "What did you do all day?"

Kayleigh & Corey: Back at college & work

Garrett (10th grade):
  • in Baton Rouge helping other homeschooling family w/ repairs and work projects on their condo
  • part-time job when he gets home
Chelsea (6th grade):
  • Religion: Magnificat & Baltimore Catechism
  • Virtue: Charity towards others
  • Math: Teaching Textbooks and 100 Decimal Chart (pg. 44)
  • Science: Space (pg. 2-3)
  • Writing: Proofreading Study Skills (pg. 1)
  • Spelling (Seton 6): Lesson 1
  • Reading
  • History: Discussed WWII study (her choice)

Annie (2nd grade):

  • Religion: Baltimore Catechism
  • Virtue: Charity towards others
  • Math: Wkbk pg. 34-35 (Graphs)/40-41 (Charts)
  • Reading: Ramona the Pest & Little House (Mom)/ Emily's Moo (oral reading)
  • Reading Rainbow
  • Explode the Code: pg. 18-19
  • P.E.: Tumbling & jumping jacks

Still sorting, shifting, and ordering some books but good to get our feet wet.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Memory of Ryan Barrett

Tonight many of us throughout the blogosphere are praying and thinking of a truly heroic family who has been called to bear a heavy cross.Their son Ryan has been called home by God, leaving a very large hole in the Barrett home and in their church and homeschooling communities.
Please keep the Barrett family in your prayers this weekend as you attend church and during this extremely sad time.
"Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And may perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of Ryan Barrett and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Left-Handers Unite

I had no idea that I was in-charge today. :-)

Schulette: A New School Year Tradition

I recently received this email:
"I saw an article on that referenced the Schultuete tradition and mentions you. I wanted to share with you that my wife started a company this year that brings the tradition of the Schultuete to America. She is German and was inspired by our own daughter (1 of 4) entering first grade back in 2005. It's a great tradition which she's adapted by writing a little journal and including some other items. We also have been helping kids make their own cones at the street festivals here in Chicago that we use to promote the business. See and thanks for sharing the idea." I looked over the website and see that they care about the little customers they serve. Their site states: "KinderCone wants to inspire every family and their young children to enjoy learning by celebrating this special event in their lives."

KinderCone has done that. Learning and getting an education is always a special event. It a freedom, a blessing, a God-given right and should be celebrated.

So, far any new arrivals...let's review the German Schulette tradition. We discussed them as early as 2005 at 4 Real Learning Forums when I discovered them mentioned at the Catholic Montessori Playschool eloop. I had a Pre-schooler at the time and was frantically searching and expending myself on any and all things Montessori. These "school bags" became a hit that year and has remained so each year. It's an especially special way to present homeschooling children their new school supplies.

It was never my idea, of course. Never my original idea, but it became quite possibly the most frequent search hit on my blog. I'm not even the #1 Google search for the Schulettes but, somehow, parents and teachers found me and, somehow, I got credit. The only credit I can take it that my maternal grandfather was a Miller, a large red-headed German of a man, and the fact that I have made these cones for my three younger children for the past five years and they are indeed a testimony to making your child's first day of school a memoriable legacy. My children love them, expect them, adore them. And they are very easy to make. Extremely so. Here is what I did:
Buy a regular poster (our store had them 5 @ $1.00 for the school year) and cut off a 10 1/2" rectangular piece leaving a square piece of poster. Roll into the cone and tape it secure. Place it on a section of wrapping paper, fold over the whole cone and tape it. They look very festive! And they're plenty big for the play-doh and new calculator and stickers and colors and notepads, etc. that will go inside.

First you will want to know how to pronounce the name. I was told they can be pronounced:
"Shool-toy-tuh" with the accent on the "shool".

And an alternative pronunciation: shool-toot-tuh (and the "toot" should really be done as "teet" pronounced with the lips in an "O" shape).

So there you go.

As I have moved my blog from typepad to here, I want to preserve the memory of our past schultuetes (for my children's scrapbooking) so let me share what I wrote a few years ago on my old blog and some of the comments I received throughout the years:

  • "Start the new school year by presenting your child with a Schultuete (also known as sugar bags in Germany) on the first day of school. These clown-hat cones are a fun way to present new school supplies to your child and are sure to be a hit. Mark it a tradition to continue throughout your child's schooling.
  • I made them last year for my younger girls and they were thrilled with their schultuete. I made them out of poster board and wrapping paper. Very simple to make. My youngest also wore it as a dunce cap (her incentive, not mine).
  • Since it was my first time making a schultuete, I think I went a little overboard. I made them with large poster board and they were large. Too large for the new pencils, erasers, stickers, and other small objects placed in it. So I suggest using the smaller poster boards unless you're planning to be generous and include stuffed animals, lunch buckets, crayon boxes, slingshots, and other school necessities.
  • Silly me...this year I kept forgetting to buy poster board and we began school two weeks ago. I assumed---falsely---that the girls would not remember their German schultuete from the previous year. Wrong! Last week Chelsea questioned me, "Aren't we getting one of those sugar cones again this year?"
  • Perhaps the German school fairy can whip-up a couple for this Wednesday (she did (-; ) as the area children (neighbors, friends, and cousins) go back to public school for the first day.
  • I'm eager to hear of your ideas in filling your child's schultuete. Let us all know (in the comments section) what goodies you add."
Clarifying comments followed:
  • "I am not sure how much you about the German tradition of the Schultuete (School Cone). From reading your blog, I am getting the feeling that you are intending to giving your girls a schultuete on the first day of each school year. If that is your desire, you are more than welcomed to do so. However, the tradition in Germany is that a Schultuete is a special gift to children on their first day of 1st grade only." ~ Daniela J.
  • "Nice ideas and great pictures. Would like to make a correction...Schultuete directly translated is Schul (School) and Tuete (Bag) so Schoolbag or many people indirectly translate as Schoolcone. Sugar (Zucker in German) should not be used as a word to translate this item." ~ Tina
  • "Wondertime magazine just had a great article (Sept 08 issue) about this tradition, including directions for making a schultuete. Just like the previous comment noted, the word means "school bag" and is only given on the first day of FIRST grade. The cones in Germany ARE large, so poster board is appropriate for this project!" ~ VJHR
  • "Love these. We actually had many German neighbors (we've lived in Germany several times) who expanded the tradition from just the first day of first grade to the first day of every year. Zuckertüte is an alternate name for these in some areas, which is why they are sometimes called "sugar cones" in English. I'll be making some again this year ~ they're so fun!! Thanks, Cay!" ~ Sue
I encourage anyone wishing to do a Schultuete to do it however they wish. Make it a new tradition within your home. Don't worry about what it's called, what's suppose to go inside of it, what grade the child should get it (I give it to each child every year), or how to properly pronounce it. Just do it and your children will remember it fondly.

My friend Helen shared these German treats at All Recipes incase you want to sow and reap all the benefits of a German-flavored first-day-of-school celebration.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


School Supply Shopping has been accomplished and the art supplies have already been raided.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Focusing the Hearts of Our Daughters

Our school season continues to slowly evolve. I find it much nicer and less stressful to sit back and watch this happen than try to cram my plans into everyone else's. Life happens. Duty calls. Storms threaten and the economy drops you on your head. What I might think is most beneficial to my children might be the last thing they are interested in, the think they buck the most.
I find it gracefully freeing to not not try to win or not have it "my way"...but to blissfully trust and let God lead the way.

It's a joy and a privilege to take all that God plants in my path and call it all a blessing within my home.

Yesterday Chelsea and I attended our Keeper's Club Kick-Off Gathering at Heather's house. It was a chance to get reacquainted and plan for the new learning year.

Heather's living room fairly danced with Christian girls, friends, young women.
This little group is focused on training our daughters to be keepers of the serve, in spirit, in their hearts.
"To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others." ~ Pope John Paul II
Little Keepers, learning the art of friendship, enjoyed precious time spent together.

There are always little brothers thrown into the mix and they take great pleasure in this free playtime, backyard trampolines & treehouses, and the array of snacks which the daughters diligently prepare for their guests.
The moms skirted the family table, laughing, talking, and making plans over coffee, tea, lemonade, and planners.
September: Cross-Stitching & Diligence
October: Doll-Making & Soap-Making
November: Bread Making
December: Community Service Project
January: Cleaning
February: Card Embossing
March: Bicycling
April: Etiquette/Table-setting
May: Keeper's Banquet

Each month one mother volunteers to teach the virtue, oversee the activity, and provide the refreshments. In this way we plan ten tasks for the girls to learn. At this meeting it was also the joint agreement of the mothers to instill the proper attitude within the hearts and minds of our daughters while they are learning the various skills. Many of us have pre-teen daughters and these years are potted with emotions and yearnings and restless ideals. It is our duty to not only train these girls but to focus them, balance them, and guide them in the correct spirit of service and good-will.
With this in mind, each meeting will begin with prayer and Scripture.
At home, I plan to read, discuss and share Stacy McDonald's wonderful book Raising Maidens of Virtue with my girls before each monthly meeting. Each chapter scripts a story, a lesson, a set of discussion questions and ideas for the mother and daughter to share. It covers a wide-volume of areas within the hearts of our daughters from the noble calling wives & mothers bear to the "taming of the tainted tongue", loving one's home, "dwelling in unity" as a family, the care and pitfalls of being a "lady of leisure", and, of course, caring and keeping "the heart of a maiden."
So many areas of our society have taken away from the home, have captured the hearts of our children and led them away.
"Young people are threatened... by the evil use of advertising techniques that stimulate the natural inclination to avoid hard work by promising the immediate satisfaction of every desire." ~ Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II told us:
"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."

He also exhorts us with the reminder that:
"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." ~ Pope John Paul II
This is our purpose. This is what we strive to do within our families and home. This is what our little Keepers group is trying to encourage. We are teaching our daughters to stem the tide, to respect and love their families as they deserve, guide them to envision and embrace their future homes as God envisions it, and to give of themselves to their families as Christ gave of himself to love, service, and life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

August Smiles & Scholar Daybook

This is my own Cajun Cottage version of the Simple Woman's Daybook
Outside my Window
Pretty frosted-glass window.
I am thinking
...of how good our God is.

I am thankful for
Safe airplane flights and friends who watch over my daughter in Europe.
From the schoolroom
We have another meeting this week w/ an area pastor concerning use of their church facilities for our co-op. It's the most central location for everyone, houses everything our co-op needs. We really need a Catholic facility. Waiting, hoping, praying.
From the kitchen
Skillet of chicken, sausage, and pork w/ rice and gravy for Kayleigh's homecoming meal.
And a strawberry cake!
She said European food was good, but different and very expensive. She and Margaret shared lots of meals. Today's dish is all for her.
I am wearing
Striped capris, sleeveless green floral shirt, white cardigan. Barefeet. Freshly shampooed hair.
I am creating
Filing, transferring, recording in my new planner. I was in Houston yesterday and found a smaller-sized planner. I've used the 5.5 x 8.5 size forever and a day. Ms. Bernadette inspired me to downsize to the purse-size. I still prefer the zipper-style so nothing slips out. The insert sheets are not what I like or want but it's the 6-ring binder I was after.

I am going
Keeper's Club Planning Meeting & Birthday Party. Then home to cook!
I am reading
Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald...I believe I have found the perfect mother/daughter hospitality book.
I am hoping
To get a haircut for myself and the two younger girls this week. This was supposed to happen after dance recital. It didn't. Annie caught impetigo and we've been busy ever since. The start of the school season cries out for fresh haircuts.
I am hearing
Cereal being poured in a bowl.
I am praying
Fr. B will bless our group w/ permission to use St. John Bosco Church.
Observing the Liturgical Calendar
Annie's saint's feast day is tomorrow: St. Claire

Around the house
Must get ready to begin school next Monday.

One of my favorite things
Kayleigh safe and sound in her bed.
Looking at European monies.

A few plans for the rest of the week
Right when I thought it'd be a slow week, I found the days filling up like dishes in my dishwasher.
We still need to go school shopping.
One thing is for certain...Annie's Summer Un-Birthday/Water Party this Thursday! I promised her this back in the spring. She's our Christmas baby. Can you blame her? Can you blame me? lol ;-)

Here is picture thought I am sharing
My poolside view:

This quarter's Mater et Magistra is wonderful. All about college and math and a wonderful unit study by Alicia Van Hecke on The Phantom Tollbooth which we're definitely doing in our house this year.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dragging-My-Feet School Plans

I admit it!

I am having a terrible time getting the umph to homeschool this year. It's probably the first time in the past twelve or so years (I've lost count) that I've felt this way. It's also the first year that none of my children are looking wistfully at the local schools. Took us twelve years but they are totally into this homeschooling lifestyle and we have fallen into an equation of togetherness in this decision to homeschool.

Much of this is in part to the awesome group of homeschooling friends in our area. Those friends have always been there but now I realize they were always there...for me. Our children observed one another from a distance while the mothers tried to figure this lifestyle out. Now our children are growing up and realizing the benefits of this community. It is no longer just the crazy mothers with crazy ideas. The children have become as crazy as us. They have bonded and are there for one another.

The evolution of homeschooling continues to change and expand and flourish.

The local co-op which I dreaded last summer and is in limbo this summer has become a huge part of our homeschooling rhythm. In my human wariness, God brought us exactly what my family needed to be and has blessed us abundantly...because of or in spite of my resistance.

As of now, co-op plans are my only plans and I am thankful for the existence and persistance of this group which allows my children and I to learn more fully while using the rest of the week to un-school ourselves in all things we take a personal interest in.

Annie ~ 2nd grade

  • P.E.
  • Literature
  • Louisiana History
  • U.S. Georgraphy Bee (CHC)
  • Beginning Spanish
  • Lunch
  • Little Flowers & Art (alternates)
  • Manners/Hospitality (Oma laughed at this one)

Chelsea ~ 6th grade

  • First Form Latin
  • Art
  • Literature
  • I.E.W. Writing
  • Lunch
  • Science
  • Louisiana History
  • Study Hall

Garrett ~ 10th grade

  • Study Hall
  • Literature II (Shakespeare & Canterbury Tales)
  • Biology
  • Algebra
  • Lunch
  • I.E.W. Writing
  • Louisiana History
  • Finance
Garrett will also be attending another co-op on Thursdays and will take:
Religion: The Bible
Civics: American Government

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer of Cousins Simple Daybook

This is my own Cajun Cottage version of the Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my Window...
"The day is done, and the darkness. Falls from the wings of Night." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I am thinking ...
Of how I'm going to get the creativity and energy I need to begin school this month!

I am thankful for...
My friends! Who invite me to a day-retreat, who drive me to a root beer float/swimming party, who drive me to the retreat, who make and present me w/ a CD of last year's co-op pictures, who pray for me, who takes my adoration hour for me.
From the schoolroom...
Do I need it? or do I just want to need it?
That is what I ponder as I clean-out cabinets and place orders.
From the kitchen...
We had the family over for BBQ today! What a great day!

I am wearing...
Black pants, brown loafers, white blouse
I am creating...
my talk for this weekend conference!

I am going...
to bed.

I am reading...
A Place Called Sweet Apple: Country Living and Southern Recipes by Celestine Sibley and, soon, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott in hopes that Jo March can inspire me with renewed creativity and energy for the coming school year.
I am hoping...
Kayleigh enjoys her European Tour to the fullest and returns home safely.

I am hearing...
The air-condition

I am praying...

Observing the Liturgical Calendar...
I have a lazy-susan. More on that later.
I am searching for a smaller planner.

Around the house...
One computer fixed. One laptop ordered. Other PC will be inspected tomorrow.
Still want to move computers and desks around.
I returned home from the Organizational Retreat a little wiser, more appreciative and full of practical help.
A few plans for the rest of the week...
It's another week of cousins in the summertime. What could be better?

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Annie admiring Colleen's adorable new baby boy.

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