So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Floral Cards

Just a couple of cards I made recently.  They are are pretty simple, but they came out quite well.  The base is an ivory card blank (5" x 6.5" folded).  The layers are cream cardstock ($ store!) and shabby floral patterned paper (not positive where this is from, but I know it is a download - I will keep trying to find out where I got it).  The tags were cut on my Cricut using the George and Basic Shapes cartridge.  The geranium stickers are some more from my stash of old Rebecca Sower stickers.  The ribbon is just narrow Spool O' Ribbon from Michael's (I think that's where I got mine - it's seems to be available at quite a few different stores and it's inexpensive) in burgundy and sage.  I inked the edges of the tags with burgundy and pink ink (Anna Griffin Rose Collection by All Night Media).  I also used the burgundy ink with the "Happy Birthday" stamp ($ store again).  The ecru lace trim is from the sewing section of the dollar store.

By the way, I stuck these cards into my lupins to take the photos.  They are almost ready to come out in bloom (another 1-2 weeks maybe).
And, just for fun, here is Bentley relaxing in the kids' sand box.  I think he looks pretty comfortable.
Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Field Trip!

We got to go to Charlottetown for a visit to the racetrack this week.  This field trip was set up through the homeschool group.  I just have to say it is so wonderful to be in an area where there are so many homeschoolers.  After living in an area (for a year) where there were no homeschoolers, it is simply amazing to have so many people to do things with.  I also really appreciate the Charlotte Mason group.  I have only been to one meeting so far but it was a real boost for me.  I am also thankful for a good friend who lives less than 10 minutes from me and is also a homeschooler.  I could go on and on with the blessings that have been given to me - but on to the report!

We were taken to the barns by a guide and the kids got to meet a real racehorse.  He was a beautiful bay three year-old named Iceman.  All the kids who wanted to could pat his nose.  That was really exciting for my son and he was quite calm (I had given them the lecture about not screaming, shrieking, or jumping around the horses earlier).  My daughter was able to contain herself (she tends to be quite nervous around horses).  Then the guide took us into the "museum" where they have some harness racing memorabilia, photos and information on different records, drivers, trainers, owners and horses.  All very interesting!  (It helps that I love horses!)  We were also able to watch some of the horses being jogged around the track, which the kids found really neat.  Standing down near the fence, you hear the hooves pounding, the horses breathing, and the sulky wheels turning.  My kids didn't want to leave.  We actually stayed a little longer than some of the others and just watched the horses out on the track.  I had to drag them back to the car because I was freezing!

Here are some photos that I took:
                                                               (an antique sulky)

and a short little video we took:

Thanks for visiting today!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Garden Tour

I just went out for a wander around my yard.  Not many flowers blooming, but there are a few.


Lucky Strike Tulips

Queen of the Night Tulips

Bentley, our orange tabby, inspecting the tulips.

Going to explore somewhere more exciting.

I'm off to do some weeding if the bugs don't carry me away first.  Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Warning - Craft Fail!

So I'm finally getting back to craft posts!  That makes me happy because it means I have gotten to make something (or in this case, TRIED to make something).

I saw this tutorial on how to crochet flowers and I thought they would be really great to use on my cards.  They were so pretty and the dear lady showed how easy they were to make.  One problem - no crochet hook and I had never crocheted in my life.  Then yesterday, when I was at the mall getting a new mat for my porch to replace the one the cat destroyed (long story), I noticed they had a bunch of sewing/knitting/crocheting stuff marked way down.  There was the perfect little crochet hook for only 69 cents!  So I bought it in great anticipation of making marvelous flowers...

While I was waiting for my bread to bake this afternoon, I thought I would try out my new crochet hook.  I fired up the video tutorial and began to create.  After several attempts (and much rewinding), this is what I produced:
Somehow it doesn't look much like a flower.  I don't know what I did wrong - I was trying to follow her as she skillfully stitched away.  If I ever happen to need a tieback for an orange curtain, I've made a good start on it.  ;)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Homeschooling at Last - School or Education?

Now that we are back to homeschooling (yes, I know it's almost the end of the year, but that's another story), I wanted to share a little on my philosophy of homeschooling.

When we first started homeschooling (for PreK when my daughter was 4), I had the idea in my head that homeschooling was "school-at-home" rather than "learning-at-home".  That first year, we were pretty informal, just using a workbook for letters, colours, etc and doing lots of activities, crafts and exploring.  All that year, though, I kept thinking, "We're REALLY going to do school next year!"  The house we were living in at the time had a spare bedroom that could be transformed into a classroom (just like a "real" school).  I was going to be the best Kindergarten teacher ever!  We were going to learn our national anthem by singing it every morning.  We were going to do art projects and science experiments.  We were going to have fun, fun, fun!  It was going to be a great year.

The first few weeks went remarkably well.  Everything was new and exciting.  I had spent hours making alphabet and number charts and picking out brightly coloured workbooks.  Everything was fresh and clean.  Everything was interesting.

Then the wheels fell off.  My daughter suddenly realised that she didn't want to sit and listen for an hour (or more) five days a week and that playing was a lot more fun than school.  A power struggle developed between us and I ended up having to call in the principal (my husband!).  It seems a little silly now looking back, but at that time I was ready to throw in the towel because it wasn't how I had pictured it.  After a lot of struggle and prayer and a switch in curriculum, things kind of evened out and we made it through the rest of the year.

I think the biggest lesson I learned was to not confuse school and education.  They are not necessarily the same thing.  You can go to school and NOT be educated, and you can NOT go to school and still be educated.  I think I kind of knew this before, but I failed to apply it to homeschooling because of the pressure homeschoolers are under ( like the mindset that you have to be doing exactly what the public school is teaching or your kids will be "behind" or not learning or whatever).  When I think of all the things I learned simply by reading, I am amazed.  I was (and still am) a voracious reader.  As a kid, I used to take a dictionary or volume of encyclopedia and read it like a novel (I am such a nerd, I know).  Some of that stuff has stuck with me much better than a lot of things I learned at "school".  My first year of high school, Level One (Grade 7), I had to take Geography.  I detested that class.  It made me feel stupid and I didn't understand a lot of what was being taught.  It was the first school subject I was ever in danger of failing.  I couldn't do the assignments correctly and I was really frustrated.  I gave up after a while (it was a tough year for me in many ways) and just started reading the textbook over and over.  Since I knew the book, I was able to get through the Quebec Ministry of Education exams that made the classwork worth very little and I passed the class.

To sum up this post, school does not equal education.  A "school" can provide an education, but education is not something exclusively found in institutions of learning.  I'd like to leave you with some examples of people who prove my point:

A Few Famous People Who Were Home Educated

Claude Monet
Grandma Moses
Leonardo da Vinci

Michelle Kwan
Serena Williams
Venus Williams

Agatha Christie
Alex Haley
Beatrix Potter
C.S. Lewis
Charles Dickens
Hans Christian Anderson
Louisa May Alcott
Margaret Atwood
Mark Twain
Pearl S. Buck
Robert Frost
Virginia Woolf

Andrew Carnegie
Colonel Harland Sanders
Dave Thomas
Joseph Pulitzer

Felix Mendelssohn
Irving Berlin
John Philip Sousa
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Alan Alda
Charlie Chaplin
LeAnne Rimes
Louis Armstrong
Whoopi Goldberg

Davy Crockett

Alexander Graham Bell
Benjamin Franklin
Cyrus McCormick
Eli Whitney
Thomas Edison
Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright

Military Leaders 
Douglas MacArthur
George Patton
Robert E. Lee
Stonewall Jackson

American Presidents 
Abraham Lincoln
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
George Washington
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Jefferson
Woodrow Wilson

Religious Leaders
Dwight L. Moody
John & Charles Wesley
William Carey

Albert Einstein
Blaise Pascal
Pierre Curie

Alexander Hamilton
Daniel Webster
Patrick Henry
Sir Winston Churchill

Clara Barton (she started the Red Cross)
Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing)
Martha Washington (wife of George Washington)
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Thank you for reading my blog!  I would love to read any comments you might have on this post or any of my posts.

Frugal Hand Soap

I wanted to share a frugal success story with you!  I've had some "frugal dismal failures", so every success is very encouraging.  I don't like using a lot of harsh chemicals in my house, so I've been making my own household cleaners or buying "greener" cleaners (when the price is right!).  Over the last three years or so, I have successfully made my own laundry soap, glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner and scrubbing powder (like Comet).  Today, I decided to tackle liquid hand soap!

I had previously looked for ideas online.  There were recipes for making your own soap right from scratch, which didn't really appeal to me and would require some special equipment/ingredients.  Then I found recipes that simply used bar soap as the base.  That's what I decided to go with.

Any bar soap can be used (I think), as long as you like the smell of it.  A lot of the recipes I found called for Ivory soap.  I decided to use a glycerin soap for my first attempt.  What I had on hand was a strawberry scented glycerin soap from The Body Shop (mine was in a heart shape).  I forgot to take a photo before I started.  By the way, I can't remember the last time I bought something at The Body Shop for myself.  This soap was a gift! :)

The first step is to grate up your bar of soap.  I used my cheese grater to do this.

 Once the soap is all grated, measure is to find out how much you've got.  I had about 2 cups of soap shavings.  Next, I dumped the soap shavings into a pot and added 4 cups of hot water.  Stir it a little and put it on to heat on the stove (using medium heat).  Do not let it boil!  Stir occasionally to make sure the shavings are melting.

  When everything is melted, remove from heat and stir.  Let the soap sit in the pot to cool a bit.  After it has cooled down somewhat, you can transfer it to a bowl or container, but I just left it in the pot.

  As it sits, it will get thicker.  You can stir it every now and then while it's sitting to make sure it doesn't get lumpy.  When it has cooled, it will form kind of a gel.

Stir it a bit and then pour some into your soap dispenser.  I would recommend you only fill your dispenser half full, so if it is a little too thick, you can dilute it some more with water.

Here is the finished product:

This recipe made enough liquid soap to half fill my dispenser and fill a 907 g (2 lb) margarine container.  So, I figure I can probably half fill my dispenser 10 times.  That's quite a lot from one small bar of soap!

I know you could just as easily put your bar of soap in a soap dish and use it like that, but I kind of prefer liquid hand soap for communal use :)  Also, my kids tend to make a mess with the bars of soap (leaving it floating in water, squeezing it when it's wet, etc).  Next time I make this, I'd like to try Ivory soap to see if it gives the same results.

I hope you've enjoyed my post today.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Disabled or Differently Abled?

My son is 4 years old.  He is a sweet, energetic little guy.  He is also almost certainly autistic.

Getting that news was really hard at first, but it was something we had suspected for a long time.  The professionals told us "He's never going to develop more than what he has..."  The funny thing is, we see positive changes just about every day - things parents of "normal" 4 year-olds don't get excited over.  Every new word, moment of independent eye contact, instruction followed is a victory for us.

When we have to explain to people (particularly people we don't know) that he is autistic, you can sometimes see a look come into their eyes like "Oh, he's disabled..."  That's not how we see him.  He is different, certainly, but we are all different (you might even say we're all weird in some way!).  God has created each of us uniquely for the unique purpose He has for us.  We are all "differently abled".  The highest ambition we have for our son is that he would be able to understand his need for a Saviour and to belong to Jesus Christ.  In the long run, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Another Project From the Stash

As long as my kids are entertaining themselves, I can get a second post up.  This project was actually for my kids.  I guess you could call them "Personalised Notebooks".  This is a pretty simple idea but they really liked them.

We had picked up a bunch of these little notebooks at the dollar store because they reminded my husband of these notebooks which he loves:
The Moleskine notebook is about $12 - the dollar store version is $2.  I appreciate the quality of the real Moleskine but the price is a bit steep.  (I just realised the Moleskine books are slightly smaller than the dollar store ones as well.)  

So, we had quite a few of these notebooks lying around.  My kids are always asking for paper to draw on, so I decided to make them some "fancy" notebooks.

My son loves zebras so I used this vintage picture from The Graphics Fairy for his book.  Print out, cut, glue on the book with double sided glue tape.  Simple.

Here are the finished products.  Really simple but I could hardly keep my kids away from them long enough to glue the pictures on!  I'm not sure where I got the roses from but it may have been The Graphics Fairy as well.  These pictures were both in my digital stash!  I thought about putting some more decorations on the books but the kids wouldn't let me.  They were so anxious to get them.  A quick and easy project!  I'm thinking it might be fun to do up a bunch of these to keep on hand to use as gifts.

Thanks again for dropping by!

"Free" Projects - Part 1

So, now that April is over, I'm going to show you a couple of projects I made using items from my crafting stash!

This is an old leather Bible case I had - pretty worn looking.  I was thinking of cutting it up and keeping the best pieces for some sort of craft project.  While I was mulling this over, my husband happened to remark he wanted some sort of container for his collection of tin whistles.  The light bulb came on over my head and I started thinking of how we could transform this into what he had in mind.

This is what the inside looked like before we started working.

The first thing I did was freshen it up a bit and change the colour slightly.  The leather was kind of dry looking in spots and it was burgundy.  I wanted it to look a little more masculine.  So, I turned to shoe polish.

This is what my husband uses on his brown dress shoes.  I simply applied it to the case the same way you would use it on a pair of shoes.  This is what I came up with after it had dried.


It's a little hard to see from the photos but the leather turned a nice rich brown.  The shoe polish also covered up the worn spots.  On to the next step...

After hemming and hawing for several minutes about what to use to hold the whistles in, we decided on some wide elastic I had (I think it may have come out of an old pair of pajamas).  This is where my husband took over as I couldn't force a needle and thread through the leather.  He sewed the elastic to the edges of the case and then we added some adhesive backed velcro to create some "loops" for the whistles to slide into.

  The finished product!  Cost - $0.  Time start to finish - about an hour.  Below is a a "real" whistle carry bag. It costs $24.95 plus shipping and handling.  Our version might not be fancy but it works!

Thanks for visiting today!