Monday, September 28, 2009

Sort of Sorting the Shelves: Picture Books

Yes, with 4 teenagers in the house, I still have picture books on the shelves usually for one of three reasons. Sometimes, a picture book best says what has to be said. Sometimes, I had meant to get rid of a really twaddly book, but simply never got around to it. Sometimes, the books are well-worn and well-loved editions I wish to share with my grandchildren someday. Today, I found a few books in each of these categories, and some are worth mentioning.

A Prairie Boy's Winter is a book of play and nature and an activity or two that parents would never let their children indulge in today. These are tales I like best...for instance, when snow drifts are deep, we are always told to keep away--you might become trapped and die. In this book, the boys dig deep, jump in, and explore the snow drift as tall as trees. They make elbow-shaped tunnels, in through the top,and out the side. They dig in with shovels, and jump in with both feet. What fun.

My Season with the Penguins takes us on a scientific research journey through the Antarctic home of some penguins via the journal of a naturalist who watches penguins. The watercolor illustrations are the perfect example of a lovely nature notebook. Just be aware that the author covers the nice and not-so-nice aspects of penguin life (and death) in the wild.

Grub the Bush Baby is a photo essay following the toddler-hood of Jane Goodall's son, nicknamed "Grub". In a way, this is a tragic story, as it seems as if those magical years were the best of his life. When he reached school age, Grub was sent off, away from his parents, to boarding school. Just so you know, Grub is frequently seen running about in his birthday suit in the book.

There are others, too, perhaps familiar to many of us: One Small Square books, Holling C. Holling's books, and a wonderful illustrated version of the Just So Stories. And many more, of course. Keepers, all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Removing Mirrors

This diningroom project, a follow-up to the kitchen project, is getting more detailed than I expected. I was just going to paint, move furniture, improve window treatments, and give the floor a quick refinish. T decided to remove the three 8 foot tall wall mirrors that covered one wall. Underneath is some truly dreadful depression-era wall paper, and a window! Of course, we knew the window was can see it from the outside of the house, but we did not realize that it would need molding and a windowsill to make it really work. So, instead of simply painting and moving on, I have to measure and figure out how to do something new.

I shall probably paint over the wall paper, as it is very thin and seems to be pasted right onto the plaster. Removing it would be difficult.

The real issue is the big mirrors. T has them leaning slightly against one of the (many) tall bookshelves that I emptied in order to sort through the I cannot move the mirrors (too heavy) and I am not sure where to put them. T is going to offer them on Craig's List. Fine. Just get them out of here. The books are on a bench waiting to be sorted and replaced into some logical order.

More thoughts on book-sorting later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Church Music, or Not

I have been following the Choir Notes from Erin Manning's blog, and putting off my own post about church music. I'd like to write a post like this one, comparing hymns for the quality of music and appropriateness of the lyrics, but, alas, there are so many other issues in the way that any music is welcome. Almost. Our parish has several big problems:

1. Our organist (God bless him) is just an amateur, and needs some real guidance in choosing music. Unfortunately, our parish priests are usually from Poland, and do not really "get" the essence of the music. We try, but when we are not around, he reverts to whatever he is capable of playing (not much).
2. Our organist does not play very well. Not much we can do about it. Our parish is small, poor, and he needs the money.
3. No one in our parish sings, even in the congregation. There are, of course, a few exceptions. When Libby was in high school, she taught the children's choir, but with college and commuting and all, she simply no longer has time. The choir has dissolved without her.
4. (This is a big one) The gentleman who does the readings at one of the Masses sings into the microphone and he CANNOT carry a tune. He apparently does not know this. It is so bad that a visiting priest began to laugh during the offertory one Sunday. Everyone always stares in stunned silence, and those who do sing seem to let their mouths hang open, and the notes fade and drift away into the air. The altar servers (who are often my sons) turn and stare, or, after I suggested this was bad form, shift from foot to foot uncomfortably.

1, 2, and 3 cannot be fixed at the moment. But we are desperate to solve problem #4, without hurting the gentleman's feelings, of course. Ideas welcome.

The Garden in Autumn

The big pumpkin gets bigger every day.

I love the pattern of cracking on the stem of this pumpkin.

The pushbroom seems to be making itself useful.
At least, I think it's the pushbroom.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

As Autumn Approaches

Just thought I'd plug my Autumn page, with resources and ideas for making your fall homeschooling days lovely. Well, that's the goal, anyway!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Turnip Soup

Adjust to taste. I just faked it, but here's a basic outline:

6 small turnips (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball)
4 cups chicken stock (more or less...)
1 small onion
1 teaspoon Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus (cin, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, orange peel)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup vermouth or white wine
1/2 cup light cream or half and half
1 medium potato, diced and cooked (I do this separately, but I guess you could do it with the turnips)
1 cup diced chicken (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut turnips, and boil in water until tender. Add chicken stock and cinnamon mixture. Simmer until stock just covers turnips. Meanwhile, chop and cook onion (saute in butter). Add to turnips/stock when they are reduced. Add potato. Add cream and vermouth, and salt (if broth is salty; taste first). Cook another few minutes, and remove from heat. Let cool a bit, and use a blender to puree the soup. Add chicken if you like (we like!), and garnish with a bit of cinnamon and cracked pepper. Serve hot. About 4 servings.

Please feel free to add any adjustments in the comments. I hope this is an accurate recollection of the procedure! Good luck.

Monday, September 14, 2009