Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The History Behind Halloween

Growing up, I had several friends who did not celebrate Halloween.  Their parents saw it as an anti-Christian holiday, and so would have nothing to do with it.  My brother and I did go trick-or-treating, but we never were interested in the scarier Halloween things like ghosts and skeletons and witches.  We did carve a pumpkin every year, but we generally carved a cross in it, not a scary jack-o-lantern face.  I've carried on that tradition, and here's our pumpkin this year:

But anyway, I just read a very fascinating article about the history of various Halloween traditions.  It's called "Hallowe'en:  A Short History," and is written by Rev. Joseph Abrahamson, who I had as a professor when I was in college.  This article is aimed at refuting the idea that Halloween was originally a pagan holiday that Christians somehow co-opted and tried to make Christian, and I think it makes some pretty convincing arguments.  This article is first in a series about the true history of various holidays, and I'm interested to see what the next will be.  I actually found this article via a friend's link on Facebook, and I'm so glad I did, because it's part of a website dedicated to confessional Lutheranism, and I can't wait to explore it more as I have time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Battening Down the Hatches

Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit our area tomorrow.  So yesterday and today, we got things cleaned up outside so if we do get high winds, we won't have big plant pots coming through the glass doors at us.  I'd been meaning to uproot and dispose of the remaining plants in my container garden for a while anyway, as they were mostly done for.  But wouldn't you know it, we had lots of warm weather last week and the snapdragons flowered again.  I didn't want to waste those last blooms, so I just cut them off and put them in a little bud vase to bring inside.  That way I didn't feel so bad about uprooting the plants.  Aren't they pretty?

I especially like these pink-and-yellow blossoms:

And this beautiful pot is from the Etsy shop The Ring and the Lion.  In the Elvish "Tengwar" script, it says "For the love of things that grow."  Here's a little glimpse of the beautiful hand-lettering:

I'm praying the hurricane does little damage and causes no more chaos than just my hubby getting to stay home from work tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Holding On

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  (from SouleMama)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Autumn Expotition

Yesterday, I took the kids on a long explore.  Okay, not a really long one -- we went to Prince William Forest Park for the first time.  I wasn't sure how well they would like it, or how much there was to do there other than picnic benches and hiking trails, so I only got a day pass ($5).  The rangers said I could put that toward upgrading to a year pass ($20) if I wanted, and that the day pass was actually good for a week (so then why not call it a week pass?)

We trooped off to the picnic area and had a jolly lunch, at least until an enormous, bee-like insect scared us away.  It was the size of my thumb.  We were about done anyway.

The picnic area
Earlier that morning, I had helped Daniel and Mercedes make "explorer journals" from two pieces of fun card stock with ten pieces of printer paper in the middle.  They got to choose the card stock they wanted, help punch holes, and thread the yarn through to hold them together.  

The library mouse with his journal, and our journals
I got the idea for the Explorer Journals partly from a similar journal my mom helped me keep for a while when I was little (which I still have!), and also from one of Daniel's favorite books, Library Mouse:  A Museum Adventure by Daniel Kirk.  The two mice in that book take journals with them when they explore an art museum, and I figured Daniel especially might like  to try to do the same.

Daniel got his own copy for his birthday -- it's #4 in a series
While we were having lunch, I asked them to observe things and tell me what they saw, heard, and smelled.  Daniel heard truck motors.  Mercedes heard birds.  Daniel saw our car.  Mercedes saw trees.  Daniel smelled the bathrooms.  Mercedes smelled her peanut butter sandwich.  Hmm.  Anyway, I wrote their observations down in their journals and helped them trace around a few leaves they found.

When we got scared away by the gigantic bee, we found a short walking trail the rangers had told me about. (Every time I write 'ranger,' I hear Barliman Butturbur's voice from Fellowship of the Ring saying, "He's one o' them rangers."  Ahem.)  It was less than half a mile long, and paved with ground up tires that looked like mulch and were smashed together to make a soft, but sturdy walking surface that I could also push the stroller on.  Daniel took the lead, carrying his Explorer Journal with him.

It took us about 45 minutes to complete the loop, thanks to lots of trees and logs and bridges and benches to exclaim over and enjoy.

And when we were done, we discovered that this park has a magnificent playground.

The ranger (yes, one o' them rangers again) had mentioned they had a playground.  He didn't mention that it was huge, had the speediest slide I've seen on a modern playground, and had picnic tables nearby.  Next time we go, we will hit the playground first.  We had so much fun, we stopped back by the visitor's center and upgraded to a year pass.

The visitor's center had lots of pamphlets on trees, flowers, and other things you can see in the park, which my kids weren't quite old enough for, but would be great for grade-schoolers on up. And there are more challenging trails too, not just the easy one we took. When my kids are older, I know we'll enjoy those too. If you live in Northern Virginia and have little kids, consider this as a fun and educational place to spend a day.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Useful (Free!) Clip Art Site

I bought a bulletin board last week, after thinking about having one for a couple months now, and I hung it up yesterday.  I've had a bunch of ideas for how it could be useful, and I'm working tonight on how to start implementing them.  I want to do a Bible memory verse for the kids, as I meant to start that already last year.  And I want to let them help decorate it, since it's for them.  I'm starting off simple, just an autumn theme, and I went looking for some clip art of things like pumpkins and acorns that they could color to put on it.  I found this very simple site that has great clip art for every season, as well as birthdays, letters, and more (though you might have to dig a little to find everything by clicking the "parent directory" link a lot -- it's not very organized).  Many of the images are big enough you can paste them into a program (I'm using MS Word) and print off full-page versions for coloring.  It's an off-shoot of an elementary school's site, and my security program says the pages and images I visited are virus-free.

Here're a few images I downloaded:

Daniel and Mercedes like to pretend they're mice, in fact, they want to be mice for Halloween, so I think they will both love coloring that last one.  I'll post pictures when my bulletin board is more than just a blank slab of cork!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nectarine Plum Crisps

Let's kick things off here with a tasty recipe :-9  My hubby cut this out of a Taste of Home magazine earlier this summer, which is a little unusual, because usually he chooses the main and side dish recipes, and I go for the desserts.  But he really wanted me to make these... and I didn't have any ramekins.  Or custard cups.  Lame, I know, because I bake so much, but true.  So this recipe sat on our island for a couple of months, until we finally got around to buying ramekins last weekend.  It turns out that this recipe is really great for the under-ripe kinds of plums and nectarines you find when they're out of season, so if you're craving those fruits but it's not summer, this is a good recipe for you!  Here's the original recipe, and I'll post my version, which I've added a few instructions and tips to.

Nectarine Plum Crisps


1 pkg (9 oz) apple crisp mix (find it near the apples in the produce section)
6 Tbsp. butter, cubed
2 cups sliced fresh nectarines
2 cups sliced fresh plums
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. cornstarch
Vanilla ice cream (optional)


Place the apple crisp mix in a small bowl and cut in butter until crumbly.  Spoon half of this mixture into four 10-oz ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray.  Reserve the rest of the mixture to use as topping.

In another bowl, combine the nectarines, plums, and cornstarch; toss to coat.  If your fruit is a little under-ripe and not very juicy, cut it down to 1 1/2 tsp.  Spoon into your ramekins/cups over the crumb layer, and sprinkle with reserved mixture.  Go ahead and mound these up over the rim a little, as the fruit is going to cook down -- you can see in my picture that the fruit is down below the rims, and I had filled them just a little over.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown.  Serve warm; top with ice cream if desired.

Supposedly, this makes 4 servings, but my hubby and I shared one with ice cream and had plenty, so I'd say it's 8 reasonable servings or 4 really big ones.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Hello!  Welcome to my new blog.  I hereby dedicate this space to sharing my travails and triumphs as a Christian, homeschooling mommy.  I plan to post recipes, recommend children's books, review curriculum, and just generally discuss homemaking.  Oh, and gardening, I was forgetting that.

I've been considering creating a blog like this for a while, and even figured out the name a few months ago, but I hadn't fully decided if I wanted to abandon my other blog, which mostly involved my Etsy shop, Huggermugger.  I did post recipes there too, and for a while I did book reviews.  But now that I've dialed back my shop so that it only has crochet pattern, I had a lot less to blog about there, and I've gradually stopped posting there.  I spend much more time thinking about homeschooling now, and our increasingly busy life now that we have three kids, so since that's where my head is now, I decided that's where my blogging should be too.

I suppose a quick introduction to our family is in order.  My husband works for the State Department in Washington, DC.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I love to write fiction, crochet, bake, sew, cook, and play in the dirt.  We are Bible-believing, Confessional Lutheran Christians, of the WELS variety if you're curious.

Our son Daniel just turned five this month, so he missed the cut-off for registering him for kindergarten, or registering us as home schoolers, which gives me some freedom this year to kind of feel our way into a good routine and get ready to really dig into schooling next year.  He already knows how to read, and we're working on his writing and some math this year.

Mercedes is two-and-a-half, full of enthusiasm and energy.  She knows most of her letters and numbers, as well as her colors and shapes, so I think she's well on her way.  She also loves jigsaw puzzles and markers, though we try to keep the two separate, hee.

And Abigail is ten months old.  She's learning to walk and crawl, and can say 'Mama.'  She's the happiest, smiliest baby I've ever known.

Okay, that's about all I've got for this evening.  I look forward to meeting new friends and deepening existing friendships here, and teaching and learning a thing or two along the way.