Monday, June 30, 2014

Meeting the National Christian Choir at a Patriotic Concert


Last night my family and I got to see the National Christian Choir! I have a friend, whom I met years ago through an on-line homeschool support group, who sings with them and it was great to meet her in person for the first time! After the concert we also got to meet her son and his friends. It was such a wonderful visit!
Before that, we had a glorious time listening to the music. I knew we would. I had previously listened to samples on-line and knew this was definitely a concert my family would enjoy.
This particular concert was a patriotic concert, celebrating the upcoming 4th of July!

After we were invited to join them in the Star Spangled Banner, the director read a prayer written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. She also read Psalm 33 and then the choir sang the beautiful words set to music.
This concert was more than great music. Not only was this patriotic...

... but this was also worship. There was prayer.  The director shared that this concert would be about praising our God whom our country was founded.
After many patriotic songs and worship songs that fit with the theme, the choir sang one of my favorite songs, If My People, from II Chron 7:14 which I've been praying daily for our country for the last year, which my brother's church preached about last week, and which our church preached that morning. The songs that followed built up the theme about trusting God and praying for a spiritual revival in our country that begins in our hearts.

When we left, I couldn't decide which CD I wanted.  Tonight at the dinner table we started talking about last night and this man of few words used many exuberant sentences to describe his enjoyment!
My kids also enjoyed the evening and meeting new friends and talking to everybody!
I left quite ecstatic about meeting my friend and having enjoyed the concert. It definitely prepared my heart for 4th of July...and spiritual revival.
To see if there is a concert near you, check their schedule hear!

Friday, June 27, 2014

French Onion Soup as Historically Made by the Peasants

Since our next challenge in the Historical Food Fortnightly was "Soups, Gravies, and Sauces, I decided to make my favorite French Onion Soup. Instead of using stock, this soup uses only onions, water and seasonings, and of course bread and cheese, as the peasants would have hundreds of years ago. I first read of this historic recipe on Michael Ruhlman's food blog (he is one of the judges on Iron Chef America), where he mentioned the famed bouchons of Lyon, France where simple yet filling peasantry food abounds.  When I decided to make this recipe for this challenge, I did a bit more research into bouchons and French Onion Soup. Here I read about how centuries ago the peasants who labored in the silk industry for the aristocracy had hearty fare, such as French Onion Soup which are today served in Lyon's bistros called bouchons.   This Saveur article goes into great details about Lyon's bouchons and their simply yet hearty fare renown for pleasing many a palate. Finally The Thrifty Groove blog presents the history of the French Onion Soup, from the Ancient Romans and Greeks to the Middle Ages to the finesse of the French. Included are receipts, one from The French Cook, Francois Pierre la Varenne in 1651 ( and another from The Frugal Housewife in 1803.

I varied my own rendition of the recipe a bit differently from Michael Ruhlman, yet kept to the heart of his instructions to use NO broth. =) The happy result is a far more flavorful French Onion Soup, that is truely an onion soup. It's not a beef soup with onion added. Instead it is an onion soup as mild or strong as the cook's personal palette merely by the addition or cooking off of water. After all the tradition I have read of French peasantry food, I'm now wishing that for my literature challenge I had used the children's book, Stone Soup. I'm sure the resulting soup caused the French soldiers and peasants to say bon apetit!

I sliced 3-4 massively huge vidalia onions to saute in the heavy cooking pan in a bit of olive oil and salt.


I turned the heat to a lower setting so they would not burn, yet they could carmelize over a few hours. For me this only took about 3 hours. I was surprised by how much they cooked down.  I'm adding more onions next time.

To this I added 6 cups of water, which filled the pan.  It was much more than Michael Ruhlman advised, but I wanted to make as much as I could. Within minutes the water started taking on the caramel color from the onions. Throughout the cooking process I sampled the broth until it reached a flavorful stage. I had indeed added too much water, but no problem. It easily cooks off. If a stronger flavor is desired, cook off more water. If a milder flavor is desired, add water or cook off less water. After the soup reached the flavor desired, I added salt and pepper to taste.

This is the first time I've ever used Gruyere Cheese...

I grated the cheese and set it aside.


I cubed a white flour baguette but I had strongly considered a whole wheat baguette, which I'm thinking would have been what the peasants used. I finally decided the family might not eat the whole wheat bread, but at dinner I was assured they'd probably prefer the whole wheat. So we'll try that next time. While the onions were cooking I dried out the cubed baguette in the oven. Meanwhile I placed 3 oven/broiler safe soup bowls onto a large baking sheet, then I filled the bowls with the toasted croutons while the broiler was heating up.

I ladeled soup on top of the croutons in the bowls...

Then I topped the bowls with the grated Gruyere Cheese. Then I placed them under the broiler about 5 minutes, perhaps 10. Keep a close eye on them. You want the cheese to brown but not burn. The time varies according to oven.

This is the toasty look that I like to take out from the broiler. It actually looked a bit more toasty than this in reality.

Seated at the table...anticipation...

I served the soup with a red leaf toss salad with white wine vinaigrette, croutons and a soft cooked egg.

Oh, that soup looks so yummy...

When you break into that egg the yolk becomes part of the vinaigrette...

Time to dig in...


And now for the Historical Food Fortnightly Food Facts:


The Challenge: #2 Soup, Sauces and Gravies
The Recipe: Posted above with the photos, and linked to Michael Ruhlman's food blog, first link.
The Date/Year and Region: No one really knows but roughly 1651 Lyon, France and even before that.
How Did You Make It: Details posted above with photos, but basically with onions, water, salt and pepper, and addition of bread and cheese.
 Time to Complete: About 6 hours.
How Successful Was It?: Delicious! I've actually made this once before so I knew it would be good to use for the challenge.
How Accurate is it? Very

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Revolutionary City Scenes 2014

During Drummers Call we saw the latest version of Revolutionary City which now shows the same scenes each day... I already blogged about one of my absolutely favorite scenes with gobs of incredible photos since I got a front row seat, about Lafayette's spy, James Armistead.






One clever addition was that of the auctioneer, which humorously started ringing his bell and auctioning his wares after the scene about profiteering during the war. This is a real auction of items from various stores in the historic area.  The highest price is never allowed to go over the regular store price. Quite a good deal for historic goods and sourvenirs!






I loved this bit of humor! After several gloomy scenes about the war, he loudly gathered us around to listen to a bit of frivolity to cheer our hearts!













 These officers sent forth a call for recruits...
Officers Calling for Recruits

Assembling at the Courthouse


Arrival of Lafayette

Lafayette Speaks to the Citizens of Williamsburg and the Troops





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity and CS Lewis

One of the reasons why I chose Turkish Delight as my literary entry in the Historical Food Fortnightly, is because we have recently read a couple of his books in literature, when we studied World War II. The quintessential story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe makes for excellent dialectic/logic fare. Set in Great Britain during WWII, four children are sent away from London due to the bombings from the German Luftwaffe. They are sent to safety in the country, at a large estate home where they are given free run of the grounds.  While playing hide-n-seek they stumble upon a fascinating wardrobe, which at times becomes an entry part to another world...
While my daughter and I were working with the sugar in making the Turkish Delight, I had a realization for how beguiling this confection was in tempting Edmund.  Edmund came from a world where WWII existed...where there was food rationing...and sugar rationing. The sugar alone might have been a delight that tempted him. On top of that, Turkish Delight has a unique consistency which could be why CS Lewis chose this as the confection to tempt Edmund. That is purely speculation though. 
My kids read The Chronicles of Narnia a few years ago and talked their non-reader Dad into reading them. I have only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe myself, but hope to read the rest of the series soon.
For our rhetoric studies during WWII, we read The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity. I'm amazed that Lewis wrote these heavy theological masterpieces shortly after he became a Christian. I think this is the hallmark of his deep intellect. It's obvious that he knew the Bible and his logical reasoning flows quite well, though I did not agree with one or two points, but they are quite minor and mostly about child baptism and one other topic. Yet do not let me deter you from reading his books! They may have deep theology but part of the genius is that they are  not too difficult to understand, nor are they beyond the scope of our everyday life...hence their placement on the Great Books list of Classics. Nevertheless these books do give much to ponder.)
The Screwtape Letters are satire. Through the absurd Lewis helps us think through how Christians are tempted, because the book is written entirely from the viewpoint of Screwtape, in charge of younger demons in charge of causing Christians to err and fall.
Mere Christianity are a collection of essays Lewis read on the air at a radio station during WWII. His premise was to stay away from the arguments that divide denominations and focus on the basic points of the Christian life as taught in the Bible. As I read reviews of his radio broadcasts, they were described as "legendary."
CS Lewis, the renown intellect and literary genius, was at one time an atheist.  In time he turned to God and became a Christian. He was heavily influenced by Christians George MacDonald and GK Chesterton. I'm a bit new at studying Lewis, MacDonald and Chesterton, but a friend pointed out that Chesterton can almost be heard in Lewis' writings.
Here are some great webistes I found for further study:
The Official Website of CS Lewis
CS Lewis and George MacDonald
Site on Chesterton-My friend suggested to me that understanding Chesterton opens the door to understand Lewis more.
The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton-The previous pdf link allows one to read the book that CS Lewis read, causing him to move from atheism to Christianity.
The Inklings Literary Club including Lewis and JRR Tolkein (actually it seems like many influenced Lewis)

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Son's High School Classical Studies and Book List

Freshman Year

  • Algebra I
  • Latin II
  • Biology I
  • Ancient History
  • Ancient Literature
  • Ancient Government
  • Ancient Worldview
  • Ancient Finearts
  • Awana Club/LIT 

Books Read

  • Selections from Ancient Egyptian Literature
  • Selection from The Ancient Egyptians by Lila Perl
  • Unwrapping the Pharoahs: How Egyptian Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline by John Ashton and David Down
  • Selections from The Feasts of Adonai by Valerie Moody
  • Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail
  • Footprints in the Ash: The Explosive Story of Mount St. Helens by John Morris and Steven A Austin
  • Selections from The Story of Civilization I: Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant
  • Gilgamesh
  • The Feasts of Adonai
  • Selections from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
  • Selections from The Story of Civilization II: The Life of Greece by Will Durant
  • The Ancient Greece of Odysseus by Peter Connolly
  • The Iliad by Homer
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Selections from The Story of Painting
  • Selections from The Story of Architecture
  • Selections from Gardner's Art Through the Ages: Western Perspective, Volume I
  • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Malachi, Matthew, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, I John, II John, III John
  • The Ancient City by Peter Conolly
  • Warfare in the Classical World by John Warry
  • The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides) by Aeschylus
  • Medea by Euripides
  • The Apology of Socrates by Plato
  • Crito by Plato
  • Selections from Invitation to the Classics
  • Oedipus the King
  • Antigone
  • Plato's Republic
  • Selections from Aristotle's Poetics
  • Selections from Aristotle's Politics
  • Alexander the Great
  • Selections from The Story of Civilization III: Caesar and Christ by Will Durant
  • The Punic Wars-Osprey Publishing
  • The Aeneid by Virgil
  • The Ancient Celts
  • On the Nature of Things by Lucretius
  • On Anger by Senaca
  • Church History in Plain Language
  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs
  • Gaellic Wars by Julius Caesar
Sophomore Year
  • Geometry
  • Chemistry
  • Latin III-Latin Road to English Grammar
  • Logic
  • 5th to 18th century History
  • 5th to 18th century Geography
  • 5th to 18th century Philosophy
  • 5th to 18th century Government
  • 5th to 18th century Literature
  • Driver's Ed Book Training
  • Awanas-book 8 of 10 completed towards Citation Award
Books Read
  • The Dream of the Rood
  • The Parable of the Christ Knight
  • The Byzantine Empire
  • Arabian Nights
  • Chanson de Roland
  • The Vikings
  • Beowulf
  • Marco Polo
  • Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
  • Piers Plowman
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Le Morte d'Arthur
  • The Middle Ages
  • Dante's Inferno
  • Petrarch's poetry
  • Machiavelli's The Prince
  • Mystery and Morality Plays
  • Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation
  • Historical Atlas of Exploration
  • Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt
  • The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
  • The Lost Colony of Roanoke
  • Utopia
  • Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare
  • Othello
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Don Quixote
  • 17th Century Poetry by John Donne, Ben Johnson, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Richard Crashaw
  • Tartuffe
  • Phaedra
  • 18th Century Poetry by Phyllis Wheatley
  • "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope
  • "Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat" and "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray
  • "My Cat Jeoffrey" by Christopher Smart
  • "The Castaway" by William Cowper
  • The Colonial Period
  • The Age of Religious Wars
  • Montisquieu's Spirit of the Laws
  • The Journal of Major George Washington
  • "Braddock's Defeat at Fort Duquesne" by Benjamin Franklin
  • Paradise Lost
  • "Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions" as proposed by Patrick Henry
  • "Against the Stamp Act" by William Pitt
  • "Report on the Boston Massacre" first hand account by James Bowdoin
  • "The Boston Tea Party" first hand account by George Hewes
  • Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress
  • The Non-Importation Agreement from the First Continental Congress
  • Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Death" speech
  • Thomas Paine's Common Sense
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Nathan Hale's "I regret I have..."
  • Thomas Paine's "These are the times..."
  • The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America's Founding Document and the Men Who Created It
  • Yankee Doodle Boy
  • Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution
  • Inventing America: The Life of Benjamin Franklin (A Museum in a Book: Featuring Removable Sketches, Letters, and Historical Documents)
  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • The Constitution
  • The Bill of Rights
Junior Year
  • Algebra II 
  • Latin III 
  • Physics I 
  • 19th century history 
  • 19th century government
  • 19th century worldview
  • 19th century literature
  • 19th century fine arts 
  • French I Rosetta Stone
  • Awana Club
  • PSAT study-exam taken Oct 17, scored in the 98%ile, notification of recognees for National Merit Scholarship will be made in Sept 2013
  • Standardized test for Virginia homeschool requirements
  • SAT study
Books Read
  • Bible: Proverbs, Genesis, Deuteronomy, Ecclesiastes, Ezekial, Zephanaiah, Zechariah, Luke, Acts, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, I Peter
  • Henry Knox
  • The French Revolution
  • Lewis and Clark journals
  • Revolutionary America 1763-1815: A Political History by Frank Cogliano
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Diary of a Napoleonic Footsoldier
  • Napoleon Bonaparte by Vincent Cronin
  • The Napoleonic Wars by Gunther Rothenberg
  • Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heoric Campaign to End Slavery
  • Les Miserables
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Poetry of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron
  • The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage
  • Fireside Poets: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Cullen Bryant
  • Civil Disobedience
  • Fields of Fury by James McPherson
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Into the West by James McPherson
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Lizzie Stanton
  • Billy Budd, Sailor
  • Great Expectations
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Robert Browning
  • An Ideal Husband
  • The British Empire and Queen Victoria in World History
  • Heart of Darkness
Senior Year
  • Pre-Calculus (Teaching Textbooks) 
  • Latin III (Latin Road to English Grammar) 
  • Physics II (Apologia) 
  • 20th century history
  • 20th century government
  • 20th century literature 
  • 20th century fine arts 
  • Awana Club-Citation Award
Books Read
  • Bible: Joshua, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Esther, Job, Psalms, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Joel, John, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, II Thessalonnians, II Peter, Hebrews 
  • The Cherry Orchard
  • The Jungle
  • TR: The Last Romantic
  • The Metamorphosis
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The First World War
  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Second World War
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy 
  • Mere Christianity
  • Animal Farm
  • The Crucible
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • God's Smuggler
  • Waiting for Godot
  • The Glass Menagerie
  • 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War
  • Yeager by General Chuck Yeager (who broke the sound barrier) 
  • Born Again by Chuck Colson 
  • Under Fire: An American Story by Oliver North
  • To the Best of My Ability 
  • It Doesn't Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  • The Way Things Ought to Be
  • See, I Told You So

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hiking Around the First Battle of Manassas

Today we drove to Manassas Battlefield to do a bit of hiking. First we watched a movie in the visitor  center which was extremely well done and is perhaps my favorite of all the museum movies I've seen. It actually played like a movie, yet accurately reenacted the events of the soldiers and the civilians who lived on the very land that became a battlefield in July 1861.
After the movie we went to the paths behind the visitor center. There were two choices and I had no idea which path went where. We decided to do the First Battle of Manassas Trail which turned out being 5.5 miles long, circumferencing the land that encompassed the first battle of Manassas. A year later, the Second Battle of Manassas ocurred on surrounding land. Today that is a driving tour, whereas the First Battle tour is a walking tour. Now I know the other trail is much shorter.
We walked all 5.5 miles, skipping the Old Stone Bridge, thinking that was on the driving tour.  Now I know that's quite a hike in, so we might as well have added it on.