Sunday, February 28, 2016

Attending the Marco Rubio Rally at Patrick Henry College

With Super Tuesday on the horizon, we were thrilled to find out that we could see Marco Rubio at a rally at my son's college, Patrick Henry College! We had never attended a rally before for a presidential hopeful. Since we live so close, we simply had to attend! The air was full of electricity. The crowds were enormous. Everything ran smoothly, like clockwork. My son took the following pictures...

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shabby Chic Additions

For Christmas...yes I know, I'm still quite a bit behind on my blog, but her birthday is coming and then there will be more additions so now is the time to catch up. =) So anyway, for Christmas, my goal was to collect a few more shabby chic items for my daughter's room. It's quite small. It's grown up in the last few months from being a little girl room, to that of a busy collegiate. In fact it's the room of a super de-duper busy collegiate! It's often quite a mess because what is a gal to do with all of those books and papers and, well, everything...when time is at a premium, as well as space? Alas, no major room shots yet. But her room is looking more refined, despite the collegiate clutter. To that end, my goal was to collect a few additions that would help to tame the chaos and chic up the space. =)

One of those goals was to find a shabby chic nightstand with storage. I drove all over NoVA but couldn't find anything shabby chic...until one afternoon two days before Christmas. My daughter and I were out Christmas shopping and stopped by TJ Maxx, where I had been a few times already that week. Well, while walking down one of the aisles...there it was! Super cheap too! My daughter loved it! Since she already knew what she was getting for Christmas, I had fun wrapping it with some decorative ribbon that I had to make it look like a candy cane.  

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After Christmas we finally found the perfect shabby chic lamp for a great price. Here it is on the new nightstand.
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The top corner was damaged, but that's okay. It's shabby chic! It was worth it for the inexpensive price. Less than $50. I forget the exact amount now. But it is totally shabby chic...and already painted white. My daughter was glad she wouldn't have to paint this one white, like she did the rest of the furniture last summer! There is storage so that allows a chance to hide away another one of her piles to let the room neaten up some  more. Her previous nightstand, also shabby chic, was completely open, so everything looked messy. There's even a drawer at the bottom. 
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She also got new knobs from Hobby Lobby for her jewelry chest that she painted last summer.
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We agonized over the scrumptious selection of knobs before we finally settled on these!
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Another gift from Hobby Lobby was this curio cabinet for her to store her pretty bits and pieces...mostly tea sets.

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This lavender one is from Monticello.
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This tea set is from Colonial Williamsburg.
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We went to Hobby Lobby in January where she asked for a few new shabby chic decorative items for her birthday, which will be in a few weeks. So stay tuned for those!

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Perfect Desk for my Son

My son seriously needed a new desk. A few years ago he outgrew the one he had had for years. Now that he has a laptop it's not much of an issue to him, but it was to me. He had numerous items scattered about the house and every time I asked him to put them away he said he had nowhere to put them. When I assessed the situation, I realized they were mostly desk type items, so I decided to buy a desk for him for his birthday.

That was last October. We combined gift monies from the grandparents with ours to make this happen. While he was at work I drove all over town and then I came home and scanned the internet. The ideal desk was not to be found. Most were too expensive. Few had room to spread out (my kids tend to take after me in that department). I didn't want drawers where things would get lost in a mass of accumulated clutter. The types of things my son had scattered throughout the house needed a certain type of desk that either did not exist, or we could not afford. Although my husband could have made a desk, that would cost a lot of money too. Also I wanted this to be quick and easy because it was just time to make a home for all the clutter.

Therefore my research on-line led me to do even more driving in NoVA, because not all stores report what they have in stock either on-line or in the physical stores. However after much agony I finally located 2 sets of cubicle shelves of a perfect size and color. I got them at Target at two different stores. Apparently they are being discontinued and and are no longer listed on-line. The tabletop came from Lowes in the raw wood section. It's a lovely piece of Aspen. We also purchased a can of stain to match the color of the cubicle shelves. I thought my son could quickly stain the top himself.

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I got creative with the wrapping.The long board wrapped in blue in back was the table top. The two blue packages in front were the shelving in boxes. One of the bags contained the stain. I forgot what I put in the other bags.

I meant to take lots of process photos but my son whisked everything away and I missed all the action!

My son quickly assembled the cubicle shelves and set them up in his room. We got rid of his old desk. His bits and pieces came up to his room, and I think he actually threw some of it away. Then he worked forever on the desk top. He used all the finesse and skills he's learned over the years from the cabinet makers at Colonial Williamsburg. He purchased some ultra fine grit sandpaper and has so far put on several coats of stain, sanding in between each application. The tabletop is beautifully sleek and smooth!The sheen is hard to capture with a camera but it's more like a fine piece of furniture than the relatively inexpensive products I purchased. Of course the shelving is merely particle board, but the aspen desk top is a piece of art.

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Finally he had to go off to college, so he temporarily assembled the entire desk so it would at least look nice for all the months he'd be away at college.

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A few weeks ago we lost power upstairs in the master bedroom and my daughter's room. Because the wiring took a few days to fix, my daughter moved into her brother's room to study. She loved the desk. She loved spreading out and having room for her legs! When the wiring was finally fixed she regretfully moved back to her room.

I asked her last year if she'd mind us spending Christmas money on a new desk for her. She said that she did not want a new desk. Now that she's had a chance to experience her brother's desk, and since her birthday is coming, I asked her if she'd mind us spending her birthday money on a new desk, similar to her brother's, but in white. She heartily agreed. So stay tuned for that!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hiding? or Being Bold?

I was a bit surprised, recently, to hear a pastor say that Christians retreat due to fear from the world in many ways...one of which is by homeschooling.

What?

The Christians I know do not retreat or hide from the world...especially homeschoolers. In fact Christian homeschoolers are some of the bravest people I know because simply making the choice to homeschool more often brings criticism, not only from the world, but also sometimes from extended family, neighbors, local schools, and even sometimes the church.

I mentioned this comment on facebook. My homeschool friends from around the world, one of whom is my cousin, had this to say:

"I think it's such a stereo-type to assume homeschoolers are hermits, hiding from the world." -Rachel in Germany

"Homeschoolers are out in the world on a daily basis. There are many many reasons to homeschool. The fact that we are Christians doesn't factor into our homeschooling decision." -Janelle in Nebraska

"It seems that some believe that when building a hedge of protection, it must be made out of concrete and a mile high. It isn't true. Just yesterday, someone asked my son whether he felt isolated from social interactions. He replied, "No, I'm sitting here talking with you, right?" (said while this young man in his senior year was working out at the gym) -Dawn in Indiana

"I don't agree at all. My family engaged with the world much more deeply and in more meaningful ways when we became homeschoolers. We had more time to volunteer, so we all got more involved with people in need in our community and actually got to know some of them as friends. We had more time to worship God and serve at church. We learned to have discernment in what we allowed into our lives as far as music, movies, books, etc., but getting rid of all of the junk and twaddle in our entertainment diet left room for wholesome influences. So I'd say that we learned to engage with the very best people and ideas in the world, and that honors God and ourselves. If that's "hiding" from the world, maybe everyone should hide from it."  -Jennifer in Michigan

"Fear from the world"? Really? I have much greater fear of God if I disobey this conviction he placed upon my family. And I consider it a healthy exercise to ensure that my homeschoolers are well prepared to live in this world without my protection before they graduate.
Other words fail me at the moment..."
-Tiffani in Virginia


"If it's done from fear that fear can hamper things. We didn't choose from fear rather we had too much logic in our heads to leave our kid at K all day just to take an afternoon nap." -Brenda in Wisconsin

"There's a vast difference between doing something out of fear and doing it because you have concerns about the negative influences and want to PROTECT. I'm not afraid of the frost, but I protect my plants from it. I'm not afraid of the sun but I protect my skin from it. A desire to protect your children isn't the same as fear. We are motivated by love and concern, and conviction. Desiring to obey God isn't fear, either." -Caroline in England

"It takes dedication, faith, 24/7 to homeschooling, you can't hide or be afraid, your children are at stake and that's the most important thing. Who loves them more, who wants them to succeed more, no one but you!!!" -Lisa in Virginia

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Living in the Era of Postmodernism

One of the books that I've read in the last few months is Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture by Gene Edward Veith. Every historic era has a predominate worldview, which defines the culture, the history, the literature, the philosophy, the fine arts, the way the people make decisions, etc, etc, etc. In fact the book that I reviewed last week, The Universe Next Door by James Sire,  details these facts by covering the many facets of major worldviews over the course of history. In the chapter on the Postmodern Era, Sire in fact references Veith's book on postmodernism.

I have had the opportunity to meet Dr. Veith several times (although he wouldn't remember me because I have sat as an attentive listener in his audience) in my frequent visits to my son's college where Dr. Veith has spent many years teaching literature. While in the college bookstore one day my eyes caught this title about postmodernism by Dr. Veith. Curiosity drove me to purchase it because I knew how nebulous the postmodern era was to nail down, as Sire mentioned in his own book. Furthermore, I know that the better we as Christians, and especially homeschoolers, understand our world, the better we can properly respond to these present times.

Last autumn I read Veith's book, Postmodern Times. It was so clearly written and heavily documented that I thought I'd share this book as recommended reading for any Christian as well as any homeschool parent.

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Veith clarifies that there is a difference between the words postmodern and postmodernism.  The -ism changes the root word incredibly. Whereas the Postmodern Era is a timeframe in which we all currently live,  postmodernism is the set of ideas that characterize this present age in everything from art, movies/plays, and literature, all of which influences the people, which in turn influences the government...which eventually becomes the history of the era that people of the future will look back on.


In short, postmodernism defines truth as being relative and has no moral absolutes. After detailing these concepts in full, Veith discusses the shift in worldview from previous eras of romanticism, Marxism, fascism and existentialism to the current one of postmodernism. Therefore Veith's book provides a window into further understanding past worldviews as contrasted with our current one.

Why is all of this important? Let's take some commonly understood concepts from the more traditional past and look at how they relate to the present concepts of postmodernism...as quoted from Veith's book :

"Since there is no objective truth, history may be rewritten according to the needs of a particular group." p50

"The traditional academic world operated by reason, study, and research; postmodernist academia is governed by ideological agendas, political correctness, and power struggles." p58

Why is the traditional being so quickly exchanged for postmodernist thought? In part due to the change in information gathering:

Neil Postman has shown how a society's information media affect the very way its people think. Reading a 300-page book demands sequential thinking, active mental engagement, and a sustained attention span. Reading also encourages a particular sense of self-one reads in private, alone with oneself and with one's thoughts. Watching television, on the other hand, presents information rapidly and with minimal effort on the part of the viewer, who becomes part of a communal mass mind. Visual images are presented, rapid-fire, with little sense of context or connection. p81

In short our brains are becoming rewired and quite subtly in many ways. Therefore Veith analyzes...both good and bad...the visual arts, performance arts, architecture, malls and theme parks, TV, movies, literature, etc in our postmodern world, analyzing the traditional ideas that remain v. the ideas of postmodernism that have emerged.


Then Veith examines postmodernism from our viewpoint as American citizens who participate in a representative republic established by our Founding Fathers: "Today postmodernist legal theory teaches that the Constitution is not a document setting forth absolute principles, but an organism that must be continually reinterpreted as society involves." p167

Next Veith analyzes postmodernism in our everyday world: business, a new social class, science, medicine, education, social policy, global environment, and religion..."Postmodernism shapes our lifestyles, the way we make a living, how we educate our children, and how we approach our personal problems and those of society." p175

Finally he addresses how to take a stand and live in a postmodern world...whether "to go along with the times or to counter them" p230 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cooking for George Washington's Birthday...and Remembering Lafayette

Since today was George Washington's birthday according to the Gregorgian calendar (he was born on February 11 on the Julian calendar) I decided to plan our dinner menu around a cookbook from Mount Vernon, Dining with the Washingtons. This is a lovely book full of gorgeous photography from Mount Vernon, the history of the food grown, cooked, and enjoyed at Mount Vernon, and reciepts (recipes) based on the 18th century originals.

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I kept the dinner menu simple due to a busy day, but everything came together easily. The receipts I chose were based on what I primarily had in the pantry.

First we enjoyed Green Peas Soup, without Meat. Not only is this receipt based on colonial cooking with its varied spices from the Far East like mace and cloves, but it also reflected the cooking style of France with the addition of spinach and eggs. Their is an entire cultural history of this in the cookbook. I did alter the receipt a bit, primarily to reduce the number of steps while retaining the flavor. I also added a bit of coconut cream at the end to loosen the soup while adding a bit of lusciousness...which I didn't think would be breaking too many 18th century rules (the cream part would have been used...but not the coconut, but that is what was in the pantry).   The receipt can even be found at the Mount Vernon website.

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For the main course I made Chicken Fricassee, which of course is another French dish that is also colonial. Fricassee basically means "French stew with white sauce." The colonial aspect came from, once again, the varied inclusion of spices like mace and nutmeg, as well as egg yolks. Egg yolks were used to help thicken the gravy and gives it a  lovely consistency.  I also made a few changes to this receipt, mainly to simplify the cooking process while keeping the colonial flavor. 
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For dessert I made Lafayette Gingerbread. Although the dessert is entirely colonial, with spices from the Far East and even orange juice, it was named after the French general and friend of America. It is said that while Lafayette was visiting his adopted father, George Washington in 1784, he also paid a visit to Washington's mother in Fredericksburg, Mary Ball Washington. She reportedly served Lafayette this very gingerbread. In honor of the beloved friend of the Washington family...and America, the colonial cake was named after the Marquis de Lafayette. I adjusted this recipe as well, primarily the cooking order of ingredients, since what they call for didn't work well for good baking chemistry. =) This receipt can also be found at the Mount Vernon website.
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For some more versions of this gingerbread, see this which has an expanded set of ingredients including raisins and brandy.

Resources:

https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/washington/

http://shops.mountvernon.org/dining-with-the-washingtons.html

http://www.mountvernon.org/recipes/green-peas-soup/

http://maryballwash.umwblogs.org/fredericksburg/

http://www.mountvernon.org/recipes/lafayette-gingerbread/

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/too-many-cooks/2013/dec/06/mary-ball-washington-mother-george-was-known-her-gingerbread/

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cooking Pam, Linoleum, Cardboard...and Sledding in the Snow

Being Texans, my kids and I have conjured various images of sledding that we finally got to experience our first winter in Virginia. That winter we had about 4 major snow storms that left a wonderfully knee to thigh deep thickness of snow on the hill beside our house. How incredible to merely step outside and begin sledding? Except we didn't have any sleds. Everyone told us not to expect much snow, that Virginia wouldn't get any more snow than we ever did in San Antonio. Oh my that was an understatement! However I did believe them so when we got one big snow I thought that would be our once in a lifetime chance at sledding. Little did we know there would be numerous more snowstorms not only that year but in the years to come! However that first winter we were lacking sleds...and so were the stores. We asked my Upstate New York hubby for sledding ideas but he didn't seem too interested. So I asked all my girlfriends in our homeschool yahoo group and they were fantabulous to give me a gazillion ideas! Because the local stores were lacking in sleds the kids and I dug around the house for various accoutrements including:

...plastic tubs  and their lids which resulted in this response to my friends (links at the dates with pictures of our feeble and sometimes successful attempts...all hilarious!):
"The kids are out on their second round of learning how to have fun in the snow. This morning was a comedy of errors, I think because it is dry snow. I was busy with a few things and when I went out to check, they couldn't sled on a plastic lid because it sunk in the snow. Oh, I forgot to tell them to pack the snow down. They had some trouble. It was hilarious watching them trying to pull each other on the lid to pack down the snow.  They went nowhere.  Then they came in for cocoa and lunch  and threw things into the dryer. We were brainstorming and my son said he would stand on the lid and stomp on it and move it down the hill to make a path. Then he said he wanted to make a lip for the lid to shovel the snow out of the way, because the lid kept running into the drifts.  So I told him to just use the tub that went with the lid." 12-19-09

...then plastic trays and inflatable inner tubes which resulted in this reply to my friends:

"...we have well over foot of snow and it's still heavily snowing. Dry snow. The kids have finally packed down a path and they  still can't get a homemade sled to go downhill. I feel so sad for
them. They'll likely never see this much snow at once again. We have  broken all snowfall records for December." 12-19-09

That resulted in  many tips to enhance the laws of physics which resulted in major experimentation! My son loves physics so he was totally up to the challenge! After trying candle wax, wax paper, Pam, and various other slick stuff upon our various collected assortments, we discovered that the previous homeowner had left excess linoleum in the basement storage closet...

"Today we used linoleum and I went the furthest and fastest! That was fun! After I went indoors to finish dinner, the linoleum ripped in half.  My son is now making a new sled for tomorrow, out of various materials y'all mentioned. Also they made caves." 12-20-09

"My son's new sled was great...too fast on the sled run that has become bumpy. This sled is made from a plastic lid on top of cardboard wrapped in a garbage bag and secured with packing tape from front to back. Thanks for all those tips!  The sled run was nice and smooth yesterday but now it's bumpy and makes for wild rides. How do we smooth it out?" 12-21-09

We have since acquired sleds that we finally put to use last month (link forthcoming after I post that story....and our caves have gotten bigger and fancier (when my son is at home to build them).

But first I wanted to share a fun story by Jeff Wilkin for The Daily Gazette from Upstate New York...the yearly Cardboard Cruisers event! Sleds are mainly comprised of cardboard and tape. They are formed in various creative shapes such as my personal favorite, the Millennium Falcon! Here's my favorite rule for the race..."finishers must be in their sleds at the finish line-rather than chasing the sled or being chased by the sled at the conclusion of the race."

Here is the link to a video of the race at Mt. Sabattis.  My favorite part is watching the storm troopers and jedi knights with light sabers sled down the mountain in their Millennium Falcon. You know, I never really considered adding the wearing of our costumes to the element of sledding. Hmmm...

I am truly a fan of creativity, family involvement and gatherings of friends far and wide...and especially costumes! This event gets an A+ from me!

Monday, February 15, 2016

An 18th Century President's Day Dinner

After 6-7" of snow fell today, ice began to descend. Here's a peak at the 18th century inspired Ha-Ha Wall across the street.

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Since I was snowed in today, I got to spend some time cooking 18th century style for President's Day!
Because 4 of our first 5 presidents ate at Williamsburg taverns, I decided to plan our dinner menu around food that would have been familiar to them. Fortunately I have The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook, which reflects the food served in the historic area taverns today.

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Tonight I happened to notice what the actual cookbook looks like without its book jacket. Ooooo, I like the 18th century look so much more!

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George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and  James Monroe all spent much time in Williamsburg before they became presidents, mostly as burgesses from their representative districts before the American Revolution. James Monroe was a student at the College of William and Mary right before the revolution broke.

Many of these recipes reflect not only foods that were grown, raised or hunted in the Tidewater but also the numerous spices that arrived through the Far Eastern trade via Britain, known as mercantilism

I confess I altered most of these recipes, to either lighten up the dish or to add more flavor with Far Eastern spices. We're from Texas so we like more flavor!

Tonight I cooked the following recipes from the cookbook:
  • East India Company Fried Chicken-I only lightly fried it but kept it super crispy, with my personal choice of spices: white pepper, black pepper, and chipotle pepper. It was a hit!
  • Peanut Soup from King's Arm Tavern-I confess that I don't like this soup as it's typically served in Virginia, thick and pasty. I keep mine light but flavorful with the addition of some chipotle pepper. I also used beef broth which I like better than the chicken, so it's not so bland in appearance. I also like to garnish it with green onions...but we didn't have any and we were being iced in after snowfall. My husband has claimed the left overs for his lunches this week. He loves this soup. I've read that George Washington was a fan of this soup as well. 
  • Toss Salad with Walnut Dressing-This was actually a recipe for the dressing. I used olive oil and added walnuts, preferring that to the oils mentioned in the recipe. It was nice to have a touch of crunch in the salad. It also reflects in a fun way one of the many legends about George Washington, that he could crack walnuts with his knuckles. I have met Mr. Washington in person many times (through the wonderful Colonial Williamsburg interpreter). One President's Day weekend someone asked him about cracking walnuts with his knuckles to which Mr. Washington replied that he most unfortunately and regrettably cracked open walnuts with his teeth
  • Carrots Glazed with Two Gingers-I made this recipe as written with some crystallized ginger I have purchased at Tarpleys, one of the historic shops of Colonial Williamsburg. I'd like to top these with chives from my garden, that I originally purchased from the Colonial Williamsburg Nursery. However at the time they were under snow and ice.

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We followed dinner, which we all enjoyed, with Peanut Pie from Chownings Tavern! We've actually eaten this at Chownings Tavern, our absolutely favorite dessert from the historic area! The only change I made was that the only fat I used in the crust was butter.

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As good as the savories were for dinner, the best part was dessert. Ohhhhh, it brought back great memories. So peanutty.

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These recipes and more reflect the many food offerings of the taverns of Colonial Williamsburg: Chownings Tavern, Shields Tavern, The King's Arms Tavern, and Christiana Campbell's Tavern. The recipes are easy to cook with modern day ingredients and instructions. I highly recommend it! This cookbook is a practical souvenir for guests of Colonial Williamsburg, who are hungry for some tasty 18th century memories but live too far away to eat at one of the taverns.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines

Kisses from some of my favorite sea lions...from back when we lived next to Sea World San Antonio. Of course season passes were a must and the sea lion show was our favorite.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

A Review of The Universe Next Door

When I homeschooled my kids, we studied the history of the world from the beginning of time to the present along with the literature that was written at that time, the fine arts that were created at that time, and the government structure of that time. There were studies into the science and math of the era as well. Studying each of our subjects within context of each other magnified our learning to such an extent, that even when my kids were upper elementary and junior high, the worldview of each culture we studied was easily discernible. I was grateful for all the classical homeschool education books I read that encouraged this endeavor. Classical education revolutionized our homeschooling.


A great resource for digging deeper into worldview is The Universe  Next Door by James W. Sire, which my son learned was a favorite resource of one of his professors at Patrick Henry College. Some classical homeschoolers might be familiar with another book Sire wrote, How to Read Slowly.

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What is worldview? Sire gives a complex definition that he "unpacks" through the chapters of his book. To me, to simplify things quite a bit, it's the predominate driving force that characterizes eras of history. We are in one right now, the Postmodern Era, which thinks quite differently from any of the previous eras like the Enlightenment Era, or even the Theistic Era. Because these ideas drove the thinking of the time, when we look at the historical events, the literature written at that time, and the art that is produced, they have a common theme, or worldview.

Sire's "unpacking" of worldview throughout his book is highly recommended reading. It becomes an effective tool for high school students (and older) to discern not only history, but also our present world. After defining terms, Sire explores each of the predominant worldviews typically studied:
  • Christian Theism
  • Deism
  • Naturalism
  • Nihilism
  • Existentialism
  • Eastern Pantheistic Monism
  • The New Age
  • Postmodernism

Sire ends the book with application to our own "examined life."

I've blogged about some of these worldviews before, in the context of some of our history and literature studies. I will be sharing more in the future, especially in how it relates to government in order to magnify our understanding of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Good Cooking?

Once upon a time I was enormously organized in the kitchen. I could easily write a shopping list based on a menu that I quickly wrote based off of favorite recipes that I could easily find. Our menu actually varied with favorites and new recipes.

Then somehow my reading frugality books sort of short circuited my organization. I started cooking more from the pantry based on whatever inexpensive items I could find at the store to whittle down our budget. Also I started cooking more from scratch in an effort to be more frugal and more healthy. Then I got  busy with homeschooling.  Very busy.

For some reason now when I sit to do my menu now, I can't make up my mind. I'm usually in a hurry. I can't find recipes. I usually tally how many meals I need to plan for then shop for whatever main ingredients that are on sale that I can cook, with no complete menu in mind. That isn't as frugal as it could be. I'd like to be more frugal and more organized and more efficient with my time.

When it's time to cook I usually look at my time, pull out some meat to thaw, and then I look through cookbooks. I might find something fun to cook, but I don't have all the ingredients I need. Sometimes I run to the local store to buy the lacking ingredients, but most often I devise my own recipe based on the original with only the ingredients that I have available. The latter approach, which I resort to most often, reminds me of Chopped! on Food Network. Every meal is like opening a Chopped! basket to see how creative I can get with the ingredients I have on hand.

I'd actually like to be more purposeful than that. However whenever I plan a specific menu, it usually fails. On the days that I plan to cook a meal that requires long cooking, the days end up falling on days when I have little cooking time, so I end up changing the menu plan, and eventually the entire menu for the week falls apart.

In the summer I often plan  meals that I cook on the grill...which doesn't work so well when we get the typical summer afternoon thunderstorm. It's just not the same to cook indoors. I try to have plan A and plan B ready, one for grilling and one for kitchen cooking. 

Sometimes the creativity that I make is pretty good, but I forget to write it down. So the flavors are forever lost. Then the family laments.

In the end, cooking hasn't been as fun as it used to be. Yet it's the one activity I do each day that perhaps benefits the family, and budget, the most.

Wow! I didn't really expect to write all that out. It all seems so silly. Yet my cooking is quite haphazard. I'd like it to be more purposeful, even when I need to be flexible.

Along with all those goals, I'd also like to learn more about the cooking process. Over the years I've collected Alton Brown cookbooks! I never even heard of him until one night when I stumbled upon his imaginative tv show, Good Eats. Sadly, the show canceled a few months later.  At least I have his books, and they are funny! And informative! I've flipped through them. I've read through them. Now I want to seriously study and learn from them. How many times have I gotten stuck with a poor skill set in the kitchen? Also, how much more creative could my Chopped! baskets pantry become if I had a few scientific food facts in my repertoire?

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Another goal is to write out new favorite recipes that are lost in all these cookbooks I've purchased at the used bookstore onto recipe cards. Many times I've wanted to make something but I don't remember where the recipe came from.

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I've got to renew a habit I used to do. In the evenings, before my heavy duty sewing days, I used to peruse cookbooks on a regular basis. Then on a notecard I jotted down the names of intriguing recipes I wanted to try, with the page number. Then when I was menu planning, I could merely glance at the cards to see what I was in the mood for, or even what might fit a certain season or holiday. Now my evening tv time is usually spent hand sewing or blogging or reading/researching, so my plan is to be more diligent when I eat breakfast or lunch. It's usually a quiet time for me, with everyone else busy with work or college. I often flip through the cookbooks and drool over yummy looking stuff...but now I need to update these cards for future reference. Also I want to review them more often, so I remember what I want to do when I want to do it.

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A habit I've fairly well kept up with is organizing magazine clipped recipes.

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Once recipes are clipped from magazines or printed from on-line, I organize them in categories, including one for "to type"...the yellow tab in front...where I couldn't make up my mind! In the front I store the recipes waiting to be categorized.

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Eventually they will be either handwritten on a notecard or typed...via a computer program. Years ago, when I was super organized, I used MasterCook. I think my copy is obsolete now. Anyway I found this box at a gift shop in Gruene, Texas and bought it specifically for my recipes.

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I color coded with my various index cards by food type: carbs, protein, dessert, fruits and veggies.

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So that's a tour of my kitchen. I might share some of the results as I make progress!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Retro Pattern Notecards

A couple of months ago my cousin thought of me while she was shopping. Knowing how much I enjoy sewing clothing of the past, she decided to send  me a box of note cards that took me back to my childhood, specifically the 1970's. They look groovy!

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I loved how the designer and manufacturer filled every space with iconic elements of sewing. Even the edge of the box represents a measuring tape. Can you dig it?
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The envelopes, front and back, are just too cool! Can you imagine the mail man's face when he delivers these?
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Psyche! Did you think these were real patterns? The front of each note card represents the front of a McCalls pattern. The back represents the back of the pattern. The inside of the card is blank. This is my favorite one. I wouldn't mind recreating the red dress...but I don't actually have the pattern. Nevertheless I love it with that black collar and scarf.
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I've worn the sleeveless versions of these blouses! Dig it?
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Dude... This pattern reminds me of Laurie Partridge and Marcia Brady! I actually had a dress like the blue one, but sleeveless. It was too warm in Texas to bother with sleeves too often. It was easier to throw on a sweater as needed. My version was a really cute white background with a sort of brown plaid (not really  plaid but it was large, and not really check...not sure how to describe it) and a wide soft pink ribbon where the pleats met the body of the dress. I'm not sure if I have a photo of that or not but I must have been 4 when that photo was taken.
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Oh my. I don't think I ever met any cool cats in the 1970's who dressed like this. I saw actors on tv who wore them, but I never knew anyone in real life who dressed like this.
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Do you have a favorite? Have you or anyone you know worn any of these?
Cya later alligator!