Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recycle, Reuse, Reinvent

The title of this post is supposed to make you sympathetic to the following request, before you even read it. :)

I'm trying to collect some old 100% wool sweaters, vests, etc. to "felt" and then turn into creative things. I happened to think that some of you just might have some old, possibly ratty, maybe ugly or out of style sweaters hanging around that you are anxious to clear out of your closets before Christmas arrives. If any of you (in my area) do happen to have some such things, I would be happy to relieve you of them so I can recycle, reuse, and reinvent with them. :)

One of the blogs I enjoy finding inspiration from is: . This site will give you an idea of some things that can be created from old wool items. Of course now you may find yourself wanting to hang onto those old garments, and create yourself.

And just in case you are worrying: No, I'm not implying that I have ever seen any of you wearing ugly or out of style sweaters!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Somebody Loves Grandpas Yogurt

Yes, my Dad makes yogurt. This is a new hobby of is, and we all love the results. Dad's yogurt comes out way better than mine.
Dad's is nice and thick like pudding, just perfect for spreading all over everything. My yogurt seems to jell, but it's never as thick.
And the amazing thing is, Dad does this on a little camp stove! His kitchen is in the process of being remodelled, so Dad stands over his little campstove, heating two gallons of milk at once! One week Dad made me some super yogurt out of cream. It was really thick! It seemed to be just like the creme fraiche we got in Scotland.

Once I feel up to making yogurt again, I'll have to follow Dad's very scientific procedure, and maybe mine will turn out better too. In the mean time, we'll just keep enjoying "Grandpa's Yogurt" whenever it makes its appearance.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in Pictures

My sister and brother-in-law hosted 19 of us for Thanksgiving on Thursday. It was a very special time in which we shared lots of great conversation, delicious food, tears of thankfulness, and even a few birthdays and an anniversary.
Here is a view of the pies, looking into the are where the tables were set up:

The tables were beautiful, and each person had a specialized name place created just for them

There were lots of appetizers to choose from:
Flowers were everywhere, thanks to Mom

The little Indians had their own table all to themselves

Here is a view of most of the feast. There were a few more dishes not shown on a lower table:

The highlight of the feast was Christine's smoked turkey breasts (which I somehow just deleted!). These are done on the grill and taste amazing!

One little, two little, three little Indians
And here is the whole family together. Christina's in-laws, and several other close friends were present, but we didn't get a picture of the whole group
Mom and Dad celebrated their 38th anniversary on Thanksgiving Day!
And here we are:
We saved dessert for later in the evening and had a special time of sharing what we were thankful for just before digging in.

This was an apple/rasberry pie that sounded delicious!
The pies were so pretty!
A Maple-Pecan tart that looked like it would melt in your mouth:
And the pumpkin cheesecake which is becoming more popular than pumpkin pie!
And here are the three cooks: Christina, Christine, and Emily. Thank you for a wonderful feast and a very special day together!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Remembering Helen

We arrived home from a very special Thanksgiving to find news that my dear friend, Helen, had passed away. I am relieved that Helen is out of her suffering, but I also will miss her very much.

Helen lived in Scotland and that is where I met her, through our church there. We soon became fast friends and the children and I spent many happy afternoons in her sitting room, visiting and drinking lots of tea. We always celebrated birthdays together. Here is a picture from Helen's birthday, a few months before we left Scotland:

For Andrew's last birthday in Scotland, Helen insisted on providing the cake since I was so busy with other things. She ordered a cake from her favorite bakery and it came complete with a car on top for Andrew. He loved it!

I always loved Helen's house. It was here that she spent most of her childhood, and all of her adult years. It was filled with family furniture and mementos. There was a walled garden out back, with plenty of large heather bushes, and, in the spring, beautiful bulbs in bloom.

Helen is the one who introduced me to the BBC Good Food magazine. Each month she would pass on to me her copy, which I always read through and saved. (I have a huge pile in my closet that I brought back with me). That magazine played a major role in my cooking development. Helen's cooking specialties were soups and chutneys. Our visits always included some sort of conversation about cooking.

Other favorite memories of Helen were the times I left the children at home and met up with Helen downtown. We started with a nice long cup of tea and a scone at the Goldroom and ended with a walk up into town -- sometimes stopping at a charity shop to see what treasure we might find, but always ending up at Donnie's for one or two groceries, and most often a sack of raisins and grapes for the children.

Saying goodbye to Helen was one of the things I dreaded most about leaving Scotland. Somehow I figured I might not see her again on this earth. We said goodbye, but we kept in touch, and spoke on the phone each week until Helen went into hospital.

A friendship like this is a special gift from God. One never knows when a "Helen" might be waiting just around the corner -- someone you meet for the first time and have no idea how special they will become. I thank the Lord for Helen and the blessing she was to our lives.

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book,
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


"It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,"

Psalm 92:1,2

With the events of this past year, I feel as though Thanksgiving has just a bit more meaning for me this time around. I have practically experienced God's steadfast love by day, and His faithfulness by night in His carrying me through the health struggles of the past months. It is with great thanksgiving that I offer my praise to God for His faithfulness.

I am also thankful for my dear family and friends who have prayed for me, encouraged me and helped out with children/meals/errands. An especial thanks to my husband Michael who has been the best of husbands, and done anything within his power to help me feel better.

I am thankful for the many material blessings that we enjoy each day as well, and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to being able to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with our extended family and enjoy the wonderful food. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Turning 7

Rachel is 7 today! Yesterday we had a little party with Grandma at teatime, and today Rachel has had quite a bit of fun: breakfast out with Dad, a shopping spree to Hobby Lobby with Auntie Em, lunch with presents, and leftover cake for tea! Here are some pictures:

During rest time Rachel and Andrew decided to surprise us by making party hats and writing names on paper napkins. Here are Grandma and Auntie Em, sporting their lovely hats!

And here are the insepparable buddies

Rachel helped Grandma make a plain cake which we filled with some cherry pie filling and iced with sweetened cream, tinted pink

The cake looked good!

Grandma Winslow came with a big sewing basket for Rachel. Grandma LeFebvre sent lots of fun things to go inside! Rachel has been busy ever since!

Michael let the two boys choose a gift for Rachel -- James chose to buy her a cell phone and Andrew chose to buy a doll from the "Loving Family" collection

Daddy found a beautiful necklace with a little turtle on it since Rachel is our little turtle, having been born in Turtle Creek, PA

And I can't resist adding this picture of Baby Cakes, who has been very grumpily trying to cut his top molars. Poor Baby!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thinking Christmas

Don't worry, I'm not beginning to decorate, or trying to hurry the Thanksgiving season away. In fact, I'm slightly annoyed with some my neighbors for ALREADY having a Christmas tree up inside their house or their Christmas garland and lights outside their house. It's far too early for that. But, it's not too early to be thinking about MAKING Christmas presents.

When we were little, we made just about ALL of our Christmas presents. I can remember making my Mom a necklace out of a single crochet chain and being so excited to give it to her that I couldn't wait until Christmas and let her have it early. :)

I also remember the year that I turned 11. That year I made little gifts for every member in our extended family, down to my Dad's five cousins, their spouses, and their children. The gifts were simple -- little wooden puzzles for the fathers, pincushions or painted hearts for the mothers, and sewn toys for the children. I spent months getting ready and emptied out the bottom drawer of my dresser to stash all these presents. I even remember enlisting my best friends to help me wrap! I have no idea how my mother managed to post everything away, but I remember being thanked by several members of the family, so they must have made it.

One year my Dad brought home a huge bag and wouldn't let us look in it. He explained it all to Mom who then locked herself in our schoolroom for many nights. All we could hear was the faint whirr of the sewing machine, and we could only try to guess what was going on. Christmas morning greeted us each with a beautiful, large, rag doll, complete with an adorable outfit. We loved those dolls!

Other years we kids made cards, potholders, tea cozies; once we made a look-alike American Girl Doll complete with a whole wardrobe of clothes, a wooden bed and accessories for my sister who was longing to own Samantha.

Being confined pretty much to home this year, and without the pressure of outside engagements, my thoughts have turned again to making presents. I suggested to Rachel the other day that she might want to make some stacks of cards for presents. She immediately set to work, and before the day was done, she had at least 3 piles, neatly tied with satin ribbon. I can't say what my mind has been brainstorming, lest I spoil some surprises, but I'm having fun dreaming. We'll see what turns into reality.

The picture at the top shows the stockings I sewed the first Christmas we lived in Scotland. I boldly asked for scraps at the local tailor's and pieced together three stockings from the results. They are not stunning, but they were creative for what I had.

And so I am looking forward to extending the Thanksgiving season just a bit longer, and am not planning to decorate for Christmas until sometime in the first week of December, but in the mean time I'll enjoy my little secret thoughts about Christmas and what I might be able to make.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pictures from the Week

I am now "officially" taking visitors, and these beautiful flowers came in the arms of one such person. They are so pretty, and I'm enjoying them so much.

Decorations on the table

I've been starting to make dinner again! And this week I helped with Sunday lunch. Most of the cooking was done by Emily (my sister who lives with us), but I got the pork roast into the crockpot. It was a lovely meal -- we dumped apples and onions and some peach/ginger jam and a few green chilies and some salsa onto the meat and let it cook away.

Our little secret is putting a frozen roast in the crockpot and letting it cook on low overnight. It's worked everytime and there is no more fussing about getting something thawed at the right time.

These mums came from a friend in memory of Michael's Grandmother. They look perfect in our living room, and make it feel more like Fall.

A gaggle of turkeys appeared on the kitchen table the other day when Grandma was here. She and the kids made about 25 of these cute little birds which will serve as place markers for our Thanksgiving feast. I thought they were extremely clever!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I was reading a storybook to the children the other evening about Squanto and was moved nearly to tears by the suffering and struggles this man went through during his life. He is the Indian who came to the aid of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts and taught them what they needed to know in order to survive. I guess what touched me was that all those years of hardship and sadness were not useless -- they were equipping Squanto and situating him so that he would be prepared to save the lives of the English settlers.

For those of you, who, like me, may have forgotten Squanto's story, here is a brief rundown:
  • Squanto was born and raised in Massachusetts
  • He was captured by explorers and taken to England where he worked for 9 years and learned English. Eventually he made it back to his own people in America
  • He was captured a second time by other explorers and taken to the slave market in Malaga, Spain
  • He was rescued from the slave market by friars who showed kindness to Squanto and eventually helped him get to England and look for a way home
  • When Squanto finally returned home he found every last member of his tribe had been wiped out by disease; he was forced to find refuge in a neighboring tribe
  • He then discovered the Pilgrims, living on the very land where he had grown up. He decided to befriend them and taught them all they needed to know in order to survive.

The Pilgrims must have been astounded to find an Indian who spoke English, understood their ways, and was willing to be their friend. I suppose our nation owes much to this man whose suffering brought life to so many.

The kids and I are enjoying reading about Columbus, Jamestown, and the Pilgrims. We're following a history textbook, but making use of all the books we can order from the library. And, it just so happens that Thanksgiving is around the corner. The children will be well-educated just in time to participate in a day where history meets the present. We, too, have much to be thankful for this year.

Photo courtesy of Karen Reyburn

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I went to Walmart today, for the first time in over three months! Michael took me to look into getting my eye glasses changed. I must say, it felt like a very monumental event.

As I walked through the front doors, it was almost as if I was moving in slow motion, walking onto center stage in an epic film. I felt as if everything around me should stop, the background music reach a great crescendo, and I should burst into song: "I'm back!"

In reality, no one noticed anything out of the ordinary. In fact, no one really noticed my existence except for a cheerful man in a wheelchair with whom I exchanged a big smile. But I was noticing everything -- I didn't care if it was only Walmart, I was re-entering the WORLD!

I can remember feeling this unique set of emotions once before -- when we moved back from Scotland to the United States. Flying home on that last flight I was once again "re-entering" and I felt then, too, that everyone should realize: "I'm an American and I'm moving HOME!" But, once again, it was a private moment that no one knew of.

However, my kids are beginning to feel Mommy's presence again. Hopefully, it is mostly to their happiness, but I'm sure it is not exactly fun to be having a more scheduled "clean up" time, or a mother that is more present to sort out disagreements. :)

Here's a picture of Rachel and Andrew playing dentist the other day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Baby Cakes

I had a long play time with Baby Cakes the other day and decided to take some pictures:

"Mom, do you really have to take pictures?"

"How about we play with the stool?"

"I'm not really into this"

"Let's talk on the phone"

"Here's my chubby tummy"

"I'm just going to try to hide my smile"

"Hmmmm.... what should I do next?"


"I'm going to stay right here"

"Okay, I can't not smile any longer"