Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't Miss My Lilla Rose Give Away

Apron Strings & other things has set up housekeeping in a new place and there a good things going on over there.


This week I'm giving away a Flexi Clip (or winner's choice) from Lilla Rose. Click on over to learn the details and enter to win!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Things are Happening!


Apron Strings & other things has a new home!
Click on the button below and you'll be transported to my new site:

I'll be sharing there just as I have been here, and hoping to stretch and grow and offer more. I hope you'll pop over and have a look around. Be sure to bookmark the new web address and sign up in the little subscribe window so you don't miss a thing. 

See you there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekly Menu - 4/22 to 4/28

Can you hear it? All that noise? No? 
Ok. Never mind. It's just all those crazy ideas and things to do and appointments to keep that are clunking around in my head. 
Thanks to my menu planning last week things went much more smoothly, all because I took the time to make a plan, jot it down and post it in a handy place. 
The family was happier, too. They had half-way healthy and filling meals to enjoy!

The high light meal last week was not one of my home-cooked meals, though. It had to be Dad's birthday dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

A real treat because:
  1. It was Dad's birthday
  2. We rarely eat out, especially at a nice wait-to-be-seated-let-me-take-your-order kind of restaurant
  3. All our (nearby) children were able to join us (though we missed our not nearby children!)
We followed up dinner with birthday cake and ice cream - of course.
I whipped up this 
Devil's Food Layer Cake w/ 7minute Frosting 
 for my Sweetie's Birthday

As for this week's menu, after taking inventory of what's available in the pantry and freezer, I see we still have sufficient resources to put together meals for the 8 of us. Yay! 

Monday --  Enchiladas
Tuesday -- Scalloped Potatoes w/ Ham
Wednesday -- Venison Stew
Thursday --  KOTO (Kids On Their Own, Date Night!)
Friday -- Chicken Sandwiches (Mom is shopping all day, not going to be up to making big pizzas for everyone)
Saturday --  Black Beans w/ Tortilla Chips and Fixin's (Mom will be cooking all day, not going to be up to making a big meal for everyone)
Sunday -- Potato/Sausage Bake (in CrockPot)

And before I sign off, I'll share a couple of snapshots from our big birthday dinner.

me and the birthday boy
our little 'party' took up nearly half the dining room!

Now I'm off to jot down a few those items clanking around in my head. Much better to see them on my To-Do list than to have them cluttering up my thoughts.

What's on your to-do list this week? What will you be serving your family? I'd love to hear! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Finding Joy in Dirty Laundry

Not everyone knows this, but my laundress left me in February. I know, I know, life is tough. But I'm getting over it. Really. 


Let me explain - After My Girl Caitlin finished her high school work, she took over laundry duties for our family. It freed me up to get other things done, like schooling her younger siblings, getting meals on the table, etc. 
And then she went off and got herself married! 
And so I took back laundry duties. To my surprise, I've actually enjoyed this mundane task. 

And here are 10 reasons why, in no particular order:  
  1. Sorting laundry is an activity that keeps the hands busy while leaving the brain free to think. Have a problem to solve? sort laundry. Have an attitude to correct? sort laundry. Have a decorating dilemma? sort laundry. You get the idea.
  2. Laundry Day is the perfect time to get set up for the Great Seasonal Switch-Over. Those heavy winter sweaters and fleece lined jackets are now clean and folded and ready for winter storage.
  3. Along with the seasonal clothing changes comes the time to weed out clothing that no longer fits. When I find myself washing that t-shirt so-and-so refuses to give up even though there's a gap above the waistband of his bluejeans, I can stealthily slip it into the donate pile, and then don a look of vague recollection when asked "Mom where's that shirt go?!"
  4. Laundry day also gives me the opportunity to purge a bit. How many pairs of pink short does you-know-who need, anyway! Time to donate a pair, or 2 or 3. I'm sure there is some other princess-fashionista ready and willing to don these lovely garments.
  5. Speaking of the fashionista - I learn much about my family's fashion sense when I work my way through the mountains of laundry on WashDay. This one is definitely into pink and purple. This one seems to wear mostly soft knits in bold colors. That one wears jeans everyday, hardly ever puts on a pair of shorts, while the other wears shorts year round.  No more ruffles for that girl. Hmmm,  make note Mama.  No need spending money on clothing they refuse to wear.
  6. I mentioned paring down duplicates and tossing outgrown clothing. Another important task to take care of is mending. Can that seam be re-sewn? Can I patch that knee?  Here's a button needing to be replaced. 
  7. You'll learn much about your children and their interest on laundry days. Have you ever cleaned out an 8 year old's pockets? Marbles and nerf ammunition and candy wrappers with chewed up gum inside and rocks and sticks and lego men and coins and brown crayon bits and paper shavings and frogs and plastic army men. . .  There are stories to tell with each item. These are things important to them.
  8. With the sound of running water and the children occupied elsewhere in the house (working on school assignments I hope) I often get lost as I reminisce days-gone-by. This mom of many often relives moments as she picks up a sweet dress our youngest wore while splashing through mud puddles, and is transported back to a day when our other girls may have worn the same dress. Or maybe I find myself shaking out dirt from rolled up cuffs after the boys have been out exploring, shaking my head and laughing as I recall a day long a go when our now grown up son collected dirt in the same way.
  9. As I sort my family's laundry, wash it clean, dry it soft, fold it neat, I find it gives me opportunity to pray over each of my loved ones. Monday is Laundry Day here. I find it the perfect way to get a good start to our week.
  10. Aaaahhhhhhh. There is satisfaction in a job well done.
I thank God for my family, for daily opportunities to serve them, for dirty laundry. 

this post linked up over at Top Ten Tuesday and Raising Homemakers and Proverbs 31 Thursdays.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekly Menu - 4/15 to 4/21

Once again, I have let life distractions interfere with my prep work and planning for our meals this month. While I did stock up before the start of April, I had only made some preliminary plans which I kept stored away in my cluttered brain.

After taking inventory of frig, freezer and pantry, I put together the delicious menu for the week:
my 6 year old preps Stew in CrockPot

Monday - Loaded Burritos, guacamole, tortilla chips
Tuesday - Eat Out (celebrating Dad's birthday!)
Wednesday - Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
Thursday - KOTO (Kids On Their Own, it's date night!)
Friday - Homemade Pizza Night
Saturday - Venison Stew, biscuits
Sunday - CrockPot Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, fruit salad

What's on your menu this week?

linking up with others for Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring - A Season of New Beginnings

For everything there is a season
It seems for us it is the season of new beginnings. 
After a long winter slumber, the world around us is coming to life. 
photo credit: Gabriel Sears, 10 years old

The melting snow and fresh rains have quenched the thirsty ground. The sun is warming the earth, making it ready for my garden seeds.  

Our family took time to soak up scripture that tells us of the events of the last days of Christ's life on earth . . .
the tomb is sealed - such a dark hour. But wait!

. . . and His Victory O'er the Grave!

Easter morning-the stone is rolled away! He is risen!
Life after death. A new beginning.

We watch as Grandma's sweet cat tends her brand new kittens. One will come home to live with us in a few weeks. Oh, but which one?! So hard to choose. New life, new beginnings.
Sophie Cat and her 5 precious kittens
 Can you imagine how difficult it is to choose from five adorable furballs? The grey one? Or the black one? Or the one that shows tiger stripes when the light shines just so.
Maybe this cutie? Esther gets to name him
And then there's the beginning of life without daughter, without sister. Such a happy event, an exciting time. But filled with some sadness too. It seems when a child of mine leaves the nest, there is always just one more thing (or two or three) that I wish I had said, or done before they were gone.  We'll have new moments, make new memories. New beginnings.
photo credit:  http://saltandlightphoto.com
My girl belongs to her husband now, that is as it should be. Life is new and different without her right here in our midst where we were accustomed to having her. We'll adjust, we'll cope. A new beginning.

And there's this blog, this online journal of sorts, this cyber-place to share. 

behind-the-scenes view
I am spending time these days to breathe new life into what I share here with you. There are big and exciting things to come. 
New Beginnings.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Lesson in Losing

See this boy?

This cute 10 year old with the infectious grin?
Don't let this face fool you. 
He's ruthless. Absolutely ruthless!

Let me explain:  This fellow is a Game-Player. Loves games! Especially board games. And more specifically, board games involving strategy.

As in, use-your-brain kind of games. You know, the type of games his Mother really stinks at. 
This point was driven home the other day when this sweet calculating 10 year old and I (his dear mother) sat down for a friendly game of Othello. Well, I was busy randomly thoughtfully placing my pieces in their little green spaces while my opponent speedily dropped his pieces here and there, willy-nilly-like.

Or so I thought. 

Before long, I begin hearing things like:  "Are you sure you want to put it there, Mom?" or "Did you see this spot over here?" 
To which Mother replies, "Now, why would I want to place my piece there?"
And he says to me, "Oh, it's just that, if you put it there, then I'll do this, and then you'll do that, and then I'll turn over all these and then you'll lose."
And then he flashed that grin.
 Really? He could see ahead 2, 3, 4 moves ahead? Sheesh! I was doing good just trying to find more than 1 or 2 discs to flip each turn.  

We finish the game. Yeah, Boy wins, Mom loses, Big Time! OK. Yes! HE CLEANED MY CLOCK! (there. I said it.) 

Then this mother smiles broadly and does the gracious thing. She gives the winner's hand a congratulatory shake, happy to be a good sport, showing the now rather large audience that had gathered how to be a good loser. 

And as she walks away, if one were to be listening ever so carefully, they might here words being muttered under her breath. Words something like, "That's the last time I'm ever playing with him, I tell you what!"

Friday, March 22, 2013

If God Gives You Snow . . .


The calendar on my wall and my internal clock both tell me it's time for spring. Someone failed to get the memo to Old Man Winter - we have snow in the forcast again this weekend! And so this post I prepared last month but failed to publish is still timely, I suppose. 

We won't get enough snow this weekend to make ice cream (I hope!) but we did last month. 2 storms totaling nearly 2 feet of snow meant snow ice cream!

 What you'll need:
1 gallon or so of fresh, beautiful snow
1 cup sugar (a little more or less will do, to suit your taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or your favorite flavoring (mint, cherry, maple)
1 cup cream or milk (or chocolate milk or strawberry milk, half 'n half works too)

Step 1:  Mix snow, sugar and flavoring together.

 Step 2: Add cream (or milk) and mix well.

Step 3: Serve it up with your favorite toppings

Step 4: Have your handy-dandy taste testers standing by making sure you've followed your recipe accurately.

You can't go wrong with Classic Vanilla Ice Cream, but you can easily adapt this to your family's favorite flavors.  This recipe is very forgiving - if it isn't sweet enough, add more sugar, if it is too dry, add more cream. Need more flavor? Add more! Enjoy!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Spring Tradition

No matter that it still seems like winter outside my window, Spring officially began yesterday morning. And so this homeschooling mama could not let the opportunity for an impromptu science lesson pass us by.

will it stand on its own? or roll off the counter?
For years now, we've taken the Egg Challenge as close to the time of the Spring Equinox as possible, or as soon as we remember that we are supposed to take the Egg Challenge at the moment of the Spring Equinox.

What? You've never heard of the Egg Challenge? And what, pray tell, is an Equinox? Well, let me enlighten you! According to Old Farmer's Almanac:
"The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are approximately equal everywhere and the Sun rises and sets due east and west." and "At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun."

 The Egg Challenge states that you should be able to stand a raw egg on end at the time of the Equinox. We've had successful years, and not-so-successful years. This year? After taking estimates at how many tries it will take to accomplish our assignment, SUCCESS! Not once, not twice, but three times successful! Two of our eggs stayed upright all day yesterday, the third was upset by a rather rambunctious young scientist who wishes to remain nameless.

So, there you have it - science/astronomy/physics/math, all rolled up into one. Now you give it a try, and don't believe it when someone tells you school is boring!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

From 2 to 12 in the Blink of an Eye


While I had my back turned, this little cutie. . . 

. . . went and grew up into this oh-so-grown up lovely young lady - can you believe it?!

We celebrated our Esther's 12th birthday last week with her favorite meal (chicken parmesan - how grown up is that?!) and a cake decorated with her favorite color (just a coincidence it's so close to St. Patty's Day) and fun times with family and friends.  

Her birthday wish list included:
     a floor lamp to put beside her bed (she's practical like that)
     a journal (a girl has ideas to jot down, y'know)
     pierced ears (just like her older sisters now!)
     and a kitten (she gets to pick from Sophie's litter, as soon as they are born)
Seems like yesterday this Little Queen arrived and we all spent our days sitting around oohing and aahing over her, walking the floors with her trying to convince her that sleep really is a very good thing, disguising vegetables so she wouldn't know what she was eating and would grow strong and healthy. 

It's an exciting time, watching what God will do in her life, helping her find the path she's to follow, what interests and talents will emerge as she continues to grow and mature. Our Esther is a joy and a delight, a sweet blessing. We love you dear daughter!

Green Ombre Buttercream Cake

Note: inspiration for Esther's birthday cake came from the Wilton Blog

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