Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Frugalities, and what's for supper

1.  What's for supper? 

A layered casserole made from leftover smoked sausage, leftover cooked barley, chicken broth, celery, mushrooms, and mini potatoes that the Apprentice donated (she brought some of her groceries here).  I cut the potatoes in half, although they were already pretty small; put them on top of the other ingredients; drizzled a bit of olive oil on them; and sprinkled on some thyme.  The potatoes were done by the time the rest was heated through.

Spinach salad with carrots and chow mein noodles

Dessert made from graham crackers, yogurt, frozen blueberries, and a bit of leftover fruit crisp.

2.  Things to make:  I crocheted two doll-sized hairbows and a girl-sized one, after Dollygirl noticed this link on Doll Diaries today.  These are very, very, very easy and fast.  No shaping--you just make rectangles and then cinch them in the middle with yarn.

3.  I downloaded Best Hikes and Walks in Ontario, free right now for Kindle.

4.  Free for the looking:  pink magnolia blossoms on our backyard tree.  Like these ones.  Last year the magnolia blossoms all got killed by a hard frost, along with the apple blossoms.  I've heard that this is supposed to be a good apple year, so maybe the magnolia will stay beautiful as well.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Frugal tips for fashionable dolls

Not fashion dolls...I gave up on sewing for those teeny little wrists and waists a long time ago.  But the "fashionable" 18-inch dolls, old and new, who inhabit our Treehouse...or any of that general size who may be co-habiting with you.

1.  Thread and notions:  Thread is expensive, but you can generally get away with a few basic colours, or, if you're lucky, small or old part-spools of more interesting colours.   Keep enough bobbins wound with the basic colours so that you won't use "have to wind bobbins" as an excuse for not sewing. A lady who taught me sewing and craft lessons years ago used nothing but clear thread in all her craft sewing--she could not be bothered ever changing colours.  (She was also known for her phrase, "what we can't glue, we don't do.")

Quarter-inch elastic is a real basic,  in ruffled sleeves and in the waists of pants and skirts.  Half-inch will work too, at least in waistbands.  You might not want to use dollar-store elastic in your own clothes or other places it will get hard wear, but for the fairly gentle use it will get in dolls' clothes, it should work fine.

I've tried Velcro on doll clothes, but the adhesive kind doesn't always stick that well, and the sewn kind can be hard to sew on, either by hand or machine.  You also have to keep buying it new--I don't see much used Velcro. So most of the doll clothes I sew now have snaps on them--I keep finding vintage packets at rummage sales.  Sewing snaps on isn't the quickest thing either, but it's something to do while listening to the radio at night.

2.  Fabric:  Old clothes can be a great source of fabric, if they're not too worn. (Holes are okay--you can cut around those--but fabric that's worn out or stained isn't going to look good.)  Plain-coloured or small-print pillowcases (from the thrift store) can be good, and they have lots of fabric in them.  Knit (stretchy) fabrics can be a lot harder to work with than woven types, so unless you have a very co-operative machine, a serger, or just like a challenge, stay away from anything with Lycra.  (If you need a really stretchy piece of clothing, think about knitting or crocheting it instead.)  If you're recycling items of children's clothing, you might be able to use some parts of them as-is, such as using sleeves for pant legs, or at least making use of a nice finished edge.  Try fitting a pattern piece (such as a pants pattern) onto an existing clothes item; you might be able to save yourself a couple of seams.

If you're buying a grab bag or  miscellaneous bunch of fabric, think about the overall value of what you're getting.  If you get a large package of odds and ends for a dollar or two, and use only one piece or make only one item of clothing, that's still a much better deal than paying for ready-made doll clothing.  Take a chance, and if you find you can't use most of what's in there, you can always send it on.  (We bought a pack like that recently, and it turned out to be largely fake leather and suede pieces--most of them were too heavy for doll use.  But there were a few good pieces in there too.)

When you're using frugal sources of fabric, especially scrap pieces, you sometimes end up a little bit short, especially for larger pattern pieces like dresses and skirts.  Cut the main pieces first, the ones that will show; and then if you're short, use non-matching fabric for things like facings (the inside parts).

If a skirt calls for a rectangle 22 inches wide, and your piece is only 18 inches wide, you might be able to patch in an extra piece from somewhere else on the fabric.  If the fabric's dark enough and you hide it at the back, it probably won't be noticed. (The dark corduroy skirt above has an extra panel in the back, but you have to look closely to see it.)  You can also patch in other-coloured side panels (or a bottom panel if you're short on length), and make it look like it was done on purpose.  Real-people clothes use ideas like that all the time--different-coloured sleeves, colour-blocked dresses.

3.  Fabric #2: What's in a name?  I've posted before about how we went looking for fat quarters, and ended up with bandannas of several colours and prints.  They were the same size as a fat quarter, and much cheaper.  (Then there are the plaid pants in the photo below, made from dollar-store men's boxer shorts.)

4.  What's in a name again?  New patterns are fun, but a few basic patterns will cover a LOT of doll territory.  Pajama pants are the same as elastic-waist pants.  And the doll doesn't care if her skirts are all made from the same pattern.  Different colours and fabrics will make the same pattern look very different.  The green V-neck top and the African-print shirt in the photos above are exactly the same pattern. Also, you can change basic pattern pieces:  make shorts longer (like Crissy's jean shorts, above), skirts shorter.

5.  Explore your doll's personality and style.  I'm serious.  If you don't know, ask the owner what her doll likes to do and what her favourite colours are.  Does she look like she fits a particular decade or style?  Dollygirl's Crissy, a vintage '70's doll, looks good in groovy clothes, which is a good thing since the patterns we have for her are all bell-bottoms and long vests.  American Girl Kit is meant to be from the 1930's, and for some reason Kit does look particularly good in vintage-y styles.  Dollygirl doesn't usually put Kit in fleece pants and jean vests; it's just not her particular vibe.

Dollygirl has one doll, Crystal, who's kind of a Sporty type.  Dollygirl set the other three up exploring a trunk full of antique dresses, but Crystal thought it was more fun to check out a pile of old books and a set of dominoes.  The last thing I made for Kit was a wrap dress; Crystal got a smock top and shorts.

6.  Have fun sewing.  Forcing bias tape around a bolero jacket is not worth bad language and blood.  Crochet one instead.  Or make the doll a poncho.  Do what you like doing, and what will make your young clothes-users (live and stuffed) happy.

Photos by Dollygirl.  

Linked from Festival of Frugality #390 at Frugal Rules.

The Herb of Grace (Book Review)

The Herb of Grace, by Elizabeth Goudge (1948).  Book Two of the "Eliots of Damerosehay" trilogy.  Alternate title: Pilgrim's Inn.

This is a story about a place.  Kind of a grownup version of Goudge's Moonacre Manor (she published The Little White Horse only two years before this book).  It's about desires, letting go of the bad ones, acknowledging the true ones, and getting to the heart of things, and the hearts of people.

One of the recurring desires is for something decent to eat. World War II has just ended, there's still a lot of rationing in Britain, and everybody is exhausted and out of sorts.  You get that same mild obsession with food in the Narnia books--the same wishful descriptions of sausages and cakes.  In The Little White Horse, there's a marvellous, mysterious chef, and food all over the place.  In The Herb of Grace, there are ration books and powdered eggs...and a not-quite-as-magical cook who gets her extra treats from a nephew in the grocery business. 

But that's not what the book's about...or maybe it is, because you do have to start with the small desires before you can understand the big ones.

I started out not liking this book very much.  I almost quit after the first couple of chapters, because all the characters seemed so angsty, self-centered, and cold.  I don't mind bad characters, but I don't like cold ones.  It's hard to write about cold characters and not make them awfully dull, and it's worse to read about them. 

But happily for the story, Elizabeth Goudge quickly moves the whole disconnected family into a just-needs-TLC inn called The Herb of Grace, and the pieces start falling into place.  Like the mother of the Eliots, the reader may not realize just how much she's getting into with this move, or what's going to be uncovered (sometimes literally).  Everything changes.  Almost everybody changes.  Except maybe for the grandmother, whose interfering but somehow inspired ideas get these Stuck-in-Park lives moving again.  And Uncle Hilary, who is somewhat like Old Parson in The Little White Horse, and somewhat like Jan Karon's Father Tim.  He is just himself all the way through, but he's one of the best characters in the book.

If you like The Wind in the Willows and don't mind the mystical parts, you'll like this book.  (The two youngest children, who need inner healing as much as the rest, like to play that they are Rat and Mole.)  If you enjoy books about amazing houses and walks through the woods, you'll like it.  If you like books about being a little lost but coming back to what's important, you'll like it. If you like good Christmas scenes, you'll like it. 

Highly recommended.  (I think it can stand alone without reading the first book.)

P.S.  This is not necessarily a book you want to hand to people below their teens.  Nothing nasty happens, but there are subplots involving very adult feelings and some messy events of the past.  And I do need to mention again that if you don't care for the slightly pantheistic/magicky parts of The Wind in the Willows, or similar elements in Elizabeth Goudge's children's books, you will not like this one.

Blow off some steam: Hidden Art of Homemaking, Chapter 2

I'd be tender - I'd be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding Love and Art.
I'd be friends with the sparrows ... and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.

"A Christian...should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively...we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation." ~~Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Chapter 2

"For too many people...the creative muscles and joints (if I can use that picture!) have stiffened with disuse."

"We are all in danger of thinking, "Some day I shall be fulfilled. Some day I shall have the courage to start another life which will develop my talent", without ever considering the very practical use of that talent today in a way which will enrich other people's lives, develop the talent, and express the fact of being a creative creature."

Linked from Chapter 2 Linky for Hidden Art, at Ordo Amoris.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quote for the day: To order our thoughts (Parents' Review Volume Two)

"The Teaching of Chronology," by Dorothea Beale, Principal of the Cheltenham Ladies' College.  The Parents' Review, Volume 2, no. 2, 1891/92, pgs. 81-90
"I am sure those who have once learnt in their youth to use the chart will never discard it and will, as they go on to think about the philosophy of history, find that the way in which events present themselves to the mind's eye is most helpful and suggestive. The day of 'Mangnall's Questions,' 'Brewer's Guide,' and 'Pinnock's Catechisms'* is gone by in the work of education, and we have learned to feel that the chief work of the educator is not to give facts, but to order them so that they can fit into the 'forms of thought.'"
"In the beautiful myth with which more than one poet of our day has made us familiar, we read that the forlorn Psyche in the course of her wanderings came to the temple of Aphrodite, and there the goddess assigned to her the task of sorting out and arranging innumerable seeds, and to her diligence and obedience was granted at last the vision which she had lost through her faithless impatience--the vision of the God of Love. Is this, perhaps, one of the teachings unfolded in the myth--the supreme joy is to know love but the vision of God is to be attained only by the patient discipline, by the ordered knowledge through which that which seems chaos is transformed into a Kosmos, and we are able to 'think God's thoughts after Him?'"
 *These were not books of religious catechism, but they were set up in a similar way to teach school subjects. 

Lovely photo of 'George' tomato seeds found here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What's for supper? Slow cooker stew

Tonight's dinner menu, inspired by a post on A Year of Slow Cooking:

Slow Cooker Stew, made of beef strips, salsa, a can of white beans, and one diced sweet potato
Bit of leftover salad
Homemade oven tortilla chips

Oranges, cookies

Quote for the day: how to get a great education by not doing your Greek homework (Parents' Review Volume 2)

"Greek in Modern Education," by by Oscar Browning.  The Parents' Review, Volume 2, 1891/92, pg. 001.
"I am myself under deep obligations to this kind of training. My master at school was very fond of reading Thucydides with me. I made it a point of honour never to learn the lesson, and when put on had to make out the sense on the spur of the moment. I adopted an ingenious device to gain time. My master was a very able man of well filled and discursive mind. At any provocation he would go off into talks on general subjects of a most stimulating and interesting kind and of different length. I therefore treated him as Meilanion [Hippomenes] treated Atalanta. Keeping my finger on the sentence which I had last construed I strained every effort to work ahead. If my tutor's discourse was coming to an end I dropped another apple, for I had got to know precisely how much each subject was good for, one, two, or three minutes. The valuable breathing space was utilised by me to the utmost and in the end I gained far more by not having learned my lesson than I should ever have gained if I had prepared it."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Still life with tomato (The Hidden Art of Homemaking)

The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer: weekly discussion at Ordo Amoris (link fixed!)
Chapter 1: The First Artist
"Not all of the physical beauty of the world is equally spoiled, or equally unspoiled.  But there are fragments of beauty to show the glory of the Creator, the Artist God." ~~Edith Schaeffer

"'Poet' literally means 'maker,' and the profoundly challenging thing about all this is that God is a Poet who writes poems about the inner truth of existence, and literally brings them to life, 'acts them out' in terms of everyday realities."  ~~Ruth Etchells, Unafraid to Be (IVP, 1969) 
God as artist, God as poet.  If we are God's workmanship...then we ourselves are His works of art, His poems, along with the rest of His creation.  And if we are created in His image, then we are also called to celebrate His art, His poetry, in our "everyday realities."  Ann Voskamp says that she began her list of a thousand gifts with some jelly and toast...and if that's where beauty begins, so be it.  We need to look for the fragments...or to create some of our own. 
"The zinnias stayed in the bucket on the counter for several days, the focus of small vignettes she built around them.  A crystal candlestick and a blue-and-white porcelain platter pushed into place beside the bucket demanded that even I give it a glance as I ran past to dart outside.  The next day a row of red tomatoes dotted the sill behind the bucket, crisply graphic trim interrupted by a small pottery bird that had been in the living room the day before.  Like flash cards, these small still-life arrangements were my early lessons about scale, composition, and balance."  ~~ Mothers and Daughters at Home, by Charlotte Lyons
What do we have in our homes that is really beautiful?--I don't mean possessions of great value, but something--as Charlotte Lyons says--that inspires with colour, line, balance?  Is there a still-life arrangement waiting to happen?  Do we need to clear off the books and sewing mess from the table first, or put some of the counter clutter in the cupboard to make room for beauty?  Let's do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On the teaching of poetry (Parents' Review Volume 2)

"Books," in The Parents' Review, Volume 2, 1891/92, pg. 151.  "A Third Poetry Book." Compiled by Miss M.A. Woods, Head Mistress of the Clifton High School for Girls. (Macmillan and Co.) "Our first feeling in turning over the pages of these [three] "Poetry Books" is--envy! What delightful wanderings over the wide fields of English poetry do they represent! "

"Nowadays the schools do their best to give a taste for good literature, and we have no longer to complain of the dry extracts "from the best authors," which were all we had to nourish us in former days. Now when books like Miss [Mary A.] Woods' poetry books are to be found in our schools, there is nothing better to ask—and the only fault is, that the child has not been trained at home to enjoy the feast which is put before him, and is apt to consider it only another branch of school work, and never to give himself the trouble of trying to enjoy it. If he knew a number of the selections before he met them at school, the meeting would be a joyful recognition of old acquaintances—he would remember how his father or mother had repeated those verses to him, he would recall and try to imitate the emphasis they had used and the cadence of their voices." ~~ "The Teaching of Poetry to Children," by Mrs. J. G. Simpson, The Parents' Review, Volume 12, 1901, pgs. 879-883

And if you like the book, get the author to write you an article..."On the Teaching of Poetry," by Mary A. Woods, Head Mistress of the Clifton High School. The Parents' Review, Volume 2, 1891/92, pgs. 111-116.  "In this same play of 'As You Like It,' Touchstone says to Audrey, 'I would the gods had made thee poetical!' Ah! It is not 'the gods,' it is not Nature, that has refused to make our children poetical. It is we who, with our petty maxims and theories, to say nothing of our prosaic lives and worldly ideals, have done what in us lies to destroy the poetry that was born with them....[we] reduce all to the dull level of prose. "  Don't miss the rest.

Sir John Gielgud can have the last word (sorry the audio is out of synch):

Frugal Doll Fashion Runway, Spring 2013

Crissy's print top and shorts:
Fabric, Wal-mart fat quarters
Pattern; shorts, Simplicity 9698; top, Simplicity 9138 (vintage Crissy pattern)

Jean vest:

Fabric, recycled fleece poncho and denim skirt
Vest pattern from Bunkhouse Books' Stitches & Pins: 

Pink fleece pants:
Fabric, recycled fleece poncho
Pattern: Stitches & Pins "pajama pants"
Green turtleneck and pants:
Fabric, recycled stretch-knit top (the sleeves became the pants legs)
Turtleneck pattern from Sew the Essential Wardrobe for 18-inch Dolls, by Joan Hinds and Jean Becker
Pants pattern: Stitches & Pins, "pajama pants"

Green v-neck top:
Fabric from a thrift-store grab bag
Pattern: Stitches & Pins "pajama top"

Plaid pants:  sewn from dollar-store men's boxer shorts!
African-print shirt, made for an 18-inch doll but recently trimmed down for Crissy:
Fabric from an outlet-store grab bag
Pattern: Stitches & Pins "pajama top"

Crissy's jean shorts:
Fabric, recycled denim skirt
Pattern: shorts from Simplicity 9698 (Crissy pattern), but made longer

Corduroy skirt and fleece-lined vest:
Fabric, recycled fleece poncho; corduroy from thrift-store grab bag
Skirt pattern: Stitches & Pins
Vest pattern: Stitches & Pins

All photos by Dollygirl.  Copyright 2013 Dewey's Treehouse.

Some doll photos that never got posted here

Well, they did get posted here--but it was back in December, on a separate page, when I was working on Dollygirl's Christmas presents (reviving a somewhat-lacking 18-inch American Girl, and putting together a doll baking kit).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Plan for the week

Monday ("God's Earth Day")

Old Testament:  continue reading about the Flood
Math:  Key to Percents, Book 1, pages 19 & 20
Dictation: Churchill book, "The Anvil"
Do one fun God's Earth Day thing
Memory work:  work on chosen poem, "The Moon is Up" by Alfred Noyes
Geography: The Mining District
Do another God's Earth Day thing
French: "Tom Pouce est très petit"  ("Tom Thumb is very small")
Afternoon work
After dinner: swimming lesson


New Testament:  finish section LIII, about the possessed boy
Math:  Key to Percents, Book 1, pages 21 & 22
Natural History:  Story of Coal, next section
Memory work:  work on Scripture passage
History: Egyptian myths
One fun TBA activity
French: review; making introductions
Afternoon work


Natural History:  Stars & Planets
History:  continue reading about Egypt
Dictation:  Churchill bio, "The Pen & the Sword"
Memory work
One fun TBA activity
Geography:  review Monday's work
French: review week's lesson
Afternoon:  volunteering


New Testament:  reading the sections "Of Opposing Mountains"; "Exceeding Sorry"
Math:  Key to Percents, Book 1, pages 24 & 25
One TBA activity
Grammar & Composition:  "Writing Poetry," in Write Source 2000
Memory work
History:  reading about Philo of Alexandria
Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost
Afternoon work


New Testament:  read "The Shekel" (end of this part of the book)
Math:  Key to Percents, Book 1, pages 28 & 29
Citizenship:  read the Churchill bio, pages 53-64
Unprepared dictation
One TBA activity Grammar & Composition:  continue chapter on poetry
Memory work
Afternoon work

Afternoon work:  includes retelling of The Aeneid; The Fellowship of the Ring; poetry; Handel study including Violin Sonata in F and possibly introducing The Messiah; drawing, crafts; picture study.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday shopping: snow and the Salvation Army

1.  Weather: wind and snow.  People, this is not right.

2.  We stopped at the Salvation Army thrift store this morning.  Their book section was a mess--they don't even try to organize them, and the prices range from dirt-cheap to outrageous.  Which means you can totally luck out, or come away with nothing.

I guess this was our week to luck out:

The Once and Future King, older Dell paperback

The Writer in the Garden
Carrots Love Tomatoes, by Louise Riotte
Roses Love Garlic, by Louise Riotte

Picture books:
Enchantment in the Garden, by Shirley Hughes
Hattie and the Wild Waves, by Barbara Cooney

Handel Classic Hits CD
Chrissa Stands Strong, an American Girl DVD (for Dollygirl)

A sweater for Ponytails
A top for Mama Squirrel

Book sale weekend!

I don't get to many book sales these days (or even rummage sales--they seem to be disappearing).  But I do try to go to the annual University Women's sale every year.  I do NOT stand in line to be the first in the door Friday afternoon.  What's left by Friday evening or Saturday morning is just fine for me.

Here's what I found this year:

The Craft of Fiction, by Percy Lubbock; a 1960's hardcover printing.
The Story of the Prayer Book, by Johnstone and Evans (1949 paperback)
The Oxford Book of American Verse (1960 hardcover)

The Educated Imagination, by Northrop Frye (my umpth copy, but I lose them when I loan them out)
Northrop Frye on Culture and Literature: A Collection of Review Essays
George Grant in Process: Essays and conversations (that is, the Canadian philosopher George Grant)
Young Mrs. Ruskin in Venice: Her Picture of Society and Life with John Ruskin 1849-1852, edited by Mary Lutyens.  (To read the biography of Lilias Trotter, you would never realize there was a Mrs. Ruskin.)

The Round Table / Characters of Shakespeare's Plays, by William Hazlitt (Everyman's No. 65)
The Travels of Marco Polo, introduction by John Masefield (Everyman's No. 306)
Alton Locke, by Charles Kingsley (Everyman's No. 462)

The River, by Rumer Godden

Trouble in the Ark, by Gerald Rose
Grandmother Lucy and Her Hats, by Joyce Wood (two picture books mentioned in Babies Need Books)

Puck of Pook's Hill, extra paperback copy
Poems and Prayers for the Very Young, extra copy
Better Homes and Gardens Story Book, extra copy
Gemma and Sisters, by Noel Streatfeild (I thought Dollygirl would like that one)

For the Scholastic shelf:

Arrow Book of Science Riddles, TW 729
Arrow Book of Project Fun, TW 658
Monster Holidays, TW 2910, a very silly book by Norman Bridwell

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: School plans for Wednesday

Opening hymn and prayer

Read Stars and Planets independently.  Narrate.  Dollygirl's question: how can scientists predict what will happen if and when the sun burns out?  I suggested she talk it over with the Apprentice when she gets here today.

Quick French review (homemade worksheet, matching new vocabulary)

Augustus Caesar's World:  "Augustus the God."  Use a copy of "The Caesar Family" (page 307) to follow some of the new family connections that were made (by marriage) or broken (by death or divorce) during this time.  Talk about how Augustus "became" a god to the Romans, what that meant, and why the Jewish people seemed to be the only holdouts.

Balance Benders Level 2

Geography:  review the lesson about Tintagel and watch a video tour.  The video explains why it was built as a "ready-made empty castle."

Handwriting--calligraphy pen practice and/or C.S. Lewis quotes. 

Readaloud:  The Fellowship of the Ring.

Only if we have time:  picture study, "Butterflies." 

The Apprentice has an interview for a summer job (in this area) this morning, so she'll be home at lunch.  [UPDATE: she got the job!]  Mr. Fixit has a doctor's appointment half an hour away (and near a good antiques market), so he won't be home until after lunch.  Mama Squirrel and Dollygirl will be at the thrift store for the afternoon, unless Dollygirl decides to stay home for some sister-time.   And that means dinner will probably be in the slow cooker.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A can of pineapple? (What's in your hand?)

Canned pineapple is a regular occupant of our pantry shelf, but sometimes it sits there awhile waiting to get used.  But there really are a lot of ways to eat canned pineapple, even if you bought rings and want crushed, or the other way round.  A food processor will turn bigger pieces into smaller ones quickly, or you can just get out the knife or scissors and chop or snip.  If you have small pieces and need bigger ones, you can often use them anyway; upside-down cake tastes just as good with tidbits as with rings.

Here are some ideas for using up a can on the shelf...or the half-can in the fridge.

1.  Freeze it and run it through the food processor as sherbet.  If you freeze the fruit plus juice in ice cube trays (without processing it), you can let kids eat the cubes instead of Popsicles, or suck on them if they're not feeling well. After our first Squirreling was born, I was told to drink pineapple juice to keep my fluids up (it was supposed to be less irritating for the baby than citrus juice.)

2.  Put it on Hawaiian pizza. Or fruit pizza.

3.  Add it to sweet and sour meatballs, or ham, or one of those oddball baked-bean recipes.

4.  Make Potluck Cake.  Or add it to carrot cake or carrot muffins, or another fruit bread like banana bread.  Pineapple Purée  (see #1) works great in baking.

5.  Combine it with rhubarb, in muffins or other desserts.

6.  Heat undrained crushed pineapple and thicken with cornstarch, as a sauce for cake or waffles.  This works better if you have more juice, less fruit.

7.  Make fruit salad.

8.  If you have big chunks, put on toothpicks with other bits of fruit, marshmallows, etc., for mini-kebabs.  Or on skewers with peppers and meat or chicken, for big-kebabs.

9.  Mix with cottage cheese or yogurt, granola, and other fruit for breakfast sundaes.  I know that's basically fruit salad again, but it tastes different in the morning, doesn't it?

10.  Smoothies.  Or eat the fruit and then add the juice to other fruit juice, punch, or lemonade.

11. (bonus--I knew there was one I'd forgotten). Make Sue Gregg's Pineapple Yogurt Pie.

Linked from Festival of Frugality #384 at Evolving Personal Finance.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Highlights of this week's plans

Composer studies:  Handel lesson #2.

Picture studies:  Matthijs Maris, "Butterflies."

Handwriting:  using calligraphy pens.

French:  "Jack and the Giant."

(Illustration from Hachette's Illustrated French Primer)

Augustus Caesar's WorldGenevieve Foster takes us first through Old Testament history, then off on a rabbit trail of Egyptian mythology.

Geography:  A trip to King Arthur's castle.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Drop-in guests (Backyard Nature)

Today's visitors:  a flock of starlings, out for anything they could find on the ground as the ice melted.  Down they came, all at once; then something startled them, and up they all whooshed, for about ten seconds; then down again, up again, like a game of Simon Says.  And then on to someone else's yard.

Photo and more at this bird site.

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Friday school, in the dark

Freak April storm:  our power was out (along with a lot of other houses) until just after lunch.  So we did school unplugged. UPDATE: As of Sunday, some people in this area are still without power--so we were in the minority, getting it back in only a few hours.)

Opening songs and prayer

New Testament reading:  The Transfiguration.

Math:  Continue with Key to Percents Book I.  We were amused by the familiar Miquon-style "circle 50 per cent of the happy faces" in this book.

Literature:  The Fellowship of the Ring.

Tea made over a propane camp stove in the garage.

10-minute dictation from The Fellowship of the Ring (Dollygirl's request).  Saruman's attempt to draw Gandalf into his all-about-me ambitions.

Drawing Techniques:  Adrian Hill's theory of the "Line of Adventure."  (Comments on that here, sorry about one or two of the words.)

Citizenship: Never Give In (Churchill biography), two chapters.

Exodus to McDonald's for lunch because it sounded better than heating something over the propane stove.  Arrival back home to find that the power had just come on again.  See update above--a lot of people were without heat and light all weekend.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blame it on the book

Little kids read a monster book and then hide under the bed, right?

Well, sometimes the monsters follow you the rest of your life...or you acquire new ones as an adult. What irrational (or quite rational) worries have you acquired as a result of reading?  Have any of them ever kept you from making mistakes?

Tiny Little Medical Problems:  I've been paranoid of splinters ever since reading On Tide Mill Lane.  Wouldn't you be? 

Bad salmon:  Flight into Danger, required reading in grade five or six.

Bad whipped cream:  A Cap for Mary Ellis.

Leaving things too close to light bulbs:  The Saturdays.

Creepy old houses, not to mention reading under the covers:  The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring.  You wouldn't believe how badly that book scared me one night...it cured me of after-hours reading for some time.

Running with scissors:  The title, I can't remember; but it was a Parents' Magazine Press book from about 1970, about safety rules.  A bit like Struwwelpeter although not so extreme.  One little raccoon "liked to cut paper dolls, she snipped away happily singing" until she heard a friend's bicycle bell ringing--and ran with scissors, to what end exactly we're not sure. [Oh, look at that: I just found the title.  Watch Out! How to Be Safe and Not Sorry, by Harold Longman.]

Teasing Weasels:  if the opportunity ever came up.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Five thrifty food tips from Mama Squirrel

As I've posted before, and as Peg Bracken liked to say, you don't always need fancy recipes, and sometimes you're better off without them.  Peg wrote, "Worst of all, there are the big fat cookbooks that tell you everything about everything.  For one thing, they contain too many recipes.  Just look at all the things you can do with a chop, and aren't about to!  What you want is just one little old dependable thing you can do with a chop besides broil it, that's all."  (The I Hate to Cook Book)

Well, we are not broiled-chop people, but you get the drift.  My own "little old dependable thing" for meat has usually been putting whatever-it-is on a layer of sauerkraut, and either baking it or slow-cooking it.  I have an "old dependable" basic muffin recipe, a meatloaf recipe that suits us, a favourite way of making macaroni and cheese, and a few other fall-back, no-fail things that keep us functioning. 

But it's the flexy-recipes, patterns rather than strictly-enforced lists of ingredients, that help us make the most of what's around.  These can turn out delicious, or they can be flops.  Experience has a lot to do with that.  Here are a few hints we've learned along the way.

1.  Size and shape:  The other night, I made what was basically spaghetti-and-meat-sauce but with a chunk of leftover roast beef.  The wrong way to do this would be to cut large chunks or slices of meat and to use long pasta like spaghetti.  That is one recipe-for-messy waiting to happen.  Better idea:  cut the chunks quite small, and also use small pasta like shells or fusilli.  We also glued it together, so to speak, with a bit of mozzarella melted on top.   Rule of thumb:  things that go on the fork at the same time work better when they're approximately the same size.  Stew, big chunks.  Soup, small pieces.

2. Seasoning: the above-mentioned pasta dish could have been very flat, but I used the spaghetti seasonings here (more or less--less sugar), and added beef broth as part of the liquid. If you're using low-or-no salt ingredients (such as no-salt-added tomatoes) and a little salt isn't a medical problem, then you might want to check for that.

3.  Don't put things in that don't belong.  We had some gravy left over from the roast beef, but that would have made the spaghetti sauce taste terrible.  It's not a crime not to use every last available ingredient.

4.  Colour.  Seventh-grade home ec teachers love this one, but it's true.  Sometimes you can't help the food at your meal being mostly one colour, but if you can add a bit of contrast (even if it's frozen peas), it cheers up the plates.  Some vegetables lose colour in cooking, so you might want to add them (or cook them) at the last minute.

5.  If you're not sure which foods go together, try making up a name for your dish based on the flavours and ingredients you're using, and see if it sounds like something you'd order off a menu.  If not, you might want to rethink.  For instance, Banana-Cherry Muffins sound tasty; Pumpkin-Cherry, not so much (although many people obviously disagree with me on that).  Beef-Mushroom Pasta Skillet sounds good; Beef-Turnip Pasta Skillet, no.

Photos (except for Peg Bracken) by Ponytails.  Copyright Dewey's Treehouse.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six, plans for Tuesday: when Van Gogh meets French lessons

New Testament:  readings from Saviour of the World, Volume IV.  Sections 48, 49, and 50--short verses all on the same theme:  what does it mean to take up the cross?

"Thy life is precious to thee - would'st it save,
Live in the light of the sun ?
To that end great possessions would'st thou have,
Would'st after riches run ?
Nay, Child, thy life's first law thou fail'st to comprehend,
Nor see'st how th' life thou lov'st shall last until the end.

"Thou think'st to stay thy life with pride and praise,
Fond braveries of the earth,
Fat things and fragrant would'st have all thy days,
Riches, renown and mirth ?
Poor soul, a mystery be to thy fond eyes revealed -
Those choice things thou dost covet devour as a worm concealed."  ~~ Charlotte Mason

Math:  continue Key to Percents, Book 1.  Most of this book (first of three) should be review for Dollygirl, so I'm not assigning pages--she can just move at her own pace.

Natural history:  another lesson on the story of coal.  Oh, hurray, said Dollygirl.  But this time we get to go under the ground...so to speak...and look for clues.

Folk songs


Memory work:  start working on a Scripture passage for this term.

History:  The Story of Greece, "The Seven Conspirators."  "Three years passed before the Theban exiles, encouraged by Pelopidas, formed a plot to deliver their city from the Spartans."

Copywork, from C.S. Lewis

French:  practice new vocabulary from yesterday (mostly about thatched cottages)
Van Gogh, "Cottages couverts de chaume"

Afternoon workPicture study, poetry reading, and The Aeneid of Virgil (half of chapter 7)

Linked from the Carnival of Homeschooling linky at The Common Room.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: School plans for Friday

New Testament: Saviour of the World, "The Pilgrimage to Hermon."

"The Passover draws nigh and we go up
That at Jerusalem I may drain the cup,
That bitter cup the Father offereth Me ;
And ye, My friends, shall see."

Arithmetic:  Arithmecode puzzle.

Cititzenship (30 minutes): book about Winston Churchill, Never Give In, pages 29-40. 

"Drill", break

Dictation--switch this today for French.  Review the picture described earlier in the week, and use printed-out sentence fragments to make new sentences.

Grammar (20 minutes): How to Speak Politely (read this together)

Writing:  continue copywork from C.S. Lewis quotes

Singing and Memory Work:  Practice the song learned earlier in the week; sing a couple of old ones.  Practice the poem being learned.

Afternoon work: 1.  Read the first scene of Love's Labour's Lost.  2.  Art time.  3.  Discussion of "weekend reading."

Southey Quote for the Day: Shake hands like Englishmen.

From Southey's Life of Nelson, from the description of the Battle of Trafalgar.

"Collingwood, delighted at being first in the heat of the fire, and knowing the feelings of his commander and old friend, turned to his captain and exclaimed: 'Rotherham, what would Nelson give to be here!' Both these brave ofiicers, perhaps, at this moment thought of Nelson with gratitude for a circumstance which had occurred on the preceding day. Admiral Collingwood, with some of the captains, having gone on board the Victory to receive instructions, Nelson inquired of him where his captain was, and was told in reply that they were not upon good terms with each other. 'Terms!' said Nelson; 'good terms with each other!' Immediately he sent a boat for Captain Rotherham, led him, as soon as he arrived, to Collingwood, and saying, 'Look, yonder are the enemy!' bade them shake hands like Englishmen."

Photo of Nelson's statue found here.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Handel and other things on Thursday

Some of this will be done in the afternoon--it depends on how much we can get finished before lunch.

Old Testament: readings from The Book of Adam to Moses, "with necessary omissions"

Arithmetic:  Clue Finders CD-Rom, or do one puzzle from Arithmecode.

Grammar (30 minutes allowed, but may not take that long): Continue with "Case closed"

French songs, break (30 minutes total).   "Joli Tambour"

History (20 minutes): Story of Greece.  "Pelopidas and Epaminondas"  (Illustrations here.)

Memory work: work on chosen poem

Shakespeare play (30 minutes)

Composer study (begin study of Handel).

1.  General information about Handel  (Boyhoods of Great Composers)

2.  History of "The Harmonious Blacksmith."  "Although the title was supplied by his publisher, not Handel himself, it remains a compelling image - not just as a blacksmith whistling while working, but also as musicians shaping harmonies into works of art. Harmonious Blacksmith also alludes to Pythagoras's ancient discovery of acoustics, as he passed a blacksmith's forge and noticed the higher and lower pitches of smaller and larger hammers striking the anvil."  (From the Harmonious Blacksmith website)  "According to Iamblichus, Pythagoras immediately ran into the forge to investigate the harmony of the hammers....He analyzed the hammers and realized that those that were harmonious with each other had a simple mathematical relationship--their masses were simple ratios or fractions of each other. That is to say that hammers half, two- thirds, or three-quarters the weight of a particular hammer would all generate harmonious sounds. On the other hand, the hammer that was generating disharmony when struck along with any of the other hammers had a weight that bore no simple relationship to the other weights."  (this story found here, along with some neat illustrations)

What about the piece of music itself?  There are several different stories about this, all involving blacksmiths.  Here is one of them:  "The title “Harmonious Blacksmith” was bestowed on the music in the nineteenth century, and a story of its origin claims the piece was a favorite of a William Lintern, a blacksmith apprentice and an amateur musician. He was often heard whistling his favorite piece, Handel’s “Air and Variations”, giving his friends the reason to call him “the harmonious blacksmith”. Lintern later became owner of a music publishing company, the first to publish the piece under The Harmonious Blacksmith title."  (Program notes found here.) 

Pip, the main character in Great Expectations (which we read last year) is fondly given the nickname of Handel by the character Herbert Pocket: "We are so harmonious- and you have been a blacksmith."

3.  Listen to the theme carefully (midi file at the second link given above).

4.  Listen to the whole piece, including the variations.

Southey quote for the day: Daniel's Books

From The Doctor, &c., by Robert Southey
Happily for Daniel, he lived before the age of Magazines, Reviews, Cyclopedias, Elegant Extracts and Literary Newspapers, so that he gathered the fruit of knowledge for himself, instead of receiving it from the dirty fingers of a retail vender [sic]. His books were few in number, but they were all weighty either in matter or in size. They consisted of the Morte d'Arthur in the fine black-letter edition of Copeland ; Plutarch's Morals and Pliny's Natural History, two goodly folios, full as an egg of meat... Ripley Revived by Eirenaeus Philalethes, an Englishman styling himself 'Citizen of the World'... the Pilgrim's Progress; two volumes of Ozell's translation of Rabelais; Latimer's Sermons ; and the last volume of Foxe's Martyrs, which latter book had been brought him by his wife. The Pilgrim's Progress was a godmother's present to his son : the odd volumes of Rabelais he had picked up at Kendal, at a sale, in a lot with Ripley Revived and Plutarch's Morals:  the others he had inherited.

Daniel had looked into all these books, read most of them, and believed all that he read, except Rabelais, which he could not tell what to make of. He was not, however, one of those persons who complacently suppose every thing to be nonsense, which they do not perfectly comprehend, or flatter themselves that they do. His simple heart judged of books by what they ought to be, little knowing what they are....The Morte d' Arthur therefore he received for authentic history, just as he did the painful chronicle of honest John Stowe, and the Barnesian labours of Joshua the self-satisfied : there was nothing in it indeed which stirred his English blood like the battles of Cressy and Poictiers and Najara; yet on the whole he preferred it to Barnes's story, believed in Sir Tor, Sir Tristram, Sir Lancelot and Sir Lamorack as entirely as in Sir John Chandos, the Captal de Buche and the Black Prince, and liked them better. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

CM is for thick heads?

Well, that's one way to describe CM methods!

"When I was ready for secondary school my parents chose a boarding school for me--Overstone, near Northampton.  It was a school of the Parents' National Educational Educational Union (PNEU).  All exams were set at Ambleside.  It was a school for those who found school work hard to learn, for all was done by repetition of lessons to put them into a thick head."  ~~ Blessings and Testings: A Twentieth Century Christian Life, by Josephine E. Bagby

Monday, April 01, 2013

"A is for April Fool"

Photo of pizza cake taken by Ponytails.  It's a half-and-half pizza because we had some eaters who like white chocolate and some who prefer coconut.

Dollygirl's photo.