25 July, 2010

Homeschool Team for Solar Car Race?

Somebody really should look into sponsoring a homeschool solar car race team. My hubster, the Dread-Pirate Sparsebeard, has been involved (with the school where he teaches) in this race as a judge and helper for years, now. But he is not a Science teacher, he is an Enlish Major, kwim? A couple of our boys have been able to volunteer and work with the photography and videography team as well. What a great experience it was for them. Now I ask, can any of my homeschool friends think of candidates to support (financially) and begin such an endeavor for our kids in the future? It is for guys and gals alike. One of this year's teams was an all-girl team. It is not cheap, but with good sponsors...what better way to get some hands-on science and engineering experience?

For more information, check out Winston School Solar program for ideas and photos. Doc has done a great job directing this big shindig for these past 15 years, and I think it is time homeschoolers tried to join in the challenge. Here's a helpful blurb from their web site:

"The only international high school solar education program and race in the world. Program includes workshops, curriculum materials, and on-site visits leading to an annual race."

Students build these cars all by themselves. A teacher or leader helps to guide, but all the real building must happend by students alone. This is not your child's pinewood derby car race (thank God!) where many parents do the work for the kids and do all the little tweaking they often do to help their sons or daughters beat everyone else. Yeah, kinda disappointed me more than a little when our kiddos were younger. But, I am not bitter ;-). That is a post for another day on letting our children succeed or fail on their OWN merits. Such a valuable lesson.

I'll just step off my little soapbox now, before I fall off ;-), and share a couple of photos ~

Photo by our own AJ

Photo by Roddy Parkinson (not all the cars are this snazzy)


24 July, 2010

Cooking and Garden feasts

Our daughter texted me from a grocery store up in Omaha recently for ingredients to some of our favorite family meals, some of which make use of our summer garden produce. I decided to take some photos for her, and share them on the blog, in no particular order :-). We hardly used specific recipes anymore, we just slice, shred, and mix to our tastebuds' delight!

One of my favorite summer snacks ~ marinating cucumbers in a little balsamic vinegar-water with a bit of onion.

My mom always made these every summer. Adding balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar is my own twist to this summer munchie.

New Mexico sandia with red chile enchiladas on corn tortillas. This heat-filled beauty is Hubby's

And this one is mine. It's a little milder with its Hatch, N.M. green chile enchilada sauce, black beans and cheddar in stacked corn tortillas. I wish it had white cheddar on it, instead, but this is what we had in the kitchen.

garden-fresh tomatoes. We have not had as many this year. I think too much heat, then too much rain threw off the blossom-setting cycle.

a menagerie of garden veggies picked this month

Green chile and black bean enchiladas with garden veggies stuffed inside, topped with cilantro

snow peas from early July

These were made into a healthy squash casserole, which I did not get a picture of before eating it all up.

And these ripened and picked different days this week. I think I'll make a smoothie out of some of these this weekend.

Friday's lunch ~ Sauteed fresh corn, onions, and garlic with black beans, folded into whole-grain quesadillas with fresh cilantro, then served with sliced avocado and salsa.

Weekend brunch menu, recipe found here. This was recommended by two different friends, and I just happened to have everything needed for it, fresh from the cottage garden. I *wish* we had our own free-range chickens and eggs.

Now, I don't have photos of one of the main dishes that our daughter asked for, and that is chicken-broccoli-rice casserole. I will have to work on that and post it another time.

What have you been cooking up this summer?

Eat well,

19 July, 2010

Orphaned Utensils as Decor

(photo by L. Allen)

I love old kitchen and garden tools. Especially red or green-handled tools. That appreciation for use of old things led me to this neat article in the online version of Real Simple Magazine.
This is a wonderful idea. What a neat way to use up odd-end forks and spoons left over from who-knows-what. I just may translate this idea to the front bathroom, which Hubby and I have been working on this summer. (well, it really began back in March ;-).

Here's another lovely idea that partially reminds me of some homes in Mexico ~

(photo also by L. Allen)

That washed-blue wall is amazing. Almost makes me want to switch from a warm color pallette that we have in most of the rooms in our home. It does give me ideas for the laundry room, and perhaps our back bathroom. I have glaze leftover from another project from last year. I'll keep you posted on how the ideas develop in the future!

Happy Decorating, friends!


18 July, 2010

Nature Moment ~ A Spider Becomes Lunch

Observed around my own lunchtime ~

We've seen this a lot over the years that we've lived here at the cottage, but this is the first time I've captured it in a photo.

Heroically dragging lunch up to his or her home to feed the family. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.


17 July, 2010

Jane Austen Anniversary

July 18th marks the Anniversary of Jane Austen's death in 1817. A friend showed me a neat blog, and I just had to share it with you.

Jane Austen's World

Then I stumbled onto another one with good Jane Austen photos:

London Calling

Enjoy, my friends!


10 July, 2010

Summer Projects

Well, this is a peak of what our front bathroom used to look like. When this son (our youngest) was born, we had a serious leak from this bathroom and had to call the insurance company to help us replace the damages. We found these thick, blue 1 ft. sheets of 3-inch tiles for about half price, and did our own custom tub enclosure, saving a lot of money.

15 years later, a different sort of problem developed. Termites. Hubs was so frustrated, we finally shelled out the big bucks to rid the cottage of the munching critters. This was a week before our daughter's wedding. Then he went one step further and ripped out the wall, instead of waiting till after all those last minute crazy wedding details.

He likes to keep things rolling forward, no matter what. ;-) He then put up this lovely green tarp, so we could still use the front bathroom shower. We had lots of company, after all. I put all pride aside. It's really an ugly quality, anyway. We were shouldering a lot, and I'm sure very few people knew. Ah well. All's well that ends well, and our daughter is a very happy gal!

This major project had to wait till summer, since all money was tied up throughout the spring for our dd's wedding. We are committed to continuing to nix all debt and pay cash as we go, even on a teacher's salary. That's not always easy, and plenty of situations come up to test that commitment. But that's a different post for another day.

Here, you can see the replacement studs where the termites lived and munched for some time.

The red stuff is a roll-on backing that dries plastic. Weird, slimy stuff while appying to the backer boards.

First center tile!

Stair-steps of progress. We used pennies as spacers :-)

This was after our second full day of tiling. Quite a lot of progress, here.

applying the bullnose tiles, and fixing them with tape so they wouldn't slip-n-slide.

applying the tiles to the side of the seat/shampoo shelf

Hubby applying the grout one week after his knee surgery. He forgot to do just one wall at a time. It's been a long time since we've done this!

detailing the grout clean-up. This stuff dried so fast. Much faster than the sanded grout we used for this project 15 years ago.

Grouted, finished seat!

some filmy gunk still on the tiles, needing a good wipe-down.

close-up of the border and rope tiles. Hubby did a nice job on those mitered corners!

Finished tub! I found that red shower curtain for $7 back in February at Target, while shopping for our daughter's wedding. We had no idea that these would be the colors we chose for the bathroom. I just loved the color, the price, and the fact that it is "quilted." I had planned to possibly use it as a small table cover.
Now I just need to sand down some joints above and to the side of the new tiles, put a coat of primer on, then decide on a wall paint color. We'll probably used paint we already have, saving ourselves some more money.
What summer projects are my readers tackling?
who loves dark red!

05 July, 2010

Best laid plans

We always hold our plans loosely so that we are not thrown off or so disappointed when things 'happen' to thwart those plans. We've had the excitement of a burned-out car, hubby wrecking his knee and going in for surgery, and yesterday, our only daughter was hit by a car (while commuting by bicycle) on her way to work. She lives out of state, so she called me up today [which is actually July 13] and gave me the skinny. I might post her pictures later, but I don't want to put her on the spot. She has her own life now, with her sweet Hubby. We never stop being a parent, though.

So to say we've had an exciting summer of surprises would be an understatement.

On Father's Day, our 17 yo son experienced his father's car catching on fire while he (ds) was driving it home from church. We are so very fortunate to continue to acknowledge how blessed we all are that he was not hurt in the incident. All he lost was his ipod and hubby's music cd's. Everything melted and burned away, including the seats! The only inaminate objects that survived were some tools and our really awesome camping/sleeping bags that were in the trunk. The fire department made it just in time to put out the flames before they hit the completely-full gas tank. Kudos to them.

He was pretty close to home, and some of our friends could see the dark smoke filling the sky.

The next day, which was also my 46th birthday, Hubby found a good, used car to replace it, and it is economical and cute. It was a very good deal for our budget, and a good commuter car for hubby. It will be weird having a car payment again, though, since both of our cars have been paid off for a long time.

Right around that same time, Hubby messed up his knee overdoing it on some major yardwork for his Dad. He got in to see a surgeon, had and MRI and consult, then surgery. He is reuperating slowly, but progressively. He does much better when he stays off his leg and keep it propped up high. He is getting better each day, though he relapsed yesterday from too much work with me on our bathroom repairs.

The surgery stopped our front bathroom tile replacement (from termite and water damage) cold in its tracks, though we are almost done! Just need to touch up some grout spots, seal the grout, and call it finished and good.
This also threw off my planning, bookbinding, and writing schedules, and removed the possibility of speaking to a group of Moms and Dads that are new to homeschooling. It is just not the season for hardly any of those speaking events these past few years. I am okay with that, as long as I still have some opportunities to be with my friends, share and glean ideas together from time to time.

I decided to cancel participating in a solar car race as a judge this year. I've so much to catch up on here at home, so I'm not too disappointed. It will be a good father-son trip without me there to change the dynamic. I will get to have my own mother-son bonding with the big, strong, 17 yo son still at home. Maybe we'll have all his friends over and have a party and some football in the backyard.

But for now, it's back to work on:

~ getting the laundry room organized

~ Getting Spanish lesson plans re-organized (they are already written) for fall classes. Toss old materials that can't re use. Continue to esearch products, update wish lists. Organize resources for first lessons.

~ Weekly sauna treatments, while I organize little bits of the attic at a time. Hey, it is healthy, and FREE.

~ Work in bookbinding studio (restoration of old books and bookbinding is my part-time work).

~ read and research any new needed techniques or products in bookbinding and Spanish, or even things for Charlotte Mason Bookclub~ work a little bit on Fall syllabi in multiple classes

~Weed that garden!

:::sigh::: Pretty boring, right? I am very content, though. And blessed.

There are always going to be things to do, and rest assured that I am good at working in my own fun and free reading time. I just need to keep re-focusing my *work* efforts every day.

I think I am looking forward to a mini-vacation with my Sweet Hubster to New Mexico soon.

02 July, 2010

Two Things

1) It's hard to stay focused in the summer, so I have to work on bits and pieces in just one area before moving on to the next thing. Otherwise I'd be running back and forth all over the house being distracted by something else that needs to be picked up, thrown away, or moved to a different room!

2) Summer is going by toooooo quickly.

It may seem cliché, but there it is, anyway.

What things are you realizing this mid-summer day?