Tuesday, December 30, 2008

saint peter is going to need a bigger gate


I love church cookbooks. I have several and they are all unique and wonderful. The recipes are handed down, family favorites that somebody's Aunt Ida only shared for a good cause. And you just know she left out the secret ingredient that makes her chocolate cake the best. You just know it.

Admittedly, I try to cook healthy foods made from local and/or organic ingredients. And I've been a vegetarian for more than 16 years now. That means I have to heavily tweak many of the recipes in those books, but I love them just the same. I even have a cookbook from one of our state's women's prisons. Not kidding.

My mother-in-law gave me a wonderful new cookbook from her 200+-year-old church. It is a fundraiser for youth programs and it is awesome in its Southern goodness. It is 97 pages, 31 of which are desserts. There are five recipes for sweet potato souffle.


Monday, December 29, 2008

the day job

I am a slacker about posting story links. I will try to do better in 2009. Oh wait -- that sounded like a New Year's resolution and I don't do those. I guess it will remain hit and miss.

Mommy wars redux is in the December WNC Parent (and I am aware that it is all but January now).

Any eager book publishers out there? You know where to find me...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

and a good time was had by all


Some were especially enthusiastic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

not a Christmas card (the 2008 edition)

Walt Disney World monorail Oct. 2008 by you.

(Those wacky kids -- on the monorail at Walt Disney World, October 2008)

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this finds you healthy, happy and enjoying a peaceful Christmas season. Just last week, I read that sending Christmas cards via email is considered tacky. If you are offended, look away quickly. While I miss the days of covering my kitchen with glitter and embossing powder as I made cards, I have accepted that I won’t be going back to that as long as we are homeschooling. This works, too, don’t you think? :)

Caroline and Nolan have refused to follow my lead by not getting older (Ha!). Caroline is now in tenth grade. She loves high school and is having a great time on the speech and debate team and teaching the younger kids at church. She is also learning to drive, so you might want to call your insurance agent and double check that coverage.

Nolan is in fifth grade and we are in our second year of homeschooling. I am not sure which one of us is learning more, but it continues to be a success. He attends co-op classes one day each week, loves Cub Scouting and is learning to operate all the high tech sound boards and lights while serving on a ministry team at church.

John and I are doing well – though we spend a lot of time driving the kids around the globe. John succeeded in getting me to go camping this year (sort of – it was a climate-controlled situation) and I enjoyed it in spite of myself. We will soon celebrate our 20th anniversary by leaving the kids here with their grandparents while we get out of town to a place that does not have chicken nuggets on the menu. You just know we are counting the days. :)

I wish you all a wonderful 2009, with blessings in abundance. Please keep in touch.

(Pretend this is on the elaborate, hand-stamped card you just opened. Brush that glitter off your fingers…)

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:19 - 21 (The Message)

Merry Christmas!


Chris (for John, Caroline and Nolan)

You can keep up with us at www.chrisworthy.com and www.johnworthy.com. Pictures are online (and sporadically updated) at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisworthy/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnworthy/.

Monday, December 22, 2008

don't read this if your child is getting a gift from me

I'm not kidding.

Laura, this means you.

Look away now.



OK, she's gone, so I can show you what I made and was tempted to keep for myself, if only I didn't love those nieces of mine so much.

Let me preface this by saying that I never get anything right the first time when I sew. My seam ripper is my friend. However, felt food must be idiot-proof because it mostly looks like what it is supposed to look like.


Eggs, ravioli and orange slices -- not intended to represent a balanced meal...

This stuff is so much fun to make. I am trying to find a reason why I need to make myself a batch of fake food. There must be a legitimate argument to be made.


Carrots, drawn out right on the felt with free-hand cut leaves... Oops, I see I missed a thread.


I got cocky here at the end and decided to make a burger with lettuce, tomato and pickles. Unfortunately, I didn't have any bun-colored felt so it is all served open-faced.

What I learned: Wool felt is about a million times better to work with than acrylic felt, but only the burger is wool. Had I known this in advance, I would have ordered the wool online because if you live in the Upstate of South Carolina, you can only get hamburger-colored wool. I would also like to try this with reclaimed wool and I think a felted blanket would be just about perfect. Ooh, what if I hand-dyed it to colors other than hamburger...

Now, I'm really getting cocky.


The sun is a little distracting on this picture, but this is a doll-sized quilt with matching pillow. It is meant to be Bitty Baby sized, but since we don't own a Bitty Baby at our house, I had to guess. It is linen and a cotton Mary Engelbreit fabric which I could almost eat. Love those colors.

That snazzy little embroidered mushroom is from Pimp Stitch. Bitty Baby needed a mushroom, I think.

This is the first embroidery I have done in probably 25 years and I think I have unleashed a monster. Pimp Stitch is about as awesome as it sounds, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

paving the road

Save Handmade Toys

OK, the intentions were good, but it seems the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, designed to keep made-in-China, lead-infested toys from poisoning our kids, is about to put small scale toymakers out of business. If Congress doesn't do something soon, my sock monkeys and felt food will be contraband akin to sawed-off shotguns and prison shanks made from filed down spoons. (Too much time in criminal law? Um, it would appear so.)

Click that cute little face above to find out more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

free is good


I won these two gorgeous pieces of fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew. They will be part of the master bedroom quilt. The stash is growing and soon, I will have enough unique and wonderful fabrics to get started.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This awesome campaign ends Friday, Dec. 19!Going out to lunch tomorrow? How about this instead?

Safe Harbor helps women in the Upstate of South Carolina who are being abused physically, sexually or psychologically. http://www.safeharborsc.org/

Donate through their web site or get help by calling their toll free crisis line at 1-800-291-2139.

Friday, December 12, 2008

thoughts from the crazy house


(That house isn't crazy -- Nolan made it in kindergarten and I preserved it with about 10 coats of spray acrylic. On second thought, maybe that is crazy.)

We were smacked down by some intestinal flu from Mars (it could not be of this planet) and are finally starting to recover. Flush with fever, sick and sleepless, some unusual things occurred to me this week, including the odd notion at about 4 a.m. Tuesday that I would pay someone a thousand dollars to put some ice chips in mouth. Of course, I didn't have a thousand dollars and everyone within shouting distance was as sick as I was. (The ice chips were only about two feet away, but really, that was far.)

And my Bible readings from this week are from Job, so there you go.

I digress... (It is Friday and I am having my first cup of coffee since Monday, so a little digression is in order.)

This weekend, I will catch up on work, finish (start!--ha!) two gifts, make a batch of homemade candy, take my daughter to a craft show, have a date with my husband and maybe, just maybe, get the kids to make an updated gingerbread house so I can break out the acrylic spray.

What's on your Christmas to-do list this weekend?

P.S. Did I post this already? Can't remember... Read about a South Carolina mom who started her own business. Her salads are now a fixture in Piggly Wiggly stores. (If that name rolls off your tongue without so much as a smirk, you know you are from the South.) She makes 200 pounds of pimento cheese by herself every week, God bless her.

Monday, December 8, 2008



I have officially entered another age category. I hope to continue to live long and prosper. (Spock is a gift from the teenager. She risked social exile by purchasing him for me.)

On a lovely note that has nothing to do with my rapidly advancing age, go check out the beautiful handmade items for artist Susan Dean.

Friday, December 5, 2008

And the winner is...




Blogger HandbagsbyJen said...

Perfect gift! I love teals, eggplant and red.


Congratulations, Jen! I hope you all will come back for a visit soon. Several people asked about ordering twine. It is available in my Etsy shop.

Want to help me with a project? Come back next week to participate! Thanks!



Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-12-05 17:01:11 UTC

Thursday, December 4, 2008

how to recognize a hero

(If you arrived for the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway, scroll down to yesterday's post. And welcome!)


(Charles Rhodes with Tara, at an orphanage in Afghanistan, 2007)

If you read the story last week about Operation Security Blanket and Tara, the young girl whose death inspired it all, I wanted to share this picture with you. Charles gave me permission to post it here. It is true that this picture says much more than my words ever could.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

crafters, unite (bad spellers, untie)

It's give-away day over at Sew, Mama, Sew and many folks are participating. (I hope to win something, too.) Please leave a comment below if you are interested in winning some holiday-ready (Christmas... Valentine's Day...) baker's twine and an assortment of vintage buttons (tell me your favorite colors...). Visit my Etsy shop for more vintage goodness.


Merry Christmas to you!

Edited to add: I am going to draw a comment by random number on Friday, Dec. 5 (which is also Walt Disney's birthday). Thank you all for visiting!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

one day, we will laugh at this


(Hole in the master bedroom wall. It's the newest decorating trend, didn't you know?)

And we will laugh about how the water from the upstairs shower poured down into the foyer.

Not today, of course, but one day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

news from the classroom

We have a full week of school at home! Co-op is over for the semester and the holidays and field trips are on temporary hiatus. Since it is cold outside, I would say this is perfect timing.

This week, we wrap up a rather protracted (math pun -- sorry) unit on fractions and mixed numbers, including multiplication and division. (Standards, schmandards.)

In science, we continue with roller coaster/NASCAR science by focusing on forms of energy, as well as the law of conservation of energy. (Again with the standards flying out the window...)

Language arts continues to be smooth sailing with Time4Learning. We have been using this on a trial basis in exchange for providing (honest) reviews and I couldn't be more pleased. Writing has been a constant struggle for Nolan and this system has worked well for him. ELA extensions (basically, writing lessons) are broken down in chunks that he can handle and because it is online, it has instant appeal for him. I did fear that it might be watered down, just because it has visual appeal for kids. This has not been that case at all.

Also on the language arts front, Nolan will be reading "Dear Dr. Bell...Your friend, Helen Keller" this week. It will be a nice tie-in to...

History... where we will be focusing on American inventors that shaped the Industrial Revolution.

Nolan is also working on a lapbook on the history of sports. We try to have an interest project going on at all times. Next up, we will focus on St. Nicholas and traditional Christmas carols.

Since Spanish is over until next semester, I am going to get us both started on some online Spanish. I am considering the BBC course, but we will play that by ear. For next year (assuming there is a next year -- homeschool-wise), we are definitely doing Spanish as a full-time course, using Destinos videos and books. We may start this year, just because I previewed the first lesson and I need to know what happens to Fernando.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

a soldier's heart


I would be honored if you would click over and read my story about Tara (her name needs to be said out loud and often), an Afghan orphan who died last winter. She has brought out the best in people after experiencing some of the worst. The soldier whose heart she touched is keeping her name alive. What a hero he is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

his own tune


We celebrated the end of the semester for our homeschool co-op last week. Music class for the older kids now includes guitar lessons. Here, my boy is jamming to "Joy to the World."

Miscellaneous homeschool notes for the week:

  • Nolan is continuing to enjoy Time4Learning and it is resulting in much improved writing. He does not complain about it. That is no small thing.
  • If you are in South Carolina, I highly recommend the Leonardo da Vinci Machines in Motion exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum. We attended a class there last Friday and there were squeals of delight from our area. Nolan enjoyed it, too.
  • Despite the transparently slick marketing campaign (not because of it), I bought the first book in the The 39 Clues series for Nolan. He devoured it. We had to make him stop reading. (I keep calling it The 39 Steps. Not the same thing.)
  • Nicola Tesla was awesome. Sir Isaac Newton was pretty cool, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

coffee service

Habitat For Humanity Fundraising Idea

Calicodaisy's daughter is raising money for a trip to serve on a Habitat for Humanity team. Head on over and buy one of these snazzy coffee sleeves to help her cause.

Drink coffee and feel good about it -- the perfect combination.

Monday, November 17, 2008

like sending my child out into the world (but not really)


I have enjoyed my foray into jewelry making. There is something extra cool about wearing a one-of-a-kind item and knowing it originated in my brain. (Maybe I am weird that way...)

But yikes, now I have listed a handmade bracelet in my Etsy shop. A little intimidating? Yep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

tie up some brown paper packages...


with red and white baker's twine, now in my shop

Thursday, November 13, 2008

time4learning...getting started


We are currently enjoying a trial membership in Time4Learning. Though the site includes lessons in math, science, social studies and language arts, we are starting with language arts to supplement what we have already been using -- sort of.

I add the caveat because we have used Time4Learning for writing instruction this week with surprising success and we have used it to the exclusion of anything else. Remember -- Mr. Math and Science will tell you that he hates to write. He does love to use the computer, however, and anything online has at least some measure of appeal to him. (This became very clear when we started using StreamlineSC, an educational video service offered to {all} South Carolina schools through our public television system.) Like his mom, my son is also very much a visual and tactile learner -- we use videos, hands-on activities and real world experiences to supplement everything. Time4Learning plays nicely to his visual curiosity.

We have jumped right into Language Arts Extensions, beginning with writing paragraphs. I am excited about the possibility of the site walking us through the research paper that has been looming in my lesson plans like an angry bear. (Most of our school day is fun for both of us. Writing? Not so much.)

After two school days using the site, Nolan has four well constructed paragraphs (on actual paper!) that were relatively painless for both of us. I think this will be a big help as we move to essays and longer papers. So far, so good. I will continue to update...

Edited to add: He really does write a lot and often -- this is about prompted writing, a skill without which the rest of the world (read: test graders and colleges) will be unable to evaluate the good stuff cooped up in his brain. Just last week he finished a multi-page work of fiction. I swear.

equal and opposite



A balloon car -- Sir Isaac would have loved this.

how to know if homeschooling is going well


Take your 10-year-old (who just started learning about force and motion) to a one hour and 20 minute lecture and Q&A by a physics professor. Watch him sit still, take it all in and whisper "Cool!" when she uses a graphic to explain how computational fluid dynamics is used to analyze how airflow is impacted by splitters and wings on cars.

I would call that a good day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008



...proof that God loves us.

This was half a perfectly ripe avocado (which I hardly ever find, actually) mashed with a couple of tablespoons of homemade salsa. Today's incarnation of the salsa is below. The summer version is an entirely different animal. The same could be said about me.

Homemade Salsa: The Winter Version

28 oz. can of whole tomatoes

1/4 medium sized yellow onion

1/4 cup of pepper mix (I used a mixture of hot and sweet peppers from the freezer.)

Cilantro (A good handful of fresh, unless it's gross at your store as it was at mine. In that case, dried is a poor substitute, but I had to make do.)

A dash of sugar and salt

A generous amount of fresh ground black pepper

Drain tomato juice into food processor. Add onion, peppers and cilantro and pulse until finely chopped. Pour into another bowl and then pulse the tomatoes in the processor until desired consistency. Combine everything and add salt, sugar and black pepper to taste. Great with blue corn chips.

Friday, November 7, 2008

the prize


I have just been reminded to keep my eyes on it as temperatures turn cooler tomorrow and the days are so short and it's going to rain and I really don't enjoy winter (but for Christmas) and (yikes) Thanksgiving is in three weeks and I have felt food to make (long story) and I am probably not sending out Christmas cards again this year and...

Ah, yes -- a romantic getaway is definitely in order.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

wild kingdom of suburbia




I love when a hawk lingers in the front yard. I try not to think about the fact that he is just here for the food. (There's a bird feeder one tree over. He's here for the birds -- not the birdseed.)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

did you?


If you haven't ventured out yet, take a jacket and a snack. Lines are long.


Or you can take a leopard print fleece wrap (wide and long rectangle of fleece sewn right sides together -- leave an opening-- turn and add a little free-motion quilting). I felt like Lovey Howell as I waited in line. It's always a good day when you can dress like Lovey.

The Mr. Goodbar leftover from Halloween actually melted in my pocket, but I was prepared for whatever the election commission could throw my way.



Now, I am off to be bribed by Starbucks.

one more story link

Sorry. This was supposed to be a writing site, you know.

I already have my day...er... my son's day booked to see the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum. It is going to be a geeky good time for all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

escaped predatory animals and the mommy wars

If you are asking, "What's the difference?" -- the animals are more fun to be around. Just kidding... :)

Read a bit about said animals moving it in the forthcoming Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and how the mommy wars continue.

And vote tomorrow, if you are in the U.S.

Don't forget.


Do it.

when heaven is the church ceiling

So I spend five days in Florida and come away fully SPF-ed with no hint of sunburn. Sunday morning in church? Not so much.

All over town today, members of our church are sporting sunburns on the right sides of their faces, but it was worth it.  We celebrated the church's 15th anniversary with one big (really big) service at a local park.


My pictures in no way capture the mass of humanity there. It was like a rock concert, which is how we often do church, actually.



And the sun was incredible. (Here's Nolan texting Dad who was on his way back from a camping trip.)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

looky lou...

I write words (and people pay me for that) -- you know, when I'm not doing the other stuff I've done this week, like teaching homeschoolers about the presidential election process, getting ready for the 150 or so trick-or-treaters I am expecting tomorrow night, or hacking my lungs out like a chain smoker (Thanks, Florida!).

My breast cancer story is teased on the front page on The Greenville News online today.

And my story about Holding Crosses was in yesterday's Tribune Times. I had never heard about Holding Crosses before being asked to write the story. Learn more about them here.

Enjoy. Cough, cough.

And dang, I really do own a very nice camera and might one day post a picture and update my Flickr account...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

24: Redemption Trailer

What the world needs now is...
Jack, yes, Jack.
You were thinking something else? :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

the value of a mom

I've written here several times about Let There Be Mom, a wonderful organization that helps terminally ill mothers leave a legacy for their young children. Another of "their" moms passed away today -- and what a legacy she left. Learn more about Monica Pryor and her beautiful family here, here, and here. The last link is to a sermon at my church from about six weeks ago. Monica appears in a video near the end of the sermon, telling about the importance of Let There Be Mom. She then plays violin -- she played with several orchestras in the past -- with our praise band to "Live Like You Were Dying."

She did.

We should.

It is believed that Monica's cancer was caused by radon in her home. My friend, Mike Burns, wrote a great story about Monica and the dangers of radon here. It is scary, but worth the read.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

what's that popping in your brain?

I am always asking other homeschooling parents about their experiences with various books and programs, so much so that they are probably starting to run away when they see me coming. To pay it forward, I am going to include some of our experiences here. YMMV.

First up, we just completed a free trial of Brain Pop. Sign up and enjoy. It is not in our homeschooling budget to continue with a subscription but my son has pretty much devoured the site already. He loved it and asked to spend more time watching the videos. Learning disguised as fun -- always a good thing. I would say the site is for older elementary and middle school ages at least. There is also a Brain Pop, Jr. for younger students, but we have not perused that one.

Note that in addition to the free trail offered by Brain Pop, several of the videos are free to watch at any time.

On a less than happy note, we have rid ourselves of Singapore Math for all eternity. I actually liked this program very much (I have an aversion to Saxon Math after my daughter's experience with it years ago) and I thought my son would do well with it. He hated it -- simple as that. I think the core of his dislike came from his familiarity with traditional public school math texts (sound bites and bright, shiny colors -- and some math, too). Singapore is decidedly different and apparently too much so for his taste. We are using a couple of different things at the moment before potentially moving on to Teaching Textbooks in a few weeks. The jury is still out.

A hearty endorsement for Woe is I Jr. It is funny and sometimes gross, which is just about perfect when you are a 10-year-old boy. The grammar lessons are rock solid and I find that my son sometimes reads more than he is assigned. That's the best endorsement around, as far as I am concerned.

More -- good and bad -- to come...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

autumn gathering

A few photos in celebration of the Autumn Gathering Home Party...


~a banner strung from vintage stained glass...


~ and the timeless appeal of thrifted books.



does florida have seasons?

I find it reliably spring/summer there whenever I go, which is one of the things I love most about the state. We had a wonderful respite at Walt Disney World over the past week. New to us: the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot (food, wine... that's enough, right?) and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. There will be stories and photos published and I will tag those here. For now, enjoy a bit of summer in October.






the jedi and the flapper

...and their dad, who attended Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party as my handsome husband.


Some of us did not have time for costumes because we were down to the wire (the wire, I tell you) sewing a Jedi robe. It was imperfect and the edges of the linen undershirt (linen!) were zigzagged in a hurry -- not even hemmed. But as I told my son, Jedi knights take a vow of poverty, making material possessions unimportant to them. Sometimes you have to go with what you know.