Friday, October 30, 2009

Simply Grand, Reading Rendezvous


If kids are entertained by two letters,

imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six

Open your child's imagination

Open a book.  ~Author Unknown


Our author this week is Deborah Hopkinson. She has written several picture books based on a historical event or person.

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Deborah Hopkinson from a blog entitled In the Pages:

 dh5What has been one of your favorite books to write?

ABE LINCOLN CROSSES A CREEK, which was recently named an ALA Notable, was so much fun to write. My editor, Anne Schwartz, did a fantastic job of helping me envision this story as a collaboration between author and illustrator.

Where is your favorite spot to write?

Well, although I do have an office in my home, I have to admit my favorite spot to write is sitting on my bed with my laptop and a portable ironing board – which is where I am at this very moment.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As a girl I loved to read. I think I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in fourth grade. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about that. When my daughter was born and we began reading picture books, I realized that picture books were short enough for a busy working mom to try. And so I’ve been writing ever since. I have also worked full time during my writing career and am now vice president for college advancement for the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

We really enjoyed learning new facts from history.  Here is an excerpt from Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building:

May 1, 1931:  opening day.  Finished in record time! 

Sixty thousand tons of steel,

ten million bricks,

two thousand tons of marble,

sixty-five hundred windows,

seventy miles of water pipes,

eighteen hundred and sixty stairs. 

One year and forty-five days,

seven million man-hours,

more than three thousand men—

a triumph of speed, safety, and efficiency, and something else, too:  beauty.”



dh2     dh1



Happy Reading!

Heather $


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Icebox Pie

Fall baking. . . isn't it delicious?! I love anything pumpkin.

I found this recipe in Everyday Food -a Martha Stewart magazine.

I made it last night and everyone LOVED it so I had to share. . .

Here's the recipe:


for the crust:

  • 16 cinnamon graham crackers, broken into pieces (I used regular g.c. and just added a little cinnamon)
  • 1T dark brown sugar (I used light)
  • 1/2 t salt (I omitted)
  • 1/2 C butter, melted and cooled

for the filling and topping:

  • 3 t unflavored powdered gelatin (from 2 packets)
  • 1 can pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 C packed dark-brown sugar (I used light)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1T confectioners' sugar

1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 325. In a food processor, combine graham crackers, sugar, and salt; process until fine crumbs form. With machine running, slowly pour butter through feed tube and process until mixture resembles wet sand. (I bought pre-crushed crumbs and combined it all in the pie plate) Press crumbs in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square baking dish. (I used a pie plate) Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fragrant, 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking dish on a wire rack.

2. Meanwhile, make filling: Place 1/4 C cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and cream cheese until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; bring to a simmer over medium. Add gelatin mixture an stir until completely dissolved. Pour milk mixture into pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely smooth.

3. Pour filling into cooled crust and refrigerate until chilled and completely set, about 3 hours (or wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate, up to 2 days). To serve, whip cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.


Happy fall baking,


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October Days


“It Was One of Those Fine October Days”

It was one of those fine October days
free from summer’s
and haze
but not yet gripped by autumn chill.
It was one of those fine October days
when the sky’s so clear
you can see the
through the atmosphere
at midday.
It was one of those fine October days
when the
sport yellow and red
instead of everyday summer green.
It was one of those fine October days
when one draws a deep breath
and is grateful
to be resident on Earth.

-Richard Greene

It certainly was a fine October day.

A bit chillier than it appeared.

The bright sunshine was a welcome and invigorating sight.

Most of the leaves have fallen and soon we’ll be raking the lawn. . .

and then the snowflakes will fall and overstay their welcome.

Hopefully in that order.

I’ve enjoyed the bright afternoon sunshine beaming through the family room window during this time of year.


“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth’. . .”  Genesis 1:14

Happy last days of October,


Monday, October 26, 2009

Simple Woman’s Daybook

simple-woman-daybook-large October 26, 2009

Outside my window...gloomy, grey skies and 42 degrees. 

I am thinking...a little “shut eye” would do me good this afternoon.

I am thankful working dishwasher.

From the learning rooms...we’ll be watching a few “Families of the World” dvd’s this week.  I picked them up at the library. . . Ghana, Australia and China

From the kitchen...leftover spaghetti for dinner and chicken noodle soup this week.

I am wearing...jeans and a soft, fuzzy, dark brown sweatshirt

I am creating...postcard, Christmas letter ideas

I am stay on top of the clutter which accumulates in the office.  (I’m hoping positive thinking helps ;))

I am reading...the October issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine.

I am hoping...our 3 days of health and wellness continue after a bout of the stomach flu last week.

I am hearing...a very tired, fussy, two year old who needed a longer nap.

Around the house...I hear the basketball bouncing outside, the washer stopped and needs to be put into the dryer and the kitchen is temporarily clean from lunch.

One of my favorite things...Lucy the cat purring on my lap.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...three excited boys who found success in their trap line today. . . a raccoon.

Read other daybooks or create one of your own by going HERE.

Happy Monday,


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Simply Grand, Reading Rendezvous

Alvin Tresselt was our author this week.  Since I enjoy reading author biographies, I will include his here. . . 

Born in Passaic, New Jersey on September 30, 1916, Alvin Tresselt was a pioneer in children's books. With his poetic prose style, he created the "mood" picturebook, which relied not on plot and character but on setting and description. Many of at8his books were popular with teachers who wished to teach about the environment.
From 1946 to 1952, Mr. Tresselt worked in advertising and display graphics. During this time, he began writing children's books. His book, White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1948. In 1952, he became editor of Humpty Dumpty magazine. Later, he was executive editor at Parent's Magazine Press, as well as chief editor of their book imprint. In 1974, he became an instructor and then Dean of Faculty at the Institute of Children's Literature in Redding, Connecticut. He married Blossom Budney, another children's book writer, and they had two daughters. His most popular book was The Mitten, which was taken from a Ukrainian story, describing the shivering forest animals who seek shelter in a little boy's lost mitten. Mr. Tresselt passed away in Burlington, Vermont on July 24, 2000.
—Vicki Palmquist

at1        at2     at4

at5             at6     at7

The following book has been requested by the kids several times and I just finished reading it again last night.  Kids of all ages will enjoy it.


treasureBecause four best friends (a lion, otter, golden retriever, and beaver) have the same birthday, they receive one gift from Wise Old Owl--a treasure map that will help them find the golden keys to the Treasure Tree. Every friend must employ their own abilities, and they learn to appreciate their own personalities and to respect the attributes of others as well. Full-color illustrations.








It’s been a Saturday filled with snow and then sunshine.

Hope you had some sunshine too,



Thursday, October 22, 2009

All about me

Sickness has descended upon us.

The water park trip has been cancelled.

The healthy kids are staging a coup in retaliation.

The fun will have to wait ‘til May.

For lack of anything inspirational, creative, photographical, or encouraging. . .

I leave you with a Facebook “All About Me” questionnaire:

at 3:50 pm

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:45
2. How do you like your steak? medium
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Fireproof
4. What is your favorite TV show? No TV at present but I love the Food Network
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? hmmm... I actually am very happy being in Wisconsin but Santa Barbara, CA seems pretty ideal:)
6. What did you have for breakfast? Ezekial Raisin English Muffin

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian
8. What foods do you dislike? Mussels
9. Favorite Place to Eat?  any place serving authentic Mexican food or anywhere I don’t have to clean up the kitchen. :)

10. Favorite dressing? homemade ranch
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Chevy Suburban

12. What are your favorite clothes? Sport pants and t-shirt
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Anyplace warm during our long winter months.
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 empty but I’m trying to be more 1/2 full.
15. Where would you want to retire? here. . . and migrate to warmer places during the winter.
16. Favorite time of day? evening - when all is quiet. . .which is why I get to bed way too late.

17. Where were you born?  Wheaton, IL
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Basketball
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? N/A

20. Person you expect to tag you back first? N/A
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? N/A 
22. Bird watcher? No
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? I like the quiet of the morning hours. . .yet I go to bed too late so I try to sleep as late as I can.  Contradiction, huh?

24. Do you have any pets? A Bengal cat named Lucy.
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Ummm. . . I’ve been doing a lot of laundry due to vomiting children???  Oh, the kids are excited to announce they caught a fisher in their trap line this morning.
26. What did you want to be when you were little?  A mom.  My dreams came true X6 :)
27. What is your best childhood memory? Summers playing in the pool with my sister and friends.
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Both --- so I’ve recently discovered :)
29. Are you married? Yes, 20 years.

30. Always wear your seat belt? Always
31. Been in a car accident? One
32. Any pet peeves? People leaving their “stuff” on the floor.
33. Favorite Pizza?  Canadian bacon
34. Favorite Flower? Daisies
35. Favorite ice cream? Pralines and Cream
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Subway
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? none
38. From whom did you get your last email? A friend
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Nordstrom
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? No
41. Like your job? Yes, most of the time! :)  Hardest job I’ve ever done.
42. Broccoli? Yes, with a little cheese sauce ;)
43. What was your favorite vacation?  Hawaii with my family during my younger years; UP of Michigan with my husband last summer.
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? my parents and children.

45. What are you listening to right now? My five year old. . .chatting, whining, laughing, crying (yes, all while I’ve been answering these questions)
47. How many tattoos do you have? None now and none planned
48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? N/A
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 4:20pm
50. Coffee Drinker? Yes


OK, I have to post one picture. . .of that chattering 5 year old I mentioned during his bath time fun.


Happy Thursday!



Monday, October 19, 2009

Simple Woman’s Daybook

FOR TODAY...October 19th

Outside my window... The sun has been shining all day but the clouds seem to be rolling in and the wind is picking up.

I am thinking... it felt good to exercise today.

I am thankful for... the warmer temps outside today. . .I loved cracking a window open and enjoying the fresh air.

I am wearing... brown sweat pants, dark brown top and a grey vest.

I am remembering... that I need to cut the boys’ hair this afternoon.

I am going... to the Wisconsin Dells this week with my family, my sister’s family and our parents.  Fun!

I am reading... a Photography magazine I picked up at the library.

I am hoping... (praying) little Marshall’s croup is all gone. . .for good.

On my mind... What are we going to have for dinner tonight?

From the learning rooms... it’s 4:15pm and we’re still finishing up.

Noticing that... we are surviving just fine without TV this fall.

Pondering these words... God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.  Martin Luther

From the kitchen... a pot of chicken broth boiling on the stove. . .soon to be chicken noodle soup.

Around the house... after cleaning this weekend the clutter is somewhat under control and I’m glad my vacuum was able to be fixed.

One of my favorite things~ warm apple crisp.  Mmm, Mmm, good!

From my picture journal... remembering one of the kids’ summer delights. . .fishing with Grandpa.  (Thanks for the picture, Grandma)


You can enjoy reading other daybooks, HERE.

Happy Monday,



Sunday, October 18, 2009

did you know?

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

My mom is a breast cancer survivor. . .twice!

This post is in honor of you, mom.

You’ve faced medical obstacles with strength, courage and faith.

And you currently bless others with your seamstress handiwork.


Little A wore your latest creation to church today.


She rocked that headband, huh?




Thanks for my new dress, Oma!

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, . . .” 3Jn:2

Blessed Sunday everybody,


Saturday, October 17, 2009

delicious autumn

"Delicious autumn

My very soul is wedded to it,

and if I were a bird I would

fly about the earth

seeking the successive autumns."
-   George Eliot





Happy Fall Y’all,



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simply Grand, Reading Rendezvous

Our author this week is Jean Craighead George:

jcg The mother of three children, Jean George is a grandmother who has joyfully read to her grandchildren since the time they were born. Over the years Jean George has kept 173 pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York. "Most of these wild animals depart in autumn when the sun changes their behavior and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories."

The boys have been “all eyes and ears” as we’ve read her books.  Especially since they focus on animals.


   jean2 jean3

She is also the author of this classic which we will continue reading next week: 

A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship.


As they say, everyone has a story to tell.  I’ve had a pensive week. . . thinking, remembering, praying, studying, and writing my tehbe1picstimony of faith to share with the kids at our home school group. It was a wonderful exercise for me.  When I was  asked to share I thought, “Me? I really don’t have much of an interesting story to tell.”  And yet at age 43 when I sit back and reflect upon my life, I indeed have a testimony to share of God’s faithfulness, healing, love, protection, promises, joy. . .His sovereign hand upon my life.  I am more grateful than words can express. 

It was a good Thursday.  Hope yours was too.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

and the question is . . .

How long can I NOT eat before I die?,” Mr. H asked this afternoon.

He struggled all day with the fact that his tooth was soooo loose that he supposedly was unable to eat.

No breakfast,

chicken broth for lunch,

no dinner and

no apple crisp for dessert.

I quietly wondered how long this would last.

“Just pull it out!”

We all tried to persuade him but to no avail.


Several brothers offered their tooth pulling services but

were declined rather quickly.

He decided to wait until Daddy came home.

Then at 7:00pm,

with 13 pairs of eyes staring him down,

dental floss in daddy’s hands. . .


1, 2, 3. . .it was OUT!!


Dinner and dessert soon followed.

Meanwhile, through all the hoopla. . .

Lucy the cat yawned and dozed in her favorite spot. . .

the napkin basket in the center of the table.

The life of a cat, huh?


Now it’s my turn to doze. . .

Happy Tuesday night,



Monday, October 12, 2009

Simple Woman’s Daybook

FOR TODAY...October 12th from Heather’s Daybook

Outside my window... it’s dark (10:30pm), cold, and the landscape is lightly snow covered.
I am thinking... about the weekend excitement as our eldest proudly shot his first deer.  It was a definite “right of passage” moment.

I am thankful for... these quiet moments.

I am wearing... black pants and a mustard colored sweater.

I am remembering... our usual fresh picked orchard apples. . . I’m missing them this year.

I am going... to “hit the hay” shortly. . .it was a very tiring Monday.

I am reading...  reviews on laptop computers as we are researching before we buy.

I am hoping... my testimony to the homeschool group on Thursday is fruitful.

On my mind... raising, teaching, clothing, training, loving, forgiving, feeding. .  . PARENTHOOD. . .  It’s hard work!

From the learning rooms... lots accomplished today including a fun game of Apples to Apples this afternoon.

Noticing that... a weekend of less sleep = kids with ATTITUDES.

Pondering these words... Be aggressively thankful.

Around the house... not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. (at least I hope not.  This is the favorite time of year for mice to make their home. . . in yours)

One of my favorite things~ hot chocolate with whipped cream on top.

From my picture journal:

A view out the back window on this fall day:


To read other Daybooks or create one of your own, go HERE.

Thanks for reading.

Have a terrific Tuesday!



Friday, October 9, 2009

Simply Grand Reading Rendezvous

We read books from two authors this week.  I enjoy finding biographical information about the author:

  1. Cynthia Rylant has written hundreds of books for children.
  2. cr5Cynthia Rylant loves animals, and you will find many in her books. Taking walks with her dogs, she has said, helps her writing. She has been a teacher, a librarian, and a writer. When she isn't writing, Cynthia Rylant enjoys watching movies, whales, dolphins, and sea otters.

    • While working in a library, Cynthia Rylant spent hours at night reading children's books. It was then that she knew she wanted to write children's books of her own.
    • It took only an hour for this author to write her first published book!


cr1            cr3




2.  Doreen Cronin’s books will bring out the giggles in your littles.

Doreen Cronin writes, “I was born in Queens, New York, and I grew up on Long Island with my parents, two brothers, dc1and my sister. My father, a police officer, passed away five years ago. Despite the serious occupation, my father had an unbelievable sense of humor, and it is one of his many legacies. Now whenever someone says that Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type made them laugh, I feel like my Dad is still around making people laugh. I love it.
“I am a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and St. John’s University School of Law. Currently I work as an attorney at a Manhattan law firm where I practice in the areas of commercial and civil litigation and arbitration involving insurance, reinsurance, contracts, and torts. The attorney/children’s book author combination tends to catch people off guard. After Click, Clack, Moo was featured on National Public Radio with Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater, one of the attorneys stopped me in the hallway to tell me what he had heard on the radio. He said he
heard a very funny children’s book read on the air written by a Doreen Cronin who also happened to be an attorney. ‘Isn’t that wild?’ he asked.  ‘That’s not another Doreen Cronin,’ I told him. ‘That’s me!’ I’m still not quite sure he believes me.”







Hearing giggles as I read is one of my favorite things.

Another favorite?  An older brother entertaining his younger sister . . .

ceaepicHappy Friday!