Thursday, August 31, 2017

Last Weekend

Last weekend, we had an impromptu visit from my sister-in-law and her 3 kids.  

Gyunay really loves playing with and helping his little cousin, Norah.  She's pretty fond of him, too.

And I love this picture of Nathaniel kissing the baby.  He's a very happy baby, and it was a nice visit for everyone.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Great Eclipse of 2017

Monday, our region was in a 90-something percent range of the solar eclipse.  I took the kids out of school early, and we watched it together in 2 ways.  One was with the special glasses.  The other is the pinhole method, which you see here.  Elijah is holding a piece of paper with a square cut out of the center.  Over the hole, we taped a piece of foil, and in the center of the foil, we made a tiny pinhole.

You can't tell from the pictures, but we could see the eclipse clearly on the paper, and that was really neat.

 To top off the day, the kids chose to play Malachi's new game together, and they all enjoyed it, with no fights!  (Malachi got the Mario Monopoly game as an early birthday present.  Really early, but whatever.)

The eclipse viewing afternoon turned out very nice, despite the fact that Nathaniel is out of the country, and two of the kids were throwing up that morning.

For the last two days, it has felt like fall in the mornings.  There has been just a kiss of fog noticeable on the way to drop Lydia off at school, and with the temperature in the 60s and a soft breeze, the mornings have been really delightful.  Gyunay wanted to paint outside, so I decided to open up this for me:

It's a Chinese calligraphy kit that Nathaniel bought me in China several years ago.  I mixed the ink.  I don't do Chinese characters, of course (I don't know any!), but I did enjoy mixing the ink and painting English calligraphy with it.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book Review - The Promise of Dawn by Laurain Snelling

The Promise of Dawn  The Promise of Dawn, by Lauraine Snelling, is true historical fiction.  She places the reader squarely in the life of a family struggling to make it as immigrants in America at the turn of the last century.  Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three sons arrive in Minnesota to live with distant relatives who are harsh people.  The amount of work they had to do makes me feel very lazy!  This story illustrates the hardships, and also the work ethic, of pioneers.  I think people who enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder books as children would feel connected to the characters and lifestyle in this grown-up story.  This story delves deeply into how attitude can make such a difference in any situation.  There are strong elements of forgiveness and charity throughout the book.  The very beginning of the story was a bit hard to get into, especially since it was first told from the viewpoint of Rune's mom, but Signe is the main character, so when it switched to more about her, it was easy to get into it.  Also, I was very unfamiliar with the Norwegian names and foods, so I had to get my head around some of those as well.  I was familiar with steerage passage on steamships around this time, and I was pleased with the author's accurate and engaging description of their passage over the ocean.
I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

I was given this book for the purpose of writing a review by the publisher, Bethany House, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Minion Art

So it turns out that Elijah can draw really good minions!
He drew these on a package that we are mailing tomorrow for my nephew.  I didn't find out he was doing it until he was done.  Unfortunately, the purple one may be covered by the post office's stickers, so I wanted to be sure to take a picture of them.

He doesn't draw that much any more, so I had forgotten how well he can actually draw.  He was very happy about it, too.  I'll have to encourage him to draw more.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fall Garden Starting/ Summer Update

This is one of 4 Cinderella pumpkins growing in the hugelkultur bed.  It's not ripe yet; it will turn bright reddish orange when it is ripe.  They are huge and beautiful.

Here is a view of the hugelkultur bed.  In the foreground is the extra mound, and you can see all the vines - those are sweet potatoes.  The sunflower presides over them.  Behind is the hugelkultur, with the Cinderella pumpkins along the right side.  On top are more sunflowers, not yet blooming, sunberries, a couple of tomato plants, arugula that has gone to seed, several calypso bean plants, candy onions, lettuce gone to seed, and sugar baby watermelons.

These are calypso beans.  They are really delicious; they taste a lot like kidney beans.  I often put them in soups.

Malachi's banana tree is growing nicely.

And here is the deck garden.  Lydia said, "It was a forest, and now it's bare!  What happened?"  What happened is that I cleared it out/harvested, and now I've started replanting fall crops.  In the foreground I planted radishes, spinach, and broccoli seeds.  The arugula, cilantro, and dill reseeded, and now there are tiny seedlings that aren't visible in the picture but are located just beyond the area I planted.  In the middle there is a small cantaloupe plant that is a quick-maturing type.  I hope to get cantaloupe from it before frost.  There are some cabbages at the back, and kale.  I plan on replanting that area soon as well.  A few cherry tomato plants have volunteered along the house to the right.

Here is a glimpse of the tomatoes.  They are doing so well; I'm harvesting around a dozen a day of these types: Black Vernissage, Black Krim, Golden Jubilee, Woodle Orange, and St. Pierre.  All are delicious.  I've been canning and freezing quite a bit.

I didn't take photos of the butternut squash, but it is doing fabulous.  I also have tomatillos, some cucumbers (not tons), golden crescent beans, sunberries, herbs, cantaloupes, blue pumpkins, etc.  I have a few pepper plants, too, which are getting closer to harvest time.  I replanted carrots in the square foot gardens and in some pots, along with more radishes.  Lydia and Gyunay planted pea pods out front.  

Overall, the summer garden has done very well, and for once I actually have focused on planting a fall garden, so we may continue to have harvests of various things for at least a couple more months.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review - Fault Lines by Thomas Locke

 Fault Lines by Thomas Locke is definitely a suspenseful book.  The action starts right away and rarely lets up.  It is a bit hard to follow in spots, because there are multiple characters at play, and not all are as well-developed to make their personalities and roles easily apparent.  I really enjoyed the characters of Charlie Hazard, Julio, and Alessandro.  The book does have a good resolution, but it is apparent that the end of the book is not the end of the story.  I enjoyed all of the action and suspense in this book, but I struggled a bit with some of the elements in the story line not quite meshing, or being well explored.  Perhaps some of these elements are better defined in the rest of the trilogy.  I'm not being too specific here, because I don't want to spoil anything for readers.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it was not my favorite.  Then again, sci-fi in general is not my favorite, although I do really enjoy suspense, so this would probably be more appealing to people who enjoy sci-fi as much as the suspense.  Readers looking for an overtly religious book would be disappointed, as faith elements are subtle and not forefront.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

July Harvest Totals

Arugula - 2c
Blackberries - 5 1/2 cups
Carrots, Dragon - 19
Carrots, Little Finger - 12
Corn - 12 ears
Cucumber, Edmonson - 10
Cucumber, Russian Pickling -1
Eggs - 168
Golden Crescent Beans - 2c
Kale - 1 bunch
Onion, candy - 1
Onions, green - 3
Pea Pods - 1c
Potatoes, fingerling - 17.5 oz
Potatoes, purple viking - 7 oz
Tomatillos - 10.5 oz
Tomatoes, Black Krim - 19
Tomatoes, black vernissage - 38
Tomatoes, golden jubilee - 20
Tomatoes, St Pierre - 12
Tomatoes, Woodle Orange - 16
Turnips - 9
Zucchini (grey) -3

All in all, it was a pretty good month.  We also harvested sunberries, basil, mint, cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley as needed.  And now I'm rearranging those herbs in my mind to sing "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme..."  And now it's stuck in your head, too.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back from the beach

We had a great vacation, and we just got home a couple of hours ago (and found literally over 100 ripe tomatoes in the garden - yay!).  But back to vacation.  We enjoyed the beaches on Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The boogie boards were a big hit.

Malachi loves to be silly.  He is always wearing his tinted goggles at the beach, or he would suffer migraines.

The vacation was a huge hit with everyone.  We spent time with my inlaws, then met my family at a rental house in Michigan, then went back to the inlaws, took a train to Chicago (me, Lydia, and Nathaniel's parents) to go to the American Girl store, and then back to the inlaws and now home.  We're all pretty exhausted and very happy to be home.