Here’s a powerful 18 minute film. I finished reading The Help a few days ago and the Lord was gracious in bringing this to my attention as well.
Category Archives: recommendations
I have a love affair with Minnesota’s North Shore.
My love for it is still in the new, passionate stage. I know there are many who have a tried and true relationship with the North Shore. Theirs is the kind of love that knows every nook and cranny, every beautiful spot and tourist attraction. They know the secret places.
I’m not there yet. My love is young and passionate. It’s still in the discovery stage.
I’ve been to the North Shore a total of 7 times. Twice were day trips.
The first time I went Tom and I had been married just 4 months. He worked hard to talk me into tent camping up at a place I’d never heard of called the North Shore. Lutsen, to be specific. Ok, I thought. Are there showers? Yes? Alright, I’ll go.
It was October and the forecast looked chilly. It snowed. I was unimpressed and cold. Too cold to even look around and notice my surroundings. The showers were in an unheated 32 degree bathroom. When can we go home?
The next time we talked about going up North I had some input. One non-negotiable piece of input to be exact: No camping. And Tom, being the good sport he is, (and secretly happy that I hadn’t sworn it off altogether after the snowy-camping-night-of-freezing-torture experience) said, “No problem!”
That being the case, I have no idea how we ended up tent camping again on our next trip after the brrrrr, when-can-I-go-home trip. I must have been having a really really good day to go for that. Not to mention that this time we were camping with three kids ages 4, 2, and 1. Nevertheless, we had the best time.
And I suppose the rest is history. We’ve gone back each year since (not camping). We usually spend almost a week in Lutsen (not camping) and the kids beg to stay there forever. That idea sounds pretty good to me too (not camping).
There is something so captivating about Lake Superior. It’s not like any other lake. Nor is it like the ocean. It’s the best of both, but somehow completely unique. I just stare and stare and stare at it.
When we drive around I’m always trying to catch a glimpse of it: a new view, a different look. They’re all beautiful.
The hikes are like something out of Middle Earth, not Lothlorien, no, they aren’t that dramatic. But more of a combination of The Shire and Rivendell, only they go by the names of Cascade and Temperance.
To describe the North Shore in a word is: magic. The food tastes better there (especially The World’s Best Doughnuts). The sky is brighter. The water is more like water ought to be. It’s like stepping out of the wadrobe and into Narnia. Only the wadrobe is the big fog-horn city of Duluth. And it leads you to a different MN world.
Which is why I have a love affair with the North Shore. It’s like stepping into the best story. A story I want to revisit as often as I can. I want to keep dipping my toes in.
And hopefully in 10 or 20 years my love affair will be more of that tried and true kind of love. The kind that knows every nook and cranny. But I’m not hurried to get there. I just want to enjoy discovering and uncovering the places that will be my secret spots.
Have you been to the North Shore? What’s your favorite place?
PS. A post about my love affair with the North Shore would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the Alpine Slide, which is two and a half minutes of sheer high speed enjoyment.
Ah, North Shore, when will I see you again?
We enjoyed a joint birthday party today for Seth and Eliza.
Many discussions went on over the last couple months about what cake to make. After making the rainbow cake and giant cupcake last year, I was hoping to find something equally cool.
At first Eliza settled on a flower cake, but then modified to want a butterfly cake. So, I started perusing the web to find the perfect one. While doing that I ran across something called cake pops. Seth decided frog cake pops sounded great and I was excited to have an excuse to try them out! So I tried to capture a few of the steps involved.
I like to add food coloring to cakes. It makes cutting into them a little more fun.
After baking the cakes, I crumbled one of them up in a bowl, stirred in some frosting, and started rolling them into balls for the cake pops!
Next, I dipped the lollipop stick in a little melted candy (like almond bark) and inserted it into the cake ball. Then, out to the cold cold deck to firm up. Those cake pops went from room temperature to below freezing in no time!
Fortunately we don’t have many wild animals venturing up on our deck, or this could have been a big disaster. The garage or freezer would have worked as well, I suppose, but not nearly as much entertainment as this snowy deep freeze.
See?! There are advantages to living in Minnesota!
Then comes dipping them in the candy melts, which I got from Jo-Ann’s. You can buy them in all different colors. I also got some edible markers that were a bust. They worked on a few of them, but it was like using a pen that was running out.. only the marker wasn’t running out, it just didn’t like the candy melt texture. I ended up piping frosting on, instead of using the markers.
Of course, I had a helper in all this. It wasn’t like I had to brave these things on my own. I like to call her my hip helper. There’s a double meaning in that.
Eliza was in charge of decorating her butterfly cake.
Nice work girl!
And Seth and Elianna’s job was to give these frog’s their eyes.
I had some un-popped cake pops left over, so during the party I convinced some people to try their hand at it. I knew they’d have some good ideas!
They came up with: a minion from Despicable Me, a chicken, a few weird looking dudes, and I tried my hand at hello kitty.
But I must say that some of the party guests were simply ruthless. You wouldn’t expect such behavior from your own mother. She seems so innocent.
But don’t be fooled. She’s just luring you in. Be afraid. Bea very afraid..
Ahhhh! Run away! Run away! Run away and go try these cake pops. They are a blast. And if you really want to see how it’s done, check out Bakerella. That’s where I got all my ideas and inspiration.
Who knew I’d be one to like making cakes? That said, no guarantees for all the coming years. Store-bought can be a life-saver! No shame in that, my friends!
We’ve been engaged in a knitting extravaganza.
Our oldest daughter learned how to finger knit at her homeschool class at church (thanks Mrs. Jamison!). Now she’s taught the rest of us and we’ve got quite the collection of mini-scarves.
Following this, I was inspired to pick up my knitting, which had been relegated to the back of the closet, waiting for halfway coherent brain cells to pick it up and start again.
After two trips to JoAnn Fabrics (too much fun), I’ve knitted a few pairs of legwarmers and sewn (gasp) a few as well. My mom helped with the sewing and it is a very rewarding thing to do!
Plus, we discovered knitting looms, which are the same concept as finger knitting, only of varying sizes. Eliza and Elianna (and even Seth, on occasion) have been able to figure these out fairly well!
So, we will be off to our church’s craft boutique come mid-November to try and sell some of our creations! Eliza has sold 4 of hers so far and earned money to buy her own yarn. What fun! A real-life math lesson! Does that mean we get to skip regular math for the day? Methinks not..
If you have any interest in stackable mini-scarves or leg warmers, you know where to go! ;)
Tom and Seth conquer the Alpine Slide in Lutsen, MN. If you haven’t tried it, add it to the bucket list. Way too much fun.
I mentioned a while back that I got an iphone.
I also mentioned that I was enjoying it immensely. That is still true. One benefit that I didn’t anticipate has been a spiritual one.
Every year our church encourages us to follow a schedule of reading through the Bible in a year. I’ve never been able to do it. I’ve started three times and a few months in have felt hopelessly behind.
The last two years, I’ve only read half or a quarter of the assigned reading per day and been mostly content with that. It has been a fruitful time. I don’t believe that you have to read through the Bible in a year in order to have meaningful times in the Word.
However, I still have had a desire to read it in a year, or at least close to a year. I can see that there are benefits to getting a broad look at all of Scripture and being able to make connections between Old Testament and New.
I didn’t think that the way I’d be able to do it would be because of an iphone, but it has been. I got the phone in February and Mr. TommyD downloaded an app that you tap on and it takes you to the four passages of Scripture for that day as put together by our church. You can go forward or backward in the days, in case you need to catch up. Since February, I have been able to keep up with the program!
This is a minor miracle for me. It hasn’t felt overly rushed or burdensome either. Even through Leviticus and Numbers I have found much to chew on as it has contrasted and connected with the Psalms and New Testament reading.
Here’s how the iphone has made it doable:
1) I just tap on the app and all the reading is there. I never lose my spot or forget where I am.
2) I can read it without turning a light on. I was often sleepless during the last trimester of pregnancy and I could read it without switching on the light and waking up Tom.
3) It’s small and easy to hold in one hand while reading. In other words, I can read it while nursing. I’ve always kept my Bible close by when nursing the last three, but turning pages, trying to get to another passage, and balancing the Bible has made it difficult. Not anymore.
4) It’s always with me. I always have my phone on me, so even if I only have a few minutes free, I can pull it out and immediately be in the Word.
And here’s a bonus. When I finish my Bible reading, I switch over to kindle for iphone and have been able to get through a few long books in the last couple months (all free downloads via kindle). Right now I’m reading a biography of John Newton and it is quite wonderful.
So, there’s my spiritual endorsement for the iphone. Who’d have thunk it? :)
Perhaps my next post should be all the possible spiritual pitfalls of the iphone.. that might be a bit longer though.
We’ve been using the Explode the Code series of workbooks this year.
Eliza has completed book 1 and 2 and is halfway through book 3. I ordered them as a supplement to the language/phonics program we would be doing when we started last fall and they quickly became a primary tool for us.
I would not say ETC is a comprehensive program for phonics or spelling, but it does cover those disciplines in wonderful bite-sized ways. It also gives your child handwriting practice.
ETC assumes when you start book 1 that your child knows their consonant sounds, but does a brief review of them in the beginning of the book. It then moves to the vowel sound ‘a’ and, by the end of book 1, covers all the vowels, with the child spelling short one-syllable words from the get go and progressively incorporating the new vowel sounds.
Book 2 covers initial consonant blends and final consonant blends. Book 3 reiterates all the skills taught so far and moves on to one-syllable words ending with a long vowel (such as -y and silent -e words). It also teaches digraphs (-sh, -th, -wh, -ch, -ng, -ck) and trigraphs (-tch, -ee-ea, -ai-ay, and -oa-ow).
Also, there are Explode the Code primers which teach the consonant sounds in order to prepare for the basic Explode the Code. Furthermore they have ETC books 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, etc. These in between books provide extra practice for the student who needs it.
The ETC series has 8 books total that range from dipthongs, word families, three letter blends, soft c and g and suffixes/endings. I’m not sure if we’ll continue on with it or not, but for this Kindergarten year, ETC has been invaluable for phonics reinforcement and basic spelling.
The workbooks are not overwhelming. The pages are easy to complete and really boost the child’s confidence. Eliza has felt very competent to work in them independently and we have found 2 pages per day to be manageable and suit our needs.
If you have a preschool, kindergarten or 1st grade student (depending on their abilities) these first Explode the Code books may be useful for you to check out.
A good friend of mine recently started a blog.
I’ve enjoyed every one of her posts, which isn’t surprising because I enjoy any bit of time I get to spend with her and reading her blog is like getting to spend a little time with her.
She calls it Treasure from the Junk Drawer and you’ll definitely find some treasure if you visit there.
What’s your favorite blog to read? Or, what lesser-known blog would you recommend?
Yes, laugh all you want.
Who blogs about laundry and bathroom mirrors?
I do, that’s who. And probably lots of other people, too.
Plus, I am so pleased with this one discovery that I made a couple months ago that I will share it and take credit for it.
I do lots of laundry. Don’t we all?
We buy large containers of liquid laundry detergent. The kind that dispenses by pushing a button and holding the small plastic cup underneath, as though it were summertime and I was getting water from a big orange water cooler, only it’s thick and soapy and comes out at half the speed.
It’s a good system. BUT, I loathe how the plastic cup gets all gooey with detergent every time. It inevitably drips down one side and gets on my fingers, then the detergent oozes onto whatever surface the cup is left to rest on. Or you put the cup back on the dispenser and it drips down to whatever surface is below it.
My usual remedy has been to rinse the cup with water from the washer as it fills up. Works OK, but then my arm gets kind of wet and the cup is drippy when I’m done, so I have to dry it off.
The NEW thing I do, which works wonderfully, is I just toss the cup in the washer with the clothes after pouring the detergent in. The cup gets washed, and, at the end of the cycle, it isn’t even wet. Just clean and dry after a good spin, not gooey or sticky or drippy.*
It’s the little things in life.
The only other tip I have is that I’ve started dusting the tops of my bathroom mirrors before windexing them.
Thrilling, I know.
Not that I’m implying any of you would wait long enough for dust to gather on your mirrors before they get cleaned, but, just in case. I’m amazed at how much dust gathers on the mirrors in one week! (Not that I always clean the mirrors every week, but definitely every two.. :)
Dusting them beforehand makes the windexing much easier because you don’t have to move any dust around.
So, that’s it for now. I’m obviously no household expert. But when you’ve got a great tip, why not share?
How about you? Any delightful tips you’ve picked up over the years that we all could benefit from?
*Please inform me if this is common knowledge and I’ll gladly relinquish credit to the appropriate parties.
My search for beautiful, feminine, (not-outlandishly expensive) aprons has gone far and wide.
And it need go no further.
I stumbled upon this website called anthropologia. Their collection of clothing and purses and other wonderful things is all quite lovely, however I would classify most of it in the outlandishly expensive range.
But not these aprons.
These gems are going for $10-$38. Most are $28 or $32, but there are a couple on sale. Even recently I was looking at some locally made and sold aprons and I was a bit aghast at the price tag. Many were in the $50+ range and they were very hit or miss– not consistently awesome like these are.
I’m quite picky about “trendy” aprons. I’ve come across ones with great fabric, but the cuts were boxy and unappealing. Or I’ve seen nice lines and cuts, but dippy fabric that either fell flat or squawked at whoever walked by in its attempt to be noticed. These are spot-on for both material and shape.
They even have these gorgeous little girls’ aprons that I’m in love with. I’ve been searching high and low for aprons for my daughters and these are comparably priced and much more fantastic than the “kids” ones in the toy section of the big retailers.
So, if you’re a dude whose lady likes to cook (or she just has to cook, because you’ve got a family and everyone’s got to eat), consider a lovely apron that will make her feel feminine and fanciful come suppertime. Suppertime is, afterall, one of the most harrowing times of the day for many moms with small children.
Why not glean some food-prep inspiration by dressing the part of the domestic do-all?
And it would make a great friend or relative gift. Of course, if only I got motivated and learned to sew (and got a sewing machine), I could try my hand at this myself. Maybe someday. But for now, why reinvent the wheel, when these aprons are ripe for the taking. I mean buying.