Maximizing Closet Space

I’m happy to report we ALL survived our family photo session with nary a tear in sight and only a little tomfoolery. It was a little too cold but even Shalom (my 3 month old beautiful granddaughter) didn’t utter a cry of protest but was a sweetheart the entire time. See, I told you she was beautiful. The Thanksgiving season is coming upon us rapidly and my two girls both have birthdays the same week as Thanksgiving. Poor things, they always get a little shortchanged since it’s a busy but happy time preparing for everything. For Serenity’s 16th birthday last year, we didn’t even give her a party till February – wait a minute – I just checked and it was M.A.R.C.H. of this year!!…

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The Lovely Prospect of Family Pictures

Getting a family picture for us has never been easy.  Maybe because I have 4 boys??? But for some reason, my kids could never just stand there and have nice bright smiles. Oh no, they had to tickle, pinch or push each other into position. Then I would get involved and… well maybe we should just leave it at that and suffice it to say there were red eyes for the pictures following. Today is the day we get to do it all again. I know we’re ALL looking forward to it. haha I’m trying to reassure myself that things are a little easier since the boys have gotten older but truth be told, I’m a little nervous about the whole thing. What if I…

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When Armistice Day Became Veteran’s Day

November 11, 1918 the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the Palace of Versailles in France ending World War I. The war ended on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour (11 a.m.). In honor of the agreement signed, Armistice Day was established and celebrated each year. Woodrow Wilson, the president during World War I, said this when establishing Armistice Day. “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils…

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Stylin’ Hair with the Castle Keeper Girls

Since it’s been a few months since I updated you on what our Castle Keeper girls are doing, I thought I’d share what they’ve been doing the last month with you today. In October we met for a Hair Styling Clinic. The girls learned how to care for their hair and how not to brush all their curls out once its been curled, how to use a curling iron as well as several different hairstyles.It was a very informative class. The girls were inspired and I’ve been seeing and hearing of them trying new “do’s” since then. October’s Monthly Challenge was to make an invitation using fancy lettering as well as make a tablescape. Serenity chose to make an invite and tablescape with a Thanksgiving…

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The Completed Pantry

Well you all didn’t disappoint with your name suggestions. I really did like all of them and Thank You! so much for taking the time to comment with your thoughts. Here’s what’s been suggested thus far. The Abundant Room Abundance Hall Party Supply Depot Storage Cubbyhole Pantry a la Carte Elisabeth’s Party Supplies the Essential’s Room Larder The Vault Fort Knox Fortress of Solitude Serving Pantry Butler’s Pantry The Treasury     Once a name has been decided I want to make a sign to hang on the exterior, so we’ll see how that goes. On to my pantry pictures! When we first began the process of building the pantry. In the painting stage… And now… No food will be in here as I mentioned…

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Almost Done – Pantry Update

I was so sure I would be done with moving things into the new pantry but it’s taking longer than I expected since this pantry affects the other pantry. Really pantry is not a good name for my room. Maybe you all can help me name it. There will be no food in it but it will have equipment, supplies (paper products, serving implements, platters, etc.) tablecloths and cloth napkins. It’s a storeroom but I want it to sound cuter than that. Help me out here? The pantry is long and narrow.  At the far end of the pantry I wanted some pegboard to hang my extra cooking utensils, ice bucket and a very large bowl I have. Strips of wood were placed on the…

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Pantry Progress Update

The pantry is 98% completed. We need to hang some pegboard and a short closet rod and it’s done! Everything is painted and the door ready to be hung. We’ve had a fan on to help the paint dry quicker and I think since a sprayer was used the paint isn’t on quite as thick as when I painted my upstairs pantry with a roller. So today we are going to put clear Con-tac paper down and move some things in there. I will be storing my cloth napkins in there. Basically anything I use for large crowds will go into the new pantry. When I did a search for how most people store cloth napkins it seems to be most commonly done in drawers……

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A New Pantry! So Exciting!

When my husband moved our energy system (inverters & large battery) out to the shed he built just for it, he got the thought to build me an additional pantry. I couldn’t imagine how it would work but he had it figured out in his mind. In my mind I was thinking about the wash basin, the large tool box he has for working on cars and the 2 freezers in the way. Where would they go I wondered since the entire garage is completely full? But there was a way. The washbasin is no longer and the freezers still have a space in a different location and since the inverters and battery are gone, I found we really do have the room for this…

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A Trip to Illinois

I’m thankful for the last several days Justus and I were able to spend in Illinois with my parents. The start of my trip didn’t go so well. We left the house at 4 a.m. but then we ran into this situation… A semi trailer had caught on fire. No one was hurt but the freeway was closed and so we sat. When we arrived the officer was just putting out pylons otherwise we could have been through and made it to the airport on time. But we didn’t and our flight was missed. So we had a nice long (5 hour) layover in Chicago. But the reunion with my parents, sister and niece made it all worthwhile. We had a good time and celebrated…

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Sharing the Wonder with Our Children

His eyes alight with the experience he had just had, my son had to share it with me as well. It was simple. Nothing we adults would think was too amazing nor have thought twice about but for this 11 year old boy it was a moment to remark on and to be delighted about. How often do we quell the first time discoveries our children have, brush it off as something that’s not really interesting enough or worthy enough of our attention? I have been guilty too many times These curious and wondering children. When did we lose our innocent delight in the simple things? Do we live lives that are too rushed? Too busy that we are unable to enter into their joys…

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Backyard Renovations – Installing the Solar System

It’s time I gave an update on what’s been happening here at the ranch.  Exciting changes for us! Our backyard in April looked like this. But then inspiration (through the form of my sister) came and we decided to bring the upper level down to the grass level. And now we have our own pond… that is when we have rain and until we finish our renovations then it will be something else entirely! One thing that I need to do is plan how we want to use this space. I have some ideas but I need to really think it through before we start.  So that project (backyard) is awaiting completion and we’ve moved on to other things. The next project that was started…

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A Successful Elk Hunting/Camping Trip

Tents zipping open. Container lids being popped opened and then closed as a camper searches for some missing item. These are the early morning sounds of our camp at 4:15 am.  Apparently no one can sleep so soon all of the hunters are up and about. It feels almost like a neighborhood when the lights start coming on one by one. Sadly, there is no roaring fire so they are huddled over a pitiful flame. It may be just because of the symbolic heat it offers instead of any real warmth they are receiving. I wouldn’t know since I’m snug in my down sleeping bag. I chuckle when I think of everyone turning in early but for whatever reasons they are unable to sleep longer….

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My Pegboard Wall Tent Organizer

It’s that time of year again. The hunting season is upon us and our annual elk trip is getting ready to begin. Menus Camping Checklists Groceries Gear Warm Bedding Warm Clothing and the list goes on.   But what a good time we have. This year there’s about 42 of us heading out to the great outdoors. I’ll once again be staying in our wall tent (which I’m loving) with a wood burning stove to keep me toasty if I should get too chilled. One of my goal is to figure out ways to organize my kitchen set-up in the tent. I think this will be my 3rd year sleeping in it and each year you get to see what needs should be tweaked to…

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Sometimes we may get discouraged because we feel we’re dropping the ball in our children’s education. We read the writings of Charlotte Mason or another modern day guru on education and feel the wash of failure sweep over us.   We wonder, we wish and we think desperately what we might be doing wrong because our homeschool doesn’t look like what others describe.   But I want to challenge us today to consider what it would be if we didn’t have an ideal to strive for.   Lofty thoughts, ideals and a vision of something bigger than ourselves are what gives us inspiration to keep trying. It’s what  makes us give a little more effort,   Where there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs…

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Keeping the Tradition and Celebrating Their Success

Thanks everyone for the well wishes for Justus after his calf riding incident. Justus is getting around but gingerly. He definitely favors his leg and it’s still very tender for him. On Monday we headed up to Lake Powell as a treat for Audrey (age 8) since she finished her phonics program. Celebrating my children’s successes is very important to me. Why not celebrate and make the most of our moments with the kids? We were only a year late in going. We weren’t able to go last year and promised we would do it this year but we were almost too late since the weather is starting to cool down.  Our phonics graduate, Audrey. This was Serenity’s trip when she was 8 and this…

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A Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Here’s a Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bread recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion that I tweaked to make it more healthy. A slice of this with a cup of Tension Tamer herbal tea and you’ll be set to start your day off right. And it was needed this weekend. On Friday evening my son entered the Calf Riding competition at our local fair. He didn’t stay on long but while on on the ground the steer stepped on his leg and split it open. Of course, we didn’t know. All we could see was that his pants were torn a little and he was bleeding a little. But we never dreamed it would be so awful. It wasn’t until we got home that night…

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Seeing the Fruits of Our Labors

Isn’t it rewarding when you see your children taking on something that you have tried to make a part of their education but maybe never felt you did quite right? I had one of those rewarding moments a few weeks ago when we were in route to our camp site at Knoll Lake.  We had stopped along the Mogollon Rim to enjoy the beautiful and sweeping views. Zoe, my niece, Serenity and Audrey started collecting little bouquets of wild flowers. And then it happened. A great moment for me as a teacher. My girl said, “The variety of flowers is so amazing,” and in her voice were the sounds of awe and amazement. What? Even though I have been unfaithful so many times to do…

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A Fall Themed Gathering

How do you feel about potlucks? I can’t say I’m really fond of them. The concept is nice – everyone bring a dish and we’ll share it together. But to me the reality of it is not so ideal many times. Enchiladas on the same plate as your broccoli salad with mashed potatoes and gravy beside that but the gravy somehow manages to spread to cover everything on your plate as well. I may be exaggerating a little but it’s pretty much the case. One of my favorite ways to organize a meal is where one person brings the main dish and everyone else brings sides that complement it. But if it’s for a very large group and you don’t want the burden of making…

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The Almost Perfect Camping Trip

We traveled the Mogollon Rim and finally reached our destination of Knoll Lake where we immediately started unloading the camping gear.  But you know how we homeschoolers see a lesson in everything….   Explaining how elevation changes can cause a potato chip bag to expand almost to the point of bursting apart. Camping trips never seem to go completely smooth and this one had a few troubles as well. Like who would set a 10 pound bag of ice on our loaves of bread – not only squashing them but saturating them with water from melted ice? Not this boy, I’m sure. Maybe that’s the reason Wesley flashed us the peace sign because HE was the guilty one! The girls got right to work, salvaging…

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A Place Where Time Has No Meaning

It was a last minute decision. There was so much to do. Sleeping bags to pack, foams to gather, food to prepare and package , as well as many other things. The thought of doing this seemed almost to be overwhelming coming so closely on the heels of our 4-H EXPO. But we wanted to do something special with our niece Zoe while she was here visiting with us, so we did it. After several hours of preparation we hit the road. The drive was part of the experience. Bumpy dirt roads with plenty of wash boards to jar everything that could be shook. The views from the Mogollon Rim, which gained attention when Zane Grey wrote about it in his western novels, were majestic….

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