Friday, December 14, 2007

Education: Too Important to Be Left to the Government

The Liberator Online shares this:

Jeff Jacoby, award-winning columnist for the Boston Globe, has written another wonderfully devastating column calling for the separation of school and state. And, as previously, he cuts through to the essence of the issue.

Here are some excerpts:

"Americans differ on same-sex marriage and evolution, on the importance of sports and the value of phonics, on the right to bear arms and the reverence due the Confederate flag. Some parents are committed secularists; others are devout believers. Some place great emphasis on math and science; others stress history and foreign languages.

"Americans hold disparate opinions on everything from the truth of the Bible to the meaning of the First Amendment, from the usefulness of rote memorization to the importance of teaching music and art. With parents so often in loud disagreement, why should children be locked into a one-size-fits-all, government-knows-best model of education?

"Nobody would want the government to run 90 percent of the nation's entertainment industry. Nobody thinks that 90 percent of all housing should be owned by the state. Yet the government's control of 90 percent of the nation's schools leaves most Americans strangely unconcerned. ...

"In a society founded on political and economic liberty, government schools have no place. Free men and women do not entrust to the state the molding of their children's minds and character. As we wouldn't trust the state to feed our kids, or to clothe them, or to get them to bed on time, neither should we trust the state to teach them. ...

"Education is too important to be left to the government."

Jacoby, it should be noted, is one of the most influential columnists in America. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe is the largest newspaper in the New England area, and the 15th largest-circulation newspaper in America, with over 600,000 readers. His column is carried by other publications as well, and widely disseminated on the Web.

(Source: "Big Brother at School," by Jeff Jacoby)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas I Corinthians 13

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen,
baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals
and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime:
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen
carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity;
but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels
and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties
and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return;
but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things
endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break,
pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust;

But giving the gift of love will endure.

Photo from

Friday, December 7, 2007

Killing Pre-born Babies is Never the Answer

Out-Celling the Competition

Just two weeks ago, scientists in Japan and the U.S. announced that they can produce "induced Pluripotent Stem cells" (iPS cells) directly from skin cells, creating embryonic-type cells without the use of embryos, cloning, or eggs. The significance of this discovery cannot be underestimated. For years, scientists have clamored for human embryos and cloning to pursue the creation of such cells. Yet in the wake of lead researcher Shinya Yamanaka's success, many of these same scientists have discounted the value of iPS cells, claiming that they're a cancer risk and arguing that it could take years to prove that iPS cells are as useful as embryonic stem cells or cloning. In the meantime, these researchers insist that we should continue to pursue the destruction of human embryos and harvest human eggs for cloning. Last week, however, Dr. Yamanaka continued to silence critics, showing that he can produce iPS cells without the cancer gene that was a focus of concern. Yesterday, scientists at MIT added to the growing list of iPS accomplishments by proving that these cells can be used to successfully treat of sickle cell anemia in mice. Researchers had tried the same experiment with cloning and failed. Let's not forget that this newfound success of iPS cells only adds to the long list of accomplishments of adult and cord blood stem cells, which are treating patients as we speak. Yet again, researchers are proving that the compatibility of science and ethics continues to be not only the most principled approach but also the most promising.

From Family Research Council

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lecture Schedule Changes

There are a number of changes to the schedule in the lecture series for Please see the amended schedule below.

Fritz Hinrichs
Clasical Home Schooling

Monthly Lecture Series

Every second Thursday
5-7 PM Pacific Time

December 13th, 2007


January 10th, 2008

A communal reading of C. S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man
Fritz Hinrichs

Also, in January....
Great Books V paper presentations
These paper presentations are the culmination of the students' studies in the Great Books Tutorial.
They are open to the public. Dates to be announced.

February 14th, 2008

Augustine and Cultural Relativism
Matthew Turnbull

March 13th, 2008

Classical Christian Education and the Early Church Fathers
Wes Callihan

April 10th, 2008

Frankenstein and Modern Myth: Connecting Classical Learning and Modern Worldviews
Bill Dawson

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quotes on Gratitude

I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's true--I often forget to be grateful. I have so often found that an attitude of gratitude is the cure for the blues and all sorts of anxiety.

"Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road." -John Henry Jowett

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.” -G.B. Stern

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" -William A. Ward

"Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic"
-John Henry Jowett

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” -Eric Hoffer

“Let's be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.” -Marcel Proust

“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” -Alfred Painter

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;- Phil 4:6 NKJV

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. -Charles Dickens

I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God. -Helen Keller

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. -Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present -- love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure -- the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth. -Sarah Ban Breathnach

O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. -William Shakespeare

In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy. -Albert Clarke

Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind. -Sam N. Hampton

"The depth and the willingness with which we serve is a direct reflection of our gratitude."- Gordon T. Watts

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see.... Better to loose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.-Maltbie D. Babcock

"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude."-Elie Wiesel

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. -H.U. Westermayer

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
-George Herbert

Download free Erica Michaels design at Rainbow Gallery.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My First Blog Award & a Prize

And you'd think it wouldn't take me three months to post it! Actually, it took me a couple of weeks to realize it-teehee. But I'm really flattered by it. I really am. (Once we started up homeschooling again, I thought I might have to abandon the blog world. Sniff) And notice that I'm optimistic: it's my first blog award. Yep, just the first.

This award is, as you can see, the Nice Matters Award, and I'd love to know who started it (so if you know, please drop me a line). The generous bestower of this award is the dynamic Dana at Principled Discovery (now Simple Pleasures). Principled Discovery has its own domain. Visit both sites. If you haven't read Dana's writing, you really, really should. (And where have you been, anyway?)

ALSO, I won something else. Something really cool. I won an otoscope from APMFormulators. It is the Doctor Mom L.E.D. Otoscope, and it's everything they advertise. I really appreciate this great prize from the Hernandezes, and I'm only something over a month late posting this one! APMFormulators has great information on health matters, and if you want to learn more, you can sign up for their naturopathic e-loop to learn Classical Medical Education Naturopathically.

I love my prizes, and I apologize for taking so long to post about them. But don't worry if you want to gift me with something. I promise I won't take so long to post about it. Wink.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frugal Friday--Spa-A-ah

Whether you plan your own private spa (re)treat, or make plans with your friends (perhaps with visiting lady relatives this holiday), here are some great recipes to make it special. You may wish to light scented candles and play some relaxing mood music in the background. Herbal teas for sipping also help with the relaxing. Remember to breathe deeply and to tell yourself to release and relax. It really does help.

If you're relaxing with a group, you may wish to do manicures and pedicures, facial massages and even foot massages.


Moisturizing & Exfoliating Mask

6 almonds (soak overnight & grind them to a paste)
2 tsp. oatmeal
4 Tbsp. cream
mashed avocado (or banana)

Mix all together. Apply to face, leave on 20 minutes.Remove the mask with a rag soaked in cold milk, then rinse skin with cool water.

For oily skin use some plain Milk of Magnesia, rub it on and let dry, then rinse with lukewarm water. It absorbs the oil.

Or try a Clay Mask:

1 bag cat litter (must be marked '100 Percent Natural Clay')
Drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix in a couple tablespoons of the cat litter with water and drops of oil (this helps make it more spa-like and less kitty litter-ish)
Apply mask to face
Wash off after 15 minutes.

For Normal/combination skin mix one egg and 1/2 cup cooked instant oatmeal and a teaspoon olive oil until smooth. Spread on your face and leave 15 min then rinse.

For dry skin, mix one egg yolk, one teaspoon honey and a teaspoon olive oil and some vitamin E oil if you have it. Smooth on and leave on for 15 min. , rinse in lukewarm water and pat dry.

For the Body:

Herbal Spa Wrap

1 cup corn oil
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tsp. dried thyme

Combine ingredients and massage into skin, wrap arm with plastic to lock in body heat. Lay a heating pad over areas for five minutes at a time.

Another Spa Wrap

Boil a pot of water and add about 1 cup of your favorite herbs to it. Place a towel or a wide ace bandage in the pot, let cool enough to not burn your skin, wrap the towel or bandage around your midriff, legs, arms, etc., then cover up with some blankets. Relax and let the wrap do its work.

For the Bath:

Buttermilk Bath

This gentle bath will leave your skin soft and silky. Buttermilk is high in fat and lactic acid, and both help soften and hydrate skin. Make an extra portion of this because people of all ages can benefit from this rich, relaxing natural bath. You may want to package this in a decorative glass jar or a cellophane envelope to give as gifts to friends.
1/4 cup dry buttermilk (or dry milk)
1/4 cup Nonfat Dry Milk
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/8 tsp. essential oil of your choice, depending on your mood. (lavender is relaxing)

Mix together all the ingredients with a wire whisk and pour into a airtight jar or re-sealable plastic bag.
Directions for use: Pour 1/4 of the buttermilk bath powder in tub as you add hot water .
(makes 1/2 cup, enough for 2 baths)

Herbal Milk Bath

1 cup Cornstarch
1 cup Dry Milk Powder
2 tsp. of your Favorite Herbs

Combine ingredients in food processor or blender. Add herbs and blend.
Directions for use: Add 1/cup of mixture to hot bath water
(makes 2 cups, enough for 4 baths)

Do-It-Yourself Bath Salts

1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup Sea salt
1/2 cup Baking soda
Fragrance optional, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. essential or Fragrance Oils as desired

Combine all ingredients with wire wisk. If your salt is a large crystal type, grind your salt first in a food processor until it is finely grained. Store in a large zip-lock bag
Directions for use: Use about 1/3 cup per bath

Bubble Milk Bath

1 cup Powdered Milk or powdered buttermilk
1/2 cup Oatmeal
1 cup Baking Soda
4 Tbsp. Corn Starch
2 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar
1/4 cup Handcrafted Soap(cut in chunks)
Optional, fragrance with 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. essential or Fragrance Oil as desired

Use a food processor, add chunked handcrafted soap and oatmeal until grainy. Add powdered milk, baking soda, corn starch and cream of tartar. Add fragrance and process until it's powdery. Store in glass jar.
Directions for use: Use 1/4 cup per bath, add to running hot water.

Cleansing Body Polish

1/2 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup Jojoba Oil or other body oils(olive oil works fine)
1/4 cup handcrafted soap( finely grated)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. essential or Fragrance Oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. store in a small plastic jar that you can keep in the shower.
This scrub acts as a cleanser, scrub and moisturizer all in one.
Directions for use: Use this in the shower on dry skin(otherwise the salt melts instead of scrubs). Rub and scrub anywhere you need to exfoliate and moisturize.

Bath Bombs

4 Tbsp. Citric Acid
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup baking soda
3 Tbsp. Monoi de Tahiti Oil (or you can use any other emollient oil like coconut or Almond Oil, )
1/4 tsp. Fragrance Oil or essential oil (Eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary is an uplifting blend, great for head colds)

Sift all of the dry ingredients (first three) into a bowl and mix well with wire whisk. Put bottle of oil in warm water to melt oil. Slowly add oil to dry ingredients, then add fragrance and blend well. Take 1 Tbsp. of mixture and shape into balls or press (really hard)into molds (such as small chocolate mold) if using molds, pop them in freezer till hard and pop out. Let the balls rest on a sheet of waxed paper for two to three hours. Gently reshape if needed. Let the bombs dry and harden for 24 to 48 hours.
These are fragile so carefully package each bomb in its own cellophane bag or in a closed container to keep fresh.
Directions for use: To use, drop one bomb into warm bath water to release fragrance and oils. A little bit of heaven right in your bath tub!

OTOH, this Chocolate Indulgence Home Spa Treatment could be the ultimate--but not necessarily frugal--relaxing treat.

There's more Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How To Stop Fretting Over Politics and Start Living Abundantly

Another great article from LAF:

Women who are at home full time are usually the ones who can be relied upon to keep up with political issues that threaten the family. They have the freedom to research impending legislation, write articles, and try to keep the public aware of threats to marriage, home, family, and, ultimately, our nation. Since the home, consisting of husband, wife, and children, is the foundation of a nation, any threats to its existence are of major concern to all of us.

However, all these causes, from the right to life, to threats against home schooling, and even the pollution of our food, though worthy, can take away time and strain the emotions that are needed to concentrate on their duties at home.

Finish this great article here:
How To Stop Fretting Over Politics and Start Living Abundantly

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

B.O.B. Homeschool Girl--Sims

Very creative, but the singer misses the high notes, which I find a bit painful. I told my DD not to do the wiggly thing with a guy, though. ;-)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Frugal Friday--Some Resources

Here are some helpful links for those in search of a simpler, more frugal, more balanced life.

Festival of Frugality
Carnival of Debt Reduction

Domestik Goddess

Real Life Blog/Frugal Friday Feast This blogger has the Frugal Friday idea, too, only with food. Yum!

Sarah Noel@Frugal Village

Food is Cheap Documenting culinary frugality since '07.

Frugal Blogs The Frugal Hacks headquarters for frugal bloggers. I'll join someday. Smile

Sites with tons of articles on many aspects of frugality:
All Things Frugal

Frugal Village

Frugal Mom

The Frugal Life

And don't forget Frugal Friday Headquarters!

The Great Tradition--a Great Book

From the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

Frustrated with the continuing educational crisis of our time, concerned parents, teachers, and students sense that true reform requires more than innovative classroom technology, standardized tests, or skills training. An older tradition—the Great Tradition—of education in the West is waiting to be heard. Since antiquity, the Great Tradition has defined education first and foremost as the hard work of rightly ordering the human soul, helping it to love what it ought to love, and helping it to know itself and its maker. In the classical and Christian tradition, the formation of the soul in wisdom, virtue, and eloquence took precedence over all else, including instrumental training aimed at the inculcation of “useful” knowledge.

Edited by historian Richard Gamble, this anthology reconstructs a centuries-long conversation about the goals, conditions, and ultimate value of true education. Spanning more than two millennia, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers, it includes substantial excerpts from more than sixty seminal writings on education. Represented here are the wisdom and insight of such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Basil, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, Edmund Burke, John Henry Newman, Thomas Arnold, Albert Jay Nock, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Eric Voegelin.

In an unbroken chain of giving and receiving, The Great Tradition embraced the accumulated wisdom of the past and understood education as the initiation of students into a body of truth. This unique collection is designed to help parents, students, and teachers reconnect with this noble legacy, to articulate a coherent defense of the liberal arts tradition, and to do battle with the modern utilitarians and vocationalists who dominate educational theory and practice.

The Great Tradition is an essential guide to the conflicts of our time.

A new Yahoo group dedicated to reading and discussing this book will start up in January, 2008. Andrew Campbell will lead and moderate.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

101 Ideas to Add Spice to Your Homeschooling Days: from Lunablog

April at Lunablog has posted 101 ideas to help break up the routine in your homeschooling. Here are several of them for you to check out, then you can follow the link over to April's place.

1. Move book-work outside for part of a day: use the great outdoors as your classroom. (Decks, patios, lawns, or even forests are great.)

2. Light a candle, sing a song, recite a special poem or verse, say a prayer, or incorporate some other routine to commemorate the beginning of study time. Focus on making a special environment for your learning experiences.

3. Take a walk in your neighborhood, to get the wigglies out and the blood pumping.

4. Look for exciting and inspirational "Living Books" to replace or supplement dull or uninteresting textbooks. You can do this for topics in many subject areas: Math, Science, History, Geography, Music, Art, etc.

5. Find out about your local economy first-hand. Visit and tour local businesses, factories, farms, etc., to see how different people in your area find employment.

6. Fill a couple of grocery bags with non-perishable goods from your pantry. Let your kids make price tags for the items, and take turns "shopping" and being cashiers. If they are old enough, they can add up totals, make change, and more. This activity can often last for several afternoons!"

101 Ideas to Add Spice to Your Homeschooling Days:

1934 Is Once Again Our Hottest Year

Written By: Dennis Avery
Published In: Heartland Perspectives
Publication Date: October 24, 2007
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

A global warming believer told me, "Of course global warming is dangerous. Every year gets hotter than the year before."

Until recently that is, when NASA's Goddard Institute announced it had to revise its U.S. temperature histories--and the ranking of our country's "recent hottest" years. Why? GISS had shifted the database for its records in 2000 and hadn't fully corrected for the modest differences in the two data sets.

So, 1934 is once again the hottest year since 1880. And 1998 has been relegated to second place, just ahead of 1921. Four of our hottest years now come from the 1930s--and only three from the last decade. Did global warming cause the Great Depression?

All of this emphasizes--no thanks to the Goddard folks--that we're having the most moderate global warming crisis ever. Globally, our thermometer records have inched up a net of just 0.2 degrees C since 1940. We've had no significant warming in the nine years since 1998, and this year's record so far is cooler too.

Since 1910, our temperature has waffled up and down in a pattern strangely similar to the warming and cooling phases of what we now know as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation--that 50- to 60-year cycle in northern Pacific sea temperatures that also governs the salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. The Earth's temperatures warmed strongly from 1916 to 1940, while the PDO was warming. Our temperatures then declined from 1940 to 1975, while the PDO was cooling. From 1976 to 1998, both the temperatures and the PDO warmed.

There's been no warming since the last PDO peak in 1998, and the salmon have had strong runs in the Columbia River.

Global warming alarmists say the sunspot index has now turned down, and they ask why the temperatures haven't. But a good estimate of the lag time between the sunspots shifting and our sea surface temperatures responding is 34 years--according to Charles Perry of the U.S. Geological Survey, writing in Advances in Space Research, Vol. 40, 2007, pp. 353-364.

So far, there is nothing in the thermometer record that is inconsistent with the long, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle, which shifted from the Medieval Warming into the Little Ice Age about 1300, and then into the Modern Warming about 1850.

It looks as if the temperatures aren't heating up nearly as much as the scare rhetoric.

Dennis T. Avery ( is a senior fellow with The Heartland Institute and coauthor of the bestselling book Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years.
The Heartland Institute

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Girl I Used to Be


She came tonight as I sat alone
The girl I used to be.
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes I had for you?
The great career, the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?

Where is the mansion of stately height
With all its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad,
For I wanted her pleased with me,
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
The girl that I used to be.

So gently rising, I took her hand
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay,
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robes is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl I used to be.

- Author unknown

Graphic from Snapshots of Joy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Frugal Friday--Did You Know You Can Freeze These?

One day I will get my post completed the night before so it's ready to go on Friday morning--one day I'll be sure to do that.

Here are some freezer pointers for foods you may not have thought of freezing:

Wrap foods with foil or store in airtight containers or zipper bags. Air is the cause of freezer burn. Even bread needs to be double-bagged, as bread wrappers are not airtight.

Dairy products are one thing that you may not realize can be frozen. When you find milk, eggs, butter or cheese at a really good price, you CAN stock up!

Freeze milk in the carton and thaw in refrigerator. Stir or shake before serving. The texture of milk does change with freezing, so you may prefer the thawed product for cooking, though it is perfectly fine to drink it.

Butter can be kept for 6 months in its original wrapper in the freezer. Thaw in fridge before using.

Eggs take a little more preparation. Mix 1 cup of raw eggs with 1 teaspoon salt. Store in an airtight freezer container. When needed, let thaw overnight in refrigerator. For 1 egg, use about 3 tablespoons of mixture.

Beaten eggs, or those separated – yolks from the white, can be frozen and used again within three months.

Grated hard cheeses will last up to six months, but softer cheeses will separate. A good test – if the cheese is something you can leave out at a party and still looks edible at the end of the party, it will probably do well in the freezer. You might want to pack cheese in a zipper-top freezer bag before freezing. Shredded cheese can be added to recipes without thawing.

If you store your brown sugar in the freezer, it will not harden.

Nuts, shelled or unshelled, retain their freshness when kept in the freezer.

Honey will not crystallize if it is stored in the freezer. It does not freeze solid. Let thaw at room temperature.

Keep marshmallows in the freezer to keep them from turning hard.

Lemons, limes, and oranges can be frozen whole. When a recipe calls for juice, just defrost as many as you need in the microwave.

Here's a good one: after using, store your soapy steel wool pad in the freezer and it won't rust. Just remove from the freezer while you're cooking supper and it will be ready to use when you do the dishes.

Store your popcorn in your freezer. Pop while it's still frozen and it will pop lighter with fewer unpopped kernels.

If your freezer is not full, it will run more efficiently if you fill up the empty spaces with jugs of water.

Red, yellow, and green peppers can be frozen as long as you wash them thoroughly, cut off the stems, and remove the seeds and inner membranes. Cut, and then blanch. They?ll have a freezer life of one year.

Whole tomatoes can be frozen, but you won?t be able to eat them raw after freezing ? they collapse completely when thawed! You can, however, use them in cooking for other dishes. They have a freezer life of 10 to 12 months.

Onions can be frozen by laying them out on a small tray (enclosed in a plastic bag) in the freezer until firm. Then transfer them to a freezer container (you may wish to experiment with this first, as you may not like the way the unfrozen onions turn out. They should be usable for cooking purposes). Mushrooms can also be frozen using this open-freeze method. Raw mushrooms have a freezer life of one month, while cooked mushrooms are good for up to three months.

Flavors of spices have a tendency to deteriorate after three to four months in the freezer.

Most herbs can be frozen successfully if you wash and dry them before freezing. You can pack the whole sprigs into freezer containers or chop finely first. Ice cube trays can be used by placing chopped herbs in each section and covering with a little water. Once frozen, you can transfer them to another freezer container.

Alternatively, you can puree fresh herbs with a little olive oil, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. After frozen, you can transfer the cubes to a freezer bag, labelling what herb is in each bag.

Slice breads, coffee cakes, bagels, baked goods such as brownies or cakes into single serving sizes before freezing. This will enable quicker freezing, thawing and accessibility. Any product with frosting should be placed in the freezer uncovered until the frosting has hardened, then wrapped and completely frozen. This method will prevent the frosting from sticking to the wrapping. Most bread products will last up to six months in the freezer if well wrapped.

Cookies, pancakes, waffles and other moist bread products should each be separated with wax paper or aluminum foil to prevent them from clumping together. These products can then be grouped together in a container or bag. Moist bread products will last up to six months in the freezer if well wrapped.

Diced fruit can be frozen and used in recipes or drinks within a month. The water content does increase when the fruit is thawed and the coloring of the fruit may be depleted. Take this into consideration when using the thawed product.

Products that are delicate or will stick together, such as berries, hors d’oeuvres, shrimp or appetizers are best if frozen on a cookie sheet first and then wrapped in a bag or container. This will maintain the product’s shape.

Tiny portions can be frozen in ice cube trays; orange juice, leftover wine, tomato paste, gravy, coffee or herbs. These cubes can be added to recipes, sauces or broth.

Cooked rice also does well frozen with little if any change in texture on defrosting.

Keep a notebook just for listing freezer items. Cross-out items as they are used. This is very useful when it's time to go shopping or plan a menu. Label everything before freezing!

And just for fun, check out the frozen dessert recipes here.

More Frugal Friday at Crystal's Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Frugal Friday--Time to Eat Healthy

This is taken from an article by Colleen Huber at Dr. Mercola's website, How to Cook Whole Food From Scratch--and Keep Your Day Job!. Dr. Huber's site is Naturopathyworks. These go along well with cook ahead/freezer techniques, and incorporate helps for healthier meals. I hope you find them useful.

Here are several steps you can take to streamline your efforts and maximize the productivity of your kitchen, while keeping your time spent there to a minimum.

Clear enough freezer space--about one cubic foot--to store several pint and quart-size containers of the food you will cook. Then on the weekend, plan all of your meals for the week, and go to the supermarket once to purchase the whole food ingredients in one trip. Consolidating all grocery shopping into one trip already saves time over shopping for a few items everyday.

Plus, with whole foods, you only need to go around the periphery of the supermarket where they are located, rather than taking time to go up and down the interior aisles where the processed foods are.

Once you’ve brought home all the groceries, cook all your meals for the week at the same time. This way, instead of standing at the stovetop each day for each meal, you are there for one longer session during that week, and then you’re done!

The trick is to cook big portions, but freeze in the smaller quantities that you and your family will eat throughout the week. If you cook for a family, a large recipe will probably be good for two dinners (on alternate days) during the week, as well as a lunch or two. If you live alone, you will get at least four meal portions with half of them saved for the following week. At this point you don’t have to spend any more time throughout the week than you would on TV dinners.

A food processor will work well for foods that you want to chop finely. Make freezer bags full of pre-cut vegetables that you can then defrost as needed during the week. One bag might contain pressed garlic with coarsely chopped string beans, which a few days from now you can sauté in coconut oil for a few minutes.

Another bag might contain chopped carrots, onions and tomatoes, along with cabbage that you cut into quarters. Sprinkle some caraway seeds into the bag. When you’re ready to make a meal of it, you can cook it a portion of it in a cup of chicken broth for a delicious meal of balanced nutrients.

Make use of large cooking vessels in order to accomplish the weekend cooking fiesta. A large crockpot really lends itself well to a whole foods diet. Here you don’t need a food processor.

Chop vegetables very coarsely, in much larger chunks than you can get away with in a stovetop meal. This step alone saves a lot of time. Put an organic beef round or two turkey legs or a whole organic chicken on top of the vegetables, add a few cups of water, and/or tomato sauce, perhaps with balsamic vinegar. Sesame oil and tamari may be used instead for marinade. Add whole leaf herbs as you like, and you’re done. After practicing once or twice, you will have a huge crockpot meal thrown together in five to 10 minutes. Set it on "low" in the morning, and you’re done till dinnertime. In cool weather, you could do the same in the regular oven, with a Dutch oven type covered pot in fewer hours.

Now it’s a Tuesday morning, and you’ll need something for dinner. Defrost one of the meals you prepared on the weekend. In the evening when you’re ready to cook it, place it into a serving dish in a toaster oven rather than a microwave. Toaster ovens have several advantages over microwaves. At about $40 they are much cheaper, smaller, and quieter. However, those benefits are far outweighed by the health advantage: microwave rays are unhealthy radiation, and when you microwave in a plastic container, it drives the phthalates of the plastic right into your food, which gives an otherwise excellent meal a toxic twist that you definitely do not need.

Microwave radiation also leaks throughout the whole kitchen from most microwave ovens, which creates an unhealthy atmosphere for adults, children and pets. For re-heating in your toaster oven, you’ll need one or two Pyrex-type serving dishes, about a liter each. Heating leftovers for two or three people in a toaster oven takes 10 to 15 minutes, not very much longer than a microwave.

Also use your toaster oven for breakfast. Take out some of the freezer vegetables you prepared, and sprinkle some cheese, raw is preferable, over top, and heat it up for a healthy whole food breakfast, or break an egg over the vegetables. Neither of these will spike your insulin levels, unlike so many other dishes that we unfortunately have become accustomed to thinking of as breakfast foods.

Use your toaster oven to prepare hot, healthy lunches for yourself and your family. Invest in a good-sized thermos with either glass or stainless steel (not aluminum) interior for each family member. While eating breakfast, heat up leftovers from last night, or a separately defrosted meal in your serving dish in the toaster oven, again for 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon it into each thermos. Then in each lunchbox, add a fork and little containers of nuts or some fresh fruit or some celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrot sticks.

You all will then have lunches that will be wonderfully nutritious, well balanced, and appetizing for every adult and child in your family. When all lunches are prepared together assembly-line style, the process will go faster than if each lunch is made separately. And your savings will begin to be obvious as your restaurant and fast food expenses plummet toward zero.

Take advantage of savings on seasonal produce. Get organic whenever possible. It has been by steadily rising consumer demand that growers have begun to get more and more organic produce into your local stores.

Here is a way to extend the seasonal savings. Fruit preserves can be made unsweetened, and rely only on the natural sweetness of the fruit. Buy a case of about four pounds of berries when in season. Also buy three Granny Smith apples for pectin, which is a natural jelling agent. Peel and core the apples. Cut into about 1/2-inch cubes. Place the apple pieces in a large pot, with about three pounds of washed and stemmed (if necessary) berries. (Keep the other one pound fresh for snacking.)

Simmer the berries and apples on low for about an hour while you are preparing your week’s worth of meals. At the end of an hour, you should have a thin fruit spread. Take a potato masher and mash any remaining chunks of apple and berries as desired. Let it cool. The texture will get a little thicker. Freeze it in pint-size containers. This makes a nice fruit spread that will keep indefinitely. You may be surprised that the berry flavor is plenty sweet enough without added sweetener. You can spread this with a nut butter on slices of apple or pear for breakfast or snacks.

Don’t forget condiments. How often have you bought a bunch of parsley or cilantro with the good intention of using all of it, only to find most of it forgotten and wilted two weeks later, shoved behind other foods?

When it’s still fresh, chop it up finely and store in Ziploc-type bags in the freezer. Then you can access it as needed for the one teaspoonful you may want, without having it wilt away before you get a chance to use it. But if you really want fresh herbs, grow them. My favorite Greek salad dressing calls for mint, oregano and parsley, which fortunately are all easy to grow, so I make sure I always have at least one plant of each growing, and I harvest sprigs each time I make the dressing. The fragrance alone of the just-picked herbs are what make the salad.

For the crockpot, food processor, thermoses and toaster oven recommended above you may spend about $130. In order to recoup that investment, do yourself a huge favor and change your mindset about potable liquids. There is really no good reason to drink anything other than water (R.O filtered or spring water). In fact, when we drink other liquids, we train ourselves to slake our thirst with different tastes than water, which then makes the taste of water seem strange. Since our bodies are 90 percent water, the only thing strange about this is our acquired perception of water as strange.

Leave the heavy and expensive juices, teas, lattes and liquor at the store. Water is the only substance that can quench both the thirst we feel and the dehydration that almost everyone experiences to one degree or another. Drink it as you like it, with ice or without, with lemon or without, but reacquaint yourself with the one beverage that hydrates and moisturizes all the way in to the cellular level and out to the skin: water.

Also check out Eating Healthy and Organic on $7 a Day. Longish, but very informative.

More fun frugality at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Catapults Invented Before Theory Explained Them | LiveScience

Ancient Greek craftsmen didn't need fancy math to cobble together the first catapult, a new study of ancient texts suggests. Archimedes' laws and theories just helped make the weapon better. The first catapult in Europe flung into action around the fourth century B.C., prior to the invention of mathematical models that revolutionized ancient technologies, said Mark Schiefsky, a Harvard University classics professor who led the study. 'It seems that the early stages of catapult development did not involve any mathematical theory at all,' Schiefsky said. 'We are talking about so-called torsion artillery, basically an extension of the simple bow by means of animal sinews into something like the crossbow.'"

Finish it here: Catapults Invented Before Theory Explained Them | LiveScience

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dominion Family--Mothers and Sons

I absolutely adore this post from Cindy at Dominion Family. If you have sons you'll understand exactly what she's talking about.

Dominion Family--Mothers and Sons

Wordless Wednesday

Getting ready for fall weather (even though it's still hot in Texas).

Wordless Wednesday Hub
More Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Look-y, Look-y! It's a Sale!

Trivium Pursuit is having another scratch and dent sale today and tomorrow. Their wonderful book, Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical STyle, is on sale for $16.20 (usually $27). There's lots of other goodies, too.

Trivium Pursuit

Monday, October 8, 2007

Suspended License

Another cogent article to share with you, this one by Chuck Colson on Hitchen's distortion of Christian history. There's also related audio/video downloads. This is the first part to a series of articles.

Suspended License - Prison Fellowship

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning -

Here's a great article on a subject near and dear to me--lifelong learning. Number 10 is one of my favorites. It happens to be one of the major benefits of becoming a homeschooling mom. :-)

"10) Find Jobs that Encourage Learning--Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn't have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does. Don't spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn't challenge you."

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning - :

Columbus Poem at Dominion Family

Cindy at Dominion Family has posted a really nice poem for Columubus Day on her blog, the link to which I'm posting since I have nothing great for Columbus Day myself!

Dominion Family � Have Boys? Need Poem?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why Do People Get Flu Shots? by Wilton D. Alston

According to Barbara Fisher, who served for ten years on the US National Vaccine Advisory Committee:

"We have bad science and bad medicine translated into law to ensure that vaccine manufacturers make big profits, that career bureaucrats at the Public Health Service meet the mass vaccination goals promised to politicians funding their budgets, and pediatricians have a steady flow of patients…As the drug companies have often stated in meetings I have attended, if a vaccine they produce is not mandated to be used on a mass basis, they do not recoup their R&D costs and do not make the profit they want. In the medical literature official studies of vaccine risk are published purportedly proving there is no cause and effect. What the reader does not know is that often the studies have been designed and conducted by physicians who sit on vaccine policy-making committees at the Centers for Disease Control…some of whom receive money from vaccine manufacturers for their universities and for testifying as expert witnesses in vaccine-injury cases. And others are federal employees with an eye on career advancement within HHS and a future job with a vaccine manufacturer after retirement from public service. Many of these same physicians sit on the peer review boards of the major medical journals such as Pediatrics and JAMA, where they refuse space for studies or letters from the few brave physicians who dare to challenge their assertions that there is no cause and effect."

You must read this article and see the charts!
Why Do People Get Flu Shots? by Wilton D. Alston

Friday, September 28, 2007

Frugal Friday--Learn Outloud is an online store for audio and video learning where you can browse over 15,000 educational audio books, MP3 downloads, podcasts, and videos. They offer some free downloads that can be played over your computer or uploaded to your MP3 player for listening on the go.

It's the last few days to download the free audio book of the month for September: Art Masterpieces. "This audio presents essays on 22 great works of Western painting by such masters as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Titian, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt and many more. Most of these writings by prominent art historians and literary figures have never been on audio before.

Each MP3 file in this collection covers a different painting and has a high quality image of the art work embedded into it (which can be viewed in iTunes). Also included in this collection is a supplemental PDF which features images of all 22 paintings. Be sure to download this unique audio book which is available for free exclusively through through the end of September."

This is a great download. The PDF gives high-quality graphics of the paintings, and the MP3 file provides small graphics for your MP3 player, though you need the bigger graphics to better study the paintings. This offer ends with the month, so be sure to take advantage of it before time runs out.

More Frugal Friday at Crystal's place.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

6 Free Dr. Mom Otoscope Give Away from P&M Dermasalve Compounders

Check this out:

Compounders of P&M Dermasalve are giving away 6 Free Dr.Mom Otoscopes. Click HERE for details.

What you Win:
Dr. Mom Slimline Stainless LED Otoscope $26.97plus 5.95 for s/h. Retail value $32.92 with shipping/handling. Your Dr. Mom Otoscope comes with instruction sheet with pictures, 2 AAA Batteries, and 3 Reusable Specula - 2.5mm infant, 3mm child and 4mm.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

CCHS Monthly Lecture Series is Up!

This is so fantastic! These free lectures are going to be spectacular. The series back in August was really informative and inspirational. It's very generous of Classical Christian Homeschooling Conference to offer these for free, as it is for the speakers who generously offer their expertise and time. Each lecture is offered every second Thursday of the month from 5-7 PM Pacific Time. Here's the lineup:

October 11th, 2007

The Great Books, Classical Mathematics and the Great Conversation
Fritz Hinrichs

November 8th, 2007

Why Study Shakespeare?
Norm Lund

December 6th, 2007

A communal reading of C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man
Fritz Hinrichs

January 10th, 2008

Classical Christian Education and the Early Church Fathers
Wes Callihan

February 14th, 2008

Augustine and Cultural Relativism
Matthew Turnbull

March 13th, 2008

April 10th, 2008

Frankenstein and Modern Myth: Connecting Classical Learning and Modern Worldviews
Bill Dawson

May 8th, 2008

Classical Christian

Mark your calenders!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The NEA Doesn't Like Us

To wit:

"B-75. Home Schooling. The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being born by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

"The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools...."

Apparently homeschoolers' tax dollars aren't as good as public schoolers'. They don't seem to like us very much.

Perhaps if they actually educated all the children they insist should be in the hands of a professional teacher they wouldn't be so irritated that homeschooled children get excellent educations. Real professionals should be able to handle a bit of competition.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Internet Magazine

Seasonal Delights is a new magazine available for downloading with a free subscription. And it's beautiful. From the About page:

There is no season such delight can bring, as summer, autumn, winter, and the spring. — William Browne

Seasonal Delights is a quarterly magazine. It is primarily designed for young ladies and their mothers, but can be enjoyed by anyone who loves celebrating the joys of each passing season.

Seasonal Delights is scheduled for four issues each year, in September, December, March, and June.

Seasonal Delights is published electronically as a PDF file, and is formatted for 8.5 x 11″ pages. It is a full-color publication, and is produced by Kelli and Phillip Winn.

If you would like to receive the current issue of Seasonal Delights, all you have to do is subscribe!

Continuing On With SRE

Hopefully, our small project has opened a new avenue of creativity for you. There are numerous books, kits, and patterns available. Sometimes a magazine will feature a fun project. When you shop a resale/remaindered bookshops, be sure to check for SRE books.

My introduction to silk ribbon embroidery came through Sew Beautiful magazine. You can purchase back issues, which also contain loads of information on heirloom sewing, smocking, shadow embroidery, and much more.

Some inspiration I received from SB:

Boy's button-on suit. The ladybugs and the fence are silk ribbon.

A simple dress with SRE sunflower bouquet. Very nice for an older girl.

And a floral print dress with my own smocked design:

The buttons are enhanced with silk ribbon stems, leaves, and French knot blossoms.

The Reader's Digest Complete Book Embroidery has a chapter on SRE, and makes a great reference for several different kinds of needlework. It can be obtained on Ebay.

The Art of Silk Ribbon Embroidery, by Judith Baker Montano, features some background info as well as some of the women involved in promoting SRE. Projects include a doll, an ornament, decorating bow ties, purses, sachets and picture frames, as well as embroidering on transferred photographs.

Two-Hour Silk Ribbon Embroidery, by Malissa Williams, presents over 200 quick designs which showcase the versatility of SRE. The flowers, of course, are there, but so are the veggies and fruits: pumpkins, red peppers, peas in the pod, grapes and strawberries among them. There is quite a variety of vignettes in many themes.

On a more advanced level is Martha Pullen's Silk Ribbon Treasures, which combines SRE with heirloom sewing and smocking. Absolutely gorgeous!

Some online retail sources for SRE books, kits, and supplies include:

Stitcher's Paradise
Discounted Needlework
Cam Creations
Helen Gibb's Shop
In Good Company

Completed SRE Project

Obviously, I'm not too bright for scheduling my part in the Finishing School during the start of the new school year. I was given the opportunity to change it, but didn't have the foresight to take advantage of that opportunity.

Here, at last, is the finished project. I hope you can see the dimensionality of the work, especially the Spider Web Rose.

Only seven more napkins to go!

Actually, despite my extreme tardiness in blogging about the project, the needlework itself went quickly. That's one of the beautiful things about SRE--you can complete a project quickly, and you can work a more extensive project in a reasonable amount of time. Even if you can't blog about it in a timely fashion. :-\

Thursday, September 6, 2007

SRE Stitch Guide

Okay, so scheduling my week of the Ladies Finishing School at the beginning of the school year was not so smart. On top of things I am not. Let's just plunge in and make something beautiful.

To thread, lock, and knot the ribbon, see this how-to page. Note that silk ribbon is not allowed to slide through the eye of the needle like floss.

Here is the stitch guide for the design provided:

The vine/stem is worked in stem stitch with two strands of green floss to coordinate with the green ribbon you chose. Most of it will be covered by the ribbon stitches, but it serves as a skeleton upon which to place your stitches.

The Straight Stich Rose, shown in the diagram as a full on rose toward the middle, is also called a Spider Web Rose. Follow the link for a diagram of how the stitch is made (scroll down to find it). Use two strands of matching floss to securely work straight stitches to form the five spokes. When weaving the ribbon through the spokes, keep the ribbon loose and allow it to twist. This is a dimensional stitch and should stand up from the fabric.

You will use Japanese Ribbon Stitch to form the other flowers, buds, and leaves. This is a versatile SRE stitch and is used as a basis for other stitch combinations. Five-petal flowers are formed by bringing the needle up in the middle of the flower for each petal. Buds are a single Ribbon Stitch in the flower color with a green Ribbon Stitch to either side and overlapping the bud stitch. Leaves are Ribbon stitches placed singly or in small groups. Again, do not pull the stitch too tightly or you will lose the lovely roll over at the tip.

French Knots are used for flower centers and as accents (there's only one such accent in this design). Don't despair if French Knots are difficult for you when using cotton floss. You'll love how easy it is to make beautiful French Knots with silk ribbon.

As you stitch, make sure you do not come up or push down through a knot. This will cause resistance that will pull the work on top and ruin your pretty stitches.

You may wish to practice a bit on a scrap piece of fabric before you begin work on your chosen piece.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Frugal Friday--Organizer Boxes

You'll need: Small cardboard boxes, fabric or cardstock, ribbon and/or raffia, white craft glue, large paint brush, water, hot glue gun and acrylic sealer spray.

1. Decorate each cardboard box by decoupaging the outsides with patterned paper or fabric. To make your own decoupage medium, use equal amounts of white craft glue and water. Squeeze some white craft glue into a small container or cup. Add water and mix until this reaches a milky consistency. Mixture should be paintable, but not too thick.

2. To decoupage, dip your paintbrush into the decoupage medium, your paint brush should be wet but not dripping. Paint a layer of decoupage onto the box and begin putting on your fabric/paper. Paint over the fabric/paper with the decoupage medium, smoothing out with your brush. Work in sections until entire box is covered. Set aside to dry and repeat with each box.

3. Cut out strips of solid fabric/paper for the brims of the boxes. Repeat the decoupage process to apply the brims. Use alterating colors and compliment the patterns with your choices. Allow to dry completely, about two hours.

4. Make small bows out of ribbon, raffia and/or twisted paper. Hot glue the bows onto the fronts of the boxes. Alternatively, you can use ribbon to make a border line between the brim and the rest of the box if you like. Simply hot glue in place.

5. Spray entire surface with acrylic sealer spray and let dry overnight.

More Frugal Friday

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Transferring Embroidery Patterns to Fabric

I found this article on transferring an embroidery pattern on Bella Online, and was very impressed with it. I love the history content as well. I'm linking to it here so you can get the design transferred onto your project and be ready to start embroidering. Please note that with SRE you do not need to transfer the design as shown on the pattern. Transfer the lines for the stems (even changing their direction if you prefer) and just use simple marks (dots, lines, circles) to show the location of the flowers and leaves. You'll refer to the pattern itself for what to stitch where.

The Bella article:

As anybody who has had to either paint, or embroider on fabric will understand, much of the frustration comes, not from the actual work, but from actually getting the design onto the fabric.

With light coloured fabric, the problem becomes very easy – it is easy to use charcoal to draw the pattern straight onto the fabric. In fact, there is substantial evidence that this was done from medieval times. Parts of the Bayeux tapestry show evidence that the design was first drawn onto the fabric, and then stitched over.

There is also some evidence that designs were also painted straight onto fabric – in living colour no less.

These were not done by the actual embroiderers, or the embroidery guilds, but often by a commissioned artist, and then the embroiderers sewed directly over the paintings. Very useful, especially if there was a lot of intricate shading involved.

By far the most common method – especially after the introduction of embroidery pattern books in the 15th century – was prick and pounce.
Continued at Bella Online.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beginning Silk Ribbon Embroidery

First of all, I apologize for taking so long to get this post up. Something very unexpected and unpleasant occurred this weekend, and it really has us thrown for a loop. Please say a prayer for us, and if you have any hints on how to deal with highly neurotic, bordering on the paranoid delusional relatives, please let me know! Also, if you scroll down the sidebar, you will see why this month is the hardest month of the year for us. This really is difficult to handle right now.

Okay, on to the SRE.

Like most needle arts, SRE's exact origins is difficult to pin down. It appears that SRE (also called ribbon work or Rococo embroidery) first embellished court gowns in France in the 1700s. Traditional designs involve floral themes, but modern embroiderers have found ways to stitch butterflies, birds, mermaids, angels and tin soldiers, to name a few imaginative ways silk ribbon has been used.

SRE is easy to learn and you only need simple supplies.

Needles: Sharp, large-eyed needles such as crewel and chenille needles.

Hoop: I like the 2" to 7" plastic spring hoops.

Embroidery scissors

Marking tools: Possibilities include water soluble and disappearing pens, white pencil for dark fabrics, dark marking pencils for lighter fabrics.

Cotton floss or silk thread for embroidering "stems."

Needle grabbers (small rubbery circles that help you pull the needle through the fabric).

100% silk ribbon in 2mm, 4mm, and 7mm widths (4mm being the most common).

Fabric project (napkin, blouse, pillow top, etc.)


Embellishments, if desired: beads, buttons, laces.

Here's the supplies I've gathered for my project:

The piece I'm working on is a brown premade napkin. I inherited the set from my husband's late grandmother.

You'll also notice a hoop, embroidery scissors and two needles. One needle is an embroidery needle for the floss I'll use to make the stem part of the design. The other is a crewel needle for the ribbon.

I've shown two marking pencils. One is white and the other is graphite (in fact, I think I inherited that white pencil from DH's grandmother too).

Also pictured is some green cotton floss that matches the green ribbon. The silk ribbon I've lined up is all made by Bucilla. #7102, 7mm Variegated Jungle Greens, #503, 7mm Pale Honey, #502, 4mm Banana, #666, 4mm Sunflower, #113, 4mm Purple. I bought these some time ago, and I believe the numbers may have been changed. You will be choosing your own colors depending on what you have chosen for the project. I may not be using each of the colors. I want to see how it develops. I will be using this for teaching SRE to my DD, so she will be giving her input as well.

Here is the design we will be using. Click on the pic to enlarge it and to print it out when you're ready.

The design can be worked in whatever colors you like and suit your purpose. Each flower could be a different color or in the same tonal shades (remembering that buds are often darker than the open flower). You could even use holiday colors. I hope you find this inspirational and not overwhelming. I don't want you to be standing in front of the ribbon display in a trance repeating "Pretty colors" over and over.

Again, I apologize to the tardiness of this post, and I will try to be much more timely with the rest. I hope you are looking forward trying your hand at silk ribbon embroidery.