Merry Christmas

Illustrations come from a back issue of the old St. Nicholas Magazine, edited by Mary Mapes Dodge (who wrote the wonderful book Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates).  The illustration is by Beatrice Stevens, a Golden Age illustrator from Pomfret Connecticut.

sign of the christmas tree page 1

sign of the christmas tree page 2

Posted in Celebrations/feasts/memorials/high holy days | Leave a comment

Christmas diorama to colour, cut out, stand up

Click to enlarge. The baby and toys go with the fire place to make a little diorama.  I think your printer selections should be on landscape, but be sure to preview first, and if necessary, adjust settings and sizes for your own printer.


fireplace pattern 1 fireplace andiron candle and stockings

baby and toys stand up figures vintage girl with snowball to colour


fireplace 3 directions

Posted in Celebrations/feasts/memorials/high holy days, crafts | Leave a comment

Blender Cheese Soup

2014-12-23 19.06.01Blender Cheese Soup

This takes a few minutes to make, and not very long to cook.

Serves 5

Ingredients and directions:

2 medium carrots, cut in 1 ” pieces

2 stalks celery, cut as above

1 small onion, quartered

2 cups (500 ml) water or chicken broth

2 chicken bouillon cubes, if using water

Put these in your blender and blend until you have a very chunky puree.  Pour into a 2 qrt saucepan and cook until the vegetables are tender.

2 cups (500 ml Milk)

1/3 cup (50 ml) flour

2 1/2 cups (625) cheddar cheese, cubed or grated

Put milk, flour and cheese in the blender, liquefy.Pour into pot with vegetable mixture and cook until thickened.  I add a tablespoon or two of garlic, some salt, pepper, and paprika.

Posted in cookery | Leave a comment

Mitten template for craft projects

mitten template

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free Kindle Books

Books below are free at the time of this post. This changes sometimes between the time it takes to copy and paste links here and publish the post. Double check the pice- if it doesn’t say 0.00, it’s not free.=)

You don’t need a kindle to read these.

All links are affiliate links, all descriptions below come from Amazon’s site.

I have not read any of these- they just looked interesting.

we love books bookshelf vintageFamily, Food and the Friars: Experience the Richness of Italian Cuisine through Cultivating, Cutting, Cooking and Consuming with Those you Love
Family, Food and the Friars: Experience the Richness of Italian Cuisine through Cultivating, Cutting, Cooking and Consuming with Those you Love, Gino Barbaro guides you through the techniques of preparing fresh Italian cuisine. He draws upon his experiences from growing up in an Italian household to owning and operating an Italian restaurant for over 18 years. In this, his first cookbook, he begins by discussing the basics of food preparation and then dives into preparing recipes. He continues with some of his restaurants’ favorite dishes and adds personal stories relating to the recipes. You will find a special chapter on the Thanksgiving feast he and his family prepare with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal for their neighborhood. Gino illustrates how simple it can be to prepare a delicious meal and how vital it is for a family to gather around the dinner table to enjoy the meal and share wonderful memories.

books border black and white

The Quinoa Cookbook: Your Essential Quinoa Recipes For Delicious Meals ((How To Cook With The Quinoa Super Food) Book 1)

Very few foods have the distinction of being called a “super food”. Quinoa (pronounced khin-wa) is one of them. It’s tasty appeal makes it a very versatile food, which can be paired with a wide variety of foods including vegetables, chicken, beef and fish, among others. Because of it’s excellent nutritional properties, it is often a staple in many vegan and gluten-free culinary masterpieces.

Is there a single best way to enjoy quinoa? Yes, and that way is called variety. And this is what this book is about.

Analysis Paralysis? No Way.

This book contains 16 of the best recipes for enjoying quinoa pairing it with vegetables, chicken, beef and fish. But you may ask, why only 16 recipes and only 4 food subgroups?

In today’s fast paced information driven society, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with too much information and suffer from analysis paralysis, i.e., the inability to decide due to too much available information. And the last thing we want to happen to you is to not give healthy eating with quinoa a try simply because of being overwhelmed with choices.

We limited it to 16 so you just have enough choices from what we believe to be some of the best quinoa recipes from all over – not too few and not too many.

Certified Delicious

Each of the 16 quinoa recipes featured in this book are not only practical. They are also certified delicious. We believe once you try one, you’ll try them all and be enticed to eat healthy for life.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a copy of this book and start experiencing the deliciously healthy world of quinoa.

books border black and white

DIY Household Hacks: 40 Simple and Effective Household Hacks to Make your Day Easier: (DIY household hacks, DIY cleaning and organizing, DIY cleaning, DIY books, DIY beauty)

Cleaning can be a hard and tedious task, but it’s one that is easily taken care of with do-it-yourself household cleaning hacks. From your kitchen to your bathroom, cleaning can become easier and a little safer. There is no reason to use harsh chemicals that are not good for your house, your health, and even your skin. They’re a thing of the past when it comes to cleaning, as easy to use tips are readily available.

Stains are also often a problem, from blood stains to grease stains to permanent marker stains, but with these tips they be gotten rid of easily and effectively. Household tips are here to make your life easier, as too much of your free time is spent on cleaning. Even learn how to polish your furniture without having to worry about costly polishes, and other tips that will keep your living room looking clean and tidy for guests. Learn how to freshen your fridge, remove tough stains, and even get rid of clogs in your sink.

books border black and white

Organic Composting: Reduce Waste, Save Money, and Improve Your Garden (How To Garden, How To Compost)

This Book Is For Gardeners
Learning how to make your own compost is essential for gardeners. Whether you’re looking to grow more vegetables, or win the county fair for your roses, home composting is the key to success.

…But Also For The Environmentally Conscious
Do you want to help slow down our negative impact on the planet? Building a compost at home is one of the best ways to live green. Not only are you reducing household waste and recycling a number of organic products, you’re also helping nourish the soil for everyone else. Simply put, composting improves soil health.

Learn The Different Types of Compost Bins
When you shop for compost bins, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. We’ll walk through exactly what you need to get for your home, and even how you can make your own with inexpensive materials.

books border black and white

The Working Chicken: Learn everything you need to know to become a backyard egg and meat producer in 30 minutes or less!

A short, sweet, and self-sufficient guide to keeping chickens as part of a rural or urban homestead.

Learn everything you need to know to get started on your poultry adventure with these quick answers to your frequently asked questions. The Working Chicken begins by helping you choose the perfect flock for your family, then explains how to feed and house your new pets. Finally, the book’s permaculture twist ensures that your chickens will not only be happy and healthy, they’ll also keep your family healthy too.

books border black and white

Clean Food Diet: Avoid processed foods and eat clean with few simple lifestyle changes(free nutrition recipes)(natural food recipes) (Special Diet Cookbooks & Vegetarian Recipes Collection Book 4)

Reader Review; This book contains fifty natural recipes designed for healthy living. Vine‘s book contains an introduction, explanations on what is clean eating, what to eat, how to eat clean, and how to cook clean. His recipes are for appetizers such as whole wheat zucchini and white bean hummus; soups, such as gazpacho, Thai tomato soup, and cabbage soup; salads, such as Mexican bean salad, strawberry spinach salad, and light waldof salad; main dishes, such as buttermilk marinated tofu, kababs, and eggplant; deserts, such as cookies, grilled peaches, and smoothie.

In his introduction he speaks about additives. He writes that clean living is a lifestyle of avoiding processed foods and ingredients you cannot identify. One should eat whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. He identifies coconut, avocado, and olive oils as healthy fats. He stresses that cooking for oneself is cheaper and healthier, and it is necessary to drink a lot of water to keep the body hydrated – two liters of water. No sodas at all. Cooking destroys some nutrients so one must learn how to cook properly. Fried foods should be avoided. Salt should be reduced. One should, he writes, think of food as a medicine and our body as a temple. These are just some of the many healthy advices that he gives along with his fifty recipes.

books border black and white

Thicker than Blood (Thicker than Blood series Book 1)

Blurb; Two estranged sisters, one a rare book dealer, the other a cattle rancher, meet again after fifteen years.
Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. She could never imagine that a stolen first edition of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” would lead her back to the sister she abandoned fifteen years ago. With her life in danger, can May’s Triple Cross Ranch be the safe haven Christy’s searching for? Will the sisters realize before it’s too late that each possesses what the other desperately needs?

Thicker than Blood is Book #1 in the Thicker than Blood series.

All books stand alone entirely and can be read independently of each other, but for the best reading experience, we suggest reading them in order:

Book #1: Thicker than Blood
Book #2: Bound by Guilt
Book #3: Ties that Bind
books border black and white

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

Apricot Chicken

2014-12-23 19.02.09Apricot Chicken

Serves 10 (also freezes well)


  1. 3/4 cup of soy sauce or bragg’s amino acids
  2. 3/4 cup of apricot jam (you can also use peach or plum)
  3. 1/4 cup of honey
  4. 1/4 cup of orange juice
  5. 2 cloves of garlic
  6. 5lbs of boneless skinless chicken pieces.


To make as a freezer meal, combine all ingredients and put in a freezer bag and freeze until the day you want to bake it.

To prepare to eat the same day: Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two large pans (more if you need it). ladle a bit of the sauce in to the bottom of the pan.  Put the chicken pieces in a single layer in the pan and pour the remaining sauce over the top (chicken should not be submerged- just about halfway in the liquid).

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil, turn the pieces over and bake from 15 to 30 minutes longer (uncovered), basting as needed so it doesn’t dry out.  Just how long depends on the size of your chicken pieces, whether they are thighs or breasts, whether you have a metal or glass pan, whether the pieces were boneless or not, and how cold they were.

I made this while the chicken was still frosted in the center.

2014-12-23 19.02.09

Serve over rice or with soba noodles

Posted in cookery, cooking for a crowd | Leave a comment

story telling

Give yourself five minutes grace to go to the bathroom alone. Let the kids watch:

Stewart Cameron retelling the story of the teeny tiny woman. My kids and grandkids have all been distracted by this tale.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Anxiety and the Holidays: Quick Coping Tools

holiday stress coping toolsHolidays are an extra sensitive and difficult time for many people for all kinds of reasons- the sensory overload alone can be enough to make some of us want to retreat to one of those sensory deprivation float tanks invented in the sixties.

In addition to the sensory overload, many people are dealing with dysfunctional family issues, and all the negative self-talk that comes with issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD and others, come bubbling up to the surface in rapid order.

I’ve always heard that it’s a really hard time of year for people struggling with the above sorts of issues.  On my PTSD Pinterest board right now this particular pin is getting repinned and ‘liked’ several times a day.


I’m not an expert and this is not professional advice, which you should definitely seek if your issues are making it hard for your to cope.

This is just a collection of things I’ve tried, intend to try, know somebody else has tried, or think I ought to try. Not every one of them works for everybody in every situation, naturally. I also don’t profess to know for a scientific fact why some of these work. I suspect for many of them, it’s simply a focused way to distract you from something negative and force your attention on to something positive or at least only neutral.

Ground yourself in the moment. This works particularly for disassociation and flashbacks associated with PTSD, but can also help if your form of anxiety issues have a tendency of hogtying you and tossing you off a cliff into the raging rapids of stress, what ifs, and misinterpreting every human interaction as ‘they hate me’. (Even if that’s not a misinterpretation, grounding yourself in the here and now can help distract you from the possibly unpleasant realities of other people’s emotions). Basically, this is just a way of focusing on the physical here and now, and you do this by using the five senses. These are just suggestions, again, like the rest of the post:

Touch: Hold an ice cube and think about it, not all that other overwhelming stuff. Rub a worry stone while reciting a favorite Bible verse or a poem, or saying the times tables if that’s what you need to do. Me, the times tables would induce more anxiety. Keep a piece of sandpaper or an emory board in your pocket and finger it.

Found at

Found at

Smell: Peel an orange or a lemon, focusing on the fragrance, inhaling deeply and slowly. Rub your fingers on the peels, crushing them a bit and focus on the scent. Crush a fresh herb between your fingers (rosemary, basil, thyme, one of the mints) and sniff deeply. Keep a bottle of essential oil or your favorite perfume around, sniff deeply. It sometimes helps to breathe in the scent while you count four seconds, hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale slowly for 8 seconds.  I think the main benefit from this method, by the way, is the focus you add to the exercise by counting.  You can also try fixing yourself a cup of hot herbal tea and holding the hot cup in your hands while breathing in the tea, slowly inhale, hold, slow, steady exhale. I would use Tension Tamer or something like that- something with Kava Kava or Valerian in it.

Some people use essential oils and diffuser necklaces, like this: Celtic Cross Copper Aromatherapy Essential Oil & Diffuser Necklace. I don’t use the necklace. I just drop a bottle of lavender or orange oil in my purse and sniff it like smelling salts.  I also have some in a basket by my bed. If it embarrasses you to do this in public, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom as often as it takes.

I do keep a diffuser plugged in in my bathroom and bedroom almost all the time so I can stop and smell the roses, so to speak, as often as I need to. I have: Oil Diffuser, the more old school Porcelain Tear Drop Oil Warmer Candle Holder, and the Scentball Plug In Electric Diffuser).

Again, I don’t think the point here is the *oils*, it’s the act of grounding yourself and using a strong scent that you like to focus on as a tool to help you with that grounding.

Hearing:  iPod, head phones, K-Pop, baby.  But whatever rocks your soul and helps to distract you from the things you need to be distracted from. This is probably not the time for the gentle, soothing tones of harp music or gregorian chant. You want something that you can enjoy that will be loud enough to distract you, to jar your thoughts out of the ugly ruts.

Taste: I haven’t tried this one, but I have read advice to bite into a sour lemon when you need fight a fright train of oncoming anxiety through grounding.


Other ideas for coping in a large crowd and hustle and bustle:

Lots of trips to the bathroom, as many as you need to cushion yourself against the noise, the press and pressure, and hurly burly din- take your essential oils, lemons and headphones if you need to.

Quiet time for you- and the babies if you have little ones- during the day. Just make it known that has to be part of your routine, and then disappear to the bedroom for two hours in the afternoon.

 Have headphones, white noise of some sort to keep the Awful Din down to a dull roar.

If you have this option- set up an introvert area- if you are part of a large family group at somebody else’s house consider bringing along a puzzle or one of those adult colouring books (with designs like this) and a tv tray if you can.  Set it up in a corner space somewhere that isn’t quite as noisy as other places in the house- and retire there to work on the puzzle or to colour.  Not only does this give you something to concentrate on beyond your rising panic, these are things that don’t scream “I hate the world” or “Leave me alone!”  Somebody else can join you and do them with you, but usually only one or two people at a time- especially if you choose a smaller area (assuming the layout works for this).

Bring something to do with your hands- I learned to crochet just for this. All I can do is basically a chain stitch and rows of more chain stitches, but that’s okay because the only reason I do it is to keep my hands occupied. It’s therapeutic.  It doesn’t matter what it is- crop photos by hand, cut coupons out of magazines or newspapers, do somebody’s nails, braid a little girl’s hair, knit, embroider, cross-stitch, play Sudoku puzzles or sew buttons on shirt (or a Christmas ornament). Do origami. Make paper hats out of newspapers.  I prefer reading, and probably most of you do, too, but that shuts people out (which may be why we prefer it) and increases the distance between you and them, which you probably don’t need right now.  You just need something you can do with your hands so you can focus on that when you need to redirect your thinking, calm yourself, and give yourself a bit of emotional insulation.

If there are a lot of kids, supply a few little prizes and induce them to play a quieter game like hide the thimble: o person hides the thimble, the only rule being it has to be where it can be seen without moving something.  The others troop in and look for the thimble. But when you see it, you are not supposed to tell where it is, you just sit down quietly and let the others hunt.
Another game you can play that requires some quiet is to hide something that makes a little noise (like a ticking clock, but probably you can set a smart phone to do something), and then have people hunt for it. They can’t be loud because then they can’t hear it. Maybe bring a few people at a time to play this game in one of the furthest rooms in the house.

Bring little ear protectors that aren’t easily seen and wear them when it starts to get overwhelmingly loud.

Go to bed early, but read, or watch a movie on your laptop or iPad.

Volunteer to run errands if that’s not something that sets off your internal alarms.

Know the things that set off your internal alarms and be firm about not setting them off.  Don’t be guilt tripped into triggering yourself, either (easier said than done).  You have a right not to expose yourself to things that trigger flashbacks and disassociation.

Go for a ten minute walk. Try some other quick, short exercise or stretching- retreat to the bathroom and do some knee bends.  Play hopscotch with the kids (use masking tape to make a hopscotch square).  Do some light stretching.

Hug yourself.  Seriously.  This isn’t just about some feel-good mumbo jumbo from the self-esteem movement.  Put your right hand on your left elbow, right hand on the left elbow, then squeeze in and up, slightly hunching your shoulders.  This is a massage technique that helps release tension. You can also try the bilateral movements described here (part of EMDR therapy)- putting your hands on opposite shoulders, tape with first one hand, then the other, left right, left right. Read more about that here. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Traveling With Strangers- Patience, Please

vintage baby and motherI read this, which begins:

“The kind act of two first-time parents went viral this week after they handed out goody bags to fellow passengers on a flight, apologizing in advance for any disturbance their baby might cause.

That’s sweet. It’s thoughtful. It’s also wrong.

Babies are babies, and sometimes they cry. Everyone needs to just accept that reality and get over it.”

I agreed with parts of it, but other parts made my spine arch like a hissing cat that’s been stroked the wrong way.

We’ve done a lot of traveling with children, including on a plane with toddlers, infants. and preschoolers on overseas flights (18 hours once or twice, 15 hours about 8 times). The worst ever was a flight from LAX to TOkyo, a brief layover of an hour or two, and then on to Okinawa. It was our daughters’ first plane ride. They were 3 and 15 mos old. The 3 year old raised a most unholy ruckus for what seems like hours. That’s perhaps an exaggeration, but I know more than one passenger offered things for her to do in an attempt to stop the banshee like caterwauling. It was horrible (it all started when we expressly would not let her run up and down the aisles and stomp on our fellow passengers’ feet).

It’s kind of a mixed bag- I understand what it’s like to be doing everything you can while also dealing with the resentful stares and grouchy attitudes of unsympathetic adults, and I also get the frustration of being stuck in public with somebody else’s loud, unhappy, and/or unruly children. We expected our children to behave in public as toddlers, and it was kind of a shock to be exposed to others who seemed not to have those same expectations.

plane with screaming woman

Planes are different, though. If you’re on the ground and things aren’t going well, you can leave. You can take your child out somewhere private and have a talk (and I mean a talk) and decompression time. On a plane, you cannot go anywhere- the bathroom is tiny and nasty and probably the scariest place on the plane for a toddler, and a hundred other people need access to it, so it would be rude to hog it even if you could get your kid settled in there. Also, speaking from personal experience, when your toddler is having a mega meltdown, people can still hear all of it even if you are in the bathroom.

There must be a lot of critical adults out in the world these days, because I see so many things on the internet from parents pointing out that babies and little ones are still little and cannot act like adults, and you were once a baby, too, and so please, a little patience, some empathy, some compassion, some understanding. We could all use a little compassion and understanding.

All of us. Including grumpy adults who seem to be impatient with the kids. That empathy should go both ways. There are people who know they can’t handle toddlers so they don’t have them. It is hard for them be locked for hours with screaming children in a metal box the shape of a cigar and not much bigger. Toddler and baby cries are designed on purpose to be annoying and blood pressure raising. That pitch is supposed to drive jack-hammers into your skull and shoot porcupine quills into your spine so you’ll get up and do something (I think it’s designed this way by God, others thing it’s natural evolution, either way, it’s not supposed to be a charming sound). Since the whole purpose of a young child’s unhappy roar is to motivate corrective and soothing action from their loving parents, of course it’s upsetting and stressful for anybody who has to listen to it (it’s supposed to be). Not everybody can handle noise and stress equally well for all kinds of reasons. Adults have bad days, too.

I understand that no matter how well you understand all that, it’s still not always possible to soothe your youngest progeny in a timely fashion, or to remove them from others. It happens. Sometimes it cannot be helped. Believe me, we have been there (we once narrowly averted a store employee on the verge of calling the police because she found the sound of the Cherub in full melt down mode horribly disturbing and frightening, so I get it, I really, really do).

But even if you can’t fix it right away when your toddler is having a meltdown or your baby is screaming, parents of toddlers and babies should also be understanding of how stressful that can be for others, sympathetic rather than resentful. You know there are times when that noise makes *you* want to scream and break things, and you love the little tots enough to die for them. Random strangers have their own backstories. Extending a little understanding and empathy their direction may change nothing at all, except your own attitude, but that’s not a bad result.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More sewing cards

Previous sewing cards and tips for using them here.

Here are five more (click to enlarge):

sewing card house rooves

sewing card sugar bowl

sewing card butterfly

sewing card pigeon rectangle

sewing card squirrel

You can also just print out two each of some of these blocks, colour as desired, and then use them to play memory.

You could have your child colour the pictures, paint them, or cut them apart to make simple puzzles.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment