Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DPP Day 21: Planning

Eight weeks. That's how long our break from school will be by the time we start back after New Year's. It's been such a wonderful break -- much needed!  But our time off is drawing to a close and in these final weeks a good deal of my time is being spent planning our year. I love starting a new school year in January!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DPP Day 20: Gingerbread Man

My first Christmas as a married woman I tried my hand at gingerbread men and have continued to make them every Christmas since. I prefer them plain because they're just that good, but of course there's a lot of fun to be had in decorating gingerbread men (and boys and girls)!

Today we packed up our cookie cutters and went to a friend's house for a rollicking good time baking and decorating gingerbread men. Most of the decorating was done by the kids (who have not yet learned the wisdom of "less is more"), but here's one I made as a sample for the kids to see how to use the supplies.


Gingerbread Men

Cream together until smooth:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar

Stir in:
1 cup molasses
2 egg yolks

In a separate bowl, mix together:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture until smooth. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the doughnut to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.


Bonus photo of the kids' creations.

Monday, December 19, 2016

DPP Day 19: Sycamore at Sunset

This evening I snapped a shot of the light from the setting sun illuminating the upper branches of our sycamore tree.  The sun sets so early this time of year, but it's awfully lovely while it's going down!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

DPP Day 17: Frightful and Delightful

It's not the worst snowstorm I've ever seen, but anytime there's snow on top of ice it gets awfully dicey out there.  But it is awfully beautiful watching the snow blow around from the warmth of the indoors. At one point I couldn't stay in any longer, so I grabbed my camera and went for a little trek around the house. The snow is delightful even when the weather is frightful!  

This is the house across the street from us. It's what I look at out our front windows day after day. Today it is frosted and lovely!

Friday, December 16, 2016

DPP Day 16: Where the Magic Happens

I spend a great deal of time with these keys this time of year -- keeping up with holiday events, weather forecasts, Christmas shopping, tracking deliveries, and sharing the festivities with friends near and far.  I've also been prepping some for our new school year that starts in January.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DPP Days 14 & 15: Powdered Nose, Full House

I didn't have a chance to pick up my camera the whole day yesterday. I did snag this quick shot of daddy and daughter at the supper table with my phone. Daughter had been baking and was adorably smudged with flour -- or is it powdered sugar? She baked chocolate Christmas cookies for today's tea party!

Today we were up bright and early (for us) to get everything ready for a last minute Christmas tea party we hosted for some local homeschoolers. We had a great turnout and the house was bursting with fun! I snapped a few shots and then gave Miss M my camera to go around and photograph everybody. Somehow, this is still the only shot that came out even halfway decent. Oh well... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DPP Day 13: Lights on the Ceiling

The Christmas lights adorning our front porch make super neat patterns on the ceiling of the living room where they slip in between the closed blinds. I used a slow shutter speed to capture how cool it looks!

Monday, December 12, 2016

DPP Day 12: Early Morning Magic

In my youth I was "early to bed and early to rise," typically getting up before the sun. These days, not so much. Hubby and the kids are night owls, which means I'm usually up late right along with them. And when I stay up late, I sleep in late the next morning. (Because sleep deprivation is for the birds.)

This morning, however, I was up early and caught this beautiful beam of the just-risen sun casting shadows of my jade plant on the kitchen wall. Due to the position of the window, and neighboring houses and trees, it only stayed illuminated like this for less than five minutes. Five magical minutes, and I captured it!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DPP Day 11: Icy Pond

It has been cold enough to freeze parts of the pond at the park. Today was warmer, though, and drizzley. Perfect for a brisk walk with the fam!

Here the kids are amusing themselves with sliding rocks across the ice and of the edge into the unfrozen water. Rocks bouncing on ice make such a unique plink-plink sound!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

DPP Day 10: Old Science Fiction

I love seeing these old sci fi books on my shelf. They were my dad's when he was a boy. I love that so many of the wild ideas the old sci fi writers came up with are now a reality with modern technology. I used to read these on Christmas vacation at my grandparents' farm. Maybe one year my kids will read them on Christmas break!

Friday, December 9, 2016

DPP Day 9: In the Stacks

My little bookworm ran off to the stacks while I picked up the books I had on hold at the library.  We're never there very long, but she always comes home with a whole stack of books to read.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

DPP Day 8: Making Memories in the Modern Age

This evening the family was all cuddled up on the couch with plenty of pillows and blankets and engaged in one of our favorite activities -- playing WordHero together on our tablets.  This may look like yet another example of the downfall of civilization in the modern age, but you would not believe the fun, laughter, and hilarity that ensues when we all play together. Our devices are put to use fostering family togetherness!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DPP Day 7: Bittersweet milestone

Today my youngest child lost his first tooth. What a bittersweet milestone!  Here he is giving it a tug with a piece of dental floss. He ended up pulling it out himself a little bit later, no help necessary!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

DPP Day 6: Little Monster

I was far too busy today to look for interesting camera shots, but I snagged this one quickly as my son's friend's little brother borrowed a pair of monster feet and chased the bigger boys up the loft bed. Rawr!

DPP Day 5: A Visiting Camera

Today my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew drove in from out of state. I had been expecting my mom, but the rest were a last minute addition. I also didn't know they were bringing Christmas with them!

Christmas music, advent reading, and a silly Christmas story read by my 7-year-old led up to opening presents and snapping lots of pictures.  I snagged this one of my sister's camera just as she reached to pick it up again.  It's the cooler, newer, more trendy version of mine, just like my sister is the cooler, younger, more trendy version of me...or something like that.

Monday, December 5, 2016

All About Candles

Candles are a common part of many winter holiday celebrations. Kids are particularly fascinated by these little bodies of heat and light. And with that fascination comes the inevitable questions: why? and how? 

Why doesn’t the fire get bigger?
Why is there water in the candle?
How does it work?

Not long ago, a winter ice storm came along and knocked out our power. After the initial surprise of being plunged into total darkness, it seemed like the perfect chance for us to investigate just how candles work.

What you need:

  • 8″ piece of cotton string
  • metal butter knife
  • paper towel
  • small dish of water
  • yellow or red food coloring
  • 2 taper candles
  • matches or lighter
Most children have seen a candle burn, but you may wish to have a separate burning candle available for observation during the discussion. Ask your students what burns on a candle.

Does the wick burn?

Tie the piece of cotton string to the handle of a metal butter knife. Light the dangling end of the string and watch it burn up the entire string in a matter of seconds. If the wick were the source of a candle’s fuel, it would not last very long! The wick is not the source of fuel for the candle.

Does the wax burn?

Light a match or use a lighter. Hold the flame beside the solid wax of a candle. The wax will melt and drip, but it will not burn. Wax in its solid or liquid state does not burn.

It’s time to shift gears for a moment. Fill a small dish with water and add a couple drops of food coloring. Tear a paper towel into long narrow strips. Dip one end of a strip of paper towel into the dish and watch the colored water climb up the paper towel. This phenomenon is called wicking or capillary action and is the same thing that happens to the wick of a candle. A candle wick is made of absorbent material just like a paper towel.

When the hot flame from a match or lighter is held to a candle wick, the heat melts some of the candle wax. The liquid wax then travels up the wick by capillary action. When the liquid wax gets close enough to the heat of the flame, it is vaporized or converted to its gaseous state like when water is made into steam. The wax vapor is what burns.

Wax vapor burns

To demonstrate that it is the vaporized wax that is fuel to a candle’s flame light a second candle. Blow out the first candle and quickly move the flame of the second candle into the smoke rising from the extinguished wick of the first candle. Hold it about one inch away and you will see the vapors ignite and relight the wick of the first candle!

Be sure to work on a well-protected surface and wear eye protection, if possible, while using flame and hot wax.

This article was originally published in December 2013 by Home & School Mosaics.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

DPP Day 4: Day of rest

Today I rested.

It seems most days are a whirlwind of activity with ten zillion details I have to keep track of, arrange, and execute.  There are meals to plan, cook, and eat. Rooms to tidy. Appointments to make and keep. Children to educate, nurture, bathe, and worry over. Friends and relations with important milestones to celebrate. World events to stay abreast of. And more.  

And most of the time I am perfectly happy with my chaotic life.  

But some days...

Some days I lie in bed and admire my parrot mobile. For hours. Just because. And I let my mind and my body r.e.s.t.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

DPP Day 3: Bedtime Beauty

At some point along the way while I was busy raising this girl, she transformed from a little girl to a young lady.  Isn't she gorgeous?

DPP Day 2: Preparing room

In this season of Advent, we prepare many things. We prepare Him room in our hearts. We prepare festive decorations and surprises. And sometimes we prepare our homes with a massive purge in our kids' rooms.

This is a before shot.  Well, an almost-before shot. We actually already got started and moved Miss M's bird and its table out before I remembered to grab the camera.  We worked for 12 hours straight (with two brief breaks to eat). It's still not done. But we made progress!  'Tis the season.....for hard work. :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

DPP Day 1: December Rose

It has felt more like spring than fall the past several weeks. My pathetic rose plant in the front yard seems to have thought so too. It decided to put out a blossom. Imagine! A blooming rose in December in Missouri!

This is my first photo for this year's December Photo Project. It's not too late to join in!