The Lure Of Pencil Sharpeners

Yesterday, I took the older three kids and Caleb to the art museum, to see “In Monet’s Garden: The Lure Of Giverny”. The exhibit not only includes paintings of Claude Monet, but also works of art by people who have been influenced by Monet and his garden in Giverny, France. Ever since I heard about this exhibit, only being shown in Columbus and Paris, I wanted to go see it. Plus, it would log the girls some art credit for school. At first, I thought I would try to arrange a group tour for other students in our school, too, but I decided to just take mine, and see how that went.
We got parked and went into the building (“Look, Mom, these stairs are made out of rocks!”). While I payed for the tickets and tried to console a screaming Caleb (boy, babies sound so much louder in a big empty space!), I happened to glance past the desk at this painting, one of the pieces inspired by Monet’s garden. I’m not normally interested in contemporary art like this- I mean, it is just a bunch of boxes, right? But I found myself really liking the colors in this work, and immediately thought of what a terrific quilt it would make. That’s the way I roll (wink).
We proceeded to the stairs, and right at the foot of them, still in the lobby, was this giant painting, another Monet-inspired piece, of two women, and one of them was- how shall I put it- not fully dressed. This surprised me. Not because it was in an art museum- I expect a little of that- but because it was right there in the lobby. Maybe I am getting over-sensitive in my advanced motherhood, but please. Is nothing sacred? We went up to the exhibit, and there was a twenty minute film showing in the first room. I had Caleb calmed, so we went in and sat down to watch. The kids were prepped on how this place was like a library, or church, where they needed to be quieter than normal. This filmstrip would be our first test to see how they would do. The girls did fine, and sat relatively still through the show. Sam, on the other hand, tried out four or five different chairs (it wasn’t a sold out show), developed a new habit of sucking on his shirt collar, rolled his ticket into a gun and made shooting noises at the screen, and was generally restless. I wasn’t surprised, but when he started kicking the chair beside him and it was filled by an elderly lady we didn’t know, I had to rein him in to stand beside me. In the upper corner of the screen, it counted down the minutes until the next viewing. By the last eight minutes of the film, I was watching the ticker more than the film itself. I wanted to see it all, and hoped the kids could hold on for me to do that. One of the things that is difficult about motherhood- their needs are more important than my wants.
An interesting thought from the film-one of the reasons Monet moved to Giverny was to get away, to distance himself from the busy-ness that was his life before. He immersed himself in building an expansive garden, and painting it. He was noted to have said he was good at “nothing except gardening, and painting.” Ironically, other artists from around the world heard about his garden, and began to invade his space to “learn” from the master, thus making it not so secluded, and turning it into what he was trying to escape.
One of our desires in buying the land was to raise our family in a place that was removed from the hustle and bustle, a shelter from our destructive culture, a home to encourage creativity and beauty. Our land isn’t far from civilization, so we aren’t certain that surburbia won’t ever take over there, too. But right now, it is surrounded by well-established farms and the Amish (they’ve been around awhile, too:), so we have some confidence that it will remain “out in the country”. I thought it was neat that Monet desired a home away from it all, too.
Before we left the exhibit, there was a station set up where you could look at flowers through a magnifying glass, and draw what you saw with colored pencils. Finished drawings were tacked to the wall above the station. The kids loved this, and each drew two pictures. Sam’s pictures were both reproductions of another kid’s drawing he saw on the wall. I don’t think he quite understood the instructions, but he wasn’t there for art credit, anyway. His work required a lot of red (as the previous child’s did, too), and was elated to find a small pencil sharpener sitting beside the pencils. I didn’t know he’d never seen a pencil sharpener like this one- just your standard small box with a cone for cutting. He sharpened, and sharpened, and sharpened some more, having a great time accumulating all those shavings. If you were to ask him how he liked the museum, I’m sure he would mention that, before he got to the part about looking at some paintings.
There are a few other things I want to share about our excursion, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monet, Monet
oh baby
paintin’ Giverny
(to the tune of Mony Mony)

Poster available at

That’ll Do, Ebay, That’ll Do

You might recall my plea for a small stepstool like my sister-in-law’s. I searched far and wide (on ebay, that is), and found one in somebody’s store that I thought might work. The stool cost far more than I would want to pay for a few pieces of wood, so I didn’t order right away, hoping I would find something cheaper at a festival. Many festivals visited this season, but no stepstools. I finally took the plunge and bought it last week. This expenditure thins the wallet a bit, but the kids can wash their hands at the sink now without having to stand on the toilet seat (a disaster waiting to happen!). I am pleased.

Work In Progress

My fingers are sore- I must be knitting again. This time it’s socks, and I am 60% of the way through the first one. This is when I feel like quitting, and when other crafts other people are making look easier/prettier/better than what I have chosen to do, and history tends to repeat itself in my procrastination and desertion of projects. (Today, I was looking around for my glue gun, and counted up all my unfinished crafts. I thought I would take a picture of them, but decided neither your stomach nor mine could handle that.)
Let us all hope the habit stops here. [hand over heart:] I pledge to finish these socks!
Thank goodness God doesn’t lay me aside unfinished.

She Ain’t Half Bad…

Sarah Beth has been going around with the camera lately, and many of the pictures have turned out rather good. I thought I would put some in my Picasa Albums.

Make It! Monday

Judging from this picture, the last time I made my Chicken Pot Pie was the night I made Meredith’s fabuloso peach cake. See the peach puree in the background, next to my Magic Bullet? [Homer Simpson style:] Mmmm. Peach Cake. Gonna have to make that again, soon.
Where was I? Oh, yeah- Chicken Pot Pie.

1/3 c butter
1/3 c chopped onion
1/3 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2/3 c milk
3 c cooked, cubed chicken
2 c frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
(I cook them a bit in the microwave to
ensure they don’t turn out crunchy in
the pie)

2 c flour
3 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 c yogurt
To make filling:
Cook onion in butter until soft. Combine flour, salt and pepper and add to onion. Whisk in milk and chicken broth, cook until bubbly and thickened. Add chicken and vegetables. Pour into 9X13 pan.
To make topping:
Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in butter (this is funnest with your hands!). Add yogurt and mix with spatula just until moistened (may need a T or so more yogurt if still dry). Drop by large spoonfuls onto filling in pan, offsetting rows so that no biscuit touches another. Bake at 425 degrees for 16-18 minutes.
I serve this with mashed potatoes, to completely send it over Starchy Mountain.
Mmm… Starches…

Weekend Thoughts

Abbie with Grandma Jean- I wonder how many
babies have snuggled in her arms?

I had just started dating Luke, and accompanied him and his family to Pennsylvania to attend his brother Paul’s wedding. That was the first time I met his grandmother, Grandma Jean. Most of us traveled together, and on the way there, we stopped at a Bob Evans. While we sat and ate, the subject of names came up, and how interesting it was that so many ladies in the family had the name, Jean. There was Grandma Jean, whose actual name was Margaret Jean but she went by Jean, then Sara, her granddaughter, had it as a middle name. Serena, her grandson’s wife, also had it as a middle name. I spoke up and told the group that Jean was my middle name, too. Grandma Jean and others got a gleam in their eye at this piece of news, and gave me a knowing smile. It was as if my name gave us all a clue that I was meant to be one of them. My name will always remind me of Grandma Jean, and of the treasure that is my family.

This Just In…

Charges are pending against The United Cousins’ Doll Fund, as it was discovered Thursday that they are in breach of Child Labor Laws. It would appear that UCDF doesn’t use child labor at all, instead employing bottomless dads and uncles who neither need the money, nor another doll. “That was the hardest dollar I ever earned,” one of the accused was heard to say.

Leigh Ann Wayne, spokeswoman for UCDF, could not be reached for comment. Lyle The Kindly Viking (who has nothing to do with this case except that he is proficient at making potholders) was overheard singing, “When we share, we make our share of friends.” Let’s let the children work, Dad- share!

Where’s Abbie?

I’m looking for a little girl, about three feet tall, with hazel eyes and brown hair. She has a particular affinity for baked beans. Anybody seen her?

A Bonfire

Sunday evening, we had a few friends up to the land for a bonfire. We wanted people to see it, but we also wanted people to pray for us as we decide what to do with it. While this property would be a wonderful place to settle down and live the rest of our lives, we are still not sure that this is what God wants us to do. So, we thought we’d enlist some prayer support.
As with most things that interest him, Luke dove headlong into planning this event. Days beforehand, he was already preparing things for the big day. He thought of everything, literally:What a guy!
Lots of fun had by all. While it was still light, the kids (I think there were twenty-nine of them!) were sent out on a scavenger hunt for objects not typically found in a meadow. Some finds included: a light saber, a bust of Beethoven, a plunger, a printer, and a magic eight-ball. It was cute watching the littles walk around with their cards and pencils in hand. Then, we roasted hot dogs and ate beans, waldorf salad, and chips. As it got dark, Luke transferred the cooking fire to light the mother of all bonfires. Jokes began to travel the circle about how long such a fire would take to burn out (“We might be here ’til midnight!“), and what it reminded us all of (“Keith, the tribe has spoken: it’s time for you to go“). My dad took some wonderful pictures, and here is our favorite:
We had a great time. Who’d have thought we would have that ‘one last summer cookout’ in October?

It’s A Wonderful Waldorf
a recipe I have tweaked that I got from Jenny,
who tweaked it after she got it from Alton Brown
-it’s quite tweakable

3 T cider vinegar
1 C mayonnaise
pinch salt and pepper
3/4 C toasted walnuts or pecans, crushed
1 C golden raisins
1 t curry powder
2 stalks celery, thin bias cut
1/2 C red onion, chopped
5-6 apples, cored and chopped into medium

Wait to chop apples until ready to use. Combine first six ingredients. Gently fold in remaining ingredients (including apples) with spatula. Chill and enjoy. Leftovers will only be good for about a day, so plan accordingly.

Make It! Monday

You know what my blog needs? Some kind of themed event that occurs weekly. If the title of the weekly post was some kind of alliteration, that would be even better. I just haven’t seen that anywhere before; it would be so unique, so original.

Yes, a bloggy break tends to strengthen my sarcasm muscle.

Here is my offering: Make It! Mondays, where on this day every week I will be sharing a favorite craft or recipe that you, you guessed it, can make.
Today’s is a craft that Eren posted about last week- a leaf garland.Hers had a lovely assortment of different leaves, but I chose to do mine all maple, since that was the only decent pattern I could find online.
It is quite simple-
Cut out leaf shapes from different colors of nice, thick felt (sometimes you gotta go through the whole stack at Hobby Lobby to find the best piece! At least I do)
Cut two small slits near the tops (or bottoms, if you consider the stem to be the bottom).
String ’em up with yarn and apply to your mantel/doorway/stair rail. Enjoy! Thanks so much for the inspiration, Eren.
By the way, the piano in the photo is for sale.