Sunday, August 31, 2008


Long ago, the money that I spend in the grocery store ceased to shock me. Now I don't even bat an eye when I drop $100 in the till at Wal-Mart. Anything more than that only gets a sigh of resignation. Equally ridiculous is how I have had my head buried in the sand about the conditions that millions of other people live in everyday around the world.
This year, our family has decided to partipate, along with ours and other local churches in the Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, or CROP Walk; specifically the walk that is taking place near us on October 5th. You can find more information here or here.

DH and the girls will be walking 1 mile and I plan to walk the 5 mile route. We will be obtaining sponsors to raise money for our walk. If you would like to sponsor one or all of us, you can visit the C Christian family team page.
When donating, you can specify, from an approved list, which international hunger-fighting agency you want your donation to be designated to. This is a cooperative effort, not just one organization.

For all of you LTC fanatics, I will be creating 3 special trading cards for those who sponsor me at the $5, $15, or $25 levels. $5 will get you the first card, $15=2 cards, $25=all three cards. I may also have the girls design and make their own trading cards as a thank you to those who sponsor them. I fully and completely acknowledge that this is shameless self-promotion, but also hope that you will overlook that minor detail in light of the fact that it is for a worthy cause.

On top of that, I plan to donate all of the proceeds from my etsy store for the month of September to CROP Walk.

Updates, and pictures to follow!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Periodic Asundries

Everything is finally coming together for our "official" study of the Periodic Table of the Elements. The wall displays that we ordered from the Oriental Trading Company arrived. They were folded up really tight and came out smelling like new vinyl, but the wrinkles are starting to hang out. The pockets were a bit snug on some of the trading cards and some of them had to be trimmed ever so slightly in order to get them to fit. To answer your question, Yes, they are clear on both sides so that we can see the backs of the cards as well.
Now I just need to figure out where I'm going to hang it! It's huge!

When we were at The Museum of Science and Industry last week, we were able to finish the Glass Experience exhibit (see previous post). One of the most fantastic displays was of Chihuly's Macchia glass bowls. There was a movie that showed how they make them. Incredible is all I can say.

I'm not sure, but I'd guess that some of these bowls are worth more than my car!

Part of the exhibit perfectly fit our study of the elements. They had display tables that featured samples of quite a number of the elements used in glass manufacture.

And of course, the wall displays were a big help!

It makes it fun that we have discussed the table enough that the girls are starting to recognize it's appearance and significance. When we walked into this hallway, Megan got excited and practically shouted, "Look Mom! Elements!"
My only fear is that the girls will start asking me "What element is that made of Mom?" and I won't be able to find the answer.

One last note: we bought a small Periodic Table poster (placemat size) in the gift shop at the museum. It has pictures of almost all of the "real" elements, or pictures of the person who discovered them, plus info on the back about each element. I'm sure I paid more than necessary, it being from a gift shop and all, but the info says you can buy it in different sizes from And you can buy samples of the elements at Now don't you just want to go right out and buy a piece of Praseodymium?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Silica Serendipity

Our choice to study the periodic table of the elements in school this year was largely guided by our participation in the group exchange of LTCs on Atlas Quest (ATCs to the rest of you). Receiving 118 miniature works of incredible art gives you a very strong desire to display them. And if we are going to take up all the space to display that many trading cards, we might as well use them in our homeschool. Thus began a wonderful story. Here is how the rest of it goes:
The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which is only a mere 75 minute drive from us, is hosting an exhibit called The Glass Experience (sadly ending in 4 days). Purchasing a museum membership was already in the field trip plans for school this year and I wanted the girls to see the glass exhibit. Glass is made from silicon, right? What better way to start our exploration of the elements! So last Thursday we packed some snacks, the camera, the kids, and a couple of grandparents into the van and headed to Chicago. Part of the exhibit is called "You design it, we make it!". Anyone can draw a picture, and if they pick your picture they will make it out of glass during one of their demonstrations. To shorten the story, I'll tell you what you've already guessed: They picked J's picture! And not only did they pick it out of hundreds of pictures, but they ended up picking it at the demonstration that we were at!! She drew a blue cat on a green rug. This is a brief explanation of how the glass lampworking process goes:
To start the process, a "glob" (yes, that was the technical term they used) of molten glass on a metal rod is shaped using various tools. Some were made of fruit wood soaked in water for a softer effect and because they don't draw as much heat from the glass.
Different companies have different "recipes" for glass, but this glass is made from silica, soda ash, limestone, and lithium. Other elements are added to create the colors.

This is the body being shaped. The gaffer forms a narrow break off point (sorry, I don't remember that technical term) so that they can separate the sculpture from the metal rod when they are finished.

Glass is best worked around 1500-1800 degrees, so it went in and out the furnace (2100 degrees) many times.

Here Rae (sorry if it's not spelled right) works on the green rug the cat is sitting on.

Now the head and facial features are added.
The completed piece is placed in an annealling oven to cool slowly over night, at about 100 degree an hour, to make the glass stable.
What a priviledge it was to get to see J's cat being made by two very talented artists! The hot glass portion of the exhibit was by the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
Here is her drawing and "Siam", her blue Siamese glass cat.

I do have pictures that relate more to the elements, but that is for another post.
Some people would call this coincidence, luck, or fortune. But as someone who believes in the absolute sovereignty of God, I see the hand of a gracious Heavenly Father who takes an interest in the smallest details of the lives of His children.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
"Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence rests in the
flowers. All other things-our powers, our desires, our food-are necessary
for our existence. But the rose is an extra. It's smell and it's
color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only
goodness which gives extras, and so we have much to hope from the flowers."
Or glass cats.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I always feel sorry for the saps buying sweet corn at Wal-Mart. I know that not everone is fortunate enough to have an acre of it right outside their back door, but the stuff they sell in the big stores is Nasty. Just about everyone could do better, and with a little education, you'll understand why.
When sweet corn is picked, the sugars in the corn begin the process of converting to starches. This happens to a much smaller degree everyday, on the stalk, as the corn heats in the sun, and reverses during the cool of the night. Which is why every farm wife worth her salt prepares her corn immediately after picking to preserve as much of the sweetness as possible. In moments of desperation, you can leave it in a cool place until the next morning at the latest, but you would never admit that you had done that to your neighbor.
The sweet corn sold in the grocery store was likely picked who-knows-how-many days ago and will be very dry and starchy. Your best bet is always going to be finding a local source, even if it means paying a bit more.
Once you have obtained your corn, then everyone gets involved...
...and canning.
We put up 52 quarts of corn, or 29 dozen ears this year. I also need to say a word about "organics". Most local farmers put in rows of sweet corn on the edge of one of their other fields, right next to the field corn. It is simply easier to fill some of the boxes on the planter with sweet corn and plant it at the same time as the other. Because of this, the only way that sweet corn can claim to be truly organic is if the rest of the field corn is also organic. Chemical drift being very difficult to control and such. So if avoiding pesticides, herbicides and fungicides is important to you, bear this in mind when you are inquiring about the source of your sweet corn.
I'm going to post about the dark side of sweet corn next!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Domestic Numbers Racket

The next time DH asks me what I've been doing all day and why I'm so tired, I'm ready. No more simple chore and errand lists for me. Nuh-uh. No more, "Well, I cleaned and got groceries and mowed the lawn."
I'm going to dazzle him with statistics.

I didn't just do chores.
  • I put 3 miles on the treadmill.
  • I vacuumed 2430 square feet and mopped 266 square feet of floor.
  • I sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away 223 items of clothing. There should have been 224 items, but there's always that one sock...(I haven't decided if this statistic would be more impressive by weight.)
  • I washed, dried and put away 76 dishes.
  • I dealt with 172 pounds of groceries. (by the time you handle it 6 times that's over 1000 pounds.)
  • I drove 46 miles and put 2 kids in and out of car seats 4 times each.
  • I mowed 8.86 miles of grass. (I used the trip computer on my GPS for this one.)
  • I read Fox in Sox...twice.
  • I created 312 stitches of embroidery.
  • I answered the phone 17 times.
  • I ran up and down 31 flights of stairs. (many times carrying the laundry and groceries.)
  • I let the dog out 22 times, and let him in 21.
  • I cooked 12 meals and 4 snacks.

What did you do today?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Portable Diversion

On Monday of this week, my Grandmother had triple bypass surgery. She is my last living Grandparent and is very dear to all of us. All of this came on rather suddenly and I have spent much of the last two weeks at the hospital and with all of the family that came flooding in from all over the country. The whole affair has been bathed with a great deal of prayer, and God has been good. She has come through the surgery quite well and is making a speedy recovery.

One of the things that I learned rather quickly when I spent all of that time in the NICU with our oldest is that I can sit for an indefinate period of time as long as my hands have something to do. It's not enough to have a TV on somewhere. I find very little worth watching anyway.

So, I have spent a great deal of time over the last two weeks working on various Hardanger projects, mostly bookmarks. Hardanger is a Norwegian embroidery done with perle cotton fibers on even weave fabric, usually 22-32 count. The traditional style is white on white, or ivory on ivory, like the last bookmark pictured here.
However, the last time DH and I were in Minnesota for his injections, I discovered a store that is a needle crafter's paradise. It is called Stitchville USA, and is in Minnetonka, just in case you'd like to visit.
There are so many options available now, that it seems a waste to limit the art to just white and ivory. I ended up coming home with quite a variety of fabrics and thread, both in solid colors as well as some beautiful varigated types. (You can translate that as "I spent alot of money".)

I also decided to get a little daring and try some different kinds of silk, wool, and blended fibers.
Some of them have worked exceptionally well, like the silk (this bookmark to the left is an example of the silk). Others have been a complete failure, like the cotton/rayon blend (not even pictured). The blue bookmark is one that I designed the pattern for and used the silk thread on also.

Now I know that 99% of the 4 people that read this blog are probably completely and utterly bored at this point. The other 1% probably thinks that changing thread types isn't exactly the most daring thing they've ever heard of.
But what can I say? You can't exactly ride roller coasters in the ICU now, can you? And embroidery happens to be a wonderfully portable diversion. In one little ziploc bag I can carry everything that I need to keep me occupied for hours on end. You know how cats love to play with strings. ;)
Anyhow, these bookmarks are some of the results. They all need to be cut out of the fabric and pressed, which will make them look quite a bit better. And they all will probably end up in my Etsy shop at some point. I really only posted this to waste time and not have to fold the clothes on the couch. Maybe later, I'll post some pictures of some of my more elaborate embroidery pieces.