Tuesday, December 14, 2010
1/2 c softened butter
2 c self-rising flour (add 1 Tbsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt to all-purpose flour to make it self-rising)
3/4 c buttermilk (add 3/4 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar to regular milk and let sit for 5 mins. if you don't have buttermilk)
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c raisins (craisins might be good too)
1/2 c chopped pecans (or any nut)
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2/3 c melted butter
1 to 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c cream (cream substitutes can be found here: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/cream-substitute.html)
Mix together softened butter and flour. Stir in buttermilk. Do not over-stir. Scrape out onto a floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and lightly pat down. Sprinkle onto the dough the brown sugar, raisins, nuts, and cinnamon. Fold dough over 3 or 4 times. Don't over-fold. Pat it down lightly, then, using a cup as a cutter, cut out your biscuits. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream. Pour over very hot biscuits. Enjoy!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Life can be quite hectic. I feel like there are a lot of days that go by and all that is mentioned are the negatives I saw all day. At the end of the day, it's not a good feeling knowing there were so many good things I could have pointed out but didn't. Sometimes we just have a crazy schedule and no one takes the time to tell each other we love them. I don't want my home to be like this and decided something needed to be done about it. So we decided to start a family journal in our home.
This journal is a way for us to point out the positive things we see, tell each other "I love you", appreciate efforts, and more. It's kind of like writing notes to each other but they are kept in one book and the writing goes back and forth between the two people. The journal is placed in a central location. This way everyone can find it and can easily read it or write in it. When someone sees somebody doing something good or perhaps he just wants to say something nice to another family member, he just gets the journal and writes a little note to that person with the date next to it and signs his name. Sometime throughout the day the journal can be checked to see if there is entry in there for you.
I can't tell you what a difference this has made in the dynamics of our home. My children really look forward to getting a note from me. My son wrote such a touching note to me today that it brought a tear to my eye. This was not something he would normally have verbalized. I may have never gotten this kind of emotion out of him otherwise. I think boys especially do a much better job expressing themselves when it's in written form. If you don't give them the opportunity to use it, you may be missing out on a lot. The kids are so happy and really feeling good about themselves. Even the willingness to work harder and longer on things in school is easier.
Children of all ages need to hear words of affirmation. In the tweener and teenage years, this becomes less apparent because they can become withdrawn and want to hang out with their friends more. Don't let that fool you! It is during these difficult years they need to hear it more than ever. They just won't admit it or want you to do it in front of others. That's why this journal is also a great way to keep the lines of communication open but in a private way. If anyone in the house would rather others not read their entries to you, you could keep a private journal for them. My children are 10 and under and they are not to the point of caring if others read what is written.
An added bonus is that your children get to practice their reading, writing, grammar, and spelling skills without realizing it. If you have younger ones, let them dictate to the older children and they can write it down for them. Or let the little ones just draw a picture for you. When a note is left for a little one, again an older sibling can read it aloud. Either way, everyone can participate and feel like they are contributing and receiving notes.
The journal itself doesn't have to be anything special. A simple composition notebook will do. However, you can decorate the outside if you like. Keeping a pen nearby or even attaching one to the journal with a string keeps you from having to hunt one down which would make you less likely to use it often.
I don't think you can go wrong trying this with your family. Everyone is going to feel loved and special and you'll be surprised how it changes attitudes. Sure it can take a little extra time writing to several children, but I usually do mine in the evening after everyone is in bed. It only takes a few minutes and it gives them something to look forward to in the morning and starts the day off on a good note. I hope you'll try it out. Leave us a note if you do and tell us how it worked.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Christmas in Ireland
is celebrated from December 24th
Feast of Epiphany on January 6th.
This is a Christian holiday that celebrates
the arrival of the
Wise men who brought gifts to
Jesus at his birth.
This celebration is the oldest
of the Catholic church feasts.
January 6th is specifically known as
Perhaps you know of a certain
Christmas song that talks about
the twelve days of Christmas?
The Twelve Days of Christmas
is Ireland’s very own song.
In the old days when it was a crime to be a catholic,
this song was written as a way to help young
Catholic children remember their faith.
The words and pictures would be a
reminder of something
Biblical to the children.
A partridge in a pear tree- Jesus Christ, the son of God
Two turtle doves- Old and New Testaments
Three French hens- Faith, Hope, Charity
Four calling birds- The Four Gospels
Five Golden Rings- The first five books of the Bible
Six geese-a-laying- Six days of creation
Seven swans a swimming- The seven Catholic sacraments
Eight maids a milking- The eight Beatitudes
Nine ladies dancing- nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten lords a leaping- The Ten Commandments
Eleven pipers piping- The eleven faithful apostles
Twelve drummers drumming- twelve points of doctrine
from the Apostle’s Creed
Using this picture, can you
remember all the meanings?
The Irish put a lighted candle in the window
to show that Mary and Joseph would have
been welcome in their home on the
night they needed shelter.
The youngest family member is to light
the candle and the only one who can blow it out
is a girl named ‘Mary’. This is most likely
why there are so many Irish lassies named Mary!
The Irish started the tradition
of hanging a holly wreath on the door.
Holly is a hearty plant that thrives on the
blustery island at Christmas time,
so it was common sense to use this plant for decorating.
Even the poor could decorate well at the holiday time
by using this plant.
These decorations are taken down on
January 6th, or Twelfth Day, and it is
thought to bring bad luck if you take them
down any earlier!
Candy canes are not part of the Irish Christmas.
Instead, and I think very wisely,
TONS OF CHOCOLATE
are a MUST!
Santa Claus is very popular in Ireland
and most people agree that he goes to Ireland before he makes his stop in the United States.
I have watched him on the Santa Tracker and
I know this to be true!
He leaves his packages to the Irish children
a wee bit differently though.
He doesn’t leave presents under the tree, he leaves then in the child’s room, often in pillowcases at the end of their beds.
Almost every family goes to church at midnight on
Christmas Eve, and when they return home,
Santa has already been there!
Here is how you say
Duit (to you)
Sounds like- null-ig hunna ditsh
Can you say it?
Monday, December 6, 2010
My sister and I, Maureen and Shannon (yes, lovely Irish names!)
went to Ireland to spend 10 glorious days in May of this year.
There is something about this island.
Once you have gone, you will want to keep returning!
I have fascinating stories, tales to tell, and pictures to show you!
Which way to go?
And as if that wasn’t confusing enough,
We were driving on the wrong side of the car
And on the wrong side of the road!
One of our first stops was to the
Cliffs of Mohr on the western coast of Ireland.
You have probably seen pictures of this in
books or on calendars.
I was not prepared for how high we up we were.
Birds were specks below us.
There was a woman playing a harp, the sun was shining (no small event in Ireland!), and a Keep to climb!
We planned to be here for one hour, but it turned into three.
How could you leave? It was so peaceful and majestic at the same time.
This is called Brian’s Keep.
Not quite a castle, but still regal to us.
Before we left this wonderful place,
we went into the little tea shop.
Every place of interest has a tea shop and one is always in the mood for “a spot of tea”.
Proper tea pots, cups, cubes of sugar and real cream.
We were always served with cups, linens, silverware,
and some sweet and savory pastries.
We Irish know how to make any
place feel cozy and warm.
Tea and scones.
Works every time!
After we were all warm and toasty, we would venture out
into some cold and primitive settings.
When we are driving in our country, sometimes we
pass old barns or old buildings.
In Ireland, we passed old castles.
There they sat, all crumbled, covered with moss,
in total disrepair and looking quite lonely.
As you are driving down your little sheep lined road,
out of nowhere, something this magnificent would appear,
and we would to stop and just absorb the moment.
There are no crowds, no loud noises…
It is just a castle sitting off the path.
It is Ireland and it is beautiful.
We were able to tour several castles and in one castle
we were given a teaching tour.
A wee little man talked about the family
that had lived there, how they lived, and
what had become of them.
Several hundred years later, this home a man
built to protect his family still stands.
It was solid and the foundation was sure.
Needless to say, we learned lots of life lessons on our trip!
Old churches were as common as old castles.
We loved the old cemeteries- except for one.
It was really creepy.
Ireland is an old, old land.
I do not mean it is any older than the earth you
stand on now.
I mean the history of the island is old.
We could see old cathedrals, old cemeteries
and just when you thought things were old enough,
We came across something even odder and even older.
Bee Hive Huts.
Primitive little forts made 500 years before
our Lord was even born amongst us.
Not only bee Hive Huts,
but Druid Circles.
The best food I have ever had in my life
Was in Ireland.
The cuisine from this island is well known and respected.
If you like seafood- well, remember you are on an island and
the seafood is fresh everyday- everyplace.
We were adventurous in our menu picks.
One can dine very well for limited funds.
Here is a small variety of some good eats.
A traditional Irish breakfast.
Tomatoes are served on every plate.
Nice way to start the day, no?
And never to be forgotten was the
Common Fish and Chips.
They eat this meal like we eat
Although Fish and Chips, in Ireland
sitting on a bench by a pier,
watching the ships come in and out
made me happier than any Happy Meal ever can.
Maureen and I went to this place
because we are Irish.
Our family heritage is here.
Our own mum came to America from Ireland
when she turned 18 years old.
No one in our family had ever gone to see this homeland.
If you want to learn more about this trip we took,
We have more pictures and stories on our blog (see link below).
Our blog was how we communicated with our family every day.
Phone calls were too expensive for us so loading up our day’s adventures onto a blog was a perfect way to share our adventures.
Be sure to practice your writing and
sharing tales as much as you can.
If you are ever able to travel, you will want a recording of all that you saw and what you did.
Thank you for sharing your time with me.
I could talk of Ireland all day!
Fortunately For You Books
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I carry this book around the house and pick out to read to Jesse in spare moments. As all almanacs are, everything is listed by dates. That isn't holding me back and I will not conform to reading only one allotment a day! There is one main subject per date with a "parade" of other events that happened during different years on this given date.
The information is interesting, very interesting. I was prepared for perhaps boring, but I see time was spent picking subjects of value for this book. I should have known. William Bennett does have a good reputation for passing "twaddle" and giving us fascinating delights to read about.
The book is big...thick (almost 2 inches), bigger than a normal size book or Bible. Filled with "mystic chords of memory" as the back cover says. And I find that true. There were readings where I had bits of knowledge about something, and the daily reading would take these wee bits and expand and explain more about the facts, people, events, or the place.
Any higher level student (jr. and sr. high) could use this book, but I would not limit this book to only them. Keep near the breakfast or dinner table. Grab and read aloud to all. Better yet, have a student take a day and let them read on their own. At the next family meal, they can share something interesting about this date in our American History.