Random Thoughts

   I have several rambling thoughts running through my mind today, and quite a few questions from the comments, messages and e-mails that I’d like to answer, too.  Bear with me, as I stumble my way through this in what will certainly be rather haphazard fashion.

     Gardening, and Square Foot Gardening in particular.  We had tremendous success with this 10-15 years ago, when we still lived in the suburbs.  We grew a wide variety of things there using the Square Foot system.  Leaf lettuces of all kinds.  Green Beans.  Strawberries.  Sugar Snap Peas.  Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.  Cucumbers.  Squash – all kinds.  Onions.  Garlic.  Broccoli.  Brussels Sprouts.  Potatoes.  Herbs.  There may have been more, but that’s what I can remember now. 

     One of the beauties of the Square Foot system, in my opinion, is being able to rotate crops in and out of the beds easily throughout the growing season.  Staggered planting of lettuce, for example, kept us in fresh garden salads until the summer heat caused the lettuce to bolt.  And once it was too hot for lettuce, we simply planted summer crops in their place.  It’s the staggered planting feature that I’m hoping to use to advantage in my one, lone kitchen garden bed here.  The first lettuces went in about 8 days ago.  I’d like to plant another square of Romaine and another of the “Salad Bowl Mix” leaf lettuces tomorrow.  If I plant 8 – 10 every ten days or so, we’ll be able to have lots home grown salads.  Once one batch is harvested, that square can then be replanted with something else.  Because the raised beds are only four feet wide, I can easily reach every bit of the soil by hand making planting, weeding and harvesting easy. 

     They key to successful gardening, of course, is good soil.  Despite the fact that alfalfa was grown on our land for decades, our soil is very poor.  When the old farmer retired and began selling off pieces of his land, he …..oh, it pains me to say this………he sold off several inches of his top soil before putting the land on the market.  Our next door neighbors, who own the 2 1/2 acres that includes the original farmhouse, have wonderful soil because he kept good soil around his own home even as he sold off his acreage to others.  Good soil, though, can be homegrown, too; and that is why we compost!

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     I have an ugly, plastic bowl sitting next to my sink year round.  I do not care for the look of it at all, but what I do care about is composting.  I’m glad to make the trade off of being able to build my soil for the slight inconvenience of having the compost bowl on my counter all the time.  Into this bowl, throughout the day, go any kitchen scraps that are not animal based.  The only exception to this are the egg shells which I do compost.  Coffee grounds.  Tea bags (bag and all!).  Left over oatmeal.  Peelings from vegetables and fruits.  Cast off ends of carrots or bruised pieces of fruit.  Perhaps a plain white paper towel.  Bread.  You get the idea.  Some folks add things like newspaper and recyclable paper to their compost, but we do not.  I am just not sure about the toxicity of the ink that is used, so we simply recycle those items through the county’s program.

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     When the bowl is full, Aaron takes it to the compost pile we are currently building and digs it in so that the critters won’t find it.  We build a pile for several months, adding to it the soiled straw bedding from our sheep and goats, along with their manure.  No carniverous animal manure should ever go into your compost pile if you intend to use it for food purposes; but the manure of herbivores is completley safe.  Part of our lawn mowing grass goes into the compost pile, too.  The pile is occasionally turned with our garden fork, and it is occasionally watered during the summer months.  Once we have a pile that is of a good size, we give it a last covering of used bedding straw, water it down, and then let it cook for a few months.  We are about ready to cover this pile and let it cook until next spring.   




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     The result it beautiful, sweet smelling, rich compost which is worked directly into our garden. 

     We actually had two, small compost bins in town.  It is very possible to have a non-smelly compost pile, and it is very possible to have this in a small back yard.  Pick up a “how to” book at the library and get started!  The ideas I’m sharing here are not to be considered a tutorial of how to compost, but simply to show you how easily anyone can do this.

     Homeschooling.  It is very important that you adhere to the laws of the state you live in when you consider methods and currciulum for homeschooling.  I am blessed to live in a state that has not regulated homeschooling, per se, but rather has allowed us to homeschool under other existing laws.  The recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court has not changed anything for now, and I am thankful! 

     I will, as time permits, be doing more posts about using living books in home education.  They will, most likely, be done under the “Library Builders” heading.  If you’ve asked me something specific in the comments or by message or e-mail, I will try to answer you privately….again, as time allows.  Building a home, Heritage Library is my passion, as most of you know.  I also love sharing titles of books I’ve found, or things I’m using in educating my own children, with others.

     To that end, I’ve had several questions about the Living Books article that I posted on my web site, and whether or not I’ve abandoned the homemaking pages.  The homemaking section of web site is something that I am still working on.  It got waylayed a bit when we were sick, but I am hoping to finish up the next installment sometime soon.  My days are blessedly full, so the time to work on projects like that is quite limited.  I was able to add the article on living books because it was, for the most part, already written.  The article was taken from a presentation on living books I gave at a homeschooling day at our church last year.  Since I’d had quite a few questions in recent weeks about homeschooling and how we homeschool, and since the article was already “in my hand”, I quickly edited it and put it on line.  Living books and library building might be my passion, but homemaking is my calling.  The homemaking pages are still coming!

     We are preparing for the upcoming E*st*r holiday.  (I’m sorry about the *s in the word, but last year I had several google searches using that word which resulted in a good many rude comments, and one HUGE (as in thousands of words) spam comment, so I’m not going to make it easy for folks to spam my comments this year.)  Our family will attend worship services on Sunday, as we always do.  We are very cognizant of what Jesus, our Savior, did for us through His death on the cross and the promise we realize through His resurrection.  This is a huge part of what our Sunday will include.

     On the other hand, my late mother-in-love had a wonderful tradition for this particular Sunday that our whole family loved and looked forward to throughout the year.  It was the greatest family day of the year, even better than Christmas!  We’d have dinner, of course, but there were activities planned throughout the afternoon for all ages.  There were kites purchased to be flown.  Crafts projects for the very youngest as well as the adults.  Way too much candy!  And, of course, a hunt for candy filled, plastic eggs.  This tradition did not take away anything from our remembrance of the true meaning of the day.  It was simply a wonderful, family tradition that occurred after our time at worship. 

     Last year I decided to renew Lola’s tradition here in our own home.  My married daughter and her family do not attend the same church that we do, but we can all gather here in the early afternoon just the same.  Last year was so much fun, and we are planning for the same sort of day this year, too.  I have several $1 kites ready to go.  The deal is, there were always kites at Lola’s, but there was only a year or two that there was actually enough wind to fly them.  Were we deterred?  Absolutely not!  The kites were always assembled, and children ran and ran and ran to “fly” them behind them.  The years that there was enough wind to actually fly a kite were almost a disappointment in that it ruined our tradition!!   I have a few other things in store, too; but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my family!  Suffice it to say, I’ll be very busy for the next day or two getting ready! 

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      Yesterday, of course, was Library Day at Grandma’s House, which means that all of my children and all of my grandchildren were here together.  It doesn’t get much better than that!  Will and Dani occupied themselves on the trampoline while they waited for Corin and the kids to arrive. 





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     But once that big ol’ van pulled in the front gate, everyone was ready to help Corin unbuckle car seats and help little ones out of the van.  We enjoy having them here so much.






     Sometimes the children choose which books I read to them, and sometimes I choose.  I chose today.  Three wonderful picture book read-alouds, one of which arrived in the mail just a couple of hours before!

     Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Paul Galdone.  Any time I can find a classic children’s story or fairy tale by Paul Galdone that is the version I will usually purchase.  His re-tellings are generally very close to the original, and they are always wonerfully illustrated.   Three Billy Goats Gruff is no exception to that rule!  You know it’s a good story when you crack yourself up reading it!  I’m not sure where I found the voice for the troll that I used today, but he sounded more big city thug than troll.  (You do remember to use voices when you read aloud, don’t you?  If this is new to you, just jump right in there and give it a try.  Oh, it’s fun!)

     The Empty Pot, by Demi.  Dani bought this book a few years ago as a gift for William, and it’s a part of his personal library.  I pulled it out recently to be read as part of our study of China.  It had been quite awhile since I’d read it, so I chose it to read to the kids yesterday.  It’s a great one for a discussion starter on the importance of honesty.  The children asked some good questions about why Ping was sad and why his seed didn’t grow.  As with all of Demi’s books, the illustrations are beautiful.

     Babar’s World Tour, by Laurent De Brunhoff.  I’ve had this book on our Heritage Library wish list for a couple of years.  A generous friend recently surprised me with an Amazon gift card.  My first instinct was to apply it to the books we’d need for our next school term, but I quickly told myself, “no”.  It was an unexpected gift, so I decided to use it for something that’s been a long time on the wish list.  This was one of my choices.  We love Babar here, so the book was enjoyable from that stand point alone.  This book has Babar and Celeste taking all of the children on a trip around the world.  Several sites from the world over are depicted (The Coliseum, Machu Picchu, Notre Dame, the canals of Venice, a Japanese meditation garden, and many, many more).  Basic words of greeting or conversation in several different languages are also presented.  The overall theme of the book is that people in different parts of the world speak and live differently.  And of course, there’s no place like home!  On a side note, the elephant fashion models in Paris are not to be missed!

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     After we read, at my four year old grandson’s insistence, we quickly made our way to the table to finish up the craft we started last week. 






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     Dani gave everyone the next step of the procedure and she and Corin both helped the little ones with their bottles of glue. 



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     My two year old granddaughter managed quite well with her bottle of glue, thank you very much, despite the fact that she had several close calls!!  I spent the time laughing a lot, and snapping about a million pictures.






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     Pixie girl might be too young to handle a glue bottle, but she was certainly a happy baby yesterday and smiled and babbled and delighted us all.




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     Everyone finished one of these by day’s end.










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     Afterwards, we all went outdoors to play for a bit until Corin left with the baby for their medical appointment.  It was a beautiful day, but after about an hour the great outdoors lost its draw, and Grandma sat all of her little couch potatoes down for a movie. 

     My whole family, save my precious husband, was at our table for dinner last night.  I kept it simple with Salisbury Steaks (my recipe doubled), fried potatoes and salad.  We made Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings afterwards, and my husband was home in time for that! 

     Today Dani and I did the every-other-week mega shop.  I hope to post the over due  Copper’s Grilled Pork Roast and my Fried Potato recipes as soon as I can.  Things in my home will be busy tomorrow, as I’m sure they will be in yours.  Just in case I don’t talk to you before then, have a Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

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11 comments to Random Thoughts

  • Great pics.! πŸ™‚ That trampoline looks like SO MUCH FUN:coolman:


  • Great pics.! πŸ™‚ That trampoline looks like SO MUCH FUN:coolman:


  • What a wonderful post!

    One question-do you know which book started your Heritage Library and what is your criteria for adding one in?

    I guess that’s 2 questions wrapped into one!:giggle: I’m not sure where to start in building mine, that’s all.

  • What a wonderful post!

    One question-do you know which book started your Heritage Library and what is your criteria for adding one in?

    I guess that’s 2 questions wrapped into one!:giggle: I’m not sure where to start in building mine, that’s all.

  • Wonderful post. I am so happy you took a sidestep from the homemaking section to meet a need concerning homeschool questions…hold your plans loosely!!…I heard that somewhere.:lol:

    Have a wonderful Sunday and take lots of pics of your new traditions so we can see.:fun:


  • I am glad that you explained about composting. That was interesting.

    And what a lovely craft! Everyone looked liked they enjoyed their time together.


  • I tried composting awhile back but gave up.  We have a Beagle that is truly a chow hound.  She kept finding ways to get in to the food scraps.  Now she just spends her time wandering around the back yard eating walnuts, apples, and anything else she can find. πŸ˜†  Corin’s van reminds me of the van my sister used to have when her children were younger.  They jokingly called it “The Mothership”.  Your house reminds me of my sisters house.  They live about an hour outside Sacramento out in the country. 

  • I just love reading about your days, Cheryl. You are such a blessing! It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful Easter, thank you for sharing your fun traditions with us. I got kites for the girls and Benjamin too. :0)

  • Wishing you and your family a most blessed Easter.
    “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed.”


  • I am so blessed by your posts, Cheryl.  Thank you so much for sharing the little snip-its of your life.  It’s so interesting to read both Corin and Dani’s blogs to see the same things you write about, but from their perspectives.  My heart is so full of joy in knowing that a close knit loving family is attainable.  All of you give me hope for the future of the relationships we have with our children in to their adulthood.   Thank you!

    Blessings to all of you,

    Regina  :sunny:

  • Cute craft project!  Love it!