Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Cake That Crumbled

Another week, another cake; this is the way September seems to go for us. This time it was a lovely lemon layer cake for Mariel's Glitzy Princess Tea, to be served on my seldom-used cake stand.

Frosting the Cake 1

All began well. I baked the cake the night before and cooled it on a rack. Mariel frosted the top of each layer Friday morning. The frosting seemed rather relaxed, yet I saw no cause for alarm.

I took over when it came to the sides of the cake, as it is a challenge to frost the sides of a layer cake without dribbling frosting on the plate, and very difficult to clean a glass cake stand with a cake on it.

"Leave it to Mommy," I told Mariel. "I will keep it from getting messy."

I thought.

The frosting, unpreturbed by spreading, would hardly stay on the side of the cake. Each time I loaded the knife and ran it along the cake, the gooey topping paused, then oozed down to the plate, obeying the stronger law of gravity.

I began to realize that this was not going to be an easier cake than Triss'.

I wondered at the soft frosting. Was it the wrong kind for a layer cake? Called Rich and Creamy, perhaps it was only meant for cakes imprisoned in pyrex casserole dishes.

As I pondered cause and effect, and the deeper meaning of easygoing materials that cannot bear the liberty of scaling walls, Cornflower spoke up: "Mom, look-- it's sinking in the middle!"

Oh, dear. The silly cake had a crack.

Nevertheless, it was what we had. I decided to scoop up the puddles of lemon that had pooled at the base of the cake and try again after everything had sat in the fridge for thirty minutes, hopefully hardening.

After thirty minutes, we had this:

The Cake That Crumbled

Our interpretation of the San Andreas Fault, rendered in cake. I suppose it would do for a mini-study on plate tectonics.

San Andreas

I thought briefly about trifle, then broke the whole mess up into a casserole dish, covered the top with the remaining frosting and set it in the freezer for a future dessert which I will call Broken But Tasty.

We went to Kroger and purchased a cake for the Princess Tea-- a quarter sheet white cake with multi-colored icing streamers. All were satisfied.

The moral of my tale: "Easygoing materials require fortification-- or, Beware of canned Rich and Creamy Frosting!"


Pecans 1

Pecans 2

Trip Update

She boarded the ship this morning, and is moving from excitement to excitement with great fervor. Those of you who know Triss personally will understand what I mean.

Friday, September 28, 2007


This has been a Birthday Week. Quite a big one, actually. Triss has officially turned teen and Mariel hit the double digits. (Cornflower's birthday is in November, which she finds inherently unfair in September with her two sisters getting all the attention...)

We are adjusting to the new bigness of these two. They tell me they don't feel any different, and really all that has changed is a number. The growing takes place gradually, doesn't it?

And yet birthday events have a way of highlighting changes that have been gradually, quietly taking place. I got up at 3 yesterday morning to put Triss on a plane with her grandparents.

They will be in Florida until Saturday, when she will stand on the dock before the cruise ship that will take her and her grandparents out to sea and be faced with the reality of "952 feet long".

Living Math.

(Update, 9/29: Er, that should read "952 feet tall". I was corrected by my little jet-setter this morning when she informed me that the ship is actually over 11,000 feet long.)

(Later update: Okay, I looked it up, and it *is* 952 feet long. It has been awhile since she presented her research to us, so she must have forgotten.)

And after they sail, she will add to that understanding the knowledge of the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean as felt when out on a large ship with no land around-- a hulking vessel reduced to insignificance. Ah, yes, Living Geography. It really is a big, big world.

(I tried to explain this vastness after Mr. Honey's and my cruise a couple of years ago, but the kids just couldn't know it the way I did. There is something about the seeming infinity of water, unchanging for hours or sometimes days, that brings an understanding of the sea one cannot get from books, maps, or even the tales of travelers. And I'm talking about being out on a luxury cruise liner, hee hee. Just think what we would learn if we were on a small work ship of some kind!)

She called us last night, full of excitement and news about waves, bodysurfing and the beach. They were eating supper at a little restaurant overlooking "their" stretch of beach, a restaurant in which we ate during our trip to Florida six years ago. I could picture it all, and I am happy she gets this experience.

Meantime, those of us at home are following her journeys on a map and telling each other, "she's not here, remember?" It feels a little like part of the roof has caved in. She will be home in eight more days, full of new stories to tell and new thoughts to ponder.

But who's counting?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Earth Day for the Six Year Old

"Every day is Earth Day!" announced Cornflower importantly.

"Really?" I said. "What is Earth Day?"

"It's when you wake up and the sun is shining and the sky is blue or white and blue, and the grass is green or gray-green, and the flowers are blooming or they're wilting, and it's a beautiful day. Every day is Earth Day!"


A poem spontaneously composed by Cornflower.

I had nine dollars
My grandma gave me one
I spent my ten dollars
And now I have none!

:the mother looks on with pardonable pride:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ace of Cakes, Homestyle Edition

Triss wanted another Redwall party for her birthday this year. We decided to build the Abbey out of cake.

This web page was helpful, and Krakovianka's daughter's cake was an inspiration as well. (We had to have those malted milk balls!)

So, without further ado, here are the construction photos!


Triss baked two casserole-size cakes the night before, and after they sat overnight we cut and pasted (with frosting) the different levels together.


The sugar-cone turrets are my favorite part.

Middle of the Middle

The basic frosting and adding of candy done, and all that's left are the towers and turrets.

Building Complete!

The extremely chocolatey, triumphant result!

Redwall Abbey

The towers-and-turrets took over an hour. Totally worth it.

Licorice Notes

Licorice Notes

Mariel got creative with her candy.

I always thought music was fun, but this is ridiculous!!

Virtual Twizzler Pull-n-Peels for folks who can decipher the (poor quality) picture enough to name the time signature and key signature!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sketch Tuesday

Sketch Tuesday is up!

For next week, the extra credit at our house will include sketching something sweet (the new Sketch Tuesday challenge) and last Friday's freewrite at Bravewriter:

"When it might hurt their feelings, how do you feel about telling your friends the truth?"

(The girls have not attempted a Friday Freewrite yet, but they sure are enjoying Sketch Tuesday!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Of A Truth

"Did this really happen?"

My six-year-old's current favorite question to ask.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

With Joy

Drawing water out of the well of salvation~

Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted! Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee!

--Isaiah 12:4-6

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Promise

After the rain:

New Promise

Rain Lilies..

I think these are rain lilies, but I could be sadly mistaken. I had a very hard time finding anything closely resembling them, but finally happened on this at the Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sketching and Writing

It's Sketch Tuesday again at the Heart of Harmony. (Mariel let me know that Crocs do indeed float.)

The new assignment due next Tuesday is to sketch something yellow. And I am still gently encouraging my girls to attempt last Friday's Freewrite at Bravewriter-- the topic is second chances (don't we all need them sometimes?)...

Relative Temperature

My poor Texan children are begging me to get down the winter clothing. It is a "chilly" 67 degrees this morning, with a beautiful cool breeze. Mmm, delicious. I am in capris and a t-shirt, and Triss has on a T and leggings-- but Mariel and Cornflower are bundled in tights, long-sleeves, sweaters and mittens.

"Mama? It was so cold outside that I could feel it through my tights!"

"Me, too!"

I could not convince them that they would feel overheated in those clothes by the end of the day, when it reaches 82. We have been living in the heat too long!

Monday, September 10, 2007


It is rainy and somber this morning, with thunder rumbling in the distance. They say it will last all day and into tomorrow, and after the rain it will be Fall.

When I was in high school choir we sang a song that always come back to me when we have an all-day rain. The music is quiet, hushed, calm. It sounds just like a rain shower. I could not find the words or music online, and cannot remember all the words, but here are some I do remember:

Rain falls, soft rain at my window
Giving all the trees a quick, friendly bath
Washing afternoon dust from my wide garden path
And the columbine are bending their heads in the rain...

..While the rain is falling there's a quiet hush about the world...

While the thunder's calling there's a quiet hush about the world...

My parents have been purchasing raw almonds and seasoning and roasting them at home lately. Mr. Honey and I tried the same thing this weekend. Mmm, there is something so tasty about hot-from-the-oven almonds! I think we will make some today. They will go just right with the rain.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


My Flowers are Back

My flowers are back.

School Picture

We have finished our first week of school, and, in celebration, I share a picture of the girls on Day One:

First Day of School picture

Note the patched, cut-off and just plain holey jeans. We did not go back-to-school shopping-- but, at Mariel's suggestion, we did wear our CM Book Club shirts as a silent, day-long pep rally.

At the end of our first week my mind is vigorously spinning again. I am a mass of plans and questions-- ought we to do one more chapter in the old math book or chuck it and move on to the new? Ought Triss to learn formal notetaking at this stage or should we leave that for later? How should I rearrange memory work and recitation? They fell off our days this week. What is the best way to begin written narration for an eager but slow writer? Shouldn't I call the kids and have them get cleaned up for bed? I think our home might be contributing to our environmental allergies. I wonder if any of us are allergic to milk? When can we start that multiple food elimination diet?

Another time, when I confessed to Javamom about these racing mind-moments (whole evenings, really), she said that when she has been working so hard that her brain cannot shut off, she tends to watch a favorite movie or do some other easy, enjoyable thing. I began rereading Jane Eyre last night (for probably the 20 or 30th time). I have been reading books on learning differences, books on allergies, books on Ye Olde, Olde England and books on math, and I needed for a book that feels like a break. Thanks for the advice, Javamom.


Tea Supper

We had a tea supper. Early for supper, late for tea. I decided to do it that way so I wouldn't have to cook a meal, lol! It took about thirty minutes to get everything ready. The menu included:

* Red grapes and watermelon (in separate bowls)

* A very interesting attempt at elegant finger food (smoked turkey and lettuce on a toothpick, garnished with carrot slivers):


(You cannot see the carrots because I garnished the dish after the picture. It looked pretty.)

* Quick biscuits prettied up and disguised as scones:

Quick Biscuits Disguised as Scones

* Butter, peanut butter, jelly..

* A lovely tea from Tom Thumb called Evening Delight (on sale for $1.25-- I get extra points for being frugal!)

* Honey and half and half for the tea

* Popsicles for dessert

We quite enjoyed ourselves, and the girls looked spectacular in their costumes, but every picture I took of them turned out blurry. And we got through three scenes of Twelfth Night. (I was reading the No Fear modern version alongside the original and I'm not so sure I want to do that again. I had to keep reminding myself that the kids just had the original version and could not see what I was seeing.)

I think blog-accountability worked quite well in this instance. We got busy today, and I probably would have put off the Shakespeare and tea thing if Javamom hadn't asked this afternoon if we had had tea yet.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tea and Shakespeare

I have a new use for this blog.

Tomorrow we are going to have a tea party and begin reading Twelfth Night by Mr. William Shakespeare.

I am putting this out on the blog ahead of time to reduce the likelihood that I will forfeit the treat in the interest of efficiency and just plain getting things done.

This is called blog-accountability. LOL.

(Hold me to it, ladies! Didn't I see a Tea Tuesday something-or-other going around the blogosphere? Perhaps that can be my deadline to post pictures.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Triss: Okay, Mariel, it's your turn to tell a story.

Mariel: Okay-- I'm just going to give you the basic plot.

Triss: Ooh, no-- don't give me the basic plot. Make it wiggle around and be complicated. That's the way I like it.


Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
His watchword at the gate of death--
He enters heaven with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, "Behold, he prays!"

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone;
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus, on th'eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.

--James Montgomery, 1771-1854 (1818)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Habit is Ten Natures"

I think I have our basic daily routine down to what will work for all of us this year. I changed it a couple of times, trying to find a balance between needful duties and our own family and personal work-and-rest rhythms. This layout reflects what kept happening despite my efforts to manhandle the routine into something more rigorous. Some might say it is still too rigorous; to those folks I reply that we don't always keep to our routine (for instance, I am blogging this morning, which "ought" to be an afternoon activity!) but here is our track to run on. When things begin to go south at our house, we can look at this routine to remind ourselves not only to "do ye next thynge," but what "ye next thynge" is.

Evening Routine

5:00 Prep for supper and evening relaxing (includes zone and bedroom chores)
6:00 Supper and clean up; lay out necessary books, papers, equipment for the next
7:00 Family time (schoolwork if necessary; Girl Scouts and church will take up
some evenings
8:30 Mariel and Cornflower bedtime
9:30 Triss bedtime

Morning Routine

6:00 Get up, dress completely, make bed
7:00 Coffee, tea, Bible and journal
7:30 Make sure kids are up, start daily chores
8:00 Breakfast, family circle activities
9:00 Home economics
10:00 School
12:00 Lunch with artist/composer study

Afternoon Routine

1:00 School
4:00 Home activities if school is finished (includes phone calls, mail, chores,
baths, playtime, lesson planning, blogging—in that order. Some days we
have additional activities scheduled as well.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sketch Tuesday

Harmony Art Mom has a weekly drawing challenge, and Triss and Mariel participated this week. (I see that Mama Squirrel's daughter Crayons drew some colorful crayons too! We like them.) I am posting the Sketch Tuesday assignment in our family's schoolroom as "extra credit" each week.

I also decided the Friday Freewrites over at Bravewriter would be extra credit. (By the way, the extra credit thing is really a laugh since we don't do official grading at this point. Therefore, it cannot influence whether they get an A or a B in one of their subjects. But they get a lot of Mama-Sunshine for participating, lol!)

Next week's drawing challenge is to draw something that floats. The Friday Freewrite topic is Hands. I tell my kids to give me theirs by the following Thursday, and I will post their efforts to this blog. (No nibbles on the freewrite as of yet. But I'm hopeful.)

And how about a little math?

Homeschooling + Blogging = Fun!

(And for those of you on feeds, I apologize for updating so many times. My brain and fingers do not seem to be connecting very well this aftenoon.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Art and Encouragement

I have been enjoying reading the Heart of Harmony blog the past few days. Barb, the Harmony Art Mom, is very encouraging when it comes to pursuing fine arts with children. Today she pointed out an art website that looks like it will prove helpful where art history is concerned*. My favorite features of the website so far are the artist quotations. Here are some from Da Vinci:

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind."

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art."

"One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself."

And read this one.

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

Reminds me a little of Yoda, "Do, or do not. There is no try."

*Be careful allowing the kids to read over your shoulder; I was thankful my girls were playing outside as I read one page that alluded to unsavory topics!