To show our excitement for the FIRST DAY OF SPRING we opened up our windows, put on short sleeves, and spent the afternoon outside at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens (one of our family's favorite destinations in downtown Atlanta). There were many different flowers blooming, but the main flowers showing their beautiful smiling faces were the daffodils. You remember from my post here last year of my love of daffodils.
I was overjoyed receiving therapy to all five of my senses. I heard bees buzzing, birds singing, water splashing in fountains, and the laughter of my children. I felt the 72 degrees on my skin as I wore short sleeves, capris, and sandals for the first time this year. I tasted the sandwich of Roasted Spring Veggies and Spring Greens I had for lunch. I saw the amazing show of colors God provides this time of year - reds, oranges, yellows, whites, and pinks. And the smells were of sweet daffodils and hyacinths. Absolute pure bliss!
Come along on a stroll with me through the spring garden.
Happy Spring from our family to yours!
St. Patrick's Day is increasingly becoming a bigger event in our household each passing year. Want to know what we did this year?
We started off reading St Patrick's Day and St. Patrick's Day in the Morning. Then it was time for breakfast.
Cinnamon Shamrocks with Green Sprinkles
Green Granny Smith Apple Slices
Green (dyed) Banana Smoothies
We examined a shamrock closely, discussed how St. Patrick used it to teach the Irish about God being 3 in 1, and then drew and colored our own.
In the afternoon we discovered what was hidden in our "Treasure Blarney Stones."
And then, for our dinner we ate a feast.
Green Vegetables (Asparagus Spears, Celery Sticks, Green Bell Pepper Slices, Snap Peas)
Green Dill Dip
Green Spinach Salad
Irish Stew (with beef instead of lamb) including potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, and thyme
JONES Green Apple Soda
Leftover Tea Time Goodies
We did have a good time today. The highlight most definitely from they day for both Olivia and Isaac was the Blarney Stone "treasure rocks" I had for them. I made treasure rocks for Olivia's class last year, so I knew how much she loved this idea. But, I really underestimated how much Isaac would enjoy the "find." J
What is a treasure rock anyway, you ask? Well, these special "rocks" have small treasures hidden inside them. The fortunate receiver can open the "rock" to discover a treasure within.
Several nights ago I prepared this "treasure rock" recipe.
½ cup coffee grounds, used or instant
½ cup sand
½ cup salt
1 cup flour
1 cup water
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the water to make a stiff dough. (Make sure to add the water in small amounts so as not to form a runny mixture.) Knead dough to a smooth consistency. Divide the dough into as many parts as you want “rocks.” Flatten out each part and place small “treasures” in the middle. Form the dough around the “treasure,” forming a ball or rock shape, completely concealing the “treasure.” Place “rocks” on a cookie sheet and bake at 250° for 15 minutes, turn off oven, and leave in oven overnight. After rocks are dry and cool, receiver can break open the “rock” to discover “treasures” inside.
•Make sure the “treasures” are able to withstand high temperatures (no plastic, candies, or chocolate).
•There are recipes out there saying you can air dry these, but I have always baked mine.
•I used instant coffee grinds this time and they turned out brown. Last time I made the rocks with used coffee grounds and they turned out gray.
•More than likely you will not need the whole cup of water. Make sure you are adding it in very small amounts.
Before giving "Treasure Blarney Stones" to Olivia and Isaac today I read to them about the Blarney Stone in Ireland and showed them pictures. They thought it was silly that people WANT to kiss the stone. Next, I told them that our special "Blarney Stones" had treasures within and that they needed to break the rocks open to reveal what was inside. They had so much fun breaking apart their rocks and pulling out their "emerald treasures." I thought since today was all about St. Patrick and the "Emerald Isle," it only was fitting to have "emeralds" as our "treasures."
After discovering all of the hidden "treasures," Olivia and Isaac set to work on polishing the "emeralds." Little small bits of the rock recipe remained on the glass pieces that they felt needed to be removed. And to be honest, it was the perfect finishing touch to brighten up our "emeralds" that helped decorate our dinner table tonight. J
Tomorrow I'll share pictures and our menu from our St. Patrick's Day.
An Irish Blessing ~
Good St. Patrick traveled far to teach God's Holy Word.
And when he came to Erin's sod, a wondrous thing occurred.
He plucked a shamrock from the earth and held it in his hand
To symbolize the Trinity that all might understand.
The first leaf for the Father, the second for the Son,
The third for the Spirit, three of them in one.
May the Good Lord always hold you in the palm of His hand,
And may the blessings He sends you be more plentiful than all the shamrocks in Ireland.
I have many things planned for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. But, I didn't see any harm in starting to celebrate a little early with green and shamrocks for our tea time today. Our tea time this afternoon consisted of cupcakes topped with small green shamrock frosted sugar cookies, Irish bread, and the obvious, GREEN tea.
Our family loves this Irish bread recipe. Here's Olivia dining on it during our St. Patrick's Day Tea last year. I've been making it for probably five years now. It's a sweet bread and is great not only for tea time, but for breakfast and brunch as well. I thought you might want to give it a try tomorrow.
Note: Because my family likes the sweet taste of dried cranberries, I use them in place of the typical raisins found in many Irish bread recipes.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1¼ cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cut shortening and butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly. Stir in dried cranberries. Set aside.
Whisk together milk, eggs, and vinegar. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Pour batter into a greased 10½ inch cast-iron skillet.
Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Today we celebrated Olivia's Spiritual Birthday. Truly a special day, honoring our precious daughter who was born into the kingdom of our Lord two years ago. Last year you read Olivia's testimony here, in her own words.
After our breakfast this morning followed by some singing of hymns, I shared with Olivia how special I think it is that her spiritual birthday falls during the Lenten season. The time of year when we are preparing our hearts for the celebratory day of Jesus' resurrection. The reason Jesus came to live on this earth was to sacrifice Himself for our sins so that we can live with Him eternally, if we so choose. We praise God that Olivia has made this most important life choice and will get to live eternally with Jesus.
Then during our afternoon celebration before singing "Happy BIrthday," Michael said a prayer thanking God for Olivia's life and her decision to live for Him. Michael also had a time of blessing Olivia. He shared with her the compassion that he sees manifested in her heart. How this is a true gift from God and how she should use this throughout her lifetime to help others while serving God.
We look forward to seeing God's plan for Olivia's life. Please pray for Michael and I as we strive to be Godly examples and live fruitful (Galatians 5:22-23) lives for Olivia, as well as for Isaac and Joshua.
You may remember from last year we celebrated Olivia's Spiritual Birthday with cross biscuits and a cross shaped Rice Krispie treat. Olivia sweetly reminded me how much she enjoyed them last year, so of course I made them again this year. J (A tradition now, wouldn't you say?)
Can you guess where we made our way to today?
That's right. The high today was 71 degrees and we spent the day outside visiting the zoo. My mom and dad are in town and Michael took the day off so we could go see lions and tigers and bears and gorillas and otters and elephants and kangaroos and . . .
Olivia's favorite animals from the day - flamingos.
Olivia watching Dottie, the elephant.
Following the bear prints to the . . .
Mama Lun Lun
Baby panda, Xi Lan
Jumping like a kangaroo
Last stop - the petting zoo.
TODAY = PERFECT DAY FOR THE ZOO
As you read from yesterday, Olivia participated last week in a geography fair. The country that Olivia drew out of a hat to report on was Guatemala. Since Christmas we've been working on different parts of her project. Here is a glimpse of Olivia's Guatemala project.
It is said, the Mayans of Guatemala are the most colorful dressed people of the Americas. Weaving is an integral part of a Mayan woman's day and the tradition is passed down from one generation to the next to girls often at age 8, like Olivia. Interestingly, each Mayan village has their own unique pattern of weaving, so that one can be recognized as being from a particular tribe based solely on the patterns of his/her clothing.
This is Olivia's tri-fold display poster. See the close-ups below for detail. If you want to read each item, just click on the picture and it will enlarge for you.
Here is a quetzal that Olivia painted. The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala. It is known for its brilliant green color and long tail feathers of the male birds. The ancient Mayans used these tail feathers as money and because of this the Guatemalan currency is still called the quetzal today.
Guatemalans are known around the world for their worry dolls. This folklore legend was the subject of Olivia's paper.
GUATEMALAN WORRY DOLLS
Guatemala is in Central America and is bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Most of the people of Guatemala are of Mayan blood. The Mayan stories have been passed down for many generations. One story is about worry dolls. The Guatemalan folklore of worry dolls is very interesting.
Worry dolls are tiny and colorful. The Mayans of Guatemala tie pieces of wood together or twist wire to make a body, head, arms, and legs. The dolls are about 1½ inches tall. Next, they wind thread and scraps of woven cloth to make clothes, hair, feet, and hands. When six dolls are finished they are put in a drawstring pouch made of scraps of woven cloth.
The Mayan legend of worry dolls has been told for generations. It is said if you have a worry you could tell it to your special dolls. When you have a worry you take the dolls out of their bag and tell them your trouble. Then, put the dolls under your pillow and go to sleep. It is said you will sleep perfectly through the night because the dolls are working on the worry. In the morning you wake up and the worry is gone because the dolls have taken it away.
The Mayans of Guatemala believe that worry dolls can take worries away. As Christians, God tells us to tell our worries to Him. In the Bible, Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Instead of telling their troubles to dolls, Mayans should tell their worries to God.
The Mayan folklore of worry dolls has survived for many years. Even though the Spanish conquered Guatemala in 1523, the Mayans held on to their story of worry dolls. I believe the story will be told for many more generations.
The Guatemalan national flag - The Guatemalan coat of arms is found in the middle of the flag. The flag has two blue stripes which represents Guatemala is in the middle of two oceans. The Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The white in the center represents peace and purity.
The table display items included cards of INTERESTING FACTS of Guatemala. Such as, "Guatemala produces more COFFEE than any other country in Central America. Guatemalan coffee is spicy and smoky." and "Mayan artists found JADE to be a prized material. Jade jewelry has been found in Mayan tombs and even in the teeth of the very wealthy."
Olivia chose to serve black beans and corn tortillas as her local dish. They are served at each meal of the day, after all (another INTERESTING FACT card).
Finally, Olivia's interactive display was a Guatemalan I Spy board.
Want to play? Please see the list below and then click on the picture to enlarge.
And with her "I Spy Board" Olivia won the Most Interactive Display award. She was thrilled.
The geography fair was an amazing way for Olivia to learn about the culture and people of another country. Through her project and her fellow classmates' projects, Olivia was able to "take a trip around the world." This will definitely be a memory she will carry throughout her lifetime.
Olivia attends a school for homeschoolers two days a week. Last Thursday she had the privilege to participate in a geography fair. Before Christmas the students, who range from 1st-8th grade, drew the name of a country from a hat. They were given the assignment to write a paper on one particular subject matter from their country, bring a sample of a local dish, dress in traditional dress, make a tri-fold display with information about the country, display other items representative of their country, and be as creative as possible.
Here you can see displays of some of the kids creativity. I'll be back tomorrow with Olivia's project. Want to guess what country she drew from the hat?
Tea Time on Tuesday this week was spent celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday (March 2, 1904). We are huge Dr. Seuss fans in our home.
"Green Eggs and Ham" were on our menu for breakfast. Would you have thought that green eggs are loved by Olivia and Isaac? J
All day long we read Dr. Seuss titles, including Olivia's favorite, I Can Read with my Eyes Shut!, and Isaac's favorite, Dr. Seuss's ABC. My favorite Dr. Seuss book is My Many Colored Days. No, it's Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! No, it's Fox in Socks. No, my all time favorite has to be, (I think) Green Eggs and Ham. Yes, that's my favorite. J That Sam-I-Am, he's so persistant and such the encourager. I love that Sam-I-Am. J
For our official afternoon "tea" we celebrated our day of Dr. Seuss with mini "Cat in the Hat" cupcakes. The kids loved the day of reading and the silliness that Dr. Seuss brings into our home. I love these fun, silly days of being with my children.
So what's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
We have a custom in our family beginning with the first moment we see snow start to fall. We run to the kitchen to find our "special snow bowls" and set them out on our patio table for collection. This collected snow becomes our key ingredient for our snow ice cream.
Here's the way we prepare our special treat. It's the same recipe my mom made rare and special Mississippi snow with while I was growing up.
SNOW ICE CREAM
A Southern Recipe ~ Snow is such a rarity in the south that we incorporate it even into our food. J
1 (5.33 oz) can evaporated milk
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix milks and vanilla together. Gradually stir in snow until ice cream is of desired consistency. Serves 6.
We awoke to snow on the ground this morning and continued to have HUGE snowflakes falling without ceasing until 3 this afternoon. Olivia, Isaac, and I (Joshua was napping.) enjoyed playing in it before lunch. Then we came in for some snowy day lunchtime treats.
Spring is right around the corner. Until then, we'll continue to enjoy the snow ice cream that we have left from this winter.