2014 Year in Review

2014 year in review copy

As you all know, 2014 saw some big changes in my blog. First, I joined the Schoolhouse Review Crew. This commitment has been really good for me in several ways. It helps to make sure I blog regularly. That’s not too hard, since I love sharing my thoughts and ideas on these pages, but knowing that it’s expected of me is a pretty good motivator on those “I just don’t want to” weeks. I’ve learned a lot about social media and blogging by being a part of that group of wonderful ladies. And let’s not forget the curriculum! I have the wonderful opportunity to try out different things and share them here with all of you.

Besides the Crew, you’ll remember that I also changed my blog name and platform earlier this month. That was probably the biggest change to “my space,” and it’s one I haven’t regretted for one second. I love the new name and URL! Continue reading

G is for Gingerbread House

g is for gingerbread house

For the second year in a row, my dad bought the boys a gingerbread house kit to build and decorate. The difference this year is that he chose a gingerbread village instead of just a house, so while the individual buildings were much smaller, each child got his own to decorate. They didn’t fight last year, but I still think this was a better way to do it. They weren’t crawling all over one another to try and decorate their wall like last year. And as an added bonus this year, while we were decorating, one of the boys’ friends came over. I was happy to have an extra house to share with her. (And even more happy to send it home with her when she left!)

Blessings,

I also want to remind you guys that my blog is moving/has moved. I’d really, really love it if you headed over to Ladybug Daydreams and subscribed to the new blog. I’ve sent off the email to WordPress support to have you all moved over, but I don’t have high hopes for that working. Just a gut feeling that they’re not going to make it happen for me/us. So please, please click through and sign up at the new blog. I’d really appreciate it!

A Plethora of Crocheted Hats

A Plethora of Crocheted Hats from Ladybug Daydreams

I’ve been busily crocheting stocking hats for all of our nieces and nephews for Christmas. There are nine of them altogether (five nieces and four nephews), so we could really go broke if we bought toys for each of them, because those are in addition to our own three children. Besides that, it kind of goes against our life philosophy of simplicity to buy cheap plastic toys.

So I try to make something for them each year. Last year was purses for the girls; for the boys we regifted some knitted hats that we’d received. This year, I’ve made all sorts of fun hats – one for each child. Almost all of my patterns have come from Repeat Crafter Me. She has the absolute best blog for crochet patterns that I’ve ever seen. I love that she has each hat pattern all spelled out in a variety of sizes. It made it really easy to make exactly the right size for each child.

After having done several using her patterns, I was a bit more confident and ended up modifying one of her hats (the Mickey Mouse one) designing one all on my own (the Ninja Turtle one).

Here are the hats I made, along with a link to the tutorial I used (where applicable).

For my brother’s sons:

Mickey Mouse for the four-year-old. (I adjusted the size on this one up using another pattern of hers, but the colors and embellishments are from this link.)mickey hat watermarked

A minion from Despicable Me for his 2 year old brother.minion hat watermarked

For my half-brother’s children:

Elsa from Frozen for the six-year-old girl.

Frozen-inspired hat from Ladybug Daydreams

I’m not that great at sewing the embellishments on straight. Ha! I guess that makes them all the more special, though – it’s clear they’re handmade.

 

A Ninja Turtle for the three-year-old boy. (No link here because I used the basic theory from Repeat Crafter Me and then embellished on my own.) This one’s especially cool because the mask can come off. It’s a completely separate piece that’s just been woven through a stitch on each side.

ninja turtle hat watermarked

For Will’s sister’s three kids:

A strawberry for the six-year-old girly-girl.

strawberry hat watermarked

A frog for the five-year-old tomboy.frog hat watermarked

A sock monkey for the 6-month-old baby boy. I chose the sock monkey for him because his mom (Will’s sister) loves them. Since he’s a little young to have tastes besides “I like carrots” and “I don’t like peas,” catering to his mom’s tastes give this gift the best chance of being a hit.

sockmonkey hat watermarked

For Will’s stepbrother’s two girls:

A pair of owls for the five and three year olds.

owl hats watermarked

 

Additionally, our church is doing a “name draw” gift exchange. It wasn’t required, but everyone who was interested put their name in a “hat” (a plastic container, really). Babies/toddlers, kids, teens, and adults were put into separate containers, and each person drew a name from the appropriate container. For the three kids we drew (a baby boy, a 6 year old boy, and an 8 year old girl), I’m making hats (of course!). The boy is getting a tiger, the girl is getting a monster (I don’t know her well, but my kids assure me she’s a tomboy), and I haven’t made a firm decision for the baby yet. (The adults we drew are just getting boxes of chocolates.)

On my side of the family, it’s just three couples – my mom and stepdad, my brother and his wife, and Will and me. To help alleviate the budget issues there, we alternate which couple we gift for each year. Last year, we had my mom and stepdad, they had my brother, and my brother had us. So this year, everything switches: we have my brother, he has my parents, and my parents have us. Keeping with my theme of the year, I’m going to make adult sized hats (and maybe scarfs, depending on how things go as we start getting closer to Christmas) for my brother and sister-in-law as well. We’ll also get them a DVD (or something similarly priced…). Pics of those when they’re done :).

Do you have a lot of gifts to buy outside of your immediate family? If so, how do you stay within a budget at Christmastime when it’s expected to buy gifts for them?

Blessings,

ladybug signature 2

Our Reading List – December

reading list dec 2014

Here are in a new month. Can you believe that it’s December already?! A new month means time for a new reading list. Here’s what we’re reading in December.

Read-Aloud – everyone

I found a book called A Newberry Christmas at the library. It’s a collection of 14 short stories by beloved authors including Beverly Cleary and Madeline L’Engle. We’re really excited to dive into this one!

Wendy – that’s me!

It’s my turn to get Gray Mountain, the new John Grisham book from the library. I just got the email notification this morning that it’s ready to pick up, so I’ll be doing that very soon. Super excited! John Grisham is very near the top (probably at the top, honestly) of my favorite authors list.

Seahawk – 5th grade

Assigning my non-reader a novel a month has been working out really well. You’ll remember that he read Holes last month. Well, I’m pleased to report that he absolutely adored it. His words: “It’s my favorite book that I’ve ever finished!” When he finished the book, we did family movie night with the film. It was almost as big a hit as the book.

This month, I’ve picked a book for him that also has a movie. The difference this time is that it’s a movie we already own the DVD version of: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. It’s been a couple of years since the boys watched the film (starring Brendan Fraser), but they used to love it, so I thought it would be a great choice for Seahawk’s assigned book. It was originally written in German, so it will be a good culture study for Seahawk as well. Even though he’s reading a translated version (of course), it likely won’t be like a “normal,” American book. Also, it’s about twice as long as any book he’s read before (a whopping 532 pages). That will give him the confidence to read much longer books. Because of the book’s length, though, I’m giving him both December and January to read it. I don’t mind it taking him more time to read longer books, but I do want him to be exposed to books of all sorts of difficulty and length. I picked this one for this time of the year because we typically take school things easy in December, so he’ll have more time to read.

Munchkin – 3rd grade

Munchkin has already finished his book club book for this month (Love that Dog by Sharon Creech). He was asking me for something to read on Monday this week (when the library is closed), so we dug through our personal library, where I

found The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary for him. He’s moving

through that at an incredible clip (after only two days, he was halfway done), so I picked up Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine from the library for him to dive into when he finishes Motorcycle. This is another one that is a movie (a more famous one

than Inkheart), and Munchkin watched it one day about a year ago when he was sick. He thought the movie was hilarious, so he’s looking forward to reading the book.

 

 

Small Fry – age 2 1/2

Small Fry is still really into Franklin the Turtle. Franklin books are really fun, so I’m happy to get them from the library and read them to him as often as he likes :).

What are you reading this month?

Blessings,

ladybug signature 2

Links are provided for your convenience. They are not affiliate links. I receive no compensation for your purchase.

 

The Big Change

welcome to ldd copy

Hello, dear readers! I’m so glad you’re here today. I’m finally ready to go over with you what this “big change” I’ve mentioned is all about.

Ready?

I’ve made the jump from this free version of WordPress to a self-hosted (read: dot-com) site.

and

I’ve got a new name for my blog! The content will be the same, but new name is Ladybug Daydreams (musings of a homeschool mom). During this transitional phase, I’ll post here and on the new blog, but come January 1st, I’m going to be blogging only on the new site.

The reasons for setting up a new blog are twofold. First, I wanted more control over the appearance of my blog. Here on the free WordPress, there’s very little freedom. Second, I’m starting to get a bit more “serious” about my blogging/writing, so I wanted a more professional URL that actually matches my blog name.

I’m doing my very best to make this transition as easy on you guys as possible. I’ve read online that I can contact WordPress support and they’ll move all of your subscriptions over to my new site for me, but they’re closed for the Thanksgiving holiday until next Monday, December 8th. As soon as there’s someone back in that office, I’ll be sending the email to request that change, so hopefully that means you won’t have to do anything. If you follow me on Bloglovin’, however, you’ll need to head over to my new Bloglovin’ page and follow me directly.

I’ve already moved all of the content from this blog to the new one, so all of your lovely comments and my posts/pages from here are there. When you go to the new blog, you’ll notice that it looks an awful lot like this one. That won’t be the case forever. I’m having a professionally illustrated header done, but the illustrator isn’t available until mid-January, so I’m going to use the header from this blog (with the name changed, though) until then. So don’t freak out when you click those links and the page looks the same *laughs*.

I think that’s everything… Please leave me a comment if you have any questions as we move through this process together!

Blessings to you all!

F is for From the Mouths of Babes

 

I have this statue on my bedside table. It was a gift from Will a few years ago, and is very special for a few reasons. (Mainly because he gave it to me, but also because it’s done in a style that his mom – who passed away in 2007 – really enjoyed and collected art in.) It’s been a mainstay on my bedside table ever since I got it. We’ve tried putting it in different places, but nowhere else is quite “right.” Some things are like that, you know?

So, there the statue sits. Small Fry is a bit behind on his speaking skills (but he’s making real progress the past couple of weeks!). He has just a handful of words he says (Mama, Dada, water, bubble, yeah, no). When I went into our room the other day to get a fresh diaper so I could change him, he followed me. He’s seen the statue before, of course, but this time he picked it up and pointed at each figure in turn, saying, “Mama. Dada.”

I love that this is how he sees his parents: in a caring, loving relationship.

What a way to melt a mother’s heart!

Blessings,

Wendy

Recipe: Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce

pork chops with apple cider sauce

Some days you cook simple stuff (spaghetti with jarred pasta sauce, for example). But sometimes you really just want to cook, if you know what I mean. And as we move into the cooler months, those times seem to be more and more. It’s easy to “phone in” dinner in the summer when it’s hot and all anyone wants is salad anyway, but we crave warmer, heavier foods in the winter. Today I have a recipe for you that gives you that warm, real-cooked feel, but isn’t actually too heavy. I found the base recipe at AllRecipes, but I’ve modified it to make it my own.

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce

  • Pork chops – enough to feed your family (any cut you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small amount of oil, for frying
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider (not juice), divided
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (eyeballing it is fine)
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Season the pork chops and fry them in oil for 5-10 minutes per side, until done. The amount of time it takes will depend on how thick the chops are.
  2. Remove the chops to a plate and add apples and onion to the pan. Cook until they start to soften and the onions are turning translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of apple cider, the Worcestershire, and the cooking sherry. Cook for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat, until the sauce begins to reduce.
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining cider with cornstarch. Add this to the sauce in the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Add pork chops back into the pan with the sauce and heat through.

This is such a yummy dish; I hope you try it, especially as a nice alternative to all the leftover turkey you’re likely to be eating over the coming week! You can serve it with pretty much anything you like: mashed potatoes using the apple sauce as gravy; salad and bread; vegetables and sliced apples. We typically eat it with (boxed) Scalloped potatoes and applesauce. It’s definitely become one of our favorites, and I hope it will be one of yours too!

I won’t have a post up tomorrow, so I’m going to wish all my fellow Americans a very Happy Thanksgiving today. Enjoy your families and all the wonderful food you’re likely to be enjoying. And remember to thank the One who gives it all to us.

Blessings,

Wendy

P.S. Remember those “big changes” I mentioned earlier in the week? Well, they’re still coming, so keep your eyes peeled. And just to give you a quick heads up on what these plans are, my blog will be getting a new name and location, so I’d love it if you all followed me to the new site when I get it up and running, which should be before Christmas. I’ll let you know when it’s ready to start accepting followers. (Right now, it’s just a notification from my domain/hosting company stating that the domain has been purchased, so it’s not worth sharing the new URL…) Thanks in advance!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers