Monday, 29 December 2008

What is on your list?

It is amazing what a clean house will do to you...not that it was dirty before, and don't get me wrong I do enjoy all the Christmas decorations, but I just seem to feel better and can think a lot more clearly in a clean, uncluttered environment!

I have been wanting to make a list of what I am looking forward to in 2009 and thought that this blog would be a great spot to keep it.

So far I have a few to share:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays ~ I have decided to commit these two days (when Princess is in school) to sewing or photography. Two days of uninterrupted creativity...I am putting it in my "schedule", that way it will get done!

  • working with my aunt to get our Etsy store up and running

  • planning our backyard garden ~ I want to try the square foot gardening method and plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers that I can cut and bring in our house

  • participating in two online book clubs

  • taking regular walks and return to running when weather cooperates

  • meal plan more consistently, keep on eating healthy and within our budget

I like making lists. I could make lists for anything and everything, but I also tend to loose my lists. I have started making my lists of sewing/quilting projects for this year in a small notebook, but I might end up adding a few lists to the sidebar on this least I won't loose them!

So...what are you looking forward to for 2009? What is on your list?

Book Sharing Monday

One last holiday book before the new year!
We have been reading Kringle by Tony Abbott since the beginning of this month. We don't usually take this long to finish a chapter book, but I haven't been able to read regularly with my coughing and sore throat...and we all miss that so much!
We are catching up fast now that I feel better and so, even though Christmas is now done, I thought I would still share this wonderful book with you tonight.
Here is the description from, which explains the book so much better than I can..."Unlike the traditional Santa Claus myth, KRINGLE is a coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy, of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer -- and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny.Our tale begins in 500 A.D., when goblins kidnapped human children and set them to work in underground mines. Kringle is one such child.... until he discovers his mission - to free children from enslavement. His legend lives on today, as he travels the earth every Christmas Eve to quell the goblins once more."

Here is a very small part that I am sharing (it was quite difficult picking just one!):

"The elves are givers, Kringle. We all have a choice, you know. To give or take or to do nothing. Your father was a giver. He gave his life for the elves. He gave when he could have done nothing. He helped when he could have hidden away. Now you know what kind of man your father was." Tony Abbott

Sunday, 28 December 2008

This has been so much fun...

Raving Rabbids TV Party game was the family gift this year. We have had so much fun the last few days...the Dancing with Dweebs has been a favourite of Fairy and myself.

A few Christmas pictures

Fairy received a digital camera from her great-grandma! She has been having a lot of fun with it and taking many pictures. of everything.

Princess now has a beautiful wood kitchen and receiving a few fun things to go with it, a cake decorating set, a blender, and a can opener.

Dragon loves hugging people and everyone doesn't seem to mind, but not his big sister. She couldn't wait for him to be done his hugging, even on Christmas!

No issues with hugging between these two at least!

Fairy and I at our family's Christmas party.

Join us in Book Sharing Monday!

I have taken Makita's suggestion that she had left in a comment here and would like to invite you to join me in my regular Monday feature. I have never done anything like this, so I hope you will be patient with me!
The idea is to share a couple of sentences from a children's book that you are currently reading or have recently finished. Always include the title and the author of the book. I also include the illustrator because many times it has made a difference in our reading experience. I usually include a picture of the book as well. I have been doing this weekly, on Mondays.
I prefer to keep it simple, but you are welcome to write your post as you like.

If you'd like to participate, leave me a comment!

A new direction

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas...we did here, and I will post a few pictures very soon.
These few days between Christmas and the New Year are always a time for me to clean up, put away Christmas decorations, and plan for the new year. The last few years, the coming of the new year meant an assessment of our homeschooling, how the kids were doing, what curriculum was working, how all the extra activities were working out in our schedule, etc...
This year is a bit different. With the kids in public school, and doing well there, I won't be spending as much time assessing their progress. We will focus on that in the spring, closer to the end of the school year. We already know what is lacking in the public school system, and are taking steps to supplement that at home.
This time the focus is more on me. The last three months have been difficult on me and my mental health. I can't say it enough...too much time alone and without much to do is very bad for me! I do not want to continue on that path in 2009. I have found myself in a similar position that I was in a few years ago, obsessing over my past and all the mistakes that I have made, and not being able to let go of it. This time around I would prefer to not have to take medication, and at this point, I am hoping that I just need focus. All of sudden I went from being super busy homeschooling to having so much alone free time. It was such a quick change that I never planned for it, or at least not for me. The kids were ready, mentally and educationally. But I wasn't. I never made a plan for myself, what I would "do" during those hours that used to be filled with lesson planning, researching, teaching, reading aloud, and social homeschool activities...This past fall found me "retired" from all that! I do have a few interests (quilting, photography, running, reading...) but without focus, I tend to do a little here and there, without being consistent. I am finally admitting that I need a plan and almost a schedule. I used to be quite organized with homeschooling, always having a master year plan, a schedule, and even if sometimes we put those aside, at least they were there to keep us focused. So, for myself, I need a plan. A master plan or list so I know what I would like to accomplish and what needs to be done. I can take a breather from it when I need to, but I can also rely on it to stay focused.
I am sharing this with you because I think that this blog is going to take a very different direction. I had thought about closing it down and starting a new one, but then I also thought it might be interesting to see the transformation. Serendipity started as a homeschool blog, a place for me to share our adventures in homeschooling. Now it will be more about my own adventures, as a mother and as a woman. I hope you will continue to follow me, and enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 23

Yum...Gingersnaps! Fairy loves to bake. She made these for her Girl Guides Christmas party. We will be baking more tomorrow to bring to a Christmas day dinner for 25 people (and that includes many teenagers!!).

Book Sharing Monday

One more Christmas theme book to share with you today... We have enjoyed many books by this author, Cynthia Rylant. This particular one is called Silver Packages. It is the story of young boy and a very special Christmas train. Every year, the train comes and the rich man tosses gifts to the children. Every year, this boy wishes for a doctor kit, but instead receives things he truly needs at the time. I think it is a wonderful story, and a nice gentle reminder that we don't always get what we want, but we should be grateful to receive what we need. The illustrations by Chris K. Soentpiet are beautiful and complement the story perfectly.
Here is a little part for you:
"One year a boy named Frankie stands beside those tracks and waits for the Christmas Train. It is very cold and a lot of snow has come down the night before. Frankie's shoes are thin and his feet hurt badly from the cold. But he is determined to wait, even if his feet and all the rest of him become ice." Cynthia Rylant, The Silver Packages.
This story is actually based on a real train which has been rolling through the Appalachian Mountains each Christmas season since 1943 and delivers presents to children in coal towns. If you follow the link above to Chris Soentpiet site, you can also read how the story is also inspired by the author's childhood. You can also print colouring pages from his site, look on the left side menu.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 22

All I want for Christmas is to not be sick! Yuck...I thought I was over my last sickness (in November) but these last few days I have been sniffling and fighting a horrible cough. Double Yuck! So I hope you won't mind today's picture, it is what I am seeing a lot of these last couple of days, and sorry for missing yesterday's pic of the day...

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Our favourite beef stew recipe

The boys in the house love their meat, and my husband in particular likes to take this to work for his lunch. Us girls tend to eat the vegetables more! I have had this recipe hand written in my binder for at least a year now, and I can't remember where I copied it from...

Old Fashion Beef Stew

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs stewing beef, cut into cubes
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine (I use "real" wine, not the cooking wine you find at the grocery store lol)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cups of beef stock
5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
375 g green beans (I have used frozen green beans)

  • combine flour, salt, pepper in large ziplock bag. add beef to coat well
  • in large pot, heat half of the oil (1 Tbsp) over medium heat and cook beef, adding oil if needed until the beef is browned all over. transfer to a plate
  • reduce heat to medium-low * don't clean the bottom of your pot *
  • add to the pot onions, garlic, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf and a little bit of flour
  • cook, stirring for about four minutes, or until onions are soft
  • add wine and tomato paste, cook and stir to scrape brown bits from bottom of pot
  • return beef to pot and pour in stock
  • bring to a boil, stirring until liquid seems a bit thicker
  • reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally
  • after the 1 hour, add carrots and potatoes to pot
  • cover again and simmer for 30 minutes
  • add green beans to stew, adding more stock to cover vegetables if needed
  • cover and simmer another 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender
  • remove bay leaf and enjoy!


Princess drew this snowman while I was writing my other posts tonight. Then she asked me to write snowman under it, and copied all the letters.

Snow Storm!

Here are more pictures from yesterday's snow storm...we are supposed to get more tomorrow!

The first one shows part of our backyard and the other side of the crescent we live on, more like a U than a crescent. The second is our back steps. I know the kids thought they would try sledding down those!

Doesn't our simple wreath look so nice with the snow on it?

Fairy helped me shovel in the morning. We don't have neighbours on the one side, and the wind was blowing the snow hard during the storm, you can see it all over the bricks of the house!

Can you guess what that is? If you said spider webs, you are right! I knew I left those up for a reason! Fairy and I thought it was so neat!

Yummy Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze

We made this wonderful lemon cake yesterday. I switched a couple of ingredients from an recipe because I had to, but it still turned out so yummy!
The girls especially liked the lemon glaze that dripped onto the waxed paper...

Here is the link for the recipe "Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake" . My substitutions were:

I used lemon juice instead of lemon extract because I didn't have any...a little more than what was required, because lemon extract is a bit stronger I think.

I also used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

In the glaze I used extra lemon juice instead of the lemon extract, and added a little bit of the grated lemon peel.

I punctured a few holes with a toothpick on the top of the cake before dripping slowly the glaze on top. The cake looks dark on my picture...but it's just perfect!

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 20

Two photos to share today..both taken by Fairy. I couldn't decide which one to put up, so you are getting both! The kids set up a doll show today, inspired by their school play on the Grinch. The dolls auditioned for their roles, and then had to get costumes, rehearse and of course their hair done. Fairy did both of these dolls hair styles. They all (yes even Dragon) had a great time playing with these dolls for most of the day, the other half of the day was spent outside enjoying all the snow! A great way to start their break from school...

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 17


One cozy flannel nightgown for Princess! I used to make these for Fairy when she was smaller and Princess used to ask me for her own.
I have to confess that this particular nightgown has been in my "to finish" box since last Christmas...I know, I know... All the pieces were cut, but it never got finished. Now I am catching up!
I am planning on giving this to Princess on Christmas Eve. I hope she hasn't changed her mind about wanting one!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 16

It doesn't look like much right now, but it is one of my sewing projects on the go...a thank you present for one of my aunts. It is a pin cushion that has a little storage spot in the centre (very cute). The project comes from the book "Seams to Me" by Anna Maria Horner.
I will post a picture of the finished project soon...

The other projects are six kitchen chair pads (my Christmas present to my family), a nightgown for Princess (another Christmas gift), and a soft ball for a baby gift. Just like playing around with my camera, I have taken the time lately to reconnect with my sewing machine and I am loving it once again! Being creative has definitely put a smile on my face!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Book Sharing Monday

We have read many more Christmas books this past week, and enjoyed all of them. It was hard to pick just one to share with you today!
The Cobweb Christmas is written by Shirley Climo and the one we found at the library is illustrated by Joe Lasker. The watercolours are beautiful and my kids especially liked the page with all the spiders...The story tells about the magic that happened long ago at Christmas time to an old lonely woman Tante, and how the tradition of tinsel came to be.
Here is a small part that we liked (hopefully you don't mind spiders too much...because they are the ones talking to Christkindel - Santa Claus in Germany).
""We're always swept away. Please, Christkindel, may we peek at Tante's tree?"
So Christkindel opened the cottage door a crack, just wide enough to let starlight in. For what harm could come from looking? "

Photo of the Day ~ Dec.15

Fairy has a dress rehearsal for the school choir show today, they are all supposed to be dressing like who-ville people from the Grinch. We were told to use lots of stripes, and try to do some wacky hair do...not sure if hers will do. I guess I will find out at 3:30 today!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec. 13

Brought to you by .... Fairy!
** Updated tonight - I didn't have time to add much more this morning, besides the fact that Fairy took this photo of her cat Clara. That green little thing with the cat is her favourite toy. It is just a little stuffed Neopet from McDonalds. I honestly think she is confused about her identity. As someone commented on a previous post, she missed the "cat 101" class! This is what she loves to do with the toy: one of us "humans" will throw the toy and she runs after it. We all thought this was too funny and cute, so we used to go and get the toy for her and do it again, and again and again. Well, for the last few days, she now brings it back herself, in her mouth, drops it back down close to us, and just waits. She will play for a while doing this, running and fetching! Down the stairs is her favourite, she just flies down them, and runs back with the thing in her mouth...too cute! I have been trying to get a picture of her and as soon as I get one that isn't blurry, I will share!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Beautiful Colours...or Photo of the Day Part Two!

After I posted my picture of the day, the sky gave me another opportunity to play with my camera...The colours were beautiful, I couldn't resist!

Photo of the Day ~ Dec.11

We rented this game for the Wii this week. Animal Crossing is a fun game that we had played a few years ago on the Gamecube. Dragon, Fairy, Dad and myself all had our own characters on it, with our own little houses, mortgages, etc!!! I thought we would check out the new version for the Wii. This time it's just Dragon, Fairy and I playing it. We are having fun fishing, digging for fossils, picking up seashells and flowers, and selling our stuff to the store or donating it to the museum. It is a fun game, that will probably end up on the Christmas wish list!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ Dec.10 @ the high school !

Fairy performed with her school choir at the local high school tonight, as part of their Art Night. It was great to listen to the elementary school kids (including Fairy) singing Christmas songs, and also to hear the high school band play. My favourite from the band was a number that had a superhero theme, a medley of Batman, James Bond and even Austin Powers. There was a solo, a violinist that was amazing. The last performance was the choir again, with the high school band!
After the show, we walked around the school looking at their art display, photographs, drawings, paintings, and even murals. I could tell that Fairy was interested in this high school!

Book Clubs!

I have always wanted to be part of a book club, but find it hard to commit to the meetings, with the kids and my husband's schedule. I think I might have found a book clubs!

I have already signed up to be part of The Well-Read Ladies. It is starting in January, and is organized by Jill from The Well-Read Child. The other one I just found this morning, when I discovered the Simple Mom website. The Sound Mind Sound Mom Book Club also starts in January. There are six books selected (see the list and a quick blurb about each here)and best of all, every title besides one is available through the local library.
I am looking forward to some great reading and discussions in 2009!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Photo of the Day ~ December 9

Santa letters have arrived! Fairy helped Princess by writing her letter and also sent one herself. Today they each received an answer from the North Pole!

Monday, 8 December 2008

"So Don't! & See What Happens" ~ Book Sharing Monday

That is the title of a new children's picture book that just arrived in our mailbox! It is written by Sarah Leal and illustrated by Matt Boismier. It is the story of Madi who, just like many kids, doesn't feel like getting ready for school that day. The story takes an interesting turn when the mother, tired of nagging, tells her "So don't and see what happens" and so her brother and Madi don't!

My kids haven't experienced that feeling yet about going to school. It is still exciting for them, but they still could relate with the story! It's not as if they have always agreed with whatever I want them to do!!!

It turned out to be a fun story about responsibility. Another part I liked was the fact that the main character is in a wheel chair, but that it isn't part of the story line.

I do have to confess that the illustrator is a cousin of mine, but regardless, I think this book is wonderful, and the illustrations are fun, and match the story perfectly.

You can visit the author at her blog Cinnamon Freckles and the illustrator at Tooninator Art Blog.
Here is my favourite part...this time I am sharing an illustration instead...I just love the expressions in both the mom and Madi!

Morning walk

The rest of the photos I took during my little walk this morning. I really love the simplicity in things...

Photo of the Day ~ December 8

I had forgotten how much I enjoy playing with my camera and taking pictures of nature. Simple things that some might not stop to look the picture above. I went to the lakefront in the town where we live this morning, to take a little walk and a few pictures. This one is my favourite. I will share the others in a separate post. Hope everyone else is enjoying their December photo challenge too!


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