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The Potter's Shed!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Got Missionaries?

Do you know any missionaries whom you might wish to bless with some "touches from home"? With the global economy and Wal-Mart being exported to many countries, the usual "missionary care package" may have changed a bit. So, what are some things that today's missionaries might enjoy getting? Well, I say, go straight to the source!

Amanda of Following an Unknown Path has put together an AWESOME list, and being a missionary herself, she should know! In her blog entry, you will find a link to other missionaries's lists, too.

Please, bless a missionary today.

cheating summer

I think I'm cheating summer.

Today, my middle son (7) enjoyed anther afternoon of digging in the sandbox with his bestfriends next door. I stepped outside just to have a listen (they are so close that sometimes they all bicker like siblings, so we keep close tabs on the temperature of the interraction) and was delicately distracted by the buzzing and whirring and screeching of a hot, humid summer afternoon here in the south. The June bugs, in their shiny, metallic green shells, were buzzing around my herbs. There were various species of "bee" also making the rounds. And high above me came a distinct, rising screech. It was definitely the screech of a bug - almost a crackling screech - rather than a bird or animal. I've no idea what it was, but it was quite loud!

I stood there thinking how lovely this hot and stifling afternoon really was to my senses, if not to the comfort of my inner thermostat. My husband would cringe if he knew what I did next, but he'll read my blog and know...I'll come clean anyway... I went inside and opened a window. And, no, I didn't turn off the A/C .

But somehow, by sitting inside my home so nice and refrigerated - and perfectly still , I feel like I'm cheating summer and also cheating myself out of the same. I've missed the soft clamour of nature!

I think I'll be keeping my window open...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Who ate the Baby?...I ate the (Dutch) Baby

While visiting Meredith over at Like Merchant Ships, I came across a wonderful recipe for a cobbler that reminded me of a Dutch Baby...only in reverse, and on a stove top.

I'd never heard of these until I visited a bed and breakfast in near Harrisburg, PA. It was so delicious that I had to find a recipe. I make it every now and then for family or guests - it makes a wonderful addition to the breakfast or brunch table. It is puffy and light (not light as in calories), with a slight crunch. The batter is only slightly sweet - so you can add macerated fruit without making the dish overly sweet. Let me know if you try this! Or if you have a different recipe.

Here is the recipe:

Dutch Baby

Ingredients: 1/2 c milk, 1/2 c flour, 1/4 c sugar, 2 large eggs, and 1/2 stick butter. You'll need an oven-proof/stovetop-proof dish to cook this in. I recommend a good cast iron skillet.

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the milk, flour, sugar and eggs. Set aside. Melt butter in a 10-inch iron skillet. Tilt the pan so that the butter coats the sides. Pour batter into the skilet and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until puffed and golden (12-15 min.s). Top with fresh berries and a bit of cinnamon.

I've also tried dropping berries or fruit into the batter and it is delicious that way, too! Thanks for the reminder, Meredith, I think I'll make this for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - throw rugs

Another "Works for Me Wednesday" is here!

My suggestion: Catch the dirt before it gets into your house by using throw rugs! It is great to have a door mat outside your front door, but how about doing double duty by using one inside, too? I've laid down small throw rugs at each door leading to the outside: front door, door to backyard, and door to garage.

I regularly shake these out and sometimes throw them in the washer. It really helps cut down on the dirt tracked into the house! It works for me!

See more suggestions at ROCKS IN MY DRYER.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two reasons for this link

This article is an interesting look at how children are being named today in America. All I have to say about that is - a fool and his money are soon parted. I'll admit to having chosen some unusual names for my children, but they do have family history behind them...and I didn't pay someone else to choose them.

However, there is one paragraph that caught my attention. And this is it: "In Germany, the government still bans invented names and names that don't clearly designate a child's sex. Sweden and Denmark forbid names that officials think might subject a child to ridicule. Swedish authorities have rejected such names as Veranda, Ikea and Metallica."

Now, while I do think it would be nice to have a nation free of little "(fill in silly, over-used name)", can you believe there are countries that we think of as "Free" that exert this level of control over personal decisions?

Any comments on this lack of personal freedome? Any comments on baby name consultants? Any comments on baby names you wish we could ban in the US? :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Containing your laundry mountain

This is an idea that struck me a couple of weeks ago, and it is working beautifully! This is a standard canvas "sweater sorter" that I picked up at Target. Each child has their own "shelf" for clean clothes. As I fold and stack their clothes, I place them on their shelf. Part of their chores is to clear off their laundry shelf each day.

I've been trying to do laundry daily, but have gotten tired of having laundry piled up on my dining room table each day. I love this because it keeps my dining room table clear!

Let me know if you try out this idea and how it works for your family.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Got a TIP?

Pass the Torch is asking homeschoolers to share a great tip (or tips) for new homeschoolers. To join in via a "Mr. Linky" on Friday, June 22nd. Or go by and get a TIP!

Friday, June 8, 2007

8 Things!

Nissa posted an open invitation to be "tagged" for this meme. As I'm not above begging for links and such, I'm taking her up on that. Thanks, Nissa. Go by and check out her lovely blog!

So, here it is - 8 things you may not know about me...

1) When I was 2 I knocked both of my front teeth, not out, but UP into my gums. Remarkably, they did come back down perfectly straight and whole.

2) Despite the above occurance, I never needed braces. Secretly, I wanted braces.

3) During high school, I got my lifesaving certificate and worked as a lifeguard during summer break. I still have my whistle!

4) My college career started and ended as an Art History major; however, in between I changed my major 4 times.

5) After college, I worked in Washington, DC for 3 years. Within sight was: the FBI building, the National Archives, the Capitol Building, and the Mall with all the Smithsonian museums.

6) I turned down a chance to live in both London, England and New Zealand. I really regret that now.

8) One side of my family has ancestors who were in Jamestown. The other side has a deported mafiuso (small time, but "ratted out" some bigger guys).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Instant Summer!

Instant Summer - Just add The Ice Cream Man !

Thanksgiving in June?

Roast turkey in summer? Crazy, right? Yea, maybe...but I wanted to make soup and sandwiches, so I roasted a turkey.

We are trying to be a bit more health-aware around here, so instead of buying deli turkey for sandwiches and canned soup we did it all the old-fashioned way. I roasted the turkey, hubby sliced off the meat, put some in the fridge to enjoy now, froze some for later...and made broth with the carcass! (Is there a better word for that?) I'm telling you all this because I want to share a great "secert" I tried with great results...a brine!

Have you heard of brining a roast? I found the following recipe for brine that can be used for chicken, turkey, or a pork roast. I found it on and it was originally from Chez Panisse. It makes a LOT of brine, so you'll need a big pot in which to submerge the roast. Also, you'll have to plan ahead for soaking time - a day for poultry, 3 days for pork.

Chez Panisse Brine

2 1/2 gal. of cold water
2 c kosher salt
1 c sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 T dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed (I didn't have these)

Prepare the brine and soak: place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt to dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine.

To roast: Poultry - stuff cavity with desired herbs (chicken: onions, lemon wedges, herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary/ turkey: lemons, herbs, onions of desired). Rub the skin with oil to help browning; sprinkle with fresh pepper - salt is not needed due to the salt in the brine. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done (about 1 hr 15 min for a 3-4 lb chicken or 12-15 minutes per pound for a turkey). Boneless pork roast: Sprinkle the roast with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme or tarragon,if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes per pound.

We have a 3 huge rosemary bushes in our yard, so I used rosemary and lemon for our turkey. I only did a large turkey breast, so there was no cavity. Instead, I just shoved lemon quarters in various places around the breast. Same with the rosemary. The turkey is so incredibly tender and juicy! The "chef" who shared the bring on said that it should really help keep the "leftovers" wonderfully fresh and moist.

by the way, the soup was DELICOUS!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why is it always the old guys?

The Belmont Club posted this link to a great news story. You gotta love a couple of "old guys" who know how to take care of business. I especially love the quote from one of the wives who didn't bother to even look up from her book as her husband confronted an unruly airpassenger...

"Bob's been shot at. He's been stabbed. He's taken knives away. He knows how to handle those situations. I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it. I knew how that situation would end. I didn't know how the book would end."

K-12 Meme

Here's a fun meme from "A Gracious Home"

Apple Jacks or Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries
HA! I had "health nut" parents. I only got to eat these at friends' houses!

Band or Choir
Some band - a flag twirler, but then I got too "cool" for my boots. (Or thought I did)

Class Ring

Ducks or Battleships
Yea, I don't know. Neither? I did enjoy the game "Battleship", but that is about as close as it comes.

Earning Money
Lifeguarded for most of highschool

Favorite Teacher
A few - most of my elementary teachers were "favorites". In Jr High - I've no idea. In Sr. High - Mrs. Crommelin (English). She was one of the toughest teachers in school.

Go Back and Do Over
Maybe - I enjoyed high school. If I could do it knowing what I know now and avoid all the "emotional angst".

Home Economics
I flunked out in Jr. High - no kidding. I seriously think my teacher had an axe to grind with me. I was such a "goody two shoes" and tried so hard to get her approval. In Sr. High, I took Interior Design and loved that.

Indoor Recess
what? I guess that would be when we stayed in our class rooms and played games like "Seven Up" and "Four Corners".

Jacks or Jump Rope
Either - I guess I liked jacks better.

Kickball or Dodgeball

I'm sure I had some wonderful one in elementary - I don't remember it. I did buy most of my lunches 'cause mom was a teacher and didn't have time to make lunches. Same for Jr and Sr. - I always bought a lunch.

Number of School Districts
1, but it was large - around 6-8 high schools.

Orange or Apple

Playground Equipment

Quiz Team or Debate

Spent hanging upside down on the monkey bars, swinging on swings, making daisy chains, etc.

Spring Break
I lived at the beach, so we tended to go see family for spring break.

Team Sports

Unfulfilled Dream
Planned to do lots of world traveling and hoped to live for some extended time overseas. I've done some traveling (Sweden, Finland, Greece, Turkey, China) but have yet to live overseas.

My best friend in Jr and Sr high and I still keep up with each other. It helps that we were also roomies in college.

Walk or Bus
Bus only when I had to in Elementary, otherwise I rode with my mom, who taught at my elementary school. Jr. High -had to ride the bus. Sr. High - caught rides or drove myself.

X Country or Basketball
Had a boyfriend who was a basketball player.

Sr. year was really my favorite!

Who had time to sleep? There was too much sneaking out to do at night!

Monday, June 4, 2007

The homeschool framework

Just beginning the homeschool journey or re-thinking your homeshool journey? You might be interested in this from Home Hearts:
"Don't know where to start? Looking for a fresh perspective? Let our guide walk you through the world of homeschooling - Step-By-Step!"

Sunday, June 3, 2007

One thousand and one things for Summer

Over at Home Hearts, she's got a great page entirely devoted to "Sizzling Summer Links". If you are looking for homeschool or activity ideas for your family, grab a glass of lemonade and surf on over.

Check out the rest of her site, as well, for lots of other wonderful resources and suggestions!

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
"Snaps and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails;
And that's what little boys are made of."
from page 108 of The Real Mother Goose

The Dangerous Book for Boys takes this nursery rhyme a mile further! Recently, an online friend shared a delightful review of this book by Gerry Garibaldi at City Journal. After you've read the review, check out this quick video.


Friday, June 1, 2007


Recently, some online friends and I were discussing how we, as Christians, honestly examine our lives in order to discern our spiritual health. There are the obvious "slips" where we make big mistakes from which we can either choose to repent or we can choose to continue in sin. But, how about the times that we, neglectfully, allow ourselves to become "backsliders"? How does this happen? Are their signposts or redflags which might indicate a digression?

Today, the HeadMistress at The Common Room published
Pilgrim's Digress in which she offers some insight to this question from A Pilgrim's Progress.