Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Explanation and Some How-To Answers

Living room window, just to have a picture for this post! :-) And it's got some fall spirit to it, so it works, right?

Okay, I feel silly now. I really didn't want to draw much attention to the deleted post thing, but now that I know a few of you saw that post, and you also know that there was going to be a part two, I'm feeling sort of sheepish. You are probably wondering why in the world I deleted it. Simply, because it was written in a way that I'm trying to avoid communicating on my blog. It was close to the line of being okay, I must admit, but I just didn't feel comfortable with it.

Maybe I'm making too much of this, but to me it felt to close to crossing into what would be almost an editorial commentary. Not a polemic, but just too much of an opinion post. I've written a lot of that kind of thing over the years for newsletters and support groups and as speaking notes for women's groups, but this blog has a different purpose, and I'm trying very hard to stay firmly within the boundaries I've set for myself.

This is, first and foremost, a simple, family blog. It was started as a way to communicate with Mike and the kids a bit more creatively than I can in an email or a phone call. So, my fundamental motivation for doing the blog is my family, including my extended family, and also real life friends who didn't live near us. That's not to say that people who find their way here are not very welcome. Indeed you are. And I hope that some of what I share is encouraging to you.

I enjoy posting my thoughts on learning, homemaking, books and reading, cooking, routines, pace of living, raising kids, journaling, etc. (things that can be of general interest to women and homeschoolers), because they are things I think about all the time. In fact, they're the things I've been thinking about, more than anything else, for years (decades, actually).

I honestly think my family lived at a different pace than much of the rest of the world. We did our own thing and went our own way, and it was a good path for us. I'm glad I can share some of that with those who might run across this blog, and that's the only reason that I haven't made it private.

I'm not looking to promote myself or my ideas (in fact, sometimes I want to run and hide; and sometimes I just can't force myself to post some of my more unorthodox thoughts about life and learning because I'm afraid someone will feel dismayed by them). But if someone visits this blog, reads my posts, is inclined to a similar lifestyle as ours, and is therefore encouraged by what I say, that's great.

This morning's post was about busyness and the importance of slow time. Pace of life. This is definitely something I want to post about, but I feel better coming at it from the perspective of me writing about my family. Light and easy. Simply sharing what we found as a very nice way to live our lives. I'm not trying to keep a blog that is provocative or confronting or strong-worded. I don't have any desire to do that. But I don't mind saying things that are countercultural (indeed, much of what I have to say about learning and daily life is not exactly mainstream).

I also blog for posterity. :-) If I were to put all of my posts together in a notebook, it should reflect the life and times of my family, including some of the guiding philosophy for what made our home the way it was. How we live, and how we lived. That's a big part of blogging for me. Keeping a sort of history, and posting about our lives-- photos of home and family, small things, mundane, quotidian, silly, shallow, arcane, and some more philosophical stuff as it strikes-- is the only thing that's going to keep me motivated to keep doing this blog.

It's for my family first (including my whole, big extended family), and that makes it a fun thing for me to do. But I'm glad that others of you have found what I write to be encouraging, too. That's very nice.

So, just to move along, I'll probably go ahead and put that post back up tonight or tomorrow. Then I'll post part two early this next week. Sorry to draw unnecessary attention to this, and I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say in this explanation! Thanks.

Now, down to business! I've had a few requests and questions lately, at least two or three of them from Gail. So here you go, Gail, and anyone else who asked:

1. How to make scented pine cones.
2. Our recipe for Russian Tea.
3. Exactly how to plant bulbs for forcing blooms.
4. The name of the paint color on my kitchen cabinets.


There are many ways to do this, and a quick google search will get you lots of ideas. We've simply dropped cinnamon oil into the cones in the past, but the essential oil is caustic in nature, and crafters do not recommend this. One suggestion, and this is a quick and easy way to do this, is to put the cinnamon oil (or clove oil or whatever), in a spray bottle with some water (a ratio of 1 part oil to 3 parts water, I think). Lay the cones on newspaper, or take outside. Coat the entire cone with spray, place all of your cones in a plastic bag, and tie it shut for at least 24 hours. This is my way. Do look at the link for other ideas. I haven't tried some of the ideas there (because I'm lazy and do things the easiest way), but there are all sorts of scents you can mix and add to make the cones smell wonderful. Maybe I'll have to try something new myself!


My mom made this tea and it's passed down as a traditional fall hot drink. Honestly, I rarely drink Russian Tea anymore, but I do enjoy a cup now and then. It's not exactly a healthy thing to have on a daily basis, even though there is some Vitamin C in the tang and lemon mix. But, as my son Aaron pointed out recently, tradition sometimes must prevail. So, there's no changing this-- either the recipe or the tradition-- and I must admit that it really does taste comforting in the way of long routines and traditions. The tea has a pleasant taste, too. Most Russian tea recipes contain sugar. We omit it entirely, and the tea is still too sweet for me unless I mix it with extra water. Here's how we make it: 1 c. instant tea in a jar (hot kind), 2 c. tang, 6.2 oz lemonade mix (I can't find the recipe card where I wrote down what that measures out to in cups), 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. cloves. Mix all thoroughly. Store in airtight container. (2 t. tea mix to 8 oz. water per serving, or according to desired taste and strength.)


I'm sure there's information online about this, too, but the guides we've used had us do it this way: The bulbs should be planted about six inches deep. Cover with potting soil and water thoroughly. Place pots in a cold, shady spot-- even a refrigerator (temperature must stay in about a 35-50 degree range). Tulips require 12 to 14 weeks of cold. Narcissus, 10 to 12. Hyacinths and crocus, 6 to 8. When this time is up, place the pots in a bright, but cool (45 to 60 degrees) location indoors. Avoid putting them in direct sunlight. Water them well. When some green growth appears, move the pots to a sunny location (still cool, if possible). When they begin to bud and show some color, put the pots where you can enjoy them. Blooms will last longer away from the sun.


Guess what? I mixed it myself. When we set out to paint the cabinets, I bought a green paint I thought would work, but it was too deep. So I tried another one, but it was wrong altogether. So, I took the first paint I bought and mixed it with a creamy-white color (and another color or two we had on hand) until I had the shade I wanted. I have some chipped spots on the cupboards I need to cover up, so I need to try to figure out how to create this color again. If I succeed, I shall tell you what I did and what colors I used. The thing is, when I painted the kitchen, I used regular paint, but just after that (because of it, actually), I switched to using non-toxic, low or no-VOC paints (preferably no-VOC). This kind of paint is now everywhere. A favorite brand is YOLO Colorhouse (love it!), but their color range is small, and I could no way make a green like the one on my cabinets with their paints.