The buying season

I woke up in the wee hours with a combination of jaw pain and sinus pain. Then I googled chronic jaw pain and scared myself to death with the phrase  “jaw replacement.” So I bought some boots (af). I needed the boots, but it was still rather impulsive bit of shopping therapy for me. I don’t normally do that. I did not get out of my bed in the pre-dawn hours and battle crowds for stuff, but more power to you if you did.

And that most likely concludes my Black Friday shopping, except for these. It’s everything that’s wonderful about my childhood in a donut. It is magic. And it does melt in your mouth.


So that’s it for my Black Friday adventures. However, I will be doing some shopping this weekend. Compass Classroom is having a great sale through Monday, and I’m going to get the Greek and Latin roots vocabulary program.  Peace Hill Press is also having a huge sale on Monday. Hmmm, do I need anything grammary or history-y?

If you’re doing online shopping, consider supporting your favorite blogs and organizations by linking to Amazon through their websites. It costs you nothing and adds a little to their coffers. And maybe link through mine once in a while, if you don’t mind? You’ll make this blogger a very happy camper.

Thanks! And happy shopping.  (P.S. you may now commence playing Christmas music.)


The tradition of Thanksgiving

Although not an official, perennial holiday until the Civil War, from our settling to our founding and beyond, we have known the importance of setting aside a day of thanksgiving to the God from whom so many blessing flow. It’s a good reminder in whom and from whom our blessings flow.




George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Explosions & Pies

I’m still without a computer, away from home and wifi, and I was a bit preoccupied with getting ready for the big day. But I borrowed the kids computer and the parents sluggish wifi, and we’ve got an unbroken chain.

First: we explode the cranberries. The boys love to help with this dish even if they detest actual cranberry sauce. They’ll grow into it. But until they do, more for me!



And pies!



There are two more pies in the refrigerator: a French silk and a basic chocolate pie. I used all butter in my crusts this year, so they’re a little … floppy. Butter is delicious, but very difficult to work with. I also think glass pie plates with almost vertical sides are the devil.

And… that concludes this portion of our blogging. Enjoy your Thanksgiving prep.

Terrible Tuesday: breaking up with the van

Yesterday, we spent the morning driving all over North Texas on a series of errands: library, Hobby Lobby (my girls are trying to cover our house in yarn, like a house coozie), and the thrift store. Then the boys and I dropped off the girls and went to speech and to the best smelling store on the planet, Penzeys Spices. Then we had basketball practice way over there, and then. Then we came home, the girls and I quickly got gussied up, and got in the car to go to a cello concert at UNT. Because of the hideous construction traffic on I-35, we went the back way, but because my GPS has apparently been drinking, we got there just after the concert ended. And we drove home.

I am so done with driving. So we’ll be loading up for the 350 mile trip to my hometown.

Sigh. Links.

For a meatball, a cat will not pee in your shoes. Maybe. But a dog will give you his undying loyalty.

Anyone notice that introverts have gotten really chatty all of the sudden? I find it an interesting development, one I’m not completely comfortable with as an introvert. But I found this letter from an introvert to the world pretty accurate.

You have to admire this man’s dedication to a joke. A really, really bad joke.


What a beautiful love story: couple married 65 years dies 10 minutes apart.

Tips for Black Friday on-line shopping. All the sales, none of the people!

20 quotes from children’s books. This is my favorite from the selection, but they’re all wonderful.




Chemistry of baking

We’re about to get our bake on, starting with the cranberry bread from Cranberry Thanksgiving (af) (The best Thanksgiving book EVER! If you order it today, you’ll get it in time. Go! Do it!)

True cooks are really just scientists working with food. And artists. Artistic scientists! Understanding the science behind your recipes can help ensure your signature recipe is a success every time.

Today is quick bread day for us. We’ll take our cranberry bread with us, and pack some pumpkin muffins for the trip. And eat some fresh out of the oven just because.

Tips for better quick breads:

  • Don’t overmix (because the gluten will start developing and make your batter tough)
  • Don’t let the batter sit after you mix wet and dry ingredients, because the leavening starts to release gases. If the batter sits too long, the center of your bread might fall. (Oh! So that’s why that happens! Noted.) For more on leavening science in baking, this is a fascinating read. (And I’ve outed myself as a nerd.)
  • Serve a day or two after making for the best flavor and easier slicing. Except for that one just out of the over piece that’s necessary for… testing.

More tips for quick-bread success, plus trouble-shooting tips for when it all goes wrong.

Tomorrow we drive to my hometown, and Wednesday is the day of pies. Pies! Glorious pies! Is there anything better? There is not. There is, however, an art (and science!) to making pie, starting with the pie crust.

I know pie crusts intimidates a lot of people, so they understandably, if tragically, revert to the the *shudder* store bought frozen/refrigerated version. But pie crust is pretty simple if you remember to 1) not overwork it and 2) don’t pay too much attention to how “pretty” it is. (Okay, there are other tips, like working with cold ingredients and chilling your dough. But those are the big two.) You’ll get better with practice, but I’d rather eat yummy and ugly crusts over than pretty and freezer-burned any day of the week and twice on Thanksgiving. As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of science involved in the perfect pie crust (plus a recipe for the perfect crust) and using vodka instead of water might result in the best pie crust ever!

More scientific tips for making the perfect pie.

While the girls and I are making pies, the boys are handling the exploding part of Thanksgiving: the cranberry sauce. Honestly, after making homemade sauce, I don’t understand why you’d ever revert to the canned stuff. It’s super easy, delicious, and you get to explode food! What’s not to love? Plus, it turns out cranberries are helpful in preventing E. coli infections. Go, cranberries!

Although we won’t be having cookies for Thanksgiving (because Pies), we are entering the cookie season. And there’s a science to that, too!

Science is the process by which we learn about the world and the laws that govern it through experimentation and observation. I applaud this woman’s dedication to science and chocolate chip cookies as she endeavored to discover the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  She wrote a four part series on the perfect chocolate chip cookie. (Part three covers things like gluten free and sugar free cookies.) Wow. She’s my hero.


 TED is the go-to source for all sorts on interesting and useful things. Here’s an explanation of the chemical reaction of what happens when your put your cookie dough into the oven, and what temperature that oven should be for the perfect cookie.

Finally, a scientific look at benefits (or lack thereof) of brining your bird, which I realize may be stepping on toes. People are serious about their turkey preparation method. Here’s another experiment of dry brining vs. wet brining.

Happy baking! May all your experiments be enlightening. And yummy.

Working on the day of rest

I keep trying to pare down what I have to do on Sundays so that I can have an actual day of rest. I have most of a day of rest, but thus far, I haven’t figured out how to move the grocery shopping to a different day. The problem is my Saturdays are overloaded, otherwise I could do it then. But if I shift stuff from Saturday to another day, that overloads the new day. It’s passing the buck, schedule style.

But I do need to figure this out, because God knew whereof he spoke when he told us to have a day of rest. 

And because I need a day of rest, this is all you get for the blogging, because after I go to the store, I am taking a nap!


Do you observe a day of rest? What would you need to do to make that happen in you life?


A really good day

I’m generally not a fan of “National X day” (except national donut/chocolate/or coffee day), but today is National Adoption Day, which is a fantastic use of a otherwise pointless habit. If you mark it in no other way, read this wonderful article by  Joleigh Little. Joleigh once wrangled my young and foolish self as an intern and now is wrangling (and being wrangled by) the amazing Clara.

A taste:

That doesn’t mean I love the poverty, the drug or alcohol abuse, the death or the other horrible circumstances that make adoption necessary. But I sure as holy horse radish love the solution! I love that there IS a solution and I love that it’s a good solution.

Read the whole thing.

national adoption month

(True story, when I was a 19 year old intern, I thought she was a much older and wiser woman. She’s maybe four years older than me. And I have stories that call into question the “wiser” adjective as well.)

Fine Arts Friday: Thanksgiving Art

Despite the fact that Christmas trees and decorations are up all over North Texas, I continue to cling to the crazy idea that Thanksgiving should come and go before we deck the halls and falalalala.  Ahem.

Some Thanksgiving art, folk songs, and hymns to enhance your holiday.

First the art. (Bonus art: some of the classic Saturday Evening Post Thanksgiving covers.)

"The First Thanksgiving cph.3g04961" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g04961.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“The First Thanksgiving cph.3g04961″ by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g04961.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

And folksongs. (Did you know this was a Thanksgiving song? Some people put “Christmas” instead of Thanksgiving. Those people hate pie.)

And a bunch of Thanksgiving hymns.

Enjoy your thankfulness!

What we do on Thursday

I’m still without my laptop, but I have my phone and the inconvenient computer in the family room. So today, you see what we do on Thursday. (Yes, it looks like a simple, quick blog post. But with this hand-crank computer, it took an hour to get the photos resized and uploaded, in which time I could have written a real post. The irony isn’t lost on me.)

Thursday, the oldest child has biology at a university model school about 25 minutes from our house. It’s too far to drop her off, and I can’t afford to lose a whole morning schooling, so while she gets sciency, we head to the library to do our work.

Sprite has the sweetest set-up. The library has a teen room that is reserved seating for students in 6th through 12th grades only. They have the best chairs and couches in the joint; I’m jealous.

sprite library

The boys and I do have a nice, sunny spot to do their work. And if they get done in time *ahem*, they can go watch the 3-D printer in action. Except the library just moved it, so we’ll have to hunt it down. Should they ever have time. *ahem* (Yes, I know they need haircuts.)

boys library

My seat is the most dangerous: a perfect view of the books and other items for sale. Today I found Molly’s Pilgrim (af), a book I looked for last year during our American History studies. But it’s lovely twist on the traditional Thanksgiving stories, so I got it. Fifty cents! It’s a bargain!

library view

This is what Jack does on Thursday. This is what Jack does every day. Satchmo wrote him a thank you note for his grammar lesson: “Thank you for being lazy.” He’s very good at it.

Jack Lazy


Technical difficulities

I am currently without a laptop because my case broke, and we’re sending it in for a replacement. That makes blogging (and schooling, bill paying, etc) difficult. So you get what you get.

You get good doggies! I hate those stupid elves.

good doggies

You also get one smart chick, er turkey.  I want someone to try this at a bar when some guy won’t leave you alone. Make sure you video it! (You have to watch the whole thing. Trust me.)


Found at Twenty-Two Words.

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