Monday, August 31, 2015

Carol's 10 Frugal Tips

Carol's 10 Frugal Tips
If my 1930s character, Carol, of my stories Pocketful of Pinecones and sequel Lessons of Blackberry Inn, were to make a list of frugal tips - this might be some of her advice.

antique picnic basket
 I leave it to my readers to make personal application for this century. (Oh, I was sure to remind Carol to give away very little story-plot - for those who haven't yet picked up Lessons at Blackberry Inn for it is from Blackberry Inn that she comes to us today.)

Pack a Lunch
I enjoyed my date with Micheal. He insisted, in his gentlemanly way, of driving to Bridgeton on Saturday, just the two of us. The day before, when she heard that her dad and I were having a picnic - my little Emily told me that she wanted to have a picnic, too, with her friend Sarah, so we worked side-by-side to prepare food for our baskets.

As Michael and I set out by car I felt an unexpected pang of apprehension at leaving the children so far behind. But I reminded myself, the next instant, that they would be enjoying their own special day with the pastor's children. I've heard it said of a mother:

"She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along. "*1

I knew of a peaceful spot just a few blocks from the shops on Main Street, and choose that place for Michael and I to share lunch, between our shopping errands.

Amish Farmland
The view from the end of our road. Do the clouds look sleepy?
Group Errands 

Appleton, where we live, is an hour's back-roads-drive by car to the city of Bridgeton. We needn't frequent the shops in the city. But when we decide it is time to shop for what we cannot find in the village, we group our errands. How did we end up in Appleton? Jobs are hard to come by in the city. Thus we found ourselves living back near family. I was skeptical about moving back to my home town. In the country one is troubled by stubborn weeds, muddy roads, and a backwardness in some of one's neighbors. But there are moments when nature fills one's senses with unbelievable loveliness. And watching the children's energetic games, the calling, running, and climbing in the apple orchard is helping me to accept our life here.

Pay Cash
Because it was just the two of us in Bridgeton that Saturday we accomplished lots of stops. Lastly, we stepped into the book shop. Even though it was a purchase with another year of home education in mind, I decided we should hide away a couple books for the children for Christmas. Michael knew it would flatten his wallet. But we never buy on credit. Buying with cash we spend carefully and spend less. I wasn't to worry about his wallet, as he said he had stuffed some dollars under the mattress.

A page from Famous Paintings that Carol displayed for the children.
Use a Library
An ancient saying goes, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." While I miss walking to the public library in Bridgeton I am very happy to avail myself of our good friend (and the children's adopted grandmother) Emma's expansive library - and my brother Bob's shelf of books - apart from our own collection.

"Make do" is what we did in the Depression years. Emma's copy of Famous Paintings - Selected from the World's Great Galleries and Reproduced in Colour, with descriptive notes by G. K. Chesterton, is very welcome. To follow Miss Charlotte Mason's plan exactly, would be to display at least six of one artist's work during one semester. If I could make arrangements for for a collection of pictures to come to me from various museums, mostly likely, our tight budget would only allow for postcard-size black and whites - so I am content with Famous Paintings.

vegetable soup
My pot of soup shown here is plain vegan summer vegetable.
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
From Blackberry Inn we walk to the village, easily. Emma takes her bicycle. On a walk to the butcher I bought a large soup bone. This less-expensive piece brought me a palm of pennies and nickles for my change purse. My plan was to "stretch" a meal with vegetables from the garden. Though the amount of beef in the soup would be minimal, I knew that the broth from the bones was good for us. A visitor to Blackberry Inn gave me an unexpected compliment. "This is the most wholesome nourishment I've eaten all week," he praised.

After several "stretched" meals I had saved up enough change to purchase a skein of red wool at the general store. With it I was able to knit a new pair of mittens for Emily and Donald. Making good use of the remainder of the wool I knit a small pair for a little boy who is needy. Which brings me to another tip.

maple leaf patchwork quilt

Use it Up

In the 1930s - reminiscent of grandmother's previous century, scraps of fabric cut away from dress-making were never thrown away. Scraps were used for quilting. And girls made doll quilts out of scraps cut away from their mothers' quilting-making. I haven't attempted quilting yet with Emily. But without giving away too much of the story of Lessons at Blackberry Inn, I'll tell you that Dora, my sweet-mannered sister-in-law, was eager to shows us how to make fabric yo-yos from pieces in her scrap-bag. Afterward, Emily and I made more yo-yos, enough to for a Christmas gift-pillow for someone we esteem.

With our large oak ice-box and deliveries from the ice-man, I am able to cook double and keep the second meal cold for the next day (or day after.) Cooking double uses up whatever is abundantly in-season. It also frees up my time the following day for a peaceful solitary walk, or an outing with the children. Keeping note of what gets pushed to the back of the icebox is a way to have less "food waste." I somehow manage to add leftover portions to a savory pot pie or a casserole.

In order to "use up" our bumper crop of tomatoes in the garden I spent some hot hours with Emma canning tomatoes to put by.
The little one has Emily's dough rolling, and is ready for filling.
My brother Bob brings us milk from the diary farm regularly, with his sly, "I just happened to be out this way." The very day of bottling our tomatoes, basking in the happiness of our completed efforts, my brother brings us a bushel from his bumper crop. Oh my, Emma and I had another day's work cut out for us in a steamy kitchen. But we are grateful for Bob's offerings. And the hours of cooking and canning with Emma has a way of building our friendship. We seem to speak more freely when our hands are busy.

To show our gratitude, Michael, and our son Donald, lend their helping hands to Bob on Saturdays. I can't tell you who chopped a winter's supply of wood in return for meals eaten at Blackberry Inn. But you'll discover this when you read the story. With the autumn chill in the air I was relieved to finally see a stack. Wintertime waits for no man. My guess is that wood heat will be around for a long time out here. Every winter storm brings at least one downed-tree at the wood's edge that, when cut and cleared, is good for nothing better than a free warm fire. Coal costs.

rumeford fireplace
The pair of argyle socks I knit Michael were already worn at the heel. I commented that it's a wonder how he can fray socks so quickly. He cast me a quizzical glance which momentarily changed to a smile when he replied in his defense, "It must be one of my hidden talents." I should have listened to the wise advice of my mother. "Knit a strand of hair from your head into the toe of your sock [or heel in Michael's case] and you'll mend less often." Perhaps there should be rhyme about a stitch-in-time that includes a strand of one's hair. In the country, however, we are used to keeping things until they are beyond repair. Clothes wear out until they are not even decent for cleaning a horse stall. Such clothes are cut up for patching.

Do Without
Michael had been harboring romantic notions of country life - city born and breed as he is - for a long time without me knowing it. I am well aware of the strong backs needed of country-folk and also how folk have to "wait-it-out" and "do-without" until spring's first asparagus sprouts are spied and the chickens start laying again.There are only so many recipes to fall back on, for cabbage and potatoes - the lion's share of what's left in the root cellar. Yet, the strawberries preserves, blackberry jam, and apple butter we women put by, do keep breakfast and tea-time palatable and varied, at least.

It's also by late winter, that I am tired of wearing the same worn-out cardigan. I wouldn't dare wear the one reserved for Sunday-best. It is then that I start dreaming about what color yarn I'd like to purchase to start knitting a new one. But, with the coming of a busy summer in the garden, coupled with the needs of fast growing children - who grow out of their cloths with a blink-of-an-eye  - a cardigan for myself can get lost in the shuffle. My to-do list is always longer than my arms can reach. The rose colored cardigan I knit Emily turned out to my liking. I surprised myself with how pretty it is, if it's okay to boast a bit.

Share Hand-me-Downs
Frugal people buy used. And they know the value of a hand-me-down. Michael startled me by digging up the copiously cabled pull-over I knit him in the earliest days of our marriage, to impulsively hand it down (without his left hand knowing what his right hand was doing) to a needy new friend. My sentimental attachment to it dissolved, however, and my wrinkled brow softened when I saw how well it was received by its over-joyed recipient. What Michael had worn to rake leaves, this man is wearing for Sunday-best.

Emma, also in the spirit of giving, parted with a size-2 hunter green sweater she had knit many years ago and kept wrapped in tissue paper in an attic trunk. It was never worn by the child she knit it for - as sadly, this baby only lived to one year-of-age.

What's the difference between a penny-pincher and a thrifty homemaker? The thrifty are not stingy. They consider the lilies and how they grow. Placing her trust in God's provision, the thrifty homemaker can take joy in giving as well as receiving. One by one, she casts her cares, money worries, and list of anxieties, to her Heavenly Father. Therefore, she is willing to live with less and/or economize, to be God's instrument in adding to the happiness and well-being of another. -Your story-friend Carol

End Notes
*1 Quote by Margaret Culkin Banning. While browsing a book shelved at a B&B I jotted this quote down on a scrap of paper I retrieved from the recesses of my pocket-book because I felt a kindred spark alight. Here, someone was describing, in simple terms, a feeling that matched my own experience - every time I would travel by airplane to a speaking engagement, leaving my children behind.

For your convenience I link Lessons of Blackberry Inn directly to Amazon. It is also described on this blog in "Karen's Books."

The pencil drawings are by my son Nigel Andreola and are illustrations in Blackberry Inn - though seen here with watermarks.

In the spirit of hand-me-down the photographs in today's post are re-used from a sundry of previous posts.

Rather than the tangled mess of knitting (with three colors) that you see above, to see the finished vest I knit for a grandson click here.

Here is my original post on making fabric yo-yos.

Here is a post with an introduction to Picture Study with the Gentle Art of Learning.

Writing Carol's 10 frugal tips was fun. If you read between the lines there are actually more than 10 here. I hope the advice is of some benefit to you. So nice to have your visit. Write anytime,
Karen Andreola

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Born in a Story Garden

Born in a Story Garden 
Our daughter Sophia had her baby. She named her Eloise Victoria. Born 6 lb. 9 oz. she is a tiny baby still - a month later. (I announce it here for those who missed reading the comments added to the previous post.)

Eloise Victoria  - Great Grandma knitted the pink blanket

Baby Dear
Baby Dear
Victoria, her middle name, marks the victory of her birth - after a difficult pregnancy and high risk delivery. The name Eloise is in memory of illustrator, Eloise Wilkin, whose storybook pictures influenced Sophia's ideals more than I'd ever stopped to consider. I am seeing the fruit of this influence now. How - when a little girl - she collected the images of the pages I read aloud to her 30 years ago.

Into her imagination and she stored them - held them there for safe-keeping - dreams for her adult life - like a carefully stitched patchwork quilt is held in anticipation in a trousseau.

Sophia even decorates her house like the rooms pictured in Eloise Wilkin's illustrations.

The simplest of books can influence our lives with profundity. A picture book, for instance, has this power because it invites us to look closely at a portion of life. Simple it may be, yet it is never without an opinion.

Eloise Wilkin
Baby Dear - feeding time
Could Eloise Wilkin have foreseen that what  she drew in the 1960s would become a boost of needed encouragement to mothers half a century later - mothers of this multiple-screen age? This encouragement is especially appreciated for some of us who are having to re-invent motherhood - to form a picture of its tenderness and daily-patient-care in our minds. We welcome images of a gentle, cheerful and relational mothering.
Eloise Wilkin
Baby Dear - walking with our babies
Some of us are having to re-invent childhood, too. Those images of an old-fashioned childhood - when children were free to be playful, carefree children - and not be introduced to the adult world so soon. These happy childhood images can still be had through old books. They seem absent in the major media, unavailable in modern society - or in neighborhoods where, during the day, no one is at home.

Baby Dear - singing to our babies

And, too, we crave reinforcement toward upholding the value of homemaking. Therefore, what was drawn as a mirror of home-life and childhood in the 1960s is being tapped into by today's busy mothers who secretly desire a career at home. If you are looking for a picture book with a worldview that celebrates the traditional family Baby Dear will be a welcome resource. It is included in the Golden Book collection, Eloise Wilkin StoriesWe Help Mommy can be found in the collection also.

little girl's dress in the 1960s
Yours Truly, 1963
A Resemblance 
we help mommy
When my mother handed me an old Kodak slide taken in my girlhood, I couldn't help notice how my outfit resembles those worn on the pages of Eloise Wilkin's We Help Mommy - puffed sleeves and all. At first I thought: What an uncanny coincidence.  On second thought I realized: Why should there be anything strange about it? I am a child of the 1960s and this photo is proof that little girls really did dress in a white blouse and red skirt-jumper for playtime - in the days when Eloise Wilkin drew her pictures.

Books That Pamper my Opinions
As stories influences our lives, the flip-side is also true. An author's lifestyle often finds its way into her writing. Diaries, in particular, disclose what the writer is moved to jot down.
garden diary with water colors

The same week my daughter emailed me some new photographs of her tiny Eloise I had The Painted Garden  open at my summer leisure. It is the diary of the gardener Mary Woodin.

In this book I can walk down Mary Woodin's garden path. Among her brief notes of sowing and harvest, blooms and fruits, birds and butterflies, are selections she uncovered from other gardener's diaries - mostly those from the 19th century. I am amazed at how skillfully she uses her watercolor brush to beautifully portray what is alive and growing in her garden. If you are looking for nature diary inspiration you will find it here.

flowers in water color

With my book open to the month of August I see a quote from Mrs. C. W. Earle's  Pot Pourri From A Surrey Garden, 1887.

"Of all the months in the year this is the one in which the keenest amateur can best afford to leave home, and if I do not go away, it is the one I can best spare to my gardener for his holiday."

Immediately following comes a sweet surprise. Mary Woodin writes:

A bit of a lull in the garden - an opportune time to give birth! Reuben Charles entered the world safely in the midday heat. He has quickly become accustomed to being my garden companion - his pram [baby carriage] neatly balancing my drawing board, sketching stool, and the jam-jars for water. Parked under a tree he happily applies himself to the subtleties of cedar, oak, or ash. Or sleeps.

I love babies, summer sunshine, and flowers. I love books and the snapshots they give us. I don't mind reading books by those who have a different worldview than I have. I can find them interesting.
I can't help, however, to prefer books that pamper by own opinions. Have you found this to be true of yourself, too?

Thank you
For you convenience I linked to Amazon: Eloise Wilkin Stories and also The Painted Garden.

Recently, Dean headed out for the post office with his arms full of boxes. Therefore, I want to give you an extra thank-you here. To tell you that I very much appreciate your purchases of Parents' Review, the Lavender Strawberry Kit and the Mother Culture CD this summer. I hope each brings its own form of uplifting sparkle to you..

This month, at a blog friend's prompting, I hosted a luncheon in my keeping room for some home teaching mothers. I fussed over the preparations for a week beforehand with Dean's help, even buying two new plates to add to my Butterfly Garden set. When the day came, sitting at the table, chatting in the company of kindred spirits, it ended up to be a mini vacation for me - without leaving home. I hope we can do it again, Ladies.

I talked about children's chores in the post: We Help Mommy.

Rosey-cheeked and Resourceful is a blog article that explores the sadly missing phenomenon of safe neighborhood-play. In the days of neighborhood play attention deficit was at an all time low.

Thanks for letting me share this bundle of news, memories, books and articles with you.

Karen Andreola

Post Script
Oh. I've been meaning to tell you. Between posts, from time to time, I give articles to The Old Schoolhouse magazine to help spread abroad the good news of Miss Charlotte Mason's practical philosophy. Here are two links to TOS that relate to today's subjects.

A Nature Notebook 

The Power of a Picture Book

Thursday, July 30, 2015

High School Chemistry, A History Resource, too.

I'm starting with a chat. Scroll, if you wish to immediately get to the product reviews.

covered bridge in Pennsylvania

Often, when we are driving together, "the back-way" to avoid Lancaster tourist traffic and road construction on the main roads, I'll quip to the Man-of-the-House, "Oh, can you pull over here? I'd like a photograph." He does. Then I lean out the window to point-'n-shoot." This time it was a covered bridge. One of our married daughters used to live down the road just through it.

covered bridge in Pennsylvania

In spring the Man-of-the-House drove me to my favorite nursery- Ken's on Old Philadelphia Pike.
We bought two pots of cilantro. Last year's new plantings were mysteriously eaten. I also picked out two handfuls of zinnia. The cilantro and red zinnia, marigolds were planted around the patio near the watermelon phlox. I like how these flowers stand up to the mid-day sun.

I learned something new about our wild rabbits (all 4 of them). It is apparent what their main diet is. We watch them feed on the clover flowers and plantains in our lawn, regularly. But I've surmised that they secretly find cilantro a delicacy. I blame them for nibbling my new plants as soon as they went into the ground - the second year in a row! Not a leaf is left for the cook's use. What brought on my suspicion? The usual caterpillar evidence is absent, firstly.

Our oregano around the back patio

And secondly, the rabbits come to the patio at breakfast time, like clockwork. From the kitchen French doors, I spied one rabbit tasting the oregano. Only a taste, mind you. Then it moved on.

"We have a new visitor," the Man-of-the-House said pointing through the French doors. A curious little bunny was, at that moment, nosing the thyme. Just a sniff. Off it hopped to forage elsewhere.

I cannot see the cilantro through the French doors, nor have I caught any rabbit in the act of eating it. However wise I consider myself to be to their herbal preference, I don't know what to do next year. I like cilantro as much as they do. Can't they leave me just a little?  This is what comes of no longer having cats around the place.

Oh, well.

I agree with a long-distance gardening friend who kindly sent me her hollyhock seed through the mail - seeds I sowed last autumn. She is a conscientious, attentive teacher and in her opinion it is perfectly fine to retreat outdoors, throw our cares (and seeds) to the wind, and be refreshed by flowers - yours or another gardener's - during off hours.

The fairest flower soonest fades. Traditional Saying

Flowers, like good fiction are a lovely momentary escape. They help relieve our minds of the gruesome and distressing national news, for instance. I need flowers. This week, on the way to the doctor's office I paused to gaze on the red roses blooming there. Their beauty helped steady my nerves. I breathed in their scent and marveled at their indescribable pink-red-orange color. This year my hollyhocks have big healthy leaves but are flowerless. They are supposed to be flowerless. I was warned that they are a biannual bloom and look forward to their flowering next year.

hollyhocks in their first year
Hollyhocks on the south side of the house - gaining sun for next summer's bloom.

After a peaceful escape with flowers you might be prepared to reel in your thoughts again. I know some of you have been making big decisions for the school year. These two resources have our vote. I linked each to Amazon.

"Time Travelers" - history resource on CD 
Review by Karen Andreola

It was 2012. I was walking the isles of a homeschool conference when I first laid eyes on a display of projects from Time Travelers. I stopped abruptly. I had to get a closer look. “Ooo,” I thought, “My [now adult] children would have greatly enjoyed going on these hands-on history adventures - had they been available. So would I.”

Time Travelers Lap Book

It’s on the tip of my tongue to say, “These kits are cute” - however, a more telling word is impressive. Amy Pak's Time Travelers supply 50 carefully thought-out activities to choose from. The masters, for constructing them, are expertly rendered. A photo gallery shows you all the finished pieces. Read the day’s lesson (1 of 25) then choose a project to work on over the next couple of days.

time line notebook

The text, with its reading and project schedule, can be used as a backbone to whatever living books you choose for narration.

Students study the people, major events, and lifestyle of the times. This includes the influence of Christians. A resource list points you to living books, music of the period, and relevant films to watch.

Time Travelers Lap Book

You are supplied time-line figures, a map or two, a board game to construct, multiple Lap Book™ projects.

Created for a range of ages, some projects require composition, others neat penmanship only. The student might write headline news onto a life-like newspaper printout. Girls can sew authentic crafts such as a yo-yo quilt or a penny rug in the Great Depression. Boys construct a model suspension bridge and a Wright Brother’s Flyer.

 In Colonial Life girls can stitch an alphabet sampler, lavender sachet, or stencil a Shaker box, while boys make a punched tin lantern, candle holder – and more. Printout pages can be kept in a three-ring binder.

Time Travelers History Study
Time Travelers makes me want to go back and do homeschool history over again. Suitable for upper elementary to junior high but younger siblings can take part.

And high school ages will appreciate the activities in “America in WW II.” It would lend itself to fabulous co-op projects.

It is the experienced homeschool or private school teacher who is likely to come up with innovative material for supporting the love of learning. She has the creative freedom to do so. Government schools are tragically constrained by standardization as they stay inside the “core.” It is with a thankful heart that a home teacher exercises her choice of materials.

Time Travelers History Study

Time Travelers on my chair rail. The silhouette is of my grandson. 

Review by homeschool dad Dean Andreola
"Chemistry 101" on 4 DVDs 

It was the 1970s. My high school chemistry teacher was giving his first lecture of the school year. While his chalk scribbled symbols on the blackboard, he mumbled. As soon as he turned to face the class I raised my hand.  He nodded. I approached his desk and politely handed in my textbook.  I left the classroom, walked down the long empty hall and into the guidance office. There , with a click of my ballpoint pen, I calmly signed up for 4 English electives.  “You can’t do this,” the counselor cried.

I stood my ground. I had long hair, a draft card for the Vietnam War in my wallet and said, “Sure I can. It's either English or I drop out. Anything but chemistry.”  English it was.  If Wes Olson had been my chemistry teacher, the outcome of my life might have been entirely different.  Hmm . . . Doctor Andreola . . . has a nice ring to it.

With the vitality Mr. Olson packs into this DVD course you won’t believe its chemistry!  Even my wife sat watching what she called “the next episode.” He makes some bold claims right from the start:

1. You can learn a great deal about chemistry without knowing the complicated math.

2. You can become good friends with the periodic table; understand what it means, how to read it, and how to explain it to somebody else.

How does he pull this off? Wes Olson obviously has a love of knowledge – in particularly, chemistry. And he takes care that your students find it interesting too. He begins with compelling dramas of the men behind the science. Students may be surprised to discover that some of the fathers of modern chemistry were also men wit faith in God.  Who were they? What did they discover?  Why was it important?  The Christian faith of these men is mentioned matter-of-fact, without any preaching.

These narratives are seasoned with story, light humor, colorful visuals, different locations, and recreations of original experiments.  Students are drawn into a private world that once only yielded up its secrets to a privileged few. What follows are clear and approachable introductions to the Periodic Table, quantum mechanics, neutrons, compounds and molecules, balancing equations, the elements and more. It concludes with a glimpse into the future of chemistry.

Homeschool dad Mr. Olson respects his viewer’s intelligence. He concentrates on the quality of the material, without resorting to gooney slapstick or monotonous repetition. He moves along holding viewers’ attention, sometimes with experiments to drive the message home. Students can view the 4 DVD’s as a supplementary or introductory elective, or opt for the full Course Accreditation Program for an entire year’s worth of science credits. Simply print out the program outline and the 34 page illustrated student Guidebook, and follow the assignments.

Around the time my adult son Nigel and I were viewing this course, a church friend sat at our dinner table. He was in the middle of taking a college level chemistry course given by the local hospital as necessary credit for becoming a respiratory technician. We asked him about his course and mentioned the inside scoop of what we were learning. But we had nothing in common to talk about. He said, “I'm learning none of those things.” His course amounted to dry memorization, nothing more. Since he is smart and good at the tricks of memorizing he would ace the course but he admitted that there was really nothing at all interesting about it. Too bad. By strong contrast Chemistry 101 - An Overview of God's Chemical World is a blast.

Eating peaches.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola