Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cold weather language... Arctic has two C's!!!!!

Yes, this is solely a little blip about something that drives me berserk :) This super-cold weather which is "sweeping our country" has inspired many news stories which utilize the word "Arctic."  Many many news casters pronounce that word like art-ic. I don't know why that bugs me so much, maybe because some people even spell it that way (the horror!)

Ahhh, so please pronounce both C's, at least around me! Thank you!!

PS I know this is crazy petty and this post is a teeny bit tongue in cheek...but really people... ;)

Another recipe :) For dyed hair haha :)

Here's a non-traditional recipe :) My oldest likes to dye the underside of her hair red--and she has quite darkish light brown hair (does that make sense?)  Through trial and error we have discovered what works for her hair.  She dyes it with Kool Aid and it stays for a LONG time!

Our hairdresser has said that it is not bad for her hair either (and it's very inexpensive!)

So how do we do it?  We mix 10 (yup! ten!) packages of cherry koolaid (the little paper envelope packages, with no sugar in them) with about 2 cups of water and heat it to boiling.  Then we let it cool down to touchable temp. 

We pour it into a glass bowl and she dips the amount of hair that she wants dyed into the bowl...and stays there for 30 minutes or so! (She usually lays with her head over the bowl and reads a book while waiting!)  After 30 minutes we run cold water over it in the sink till it runs mostly clear and then she takes a cool shower (brrr).  After that, all of her showers are usual, with shampoo and conditioner, she doesn't have to baby it.

The color stays dark nicely for quite a long time (months!) -- I will warn you, though, that it turns her pillowcase pink, even months after dye-ing (she washes her hair at night so goes to bed with wet hair). 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A new anniversary

One year ago today, my husband had brain surgery (!!!!!!!) for a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia which he'd had for about 10 years.  We are so happy to be celebrating the one-year anniversary of his successful surgery (microvascular decompression). 

I can hardly believe it's been a year...and in other ways it seems like it's been longer.

I will say that he has NOT had that awful nerve pain AT ALL since the surgery.  That is such a huge deal.  If you have or know someone who's had Trigeminal Neuralgia, you will understand the import of that.  It's amazing.  He does still have numbness on one side of his face (he can still move it and etc, it just feels numb--he describes it like the feeling when you have novacaine at the dentist for a filling), and we had hoped that that would dissipate, but looks like it might be here to stay.  Still---leaps and bounds beyond his former condition. 

Here's my post from a year ago about it :)

If you have, or know someone who has, trigeminal neuralgia, please feel free to contact us to find out more about his surgery experiences!

We are praising God for the work that he has done in my husband's body, and for that which He continues to do!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Lentils! (where has this been all my life?)

My meat-loving family has found a new favorite food---and it's vegetarian!  Maybe even vegan! :) 

Our 4-H Club hosted a free community dinner a few weeks ago and someone brought this dish, and a lot of people didn't eat it, maybe because frankly, it looks kind of gross (see picture!)

Feeling kind of bad for the lady who brought this dish, I had a bowl of it--and YUMMMMM!!!!!  I think she called it Dal, which I think is just another name for lentils.  This is so easy to make and so amazingly delicious!!

It's not really even a recipe, just instructions!  Basically it is like this.  In the bottom of a large pot/saucepan put some olive oil, enough to cover the bottom.   Saute one medium diced onion and some garlic (I used about a spoonful of diced garlic from a jar) until the onion is soft.  Add 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Add about 1 pound of red lentils (they look kind of pink in the package--and then cook up golden!) and about 5 cups of water.  Bring this to a boil and then turn heat down to medium.  Cover and let it cook until the lentils are all softened and kind of a mush (maybe around 30 min? Keep an eye on it, though).  Let it sit for a few minutes and then eat!!

Last night we had it with rice and topped it with a little bit of sour cream--oh, it was so delicious!  You could use plain yogurt too if you'd rather.  

Seriously, we loved it, my teenagers, my husband, and myself.  And we are big meat-eaters.  This is a new favorite, and I'm not being loose with the terminology.  Really a favorite!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

My succulent (hen & chicks)

Let me begin by saying that I am not much of an indoor houseplant keeper.  I can care for a garden over the summer, but I really don't have much success or experience with indoor plants (or outdoor decorative-type plants, like hostas and such). 

A friend gave me some plants that she was thinning out, and two of them were little bitty hens&chicks.  My grandparents used to have these out by the side of their house where it was rocky -- and that's a great memory for me :) .  I didn't know exactly where to put these plants, so I put them in a bowl and watered them every so often...this was a year and a half ago! 

I kept watering them every so often and lo and behold they stayed alive!  Half a year ago I planted them into some dirt, still unsure of where (outdoors) to plant them...and they're still there, right on the windowsill by my kitchen sink.

This plant looks so funny to me, especially how long and plump it is!  Usually they are so flat and pointy.  I'm guessing that I'm probably overwatering it and the orientation causes it to grow longer toward the light source (window).  But hey, it sure looks interesting!

So--I guess there's no moral to this story, no lesson, no tips.  Just an interesting picture and a long caption to it!

(if you're really looking for info on hens & chicks, you should probably google's one option  )

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Practice Monkeys Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes -- my REVIEW

A year and a half ago, my daughter began taking violin lessons from a gracious friend at church who is an accomplished violinist who kindly offered to teach her how to play.  She enjoys these lessons and enjoys playing the violin.  I had the opportunity to add another element into her learning by getting to try and review the Practice Monkeys program of Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes.


The name might sound a little silly sounding, Practice Monkeys, but the program is not at all silly or light! It is a serious violin program for students learning to play the violin using the Suzuki method, taught by an accomplished violinist/violin teacher who is a mother and a great communicator.

Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons
Hi! I'm Sarah Van Kleeck.  I have taught Suzuki violin for 27 years.
 I’ve been a Suzuki parent for 10 years.

The online program involves both the student and the parent.  The parent begins by watching a lengthy webinar and reading the "Parent Guidebook" which explain the program and the different roles of the student, parent, and instructor.  Some of the things which are included are the concept of listening and delayed reading, which are common in the Suzuki method -- the playing by ear bit.

Mrs. Sarah has programs for varying levels of violin learners, from the very beginners to those with more experience.  She began our program with an assessment of my daughter so that we would be "placed" into a learning/practice group.  Once she was placed, she was given a link to the proper classes (which are held via ZOOM meeting, which makes things very easy to link up with).  

Another aspect of this program is the Treehouse, which is a collection of everything you'd need for lessons.  Really. This has been well thought out and designed to enable the student and family to succeed.  If you don't have a violin or a rest, there are resources suggested (and linked).  There are practice schedules, listening schedules, tips to care for your equipment, suggested resources, and then particular to your level--different goals, habits, and practice links.

These classes are given LIVE, via Zoom, but if you are not able to make a class, they are recorded and are available on a weekly basis for you on your treehouse.  

Students learn and practice things like proper holding techniques (for the violin as well as the bow), scales (different ones), new songs, review songs, and some "for fun" songs as well.  Active listening is a large part of the program as well--becoming familiar with the way the song should sound.

So what are the classes like?  Well, they vary, but always have the teacher, live, interacting with the students who are attending that day.  If you're familiar with the Zoom platform, you know how the meetings are set up, with the one talking in the center and the other attenders shown above in thumbnails.  This is cool, because the students are practicing and working's not just one-on-one.  Until it is--sometimes your student is the only one to login, and then Mrs. Sarah has a personal lesson with your student, working on what they need!

So this can be used as a total learning-online violin course.  We used it a bit differently, as my daughter is already taking violin from someone local.  She used it as an incentive to practice and to learn some new songs.  One big takeaway from the lessons is the importance of practicing everyday AND learning how to sound out songs or learn to play more by ear.

Each lesson is interactive, with the teacher asking each of the students to play different bits either on their own or together with the group, then she helps them do it correctly.  One thing I REALLY appreciate about this instructor is that she doesn't just say, "Oh, that's good" or "sounds good" even when it isn't.  She really requires the correct answer or the correct technique and doesn't gloss over errors or improper techniques, but works with the student to correct it.

It's hard to give enough information to clearly reflect the program. I will say that my student learned a lot about playing without relying on the tuner app or the sheet music.  She has gained confidence in this and other areas.  She learned some tips about scale playing as well.  She has formed practice habits which she will carry on.

I think the biggest thing for me that was a difficulty is that our session was 5:20-5:40 pm,  M-Th, which in our home is dinner making time--and so I was not able to sit in with her for each lesson.  It actually was a hard time of day for her to use the lessons as well -- so much happens in that 5-6 pm slot of our lives! The lessons ARE available in recorded form later, on the treehouse, but I really think one of the key points of this product is the personal lessons.

This is a very interesting program, I'm not sure how it works starting from a brand new beginner, never having picked up a violin, but at our stage it is good.  It is an amazingly thorough program, well thought through and implemented.  I think it would also be a good alternative for an adult who wanted to learn to play the violin.  I suggest you check out Practice Monkeys and their Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes and see if it's for you!

There's even a coupon right now, good until February 1, 2019!  If you are interested in subscribing, now is the time to do so!

Practice Monkeys Discount Coupon Offer

To see more reviewers' thoughts about this program, please click on the link below:

Online Music Education for the Violin {Practice Monkeys Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, January 10, 2019

No more burns from the teapot!

Steam burns can be bad!  (Yes, I am speaking from experience!)  One of the weird things that I hurt myself on is steam from the teapot when I fill it up.  Now, maybe I'm alone in doing this, but basically whenever I use all the rest of the water in the teapot, I fill it up so that it will be ready to use the next time.  I usually do this when it's still hot, and the water steams right up, on my hand that's holding the teapot under the spigot.  

HOWEVER!  No more!  :) I've come up with a great way to not get burned (uhhh probably everybody already does this, but it's a lightning bolt moment for me!) 

Ready to hear what it is?

I hold the handle side downward and the spout side up!  Doing it this way the steam goes right up and instead of going onto my hand it goes up (kind of parallel to the water stream in the picture).  So my hand is in the downward quadrant and the steam rises up without burning me.  

Oh, so you already knew that?

Well, I didn't, so it's news to me!  


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A great verse to start the new year!!

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

New International Version

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.