Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sarah, Sarah, Bo-Barah... -- posted by Sarah Grace

I have another great recipe that sneaks in yogurt: banana pudding. Banana pudding is a traditional southern dessert, and practically every buffet or cafeteria down here serves it. It's not banana-flavored pudding, but instead a layered dessert with actual slices of banana. It's like a southern version of tiramisu.

My recipe uses yogurt in place of milk to make the instant pudding, so use however much the pudding box calls for. Trust me, you can't taste the yogurt at all. This recipe is super simple and a favorite in our house.

Banana Pudding

Whole, plain yogurt
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 c. heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
4-5 bananas, sliced
1 box vanilla wafers (I use about 3/4 a box)

Prepare the instant pudding according to the directions on the box, using yogurt in place of milk. Gently fold the pudding into the whipped cream. Spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture on the bottom of a dish or trifle. Next, layer the wafers and then 1/2 of the bananas. Repeat with pudding, wafers and bananas. Spread the last third of the pudding on top and add a last layer of wafers. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

The Battle For Germania -- starring: John, George, and Richard Allen

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Secret Crushes -- posted by Sarah Grace

Watched the remake of Sabrina yesterday and I had forgotten how utterly romantic that movie is, and how much I prefer it over the original.  I could never understand why Sabrina was so taken with David over Linus, as even when I was young I was more attracted to Linus.  It seems I've always gone for the quiet, mature types in movies over the playful cads:  Woodrow Call over Gus in Lonesome Dove, Col. Brandon over Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, etc..  The goofy types always seemed better suited for being guy friends, not love interests.  However, my brothers say I'm too fun for any of the quiet types.  They say if I met someone like that in real life, I would find them boring, so who knows.

Speaking of crushes, I had a secret crush on one of my chefs at class.  He was short, round, and a widower with five kids.  Does that make me crazy?

Julia Ormond as Sabrina is simply breathtaking.  I sooooo wanted to be her growing up.  We girls are silly, always wanting to look like or be what we aren't.  I also wanted to look like Jasmine from Aladdin.  I loved her thick, black mane pulled back in those three hair bands.  When I was little, I tried to copy that look by pulling back my baby fine, light blonde hair in three bands... 'cept it looked like a rat tail. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Overheard -- posted by Mom


Richard (6): "I think Sarah should get a pink bikini and you should get a red bikini."

Me: "Oh, dear, ah, no child, I, uh, well son, ooh, I no longer, ah...."

Richard, interrupting: "You know they stretch, don't you?"


Ever since the Barbara Boxer AKA "Babs" incident, my husband feels compelled to insert "Senator" in place of "Ma'am."

Me: "Bill, be careful weeding the beans with all the blooms."
Bill: "Yes, Senator."

Kinda catchy, huh?


While weeding the garden as a family, I delight in hearing all the latest/greatest with the children, and listening to their happy, playful banter. I was certainly impressed when James was able to recite Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day Speech perfectly... until it occurred to me that he was likening weeding to the Battle of Agincourt!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mammy Cat and Weeds, Weeds, Weeds -- posted by John


Remember the mammy cat I told you about? There she is with some of the kittens she nurses. There is one other momma cat that is this cat's ancestor who helps with the nursing, but most of the moms just have babies and lie around not helping. Unfortunately, we still can't catch them to get them spayed.

If you want to see some pictures of our garden, you can go to and see pictures Will took of Sarah Grace. She has been writing on the family website so I don't have to carry it alone. She's writing about a post a day. She threatened that she is going to catch up with me in no time. I'm not worried because this is how it goes:

Dad 4
Mom 22
Will 5
Sarah Grace 23
Spencer 2
James 3
George 7
Richard 8


John 73.

That doesn't even count my journal entries before we got the family blog, but who's counting.

Sarah Grace was amused when we saw her pictures and our only comments were about all the weeds in the garden. (We spent the whole weekend weeding after that.) It's not that I didn't like the pictures, but she always looks better in real life. Her skin is creamier and softer than pictures show and she has a light about her. I guess her personality makes her looks for me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny... -- posted by Sarah Grace

Thank goodness, we're finally finished renovating the bathroom! We have had such a learning experience with this little project, as it seemed like as soon as we thought we were in the home stretch, one problem after another kept popping up. From stripping two layers of wallpaper (that's right, two), to replacing drywall, mudding, re-mudding, caulking, priming and painting, and then finally replacing light fixtures, I think we can now tackle any other room in the house with the complete confidence of a professional. Just the fact that the family was able to agree on the right shade of paint is a miracle in and of itself. Will and Spencer did a wonderful job working through the difficulties, especially since they've never done this kind of work before, and I applaud them.  The next project is the laundry room, which our dogs tore up when they were puppies.

I've baked four loaves of zucchini bread over the past two days, and surprisingly the family is not sick of it.  That's a blessing, considering that two loaves only use about two zucchini, and we harvest about six every day!   Don't ask me why, but for some reason Richard refuses to call it zucchini bread, and instead calls it bikini bread.  I modified my Oma's recipe and made it with whole foods, and it's absolutely delicious.  I love the fact that I can whip up a batch without having to pull out the mixer. 

Zucchini Bikini Bread

3 free-range eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 c. Rapadura or sucanat
1/2 c. virgin coconut oil
2 c. grated zucchini, squeeze out excess liquid
3 tsp. vanilla
3 c. freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. RealSalt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add and mix in order, sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla.  Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the zucchini mixture.  Fold in pecans.  Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.  This is best served warm or toasted with butter.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Berries Galore -- posted by Richard, George, and John (in that order)


Today we found many places that have unlimited supplies of berries. It was our best day for berries because we found pathways to hundreds of them. We had a lot of fun except when we were shredded by thorns. We might make a store and call it All About Blackberries. We want to make wine and juice and pies.

Thank you to James for leading us through the thickets and cutting down stickers with your sword. You made the way for the hunt for blackberries. You are a great leader!

Richard's Post -- posted by Richard (as dictated to Mom)

Today I lost a tooth.

Wednesday we went shopping, and we went to McDonalds. The first time I got Dr. Pepper and the second time I got Coca Cola.

We are getting stuff for our bathroom and our living room.

I can't wait for my dad to get back from the office so I can show him my looth tooth.

Lipstick On The Farm -- posted by Sarah Grace

My very own unicorn, Liberty.

Look Momma, a unicorn!

Thank you handsome Will, for tediously taking, uploading, resizing, re-uploading, and re-resizing these pictures.

Break Thy Fast The Noble Way: With Chicken. Yea, Verily! -- posted by Sarah Grace

Saw the vet again Wednesday, and he gave Liberty four shots as a kind of Hail Mary approach to whatever she has.  Basically, he's just as stumped as we are as to what could be causing such dramatic weight loss, as she's acting like a perfectly healthy and peppy goat. 

The fecal exam showed that there wasn't a parasite problem, but the blood-work showed that her body is using more red blood cells than she can produce, which means that they're fighting something, but he doesn't know what it is.  Every other test came back perfectly normal.  He said potentially she might have an internal abscess that he can't feel himself, but we would have to take her to Georgia to get an ultrasound.  He sent us home with some penicillin shots to give her, and said that if she's going to respond to the meds, we will see results within the next ten days.  Honestly, I've just surrendered the whole situation into God's hands, and I trust him no matter what happens.

My mom and I went shopping and we took Richard (6) along with us.  As we were walking out of Lowe's, we passed a pay-phone and Richard yelled out, "Look!  A telephone!".  My, how things have changed.

Mental note:  Never embark on a seven hour errand trip in ninety-five degree weather after only having a banana for breakfast.  I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a McChicken sandwich in my life.

Honey, Could You Pass the Dressing? -- posted by Sarah Grace

I promised recipes and I'm a woman of my word, so here we go.  Pretty much everyone these days is starting to realize the health benefits of yogurt.  The good bacteria present in yogurt improves intestinal flora and aids digestion, and it's an excellent source of calcium.  The problem people often make however, is thinking that the sugar-laden, artificially flavored single portion cups sold in the markets are acceptable.  They're not.  You need to buy whole, plain yogurt, and make sure it contains active yogurt cultures, including L. Acidophilus.  In an ideal world, raw, unpasteurized yogurt would be the best choice, but I have yet to find if and where it's sold.  I use Dannon whole, plain yogurt.

Anyway, one of my missions is to find delicious and healthful ways to incorporate yogurt into my family's diet, and this recipe scores big points. 

Honey Mustard Dressing

2 Tablespoons raw honey
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 cup whole, plain yogurt
salt and pepper TT

Whisk together the honey and mustard.  Whisk in yogurt, and season.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cool Beans -- posted by Sarah Grace

I had my first bean harvest today!  Spencer and I picked a boat-load of wax beans and burgundy beans, both of which we've never grown before.  The only problem is, I don't know how to properly cook them, so l'll just give Google a ring and see if he can help.  I always feel like a proud mother when my plants start producing, and I love how fresh and earthy my hands smell from picking vegetables.  

We've also been inundated with squash and zucchini, which means I'm always on the lookout for new recipes.  I found this zucchini casserole recipe, and I love it for it's simplicity and yummy-ness.  The only change I made was putting herb stuffing mix on the top instead of dry bread crumbs.

Momma just started a pot of boiled peanuts.  My family and I lurve boiled peanuts.  Actually, most southerners do.  This video is a perfect snapshot ('cept it's a video, ha) into traditional southern culture.  Simple, old-timey men are just so adorable.  It's a shame how sophisticated these parts are becoming, and I'll miss this generation once it passes away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

King Lear -- posted by John

Yesterday I was bitten by a snake. I picked it up the wrong way... by the head. I don't know what I was thinking. I was trying to keep it from biting me, but I must have scared it, so it bit me. Don't ask why I thought picking it up by the head would keep it from biting me. My mother keeps asking me that same question. I was just caught in the moment, or something. Fortunately it wasn't poisonous. Unfortunately Spencer took his time telling me that. It was about 3ft. long and an inch thick. It held on for about 15 or 20 seconds before I was able to flick it off.

I heard a terrible story one time about a man who cut off a poisonous snake's head, and then the head jumped up and bit him. I hope that is an urban legend because that's petrifying to me.

Mrs. Sarah, my British lady-friend, is all excited that I'm into Shakespeare. She wrote in my comments about it and how she performed in Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. My dad heard about it and yesterday he went by the library and picked up King Lear (the one with Ian Holm), two versions of Julius Caesar (one with Charlton Heston and one with Marlon Brando), and two versions of Hamlet (one with Kenneth Branagh and one with Laurence Olivier.)

Last night we started King Lear and now I know why they call my mother's father that. King Lear had three daughters and the youngest loved him a lot but she told him the truth, and not what he wanted to hear, so he ditched her. I only saw the first part because I fell asleep so I don't know how many ways it is like my mother, but I was amazed at how much it is alike. I know how much my mother loves her father, even though his heart's not right, because we pray for him every single day. He talks to her every now and then, but he doesn't have a relationship with her.

I didn't fall asleep because I was bored; I was tired. I was tired because Dad took us swimming yesterday. And, by the way, my swimming is MUCH better. We did the can-opener, the seat-drop, and lots of cannonballs, too. We played water volleyball with one of those little water balls that soak up water. James and I were awesome but Dad and George owned us.

When we came back to the house, Sarah Grace and Mom were making supper with things from our garden. We had whole grain rice and gravy, fried okra, cucumber/Vidalia onion/tomato salad, and grilled onions/squash/zucchini. We also had lemonaid. Fried okra is a great treat for our family because everybody loves it! It was a fantastic meatless night. Sometimes they make gravy on meatless nights because it has a meat feeling- so do grilled vegetables. Besides swimming, my full happy belly is another reason I couldn't stay awake.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Harpy Birthday to Me -- posted by Sarah Grace

I can't believe this.  I'm a former homeshooler, right?  We homeschoolers are supposed to be brilliant, right?  You know, winners of national geography/spelling bees, preteen entrepreneurs, designers of fully functional backyard space shuttles, etc.  And yet, I have made the terrible grammatical error of using ellipsis points with four dots in the middle of a sentence, when everyone knows four dots are supposed to be at the end of a sentence!  Everyone but me at least.  I... am ashamed.

This morning we had some delicious hearty whole wheat pancakes made with fresh blackberries and blueberries from our property.  The little boys are so cute when they go out to pick them.  They'll be out there for about an hour, come back all sweaty and tired and exclaim, "We found the jackpot!"  Mom and I then look in the little bucket and there will be like, twenty berries.  Thankfully, we had a stash in the refrigerator.  They were thrilled to finally enjoy the fruits of their labor.

I've been saving up for the past two years to buy a harp, and with this last birthday, I finally have enough!  I have my eye on the Blevins Sonata 36.  I love the simple style and the full tone.  I've wanted a harp ever since I can remember, so obviously I'm ecstatic. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Henry V -- posted by John

[Beware of Henry V spoilers!]

We watched Henry V, the Kenneth Branagh one. He was shouting and spitting at the same time throughout his big speech and it was humorous to me. Dad described the movie as, "The English won. Fine speech."

I actually fell asleep when we first watched it because we watched it at night after a hard day's work. I need to be fresh for Shakespeare because it is like a whole different language to me. Mom says we understand better than most, and she thinks it is because we read King James Bible and we are used to switching gears and putting on an ear for it. I watched the rest of it the next day. I also started a biography on Shakespeare.

One part that was distracting was Emma Thompson's facial hair. (Emma, I love ya, but what was up with that 'stache?) Mom is very understanding about women and facial hair and hormones and stuff but she can't understand why the make-up department didn't catch it. She wondered if it was a deliberate "d'elbow" to the French. We boys giggled a lot about it even though I loved the scene with the two of them after the battle scene. Did you know that Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were married to each other in real life? I don't know why they divorced.

I also love the music from this movie! James used to sing Non Nobis Domine a lot when he was little. They saw this movie before I was born. Some things I saw the first time around but I don't remember them. By the way, Kenneth Branagh is carrying young Christian Bale in this scene.

We'll have fun comparing this film to the Shakespeare version and then comparing them to histories. That is how we study history. Dad goes to the library and gets stacks of books and movies and we also watch lectures from The Teaching Company. It is usually "interest led," which just means our interests take us from one thing to the other. We got to this because James was listening to some lectures from Vision Forum on the battle of Agincourt while he was loading the dishwasher. The lectures were from Sabers, Spears, and Catapults: A Providential History of Warfare Technology.

We've stripped all the wallpaper in our bathroom and we're waiting on the mud to dry before we paint it. We moved the toilet and removed old grout and it was hard work because there were two layers of wallpaper and hard old grout. We're updating the whole house. The laundry room is next because the wallpaper is peeling bad after the puppies got ahold of it.

Here's a picture of me as a Teutonic knight that James photoshopped.

John as Teutonic knight

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mammy Cats -- posted by John

Today I took pictures of a crazy momma cat on the property who not only nurses her own three babies but also all the other momma cat's babies. For some reason she adopted the other momma cat's babies and she rolls over on her back (not her side) and feeds the first batch of babies, and when they are finished, she nurses the second batch, which have been lying across her chest sleeping while waiting their turn. The kittens are all different sizes so it looks strange. She is like the Mother Theresa of cats... except that she mated with Punkin, and that's why we call her Mrs. Punkin. Her babies look just like him and I saw him playing with those kittens. It sure was cute.

By the way, we aren't Catholic. Mother Theresa was the only famous person I could think of who takes care of other people's babies. I just asked Mom and she reminded me of Mammy from Gone with the Wind.

I'm glad my mother didn't hand me over to someone else to nurse me. I think that would make me feel unloved and unwanted.

Strangely, after my last post, I heard a long commercial with the song "I'll Be There," with Michael Jackson. At one point I thought I heard his father singing with him but Mom said that was his brother.

My mom surprised me by buying me two big boxes of Red Hots (to share), which are tiny red cinnamon candies. Mrs. Stafford, our neighbor, turned me on to them when we went tailgating with her. I apologized for eating them by the handful but I just loved them. She probably didn't care because she's a generous lady.

Red Hots are my favorite candies. I like them better than Twix, and that's saying a lot. When I first tasted them, I cried a little. I didn't really cry but my eyes watered up because they are so spicy, but after I had another one, I loved them and there's been no turning back.

We have a bumper crop of squash and zucchini and Sarah Grace made two different squash casseroles this week that were delicious. One was an Italian recipe and the other one was more like home cooking. They were so good! Sometimes casseroles end up tasting like the sauce in the casserole but these weren't like that- you could taste the vegetables! They also had cheese and onion and herb bread crumb topping, but no cream-of soups.

I bought Sarah Grace perfume for her birthday. I bought her Kate Winslet's Trésor de Lancôme perfume. She loved it! It smells more like a country girl than Mom's Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, which is more sophisticated. That's not Sarah's style. She is sweet and fresh. Did you know that the name Sally is a nickname for Sarah? That's why Mom calls Sarah Grace Sally a lot. She used to call her Sally all the time when Sarah was little. Sally loves the perfume I bought her, and it's a relief, because I almost got in a lot of trouble for bugging my parents about it, but I didn't.

When Dad took me to the mall to buy it, I found out that we would get with it a tote bag, and a small purse size perfume, and hand lotion, and a beachy-looking orange-colored zippered case with different flower petals in pinks and yellows and reds inside, all for free! I am so happy! Thank you, Lord.

I don't know why we love Red Hots and jalapeno poppers so much because they burn us and we make faces, but we keep on eating them! We do the same thing with pickles, only they aren't hot, but they can sure screw your face up. I'm eating Red Hots right now.

We played Ping Pong in the carport and we went to the pool. We had a ball! Dad is making sure the Young Guns can swim well. I can swim well underwater but I'm no great swimmer. I hope Mom comes next time because women are better teachers. They pay more attention and hold your arms instead of saying some things and then telling you to just do it.

Mel Gibson is an idiot, and I hope he reads this. Mr. Gibson, I used to like you a lot and maybe one time you were my favorite actor, but you should spend the rest of your life begging your wife to forgive you and take you back. She forgave you of your sinning against her for many years (or at least took you back), but you just wouldn't repent. Repent means to STOP it. The problem with most Catholics (and Protestants) is that they think confessing sins and asking forgiveness is good enough, but Jesus said to quit sinning. And he can make you able to quit, you just don't want to because you love your sin more. I should have known you would end up like this but I hoped your religious stuff meant you wanted to please God, and you were coming around, but you are just like the rest of the phonies out there and I am so disappointed, and disgusted with you, but I will keep praying for you until Jesus makes me stop it. You can go too far, you know. If you read the Bible it plainly says that if you don't knock it off with your sinning, God will kill you and put you in hell.

Ma sent us some old magazines and one was from July 6, 1956 and Yul Brynner was on the cover. I used to want to be him when he played the king of Siam in The King and I because I thought he looked cool in his bald head and wardrobe. I loved his little opened jacket and his puffy pants and bare feet. He had a nicely shaped smooth bald head and all the girls died over him. I also like him in The Ten Commandments even though he was the bad guy.