Monday, September 30, 2013

God is gracious

In a million different little ways. For at least the last 18 months, I have been trying to get to the nearest IKEA store (in Edmonton) to check out some kitchen cabinets and other stuff related to our ongoing reno. I would prefer to order my cabinets during one of their "Kitchen Events" because they give back a percentage (10% minimum) in gift cards. When you are spending in the thousands, that's hundreds of dollars worth of basically free stuff.

However, life has just been too busy for us to get away, even for a weekend (how does that happen?). Fate must step in and lend a hand. I had a not-great result on a medical test two weeks ago, and lo, I'm being sent for more testing this Thursday and Friday... in Edmonton.

Then I get an email this morning from IKEA: the next Kitchen Event starts today.

It's not likely that my reno will be completed by Christmas, but if my cabinets are ordered, that's a big step in that direction. And that should do my heart some good.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I've probably done this before

But if I don't remember it, my readers surely won't. My favourite St. Michael poem, with my favourite picture of St. Michael (on account of its looking all sort of Art Nouveau and stuff). And boy, do we need peace. Happy Feast of the Archangels. 

To St. Michael in Time of Peace

G.K. Chesterton

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.

When the world cracked because of a sneer in heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.

Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.

When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.

Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.

He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the word.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

First pumpkin

I had a hankering to make pumpkin pie yesterday, so I told Miss P #4 to go find the smallest orange pumpkin in the patch. Oh dear. This baby weighed 15 pounds. I think we'll also have Pumpkin Corn Chowder for dinner tonight. I may post the recipe if it turns out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I have taken up the mandoline

Yes, that's mandoline, with an "e"

Not mandolin, without.

Although it would seem, depending on whom you consult, that both of them could be spelled both ways, so that just makes life more confusing. While I'm sure you could make some form of music with a kitchen slicer, you would not likely be able to julienne carrots with the musical instrument (unless you had really, really sharp strings).

Part of the reason I was not online much this past summer is that I was having a difficult time keeping up with the garden. Still am. As I speak, there are three boxes of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness, staring me in the face. We have already processed 2-3 large boxes: I made two huge batches of salsa and Mr. P and I have frozen countless 1-liter bags of tomatoes for cooking. And if I see another cucumber before next June, it will be too soon. We discovered, over the course of making a type of marinated sweet pickle, that our two (TWO) food processors cannot slice cukes thin enough. So I decided to buy a mandoline. (Though it will not, I fear, help in any way whatsoever to deal with the 15 or so huge pumpkins still lying outside in the garden...)

I read about a thousand reviews covering mandolines in every price range from $20 to $400. I looked at French models, German models and the ubiquitous models made in China. I'm ashamed to say that I bought a Chinese one (the model pictured above, actually), but in the end I was reluctant to spend a lot of money. The reason for this is that no matter how expensive a mandoline was, it still had some bad reviews. So what's a hausfrau to do? I paid under $21 for it on Amazon. If it ends up getting broken in the next few weeks, I will probably return it and go buy a $139 French one at Lee Valley. (This model was not reviewed on Amazon, but Lee Valley generally carries only good quality merchandise and in any event is very good about returns.)

The Amazon ("Progressive" brand) model arrived the other day, and it seems to work OK. It did a good job of cutting beets (which are super-hard) into matchstick juliennes (raw beets are a great addition to salad, but grating them is incredibly messy. Hint: grate or shred directly onto paper towel, then blot). It also sliced effortlessly through orange skin, to make lovely even slices (Mrs. Jones will be happy to hear this, as it will speed up our sangria-making sessions). And it slices cucumbers very thin, so the sweet-pickle job will not be so onerous next year (we made about 16 liters of sweet pickles this year: that's a lot of hand-sliced cucumbers).

It should also be good for making home-made potato chips (or crisps, as they say in the UK; over there, fries are chips.) And speaking of which, the only thing I was not thrilled with was the fries--the Progressive cuts them too thin and too short. This mandoline will never do the same job as my old Starfrit potato chipper, which gave up the ghost (and several blades) last year.

Also, the Progressive's finger-guard (thing that resembes a derby hat) is a little clumsy to use, so I will probably buy a cut resistant glove to speed jobs along. All in all, I hope it will make a difference making things like soups, salads, stir fry, and pizza, which require a lot of finicky cutting and slicing of veggies. I have had to go on a heart-smart diet recently, so I need to eat a lot more raw veggies. 

Lastly, DOES ANYONE WANT A 30-POUND PUMPKIN (or six)?????

Not too early to begin Christmas shopping

Because I've decided I want this. If only my husband and kids read this blog. Hey, maybe I could try "talking" to them...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What I did last Friday night

Sat and listened to this. Heaven, but then Chopin usually is. What made it even more wonderful was that it was played by our own western Canadian world-superstar Jan Lisiecki (and AHEM, whoever posted this video, Jan is CANADIAN-Polish, not the other way around. He was born and raised not five hours from where I live.)

Jan played this same Nocturne for his first (of two) encores Friday night. Just beautiful. He is so very talented and yet is still sweet and humble. He treats his audiences with the same professionalism and respect whether he is at the Royal Albert Hall (below) or in a significantly smaller venue, like Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Long may he continue to delight audiences (he is all of 18 years old).

If speed and excitement are your thing, go to this YouTube link to see him play some of the Chopin Etudes from his new Deutsche Grammophon album.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Now that is some expensive toast

I wonder if Bev Oda has one. You know, to go with her orange juice.

Seriously.  I mean, how gourmet can toast possibly be? And don't even think about the 4-slice model!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I want this book

Nay, I need it, which is saying something more. Looking forward to November 12.

Many thanks to Deborah G, who posted a link about it on Facebook; otherwise I would not have heard of its existence.
UPDATE: Many more thanks to Mrs. Beazly, who wrote to me about this book a full FOUR months ago. Ye gods, it's a depressing thing when your memory starts to go...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The peeve rolls on

Same writing book: now I've come across a sentence that says, "He outshined all his teammates."


Oxford English Dictionary: past tense of "outshine" is "outshone."

With writing curriculum like this, who needs illiterate barbarians? Once more, I've wasted my money.

Come on, Kumon! Somehow, the dazed, wall-eyed, not-quite-happy face in their logo says it all...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pet peeve of a homeschool mom

I am by no means an expert on grammar (or anything, except perhaps laziness and procrastination) but it makes me crazy when I find mistakes in homeschooling teachers' manuals or texts and workbooks. And not just typos, but grammatical errors or incorrect answers. Such as:

Q. What is the past tense of smite?
A. Smited

No, I am sorry, it is not. The correct answer is smote. "He smote his enemy on the mountain." And so forth.

I quit using the Learning Language Arts Through Literature series because the books were literally riddled with stuff like that.

I recently ordered a Kumon writing workbook for my grade 6 student, and in the first lesson on the second page, I found this sentence:

"The dog entered its new home and laid down."


lie, lay, (has) lain = intransitive verb (has no direct object)

lay, laid, (has) laid = transitive verb (always requires a direct object)

I suppose it's meant to keep us on our toes. But golly, if you can't trust the people who are producing curriculum, whom can you trust? Forget I said that.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Yet another item for my vintage "want" list

I was watching "Bewitched" on Netflix with my two youngest gals the other evening, and Darren's mom was pouring coffee with a similar carafe. My mother did not have one of these, but I had a toy one. I wish I had the full size verision. So cute. I have a thing for coffee carafes, tea pots, pitchers and jugs.

Photo found at the ever-useful and interesting Corelle Corner. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barack Obama is Mr. Collins with nukes and drones

There is a reason for studying great literature. It gives us insight into human nature, with the hope that we will learn something, especially about ourselves, and thus attempt to remedy our defects. I'm willing to wager that President Obama has never studied (or even read) Pride and Prejudice. 

Man enough to admit he is not perfect; fuller self-awareness (and repentance) achieved by plot denouement

Eariler in the novel...

Mr. Darcy: "I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding."

Rough translation: I want to appear just muscular enough not to be mocked.

Americans who support Obama have truly gone down the rabbit hole: they are willing to start a world conflagration so that their self-delusional leader won't look like a fool. Hint: that ship has sailed. 

Americans don't agree with my policies because they are too stupid to understand them. Do they not realize that I have much to recommend me, and that  it is by no means certain that another offer of such a president may ever be made to them? I must therefore conclude that they are not serious in their rejection of me and my war-mongering; I shall chuse to attribute it to their wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of inelegantly obtuse subjects and serfs. 

Jane Austen would have known how to deal with Obama: "Nothing so easy...laugh at him."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Your morning cup of awesome

Happy September! Here we are, on the first day of school. Found this video this morning on Facebook and just had to share it with you. If it doesn't make you smile, then you are probably comatose or possibly dead. It is totally worth the entire 7 minutes. You don't even have to like Irish fiddle music (but it helps.)

For those of you who don't know of her,  Natalie MacMaster is a very lovely, talented, energetic lady from Canada who plays traditional fiddle music and can dance up a storm. Frequently both at the same time. My husband and older girls saw her in concert some years back, and she is an amazing, amazing performer.

For a celebrity, she also has her head on straight. Many years ago, I saw her being interviewed on TV by a (secular) journalist. The interviewer asked Natalie what her ambition was for the future. (By this time the young, vivacious Natalie had already achieved much recording success and worldwide recognition for her art). Her answer? She hoped to get married and have babies. And did she ever.

Quotation from her website bio: "If anything, family has reinvigorated Natalie MacMaster’s commitment to the stage and her audience.“I like being on stage even more,” enthuses the mother of five, who gave birth to son Alec in August 2012."

Good on you, Natalie (and husband, Donnell Leahy, who is also a professional musician)! They are Catholic, by the way.