Monday, July 31, 2023

Summer Read Along: The Wind In The Willows
Chapter 5 & 6



I do believe this may have been one of my favorite chapters yet.  So many passages filled with such charming descriptions! It was impossible to choose just one.

"The rapid night-fall of mid-December had quite beset the little village as they approached it on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed through the casements into the dark world without. Most of the low-latticed windows were innocent of blinds, and to the lookers in from outside, the inmates, gathered 'round the tea table, absorbed in handiwork, or talking with laughing or gesture, had each that happy grace, which is the last thing the skilled actor shall capture - the natural grace which goes with perfect unconsciousness of observation. Moving at will from one theatre to another, the two spectators so far from home themselves had something of wistfulness in their eyes as they watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired man stretch and knock off his pipe on the end of smouldering log."

When I was growing up in the suberbs of Fort Worth, Texas, there was a neighborhood not far from our house that went all out with their outdoor Christmas decorations.  One street was all candy canes, and it was called Candy Cane Lane. One street decorated their mailboxes, another had silver bells, another angels. Every year our little family would load up in the car and go for a drive to see the lights. Those annual treks to are among my favorite memories from my childhood. But aside from the lights, one of the things I always enjoyed was looking in on the people who lived in the houses we passed. We were in the car, of course, but many of the houses had large front windows that allowed you to see inside. I recall one year one of the families was having a big party and you could hear the music and see all their guests mingling together and having fun, I remember wishing we were friends and had been invited.

To this day, I still enjoy taking a little peek into the lives of others as I drive down the road. I don't gawk or slow down, I just notice in passing and sometimes you'll see that someone is watching television in an upstair bedroom, or making dinner in the kitchen. I wonder at the lives they live there, if they are happy, and often I'll even pray for them. It's been kind of a fascination of mine since childhood and the passage above reminded me of it. What about you? Am I alone in this, or do you enjoy catching glimpses of people in their homes?

"Once beyond the village, where the cottages ceased abruptly, on either side of the road they could smell through the darkness the friendly fields again; and they braced themselves for the last long stretch, the home stretch, the stretch that we know is bound to end, some time, in the rattle of the door-latch, the sudden firelight, and the sight of familiar things greeting us as long absent travelers from far oversea."

Isn't this how it always feels to return home? I love traveling, and I much prefer the going than the coming back, which for whatever reason always seems to take twice as long? But it is always a relief when you know you are only an hour or half hour away, "the home stretch"! This passage describes my sentiments in those moments exactly.

And because I don't want to write out the entire chapter, I'll try to limit myself to just a few more of my favorite lines.

"Mole's face beamed at the sight of all these objects so dear to him, and he hurried Rat through the door, lit a lamp and took one glance around his old home."

Of course, we do learn that he found it all covered in a thick layer of dust, and looking rather shabby for which he immediately began to apologize. But Rat quickly rebutled with complete enthusiasm (I don't know that I've ever been more convicted and inspired by a rat!);

"What a capital little house this is!" he called out cheerily. "So compact, so well planned. Everything here and everything in its place. We'll make a jolly night of it!"

Rat is quiet the optimist, is he not?

I also absolutely loved the idea of sleeping bunks built into the wall! Years ago when our girls were little, we rented a cabin in West Virginia that had this very set up. Two small bunks, built into a log wall in a tiny back room. I remember to this day how their eyes lit up and how excited they were at the prospect of sleeping in such a cozy nook! I was, admittedly, jealous that I couldn't join in the fun myself!

After a quick assessment of the place, Mole realized that he had nothing to offer Rat in the way of a meal and began again to apologize for the lack. And once again Rat, with his optimism, quickly retrieved what he could find and spread out a small feast.

"That's a banquet for you!" observed the Rat, "I know some animals who would give their ears to be sitting down to supper with us tonight"

To which Mole groaned, "No bread, . . . no butter."

These two! Who would have known how much was to be learned about optimism and pessimism in such a lovely little story? I know it's inspired me to rethink my perspective on things, for Rat does always seem to find the best in people and in every situation. 

And then the lovely depiction of the tiny field mice who arrived with merry caroling at the door, in their "red worsted comforters"! Grahame spares no detail! And once again, as Mole anguished over how to feed them, Rat immediately came up with a plan and set everything to right.

And a final passage from this chapter;

"The weary Mole also was glad to turn in without delay, and soon had his head on his pillow, in great joy and contentment. But ere he closed his eyes, he let them wander round his old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight that played or rested on familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him, and now smilingly received him back without rancour. He was now in the just the frame of mind which the tactful Rat had quietly worked to bring about in him. He saw clearly how plain and simple, how narrow, even it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in ones existence."

As a child I only lived in one house. It was the house my parents brought me home to when I was born, and I vividly remember laying in my bedroom the night before I was to be married and realizing that for the first time in my life, it would no longer be my home. Though circumstances brought me back more than once in my adult life, it was never quite the same. Growing up it seemed that I belonged to it and it belonged to me, but once I married there were other houses, and in that a few that felt like home. The little house just across the railroad tracks where we raised our children, was the first house that, as an adult,  gave me that same sense of belonging. And then last summer we bought the house we live in now, which feels more like home with every passing day. I think it takes time, and living in a place long enough to create memories to really feel attached to it, and I'm sure that will be the case.

The passage goes on to explain that Mole knew he would leave with Rat and return to the home they'd made together on the river. But it comforted him to know that his home was always there waiting. We sold my childhood home about six months after my mother passed away, and the house we raised the girls in has now been rented to another family. So while neither of them are places I can actually return to, the happy memories we shared there are many, and they alone are "an achorage in my existance" Such a lovely, lovely phrase!

And with that, I think I'll close for today. I realize I only shared my thoughts on Chapter 5, but as I said when I first began this post, there were so many passages in this chapter that I loved! I honestly believe I could have just rewritten it all, word for word. I've said this in previous posts, that I love it when a writer provides you with a detailed description of the setting of the story, and Grahame excels in this! He paints such lovely scenes that it is difficult for me not to share them all! That being said, this post is already quite long, so that is why I've decided to divide it up.

If you're joining me, please share your thoughts and favorite passages from Chapter 5 in the comments, and in the next few days I'll write a separate post and share my thoughts on Chapter 6.

Before I go, I came across this fun little quiz;

Which Character From The Wind In the Willows Are You?

I got Badger, which I was pretty pleased with! If you take it, be sure to share your results in the comments. 


It doesn't seem possible that my absolute favorite chapter of the book could be followed by my least favorite chapter, but such is the case. I don't even have a favorite passage to share I disliked it so much.

The only thing I did like about it was the way that Badger, Ratty and Mole did their best to try to persuade their friend to refrain from further antics.  They seem to sacrifice a lot for Toad, in this instance leaving the comforts of their own homes to sit round the clock with him to insure that he did not get into more trouble, which of course, he did.

I do hope Toad grows on me or does change his ways, because right now he is very much the priveledged, spoiled brat. I'm sure Grahame has a reason for including him, but he seems so out of sync with the other characters in the story. Alas, I suppose every good story needs a villian, but still holding out hope that this one will see the error of his ways and stop troubling his friends.

Perhaps you had a more optimistic outlook on the chapter, and if so, please encourage me by leaving your thoughts in the comments!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Small Things - 07.29.23

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old-fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper." 


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

You probably need to be a fan of horseradish to appreciate this recipe, but thankfully I am, so I'm going to give it a try!

As I am beginning to rework my household schedules (today), this came at a good time!

Visiting the Lake District and Italy is my dream! I'm not sure if I'll ever get there, but until then, I'll enjoy all the virtual tours I can find. What is your dream destination?

I may have shared this before, but as there are resources for each season I thought I would share it again. If you're like me, you might be beginning to think ahead to Autumn! If so, there are some wonderful readings to prepare your heart for this season. But if you're not quite ready to let go of summer (I'll be hanging on to these longer days for as long as they last!), you'll find thoughts and resources on summer, as well!

6. Fermented Honey Garlic - How to make your own!
I've been making small batches of this for several years new, and it has proven to be effective at helping to fight off colds, sinus stuffiness/infections from allergies, and the flu. And it's so easy! I made up our first batch for the season just this week and I'm already seeing the tiny bubbles begin to appear! The older I get the more inclined I am toward FARMACY instead of pharmacy!

I hope you have a lovely weekend, friends!

Thursday, July 27, 2023


“Home. How much is expressed in this one word.  No other word brings to the mind so many delightful memories. The strong and sweet attachments of home never leave us. They cling to us in youth and in age, in prosperity and adversity, at all times and in all climes.” 


Photo from a recent tour of Birdsong Pleasure Garden

Monday, July 24, 2023

Summer Read Along - The Wind In The Willows
- Chapters 3 & 4

Good morning , my friends! If you're joining along with me in a summer reading of The Wind and the Willows, then pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of tea, and let's join Ratty and Mole on their latest adventure, shall we?


"He had patiently hunted through the wood for an hour or more when at last to his joy he heard a little answering cry. Guiding himself by the sound, he made his way through the gathering darkness to the foot of an old beech tree with a hole in it, and from out of the hole came a feeble voice saying, "Ratty, is that really you?" 

The Rat krept into the hollow and there he found Mole, exhausted and still trembling, "Oh, Rat!" he cried, "I've been so frightened, you can't imagine."

"Oh I quite understand, said the Rat, soothingly. "You shouldn't really have gone and done it, Mole. I did my best to keep you from it."

"The Mole was greatly cheered by the sound of the Rat's careless laughter, as well as by the sight of his stick and his gleaming pistols, and he stopped shivering and began to feel bolder and more himself again."

I don't recall many times in my life when I've been lost, though I am prone to be easily distracted by beauty, any time that I am in nature I make it a point not to wonder too far behind. 

The picture you see above right is of  The Appalachian Trail, and as I mentioned in my last post, it is less than ten minutes from our front door.  Because of that we find ourselves there, often, especially this summer it seems. My husband and I  did a three day section hike  a few years ago, and after a short drive through the mountains yesterday, we've decided to do another very soon. Hiking and nature may not be for everyone, but for me, well to be honest, it is hard to describe. I feel called to it, in a way. It is so much more than dirt and rocks and trees for me, it is holy, "a thin place", if you will, where it feels at times as though I could just stretch out my hand and touch heaven. That being said, it is also not a place where I would want to be lost or even alone.

If you look closely at the picture you'll see a white stripe painted on the tree, which is known as a "blaze". These identifying markers are placed all along the trail, usually on trees and but often even rocks, to guide the 3,000 people who set out to traverse the entire trail, from Georgia to Maine (or the reverse), each year. And though I've only section hiked it thus far, the thought of hiking the entire trail is appealing to me. Many women do it alone every year, but like Mole, I am "cheered by the sound of careless laughter". I'd much prefer it, if friends were near by.

One of my readers who is participating in the read along commented last week that one of the things that she appreciated was Rat's graciousness toward Mole, and this is evidenced in this chapter as well. Even after warning Mole of the dangers of going out alone to The Wild Woods, Mole sets out in spite of it. But when Rat discovers he has gone, he doesn't think twice about setting out himself to find him, and is so patient with him when he finally does. I think there is a lesson in that for all of us. I know there is for me.


"The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught.  A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodation for the sociably disposed.  In the middle of the room stood a long table of plain boards placed on trestles, with benches down each side.  At one end of it, where an armchair stood pushed back, were spread the remains of the Badger’s plain but ample supper.  Rows of spotless plates winked from the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the room, and from the rafters overhead hung hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions, and baskets of eggs.  It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment.  The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction."

I love this passage describing Badger's house, and I can easily picture myself sitting in one of the high backed chairs, warming by the fire. I appreciate it so much when an author takes the time to share all the fine details of a setting.

This depiction in many ways reminds me of my paternal grandmother's house. Though there was no fireplace, there was a gas furnace in the main room and a cast iron stove in the kitchen that kept her home comfortably warm in the winter. And while there were no high back chairs (she never owned anything that nice), there was a soft, comfortable couch that was my favorite place to cozy up and read a good book. It was always covered with several layers of soft blankets, which I realize now were most likely placed there to hide the well worn upholstery. Everything in her house was old, including the house itself, but somehow there was still a warmth and coziness about it that as a child, at least, caused me to overlook the tell-tell signs of age and wear. One thing was for sure, though, my grandmother was an excellent cook and she knew, like Badger, how to serve up "a plain but ample supper" that would feed you for days. 

There have been many depictions in the books I've read throughout and my childhood and as an adult that instantly take me back to that old farmhouse in that small Texas town. It was torn down just a few years after my grandmother died to make way for an expanding church in the area. The land where it stood is a parking lot now, which makes me a little sad. But at the very back of the lot is a small strip of grass and a few trees that I remember once stood close to the back of their yard, and every time I visit, I take off my shoes and let my feet touch that ground again. Much like the AT, I suppose, its a thin place where all of my yesterdays somehow meld with the present. In that moment, I'd almost believe I could here her calling me in for supper, and oh what a simple but glorious feast it would be!

So there you have it, my friends, my favorite quotes and passages from the next two chapters. I can't wait to move on to the next and see what kind of mischief Mole might get himself into this week! Leave your thoughts in the comments, and I'll see you here again next Monday to discuss Chapters 5 and 6! But before I go, here are a few links you might find interesting.

I didn't know much about Grahame before reading this, and I found it very interesting.

If you have littles in your life, or you might enjoy some of the resources here. It looks as though it requires a membership, but it appears to be free.

Classic Children's Book Quiz
Though somewhat unrelated to our reading, I thought this was fun. I scored 7 out of 11. Shame on me, I should have done better!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Summer In The Mountains

Our property sits within the boundaries of George Washington National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town, if you can even call it that, is known as a "census recognized area". We are less than a ten minute drive from The Blue Ridge Parkway and The Appalachian Trail. The population, as of 2020, is 174, but including us you can now add 3 to that number, at least. As a friend of mine said recently, "The people who live here are only here because they want to be", and I'd say that about sums it up. We can't even boast a Dollar General or a Dairy Queen. There are two small convienience stores within about a five to ten minute drive from our house, but for anything else you have to drive 30-45 minutes to reach a town large enough to even catch Walmart's attention. Life here is small, quaint and slow, and we love it!

The pictures I am including in this post are of a local swimming hole that is about ten minutes from our front door. We've visited here often this summer, though we do more wading than swimming. I haven't braved that yet. There are a few picnic tables here as well, though they are very popular with tourists and usually taken, so we'll have to time it right if we want to picnic here ourselves.

The stepping stones you see in the picture to the left are actually part of a trail that winds around and above this area. We have it on our bucket list of things to do before the end of the season, which is passing quickly this year. It's hard for me to believe that we are nearing the end of July, and to be honest, it makes me a little sad. It's not like me to be such a fan of summer, but this year, I'm really enjoying it.

Maybe it's because, so far, the temperatures here have been so pleasant. There have only been a few days that we've slipped into the 90's, and only one of those days was what I would consider particularly hot. That was this past Saturday when we were attending a festival in the area. We had a blast, but it was hot! Even on days when the temperatures climb into the upper 80's and the humidity is high, usually by nightfall we are in the 70's again and by early morning it is usually down into the mid 60's. I think there's only been one night that we haven't turned off the AC. There is just nothing like sleeping with the windows open, at least, not for me.

Being in the mountains keeps the temperatures lower as well, even at lower elevations. Just a few miles up the parkway the difference in the heat and humidity is quite noticeable. We've gone hiking several times already this summer, and it always amazes me how much cooler it is, especially in the shade.

But even more than the cooler temperatures we've enjoyed this year, I think the thing that I love the most is the pace we're living at. I was determined to try to slow things down in this season, and so far we've been successful.  Our little garden, which is comprised of three different varieties of tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and bell peppers is producing nicely. I was disappointed at first, when we were not able to do more because of my sciatic nerve pain. But now I think it ended up being exactly what we needed in this season, at least for this year. I do want to try to do more next spring, so we'll see. This is our first experience with raised beds, and mountain gardening, and we've learned a lot. My biggest concern was the possibility of bear or deer eating our crops, and while we have had a black bear come through our property several times this spring/summer, so far he's completely ignored the garden. We suspect he has knowledge of another reliable food source, primarily a neighbor who has a tendency to throw out food scraps! At any rate, while he uses our yard as his pathway, thankfully it appears he has no other interest.

That's about as much excitement as we've had this summer. I had plans to rework my daily cleaning routines, but I've decided to put that off for at least another couple of weeks and get back to it towards the end of August. So much of it is engrained in me, I really don't have to think about it much, it just happens. But I've given myself the freedom to let things go a little this summer, as well. So while I may not get to everything I typically would in a week's time, somehow it all gets done.  I've done a little baking, most recently a lovely spiced chocolate zucchini bread that I found on Elizabeth's blog. This is my third time using this recipe, and I've decided it's my favorite! If you're not familiar with her offerings I would encourage you to spend some time there, she's a girl after my own heart. I've also done a little canning, three small jars of strawberry jam and three cherry that I just made up yesterday. Now I'm looking at a couple of recipes for fig jam that I hope to make next week, and with all the tomatoes and jalapenos coming in, I need to make some salsa, and perhaps a few more jars of cowboy candy. A little here, a little there, and pretty soon it all adds up to a nice little larder to carry our family through until next year. I'm already dreaming!

As I close I wanted to leave you with this quote from Gladys Taber. She has long been a favorite, and I've been reading a passage here and there from several of her books recently.

"A time of quietude brings things into proportion and give us strength. We all need to take time from the busyness of living, even if it be only a few minutes to watch the sun go down or the city lights blossom against a canyoned sky. We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach toward the infinite. Time to be."

I hope your taking some time for quiet in this season, my friends, and as Gladys says, if only for a few minutes! I'll be back here again to visit with you soon!

Until then, savor the fleeting summer days!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Summer Read Along - The Wind In The Willows
- Chapters 1 & 2


Today marks the beginning of our summer read along, The Wind in the Willows.  I've decided that rather than writing a review, I'm simply going to share snippets of my favorite quotes and passages from each chapter, and if you're reading along, you can either share your thoughts on this weeks chapters, or simply share your favorite quotes, as well.  This is in the spirit of S-L-O-W, by keeping things as simple as possible in this season. 

Being a life-long (now former) homeschooling family, I'm also going to share some lovely Willows resources that I've come across over the years, that you can either use if you homeschool, or even if you don't. I also apologize that I've become a bit lax about reposting resources at my homeschool blog. This past week was a busy one for our family, and on top of that I've been nursing a nasty UTI that turned into a kidney infection, so that has slowed me down a bit. But I'm feeling better now, so look for me here (and there) regularly this week. And with that, let's join Ratty and Mole as they make their way down the river, shall we?


"By the side of river he trotted, as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories, and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling of the best stories in the whole world sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the unsatiable sea."

There are many creeks and rivers where we live, and this one, pictured right, is named, appropriately, Otter River. This is one of my favorite spots on the Parkway, and we visit here, often.

The sound of a babbling creek or river has long been a favorite of mine, but before reading this passage, I'd never imagined it as a story being carried from the heart of the earth and into the greater world and depths of the sea, but it is a beautiful thought, is it not? It's a thought I'm sure I'll not soon forget upon our many visits throughout the remainder of summer. It will lend a greater loveliness to our time there, I'm sure. When I look at this picture It's not hard at all to expect Ratty and Mole to pop up at any minute!


"It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks, a little table that folded up against the wall, a cooking stove, lockers, bookshelves, a bird cage with a bird in it; and pots and pans, jugs and kettles of every size and variety. 
"All complete!" said the Toad, triumphantly, pulling open a locker. "You see, biscuits, potted lobster, sardines - everything you can possibly want. Soda water here, baccy there, letter-paper, jam, cards and dominoes - you'll find", he continued, as they descended the steps again, "you'll find that nothing whatever has been forgotten, when we make our start this afternoon."
A few years ago my husband and I gutted the inside of a van and converted it into a camper with plans to take a few years and hit the open road ourselves. Unfortunately for me, I had some minor health issues arise after just a few months of travel that prevented me from making the full trip. But as it was primarily my husband's dream, he took the next year to do just that while I stayed happily at home and tended the hearth. Our youngest daughter lovingly deemed us, "Toot and Puddle", a favorite book and cartoon from her childhood wherein one pig, Toot, travels the world, and the other Puddle, remains at home. 

Because of that, this quote from Chapter 2 was my favorite, for the same could easily be said of our little van. Though without the luxury of a cook stove, we had a camp stove and two little bunks, and books, card games, a small pantry and even a refrigerator that held the makings of a humble feast which we enjoyed along the banks of many rivers. It was a lovely time that I will never forget, and we hope to make a few more, "shorter" trips in the coming months.

And so, for those of you who may be joining me, how are you enjoying the book so far?  Is this your first time reading it, or like me, a well loved family classic in your home?  What was your favorite part of the first two chapters? I'd love to hear from you, and until then, here are a few accompanying resources I thought I would share.

If you are enjoying the book, did you know it was a tv series? It was originally produced in the UK, and while I don't think it's still a part of their regular programming, Season 1 is on You Tube, and it looks lovely! I'm not sure how closely it follows the book, but I'm going to watch a few episodes this week and see what I think.

I also came across this lovely map that I wanted to share. The website I originally found it at is no longer active, but thankfully I had saved the image from years ago. I cleaned it up as best I could, and I think it looks pretty good. I have this same map inside my book, but it might be fun to print one out to reference as your reading, and especially fun for the littles in your life (or the little that still lives in you!) to color and enjoy!

Click on image to enlarge. Right click and save to your computer. Insert into document, print and enjoy!

And with that, I'm off to spend a little time by the river and in the mountains today! I hope your week is off to a lovely start, and I'll see you again soon!

Monday, July 10, 2023

DIY Dishwasher Pods

Over the past year I've been working on eliminating toxins from our home, and the first area I started in was cleaning supplies.

When we bought our house last summer it had a dishwasher. And can I let you in on a little secret?, if there was one appliance in the kitchen I could live without, it's the dishwasher. Maybe it's just me, but by the time you rinse all the dishes, load them and unload them, I could have already washed and dried them by hand. But, my husband likes having one, and I suppose it is nice to load it all day and just run it once at night rather than washing dishes 2-3 times a day, but honestly, I'm still not convinced it isn't more work.

That being said, one of the first DIY's I tried was dishwashing pods. These come together so easy, and are actually fun to make!  The original recipe I referred to use an ice tray as the mold, but they were far too big for our detergent compartment, so this time I got out one of the store bought pods we've used in the past, and using it as a model, I shaped this batch myself. I keep them stored in a large mason jar along with a jar of vinegar. I have the instructions written on the top of the lid. These pods work wonderfully, and I love that our dishes are being cleaned without all the toxins you find in most store bought brands. I'm including the recipe below in case you want to give them a try.

What about you? Are you growing more conscientious of the toxins in your cleaning products? Have you made any of your own, and if so, please feel free to share the recipes! I'm growing my database of DIY's and I'd love to find more!

1 cup of washing soda
1 cup of baking soda
¼ cup of citric acid
1 cup of kosher salt
1 cup of water
Essential Oils for scent (optional, but I use peppermint!)
Large bowl
2 ice cube trays (optional, you can shape them by hand!)

In a large bowl, stir together the washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, and salt. Add the water to the dry ingredients in the bowl. The mixture will start to bubble and fizz. Wait about 1 minute for the bubbles to reduce, and then stir to thoroughly combine. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each mold of an ice cube tray. Use your fingers to flatten the mixture into the molds.

Let the trays sit overnight.

When the tablets have dried, give each tray a twist to help release them. Then turn the tray over, and tap it against the counter until the tablets pop out.

Store the tablets in an airtight container.

Pop one tablet into the detergent dispenser in your dishwasher along with 1 tsp. vinegar in the rinse compartment, and run on regular cycle.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

A Resource To Share
- The Christian Teachings of Virtue

As many of you who have been following me for awhile now know, I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ and as such, the contents of my posts will often reveal that. 

With that, today I want to share a resource with you that I came across recently and that I am really enjoying, The Christian Teachings of Virtue. Produced by Horse and ChariotThe Christian Teachings of Virtue is a series of lessons in which you will learn to live the soul lifting and character building teachings of virtue, including;

- Will and Purpose (8 part series)

- Well Ordered Soul (8 part series)

- Virtue and Vice (8 part series)

- Seven Chiefly Vices (8 part series)


- Seven Chiefly Virtues (Coming Soon)

I've just begun and so far I've watched The Prelude to the Teachings, which gives you the story behind this project and its author and what you can expect from the series, which is the first place I would encourage you to begin if this peaks your interest. Just this week I began reading Will and Purpose, and I am taking it slowly, as I learned years ago from Charlotte Mason, and reading the narrative, the verses and then next week I'll ponder on what I've read and answer the questions and read some of the accompanying quotes, all of which are included with each series.

In the Prelude, the author share that "these teachings are inspired by the Word of God, and many of the greatest minds in human history, they have stood the test of time"

"God has planted the seeds of virtue deep within our soul, and these teachings are designed to provide the fertile soil and nourishment they need to sprout and grow into the light."

I've been a follower of the way for many years now, and like the author share in the prelude, until I came across this I have never seen anything like this presented in such a way that is both easy to understand and comprehend. I am engaging with my bible open, and looking up and reading every scripture for myself, and based upon what I've read so far, I am finding it to be bibically sound. Something you many not know about me is that I never take anything at face value, if I don't see and believe it for myself, then I typically am not very trusting. But, based upon my own personal beliefs and years of being in the Word, everything I've read is in line with scripture and my own personal beliefs. 

That being said, among God's people there are varying beliefs and interpretations of scripture, so if this is something that interests you, it will be up to you to determine if you agree with what you read. The resources that I share here are ones that I have or am currently using, or that I personally know people I know well have used and I trust their judgement. It is up to each individual to determine for themselves if it is appropriate for them.

So, if this sounds like something you might enjoy, then I encourage you to watch the prelude and begin reading the first series. I'd love to hear other opinions, so if you do, then please come back and let me know and share your thoughts.

Until then my friends, savor the summer days!

Monday, July 3, 2023

NOW - A Daybook

"Forever is composed of nows."


We just returned home from a leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's Independence Day Weekend, and the parkway was busy. We stopped at a few overlooks and hiked a short, easy trail down to some cascades. We talked of plans for future adventures this summer, and stopped off at our favorite mountain produce store for apple hand pies and a Coke.

We arrived early to watch the fireworks last night and sat and talked, just enjoying each other's company as we waited. Just as dark began to set in a huge thunderstorm with high winds and lightening blew in. It took us close to thirty minutes just to make it out of the parking lot! There's another fireworks display scheduled for tonight here in our little town, but they are also predicting another round of storms. They are "scattered", but that was also the forecast last night. Fingers crossed they "scatter" elsewhere.

Hot dogs, potato salad and baked beans are on the menu for our 4th of July festivities tomorrow. Pretty low key, dinner, sparklers, maybe a fire in the fire pit. 

With the 4th falling on Tuesday this year, I'm taking a bit of an extended weekend, and stepping away from my regular homekeeping routine. Aside from meals, my plan is to keep the house picked up and as neat and tidy as possible, but not to do any "cleaning" per say until Wednesday. I typically set everything to right on Friday morning, anyway, so I'll just break the week's tasks up over three days and by Friday afternoon we'll be set for another few days of leisure.

I've been reading The Penderwicks this week and I am thoroughly enjoying it! And if you hadn't heard, I'm hosting a Summer Read A Long if you'd like to join me in reading The Wind in the Willows. You can find the details by clicking on the link!

I recently found this boxed set, Frankie and Annette at a local thrift store. I only paid $5.99 for mine, which apparently is a steal compared to the prices people are asking on Amazon/Ebay? Maybe it's just me, but I don't see these movies appealing to too many people! Perhaps I'm wrong? Having grown up in the 60's, I love them for their quirky nostalgia. I guess there are others out there who feel the same!

And with that, I think it's time for a nap!

Until then friends, savor the summer days and have a safe and happy 4th!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Summer Read Along: The Wind in the Willows - July 10 - August 20, 2023

As many of you know, children's books, especially vintage children's books, is among my favorite genre's. I've been re-reading some old favorites this summer, including Gone Away Lake and Return To Gone Away Lake, and just last night I picked up a new-to-me favorite, The Penderwicks, which is a series I have yet to read and I am already enjoying! 

One of my favorite children's books is The Wind in the Willows and The Willows in Winter, both by Kenneth Grahame. I've had The Wind in the Willows on my list of books to re-read over the summer, and I decided to invite you along! 

One of my favorite quotes by C. S. Lewis is; 

"No book is really worth reading at age ten which is not equally and often far more worth reading at the age of 50!"

and I wholeheartedly agree!

If you've never read The Wind in the Willows, or if you're like me and it has long been a favorite, I hope you'll join me. This is the schedule I've arrived at, and with twelve chapters, I've broken it down to two chapters a week.

WEEK 1 - July 10 -16
- Chapter 1 - The River Bank
- Chapter 2 - The Open Road

WEEK 2 - July 17 -23
- Chapter 3 - The Wild Wood
- Chapter 4 - Mr. Badger

WEEK 3 - July 24 - July 30
- Chapter 5 - Dulce Domum
- Chapter 6 - Mr. Toad

WEEK 4 - July 31 - August 6
- Chapter 7 - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
- Chapter 8 - Toad's Adventures

WEEK 5 - August 7 - 13
- Chapter 9 - Wayfarers All
- Chapter 10 - The Further Adventures of Toad

WEEK 6 - August 14 - 20
- Chapter 11 - Like Summer Tempests Cames His Tears
- Chapter 12 - The Return of Ulysses

I'm going to keep thing very simple and informal, so as not to interrupt my plans to slowly savor the days of summer. The weeks will run Monday - Monday, since I dont' post on Sundays, and we'll read two chapters a week. I'll post my thoughts on the weeks readings every Monday and if you're joining along you can leave your thoughts in the comments, and that's that. 

If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing, please leave a comment and let me know. And please know this nohard and fast commitment. Though weekly conversation would make things more lively, I of all people understand that we are all busy and that sometimes even with the best of intentions, we just can't do it all. So don't feel that by saying "I'm in!", that you are bound to commenting weekly or that the book club police will come knocking at your day if you fail to do the weeks reading and participate. That's just not who I am! I will read and post weekly, regardless, and while I'd love for you to join me, I understand if you can't make it every week, or at all! The posts will be there, either way! :)

If you don't have a copy of The Wind in the Willows, you could probably pick one up from the libary and I noticed that there are several copies available at The Internet Archives.

Welcome July!