Wednesday, December 31, 2008

using my room . . .

Having guests and where to put them (a reprint of a comment I left on a blog today)


Years ago we started having all our house guests (and their children if they had them) take OUR room as a guest room. Since the Master was bigger than the rest of the bedrooms, it was large enough for everyone to fit. We put the children on the floor with air beds. The family stayed together. It was really easy for Ildi and I to find a place to sleep since it was our house, and we knew where everything was.

The advantage of having guests in YOUR room is that it is usually prettier than normal (makes it like a hotel stay), there is usually a bathroom attached (people who are staying hate to be in public until they are dressed and ready to be seen), and it makes a quiet place they can retreat to if they want to be away from the common area. For example, if they are sleeping on a sofa bed and others want to watch TV in the same room, it makes them wait to retire for the night.

It seems to be a shift from housing people in guest rooms, to letting people use your room, but once you do it, the benefits outweigh the costs. And besides, when they leave your home, they feel like you have treated them like KINGS AND QUEENS. I still have people tell me they can't believe I let them use MY room.

We have had countless great experiences with people staying with us, and as an example experience I'll briefly tell you one. A friend just visited me a few weeks ago and I showed him to his room. He asked if it was my room and I told him that it was the guest room. He probably did not want to make me or Ildi feel "put out". After he returned home, in a phone conversation, he asked if I had let him sleep in my room. I told him all the benefits of doing what I did, and he agreed that it was a good thing. All this to say, tell them it's the "guest room". Even though it is YOUR room all the other times. :) He was another one that felt "honored" when staying with us.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

still on the cob . . .

Our most recent adventure has been shelling popcorn. A couple of weeks ago we noticed the field behind the woods was filled with corn that was left behind from the combine. The children asked if they could "glean" the fields and bring it home. Before this, we had never seen popcorn still on the cob. The corn cob is as long as regular sweet corn, but not as big in diameter. We shelled probably 20 cobs and got a gallon jar FULL of popcorn. This harvest is only one third of what they picked up from the field. The picture shows the children's hands BUSY at work shelling!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

note to self . . .


When the ground is frozen, then you have a few warm days, and it rains, don't drive on the grass . . . If the owners did not create a circle driveway through the grass, there was probably a good reason for it!

Today when we were leaving the house, we drove on the grass in our usual fashion. (even though there is no circle driveway) It did not occur to us that the ground would be so wet, and slushy, that our van might not make it through the pretend circle we had been using. Long story short, lots of straw, wood planks, and rocking the van back and forth finally got us out of the rut. One hour later! Not to mention that the wind was a gusting 20 to 30 miles an hour. Notice the towel in my right hand. Looks like I picked up a piece of debris from the ground. And it is sopping wet. And I do not have a belly either. It's the wind catching my shirt. Promise. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ornaments of paper . . .

Here is an example of the cards we made for this year. I love making things, and really enjoy including the children's creativity into projects. Here their paintings break the standard "keep everything in the lines" mentality that I have and makes the piece look loose, creative, and beautiful. The children drew and painted the circles with watercolor, then added salt to create a crystallized texture and pattern. I then added the gold paint pen extras to finish the design.

. . . and this is what the tree turned out to be when it was finished. It has that "folk art" look being pieced together. Over the years we have made ornaments out of paper and have kept them to adorn the tree. We mostly recycle old Christmas cards and use them to make "little" pieces of art. We have silver painted pine cones, several shapes of birdhouses made from white cards, geometric balls made from cards, some purchased handmade paper ornaments, and raffia as our garland. A few years ago I made a rustic looking tree skit out of some old green burlap. In addition to making the tree (this year), and the ornaments, we usually make most of the gifts we give as well. I am working on some Family signs for a couple of friends, as well as a "piggy-back massage" tool that I was inspired to do this year. During my Christmas break from teaching, the house usually feels like an elf factory with the amounts of things we have out and are working on.

Friday, December 19, 2008

scratching it out . . .


Here's an example of some of the artwork I have been doing at school. This year, I have been experimenting with various styles and mediums and feel like I am on the brink of making some HUGE changes in not only my students work at school, but also in my own work. This piece is done by drawing with crayons, washing it with ink, then scratching out the design. I had the students do 2 x 2 inch small pieces of work then mount them on larger paper. It is a great project to do, and it is a very limited time commitment.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

just wondering why . . .

Over the years we have celebrated Christmas somewhat like I did when I was young. Buying gifts, making things, opening presents, you know . . .the usual activities. This Christmas I have had mixed feeling about the whole Christmas celebration. Mixed feeling about whether or not I want to continue celebrating it the way we have done it for years.

Now before you go thinking I have fallen off the deep end (again), remember that I do have a solid head on my shoulders and that I am not going to jump off cliffs (so to speak) when changing celebratory activities. I just have been thinking, and reading, about pros and cons relating to Christmas and the way that it is celebrated; or not.

Several years ago Ildi and I started implementing Christmas activities that have become traditions in our family. I have written about them here. Some of these traditions were just variations on things we, and everyone else does during the Christmas season. This year, I was not motivated to do ANYTHING. Not Ba Humbug, not DEPRESSION, just wandering why we do what we do and wondering if it is something that we should continue.

After all was said and done, I (we) decided to still celebrate the way we have always done. Decorate a little, buy a few gifts for the children, and spend the time together making things. This year we decided to make our own Christmas tree. Nolan cut a tree limb for us, I drilled some holes, and Asher and Maine filled it with branches. Amory and Macy made swags of branches to put on all the interior doors. The swags are of a bush I trimmed on Saturday so they are not real pine branches. Oh well. Maybe that is our alternative way of celebrating this year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

skimming off the cream . . .


This dial-up has got to go. I just took a small nap while my picture was loading!

Update on some things around the Fout home.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time spent with family and friends. My brother, sister, and mother came over for our very first Thanksgiving together.

We looked at a house again today. Everything was going well, the house was FULL of character, outbuildings, creek, woods, and it was even snowing making our visit seem unbelievable. When we left I decided to drive down the road opposite the way I came as is my usual habit. You know, look around the neighborhood a bit. Low and behold, a turkey COMPLEX right in the back yard! Of course, not really right in the back yard, but close enough that each spring and summer we would be up to our ears in FACTORY FARM FRESHNESS. And then on a positive note, a home we looked at a few months ago has drastically come down in price. It's an Amish home that needs work . . .bathrooms, plumbing, electricity . . .but is sitting on 21 acres and is in the most beautiful surroundings possible. I am hoping to go see it again now that there is snow on the ground.

The picture above is of a weekly ritual now, the transferring of milk from the container to gallon jars for the refrigerator. Each week we pick up 10 gallons from a Amish family farm. We bring it home, along with twelve dozen eggs, and sometimes other items, and start the process of skimming off some cream for our coffee, and then filling the jars to be stored. The nice part about the weather being cold is that we can use our mudroom as a refrigerator. We can set the milk, or any other item that needs to be chilled, out in the room without any worry of it spoiling. When working with the milk I have developed an efficient system. I dip a half gallon jar into the container and then strain the milk into gallon jars. I think it is God's way of preparing me for when we get our own cow.

And can you notice the small green shell on the table? That was the shell from my first and only shot at a deer this morning. Several of us when out hunting and there was only one deer seen, and one bullet shot. It was my first time hunting and my first time shooting at an animal. Kind-of exciting I might add. A year or two ago I would have never believed I would have been doing this. :)