Wednesday, July 22, 2009

beach reading

We just returned from our trip to Destin, Florida with Matt's family. It was so gracious of them to invite us along and provide a great condo for us to all stay in! I had fun enjoying these specifically Florida things (in my mind anyway, they may be related to other places too):

~ sunbathing on the beach
~ collecting seashells
(only a very few in Destin)
~ key lime pie
~ seafood (LEFT: crab legs)
~ boiled peanuts (RIGHT)

I enjoyed time on the beach, and especially reading time in the sun.
Two more books to add to the list of summer reads:

Outcasts United by: Warren St. John
This is a WONDERFUL and challenging read. Not challenging as in reading level, but challenging as it causes reflection upon our own prejudices and stereotypes which are oftentimes incorrect. This book is written by a reporter from the New York Times who follows a team of refugee soccer players from around the world who've relocated to Clarkston, Georgia a small town with a Southern and "traditional" mind-set. It's great to consider the world, the many peoples in it, and the way it is becoming "smaller" in a sense. This was especially fun to read and recall soccer playing days of the past (although I'm glad that they're over)!

Twilight Children by: Torey Hayden
Another book by a new favorite education-related author. This book follows Torey as she takes a job working with people in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. After one of my third grade students was admitted to a psychiatric ward this year I really began to consider what a hidden world it is. In many ways not only is it a hidden world, it is therefore forgotten and lonely to those who are hospitalized. This book shows with clarity the sad and terrible realities which lead children to a variety of mental illnesses causing such an outcome, along with great triumphs as therapies help to heal and mend their pasts.

and here is a picture of Matt and I getting ready
to make our way out to the beach...
check Facebook for more Florida fun pictures

Monday, July 13, 2009

peach season

Yay for peaches... last year at about this time we "won" a bushel of peaches at a Louisville Orphan Home's picnic (ask me about that sometime). This year, we enjoyed picking peaches at Huber's Farm in Southern Indiana, not too far from our Louisville home. We didn't pick tons, although they were plentiful on each tree we saw (it was hard to resist picking until we saw no more to pick)!

We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to pick some more blueberries since they're one of our favorite additions to all sorts of things. There was an amazing abundance of blueberries in these patches compared to our recent picking adventures in Kansas City.

Here are some pictures showing what we've done with our peaches (I'd estimate that we had about 30 peaches to start with maybe?)...

Yesterday's peach project was properly freezing the peaches for future treats. So we followed these instructions and used Fruit Fresh along with white grape peach juice to store them. Peeling them with the boiling water to ice water method was trickier than expected. We finally realized that things worked better the longer we left the peaches in the ice water. You can also see a Ziplock baggie full of peach waffles we enjoyed last night as breakfast for dinner. They were great with some of our strawberry freezer jam as a topping! I'm sure you'll also notice a massive bag of blueberries... only one of two we so happy to have. Last year we devoured one bag by mid fall, this year's goal is to ration them so that they'll last until next year's picking time!

And last but not least, today's peach project was making two peach cobblers. One we gave away, and the other I'm excited to enjoy in just a couple of minutes. I've realized that I really prefer my cobblers to have kind of a sticky-gooey topping... some (like Martha's) are more biscuit-ish or like a shortbread. Paula Deen's recipe (from her book Kitchen Classics, page 166) is my favorite for this... and it's not healthy at all!

PEACH COBBLER: 1 stick butter 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup self-rising flour (you can use all purpose flour and add baking powder and salt as a substitue for "self-rising") 3/4 cup milk 28 oz can peaches in syrup, undrained** Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter in deep baking dish and place in oven to melt. Mix sugar and flour; add milk slowly to precent lumping. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir. (At this point the butter will rise to the top of the batter.) Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Still do not stir; batter will rise to the top during baking. Bake 30-45 minutes. Good with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. **FRESH PEACH MODIFICATION: Clean, peel, and core 2 cups of fruit (can use blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, peaches, or pears) and mix with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. In a saucepan, bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir often, making sure sugar is completely dissolved. Substitute this for the canned peaches.

All that remains of our "raw" peaches are serving as a decoration before we're ready to add them to cereal, oatmeal, or eat them as a juicy snack. Now I'm off to enjoy some cobbler with my dear and watch "Antiques Roadshow"!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

more reading highlights

As promised, I'll keep you up-to-date on my restful and delightful summer reading...

Radical Womanhood by: Carolyn McCulley
I finished reading this book this week. It was a great read that gave me insight into lots of background information (especially about feminism) that has contributed to the world today. This book reminded me of so may ways that Satan has waged war on women, families, roles, etc. for all of time. In that sense it was encouraging to remember that we are not to fight against "liberals" or laws, but rather to trust in the Lord and realize that these issues are spiritual and not grounded in politics or other disguises they may wear.

Excellent Women by: Barbara Pym
What a charming and quaint book! I'd highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a light and refreshing summer read. It reminded me a lot of the vision I had of my future when I was single and thinking marriage may not have been a blessing the Lord would have for me. The book follows one middle-aged single woman through her experiences in the church, with neighbors, and in her English town following World War II.

Shopping for Time by: Carolyn Mahaney and daughters
A very fast and helpful, helpful read. I highlighted lots that I hope to share with others as a future reference. This short and to the point book is designed to help women prioritize and organize their lives in God honoring ways as they serve family, friends, and the church. Her practical ideas were aimed at encouraging women not overwhelming them with more to do. I'm planning to implement many of these ideas into my life right away!


When I Don't Desire God by: John Piper

UPCOMING BEACH READING - for our Florida trip later this week (Friday through Tuesday):

At Home in Mitford
by: Jan Karon (I read this one in high school, but I'm hoping to start reading with the intention of the entire series... slowly during the school year)

Just Generosity, A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America by: Ronald Sider

Race Matters by: Cornel West

Outcasts United by: Warren St. John

Then after my choices of reading materials are exhausted, I'm going to dive into my stack of summer "teacher reading" related to strategies, best practices, theories, etc. of teaching... I'm delaying these (partially because I'm not quite ready to be in "school mode") because I do know they'll be full of ideas that I'll want to get going on right away!

**coming soon... pictures with an update including ways I've used an abundance of fresh picked fruits (peaches, and blueberries)**

Monday, July 6, 2009

summer reading!

So far this summer I've enjoyed all the moments I've had to read! The following is a list with a little review of each in case you'd like to join me and read some of these great books... enjoy!

Girl Meets God
by: Lauren Winner
I reread this book at the beginning of this summer. I think I liked it even more the second time around. Lauren Winner writes a memoir of her conversion from Judaism to Christianity. It includes lots of great thoughts about faith and tradition.

Mudhouse Sabbath
by: Lauren Winner
This Lauren Winner book I'd never read until this summer. It's another great one. Lauren specifically explains Jewish traditions and customs which relate to various topics and seasons of life. Her point in doing so is to challenge Christians to rejoice in the grace of God upon us through Christ our Savior, while also contemplating more thoughtful traditions which can impact our faith in practical ways.

Hope for Children in Poverty edited by: Ronald Sider & Heidi Unruh
This book provides a brief, but realistic overview of children who live in poverty here in the United States. Since teaching in many low socio-economic areas I have begun to consider the impact of poverty in ways I hadn't before. There are so many factors involved in the lives of these children. I'd really recommend this book, as it also offers great articles which highlight real ministries and organizations working to provide aid in various ways to so many children in difficult circumstances. As Christians I do believe we must not turn a blind eye, to this reality of so many.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by: Tracy Kidder
This book is a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer. He is a leading doctor in the fight against TB world-wide. Specifically his story is captivating as he serves amongst the most poor people in the world who live in particular areas of Haiti. His compassion and committment to serve all people with equality should be shared by more. Sara Groves was inspired to write and record her song "The Long Defeat" after reading this book and learning of a many who values all human life in such sacrifical and genuine ways.

Ghost Girl by: Torey Hayden
Torey Hayden is a special education teacher who has written many books about her students and their circumstances throughout a school year. This book is horrifying as it shares the real life story of one little girl she taught. While I think more people should be familiar with the daily occurances of public school life... this book wouldn't be the first I'd recommend because of its really graphic nature. I am looking forward to reading more of her books this summer.

The Penderwicks by: Jeanne Birdsall
A children's book of course must be on my list! This chapter book has always caught my eye because of its charming cover. I wish I'd known of it before, I think it might have made a nice read aloud for my third graders. If you know any children, or like reading children's literature yourself this is a nice book. It's filled with the adventures of four sisters one summer as they're away on vacation. It also makes me hope to someday have a "gaggle of girls" :)

Currently reading...
Radical Womanhood by: Carolyn McCulley
a Biblical look at the influence of feminism in the lives of Christian women

Excellent Women
by: Barbara Pym
a fictional story set in post World War II England about a 30 year old single woman and her life

My stack is big already, and still growing with more to read this summer. I'll update with more thoughts as I finish each book!