Wednesday, February 29, 2012

P52 Photo Challenge - A Great Leap - Week 9

For the ninth week of the P52 Photo Challenge, the theme is "A Great Leap."  Since Leap Day was on Wednesday, February 29th, I thought I'd focus on a literal leap on Leap Day.

On Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, there was a big snowstorm - the first major one of the winter season. By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, well over a half of a foot of snow had fallen.

It was the heavy, wet kind of snow. The back-breaking kind that needed to be shoveled; and provided a formidable challenge when pulling garbage and recycling cans over 150 feet to the end of the driveway. 

Despite the challenges this type of snow also was the perfect snowman-making snow. The snow packed well; and easily rolled and picked up even more snow to create snowman parts.

So the first thing each of us did after we finished homeschooling for the day was make a snowman - adding carrots and raisins for noses, eyes, and buttons. Sophia created a rather large snowman - it was almost her height.

Olivia created a medium-size snowman which she proudly noted was her first snowman she has ever made.

My snowman was the miniature variety - about a foot tall.

For the picture, the girls said it would be impossible to leap over Sophia's snowman. "It's too tall!"

"That's okay. Why don't you try Olivia's snowman and see if you can jump over it?" I encouraged. Despite being of moderate height, it still posed a challenge for the girls to jump over. Perhaps it was trying to run through dense, heavy snow in clunky boots and puffy snowsuits.

Regardless, the poor snowman was decapitated after a few runs and leaps.  So much for using any pictures of the headless snowman. So, onto the tiny snowman.

We moved the little snowman from the limb of the apple tree to the middle of the backyard - a place where the girls could get a running start before leaping.

Olivia jumping over the snowman.

The only minor injury the little snowman received was that its nose fell off. 

Sophia leaping over the snowman.
If you look closely, you can see its little stick arms
behind Sophia's calf.

The girls had a lot of fun jumping over the snowmen...and certainly have a memory of something they did that was a bit out of the ordinary on Leap Day 2012.

A bit of trivia from Frugal Friends Network: you can tell if it's a leap year by what day of the week it is.  How?

Every year January 1st and December 31st (the first and last day of the year) fall on the same day of the week.  Unless, of course, it's a Leap Year. See the example below.
2007Monday January 1 – Monday December 31Not a Leap Year
2008Tuesday January 1 - Wednesday December 31 Leap Year!
2009Thursday January 1 – Thursday December 31Not a Leap Year
2010Friday January 1 – Friday December 31Not a Leap Year
2011Saturday January 1 – Saturday December 31Not a Leap Year
2012Sunday January 1 - Monday December 31Leap Year!
2013Tuesday January 1 – Tuesday December 31Not a Leap Year
On Teach With Me, there was some interesting information about animals and insects that leap.

"Most sources agreed that the highest leaper is the puma or mountain lion that can leap 5-6 times their height in a single bound, but when you compare the 'contestant'” in terms of their actual height that they can jump, relative to their body size, the tiny flea wins the gold medal!

"For example, kangaroos are about 6 feet tall; they can jump 2 times their height, but fleas, can leap more than 130 times theirs!

"This means if we would scale up a flea to our size, that would be like us jumping  halfway up the Empire State Building in New York!"


At Time and Date, "According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.

"In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.

"In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition."

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shaking Off the Bonds of Stuff

Over on Love My Little Flower, the author has a Shaking Off the Bonds of Stuff schedule for the 40 days of Lent. The plan was originally written by Dale O'Leary, a freelance journalist and radio talk show host.

Here's how we've done so far:

Day 1 (Ash Wednesday, February 22): Make a decision to stay out of stores until after Easter - or at least, not to make a single impulse purchase until after Easter. If you absolutely must shop for your family, make a list and stick to it. However, it's easier all the way around if you just don't shop. Every time you buy something during Lent, write it down.

I think applying this goal to real life over the next 40 days is to focus on not making impulse purchases by making a list and sticking to it. Avoiding stores if there isn't a critical reason to go in them also is realistic and attainable.

Day 2 (Thursday, February 23): Clear all the trash out of your car. Make a decision to stop picking up free stuff and bringing it home.

I ended up doing this on Monday afternoon with Sophia's and Olivia's help. Each of us was responsible for one section of the car. In the front of the car, I gathered eight diet pop cans that I had put under the seat at some time. There was one small, serving-size bag of Cheetos that needed to be tossed.

In the back seat, each of the girls took a grocery bag from the grocery store and put garbage in it. In another they put things that needed to go inside. I was pleasantly surprised that both bags weren't even a quarter full. They've done a nice job with trying to keep the area they sit in clean.

In the far back, I put things related to tires and jump-starting the car in the hidden area where the spare tire is kept. The only things remaining are a wool blanket (in case the car breaks down and it is cold outside), a bit of extra coolant, and a bit of windshield wiper fluid. Otherwise, the entire area is cleaned out.

I've been carrying a large bag (trash bag size) full of plastic bags from the grocery store and Target. Found out that Cub recycles the bags, so I was able to get rid of that big bag from the far back of the car.

Day 3 (Friday, February 24): Collect all unmatched socks and put them in a plastic bag. Set aside. [You'll see on Day 40 that if you haven't yet discovered the matches to the socks, you'll joyfully throw those mismatched socks away.]

There's about a half a grocery-size plastic bag filled with socks that I have been collecting over the past couple of months. Looks like on Day 40 (if not before then) I'll see if any of them match.

Day 4 (Saturday, February 25): Recycle newspapers over one week old, even if you haven't read them. [On Day 6 we'll throw out catalogs. On Day 28 we'll toss magazines, so you need tackle only newspapers today. If you are feeling super ambitious, tackle all three today and then tackle something different on Days 6 and 28!]

Because we've been using the woodstove to reduce propane use this winter (and hopefully save some money), we've been using newspaper to start fires. So, as I went from room to room I only found one local paper and two days of the city paper. That was easy.

Day 5 (Monday, February 27): Empty your laundry room completely. Wash, fold, mend, iron, and return every item to its proper place, or give it to your church or Goodwill.

That sure would be nice to have a whole room dedicated to laundry. However, living in a home that was built in 1890, I need to be content with the tiny closet-like space that an upright, stacked washer/dryer combination can fit.

This washer/dryer duo is from 1996 and has to be one of the smallest washer/dryer combinations that was on the market at the time. Thus, to  accomplish washing, drying, and putting away the laundry - including all the sheets and a rug in addition to the normal laundry - I needed to start doing this on Saturday.

At some point, I will be more than happy to get an efficient dryer that doesn't take multiple cycles to dry. Until then, I just need to plan to do laundry over several days.

That being said, the laundry is done and put away. There is mending, but it hasn't been done. (At this point there are several more pressing matters that need to be addressed.) And ironing? Honestly? That's only done as needed. All of the clothes we wear with homeschooling don't need ironing (thankfully!). So, there's still a bit more left with this task, but for the most part it's done.

Day 6 (Tuesday, February 28): Throw out all old catalogs. They will send new ones. [On Day 28, we'll tackle all the magazines in our houses.]

I haven't had a chance to do this yet. I'm thinking that I'll work on this project over the weekend when I can take a block of time and go through my office closet and make sure I get rid of all the catalogs that are there.

There also are some catalogs by the side of the bed that I was thinking of going through. In reality, though, I'm not planning on buying anything, so why waste my time looking at them? 

What's coming up for the next few days?  These activities:

Day 7 (Wednesday, February 29): Throw out all expired coupons and sale notices.

Day 8 (Thursday, March 1): Give every gift you received and never used to someone who needs it or could use it more than you. If you can't think of anyone, donate it.

Day 9 (Friday, March 2): Go through your photos. Toss those of people whose names you can't remember and all ugly or unflattering photos.

Day 10 (Saturday, March 3): Give every can of food that has been in your kitchen cabinets for more than a month to a food kitchen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

U is for Upside-down Pineapple Cake - ABCs of Homeschooling

Last Friday night, Sophia made upside-down pineapple cake from the Alpha-Bakery cookbook she's been using as part of her homeschool home-economics class. It is a simple - yet delicious - recipe that was a wonderful way to end a meal.


1/4 cup butter (we used dairy-free butter)
2/3 cup (firmly) packed brown sugar
1 can (16 ounces) sliced pineapple, drained
maraschino cherries, if desired
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk (we used dairy-free milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat butter in 9x9x2 pan until melted. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter, arrange pineapple slices on top. Place cherry in center of each pineapple.

Beat remaining ingredients on low speed 30 seconds. Scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Scraping bowl constantly.

Pour over fruit in pan. Spread evenly.

Bake until center comes out clean when you insert a toothpick(55-60 minutes) immediately turn pan upside down on heat proof plate. Remove pan.

Makes 9 servings.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Take a Stitch Tuesday - Chain Stitch - Week 8

This week for Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST), the featured stitch is the chain stitch.

"Chain stitch is a sewing and embroidery technique in which a series of looped stitches form a chain-like pattern," according to Wikipedia. "Chain stitch is an ancient craft - examples of surviving Chinese chain stitch embroidery worked in silk thread have been dated to the Warring States period (5th-3rd century BC)."

On a website focused on Chinese art and culture, it was noted that "...archaeological discoveries reveal that while embroidery remained crudely simple throughout the Chou dynasty, it became increasingly sophisticated during the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), and reached an aesthetic peak in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.)."

It went on to say that, "Originally used to signify one's caste position, embroidery later came to have a purely ornamental value and evolved into a favored art form of the common people. As embroidery developed, its artistic features multiplied."


Wikipedia explains that "handmade chain stitch embroidery does not require that the needle pass through more than one layer of fabric. For this reason the stitch is an effective surface embellishment near seams on finished fabric. Because chain stitches can form flowing, curved lines, they are used in many surface embroidery styles that mimic 'drawing' in thread."

E-how said that "...the embroidered chain stitch is often used to create flowers or letters in embroidered designs. Once you have mastered this stitch, the row of chains work up quickly. This embroidery chain stitch looks like a crocheted chain stitch once the row is finished."


This week, as I have been doing each week in my TAST Embroidery Journal, I've included a personal reflection, list of items for which I'm grateful, the name of the stitch, a collage of different images, and samples of the embroidery stitch.

I enjoyed doing two different variations of the letter "A" (which is the first letter of my first name). 

The letters were from the Pattern Maker Charts - a wonderful free resource that has a variety of vintage alphabet and pattern books. The two variations that I used are both from France.

The chain stitch was an enjoyable stitch to do, and one that I will use in the future with other embroidery projects.

Embroidery Journal Project - February

This month for the Embroidery Journal Project I found a pattern for a mandala that had some symbols in it that I found personally meaningful. In addition to the symbols, the colors I chose for each symbol represent something. 

First, this piece is about 12" in diameter. The fabric is 100% cotton as is the embroidery floss. I plan to embroider 12 designs of the same size over the course of 2012. At the end of the year, I'll combine the squares with other fabric to create a quilt.

This month I chose a mandala because (to me) it is a peaceful and calm image. I like how the design is repetitive and orderly. This reflects many of my activities at home in February that were focused on getting things back in order, simplifying, and de-cluttering (and then donating usable items to several organizations).

Starting at the core of the mandala, the shape is outlined in purple - one of my favorite colors.

There is - to me - what looks like a tree trunk with a heart above it (where the branches and leaves would be). I used brown embroidery floss for the trunk and a dark green floss for the heart.

This "tree" to me represents my foundation and core of who I am. I thought of my Dad as I did this because I was and continue to be inspired by how he lived his life. If I could do a fraction of what he did; and be able to inspire, serve, and care for others like he did...I would consider my life well lived.

The dark-blue hearts are empty because February has been a tough month for me. With my Dad's funeral done; and a lot of the the post-funeral legal, thank you letters, and "busy work" complete, it leaves more time to reflect upon what has happened not only last month, but for the 2 1/2 years leading up my Dad's death and the toll Alzheimer's took on him and our family. 

Needless to say, there has been a sense of emptiness, loneliness, and sadness at times during Feburary. Thus, the empty hearts.

Under the blue hearts is an orange "arrow" pointing to a golden yellow heart. I chose these colors because I thought of the "coldness" of grief slowly hope and happiness.

The joyful color of yellow - the warmth of good memories - will (I can only hope) return. The yellow hearts all have a little piece missing out of them.  This is truly how I feel right now...that there will always be a piece of my heart missing. Always. I will always miss my Dad...for so many reasons. And, there is nothing that can replace him or his reassuring presence in my life.

But I can hope that grief will subside...that happiness will return...and that love (as symbolized by the red outline) will be a more strongly-felt emotion than sadness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

T is for Turtle Bread - ABCs of Homeschooling

A few days ago, Sophia made "Turtle Bread" - a recipe that is in her Alpha-Bakery cookbook. She was given the cookbook from her cooking teacher at the homeschool co-op she attends. Each week, she has been making a recipe from the book.

The Turtle Bread is a simple recipe that makes enough for a family to enjoy. The bread is best right out of the oven with some butter on it.

Turtle bread.
The photo is a bit dark and the turtle is casting a shadow.
Perhaps making the bread during the day and
not having it at 7:00 at night would have yielded a better photo.
Nonetheless, the bread was delicious and well worth the wait!


2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package of quick-acting dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon of butter
1 egg
2 raisins


1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of flour, the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Heat water, milk and butter to 125 -130 degrees; stir into yeast mixture. Stir in egg. Stir in enough of remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.

3. Sprinkle a surface lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

4. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Shape a 2-inch piece of dough into a ball for head. Shape 4 walnut-size pieces of dough into balls for feet. Shape 1 walnut-size piece of dough into tail. Shape remaining dough into a ball for body; place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Attach head, feet and tail to secure. Press raisins into head for eyes. Cover and let rise 20 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make crisscross cuts in body, 1/4 inch deep to look like a turtle’s shell. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Link up to the ABC's

Philip Sousa - Composer Study and Appreciation

"A rich and full homeschool education is sure to include some study of classical music and the famous composers who write its music," according to the Squidoo lens called "Composer Sudy - Charlotte Mason Style."

It went on to say, "The Charlotte Mason style of studying composers is an easy and inexpensive way to expose your children to the masters of music so that they grow up both appreciating classical music and knowing a bit about it."

Following this advice, we've been studying different composers this year as part of the girls' homeschooling education. I looked at the Simply Charlotte Mason's website and decided to use Module 6 for this year since the focus was on contemporary composers. This era is what Sophia is currently studying for history, so it seemed like a logical fit.

The six composers include:
- Telemann,
- Joplin,
- Sousa,
- Gershwin,
- Copland, and
- Foster.

During the fall we focused on Telemann and Joplin.  Out of the two, the girls preferred Joplin. In fact, Sophia wants to learn how to play some of Joplin's music on the piano.

John Philip Sousa

We just finished learning about and listening to John Philip Sousa's music. There is a very good CD that features Sousa's music as performed by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.  As we were listening to the music, we recognized one tthat we heard performed by the Minnesota Orchestra a couple of years ago when we attended a youth concert.

According to the Squidoo lens, it is recommended that when studying a composer that " simply listen to a lot of that composer's music. The objective is to listen to so much of the particular artist's music that you internalize his style and can recognize the music played elsewhere. This is not a cram session to memorize pieces and names. This is a slow and steady stream of exposure to a certain type of music."

It continued, "A little bit often is a common refrain among CM practitioners. Listening to two music selections each day while preparing a meal is much more effective than sitting the children down on the couch and forcing them to endure an hour of classical music. Let the music become the background of your home. And its rhythms and moods will seep into your children's heads and hearts. It's learning at its easiest. You simply hit play and let the music do its work. You do want the children to associate the music they are hearing with the composer's name. So do mention his name frequently, 'Let's put on the Tchaikovsky disc!' or 'I love this piece by Mozart.'"

This sounds like an ideal way to learn about composers and their music. However, the reality is that we simply listened to six different pieces of music over an extended period of time given the challenges with caregiving for my parents and my father's death in January. Perhaps next year I'll be able to achieve the above-suggested method for doing composer study and appreciation. 

- The Thunderer
- The Washington Post
- The High School Cadets
- Semper Fidelis
- The Stars and Stripes Forever
- The Lambs' March

Even though we're not following exactly how Charlotte Mason would have taught, I'm happy that the girls are and will be learning about six composers and at least 36 pieces of music over the course of this homeschooling year.

Five in a Row - "Another Celebrated Dancing Bear"

This year I have been using the Five in a Row series with Olivia. One of the books that we read recently was "Another Celebrated Dancing Bear." It is set in Russia with two bears as the main characters.  Needless to say for animal lover (like Olivia), this was a good book.

With each book in the series, we are making two or three recipes that tie into the book. The recipes are from a companion cookbook called "Five in a Row Cookbook." The recipes are simple for children to make and have been delicious.

For "Another Celebrated Dancing Bear," Olivia made cabbage soup. Although she didn't particularly care for it, it was a good soup.

 Making Cabbage Soup
Olivia putting cut cabbage into the soup kettle.

The only thing that I would change would be the meat. It would be fine without it. However, if meat is preferred, then a less expensive cut of meat would be sufficient (e.g., soup bone versus a beef roast).

Bowl of Soup Olivia Made
 A small bowl of the soup with a variety of ingredients.

The soup did have quite a bit of cabbage in it. With the cabbage, onions, celery, and tomatoes it is a frugal and hearty lunch or dinner.

Cabbage Soup Olivia Made 
The soup simmering in the kettle.

The other recipe Olivia made was for Russian Buns. Like the soup, the buns are easy to make and have only a few ingredients.

Making Russian Buns
Olivia using the mixer to mix the dough.

The recipe made quite a few Russian Buns which we ended up not only having with the soup, but for breakfast. Served warm with butter and homemade jam, they were an easy breakfast for many mornings.

Russian Buns for Another Celebrated Dancing Bear
The finished Russian Buns.

Since we already had studied about Russia last year, we didn't spend much time with geography or culture this year. Some other activities we did included:

- Language/Vocabulary. There were 11 vocabulary words in the teacher's guide. I asked what Olivia thought each word meant. She knew what each word meant which good. A new word she learned through listening to "Another Celebrated Dancing Bear" was  samovar.

I had not heard of a samovar either before reading this book. It's a metal urn with an internal heating tube used in Russia for making tea.


- Language/Drama - Both Olivia and Sophia acted out nine action words from the story (e.g., beamed, giggling, chattering, mopping his brow, kicking, leaping). They had a lot of fun with this and said they'd like to do with all the books from now on.

The Five in a Row series of books have been a delightful part of homeschooling this year. We plan to continue using the series for the next couple of years. With each volume of books, the activities get progessively more difficult to match the age and learning abilities of the children using them. We're looking forward to seeing what's in store for the rest of the year and in upcoming years.

- Science  - We discussed boiling and freezing points.

- Social Studies/Occupations  - We discussed occupations that were held by the characters of the book as well as some other occupations of characters in books we read this year through the Five in a Row series.

- Art -We looked at the illustrator's use of color throughout the book. There are many shades of brown, red-orange, and other warm colors. This conveyed a sense of hospitality of a hearth on a winter's night.

Friday, February 24, 2012

3 in 30 - February Check-in - Week 4

This year, I'm participating in the 3 in 30 Challenge. During January I had three goals and worked towards them each week. During February, I'm continuing to work on my January goals:

- Finish taking photos out of the scrapbooks that aren't photo-safe, and put them in boxes that are archival-safe.

I took photographs out of five more photo albums - only five left to go. This will be a huge sense of accomplishment (and relief) to have this done by the end of February.

Finish the master bedroom by washing all the walls and windows; and then painting the accent areas dark green (behind the bed and over the window on the west side of the room) and the walls white.  I also want to go through the books on each side of the bed, and determine if they can be donated or I want to keep them.

I did not do anything on this goal this week. It looks like washing the walls and windows; and painting will have to wait until next month. At least I got the sides of the bed cleaned and items donated last there was some progress in February.

- Continue going outside each day for 15 minutes.

Some days I did go outside for 15 minutes...others I didn't. The cold weather makes it less appealing to spend extended periods of time outside. Every day I'm outside, though, because of the horses and/or taking the girls to activities.

In addition, my three goals for February are:

1. Do a one-week fiscal fast.

For some reason, the February fiscal fast was more challenging than the January one. It seemed like there was some problem almost every day that needed a financial solution - running out of cat food; drains backed up in the bathroom and needing Drano; needing a new prescription after an appointment with a specialist; and getting gasoline so that we could visit grandparents (100 mile round trip) and make donations to a variety of organizations. (The last item relates to the 12 in 12 challenge that Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing during 2012. The link is to what we did during February.)

Hopefully the fiscal fast during March will be like January where I could refrain from spending. The good thing about this round - despite the spending during the fiscal fast - is that I am much more conscious and careful with spending, and only am getting what is absolutely necessary.

2. Reduce diet-pop consumption and increase water consumption. I'm doing fine with this goal. There was only one day that I drank three cans of diet coke instead of two cans. Every day I'm able to drink 2-3 large glasses of water.

3. File everything so I can begin working on taxes. Last week I got everything in file folders and put in alphabetical order. I did not begin working on taxes this week. However, this weekend I want to get everything done so it is ready for my accountant early next week.


Seems like there was one discouraging thing happening after another (and that definitely affected how motivated I was to really push myself to do more than what I normally do).

All in was not a terribly productive week in terms of these goals.  It was kind of a "down" week...not feeling particularly happy with the lack of progress during the past seven days. But, it is what it is.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

P52 Photo Challenge - Cabin Fever - Week 8

This week's subject for the P52 photo challenge is "cabin fever." This winter has been almost spring-like....not at all typical of a Minnesota winter. The exception was Monday night and Tuesday morning when some snow fell - deep enough that we had to wear boots.

So, as I was passing Gammelgarden on Tuesday afternoon, I thought about how the early pioneers must have felt back in the 1800s when they settled in the area. One of the buildings at Gammelgarden Immigrant Hus - was actually at a different location before being moved to the organization's property.
Immigrant Hus.

Gammelgarden said that "the exact construction date of this house is unknown, but the original land patent is dated 1855. It was used as a home until the early 1900's and then was used as a granary .... The building was donated to Gammelgården in 1985 when it was moved from its original site on Bone Lake.

"Exterior siding added 1996 (if you look at the lower right side of the picture, there's a section of the original siding that is revealed and covered with plexiglass)."

As the wind blew across the open land, it was bone-chilling. Seeing the open spaces between the slats on the home gave a very different perspective of how determined those early settlers must have been to make it through frigid Minnesota winters.

Given that parents often had more children who helped provide needed help with farming and livestock duties, the small space of this home would have been challenging - both from space and relational standpoints. 

In a home no bigger than a one-room cabin, family members had to get along. There wasn't a lot of space where they could retreat or escape to if they needed a break from each other.

Another home at Gammelgarden is much larger. In fact, it was considered a large house at the time with four bedrooms and a hand pump in the home (although it didn't have a furnace or plumbing).

Window on the side of Präst Hus.
The wood trim around the windows and door are painted a pale blue.
I like the reflection of the wooden fence in the window.

According to the Gammelgarden website, the Präst Hus was "built in 1868 as the first parsonage for the Elim Congregation. Pastors L. 0. Lindh and Eric Hedeen and families lived in the Präst Hus which was sold in 1884 to Peter Magnus Nelson, his wife Lovisa Marie Petersdotter Nelson, and their children, Josephine, Axel, and Annie who was 13 weeks old.

"Annie lived in the house until she was 88 years old and sold the property back to Elim for $7,500 in 1970. This is the oldest existing parsonage in Minnesota."

There were so many other interesting structures and things to see at Gammelgarden in the winter. One of the things that captured my eye was this little wood shed. It overlooks a little creek/wetland area.

One more thing that was interesting to see was the windmill. The windmill at Gammelgarden is attached to a water pump. I didn't test to see if it worked or not during the winter, but as the wind blew the top moved around and squeaked...loudly.

It reminded me of stories my Dad use to tell me about growing up on a farm, and having to use an outdoor hand pump for water.  Simple things we take for granted these days, people had to work hard to get 70+ years ago.

Walking around Gammelgarden on a windy and very crisp day was a good reminder to appreciate the little things...the simple things...that make daily life easier; and to be grateful for a warm place to live, especially on cold winter days.

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

12 in 12: February Update

During 2012, Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing a special challenge that we've named 12 in 12. We are doing 12 different activities that help people in need, animals, or the environment.

This is how we did during February:

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf. This month we went to Cub (the grocery store) and purchased one of their "food shelf bags." We picked out and purchased a bag of food that had a variety of items in it and then place it in the collection bin. The bags are brought to the local food shelf by Cub.

Food Shelf Donation
Sophia and Olivia with the bag of items
for the food shelf.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month.

Sophia, Olivia, and I made and delivered a meal to four residents and a staff person at Hope House on February 15th. We spent about two hours cooking and baking; and then another hour driving to and from Hope House.

Delivering Food to Hope House
The girls with trays of food for residents at Hope House.

Hope House provides co-housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. It is based in a beautiful home in which each person has his/her own room and private bathroom. There are cooperative living areas (lounge, dining room, kitchen, and wrap-around porch). They have 24-hour staff and volunteer programs.

As Hope House's brochure said, "For many people, the living crisis created by the disease can be as devastating as the physical and emotional suffering. Consider what you would do if you could no longer live independently; when your partner, your friends, and your family cannot provide the care you need? Where do you go then?"

The residents receive assistance with daily living activities (personal care, cooking, mobility, and transportation); food, lodging, protection, and household services; social and recreational activities; 24-hour medical care; and holistic care (physical, psycho-social, and spiritual).  
Playing with Cat at Hope House
Olivia and Sophia playing with the cat at Hope House.

We were warmly welcomed when we arrived at Hope House; and the person accepting the food seemed so enthusiastic and appreciative of a home-cooked/baked meal. "It smells delicious!" she said. She thanked the girls for helping and bringing the food. Between that and seeing the house cat, they were happy to have volunteered this month for Hope House.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Chicken and rice casserole. Also brought broccoli and cauliflower salad,
carrot bread, and snickerdoodle cookies.

On February 20th, the girls made window stars for a half hour at their 4-H club meeting.
Making Window Stars
Sophia concentrating on making a window star.

The girls (and other 4-H club members) were very happy with how their stars turned out.

4-H Club with Finished Stars
The 4-H club members holding the stars they made.

Then, on February 22nd, they went to a local nursing home and put the window stars on the dining room windows that overlook a courtyard.

Decorating Windows at Nursing Home
Olivia and Sophia putting up the stars at the nursing home.

Dining Room Windows Decorated
The windows in the dining room decorated with stars.


In addition, I signed a petition that is being sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association. I also added my daughters' signatures as well as my mom's signature to the petition since the three of them do not have their own email accounts.

The Alzheimer's Association is hoping to collect 250,000 signatures and then present it to President Obama. Basically, the petition says:

We, the undersigned, call on the President to issue a strong National Alzheimer's Plan to help the millions of Americans now affected by Alzheimer's disease, and the many millions more at risk.

Alzheimer's won't wait.

Today, more than 5 million Americans are facing the challenges of Alzheimer's. This number could rise to 16 million by 2050 if we do not act.

Right now, nearly 15 million Americans serve as caregivers, and this is projected to soar to 45 million in that same timeframe.

The cost of inaction is too high. Alzheimer's will cost the nation $183 billion this year. This will rise to $1 trillion by 2050, bankrupting families and our health care system.

Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top 10 without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression.

We urge the President to take the next bold step forward in the fight against Alzheimer's, fulfilling the promise of the National Alzheimer's Project Act passed unanimously by Congress more than a year ago. Now is the time to create a world without Alzheimer's.
Mom Dad and Girls by Organ
Sophia and Olivia with their grandparents (my parents) in Pella, Iowa.
(We took a trip together in April 2009.)
This was taken one month before my dad's diagnosis of
having mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease.
This is a cause that is close to my heart since my father had Alzheimer's Disease and died last month. After seeing the effects on him, our family, and those who cared about him and who he impacted throughout his life, I can only hope that something is done quickly to address this disease. Truly, this is something no person or family wants to go through.

If you're interested in signing the petition, please go here:

- Donate 1 bag of clothing to a second-hand shop.

We donated four bags of clothing to Family Pathways. Most of the clothing was from Sophia and Olivia because they went through their drawers and closets, and donated clothes they no longer could fit into or wear.

Items Donated to Second-Hand Store
The girls by clothing, books, and other items we donated.

- Donate 1 bag of toys and other non-clothing items to a second-hand shop.

There were nine bags of non-clothing items that we brought to Family Pathways on the same day that we brought the clothing (see photo above). They were both happy - and surprised - at how much they could find to donate this month.

All the money that Family Pathways earns through the sale of items in its second-hand shop are used to fund programs that benefit those in need of all ages - from babies to seniors.

- Donate 12 books that we no longer read to organizations needing books.

We donated books to a variety of organizations this month:

- Family Pathways received 42 books. (See photo above - there were two bags packed with books.)

- The public library received 5 books. These books were in very good condition and could either be used for their collection or for their on-going sale they have to raise funds to purchase new books and periodicals.

- St. Bridget's Catholic Church received 8 books. These books were of a more spiritual/religious nature and two were related to Alzheimer's Disease.  Since my dad (the girl's grandfather) was a deacon in the Catholic Church and had Alzheimer's Disease, it seemed appropriate that these books be donated to St. Bridget's for their library in memory of my dad. Although we are not parishioners at the church, they seemed very happy to receive the books.

Donating Books to the Library
Olivia and Sophia outside the library with books to donate.

- Donate $12 to an organization that helps individuals, animals, or the environment.

Sophia and Olivia both wanted to donate $12 to Northwoods Humane Society again this month.  When we visited on February 22nd, we were happy to read a sign that said that 16 cats and dogs had been adopted in the past week. 
Girls Enjoying the Puppies
Sophia and Olivia spending some time with
puppies who need a new home.

- Write 1 letter to someone who has made a difference in our lives.

On February 13th, I wrote and mailed a letter to Larry and Maureen who are friends of our family (my dad met Larry back in the mid-1960s). If anything would have ever happened to my parents when I was growing up, my sister, brother, and I would have lived with Larry and Maurren.

I thanked both of them for their many ways they helped our family during the past year, especially during and following my dad's death on January 5th. Since both Sophia and Olivia are still relatively young, I asked them if they felt comfortable seeing their grandpa before he died. Both said they did not - which is completely understandable. Their last memory of being with him was a positive one - they played the piano and harp for him; and brought Eenie (the cat) for a visit. I believe they wanted to keep that as their last memory.

Maureen suggested that on January 3rd, when it looked like that was going to be my dad's last day with us, that Sophia and Olivia be given an opportunity to talk to their grandpa over the phone. They understood that he wouldn't respond verbally to them, but that he would be listening to what they say.

Since I knew I wouldn't be able to say that aloud without crying, I asked Maureen if she would ask the girls if they wanted to do that. Both were eager to talk to Papa. In fact, each kept talking and talking. Maureen would come on and ask if they were done. "No? Okay, you may keep talking," she would say...and they did. For a long time.

To have that closure...that one last conversation...made a huge difference in each of our lives. For that, I am truly thankful that Maureen was there and facilitated that call.

- Donate 1 bag of pop cans to places that collect them to raise funds.

Sophia and Olivia both wanted to donate a bag of cans to Northwoods Humane Society again this month.

Donating Cans to Northwoods
The girls putting the cans in the collector.

- Donate 1 bag of Purina Kitten Chow (dry) to Northwoods Humane Society (where Gretel was adopted).

In addition to the Kitten Chow, Olivia found a harness for puppies or small dogs. The person who accepted the donations seemed very happy with both items as well as the cash donation. 

Donating Items to Northwoods
The girls in the welcome area at Northwoods with their donations.

- Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife.

Throughout the month, we filled bird feeders. Since it is still winter, there aren't a lot of projects we can do yet. Once spring and summer are here, there will be more work outside.

- Make and randomly drop off 1 toy for a child to find as part of The Toy Society.

I made a hand-embroidered owl from wool felt, cotton embroidery floss, and wool stuffing. The owl is about the size as a child's hand.

Hand Embroidered Owl for Toy Society
Owl toy with a note encouraging someone to take it home,
a page from a child's book about friendship, and
more information about The Toy Society.

After putting together the owl with the notes in a plastic bag it was off to the public library. We placed it on the lowest level of books right in the front so a young child would see it.

Toy Ready to be Found
Ready to be discovered.

- Share 1 time the gift of music (piano and/or harp) or singing with others.

The girls sang on Sunday, February 5th at both services at church.
Olivia in the front row and Sophia in the back row
singing during the first service.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…I'm focusing on homeschooling, volunteering, donating, and continuing to organize/de-clutter.

In our homeschool this week…the girls went to the homeschool co-op for piano lessons, cooking, and sewing (Sophia); and piano lessons, American Sign Language, and music fundamentals (Olivia). Sophia had her harp lesson on Tuesday. Both girls have choir practice on Wednesday. Olivia goes for speech therapy and help with reading with a specialist (due to a few learning disabilities) on Thursday and Friday.

We also are finishing the dental unit study and artist study about Frederick Remington. We are continuing work on the core subjects (e.g., math, history, spelling, art); and starting a couple new subjects in science - astronomy/space and veterinary science.

We continue to make recipes that tie into the Five in a Row series that Olivia is using as well as recipes that are in the Alpha-Bakery cookbook.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…always incorporate service to others and giving as part of homeschooling. Developing good character is equally as important as academic knowledge.

I am inspired by…my dad who I am learning more about...even after his death. What an incredibly rich, meaningful, full, and compassionate life he led. He was and continues to be an incredible role model for me.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…today we're going to spend part of the day helping others and donating items we no longer need. We're going to make in-kind/product donations to a second-hand store, the library, food shelf, and church. We'll be donating cans, kitten food, and cash to an animal shelter. Last, we'll be visiting a nursing home to hang window stars that the 4-H club made on Monday night.

My favorite thing this week was…taking some quiet time by myself to listen to music and embroider a wool-felt case for the iPad. have been wanting to do this for months, but never took the time to do it. Finally did the project on Monday afternoon.

What’s working/not working for us…the Fiscal Fast during the past week was challenging because it seemed like everything was running out or having problems, and needed money to fix the issue.

For example, the drains were plugged and needed Drano; the cats ran out of food; and I had to go to a specialist and get a rather expensive prescription (over $2 per pill which needs to be taken once per day...perhaps twice a day if the dosage needs to be stronger...or $4+ a day). So much for not spending money for a week. Hopefully next month when we do the Fiscal Fast again I can go for a complete week without spending like I did in January.

Questions/thoughts I have…I wish there was an inexpensive way to travel and see all the states in the U.S. as the girls are learning about each of the states. Reading and learning about Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois now. It would be nice to be able to travel to these four states and see things we've read about.

Things I’m working on…an embroidered square for the Embroidery Journal Project. I'm going to combine all the squares that I do this year (one per month) into a quilt. Also will be doing a chain stitch sampler to include in my embroidery journal this week. The sampler goes with images I collage, a list of items for which I'm grateful, and a short personal reflection.

I’m reading…Wesley the Owl. It's about a woman who raises an owl from 4-5 days old until it's about 19 years old. It had nerve damage in one wing so it was unable to survive in the wild. just started reading it. So far, it looks like an interesting book.

I’m cooking…using food that's on hand. During February, only purchased the essentials in an effort to use only food that's in the cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer. Not only will that reduce expenses, but will clean things out so by spring I can hopefully start out fresh with healthier food and do more seasonal cooking.

I’m grateful for…being able to watch the variety of birds that are visiting the bird feeder this morning. Will put out more bird seed so even more birds visit throughout the day.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Single Leaf

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Heartwarming Animal Stories Review - "Homer's Odyssey"

For the second book of the Heartwarming Animal Stories 2012 Reading Challenge, I chose Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper.

The book basically is a memoir about the author, Gwen Cooper, and her three cats. Homer, the cat who is blind, came into her life via a call from her veterinarian who asked her if she would like an abandoned kitten who could not see.

The kitten was about two weeks old and had had an infection for about that period of time. Since kittens' eyes are sealed closed for about 10-13 days at the beginning of their life, Homer did not experience any vision for his entire life.

The veterinarian said, "Like many animals, kittens are capable of rerouting their neurologic faculties for successful survival through a process called individual environmental adaptation."

Despite the kitten's ability to adapt, the people who brought the kitten into the veterinarian did not want him nor did a host of other people who the veterinarian called. After Gwen saw and interacted with Homer at the veterinarian's office, she agreed to adopt Homer.

For well over half the book, the author talks about how Homer grows from a kitten to cat; adapts to her home; the impressive things he can do; and how the other two cats she already has accepts (or tolerates) the presence of a third cat.

Honestly, the book became almost tedious in detail, and I found myself skimming over sections of the book that didn't directly relate to Homer. In fact, the parts relating to her dating life, boyfriend/eventual husband, and wedding were all parts that I skimmed. It was irrelevent to why I wanted to read the book: I wanted to read about Homer.

About two-thirds the way through the book, the author moves to New York. Shortly after, 9/11 happens and she shares her experience about that day and the subsequent difficulties in reaching her cats who are on the 31st floor of an apartment building near Ground Zero.

Her experience gave me a very different perspective to 9/11 - not only the escape from Ground Zero over the Brooklyn Bridge, but how difficult it was for people who had animals in the immediate area to go back and retrieve them.

The ASPCA was involved immediately after 9/11, and would take small groups of people to their homes/apartments to get their pets who were trapped. The police would be waiting outside, and if anyone came out without an animal, they were immediately arrested. This was to deter people from saying they had a pet (when they didn't) so they could gain access to their homes and get their laptops or other personal belongings.

The highlights of the book truly were what Homer was able to do despite a complete lack of vision. The author - as well as those she knew - expected little from Homer since he couldn't see. However, Homer had unlimited trust, love, and zeal for living. He proved to be far more adaptable, brave, and able to do things than the author or anyone expected.

One of the messages that clearly came across through Homer's life and actions were that people can truly underestimate what animals (and people) can do if they have some type of limitation or challenge. In reality, it is one's personality and determination to overcome those limitations that makes one's life full and rewarding.

The author said that she learned from Homer that "...just because you couldn't quite see your way out of a difficulty, didn't mean a way out didn't exist." He also taught her that "Nobody can tell you what your potential is."

As the author said, "In a seemingly hopeless situation, when no rational person could expect anything good, yet somehow ends up receiving everything good - these are things we call miracles and wonders. A few of us are lucky enough to see such wonders in our everyday lives." Homer - his life and attitude - truly fits this description.


The author mentioned an organization in her book - Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary - that is located in North Carolina. There are many cats there who are blind, and they are looking for people to adopt or sponsor them; for volunteers; and for financial or in-kind donations to help care for the cats they have there.

Much closer to home, I found Home for Life which is a new kind of animal shelter - a long-term animal sanctuary. According to its website, they "...provide life-time care for the special needs animal, the cat or dog who, while still able to lead a quality life, is unable to find a home due to age, chronic treatable disorder, handicap, or similar reason. Once an animal comes to us, it truly has a home for life."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Christina Rossetti - Poet/Poetry Study

One aspect of homeschooling this year is doing a poet and poetry study. Sophia and Olivia listened to six poems by Christina Rossetti and shared some their thoughts about what they heard.

In an ideal world, one poem would be read once a week over a course of six weeks. Then, another poet and six poems would be studied. Given what happened in early-January, we fell a bit behind. So, I read a grouping of poems to try to stay on track with the schedule as best I could.

The six poems I read to the girls, and their reactions to them are below.



Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my love, how long ago

Sophia thought the poem was depressing and painted a rather "gray mood." The words were sad. She pictured a "gray lake with mist over it" as I read it.

Olivia said it was a sad poem and it sounded "like someone died."

This was the least favorite poem (out of the six poems) for both of the girls.


(from "Sing-Song")

An emerald is as green as grass;
A ruby red as blood;
A sapphire shines as blue as heaven;
A flint lies in the mud.

A diamond is a brilliant stone,
To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
But a flint holds fire.

Sophia liked the part about the diamond the best. Olivia said that she liked this poem "because it's about stones, the color, and what they mean. I like the emerald, ruby, and opal the best." Both the girls liked this poem the best out of the six read.



Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land;
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day
you tell me of our future that you planned:
only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve:
for if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.

Sophia thought it sounded like someone went away - like to Iraq. Although it was still a sad poem, she liked it better than the first one read (Echo). Olivia said that " sounded like someone died and went to heaven."

We talked a bit about the last two lines of this poem: "better by far you should forget and smile/than that you should remember and be sad." This is especially relevent given that the girls' grandfather (my dad) died on January 5th.


Who Has Seen the Wind?
(from "Sing-Song")

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Sophia thought the words were nice in this poem. "I think of a breezy day. It would be a good day for sailing a boat," she said. Olivia said, "It's about the wind and weather. It was okay."


Holy Innocents

Sleep, little Baby, sleep;
The holy Angels love thee,
And guard thy bed, and keep
A blessed watch above thee.

No spirit can come near
Nor evil beast to harm thee:
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear
Where nothing need alarm thee.

The Love which doth not sleep,
The eternal Arms surround thee:
The Shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love hath found thee.

Sleep through the holy night,
Christ-kept from snare and sorrow,
Until thou wake to light
And love and warmth to-morrow.

Sophia felt the poem had a quiet tone to it "and can put you to sleep." She felt that "a mom would say this to a younger child." Olivia felt like the poem would be a good one "for a baby who just got born" and that a "mother would say this to her baby."


From "The World. Self-Destruction"
O Lord, seek us, O Lord, find us
In Thy patient care;
Be Thy love before, behind us,
round us, everywhere;

Lest the god of this world blind us,
lest he speak us fair;
Lest he forge a chain to bind us,
lest he bait a snare.

Turn not from us, call to mind us,
Find, embrace us, bear;
Be Thy love before, behind us,
round us, everywhere.

Sophia said that the poem sounded like a person "didn't want the stronger or bad forces to get us." Olivia thought that the poem was more religious than the others. She liked the first sentence the best: "O Lord, seek us, O Lord, find us/In Thy patient care."


Having only heard a few poems of Christina Rossetti's in children's poetry books, I was surprised at the diversity of poetry she wrote. According to Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti edited by Marya Zaturenska, these "...poems embody the special qualities of the nineteenth-century poet: her intensely religious feelings and her highly romantic view of love and life.

"Born in England in 1830, Christina Rossetti was the daughter of an Italian exile and a part-English mother." Wikipedia said that she became a poet "...who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is best known for her long poem Goblin Market, her love poem Remember, and for the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Take a Stitch Tuesday - Detached Chain (Lazy Daisy) Stitch - Week 7

This week for Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST), the featured stitch is the detached chain stitch (also known as the lazy daisy stitch).

Two-page entry in my embroidery journal.
Has two samples of the stitch, the name of the stitch,
a personal reflection, list of items for which I'm grateful, and
images from greeting cards and a poem.

It is named, as explained on Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials, "...because the stitch can stand alone as a single loop unlike the other chain stitch family members that always link to each other. Since the loops can be used to create floral patterns that resemble a daisy flower, it may more often be called the 'lazy daisy.'"

No matter how hard I try, the stitches turn out uneven
and sloppy looking.
Truly, this is one of my least favorite stitches
because it looks like a two-year old did these stitches.

Since I have heard it most often referred to the lazy daisy stitch, that's how I'll refer to it from this point forward.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the lazy daisy stitch is "an embroidery stitch formed by an elongated loop held down at the free end by a small stitch."

Individual lazy daisy stitches in blue and yellow, with
the hearts outlined in purple, orange, and green
using the back stitch.

Victorian Embroidery and Crafts says that the lazy daisy stitch "...may be used singly to form a spot pattern over a large area or may be clustered together to make small flowers."

Detached Chain Stitch
a.k.a. Lazy Daisy Stitch

Since I've often seen the stitch used to create flowers, I was curious to learn a bit more about daisies. According to Wikipedia, "The Asteraceae or Compositae (commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family), is an exceedingly large and widespread family of vascular plants. 

"The group has more than 22,750 currently accepted species, spread across 1,620 genera and 12 subfamilies. Along with the Orchidaceae, this makes it one of the two largest flowering plant families in the world."

On a website that had facts about daisies, it said that "the word 'daisy' came from the Anglo Saxon words daes eage. The literal meaning of these words is 'day's eye'. It was so-called, as the daisies open at dawn."

It went on to say that daisies "...represent purity and innocence. Devoid of any sin or guilt, daisies are said to the perfect symbol of innocence .... Daisies capture the purity of mind, heart and soul, much better than any other flower. Hence, the daisies are also said to be the ultimate symbol of inner sanctity."

This is a poem called "Daisy Time" written by Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922).

See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies' dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer's praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.

The Lazy Daisy name isn't just a description for an embroidery stitch. There's a Lazy Daisy Cake (the recipe was printed in Good Housekeeping). I'll end up trying that at some point and see what it tastes like.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 9" by 9" metal baking pan. On waxed paper, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup milk and 2 tablespoons margarine over low heat until margarine melts and milk is hot.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar until slightly thickened and pale yellow, about 5 minutes, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Beat in vanilla.

Transfer egg mixture to large bowl. With mixer at low speed, alternately add flour mixture and hot milk mixture to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl. Pour into pan.

Bake cake 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pan with cake on wire rack while making topping. Preheat broiler.

In 2-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, remaining 4 tablespoons margarine or butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in pecans and coconut. Spoon topping over hot cake and spread to cover top of cake.

Place pan with cake in broiler 5 to 7 inches from source of heat, and broil 1 to 2 minutes, until topping is bubbly and browned, watching carefully and rotating pan as necessary for even browning. Cool completely on wire rack.