Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making Pepper Jelly

A few days ago I spent the afternoon with my friend Marie.  She is a lady that I absolutely adore!  Her children range in age from like 8-18 (four boys) and are some of the most well mannered kids I have ever met.  Marie makes homemade pepper jelly every summer with the peppers she grows in her garden.  In case you didn't know this already I am a big fan of pepper jelly.  I sometimes buy the Harry & David kind but not often since I'm poor.  Well...Marie invited me to come spend the afternoon at her house and learn to make pepper jelly.  All she asked me to bring was some jars and some sugar.  She grew all the peppers herself.  And she had the vinegar and pectin.  I came home with ten jars of pepper jelly.  I had so much fun.  I had intended to post pictures but I got so caught up in actually making jelly I forgot to take pictues of us making jelly. 

While we were waiting for the jelly to cool a little Marie told me about how to make other kinds of jelly.  She said if you can make one (and I did in fact make a batch of the pepper jelly) that you can make any kind.  I am excited to try and make some strawberry jam.  I am excited to have a skill that I have always wanted.  I feel like I can make something and give it to people as a gift and they will think I am so cool for knowing how to make this! Ha!  I am such a dork.

So this has me thinking about other things I want to learn to make.  So I am making a list of the things I want to learn to make.  I already have a list of things I want to learn to do.   I will probably post these at a later date.  I am excited that I am learning how to make things from scratch.  Oh, this is a random side note but my grandma gave me a bunch of vegetables from her garden so I am cooking lots of FRESH things this week and that makes me happy too! 

I guess this post was kind of random...but it's all I've got for now!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia

In March I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia series.  This was the first time I had read these books.  I remember in college I went with a group of friends to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  It was actually a midnight showing and was used as an outreach event to tell people about Jesus.  When the movie was over I said to one of my friends who was with me "That would have been a really cool book."  He looked at me like I was crazy and said "It is a book."  I think I probably said hmm.  I don't know why, but not only had I never read these books, I had never even heard of these books.  So, I decided I would read them.  Then you know how that goes, that plan got put on hold...then I kind of forgot about it.  Then awhile back the whole boxed series showed up in a book order I was sending home with my students.  I decided I would buy the series for myself and finally read them.  I originally thought I could read them all in March.  I probably could have if I had been able to stay focused.  And if I had not decided that was also a good time to read the House of Night series.  So, I just finished the last one on Tuesday night.  Here are my thoughts...
I chose to read the books in the order that they were in when I got them.  I did some research before I started reading because I know there is some dispute as to what order the books should be read in.  Here is how I got them (it was labeled 'Author's Order'):
The Magician's Nephew
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle

I was not really sure about reading The Magician's Nephew first since it was not the first movie.  My only exposure to this series had been the first movie.  I am so glad I started with this book and I am so glad I followed this order in reading the books.  My favorite part about this first book was reading about the founding of Narnia.  It could have been so easy to get lost in the other stuff.  The strange dialect.  The characters who seemed not fully developed in a literary sense.  But then it gets to the part where it talks about the Lion's Song.  About how Aslan himself called Narnia into being.  About everything springing up and being brand new and being like things they had never seen before.  I was in awe.  It was beautiful and inspring and tear jerking.  I wondered a lot about how this compared to the creation of the world. 

The next book-The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe-was all I had expected it to be since I had seen the movie.  However, as it usually is, the book was better.  I usually like to read books first because the amount of detail that is in them that it is just impossible to include in the movie.  I enjoyed reading about all the things I had enjoyed watching.  The shapes that came to life and danced in the fire while Mr. Tumnus first played his song for Lucy, the emotion when he realized what a horrible thing he had done, the despair Edmund felt when he realized he was wrong about the Whtie Witch, the way Aslan spoke and roared and commanded his followers.  It was beautiful.

The Horse and His Boy was an interesting read.  For those of you who are not familiar it is simply a story about an adventure that happens while the children are in Narnia.  It is in the years between when they defeat the White Witch and when they go back through the wardrobe to find that though it had been many years in Narnia (almost a lifetime) it had been only fractions of a second in their own world.  Nothing happened that left me in awe, but this book was a quick and easy read.

Prince Caspian is maybe my favorite of these books.  I loved it so much I have decided I want to name a kid after Prince Caspian.  Caspian is brave and valiant and a gentleman.  He leads his people with ease yet gives respect to Peter the High King.  My favorite part of this book is the description of the battle.  I could literally see this happening like a movie in my head.  Few books pull me in the way this one did.  I love how when Aslan asks Caspian if he is prepared to be the King, Caspian says no and Aslan knows that is exactly what will make him a great King.  Peter and Susan so bravely and willingly walk away from Narnia in this book.  Some may not see it this way, but to me it was about sacrifice.  Peter would have loved to stay in Narnia forever and ever.  But he was willing to leave because he knew that was what Aslan wished. 

After reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader I watched the movie and was so disappointed in the movie.  I could so identify with Eustace.  It is so easy to think that I have it all together.  I love how he talks about being scratched out of the dragon.  He says that it hurt but it was worth it.  I love Reepicheep.  He is so ready to take on any adventure for Aslan.  How many times could we benefit from that example?  To be ready and willing to go into the unknown in pursuit of our God.  This books surprised me in it's descriptions of places.  I enjoyed the adjective rich text.  My favorite part of this story was when Aslan told Lucy she would have to come to know Him by another name in her world.  How profound.

The Silver Chair was one of the hardest for me to read.  It was slow going.  I had a really hard time getting into the book, but once I did I read the last half pretty quickly.  It was a good story about the rescue of Prince Rilian.  It just seemed somehow disconnected from the other books.  And I guess I don't have much more to say about it.

The Last Battle.  Oh how I enjoyed this book.  I was not expecting it to end the way it did.  If you are reading this blog, you MUST read the book.  And when you do I want to hear all about your thoughts.  I don't want to give everything away, but I guess I assume that most people have read this.  The fact that the author refers to the world as "Shadowland" is perfect.  I like that it's talked about how when they go into "Aslan's Country" it is like Narnia and also like their world but somehow better and brighter as if they has been only looking at a reflection.  And as beautiful and awe inspiring as it was to read about the founding of Narnia, it was just as tragic to read about the end of it.  Not at all what I expected, but satisfying. 

So, that said I am now done reading The Chronicles of Narnia.  I am going to start reading the True Blood series next.  Don't think I can pick anything much different from Chronicles of Narnia than that.  I now anxiously await the rest of the movies to come out.  I will be interested to see what movies they make and what movies they don't make and how they do them.  And that is all my thoughts on that!


So I think this blogging thing would be so much easier if I had the internet at my house!  Oh, and on top of that my computer crashed.  Lame.  Good thing Ben pulled my hard drive.  He saved it and turned it into an external hard drive so all the stuff that was on my computer is still there...there is just no computer anymore.  I am hoping that that doesn't add a whole new level of difficulty to working on school stuff at home.  So a lot has happened lately.  Let me think.  Here is a quick update...at least the things I can think about...

*I had my birthday.  It was maybe the best birthday I have had in a long time.  First of all Alisa was here.  So I started my birthday with her singing to me and Charline texting me shortly after midnight.  This reminded me that I have two of the very best friends ever!  I woke up to birthday greetings from my family which is a tradition in my family and I love it.  I miss the days that we all lived in the same house and I got woken up to in person birthday greetings...but phone greetings are good too.  I love this tradition.  When I have a kid(s) I want to always wake them up on their birthday and tell them the story of how special they are and how God brought them to me cause those are some of the best moments.  The day continued by me finding out that Erica was in town two days early.  I got to go spend some time with her and Trevor for the morning.  Then I got to have lunch with Ringo.  I was so thrilled that he was in town and the timing was perfect.  I met his friend, we had lunch and then went to the high school to show her where we went to school.  This was so fun!  Then I took a nap and got ready for Bible School.  At Bible School the kids all sang to me.  After Bible school Shelley and Charline came over for cake and punch.  My day was so great.  My friends and family are so amazing.

Me, Ringo and his friend!

*I got to have lunch with Erica, Jamie and Alyse.  We started out with Trevor but he did not want to be at lunch so he hung out with his daddy and we had a girls lunch.  It was so good to hang out with them all at the same time.  We wished that our friend Dana had been able to make it, but she couldn't come.  Alyse entertained us all.  She talks so much!

*Oh, our family celebrated other birthdays!  We had birthday parties for Alyse, then Hunter, then Levi.  Levi was so sleepy at his party he couldn't even really enjoy opening his gifts.  I love seeing him discover new things though.  I am amazed by little kids!

* I went to the Kindergarten Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This is where lots of Missouri kindergarten teachers get together for a few days to learn about new things in education and ideas about bringing fun things into your classroom.  It was pretty good.  I got some good ideas and I got to know the girl I will be teaching with next year. 

*I went to see the newest (and last ever) Harry Potter movie which was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  Gosh I love that movie.  I did not read the books when they first were popular.  I was not part of the crowd who stood there in line waiting to get a book.  I was a late comer to the HP phenomenon.  But I did in fact read every single book BEFORE I watched ANY of the movies.  I prefer to have my own pictures in my head of how the characters look before I see them on screen.  I read the books quite quickly and then saw all the movies.  The last one I went with Mepps and I waited in line to see the midnight premiere.  It was well worth it.  As a matter of fact I am going to see it again tomorrow night with my sister. 

I am sure that there are more things I could write about to update you on my life...but I guess that's all I can think of for right now.  I still have some things coming up this summer and soon it will be back to school.  Soon it will be time to navigate my way through the chaos of kindergarten while adding as much sparkle as possible.  When I think about all the new adventures that lie ahead of me I am excited and nervous all at the same time.  Some kind of big things are happening in my life...things that will eventually be a whole other blog post and that I am excited for you to read.  Basically I guess until then I am just trying to stick to the status quo! 

That's all for now.  I finally finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia books so I'm working on writing a review for them.  :)