Wednesday, March 30, 2011

That Time of Year

We are joining up with The Homeschool Village’s Garden Challenge this year—a great one for us, since we love to garden!


Here is a view of our garden space and my husband cutting back broccoli plants from last year that are mainly just flowering now.  Our compost bin is to the left, and the flowering tree is a plum tree. This photo was taken before we started a new flower bed in the back yard for our herbs since their increase in size left less room for vegetables—you can see their bushiness down the way.


Once the herbs were transplanted, we bought a few baby vegetable plants. My oldest planted the tomatoes. We bought 2 cherry tomato and 2 salad tomato plants (I’m not sure of the specific type due to language differences—I understood the cherry and tomato words though!).


Our youngest daughter planted the cucumbers (“Gurken” in German). The girls love them—a taste they acquired in German kindergarten! We are excited to have more space for these and the tomatoes since they all ran together last year. We also added more strawberry plants, more broccoli plants, and some new green and red leaf lettuce.


Honestly, the girls found other ways to have fun while we worked our old and new beds. Yet it was still a joy to be together outside as we got our garden back in business.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Building Others Up

What to do you get when you mix Polly Pockets, spelling blocks and Toxic Slime?


A great lesson in building others up!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29


My husband planned an excellent object lesson for our girls’ Sunday School. They saw how encouraging words from one Polly literally stacked up the blocks for the other Polly—how it helps us walk in who we really are in Christ.


You can see the distress in his face when the Polly’s words weren’t encouraging and tore the other girl down. I won’t show you the face he made as he acted like he was throwing up the Toxic Slime! I think the point was made!


So, here’s to a great dad and a reminder too: Go and help others stand in their rightful position with the words from our mouths!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Books

In our line of work, you don’t want to miss getting guest’s signatures. Living overseas, they might not pass this way again (although we hope they do!). I also wanted these books to be special for years to come. We hadn’t come across any journals that might fit the bill, so I decorated two journals from the dollar store.


For The Vineyard side of the retreat center, I cut a grapevine with my Silhouette—as always, we’re amazed what it can do—how intricate a cut is that?! I used travel themed paper my aunt had given me along with a pseudo pocket I made from card stock and lace fabric. Sewing paper is fun when it works right!


For The Orchard side of the retreat center, I used the same travel themed paper and a pear graphic from The Graphics Fairy. I sewed the edges of the pear piece and a button on the label and then added a ruffled piece of linen. Yeah for things coming together!

I’m sharing this at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

At the End of the Rainbow Rice

This St. Patrick’s Day, I was a little less motivated to go all out compared to last year. We did watch a video about this day on BrainPOP—we especially enjoyed looking at pictures of the Chicago River being changed to green afterward. Then we did a symmetrical shamrock painting since the girls had been learning about halves and quarters this week. I’d hoped to get to our rainbow rice dig for magnets {since rainbows go with this holiday a bit}, but we’ll get to magnets tomorrow as we finish up our week of the Letter M.  I’m also tucking away a great teaching tool on the Trinity using 3 leafed shamrocks from 2Teaching Mommies.

Rainbow rice is sensory bin filler I first saw on Pink and Green Mama.  Hers is beautiful as are others like Rockabye Butterfly’s below for St. Patrick’s Day. If you are not familiar with sensory bins, check out Counting Coconuts and 1+1+1=1 to get a better idea. After being inspired by an article that sensory bins were not too babyish for my age of girls, rice seemed like an easy to make option and is readily available in Portugal .

I used the directions from Pink and Green Mama. I loved that she used Purell, and we had a plethora of that! It was a great opportunity for the girls to practice measuring out one cup of rice at a time for each bag to be colored. I think we ended up making several cups of each color.


Shaking up the rice with 5 squirts of Purell and 5 drops of food coloring per instructions. I guess we had to add much more because of how much we made?


Then we laid the rice out in trays to dry. This led to some artistic landscaping rather than a nice ROYGBIV, but that’s ok.


And mixed together in the bin waiting for some fun treasures to hide within! The Polly Pockets in our house have found a great new way to go swimming!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sights, Sweets and Sidewalks of Nazare

Yesterday, we took a family trip to Nazare, about 45 minutes north of our home. We’d heard great things about it, but had not been in our near 2 years of living here!


We started at the top. There is a elevator car that takes you up and down the hill. You can see the track on the far left of the cat. 


My husband checked things out while the girls rummaged for good shells.


I caught some great wave action photos—a first for me!





Not only was the scenery spectacular, the people were quite unique. To see traditional garb being worn along side current day fashion was really surprising. We took a pic of the lady selling nuts and her 7 skirts {the story goes that they would take off one for every day their sailor was out to sea fishing that week}, but she may have just been dressed up for a sale I think.


When we kept seeing other ladies in a version of that traditional dress, we realized this was the norm! 


My husband had to keep me from trying to take pictures of each of these ladies we saw--just something I didn’t expect to be a reality in “our” country!


Seems like this type of dress might no longer be seen past this generation—unless you’re a vendor!


Also, I had to show you some Portuguese sweets and not so sweet.


BIG meringues!


Lots of shredded candied egg yolk {that is NOT cheese}, filled with egg yolk pudding, or iced with egg yolk pastries along with some chocolate and apple items. A recent guest commented that one of these reminded him of a Twinkie but better!


Drying fish on racks on the sidewalk.


An old timer convertible with Alaska plates on the sidewalk—what?!!!  NOT normal to see in Portugal!


And lastly, what we picked up on the sidewalk! {next to a dumpster} All the parts were there except the obvious missing spindle. We’re not sure if we like it or think it needs a happy color of paint to make it less oppressive. Thoughts? 

Thanks for sharing our journey with us!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Silhouette Subway Art

So I received the most amazing machine for Christmas called the Silhouette.

Silhouette SD

It can cut paper, vinyl, and fabric and draw if you have the pen inserts. It’s a little different from other cutting machines because you don’t have to purchase fonts and graphics from a store. You get a set with the machine and then you can download more for about 99cents each. Plus the online store offers a free graphic each week! I’ve been working on learning the program that comes with it and am continually amazed at its functionality!

I think my most favorite thing I’ve made so far was the cut vinyl to decorate a tray I painted for a gift, sort of the “subway art” genre.


Transferring the vinyl in one piece was way trickier than the instructions made it seem. Therefore some of the words and letters were not in line and worse, I left too much space at the top. In the last  minute crunch to complete it, it had to be okay. Learning curve again! I do feel I’ll know what to do a little differently next time I make something like this.

Can’t say enough good things about it still (and no one’s paying me to say this)! I feel SO blessed to have one!


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