Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"G" is for Glasses

James is learning the letter "G" right now, so we did an art project to illustrate small "G" today.  It should probably be "G" is for goofy glasses.  We look good don't you think?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy To The World...

Merry Christmas to all of you from our family!  

Our family orchestra was blessed to be able to accompany our church congregation this evening.  This video is of our rehearsal before the service.  (No, James is not playing.)

We wish everyone a very blessed Christmas!

Let it Snow Let it Snow...

We had a couple more inches of snow fall on top of the foot we got with the "big" snow.  So...

It was time to get outside and play in it!

Because of the wind, we have some huge drifts.  This is James next to a four foot drift by our patio.

This is Helena standing on a drift by our bird feeder.  Normally, she isn't even as tall as the shepherd's crook.  She was queen of the hill!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Tea

Emily and Kristin had a tea with a couple of friends last week.  

The girls made this "teapot" cake.  While it was delicious and turned out really cute, 
they both said it was another one of those "never again" projects.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trio Lesson

Last week, we made a trip to Detroit for a piano and trio lesson.    This video is part of their play-thru.  All three teachers are in the background.  It was really fun to watch all the teachers descend on their respective students when it was time to critique their playing.  I hope this leaves you wanting to hear the rest of the piece.  They will be performing this in concert on Valentine's Day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Big Snow Before the Party

This is how we get exercise in the U.P.  True we could use shovels and burn more calories, but we do have other things to do too.  This is Andrew in the foreground and Jonathan in the background this morning as they had just gotten started.

Jonathan again...this was their third time at snow removal today. 
 The wind kept those drifts coming and really blocked the driveway.

We have significant progress now.  They got things cleared nicely before our guests arrived this evening.  Here are some pictures of the FOOD!  The guys were quite happy to help us polish it off!

First, the fruit tower...we added the dip in the "pineapple bowl" just before our guests arrived.

Then, the veggie tower...we had two different kinds of dip in the "green pepper bowls."
No one went home hungry!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brass Christmas Recital

This video is of The Beckman Brass Quintet playing "The First Noel".   It turned out pretty well considering the group had had to sit through almost 45 minutes of other performers before it was their turn.  That means playing cold with no warm-up time.  Yikes!

This is Christopher playing a trumpet solo of  "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
 at the recital.  He did a good job!

This was the first of many performances scheduled for the next two weeks.  They will be playing at three nursing homes and for three church services.  It's good to remember at these times how much the audience appreciates their playing and that music is a great way to serve others.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grandma's 85th Birthday!

We celebrated by taking Grandma to a nice restaurant downtown courtesy of her brother.

We thought 85 candles might be a little excessive--not to mention a little dangerous!  Helena is eager for Grandma to blow out the candles so she can sample the sponge cake. 
 (As usual it is gluten/dairy free!)

She blew them all out at once!

Grandma got a nice basket of gifts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's That Time of the Year for Recitals

This afternoon our family was invited to play at the local university "Elders" Group along with the rest of the intermediate orchestra.  It was a great experience!

Warming up before the performance...

Emily and Kristin playing a duo version of Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson.  Kristin is smiling at her brother providing the "horse" enhancements at the end.

The Beckman Brass Quintet playing one of their four pieces...

Emily playing a flute solo...

Here's one of the whole intermediate orchestra playing a Christmas medley.  They did a great job and I was so proud of them!  (They were rewarded with a standing ovation...WOW!)

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

A beautiful white blanket greeted us this morning.  It's not so beautiful on the driveway, though,  so our big guys got their morning exercise.

Our "Christmas Rose"
This rose has been snowed on multiple times and even buried in snow, but still it blooms on.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Great Birthday!

A recent historical fiction book excited an interest in the Revolutionary War and a desire for a birthday cake depicting such.  The ice cream cone canon is stuffed with chocolate covered strawberry "grapeshot".  The torch to light the "canon" is fruit leather as is the base for the canon.  

Christopher is enjoying his hilarious "birthday serenade" from Nonnie and Papa.

Our traditional 12 year old gift is a "big" bicycle.  Thankfully he has a couple more months of growing time before the cycling season begins.  We've found that bicycles don't work well on ice and snow!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy and Yummy Cranberry Sauce

                                                 To make the easiest cranberry sauce :

Chop two bags fresh cranberries.  Combine in a large saucepan with one cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice, two cups sugar, and 1 tablespoonful of chopped orange zest.  Bring to a boil stirring frequently.  (This is a very important step as a couple of people with smoke-filled houses can attest to.)   Then simmer on medium-low till thickened.  Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

James Recites Psalm 1

I know some of us think it's hard to memorize scripture,
 but if James (5) can do it so can you!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Manger Scene

I know some of you probably have a lot of Christmas decorations, but our family doesn't have many.  This is partly due to there not being room, and partly by choice.  Since we don't have many, the children all have a part in all of the decorating and get really excited about it.  Our final decoration is always the manger scene.

James got to be first to put a figure in this year and really had to stretch to reach.

Helena was next and she only had to stretch a little.

Andrew was in the middle and was just right.

Poor Jonathan had to duck just a bit to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling.
(Everyone was standing on the hearth.  Jonathan is not eight feet tall.)

Finally, Emily, who is the oldest, got to place the angel.  Unfortunately, our angel is not appearing to the shepherds in a brilliant star-filled sky, but reposes instead on simulated wood paneling.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Laker Christmas

 Yesterday, nearly our entire family was involved in a community-wide concert featuring musicians from the surrounding area and even some from Canada.

                                                  This was the afternoon rehearsal.  Then...

Kristin and Jonathan on cello

                                                                Matthew on bass

Emily and our friend Martha on flute

Helena was playing violin--she's resting in this picture.

Jonathan played horn for one piece.

That's Andrew back there with his tuba, and Kristin again on cello.  She was easy to get in the pictures since she was right out in front.

The end of the concert.  This was such a wonderful event.  We got to play in a beautiful auditorium with a great stage.  Top it off with a wonderful community response--a conservative estimate had over 500 in the audience.  Unfortunately,  Bob couldn't get pictures of Christopher or Benjamin,  but we all had a wonderful night!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Perfect Holiday Cake

This is such a fun, and easy cake to make!!!  You can make it with any cake and frosting recipe, but due to our dietary restrictions, ours was gluten and dairy free.  To decorate, we used Edward & Sons Let's Do...® Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones for the "trees" and frosted the leaves using a star frosting tip.  The "path" was made using crushed TRUJOY™ sweets Organic Candy Canes with frosting "edges".  We used INDIA TREE® Natural Decorating colors (blue and yellow) to color the frosting and INDIA TREE® Frost White Decorating Sugar to make the "snow" on top.  The "snowmen" were created using extra thick (so thick you could never spread it) frosting that we rolled into balls and stacked.  Toothpick halves made the arms, dots of frosting made the faces and buttons, and the hats were piped on using a large round frosting tip.  We always use disposable decorating bags which makes clean up easier, and they are even recyclable!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's that time of the year for...

Picking out the perfect Christmas tree...

Having a snowball fight while trying to pick the perfect Christmas tree...

                             Going sledding after you've picked out the perfect Christmas tree!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Birthday Tea With Nonnie

We had a "ladies" tea today to celebrate Nonnie's birthday.  It was a wonderful light lunch complete with miniature pumpkin pies!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

3/4 c Safflower Oil
3 cups Brown Rice Flour
1 1/2 t Guar Gum
1 T Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 t Baking Powder (We use Hain® Featherweight since it contains no corn)
1 t Salt
1/2 t Baking Soda
3 Eggs
1 1/2 c Sugar (We use Cane Juice Crystals or Unbleached Cane Sugar)
1 15 oz Can Pumpkin
1/4 c Rice Milk (We use Rice Dream® Original)
1 c Coarsely Grated Carrot
1 c Walnuts, Chopped

Heat Oven to 350°F.  Lightly oil a 12 cup (10 inch) bundt pan, then dust with flour.  In a lg. bowl whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  In a med. bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar, pumpkin, and milk.  Add the egg/oil mixture to the flour  mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.  Mix in the carrots and walnuts.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  55-60 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Rinse out pan and repeat to make second cake.

1 c Shortening(We use Spectrum Naturals® Palm Oil Shortening)
2 lbs Wholesome® Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar
Rice Milk (We use Rice Dream® Original)

Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in rice milk 1 T at a time until desired consistency.  Reserve 1/2 c and tint green using yellow and blue.   Color  remaining with yellow and red to achieve orange.   We use India Tree® Natural Decorating Colors.

Cut each cake in half horizontally.  Spread some frosting on the bottom half of each cake and sandwich with tops.  Place one cake rounded side down on serving platter.  Spread top with frosting and sandwich with remaining cake rounded side up.  Frost entire cake with remaining orange frosting.

For stem, spread reserved green frosting over allergy free ice cream cone.  We use Edward & Sons Let's Do...® Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones.  We piped the remaining extra for decorations

Monday, November 12, 2012

An UP North Sunset

One of the many spectacular sunsets we have enjoyed this fall.  This one really took our breath away while we were doing dishes.  We all had to take a break and watch as God painted a new picture for us each moment till it faded away.