Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Are Little Girls Made Of???? And Boys???

I had the grandkids over yesterday for Grandma Day, to play for a few hours and in cleaning up the playroom, I was again amazed at the inherent differences between boys and girls and how they play.
Miss E’s new favorite toys are my (like how I say “my”) Narnia action figures. She had moved them out of the White Witches palace into Captain Hook’s pirate ship and set up house with them. The White Witch was the Mom because, according to Miss E, she is good now. Lucy was making a bit of trouble for her though.

She also built a train with the Duplo blocks and it was to take Reepicheep (the warrior mouse from “Prince Caspian, and “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” ) around to the various Narnia sites. Can you imagine how Reepicheep really would have felt at the indignity of such transportation!!! And then there is Mr. S. He is constantly building. He built a train track and several homemade types of trains mainly one consisting of all the large trucks tied together with a jump rope and proceeded to take it on a very extensive trip around the room and into the hallway.
Toddler “C” was happy playing the whole 3 hours with cars, cars, and more cars! For some reason he is afraid of the ones that make the revving noise. He likes to make the noise on his own. And my sweet dainty Miss “S” who only weighs 17 pounds at 14 months old, loved to just sit and observe all that was going on around her. Every once and a while, Miss E would try to interest her is playing together and would hand her a toy to use but she would just smile and hold it, watching, until Miss E would take it back.

They are all so different and come with their own personalities and as they grow it is fun to see these little personalities develop.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cook with Solar Power!!

Some of my most popular classes on self-reliance have been how to cook with alternatives fuels. Today I will show you my favorite. Here in AZ we have an abundance of SUN!! So it makes sense to use the sun instead of electricity, especially in the summer. The other advantage is that it doesn't heat up the house, so you don't have to cool it down with more air-conditioning. The newest product I have found is called the Solar Hot-Pot. Anything you can make in a crock pot can be made in this solar hot-pot. I have cooked casseroles, one pot meals and even a 4 pound roast with the vegetables and they all turned out perfectly. I just made them in the morning, and put them out in the sun, aiming the reflector towards the sun and it starts to cook immediately. It took the roast and veges about 6 1/2 hour to completely cook without any electric power. All you have to do is about every 30 minutes, go out and turn it so it will continue to follow the sun. I was so excited about this product that we gave it to all my married kids for Christmas last year. I don't know if they have used it but at least they have it if there is ever an emergency and we are without power for an extended time. Just do a search for "solar hot-pot" and you will find multiple outlets to buy one from.

Solar Hot-Pot

The product that I have been using for at least 15 years is the Solar Oven. This can cook anything that you can cook in a regular oven. Besides using it at home, I have taken it camping, and cooked frozen lasagna, cookies, cakes, breads, and casseroles. It is great. The temperature in the oven can get up to 375 degrees. Again with this, you need to turn it every 30-60 minutes as the sun moves. I have used this in the summer mainly but I have also used it in the winter. It may not get as worm but that just means you need to cook the food longer.
Solar Sun Oven
These are both great products and both can be found and purchased in numerous locations so shop around. If you don't want to spend the money, you can even find instruction on the web on how to make your own solar ovens and pots. HAVE FUN!!! It is a great feeling to be self-reliant!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Dynasty Begins!...A Book Review

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite types of books to read. Especially if I know the author has kept true to the facts and timetables of the person they are writing about.
I just finished a book entitled “Katherine” by Anya Seton which is an account of the life of Katherine de Roet (1350-1403), who was the third wife of John of Gaunt. It was so amazing. The author did years of research and due to the fact that there is quite a bit of records about John of Gaunt and his life, family, business affairs, and royal duties.
John of Gaunt-Duke of Lancaster, King of Castile
John of Gaunt(1340-1399) was a Plantagenet, the third son of King Edward III (1312-1377), and brother to Edward the Black Prince. He was also the person the ancient prophecy by Merlin was talking about when he said: "thou shalt get kings though thou be none!". Both the Lancaster and York lines are descended from John of Gaunt. With his first wife, Blanche, their oldest son Henry of Bolingbroke became the first Lancastrian king (Henry IV). Through his children from his third wife, the very beautiful Katherine de Roet, began the Tudor line (Henry VII), and the York line (Edward IV and Richard III) are descended. I am not even going to touch on the fact that he was King of Castile and his daughter by his 2nd wife was Queen of Castile and the royal line of Spain can be traced back to him . Quite the legacy.

Kettlethorpe Castle gate house. All that remains of the home of Katherine and her first husband Sir Hugh Swynford

The book follows the life of Katherine though but obviously John plays a large part in her life.
This book was very well written and you will recognize many familiar characters from history, namely Geoffrey Chaucer who happened to be married to Katherine’s sister, Philippa. The author also tried to fit any real servants and friends of the couple that she found a record of into the novel which brings them more to life for me.

As much as I love Shakespeare, you can get a distorted view of some of the royals that he has in his plays and this book sets some of the records straight. I don’t blame him too much, after all, he was in the employ of the Tudors and Stuarts, and had to make a living. I highly recommend this book although it may be hard to find since it was printed in 1954.
King Richard II, nephew of John of Gaunt. It was John's son from his first wife Blanche, Henry Bolingbroke, that forced Richard II to abdicate and then he became the first Lancastrian king, Henry IV. Richard II later died at Pontefract Castle, some say by starvation Coincidentally, the constable of that castle was Katherine's oldest son, Thomas Swynford

In Shakespeare’s Richard II, one of my favorite speech given by John of Gaunt. In this speech he expresses his love for England in these words:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Much Sought After Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Until recently, I was asked at my church to help the church members in being more self-reliant and prepared for emergencies as families. I had taught monthly classes and one of the subjects that I got the most requests from was for my recipe of homemade Spaghetti Sauce and how to bottle it at home.

There are very few people who don't like some form of spaghetti whether it had meatballs, meat or meatless. It is also very easy to store the ingredients on your shelf to have as an emergency meal or quick meal in a crunch. Anyway, here is my recipe for a large batch and how to bottle the rest for future use.

Bottled Spaghetti Sauce

½ cup olive oil
3 onions chopped
10 cloves garlic
In a LARGE pot, soften onion and garlic in oil. Then add:
2 cans (#10 size) tomato sauce
2 cans (#10 size) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (#10 size) diced tomatoes

(***note: the #10 size cans are the giant cans that you get in warehouse stores. They contain about 104 oz. of product.)

Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Put in jars, (I like to use quarts for our family), and seal with softened lids and rings. Process in a pressure canner for 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

I have an All American Pressure Canner that I LOVE!!! (Presto makes pressure canners that some of my friends have and they like them also). I can meats, vegetables and soups and stews. It is wonderful to have a jar of something on the shelf already made that just needs to be warmed up if you're in a time crunch for dinner, or in case of emergencies. Homemade chili, spaghetti or soups are much more of a comfort food than a energy bar for emergencies.

One other thing on preparing for emergencies that I learned this week. The Red Cross has a new campaign called "Do More Than Cross your Fingers in an Emergency". The celebrity spokes person is Jamie Lee Curtis and she suggests you check out the Red Cross web-site for information on supplies or emergency kits to have at your home in case of a local disaster. Here is the link:
This is a great site with great ideas for taking care of and planning for your families in case of emergencies.

I will start to share some of the things I have learned over the past few years that may help you and your families to become more self-reliant for emergencies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can We Ever Get Too Much of Robin Hood?

For the life of me, I don't get how a TV Season in the UK works but finally after an almost 1 1/2 year wait, we are FINALLY going to get to see the third an final season of BBC's Robin Hood.


Seriously, maybe it is because we don't get the news stories about the entertainment business in England but did we really have to wait this long for season 3 on BBC America?
I have loved the hear and see the story (not the "legend" because he was REAL!), since I was a child. I think I have enjoyed every Robin Hood movie to come out EXCEPT Kevin Costners (YUCK! BLAH!) but I have especially enjoyed this series.

Jonas Armstrong is amazing as Robin of Locksley, Lucy Griffiths WAS (SOB,SOB) luminescent as a modern minded Marian, and all of Robin's merry men/women were fully developed characters that you came to think you could depend on in a crisis.

The special effects with the archery were also very impressive. It just brought the whole story of Robin Hood to life for me. However, if you don't want to know how the season ends, don't read any articles about it on I did so at least I am prepared for what is going to happen this season.

Richard Armitage, who is so wonderful and romantic in Elizabeth Gaskell's "North and South", plays a great bad guy in the character of Sir Guy Gisborn.

Richard Armitage...YUM!!!
Now I like Russell Crowe as an actor but he is really going to have a hard time convincing me that he is a better Robin Hood that Armstrong is. However, it will be nice that when this series is over, that I have another "Robin Hood" to look forward to next year.
The first episode of this final season is Sunday the 13th on BBC America.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Finally, My ALL Time Favorite Movie and Something Else FUN!

Last night at my Book Club that I belong to, we were discussing the book "A Tale Of Two Cities", by Dickens. My friend and I were talking about different versions of the movie that have been made and we got around to talking about the actor Ronald Coleman ( he was in one of the versions), who also stars in my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE, "Random Harvest".

As you see in my favorites list on the side, one of my favorite actresses, Greer Garson, also stars in this movie, and she is absolutely, amazingly beautiful in this! She also is great in the part of Paula, the long suffering heroin.

The movie begins with the end of WWI and a solider who is a patient in a mental hospital due to shell shock and amnesia, escapes the hospital and accidentally runs into Paula who wants to help him and thinks he just needs time to heal, not to be shut up in an institution. He slowly gets better, and they create a life together, he never regains his memory but is happy in his new life with his wife and their new baby. He is eventually offered a job at a newspaper and he travels to Liverpool to talk to them and while there he is involved in a small accident and receives another blow to his head. I bet you can guess what happens. That is all in just the first half of the movie so there is a lot more story to go!

As I said, Garson is amazing and she should have won an award for this role but she instead won it for "Mrs. Miniver" the same year, so I guess that is ok. By the way, she was also amazing in "Mrs. Miniver" which is also where she met her second husband on the set. Anyway back to the movie... I beg you to go find this movie and watch it. It really is one of the BEST movies of all time. It has Romance, romance, romance, suspense and pure joy. You will bawl when Paula says..."Smithy, oh Smithy..." see I am crying as I type it is so wonderful! If you have seen it leave a word of encouragement to inspire others!
The other thing I was reminded about at Book Club last night was a very funny web-site you need to check out if you want to read the classics but don't feel you have the time. It is Book-a-Minute .com. Here is the link:
It is so funny, but here is a preview of the book we discussed last night, A Tale of Two Cities.
The condensed version is this:
Ultra-Condensed by Liz Coppla
Doctor released,
Marquis deceased,
Darnay acquitted,
Monarchy submitted,
Marriage announced,
Darnay denounced,
Places are switched,
Blades are twitched,
Seamstress cries,
Carton dies.
That is the book! and it has everything! There is even a Book-a-minute SF/F, and also a bedtime stories section. Check it out and you will have a great laugh!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This is WAY over the line of normal!

I heard some disturbing information Monday on the radio. I was listening to the Michael Medved show. He had a guest who happened to be a teacher from the mid-west somewhere. She was telling the audience about a radio address that President Obama was going to be making to the school children on September 8th. She was concerned for her job because she was going to opt out of having her class listen to the address. She cited several reasons why she had decided to do this and now she was concerned about keeping her job even though she has taught for 20 plus years.

I seriously couldn't believe what I was hearing. At first I thought, “why doesn’t she get a transcript of the message and preview it?” But there isn’t going to be a transcript available until the day before the broadcast. This is what really startled me.

Now I don’t have a problem with the President giving a message encouraging kids to stay in school and work hard. I DO have a problem with his using class time for this when the kids could be learning. Why not do it during prime time? His personal media outlets (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC etc, etc.) would be happy to give our “supreme leader” any time he wants.

I also have a problem not knowing ahead of time what will be said (no I don’t trust him to be non-partisan!), and not being able to be there with my child to counter anything he may say that I don’t agree with. Now That more media outlets are talking about this I found out that there will be follow up assignments about the speech and “helps” have been sent to the schools about posting on walls some of the quotes that Obama will give. CREEPY! I have never seen a leader promote themselves like this…wait I have heard that this type of thing happens in North Korea and Russia.

I also have a problem that there will be no counter response from the other side. I would be very surprised if he wasn’t partisan and I want someone to respond to his address if the “right” feels a need to.

I can just imagine the OUTRAGE the ‘left’ would have had if Pres. Bush had tried something like this. It reminds me of dictators broadcasting to the youth of their countries behind their parents back.
I worry for the youth of our country with the direction our President and his administration is taking our Country.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Can one desire too much of a good thing?". - ( "As You Like It" Act IV, Scene I).

My sister and I recently attended the Utah Shakespearean Festival that is held there every year in Cedar City Utah. The plays were amazing! We saw "Henry V", "Comedy of Errors" (first time seeing this one so I can tick it off my list!), "As You Like It", and one that wasn't Shakespeare, "Private Lives" by Noel Coward(very funny!)
Outdoor theater at the Festival

The plays are shown in 3 different theaters, one of which is an outdoor theater and the Shakespeare plays are done here in the evenings.

My sister Eileen trying on a hat in the gift shop

You know it is a bad sign when you can't find anything new at the gift shops to buy! So we spent our fun money on tarts!

Each morning in the "Grove"there is a discussion on the Shakespeare play from the night before that anyone is invited to attend. One of the faculty at the college leads the discussion and these talk back discussions are very interesting and informative.

Actors talk back session in the Grove. Actors are Melinda Parrett, and David Ivers

Also twice a week they have a talk back with the actors and we got to see two of our favorites this morning.

Me spending quality time with Wills

Then we had time to goof off a bit.

Eileen showing her adoration

One afternoon between plays, we took a short trip up into the mountains to Strawberry Point. This amazing scenery is only 30 minutes from the festival. Others sites to see that are also within 30-40 minutes are Cedar Breaks, and Kolob Canyon. AMAZING!

One view at Strawberry Point

Another view out at Strawberry Point

Me at Strawberry Point

Strawberry Point
But as with all trips, it had to come to an end until next year. Luckily, I have THE most beautiful
drive home. Seriously, is there anywhere as beautiful as Southern Utah and Northern Arizona?

Vermilion Cliffs
Vermilion Cliffs

Vermilion Cliffs

These cliffs are just east of Jacobs Lake (Entrance to the Grand Canyon) and they are 30 miles of bliss! The colors change as the day and the sun moves. It looks different all the time. I hope I never get tired of it!