Archives for May 2012

Shoe-tying 101

This is doubtless an old trick to experienced runners, but I didn’t learn it til I’d been running for quite a few months, so I thought I’d share it here in case others could use the tip.  I have narrow heels and sometimes have a hard time getting my shoes to fit at the heel well without sloshing around and causing blisters.  My daughter very kindly showed me this way of lacing that addresses that problem.

lacing a running shoe

When you get the shoe laced to the second-to-last eyelet on each side, thread each lace through the last eyelet on the SAME side, leaving a little loop. Then take each lace-end across and tuck it into the opposite loop before tightening the lace. This will allow the lace to snug up the shoe at the heel area without having to over-tighten the mid-foot area.  Try it– you just might like it!

My favorite kind of reading

The winner of the Dole Fruit Bites is commenter #90 Angie who writes the blog Heartchild.


For some reason during the school year with everything we have to accomplish for school, we don’t get to the library very often.  So summertime is library time around here.   We’ve already gone twice, and I’ve been enjoying finding books for myself as well as for my children.  Back in my teens I was an avid fiction reader.  These days I read almost all non-fiction, mostly in the parenting/adoption/self help genres, with a hefty dose of cookbooks tossed in there.  But another type of non-fiction  is truly my favorite.  The books I like best tell a story about people while also illuminating a corner of the world in a new and interesting way.

Years ago I read Tracy Kidder’s book House which tells the story of a couple building a house while also giving insight into the inner workings of the building industry. Melissa Faye Green’s There Is No Me Without You illuminates adoption and orphans in Ethiopia in a similar way– by following an Ethiopian woman caught in the middle of the Ethiopian AIDS crisis.

This month I’ve enjoyed two more books that fit into this genre.  The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters is a story about brides preparing for their wedding day, families that support them as they take this step, and an iconic family business in the Midwest called Becker’s Bridal.  Last night I was up late reading another true-life story titled Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU.  It tells the story of a baby born more than 3 months early and fighting for her life in the NICU, even as it tells all about advances in neonatal medicine.  Fascinating and heart-rending all at once.

I’m not sure if there’s an actual genre into which this type of book fits– anybody know?  I recognize one when I pick it up, but as far as I can tell there aren’t any neat categories on amazon that make finding this type of book easy.  Have you read and enjoyed any non-fiction books like these, ones that tell a person’s story while also giving you a insider look into a new world?

Our May party

Erika's GraduationI’ve mentioned before that May was going to be a big month for our family. The first big event was our daughter Erika’s graduation from Boise State University.  She graduated with a double major in Spanish and linguistics, and managed to stay on the dean’s list even after having her first baby in the middle of her last semester.  We’re so proud of her!

The day after her graduation, she and her husband Israel had their little son baptized at our church, another very big event that we were privileged to witness.  Here they are with the wonderful Pastor Tjelta, who has know Erika ever since she was a teeny girl.
Zechariah Ranger's Baptism

On the very same day three of our teenagers were confirmed along with 6 other young people in our church.  Confirmation is a tradition practiced by the Lutheran church, where a baptized person affirms Christian belief and is admitted as a full member of the church.  The kids in our church go through two years of instruction to prepare, and then answer a series of questions that are based on Luther’s Small Catechism.   Here’s a picture of the whole row of nervous kids that day, just before being questioned.  They all did great and we were really proud of them.  (Counting from the left side of the photo, our kids are #3- Josh, #6- Ben, and #7- Zeytuna.)
Confirmation Day

Also in May, we of course had a brand new grandbaby arrive.  And then the last big event of the month was our son Daniel’s graduation from homeschool high school.  Our local homeschool group has a really nice ceremony for the occasion, which is always fun to attend.
Daniel's Graduation

We decided to celebrate all those events in one big party, which happened last night and filled our house to the gills with wonderful people.  I think we had somewhere in the range of 80 people there.  Thankfully the weather was lovely and let folks overflow into the yard.  We also had tables set up in the family room and in the big bedroom upstairs, and it all just worked really well.  Kids played badminton and tetherball and had a huge old waterfight.  The grownups visited in clumps everywhere.  The whole evening left me feeling very thankful for all the great folks we have in our lives.  Thanks, folks, for coming to celebrate with us!

I realized that Pinterest helped me quite a bit with my party-planning, and I thought it might be fun to share the pins that inspired some of the details of the party.  PUNCH was this pineapple-lime-raspberry yumminess. Many people went back for multiple servings. Definitely a win.



The menu included barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, guacamole and chips, potato salad (thanks Aunt Barb!), fruit salad (thanks Marcia!), and this Asian Pasta salad recipe from Pioneer Woman.


I made some with rice noodles for gluten free family members.  I also made this recipe for BAKED BEANS, except I used dry beans instead of canned.

Source: via Mary on Pinterest



We did many little DESSERTS served in little jars like the ones shown below. Flavors included:

Dirt Dessert (made by my sis in law– thanks Jen!)
Butterscotch Pudding
Vanilla Pudding Cake (a layered trifle)
Flourless Chocolate Cake (very much like this recipe)
Caramel Creme Cheesecakes
Lemon Poppyseed Cakes

The last three recipes were from the cookbook Desserts in Jars


We set up a couple of these mini-barbecues on a picnic table outside so that kids could roast marshmallows and Little Smokies.



And just in case there wasn’t enough dessert, we made a bunch of these little graduation hats, minus the sticks. Aren’t they fun?

Source: via Mary on Pinterest



Whew! I’m not sure I want to cram this much fun into one month again anytime soon– I am sitting around like a wet noodle today and feeding my families leftovers for every meal. But it was a wonderful, memorable month!


Giveaway: Dole Fruit Bites

Dole_Real_Fruit_Bites_-_PinappleThis weekend’s giveaway is a month’s supply of Dole Fruit Bites.  These goodies are exceedingly yummy.  All my kids enjoyed them and I was impressed by the natural ingredient list.  I especially liked the  yogurt-covered pineapple bites.

Have you tried these?  To enter to win a months’ supply, just comment below and tell me one thing you like to pack in lunches for your family.

Baby sweetness

Ascher 1 week

Weekend plans? Dessert, mainly

The winner of the T-fal Actifry giveaway is commenter # 42, Cathy.  I’ve also chosen a winner for the Crazy Consequences post– Sophie posted MANY good ideas and was the obvious choice there.  Be sure to check out the comments in that post if you haven’t already– there are lots of good ideas now!  And both of you gals, send me your snail mail addresses and I will get your winnings headed your way!


This week finds us scurrying to get ready for a big shindig at our house.  This weekend we’re celebrating most of this month’s happenings–  2 graduations, a baptism, 3 confirmations and a birthday–all in one grand barbecue at our house.  So of course we’re weeding flowerbeds, trimming grass, painting the scuffed hallway, and doing any number of other little cleanups that I’ve been meaning to accomplish for awhile but need the inspiration of a party to actually do. I even got the wild idea to clean out the garage today, which now looks so much improved that I wonder why on earth I waited so long.

Things are coming together rather well, with my one point of despair being our back yard.  Our dog is a digger and has cratered various ankle-twisting holes all over the yard, which we fill, and then she happily digs out again.  I don’t quite have the heart to sentence the dog to her pen for all the unattended hours of her life, so the digging continues.  Most days it bothers me only a little.  But when company is coming, I begin to regret my general lack of concern for the grass. Too late to fix that now, though. Ah well.

Of greater interest to me than grass– always– is food.  Party food in particular.  Last week I found ground beef at Wal-Mart for the screamin’ good price of $1.57/lb hamburger.  I bought 50 pounds, half of which we immediately transformed into dozens and dozens of hamburger patties.  Some we’ll serve at the party, and others will stay in the freezer to use for Sunday dinner barbecues all summer long.  We made other portions of the ground beef  into meatloaf and meatballs, and also browned many pounds for the beginnings of easy meals all summer long.  I LOVE finding bargains that good.

Other party food ideas include a variety of dessert options that I’m planning to make in half-pint canning jars. I was inspired by a really fun book that I just received in the mail to review, aptly called– you guessed it–Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine.    The recipe I am most eager to try from the book is a flourless chocolate cupcake that looks amazingly rich and delicious. And good news– I have a copy of this book to give away to one of you!  Are you in the mood for dessert?  If so, just comment below and tell me your plans for the weekend.  I’ll pick a winner on Monday, or maybe Tuesday.  Might take us awhile to recover from all that dessert!


Toys I’m keeping for the grandkids

Now that we have TWO grandbabies, I’ve been doing some thinking about the things I’d like to have around the house when they come to visit, to make things more comfortable and more fun for them.

A couple years ago I stashed away a tub of infant toys and board books– it took me awhile to reluctantly conclude that my now-7-year-old ‘baby’ had really truly gotten past that stage.  The bin came out over the weekend for 2 month old Zechariah, who is just starting to grab at things.  Our 7 year old Toyspulled out every single item, played with the toys, read the books to me, and thoroughly enjoyed her little trip down memory lane.  I was surprised she was that interested– it was very cute, and made me so glad that we still have at least one little(ish) kiddo in the house.

We still have a couple of high chairs that John made awhile back.  Those will come in handy once our little guys are sitting up well.  I’d like to keep my eyes open at yard sales this summer for a porta-crib too, I think.  Not essential, but it might be nice to have a cozy place to sleep a little one who is visiting us.  I’m also thinking it’d be good to keep a stash of diapers and wipes here.  That’s something my own momma has done at her house for many years, due to her extensive collection of grandbabies.  🙂  Oh, and I’m also hoping to find a baby gate to keep little ones away from stairs.

As far as bigger-kid toys, I’ve got a fun collection of wooden puzzles that I won’t be getting rid of any time soon.  I think I may add this little peek-a-boo feature to some of the puzzles too– isn’t that a brilliant idea?  Other toys I’ll never get rid of include our huge bin of Duplo Legos– they are THE BEST — and a big set of wooden train tracks.  After buying some ourselves, I happened across someone else’s collection at a yard sale, which means we have enough to make trains ALL over the living room, which should be great fun for our little grandsons in a year or two.

What about you?  When you bring your kids to the grandparents’ house, what do you wish was there?  And what toys do you intend to save for your own grandchildren some day?

Winning library books

John and I have read to our kids at bedtime for all of our parenting career.  These days, with so many teens, much of reading time is spent on chapter books.  Most recently John has been reading Little Britches and Man of the Family with the kids, two books in a delightfully entertaining series that also models work ethic on a stellar level.  But since our youngest is only 7, John still finds time most evenings for picture books.  We found a couple of unusually fun picture books when we went to the  library last week, and I thought I’d give you the heads up in case you’re looking for good books for your preschool and elementary-aged kids.

Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat is a fun tale that keeps you guessing til the end. In the course of parenting ten kids I’ve read a LOT of kids’ stories, and there are some real yawners out there. This one is entertaining for children and parents, and the twist at the end will leave you chuckling.

Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose a delightful rhyming story with catchy upbeat words and a strong message about accepting yourself just the way you are.  We’ve read this one to our youngest daughters several times this week and each time they’ve giggled their way through it and also hopefully absorbed the message.

I wasn’t asked by the publishers to review either of this books.  I got them at the library, which most likely means you can find them there too. However  if you do choose to purchase them via the above amazon links, I will earn a small commission, which (at no extra cost to you) helps to support all the free content here on Owlhaven.

Happy reading, and I’d love to hear about picture books that you enjoy reading with your young ones!


This is the deepest wish of my heart.