31 October 2010

Date Night

No, not ours, the movie.

I had hopes for this one. Dan in Real Life, also starring Steve Carrell, is one of my favorites and not just for the scenery (Pt. Judith Lighthouse, a beloved backdrop to my childhood, makes a cameo). The story is sweet, the characters are quirky and lovable. A real feel-good movie about love, set in the context of family.

Date Night? Not so much.

The basic premise had potential. A marriage not quite in trouble, but maybe headed there because the exhaustion of raising two (obnoxious) kids and both husband and wife working leaves them no time or energy for each other. So they go on an impromptu fancy date night to try to rekindle that romance and things go a bit haywire as they're mistaken for another couple who didn't show up for their restaurant reservation (our heroes took it in their name).

However, the execution was execrable. It was crass, crude, and coarse. And it really wasn't funny at all. I didn't really care about the characters, which were flat and unbelievable. The situation and the resolution were just absurd. If you haven't seen it, don't waste your time.

One more thing that was distasteful. The closing credits ran over outtakes from the film. I usually love these - they can be funnier than the film. But this time, I lost all respect for the actors involved, the sewage coming from their mouths was so over the top.

I'm glad we didn't see it in the theater, but we should have checked some online film review sites before renting it. Maybe we'll learn our lesson!


28 October 2010

Progress Report

So, since I've posted last, life here has been busy.

1) School is going great guns! For more details, check my school blog. I'll be posting soon about French and a new (to me!) organizational approach that has been working very well.

2) Work on the second semester of Christendom is progressing.

3) Still getting the house together, but it's been going well.

4) Cooking German food for the first time to prepare to celebrate Reformation Day on Sunday.

So, where should I start? Hmmm …

The house!

Our King's Meadow discussion group meets here three times each month. Usually, we start the year out with the house looking pretty good, and then it gradually goes downhill all year. What's a little more clutter among friends?

This year, I decided that I'd rather work in the opposite direction. So, we did our best to get the house presentable for the first meeting in October, and my goal is that each time we meet, the house is a little more put together, even if it's not something obvious—like straightened and reorganized cupboards. So far, the kitchen has stayed clean and the peninusla has been cleared of all the clutter that's been sitting there for who knows how long. The sideboard/hutch is fairly straightened out. I've been slowly working on clearing off the kitchen desk. Things will look a little out of place tomorrow, but that's because paint is drying on the wall below the peninsula (after years of being half-finished). And grout is drying on the facia tiles that had popped off the island in the kitchen.

Even if I only work for about ten minutes each day, I'm headed in the right direction. Line upon line, again!

I'll post about those other things as I have time.

26 September 2010

How I Spent My Summer

Yes, it's been forever since I've posted anything ... I know ... but really, I have an excellent excuse, uh, reason.

If you look at the new King's Meadow Humanities Curriculum, you'll see how I spent the summer ... the whole summer.

This used to be called Gileskirk, but after the end of that company, and a two-year hiatus, it's back and (I think) it's better than ever. Modernity was released after only six or seven weeks' work, complete with detailed Instructor's Guide, three versions of the student syllabus, and lots of extras. The first semester of Christendom was released after about three weeks' work (non-stop, 12-16 hours in front of the computer, six days each week, and many Sunday afternoons). The full Christendom course will be released in December. American Culture will follow in June and the following year, Antiquity will be released.

So, now that I'm no longer tied to the computer, I hope to be posting more consistently. I've got lots to post about after a three month vacation from all things cooking and housewifery. My 17 yodd and I are working to replenish the stores that were depleted when I was doing no grocery shopping, the house is in serious need of organizing and deep cleaning, and school is only partially planned. One day at a time, grace upon grace, line upon line, we'll get it done. I care more about our attitudes toward one another as we get caught up than that it all happens now.

I also took some time off in July to take the train to Dallas and go to the CiRCE Conference. Wow! As always! I was privileged to be able to present a workshop at this one and I don't think I've ever been so nervous speaking publickly (I normally get enough butterflies to use, but not enough to overwhelm - this time was different). I didn't get to that many workshops this time, but the CD's arrived last week and I'll post as I listen.

We've also got some new stuff going on in school, which I'll post about on our school blog.

So, I hope this is hello, again, and I'll be seeing you!

18 May 2010

Steve Ricks' Office Adventure

And, for good measure, here's the short the boys entered in the Phoenix Student Film Festival a couple of years ago.

Play Music

My no. 3 son reminded me tonight that he wants me to post his most recent film here on the blog to make it easier for his friends to find. So, without any further ado, I present to you, Play Music.

And, part 2:

Homemade Shake 'n' Bake

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately (if anyone is still reading). Been pushing to finish school and graduate student no. 3, while working on The Abigail Adams Project and a secret project that will be released in July.

Anyway, tonight for dinner, the kids pulled out 30 chicken drumsticks and I had to figure out what to do with them. I improvised!

In a gallon-sized zipper bag, I put some bread crumbs, some Spice House Northern Style Barbeque seasoning, and a couple pinches of salt (sorry, I didn't measure any of it and had to do three batches, which probably will all taste different). Then I rinsed each drumstick and placed a couple in the bag, shook them up and now they're all in the oven. It's great grilling weather, so we may finish them on the barbie before we eat, just to give them that certain je ne sais quoi.

The kids will sauté up some potatoes (we were given a 50 lb box straight from the farm and, boy, are they wonderful!) and some veggies to go along with the chicken. Yum!

23 March 2010


Education is our path to true humanity and wisdom. By this I do not mean simply what goes on in school and university--which all too often turns out to be a path in another direction entirely away from both humanity and reason. I mean the broader process that engages us all through life. To be alive is to be a learner. Much of the learning we do takes place at home, in the family, or after we leave both home and college and begin the struggle to survive in the wider world. Increasingly, in a society shaped by technology that is continually changing, we need to learn a new skill: how to keep learning. We must be flexible and adaptable enough to survive in any circumstances. Even more important than flexibility is a virtuous character and set of guiding principles that will enable us to keep track of goodness amid the moral and social chaos that surrounds us.

16 January 2010

Menu Plan & Shopping Update

First the plan itself:

Sunday: roast beef, potatoes, carrots, swede, onions
Monday: baked potatoes with the works
Tuesday: stew w/bread (made from Sunday's leftovers)
Wednesday: French onion soup
Thursday: beef pitas (made from the rest of Sunday's roast beef, along with bell peppers, onions, & mushrooms (all purchased on sale) and spiced according to the Greek lists in Culinary Artistry)
Friday: chowder & clamcakes
Saturday: lasagne w/veggie & baguettes

As Judith and I sat down to try to get all this (plus breakfasts, snacks, and lunches) figured out, we were a bit stumped. I've gotten out of the habit of looking at the sale papers and I was finding it difficult to get back into the groove. My other kids were waiting to start a movie until Judith and I were done, so we were both feeling some pressure. Then I had a brilliant idea - at least, I think it was brilliant!. I pulled the other kids in and handed them each a sale paper from a different store. Then, when I needed to check the price on something, they each looked to see if it was on their particular ad. It became a bit of a contest among the boys to see who could find the best price. Once the other kids started working with us, it went much, much faster. Judith entered items into the price book and I ran the calculator and organized our shopping list. I think we'll have all the kids help in the future.

Then, today, Judith and I spent the day shopping - mostly loss-leaders at five grocery stores. It was tiring, but, by the end of the day, we still had over $100 dollars of the budget left to get us through the next couple of weeks (milk and produce and anything we may have forgotten). That should be a pretty easy couple of weeks. Last time we went shopping, at this point, we had only $35 left (and we made it with $2 to spare).

Today, I began to explain to Judith how they lay out grocery stores, with an odd number of aisles and the main things (produce, meats, dairy, bakery) around the outside perimeter to encourage as much impulse buying as possible. Next time we go, I'll start to show her how the shelves are arranged, with the higher-priced goods at eye level. (We did a lot of bending, today.)

What sorts of things are you teaching your children about marketing to help them when they grow up?


09 January 2010

New Meal Plan

Sunday: maple-glazed pork roast, potatoes au gratin, salad

Monday: chicken noodle soup (made with chicken wings), homemade bread

Tuesday: no peek pork and rice, salad (made with leftover pork)

Wednesday: French onion soup w/slices of homemade baguette with cheese melted on them, carrot sticks, broccoli & dip

Thursday: hotdogs & beans (hotdogs were on special for half price)

Friday: beef stew & homemade bread (made with meat that's already in the freezer and leftover veggies)

Saturday: baked potatoes with lots of different toppings


07 January 2010

Decluttering Help

My friend, Renée, is posting one decluttering tip per day. I'm not sure how long she's planning on doing this, but I've been finding her tips quite helpful! Check out her blog: Add More Chocolate!


05 January 2010


My 17 yodd is apprenticing with me in meal planning and grocery shopping this year. Because of some health issues, for the past year or so, I haven't been putting in the time and thought that I should be.

Our first step was a 2-week menu plan. I recreated a spreadsheet that I've used before. One column for the day of the week, another for the date (set up so that I only have to change the first date and all the rest re-set by themselves), another for our plans that day, and one each for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.

In our efforts to save money and submit ourselves to the discipline of the church calendar (including efforts to make Sunday a bit more special than the rest of the week), we've eliminated sweet snacks Monday through Saturday (fruit is as sweet as we'll get during the week). Sunday dinner will be the nicest meal of the week (including a nice dessert), with leftovers used throughout the week. This week's dinner plan looks like this:

Sunday: maple-baked ham; spaghetti squash; cranberry, almond, feta salad; cannolis

Monday: Tuscany peasant soup (beef and tomato base with sweet Italian sausage, onions, tomatoes, summer squash, and zucchini - leftovers for lunch Tuesday with grilled cheese)

Tuesday: three quiches - one with leftover ham, asparagus, and cheese; one with leftover Italian sausage and veggies from the soup; one with breakfast sausage (leftover from biscuits and gravy in honor of our son who is heading back to college next week) and fresh tomatoes from the basket of produce we bought through Bountiful Baskets. We're also planning a King Cake in honor of Epiphany, which we'll eat while we watch Twelfth Night (and thus ends our holiday season).

Wednesday: turkey sauce (pronounced the French way: soce), which is simply leftover turkey in a blond roux served over potatoes, and a veggie

Thursday: ham and cabbage soup (leftover ham, half a head of cabbage), with homemade bread

Friday: noodle bowls with leftover ham and the other half of the head of cabbage

Saturday: spaghetti and meat sauce with veggie and homemade bread

If there's any ham left after all that, I'll make ham salad for lunches next week.