{ About August }

In the life of an aging year, August is the cheerful-going-gray-stage. Decay is in the air and birds are empty-nesters. August’s garden is full of hearty thorns that cannot be rooted out easily — and she is too tired to try.

June works hard to stay attractive, but August knows better. She’s seen the storms and wind and hail and hungry insects. She shrugs and makes do. She’s got beauty: the below-skin-deep and low-maintenance kind. It’s easy-care and comfortably hospitable; visitors pop on by for a nibble, then fly to new homes.

August weeds are reckless vines, unruly thistledown and flyaway milkweed. Her ready-to-drop flowers are barely holding on to dried, patchy blooms.

August grooms herself casually — if at all — and without a mirror.

She lays back, tanned and wrinkled, as she watches summer’s finale with a satisfied, tired smile.

 

{ Un-Saintly Samples }

The light bulb went on recently.

I am a homeschool educator and if I’m going to spend time writing these “Daily Word Prompt” posts, I should probably pass along the learning and inspiration to my students (my children.)

Duh.

That way, I can

  • Justify spending time in writing exercise
  • Share and pass along the learning
  • Give them the opportunity to exercise their writing muscles

Most of all, I want them to see that you can just dive into writing.  Do it regularly. Don’t stare at a page for wasted minutes, just move your pen or mouse and start writing.

Very important: Spelling doesn’t matter in these exercises. The focus is to loosen up the flow of writing, making it fun & easy.

During the last week, I have shared the “word prompt of the day” with them.

Then, I give them one other challenge, such as:

  • use one of your spelling or geography words in your paragraph
  • include a few hyphenated compound words
  • Use “island” or the specific name of an island (we are studying islands this year.)

Someone even asked for the new word prompt today before breakfast!

They are allowed to bring up their laptops and start in.  This gives them something to do while everybody migrates to the work table…and it gives me time to make that second cup of coffee.

They are allowed around 15 – 20 minutes at the beginning of our school day for these writing exercises.

Today’s word: saintly.  They can use the negative “unsaintly” also.

(Most everyone liked using “unsaintly” instead of “saintly.” Hmmm….)

Today’s extra challenge: use at least one of this week’s geography vocabulary words.

  • Marco, age 10 wrote this:

The unsaintly, unshaven robber stole some money from the Commerce Creek Bank.  He hid it inside the hollow tree.  An alarm went off.  The police came.  They found no evidence or fingerprints.

  • Here is another, by 9-year-old Gianny:

Hello, my name is Daniel.  I am camping with my dad, next to a humongous waterfall.  Some people think camping on a Sunday is unsaintly.  I don’t think so because when I look at a waterfall, I can praise God for what He made. 

  • Ava, age 12 is a prolific writer and here is an excerpt of today’s work:

Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, rain pounded on the rooftop.  Little Marie tossed and turned in her bed.  She could never go back to sleep in the middle of a thunderstorm, knowing that the creek just in back of her house could easily swamp their house as soon as it got too high.  Marie could finally take no more.  She pushed the warm, fluffy covers away from her and slid her feet into her white cotton slippers.  It was dark in the room, despite the angry flashes from outside…

  • 13-year-old Mo has the beginnings of a novel. Each day’s challenge builds on the story the day before.
  • 14-year-old Clara writes an excellent “how to” / step-by-step piece every day.  Her work is amusing and well-crafted.

This experiment has me surprised and happy.  They really like taking this time first thing to write.  They look eager, but relaxed. It’s a great way to start our school day.

I wish we would have started this in September.

© Lisa M. Luciano 😊

{ Almost-Empty-Pantry Cake }

It’s Monday, and it appears that we diminished our food stockpile over the weekend.

I need to buy groceries.

Though the pantry is bare, we can still eat cake.

It won’t be bursting with fruit or chocolate, but with a patina of flavorful glaze, this dessert is sweetly satisfying (and easy to make.)

cake
I made my cake with coconut oil (didn’t have butter- used it all up over Thanksgiving) & I used water (didn’t have milk.) This is a stock photo. Ours looked similar. But, everyone ate it up before I remembered to take a photo.

Almost-Empty-Pantry Cake

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 c sugar
  • ½ cup fat (butter, coconut oil, shortening)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk or water

 

Glaze:

  • ½ – 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Enough lemon juice whisked into the confectioner’s sugar to create a pourable glaze
  • If you don’t have lemon juice, use milk or water with a few drops of flavoring.

 

  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Beat sugar and fat together. Add eggs, milk and vanilla.
  3. Mix dry ingredients with wet mixture.
  4. Place in greased 9 x 9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
  5. When cake is cooled, pour glaze over.
  6. Eat and enjoy.
  7. Now go buy groceries.

 

© Lisa M. Luciano 😊

 

 

{ Books in 2017 }

eugenio-mazzone-190204
The following books have had a percussive  impact on my life in the last year:

grieving

What Grieving People Wish You Knew…About What Really Helps and What Really Hurts By Nancy Guthrie

When do we ever take a class on how to help the grieving?  We don’t.  Yet, we can be pretty sure we will encounter grieving friends and family members throughout life. 

My husband and I listened to the audio and we were both very inspired. It’s a touching, gentle primer on the art of friendship to the grieving.  We now consider it an important book for every family member to digest and practice. 

 

love does

Love Does by Bob Goff

This will make you laugh, cry and rejoice that you got your hands on it.  Listen to the audio version, read by the author. 

It’s funny and moving and spiritual in a fresh, exciting way.  Get ready to become “secretly incredible!”

listening photo

The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols, Phd.

This is one of the most helpful books I have read this past year.  I have opportunities every day to succeed (and fail) using the ideas I’ve found here. Listening is an unselfish gift you give to your friends and family.  Listening can be hard work.  When you listen with all you’ve got, you will often be rewarded and not bored, even if people drone on.  If you think you’re already a good listener, this book will encourage you; if you know your listening skills need work, this book is a great place to start.

judas do

What Would Judas Do? By John Perritt

I am still finishing this one.  Simple but profound, the book explores how each of us, deep down, can relate to the ultimate traitor. Examine yourself with this book: am I a true believer, or just along for the ride?  It’s humbling, insightful, and suitable for a family devotional read.

magnetic

Why Nobody Wants to be Around Christians Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Faith Magnetic by Thom and Joani Schultz

I found myself in this book.  I mean, it was like looking in the mirror when they mentioned unloving Christians.  Ugh. 

But it didn’t stop at that, and the book wasn’t condemning. It prompted me as a follower of the ultimate King of love to want to truly love others.  Not just as a project, or in a surface way. 

If you know me, please be patient with me as I seek, powered by God, to see people and treat people the way Jesus would.

writing tools

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

As you see on this blog I am trying to write regularly to learn to write well. It’s slow going.  

This book helped by giving me some unique things to try.  Unlike a dry textbook, the expert author made his tips easy and fun to read.

I read it a few months ago, though, and I feel like I am forgetting already – maybe I should review a chapter every now and then!

My Bible

This is what I read the most — the living, breathing, inspired Word of God.  Its prophecies have been fulfilled, though the gap between the giving and the fulfillment took hundreds of years, and were written by authors who never knew each other.

This book will never be boring and I will never outgrow it.

I see myself in its pages and Jesus is there from start to finish.

Try it 😊

© Lisa M. Luciano

Word Prompt of the Day:  Percussive

Definition of percussive

1: of or relating to percussion; especially: operative or operated by striking

2: having powerful impact

Photo credit: Eugenio Mazzone

{ Qualm } & Other Words

QUALM: The word prompt of the day. My first thoughts:

  • A quiet misgiving.
  • A calm fear.
  • A nagging doubt.
  • An ebbing lack of peace.

Last night at the local Caribou Coffee shop.  I look up with that “caribou in the headlights” stare that the baristas see all day.  Glazing over the menu, I know I will choose the same-old-same-old anyway:

A large Americano with room for cream – boring, low calorie, coffee rich, and satisfying.

Caribou Coffee offers a “question of the day” in exchange for a whopping, debt-reducing dime off your order. For my standard Americano purchase, that is 3.5% off the total (if I answer correctly.)

They also offer a chalkboard question. Today’s query is intriguing. (I gleaned those italicized words from reading every one of the Nancy Drew books in my formative years.)

The chalkboard asks: What is your favorite unusual word?

I like this question.

I know right away what I will scrawl on the chalkboard: UBIQUITOUS.

I see “argent” and “preternatural.” Gotta look those up.

My daughter digs ERSATZ out of her brain and writes it far from UBIQUITOUS in yellow chalk.

I feel encouraged as a homeschooling mom.

Why do I take the time to scroll perfect pink chalk letters and then back away—looking — like I’m examining a work of art?  It’s just a word on a chalkboard. No one is looking. Or are they? Are they impressed with my word? Are they planning to look it up? Are they inwardly nodding in agreement?

What is wrong with me?

It’s just a word.

Less is more….creative.

They say that when you have less, you are forced to be more creative.

If you have unlimited art supplies, you think, “Where do I start?”

If you only have a package of flimsy paper plates and some brads, you brainstorm and come up with something unique…like a paper plate skeleton. 

Creativity also thrives in a sparse kitchen. Because we have a big family, our pantry is consistently on the verge of emptiness. This is the perfect environment for innovation.

One day I scrounged a little ham, some rice, cheese and a smattering of fresh and limp vegetables. Strategic marketing made this odd assortment into a memorable dish. I called it Nickelodeon Hash.

When my husband was out of work for several months, our refrigerator was often annoyingly barren. But lunch was never missed. Thinking outside the box one day,  I concocted a casserole of leftover black beans, salsa, rice, scrambled egg and cream cheese.

One spunky child named it “poverty in a pan.” With this innovative title, she proved that an environment of “less” can allow creative juices to flow abundantly.

Hot Gift

IMG_20170508_202456

It’s garage sale season.  I load eager children into the monster van. We roll slowly through middle class neighborhoods, seeking signs and cluttered driveways. When we spy a worthy target, we stop, click doors and spill out. Excited fingers jingle and drop quarters while I deliver final instructions.

“We’re not taking home junk.  Just because it’s in the free box doesn’t mean we grab it. Everyone ready?”

Determined little shoppers approach the treasure-filled yard. We nod at the smiling homeowner with one eye on bargains in a corner.

Markie bubbles when he finds something on a sawhorse table. My big-eyed boy approaches, hands behind his back.

“I want to give you this for Mother’s Day.  Will you get it and I’ll pay you back?”

I peer down at a sparkly find on a chain.  The necklace reads “HOT” spelled out in rhinestones.  I nod and smile, suppressing a major giggle.

I remind him that I forget to wear necklaces. My sparse collection of chains sits lonely on a handmade jewelry tree. It’s literally a branch of a tree that my son T.J. mounted on an unfinished wood base.

If I had to choose, I’d pick the branch holder over the jewelry.

“If you don’t want to wear it, you can just let it hang on your branch thing,” he says.

I hug him and smile. “That’s a perfect idea.”

We check out, tote a full bag into the van, ready to attack another driveway.

~ Lisa