Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grilled Cheese in the Oven - Pinterest Busters

Our Helmets Required co-op got together for another round of Pinterest Busters, this time trying out if you can make a good grilled cheese in the oven.

After readying the sandwiches as you would to make them in a pan, we put them on cookie sheets.  We tried regular metal sheets and the Pampered Chef stones.  Put the sandwiches on one sheet and cover them with another.  The oven was preheated to 350 degrees and we popped them in.

About 20 minutes later, about the time I could have made at least 20 sandwiches on the stove, we had six flat, pale, dry sandwiches.  We put them back in for about another 5-10 minutes and they did brown up a bit, but again they were dry.  They did work better on the metal sheets than the stones.

Dancer cranked the oven up to 400 degrees and that sandwich did turn out looking more like a proper grilled cheese sandwich.  We could probably play around with the temperature and the type of cookie sheet we used to make them better.  However, our recommendation is, if you have a frying pan and a burner, make them on the stove not in it.  We would call this pin semi-busted, yes we made grilled cheese, but it was substandard.

The boys also made TF2 (Team Fortress 2) steam game sandviches.  Sandvich, it's suppose to sound Russian.  What they wanted to know is if the sandvich tasted good.  Surprise!  It did!  I think that was a creative way on their part to ensure lunch during co-op ;) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Homeschool class of 2015.  

I liked this photo.  I thought it would be great irony to have their program picture taken "outside" of a school.  It shows that you can graduate without ever stepping a foot in a traditional classroom.  

Dancer before the ceremony.

Twelve leaves on the rose to represent each of the graduates.  They had a dinosaur that held a rose and he would invite them to all the meetings.  This rose symbolizes they are all part of one.  Took a while to explain that to the lady that made the cake, she was going for aesthetics, but once we explained she did a great job with it.  I was in charge of ordering the cake so it is food coloring free, except for the rose, so that Dancer could have a piece. 

Each graduate set up a table to show a bit about who they are.  Dancer choose, of course, her tap shoes, 4-H ribbons and name tags, games we like to play, a Dr. Who mug, crochet dragons, Phantom of the Opera book, some pictures, and her beloved gel highlighters, which without she probably couldn't study and would have been a D- student (not really!)

The ceremony had a commencement speaker, a slide show of each of the graduates of pictures of them through the years, 

the parents presented their diploma,

and then they walked off as adults ready to enter the world!  Now Dancer is trying to get use to saying, "I was homeschooled" compared to "I'm homeschooled."

When we gave them their diploma, they gave us a rose.  Love the color of the one Dancer chose for us.

After the ceremony we went to Pizza Ranch to celebrate, seems we do a lot of celebrating there.  This was the sky, it rained most of the day, buy by this time the sun was starting to peek out.  Hope this is a symbol of how their future will be, sunshine after storms.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Potato Chip Cookies

Yep, you read that right, potato chip cookies.  Who would ever think of that I don't know, but Dad thought they sounded good so he baked up a batch.  They are actually called "My Secret" cookies.  The cookbook credited Bernice Fonos of Minneapolis with the recipe and she said, "I have made these cookies many times and always ask my friends to guess the "Secret Ingredient."  No one has ever guessed potato chips!"  Well, her secret is sort of safe with me, but they are so good I wanted to share the recipe. ;)

3/4 c. butter (it calls for margarine but no really good cookie was ever made with margarine)
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. nuts
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. crushed potato chips.

Cream butter and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients, blending well.  Shape into balls the size of a walnut.  Flatten with a fork in two directions.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Quarry Walk

We live near the "Granite City," named so because granite was, and still is, a huge industry in the area.  This quarry was started in 1863 by two Scotsmen and closed in 1950.  The park opened to the public in 1993.  I will use the term "to the public" loosely because it is a popular swimming hole and my dad has pictures of him, and many others, swimming and picnicking her in the 1940's.

Besides being able to "legally" swim in the 116 feet deep quarries, there are several miles of groomed walking and skiing trails.  It was beautiful to wander through the trails and pick up a few geocaches while we are at it.   

On this trip we were with our homeschool co-op Helmet Required friends.  

At this quarry, one of 20,  these two geese were almost across to the other side.  We took our cameras and started taking their picture (the beauty of the place is not captured on these photos).  As we were snapping away, they can swimming over to us and we swear, started posing.  As soon as we put our cameras away, they swam off.   Hmmm, a little wild life vanity?  

Monday, May 25, 2015


Spark got a new little goat for a 4-H project.  He named him Kayumba and rode on Dancer's lap on the way home. We bought him and then had a 4-H meeting where he was a huge hit, but how can you not love a baby goat. 

He is about 10 days old here.

It took him a couple of days for him to get used to taking a bottle after being use to his momma.

This kids worked with him a lot to get him to be a successful bottle drinker, even bringing him in the house for snacks at night.

Finally he is a pro at it and can down a bottle in what seems like seconds.  

He has really grown.  This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago, I'm not sure Spark would even be able to pick him up any more.  Next to our other goats though he is still a little guy.

And he loves to do chores.  He follows Spark around like a dog and panics when he doesn't see him.  Like all baby goats, he is so cute!

Llama State Project Bowl

Our team the Stearburne Spitters.  Llama was new in our state this year and the kids did really well. The kids got together several times in the months prior to the bowl to practice together and then also did a lot of studying on their own. 

Spark made a llama cake for lunch.

This was lunch and it gives you and idea of just how many people were there.  This is just a very small part of the room we were in and there were other rooms and people sitting in hallways.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Minestrone Hot Dish

Marked good in my mother's handwriting from the stained pages of the Calvary's Parish Pantry Cookbook by the Calvary Ladies Aid - Calvary Lutheran Church.  The cookbook is so well used it is held together with a rubber band.  

Minestrone Hot Dish

1 lb. hamburger
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 onion
1 can minestrone soup
4 cups diced potatoes

Brown hamburger and onion.  Combine all the ingredients in a large casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Signs of an Early Spring

We were excited that it was warm very early this year and we were able to get some barn cleaning done.  Yes, that really is exciting, usually the poo is frozen down and then when the snow melts it runs through the barn and make a huge, gross mess.

It was so nice that we shed our jackets.

Pancake sunbathing.  Being a farm cat is good work if you can get it.

Lola and Jamal were happy to be out and not have wet feet.  

And then this happened.  A few inches of snow came and ruined the whole thing.  Thankfully it didn't stick around long.

Welcome Spring Wooden Blocks

Saw this on Pinterest.  We had the wooden blocks in a bag in the garage from another project and the paint leftover from other projects so this cost us nothing.  We brought it to Grandma's to remind her what season it is and to brighten up her very white room.  I love how it turned out and almost wish we had made one for our house while we had all the stuff out.

Redoing Furniture

Spark and I found this rocking chair for just $20!

We bought some Country White paint and started painting.  This picture is really white, not blue.  It reminded of the blue and black or white or gold dress.

Lots of coats later, every time the sun shined on it we could see parts that weren't adequately covered, we have this beautiful chair.  

We also found an end table that Spark painted a moss green.  We brought this to Grandmas new home and didn't get an end result picture but we were very happy with how it turned out.  It is amazing what a little paint can do.

Grandma Down

The middle of February, Grandma Shirley fell in the driveway on the ice getting bread out of the truck.  She hit her forehead and eye on something and broke the top of her arm bone completely off.  Normally this won't be a big deal, they would throw a couple of pins in the bone and have you do a little physical therapy.  Since surgery isn't an option for Grandma Shirley, an injury such as this is a life changer.  Finally, after weeks of chaos, we found a place that discourages being restrained in a wheel chair, sippy cups, diapers and bibs and encourages taking care of yourself and is locked so she can wander to her hearts content.  I did learn first hand that, unless you have long term care insurance and someone advocating on your behalf that knows the laws nursing homes are suppose to be following, you are pretty much doomed to sitting in a wheel chair, preferably so stoned you don't even know you are sitting there.  If you don't follow the stoner protocol, even if you aren't on state aid and are private pay, you are too much work and you are asked to leave.

We took these pictures the day we moved her into her new home.   This is our whole family minus two.  

Grandma and Grandpa with their grandkids.

Grandma and Dancer

She is about 65 miles away from us but we have made it down to visit and take her to appointment about twice a week.  Spark usually goes with me so I don't have to drive alone.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Dates

We started out the evening cheering for SJU at their last home basketball game.  After the game we headed into town to enjoy some fabulous pizza.  

Wooden Bowl and Pottery

Spark started to go to a local art studio on Thursday nights.  For $5 they can go for three hours and all the materials are provided.  He made this wooden bowl on the lathe one of the first nights.  He has also done some pottery, sculpting, painting, drawing and glass work.  There is a teacher in each room and the kids just wander from room to room trying whatever projects they want.


Dancer Inducted into Phi Theta Kappa

4-H Knowledge Bowl Pratice Cake

After the Minecraft cake Spark was on a baking spree.  We had our first llama knowledge bowl practice at our house and he made another layer cake with a llama on top to spur on the llama learning.