Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't know what it is, can't live without it

This is the story of Dancer and the kindle. The other day on t.v. there was an ad for a kindle. Nonchalantly I said, "Oh, there is one of those kindles, they look pretty cool." Dancer had never heard of one so she was off to the computer to do a little consumer research on it. An hour later and she was convinced that her life is not going to be complete until she has one in her hot little hands. Much to her disappointment we are not getting one. We could afford the kindle, it is her voracious reading habit I don't think we could afford with the downloads.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homeschool parents

This is how parents look after years of homeschooling and having to learn algebra all over again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spark the basketball star

Well he's not exactly a star....yet. He just started last week and has been thrilled to wear the uniform. The boys get a jersey, shorts and a bag to put them in. When Dancer played, the girls got a jersey. What's up with that?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Complete Randomness

  • We were fortunate enough to have three grandparents here for Thanksgiving.
  • I love to see my mom even if by the time they get the car out on the road she doesn't remember she was here. I will remember.
  • We have prime rib and steak for Thanksgiving dinner. No one here gets excited about turkey so why wrestle with the big frozen fowl for a special occasion when no one finds it special.
  • We only have prime rib at Thanksgiving. It is way out of our budget any other time of the year.
  • It was odd to be eating it for leftovers today. Seemed pretty extravagant for Friday lunch.
  • The dog, Nikki, loves prime rib tidbits.
  • Pinning is so very important to sewing a quilt.
  • If you need a seam ripped out you should try to do it yourself.
  • But I am your mom so I will sit and do it for you because I am just so happy that you like to sew.
  • It takes five dollars to get Spark to help clean out a goat pen.
  • It is so worth five dollars.
  • Dad had to go to work tonight.
  • He has been home for a whole week. He was sick, but he was home.
  • We were sad to see him go tonight.
  • He leaves for work in the dark now. It makes the night long.
  • I hate to do chores in the dark.
  • Getting new rubber bands on braces hurts.
  • The best cure for the pain is soft food and time.
  • Who ever thought that El Dorado needed it's own sound track? It doesn't.
  • I like the Shrek CD from the original movie. Or motion picture as it's called.
  • Would we really be confused if it wasn't called a motion picture instead of just picture show?
  • Beetlejuice is only funny the first three times you watch it.
  • Once everyone can recite the lines along with the movie it looses something.
  • But I will watch it again because my kids like it.
  • I have, although, reached my limit for the scene where they sing Day-O, even if you freeze frame the characters to see how funny of a face you can make them have.
  • Did Disney read the book Summer of the Monkeys before they made the movie? If you have read the book don't waste 101 minutes of your time watching the movie - you will be highly disappointed.
  • And one last one for Spark - a complete Thanksgiving dinner, a piece of pie that you are too full to eat but ate anyway, AND a full bottle of carbonated soda pop doesn't fit in your stomach. Not for very long anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Dad's Thankful List

Here are some things I am thankful for this year:

1. Having a great family
2. The garden doing so well this year, especially the peppers and tomatoes
3. Produce from the garden that is frozen, canned and stored for the winter
4. Eggs on the counter and rabbits in the freezer
5. My job
6. The van and truck starting when I turn the key
7. Friends we do fun things with
8. Good neighbors
9. The kids being healthy, funny, smart and working hard (most of the time)
10. Our house and yard and the great, empty views from our house
11. A tank that is mostly full of fuel oil
12. Indian summer that has lasted most of the month
13. Our cool dog, Nikki
14. The goats, rabbits, chickens and ducks
15. having family for dinner today
16. The pantry full of food
17. All of our good health

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Dad, your lard is coming out"

"What?!!" retorts Dad as his head whips around to look at Spark who stated this so matter of factly.

Dad wasn't sure what to think when Spark told him this. Should he be insulted? It sounds like a major slam.

Spark had just come out of the bathroom where Dad was fixing the trim on the window trim he had put up. Every time he put a piece of trim up on the right side of the window it would crack. He even had to go buy more trim because he went through the first pieces we bought. Now he is just going to glue it because it is getting to be a rather spendy. He had the caulk gun, or whatever he is using to fix it, on the counter and Spark had pulled the trigger part way when he was in there. A long line of the construction adhesive was slowly oozing out and he realized that he might as well tell what he had done because there was no way to get it back in the tube.

Here is Dad's "lard"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Summer of the Monkeys Book Club

For this months book club we made a game like Jeopardy to go along with the book Summer of the Monkeys. There were two rounds, just like the television show, where the girls played for bananas. I went through the book and made questions to fit under different headings. The first round had questions about names, numbers, monkeys, Rowdy, Daisy and Nurse Daisy. These questions were just general questions from the whole book. The second round, when the banana points were doubled, was questions more specific to a part of the book. These topics were drinking in the bottoms, going to town, spending the money, catching the monkeys attempt 1, catching the monkeys attempt 2, and catching the monkeys. Since these questions were worth more bananas, I made them a little bit harder, especially the ones that were for 10 banana points.

For the game board we used the dry erase board. I found at the craft store some little monkey and banana cut outs that teachers would use on a bulletin board. These we used for the top of the board and along the sides for the banana points to jazz it up a bit. As the girls picked the topics and banana amounts, Spark erased the banana number off the board. For the second round we quickly erased the whole board and wrote the numbers and new headings on.

Spark and Dancerer made these boxes for each player to stand behind. The girls wrote their names on a banana and stuck it on the little name plate on the front of the box. For the buzzers, Dancer cut some sticks and taped a monkey on the top of it. When they knew the answer they raised their monkey stick. Two moms judged who raised their stick first and one mom kept score. If they got the questions right she add on the bananas and if it was wrong she subtracted the bananas. This ended up being much more fun that I ever thought it would have been, there was so much laughter! The winner of the game won her very own real banana. With no corporate sponsors we had to do things a little lower key than the actual Jeopardy game.

The girls made the bread while we were waiting for all the guests to arrive, one had a time conflict, so that we could eat it hot out of the oven after the game.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Summer of the Monkeys Bread Recipe

This month the girls in the book club chose the book Summer of the Monkeys. For snack they are going be making Monkey bread and then we will have it hot out of the oven. We did trial run of the recipe because it has been years since I made it last and I want to be sure we leave enough time for the dough to raise.

Monkey Bread

1 pound loaf of frozen bread dough - or make your own dough
1 stick butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Set the bread dough out to thaw and rise, about four to six hours.

Cut the dough into 24 pieces. Melt the butter in a bowl. Mix sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Gently shape pieces into balls. Do this gently so the dough doesn't have to raise again.
Dip the pieces into the butter
and then roll in the sugar mixture.
Stack in a buttered pan. Sprinkle the leftover sugar mixture over the pieces. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Immediately after baking, turn out out on a plate.
Oh my gosh are these good!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Can't wait until it is done

I am knitting an afghan. It is a checkered pattern that is knitted into strips and then all the strips are sewn together. Whenever I pull it out, Nikki jumps on my lap and tries her best to burrow under it for warmth even though the pieces aren't large enough for her to fit under. Here I think she looks like a lady from the old country.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ducks On A Cold Tin Roof

I went out to the barn this morning and the ducks were in the yard eating, as usual. When I was done in the barn I came in and got the dog to go out to potty. For some reason the ducks went up on the barn roof. I wanted to get the camera right away for a cool picture. Nikki aka Pokey, the fox terrier, had other plans and took her sweet time going. By the time I got back out there was only one girl duck left on the roof and she was getting ready to jump.

I don't know if something came through and spooked them or if they just wanted a better view of the sunrise. The duck are on the move all day and night, or so it seems. We find them in many an odd place.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Perhaps the most unexciting day ever

Next week we are having both the book club and Thanksgiving at our house. With two events in one week the kids and I decided (well I decided) that we should clean the house and dehomeschool it. For one event I would just pick up a bit, but for two, well we are pulling out all the stops. Sadly we only managed to get as far as the living room because that took the whole afternoon. I have been in other homeschool houses that look like ours. Projects, books, papers, games, school supplies and the like take over and multiply while we aren't looking. Then I have been in homeschool houses where there isn't a spoon in the sink or a project in sight. I was in one house where you won't even be able to tell that kids lived there, much less homeschooled kids. Even the basement was void of traces of children. Not ours, we keep the pencil sharpener on an end table by the comfy chair because we use it so much.

We vacuumed every square inch of the living room, even moved out all the furniture including the couch. Dusted every surface and baseboard. Recycled of two grocery bags full of papers and magazines. Put all the books and games where they were suppose to be in the first place and found homes for the projects and parts of projects that were hiding in the corners and piled on the ends of the couch. We even watered the plants and pick off their dead leaves. If you want to be a plant in my house you need to adapt to living in desert conditions because I don't tend to them very often. Then I sat down with a soda and reveled in the joy of our clean living room. I wanted to burn the memory in my mind in case it doesn't happen again.

Yesterday Spark and I didn't walk at all because we were gone almost the entire day with sorting our co-op order, gym at the YMCA and dance class. To make up for some of our lost miles today we walked five miles between the two of us. I walked outside where it is getting colder than it has been the last few days. The chill in the air made me think that we should have soup for supper.

I came in and we made cream of broccoli potato soup. All of the cream soup we make is made the same basic way. We chop onion, garlic, carrots and celery and saute them in olive oil until soft. In another pot boil whatever kind of soup it is going to be, broccoli, cauliflower, potato spinach etc. Throw in some chicken bullion with the veggies, if we don't have any chicken stock. In the pot with the sauteed mix I put in a bit of butter and scoop of flour. When that is cooked I start slowly adding the water from the veggies and let it thicken. Then I dump in the rest of the veggies and add milk until I get as much soup as we will eat. If there is any ham leftover or mushrooms in the fridge I will throw that in as well. When we eat it we put in some cheese in our bowl, add some crackers and call it dinner.

After supper was cleaned up and the barn chores done the kids worked on some projects. Dancer pinned a few of her quilt pieces together and assembled her things for a dance show tomorrow. Spark made a little headway on his dog education project for 4-H. And to make the evening really exciting.........Dad and I vacuumed the stairs! How is that for a romantic Friday night?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Thanks Challenge - Spark's list

1. The rabbits
2. We haven't been sick very much this fall in our family.
3. Our house.
4. I am learning how to swim.
5. All my friends.
6. We have a big yard.
7. We got to eat at Taco John's tonight.
8. We have a lot of fun.
9. Nikki after swallowing a tag from one of her toys and piece of pork whole.
10. Grandma will be home from vacation soon.
11. My mom homeschools us.
12. It is still nice enough to wear shorts.
13. We eat organic food.
14. We sold some goats this summer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Woolly Bear Weather Vane

The woolly bear caterpillar is the larva stage of Pyrrharctia isabella, or Isabella Tiger Moth. This moth has eggs which hatch in the fall and the caterpillar's overwinter. The caterpillar survives the winter by producing a chemical cryoprotectant, or antifreeze, that protects tissues in harsh North American winters. It is said that the width of the middle brown band can be used to predict the severity of the coming winter. The wider the brown band is the milder the winter.

The bands this year are relatively wide so one might expect a mild winter. Some scientists discount the predictive value saying the bands grow wider as the caterpillar ages. Maybe, but if the band is wider because the winter weather is delayed and the caterpillar grows older (with a corresponding wider brown band) they are least reporting the weather as being milder so far.

Biologists, in general, are lacking in fun and imagination. (Settle down, I have a BS in biology myself) While eagerly believing that any process of nature can be broken down into physics and chemistry equations, it would be impossible for a tiny bug to know how to prepare for winter. Apparently only multi-million dollar satellites (that conveniently provide good paying jobs to science types) can predict the weather correctly about half the time.

This just in, from expensive satellites, NOAA and
local TV meteorologists:
Temperatures cold,
or possibly hot.
a chance of rain
or not.
Over this winter I will provide periodic Woolly Weather Reports to see how this cute little fella does, stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

This is a nice change from pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Cake

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. soda
4 eggs
2 c. canned pumpkin
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
1 c. chopped nuts or raisins

Sift first 5 dry ingredients. Add oil, sugar, pumpkin and eggs. Beat well. Pour into greased 10X15 inch pan. (we used 2 8X8 pans) Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 - 35 minutes

Monday, November 16, 2009

Internal Organ Man

Dancer is learning about the systems of the body. To get a good idea of where all the parts are she and Dad drew Internal Organ Man on the drive way.
Here he is in his full glory. Isn't he handsome? He was drawn on the side of the drive where we park the car so I had to drive over him tonight to get the car in the garage.

The up close and personal view.

Cut and pressed

In August Dancer bought fabric to make a quilt for the fair next year. She started out with a flurry washing, ironing and cutting the first few strips out. Since then, fabric has been hanging over the back of one of the living room chairs. The last couple of days she has started working on it again.
All the pieces have been meticulously cut out

and pressed. Now the pinning and sewing can begin!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cabin Fever is Hitting Early

Here it is a mere two weeks since the clocks were switched from day light saving time and we are already going stir crazy in the evenings. For it to be totally dark by 5:30 is just too early and to think that it is going to keep getting dark earlier and earlier is just depressing. By December 21st it will be getting dark at 4:30 and then we can start going the other way.

To combat this cabin fever, Dad started a bonfire tonight and roasted brats. We pulled the picnic table over by the house, turned on the outside lights and enjoyed a picnic. It was 30 degrees out but we are northerners so it wasn't even close to being too cold to eat outside. It was nearly 7:00 p.m. before we came in!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No more store bought bread

We need to buy a new car, ours is quite old and she is on her last leg, or should I say wheel.

We are going to keep fixing ours at least one more time, more if it really needs it, but sooner than later we are going to have to purchase a new one. Well, new to us anyway, we won't be splurging for a brand new one.

Before we welcome a new car, and it's payments, into the family we need to pay down some debt so we can still sleep at night and not be fraught with economic worry. For the last year we have not had any car payments and I gotten rather use to it.

To accomplish "Mission Debt Reduction" we are no longer going to be buying any more groceries until our cupboards are bare. We will still buy the basics of milk, butter, fresh veggies, fruit and anything else that crops up that we just can't go without, but otherwise, no grocery shopping. I also will not be foolish enough to pass up a great sale on something just for the sake of staying with our no grocery rule. Especially in the upcoming month when baking and regular pantry staples are on deep discount for holiday baking and cooking. Dancer can't eat anything with food coloring in it, including yellow cheese, so we are already quite limited to grocery store sales that I can't let these seasonal sales go by. We are also going to have to shop for Thanksgiving since guest are coming to our house this year.

It may sound like we are really depriving ourselves but we are not. If anything should ever happen in the world and we had to stay home for a few months, we would be okay. Our freezer is so full from the garden and butchering that we can't get anything else in it. We also buy with a food co-op and just bought a few cases of our favorite items. And like probably most families, we have those things in our larder that maybe aren't our favorites but they need to be eaten any way. Thus far it has been quite easy but I am assuming as we get further along we will be having some rather creative meals. The kids are excited about the challenge so with them on board it shouldn't be too difficult.

This last week I spent $28.00 at the grocery store. That total would be lower if we were still milking the goats, but they are dry now for breeding. I am back to buying cow milk, and we only drink organic, so that ups the bill a bit more.

On our "no buying" list is bread. Our last slice of store bought bread was eaten on Sunday of last week. This week we have started baking our own bread. We often make homemade bread but certainly not exclusively. When we make it, it is usually some fancier type, not a loaf that you could make a sandwich out of. So now we are in the plain loaf bread and buns baking business. Here is a loaf that Dancer and Dad baked earlier in the week. I must say that Dancer has quite a knack for bread baking as her first loaf turned out delicious!
It is dangerous to the waist line to have fresh made bread in the house though. We would normally go through a loaf, or maybe two, in a week, with fresh bread we are eating a loaf a day. Most of that is eaten the few minutes after it comes out of the oven. I don't know what we are going to do when we run out of flour. Pray for good holiday flour sales I guess!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Welsh Cakes - Llech Cymreig

It is believed that this recipe can be traced back to the 1830's and 1850's Wales and that it came to America about that time with the Welsh who immigrated to work in mines. We whipped these up this afternoon in about 20 minutes. The cakes would be great alone for breakfast or snack time. They would also work wonderfully as a roll at lunch or dinner.

Welsh Cakes

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. mace - we omitted this
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 cup currants or raisins
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into 10 or 12 pieces and cut into flour mixture with pastry blender until it looks like pie crust. Add raisins or currants. Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until just mixed, it will be sticky.
On well floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick.
Cut out circles with biscuit cutter, or in our case a Bob and Larry glass. Heat electric griddle or fry pan to 325 degrees. Oil the griddle lightly once for all the cakes.
Fry the cakes about 5 minutes on each side or until they are deep brown color.
These were so good the kids want to have them again tomorrow. They can be served plain or with butter or syrup. Slathered with jam in the middle like a sandwich would also be a tasty variation. The cakes were just as delicious reheated for Dad. The only hard part was knowing they were in the fridge and not eating them before he was able to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Running to the library is a lot like the grocery store

You know how you run into the grocery store quick because you need one item and then, some how, when you are in there it turns into two bags full? Well, that seems to be what happens to us when we go to the library.

Today we went into town early, before homeschool gym at the YMCA, to pick up ONE book at the library. Spark is doing a 4-H project about Fox Terriers, because that is what our little Nikki is, and there was a book he wanted at the downtown library.

We brought some books back so we had the library bag with, otherwise, I would have even said to leave it in the car, we were only getting one book. Our book basket at home is already overflowing and we have plenty of books checked out to read.

We get in the library, put the returning books on the conveyor belt and march right upstairs straight to the animal books. We find the book he wants no more that four minutes after entering the building, we can see the library catalog online at home so we had the number and everything before hand. But did we take that book and head promptly to the check out as planned? Goodness no. There was another Fox Terrier book that probably would have some good information in it, and then just a few shelves lower was a cat book and Dancer is doing a cat project so we get that one too.

Now we are on the way to the door. Down a couple of rows is as far as we get and Spark sees a Christmas cookbook. 'You should get this Mom" he says "it looks good." Right next to it was another enticing Christmas book so that one got plucked off the shelf as well.

Since we were close to the knitting books I should really see what they had on the shelves this week. So that Spark would let me look for a few minutes I directed him to the comic book section. I quickly found five knitting books to put in the library bag. I stopped myself from getting any more so I did show some self control.

While waiting for me, Dancer found a doll making book which went in the bag. The craft books in the adult section are so much better than in the children's area.

Dancer and I headed back to get Spark from his row and he had found a book called The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. I can't really say no to a book that has the name Smithsonian in it even if it does weight about nine pounds. We are homeschoolers after all.

We have now picked out more books than will fit into the library bag. Our library bag is a backpack with wheels and one of my hard and fast rules is that we don't get more books in a trip than will fit in the backpack. Spark's book is too big to fit in the bag so it really shouldn't count and I am sure that after we check the books out I will be able to finagle them to all fit, beside a lot of them are mine and I probably meant the rule to only pertain to the kid's books.

We start heading towards the stairs and as we were passing the Christian book section, Dancer eyes a book that one of her friends has at their house. Oh, we should check that out, it is by C. S. Lewis so for sure it is good and worth bring home. And this one looks good too, as I spy another one I might want to read. We already broke the library bag rule so we might as well go all the way.

The kids and I get to the top of the long granite staircase and gaze downward. I realize, that to get the library bag down the stairs, I am going to have to clunk it down each and every one of those steps because it is too heavy to carry when mine, and the kids, arms are full of books. We quietly opted to take the elevator.

After Dancer checked them all out, I managed to get all but two, and the huge book of Spark's which wasn't going to count anyway, into the bag. One of the books was a paperback that I needed to curve around the side of the bag, but I was patting myself on the back none the less.

Now we just had to go across town to the other library and pick the two books I had on hold there. So much for our overflowing book basket.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Science Poetry

Sweat Haiku

Sweat, gross and smelly
Drops ozzing off your belly
Makes the girls say ewww

Thyroid Limerick

The thyroid is an endocrine gland
It's not made of hair or bits of sand
It does a lot
Except make snot
When working properly you'll fell grand

One of the great things about homeschooling is we can make up goofy stuff during class and call it learning! These were composed after a long lesson on the thyroid and what happens when things go wrong with a gland. The example was the thyroid and malfunction was hyperthyroidism. Not the most exciting subject and we felt it needed a little spicing up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Putting the gardens to bed

We have been blessed with some great "Indian Summer" weather the past week and a half. It's really nice since they say our October was the second wettest and fifth coldest on record. Today it was in the 60's and we got to pick up, mow and till most of the garden. There is a post from back in the spring showing me, Dad, tilling in a cloud of dust and now I had to wait to till until the ground dried out. The weather has been really odd this year.

The project started and stopped after about thirty seconds when the mower ran over a bunch of this wire from an old Christmas wreath. After a break to free up the blade, the work continued. All of the gardens are ready for the winter now except for the fenced garden. Eeyore, the pet wether goat, was holed up there browsing on what was left of the garden. Well, there is always tomorrow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Almoner - a medieval coin purse

Pockets had yet to be invented back in the medieval ages. Since holding on to a handful of money wasn't the best laid plan, the people had almoners to carry coins (their alms) and other small necessities. The almoner was tied with purse strings and tied to ones belt.


Today the kids made their own almoners. They used fleece, yellow to make it look like it could be leather or fine cloth, and cotton yarn. We chose fleece so that they wouldn't have to worry about fraying edges and because we have boat loads of it. They laid out the fleece, put a plate upside down on the fleece, traced around the plate and cut out the circle. All around the outer edge of the circle they cut little slits with a sharp scissor about 1/2 inch apart to lace the yarn through. To make the lacing easy, we folded a bread bag twisty in thirds for a make shift needle. Once the yarn is laced through just cinch it up and it is ready to use. Dancer really like this and made one large and one small one. Hers is pictured above and Spark's is below.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Giving Thanks Challenge - Dancer's list

1. There weren't any deer shot in the field behind us today.
2. I have a pet goat - Eeyore
3. Our house
4. Dad got to work safely tonight
5. That I have gotten to dance for so many years - I am in my 10th year!
6. Nikki hasn't had any accidents inside today.
7. We had homemade yummy buns for supper
8. I belong to a fun 4-H group
9. We haven't been to the emergency room lately
10. All our animals are doing well.
11. We figured out what cause my eczema
12. I have fun friends
13. That people are coming to our house for Thanksgiving
14. I am homeschooled
15. My brother bought me a flower at the dance show yesterday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Deep thoughts by Spark

"You know what I hate about history?

I know how much life I have missed."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Adventures with Larry

Dad, Dancer and Spark constructed Larry. That afternoon, unaware that Larry had come to life, I came home, pulled in the drive and wondered who was on the lawn mower before realizing that he was a scarecrow. Larry is really living up to his title of being a scarecrow.
Dad was mowing lawn with the other mower, came around the corner of the garage and just about fell off his mower seeing a full grown man sitting on the other one driving towards him before realizing he was a scarecrow.
Dancer took the dog out to potty in the dark and came rushing back in because there was a man in the driveway. A couple of seconds of clearing thinking and she realized it was Larry who had scared her socks off.
Hopefully he will have the same track record with scaring crows if we ever need him to step up to the plate for that job.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Pumpkin's Story: "The Final Chapter"

"Oh a pumpkin's life. I shone brightly on Halloween night; the star of the evening, the main event. Did I mention winning the 4-H pumpkin carving contest? Have you seen my amazing pyrotechnics that special eve? They say the brightest star burns out the fastest, but not I. On the front steps I will linger, rotting and liquefying as nature intended. Never mind the hazard of my frozen goop on the front step, I shall...HEY, WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME????"

"You aren't really going to throw me over that fence."

"Please, no, anything but the goat corral"


"I promise not to rot on your front steps!"

"It can't get any worse than this"

Oh, but it did get worse. Much worse. "THEY ARE EATING ME!!!"

"Sadly now, there can be but one outcome" Although his fate was not as bad as Dancer's pumpkin. The goats stuck their head in her's.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Static Electricty Works

Dancer has been learning about cells and electric potential in nerve cells. We did the project shown below to see electric charges influencing an object, and to have fun.

Dancer and a Balloon.

When Dancer rubs the balloon on her hair some electrons move from her hair onto the surface of the balloon. The hair is positive (relative the balloon), so the hair reaches towards the ballon that is negative
(relative to the hair). Opposites attract, so they say. Like opposite poles of a magnet.

The balloon has a negative charge in relation to any dense object, here it is, sticking to the ceiling.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"The van is in the garage"

Sounds like a secret code or a password doesn't it?! Nope, it literally means that our van in the garage where it has not resided since late March or early April. I could have had a child in that amount of time!

I had good intentions of cleaning the garage but after I pulled everything out from the back, and on shelves, and stacked along sides, and up in the rafters, and piled on tables, and sitting on the floor on the other side of garage, and anywhere else we had been storing stuff just to get it out of the way, I ran out of steam for the project. Once in a while I would go out there and do a little work or sometimes Dad would make a little head way on the mess.

But all that has changed. Dad, the last couple of weeks, has been diligently working on making room for the van to fit in the garage now that winter is knocking on the door. Dang, I love that man. Vehicles need to be in garages here in our part of the world. Without a garage, every time you desire to use the car it needs to either be dug out of a snow bank or an inch of frost or ice needs to be scraped off the windows. Never a pleasant situation.

So here it is "The van is in the garage."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Giving Thanks Challenge

This year, again, we signed up for the Giving Thanks Challenge hosted by South Breeze Farm. The little logo is on our side bar. We so enjoyed this last year. Last year we listed every day, again on our side bar, something that we were thankful for. Making the list prompted a lot of good discussions and we actually missed it when the first of December rolled around and the challenge was done. This year we are going to make posts about what we are thankful for just to mix things up a little bit.

So here goes some things we are thankful for today.

1. The kids had dentist check ups and had no cavities.
2. The news so far is that Spark will not need braces.
3. Dad was home to go with us.
4. We had a treat at McDonald's after the appointment. This is a much looked forward to tradition for us.
5. We had $800 dollars set aside for fuel oil.
6. It was suppose to come tomorrow when Dad would be sleeping but they came today instead.
7. After the fuel oil was put in the man measured how much was in the tank and it is 3/4 full. That means that last year we were more frugal with the oil than we thought. This amount might get us through the winter.
8. Dad was able to sleep this afternoon before work, sometimes he can't fall asleep the first afternoon before he works.
9. We had a yummy supper - fried potatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic with ham and leftover rabbit and squash.
10. Miss Congeniality was on t.v. tonight - one of Dancer's favorite movies.
11. Spark and I added three miles onto our 300 mile goal - our ticker is on the side bar.
12. Nikki is catching on to the new trick we are trying to teach her of putting her toys in a box.
13. We had safe travel all day.
14. The sun shone, something it hasn't done much of lately.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trader Joe's has Puttanesca Sauce!

Last year we were reading book 1 of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snicket. After Violet, Klaus and Sunny Bauldelaire were deposited into Count Olaf's care, they were instructed to make dinner for him and his extremely odd troupe. The kids found a recipe for Puttanesca Sauce at Justice Strauss' library and made it for the lot of actors. This prompted us to try our hand at making Puttanesca.

The recipe we used was:

3 cloves of garlic
1 tin of anchovy fillets cut up really, really small almost to the point of being smashed
2-3 Tbsp. capers, drained and washed
1 can stewed tomatoes, sliced

Saute garlic with anchovies. Add capers and tomatoes. Simmer to warm through.
Serve over a pile of pasta.

The Puttanesca Sauce was very good but also quite expensive, they don't exactly give anchovies and capers away. Because of the cost we haven't made it again.

The other week though we were going through Trader Joe's and there on an end cap was canned Puttanesca Sauce for a mere $2.99. We snapped up a jar, eager to give it a try.

We had it for lunch and it was very, very good. Not as good as homemade, but then most things made from scratch are better than their premade counter parts. We will definitely buy this again as a pantry staple.