Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Berry Best

Our second berry of the year and there is one more ripening in the garden!  Yep, our total crop will be three berries and we are ecstatic about it.  Why? Because we seem to be berry challenged.  We have tried blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  We have mail ordered them from very reputable sellers, bought them at the local garden store and gotten free ones from patches where "they grow like weeds."  Seems the only place we can get berries is the produce section of the grocery store.    

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Graduation Parties are Dumb

With Dancer graduating next year, naturally we know a lot of kids who have graduated in the last couple of years and, in turn, have attended quite a few graduations.

It seems that kids, or at least their parents, start planning their graduation parties during graduation season the year before.  I have also noticed that cake and ham buns just doesn't cut it any more as acceptable graduation fare.  Now they have themes, gourmet food, some kind of bar (candy, ice cream, fish taco, etc.) for guests to graze on while staying at the party for what seems like an appropriate amount of time, bounce houses, petting zoos and even fireworks.

It also seems that no matter how interested I appear to be in the plans for their graduation the dreaded question always comes, "What does Dancer want for her graduation party?"

"Um, she doesn't"

"She doesn't?" they ask with the same disbelief we heard in their voices 13 years ago when we said that she wasn't going to kindergarten because we were going to homeschool.

"No," and this is sort of uncomfortable when we are at a graduation party, "She thinks they are dumb?"

Chirp, chirp, chirp......

So let me explain why she thinks they are dumb.  First, Dancer is not a "look at me, life of the party" kind of girl.  You could go as far as to say she is a bit of an introvert, okay, a lot of an introvert.  She has lots and lots of friends, but you might not hear her talk very much until you have met her a couple of times.  So being the center of attention at a party would be equivalent to having a root canal without Novocain.

Secondly, why would you invite a lot of people over who don't know each other (which is really the case when you homeschool) and you don't really have time to really talk to them?  I never thought of it that way but yes, that does make sense.

I try to explain this to people, which usually results in a little smile and a quick change in conversation.  One parent, however, said that I should force her with the reasoning that she will regret it later in life.

Okay, now I think that is dumb.  I just spent 17 years teaching her to be a critical thinker, not go along with the crowd if she feels differently just because it is the ideas of the majority, to be her own independent person and feel comfortable being that person and to make her own choices.  Why would I, at the end the road, "force" her to have a party?

So will there be a graduation party in honor of Dancer's hard work next year?  I don't know, maybe she will opt to have a few low key bonfires with groups of friends.

And what about Spark?  He is already planning his party and I wouldn't be surprised it included fireworks. And a taco bar.  He's already making a guest list.    

Baby Chicks

Our extremely cold winter was so hard on our animals that we only had one chicken survive and no rabbits.  So this year, after several years of not raising chicks, we got an order of heavy layers and meat birds.  We quit raising meat birds because the rabbits, which taste so much like chicken that the whole time you are eating rabbit you have to be reminding yourself it is rabbit, are work all year around and the meat birds are a project that only lasts a couple months.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Who Let The Goat Out?

Nico, our buck, was looking in our deck window when we got up in the morning.  We  keep patching the corral but he keeps finding new ways to escape during the night.  This time he took a gate off of its hinges and munched his way around the yard until we got up.  His beautiful white beard is now full of burrs, short of cutting it off I don't know how we were going to get those out.  Fluffles was very curious at who this large white beast was looking in at him.

Friday, June 20, 2014

25th Anniversary

Our 25th anniversary was a trip to Mall Of America and IKEA (yes, we are one of the few people left in the free world who haven't been there).

At the Disney store Spark tried out the prince castle.  He may be too tall to even rescue a princess properly.

Tried on Forest Gump's shoes.

Dancer checked out the Barbie car.

Spark modeled a Siberian hat that may be warm enough for our winters.

Fish from Long John Silvers - oh, yumminess in a basket!

Finally got my hands on one of those annoying monkeys.

Found these plastic animals most disturbing.  If you have rats in your barn larger than your llama, run like hell and lock the door behind you!

We found a few geocaches which always brings us to interesting parts of a city that we wouldn't otherwise visit.

We finished the day with burgers and malts at Fudruckers.  Now onto the next twenty five!

The Road To Blogging Is Paved With Good Intentions

These pictures are all from sometime in May.  This post is my attempt to do a little blogging catch up.

I'll start with a llama because there can never be too many llama pictures.

We went to Llama magic that was held at a fair grounds in the cities.

At Llama Magic you can buy fiber and llamas in the same buildings.  It was good we didn't bring the trailer with because there were some adorable crias for sale that might have found their way home with us.

Mother's Day we traveled up the road to see how high the water in the Mississippi River was and how fast it was flowing over the dams.  FAST!

At one park the kids couldn't resist climbing on their unique play equipment.

Stopped at the dam where we usually go fishing.  This support has a huge ledge around it that you have to climb up on to, now you couldn't even get close to it.   

The mist was so high that we couldn't see across to the other side.

Helmets Required took a trip up to the Hinkley Fire Museum.  This is a place has a fascinating story.   

First thing rebuilt after the fire was the train station.  Now it houses the museum which we spent a lot of time in because there is so much to see there.

The boys spent a good portion of the time hanging out in an Indian shelter.  They all thought it would be super cool to have one in their backyards.  I agree.

We stopped at the monument for the mass grave for those the survivors weren't able to identify. 

The plan was to start out the day enjoying lunch at the casino buffet and then going to the arcade.  After lunch, however, we found out that the arcade didn't open until later in the afternoon so we trekked back after the museum and boys played games while the rest of us watched and waited.

We toured a fish hatchery.  Working there would be Dancer's dream job, growing little fish in to big fish to stock lakes.  

Checking out fish samples.

Counting how many fish hatched.  

Pumpakunchen just keeps growing.

The 4-H Junior Leaders made May baskets for a local nursing home.  Like the lateness of this blog post, they didn't get them handed out until the middle of the month.  I don't think any of the residents minded that they weren't on the actual day, they just like to have the kids visit. 

This will be the first year we have a llama show in our own county so llama obstacles needed to be built.

Lots of painting and

hammering and we have ourselves a pretty nice set of obstacles to start with.

Helmets Required toured a military museum.  The boys climbed on all the tanks to pose for pictures

while Dancer checked out a Jeep.  I think she had visions of all the off roading she could do in it.

Our Monday co-op did a service project helping a member of the church we meet at clean out and 

plant her flowers.  With 14 people it didn't take very long.

We have enjoyed a few bonfires, always a nice reward after a busy day.

And we will end with a llama.  They got their spring hair cuts.  They will need lots more work before the fair but we did this much so they won't suffer heat stress.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ice Cream Bread - Pinterest Busters

Dancer thought this should be called "Break Up Bread" since, at least in the movies, when people break up they eat ice cream.  I was mostly amazed that someone thought this up.  Either way, Helmets Required set out to see if it was a recipe we needed to add to our baking repertoire.

The recipe is easy, a pint of ice cream and a cup and half of self rising flour.  Let the ice cream sit out for half an hour and then stir in the flour.  

Spread it in a greased baking pan.  Out of the four pans the kids made, the consistency varied from spreadable to thick and goopy.  Not sure for the reason but after baking they were all the same. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  The loaves looked wonderful.

Sliced, it looked like quick bread and had a dense texture.  

We tasted it and, well, it didn't really taste.  The one with the most flavor was the strawberry.  

Because of the bland taste we voted this pin - BUSTED.  Just enjoy the ice cream, don't waste it in this bread.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Concrete Cleaner - Pinterest Busters

First step is to know that your concrete is dirty.  I thought that if the chicken hadn't left any bombs on the steps when company is coming it looked good.  Boy, was I wrong!  Lots people out there have the time, and the desire, to clean their concrete. 

The mixture we tried was 3 parts baking soda to 2 parts bleach made into a paste.  Spark scrubbed a spot on the steps, we poured water on it and......

sure thing, I am guilty of having dirty steps.  Really dirty steps.  So the pin worked right?

Next Spark scrubbed the spot next to the clean spot using only elbow grease and it looked about the same.  

Our verdict - this pin is BUSTED, the main ingredient in getting the steps clean was a good old fashioned scrub brush and a little effort.  Save the baking soda for cookies and the bleach for your laundry. 

Corn Starch Makes Cookies Soft - Pinterest Busters

Adding corn starch to cookies is suppose to make them soft like Keebler cookies in the package.  Our homeschool co-op, Helmets Required, decided to put this pin to the taste test.  

Dancer made the recipe off the back of the Toll House Chocolate Chip bag.  She divided the dough in half and added a teaspoon of corn starch to one half.  After they were baked we had a taste test. Everyone got two cookies, one with corn starch, one without.  

Did they look any different?  The one with corn starch was suppose to be lighter, but they looked exactly the same.

Were the cookies equally delicious?  Without a doubt, by time co-op was over the cooling rack was as  bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboards.

Finally the big question, was one softer than the other?  One person thought the one without corn starch might, and that was an iffy might, be softer than the one with, otherwise, everyone was in agreement that they were the same. 

Our verdict - this pin is BUSTED