Monday, August 31, 2009

Snoring Cure?

Spark came out of his bedroom tonight and announced that he needed a spice bag. Why, you may wonder? To keep his stuffed animals from snoring, of course. I'm sure that he was thinking of this because we had just made a spice bag to put in the ketchup we are making. On the way back to bed he had to show off his snoring cure to his sister. A couple minutes later she came out to see if she could get one too. I didn't think she would need one since her stuffed animals are all girls, and girls don't snore. She persisted and we made her one.

Snoring Cure

One small stick of cinnamon, broken into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp whole allspice

Crush the last 2 ingredients between 2 spoons. Put all three ingredients into a piece of cloth, pull up the 4 corners and tie up with a strip of cloth. Wave the spice bag in front of any snoring stuffed animals.

Largest Zucchini Ever!!!




Crowds Amazed!!

Citizens Stare, Mouths Agape

End to World

Hunger Proclaimed

OK, as you might have guessed this photo may have been altered. This is the first zucchini from the garden this year. We would normally have had hundreds of these by now (we sell a lot of zucchini at the Farmers Market). Our weather has been pretty weird this season, it has been cool and dry. Usually it is hot in July and August with enough rain, even hot and dry would be better as we can water. There's no great way to heat a whole garden by 20 some degrees. Today there was a small zucchini in the garden, our first zucchini of the year! I went ahead and picked it in case it the first and last. When I checked the temperature this morning, at 9:00, it was 41 degrees. That's after three hours of sunshine. There are a lot of small zucchini on the plants so there will probably be more, and, hey, it's doing better than the Dwarf Fruitless Okra (I could have sworn the packet said 'Clemson Spineless') Here's a more accurate headline for the zucchini:

Family Scoffs


Puny Produce

"Are you sure that's a zucchini" quips son.

On the bright side the tomatoes and peppers (and pigweed, dandelions and lambs quarter) are doing great. They say that "hope springs eternal", I'll keep you posted on the amazing bounty of the arctic, desert garden.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dude, nice crust.

Sunday morning began like many other Sunday mornings, but all is not well. Dancer and the Mom were taking showers before church but the water was not running briskly down the drain as it might with a normally functioning septic system. The water instead was "starting to pile up". An unfortunate start to a busy day.

No time to investigate at the time, we needed to continue on to church to help set up a potluck. After returning home we looked closer for the cause. A quick check of various drains showed the septic system was to blame.

The Mom called around and a septic pumping outfit right near our place could come out. Miraculously, the owner said he didn't charge extra for a Sunday call. "If my toilet quit working I'd want help--weekend or not" he said. He was surprised the septic level alarm didn't go off. I checked and the alarm light was flashing but unfortunately the the "silent" function was on.

The lift pump is broken and we'll get that replaced later this week, for $400-$500:( But we had the holding tank pumped out so we can use everything in the mean time. As the gentleman was pumping it out I thought it was taking a long time so I asked why. "You've got a really thick crust on your sludge, really really thick."

Wow. What does one say in reply? Should I be proud of my really, really thick septic sludge crust, or should I hang my head in shame? Thick or thin, like a pizza? What does it mean? Too much fibre, too little fat? Some sort of vitamin deficiency? In the end I went with the neutral response, "Well there ya go", I replied.

The waste water system of our homestead is functioning, the audible septic level alarm is on and we are off to enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon.

How thick is your crust?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ready for take off!!!!

Spark and Dad made this model Shuttle Xpress rocket tonight. Next year at the fair he will shot it off at the 4-H Rocket Launch. We have had if for a couple of weeks but didn't have the right kind of glue to put it together. Spark has been beside himself waiting to rip open the package and assemble it. We went to the hardware store to get rabbit food this afternoon and found the right glue for the project while there. Had I know they had the glue we would have gotten some sooner but I assumed I would have had to go back to the craft store to get it. I guess I should have thought to go in there, it isn't a very big store but they do have about two of every thing under the sun.

Friday, August 28, 2009

They just want to play

The kids were fortunate that they were able to have another brother/sister duo over today. Since we live a long way from everything, and it seems our friends live a long way from everything in other directions, it is quite a feat to get to have friends over. Usually we see them at events. Today though the other kids mother was passing through our town and back on her way to a meeting and when that happens we usually will call and see if the other family is free for the day. When they called last night she gave all kind of ideas that they could do today. They can just play I told her. She seemed beside herself with this thought. Today when they came the kids played some Wii, made Shrinky Dinks, took out all the rabbits, had Dancer's goat out and a few other little things. The mom came and we chatted for a while. When they were leaving I said how great this was and we should try harder to get the kids together. Yes, she says, maybe we could do art or science or something. Or maybe they could just play. We have tried to get together with other homeschool families too that all want their kids doing something will count for class. Why is so hard for some homeschoolers to just let their kids play with friends?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The color yellow

is starting to show up in the trees. We took the kids swimming for a better portion of the afternoon because it is suppose to be cold for at least the next five days, in the 60's, and we worried this may be the last chance we have to go this year. On the way home I could see a yellow tint to the trees, they are not as vibrant green as they were just yesterday. In a few spots there is already completely yellow leaves. Usually the fall colors sneak up on me but this year I seem to be able to feel them stealing the few precious days of summer we have left. I am not ready for yellow to take over yet. I sort of feel like we might be at the end of an era. Dancer is going to be 7th grade and 13 years old this winter. Will she want to go to the beach and splash in the intertubes with her brother? Will she think she is to mature to watch Disney movies? Will a family bike ride still be something to look forward to? Will she still hold my hand sometimes when we are walking? Will she fight Spark to be the first one to give me good morning kisses? Are there things I don't even know are happening for the last time and don't know to savor them? Stay away yellow, I'm not ready yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Freezing corn 101

Either grow corn yourself or find a place to buy good quality corn at the peak of ripeness. Our neighbor sells it for $2.50 a dozen delivered on my door step. I can't afford to grow it at that price and convenience. We bought 2o dozen and did nine dozen tonight. Here we have it all cleaned and the quality control cat has come in to say we did a good job. All the husks go to the goats for a treat.

We blanch our corn and other veggie we freeze outside for two reasons. First, the propane cooker heats the water up much faster and I can then use a bigger pot, this one holds 1 1/2 dozen ears at a time. Secondly, then I don't have all that humidity in the house. Put the ears in boiling water and start counting as soon as they are in. We blanch for 7 minutes, other people might tell you a different amount of time but this has always worked wonderfully for us.

After seven minutes take it out with a tongs and plunge it in cold water to stop the cooking action. I change the water after every batch so that is is always icy cold.

Once the corn is cool lay it on a bath towel to drain. If you take the corn straight out of the water and cut it, the end product has a lot of water in it. I don't think it freezes as nice with the extra water in it.

Cut the corn off the cobs. This cutter is from the American Corn Cutter Co. The box says that you can cut a year's worth of corn in less than an hour and they are not kidding. Our neighbor said that her mother can cut corn off the cob really fast with a knife, but she went and bought one of these and is going to challenge her mom this year to see if it is faster. I think it just has to be as three or four cobs can be cut a minute, yes a minute.

This is about a third of what we froze. It is all ready to go in the bags. After filling the bags with corn and before closing them squeeze out as much air as possible. Close the top of the bag about 9/10th of the way, squeeze the bag and quickly close the rest of the way.

Bagged and ready to go in the freezer. Dancer wrote the year on the bags and she made the double zeros on each one a different picture. If you don't have any small freezer bags put it in regular Ziploc bags and then put the smaller bags in a larger bag.

I can hardly wait for winter to eat these!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We are officially married!

We were married by a pastor that was an interim pastor at the church I went to as a kid. We had the wedding and went happily on our way. About a week later we got a call from the court house that the pastor who married us wasn't licensed to perform weddings in our state and therefore they couldn't process our marriage license. I called my mom, who called the pastor that was at our church before this pastor came to fill in until they could find a new full time one. The pastor that was there before had moved to a position at the office that governs all the churches of the denomination and therefore was the logical person to call. My mom called back and said that he would take care of it. We never heard anything else so we have assumed that all was well but never checked into it officially. Over the years we have joked a few times that maybe we really aren't married. In over 20 years we never had to prove that we were married.....until now. The hospital where the dad works is doing an audit on the insurance to verify that everyone an employee is claiming on their insurance is really someone they can claim. To prove that I can be carried on his insurance we needed to send in a copy of our marriage license. Hmmm, hopefully that isn't going to a problem because the state we live in doesn't recognize common law marriages. We hold our breath as the dad calls the court house and they tell him he needs to come in to get it. This morning he stopped on his way home from work and they had a license on file for us. The part where it lists where the pastor is able to perform marriages is crossed off and county in our state was written in, but it is official!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pumping gas is a man's job

I was out to lunch with a friend when she said that she hoped she could get to the gas station down the street a couple of blocks because she was driving on fumes. It seems her husband had used the car all weekend and left it for her with no gas. That, in my mind, is so unacceptable. I rarely, like maybe once or twice a year, pump gas. I will wash the windows when we stop so the dad can fill but that is as close as I like to get to putting the nozzle into the tank.

The main reason I hate putting gas in the car is because we have this crazy gas cap on the van that is like a safety cap on a pill bottle. It has to be pushed in and jiggled just right or the thing will not come off. The dad oddly doesn't seem to have this problem. So if I do have to get gas I am already worried that I won't be able to get the gas cap removed before I have even turned the ignition off. When I get out I just know that they are watching on those security monitors in the store. I can hear them in there saying "Hey everybody, look at this woman trying to get her gas cap off" as they fall down laughing. The longer it takes me to get it off I start to wonder if I will end up at their Christmas party where they show funny videos from the year prior that has happened at their store. My other fear is, if I can't get it off, do I go in and ask for help or just drive off? I imagine them calling the cops that I was a drive off and then when they pull me over with the sirens screaming and the lights flashing I will have to tell the officer that no I didn't steal any gas, I can't get my gas cap off.

The other reason I don't like to do it is because gas pumps hate me. Truly, along with copy machines, they hate me. I had to stop once to pump gas because I was out of town, the dad wasn't with and I wouldn't have gotten back home without running out of gas. I stopped at a station and got the cap off but then I couldn't get the pump to pump. I went into the store and told the teenage clerk that my pump wouldn't pump and she said you pumped $19 something in to your tank. No I didn't I tell her. Our pumps are verified every so many months and you pumped $19 in your tank she snips at me. I am imagining them calling the cops, because I wasn't going to pay for gas I didn't pump, the officer looking at my car and seeing that the tank really was empty I just don't know how to work the pump. He would go back to the station and tell everyone how he had to go to a call and the only thing wrong was the only woman in the world who can't pump gas was there. Finally this older clerk took pity on me and came out to see what was going on. After verifying that, no I didn't pump any gas yet, she shows me this little, tiny, handmade sticker they had put on the pump that said "push" and that was how to turn the pump on. Really, I am already tense about the gas cap and you expect me to see some little sticker?

This is why I think pumping gas is a man's job. In my defense, the dad has never taken brush to toilet bowl so I feel this is more than fair. After all, how hard is to run a toilet brush that he never does that job?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And we lived to tell about it

Dancer wants to do a 4-H project on different ways of reducing the erosion of lake shores. We went Grandma and Grandpa's to go out on their lake and take some pictures of different ways that people have prepared their shores to try and save them from the waves and ice eating away at the shore. I guess we have never taken the boat out before with Spark since he has been old enough to remember it. We get out on the lake where Dancer, Dad and I are enjoying the ride and the scenery when we hear Spark yelling "Take me back"! I look to front of the boat where he is sitting and see him white knuckled hanging on to both side of the boat. He wanted to sit in the front of the boat becuase then he was the furthest off the water compared to the back or middle. The three of us are having such a good time and he is having a panic attack. Just relax we tell him this is suppose to be fun. Next we hear him saying over and over, "I am going to be sea sick, I am going to be sea sick, I am going to be sea sick." Your fine we tell him. We keep going and by the time we were part way around the lake he had gotten use to the boat and was loving it. He still didn't want Dad to drive very fast though. When we were ready to go back into shore, he wanted to go around the lake again. Now he is looking forward to the next time we go to their house so he can go for a boat ride. Go figure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A family project requiring a chainsaw

That was then....

This is now.

These trees have just never worked very well. A couple years ago I cut the branches off the first one and I don't know why I never did get around to doing the rest of them. They were impossible to mow around because the the branches reached to ground. The weeds under them were terrible and it always looked so unkept. Animals have hidden under them and pulled in ducks om ar chickens to eat. They blocked the view of half of the corral so from the house we couldn't see the goats if they were down at the other end. But today we trimmed them! It is hard to tell from the picture that the end one is cut up about 12 feet. It took the four of us a steady two hours of work to get it done and all the branches hauled over to the fire pit. Now we wonder why we never made it priority to finish this project sooner. And it was all done before 12:30! And I actually feel like we accomplished something tangible today!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What to do, what not to do

This time of year is always the same. What activities are we going to be a part of and what ones are we not. We live were there are a lot of homeschoolers. While that is a blessing, it also means that there are so many programs that could be taking up all our time and money. In and of themselves, they are all good. The down fall is that we could be gone every single day at activities. The kids would love that option, but I always say that if you homeschool, you do need to be home once in awhile. I also know from past years that doing too much makes me a crazy, crabby mother. We have been through the too much going on cycle twice. That is when we have a year where we are running, running, running to where it is hard for me to keep track if we are backing out of the driveway or driving in. Then the next year I vow we will do less and we are home and the kids are stir crazy. This last cycle I did a little better with the cutting so much out and it seemed like a good balance. I hope to repeat that balance again this year.

Now that it is almost fall, we are looking at what is going to be on the chopping block and what we will fit into our schedule. Some of what we had to choose from was soccer, band, library buddies, science class, horseback riding lessons, co-ops, Awana, youth group, and so on. A lot of these are no brainers because there isn't enough interest there so it is easy to pass them over. Others take some thought, prayer and tough choices. Finally, I think we have the list for fall. Some of these make a commitment only through November so we can reevaluate then if we want to sign up again or not. We can do anything for two and half months - right?

Spark is going to be in 4-H, homeschool gym at the YMCA which includes swimming lessons (the reason it got included), flag football through community ed, 4-H After-school adventures, and Sunday school.

Dancer is going to be in one dance group (she wanted two), 4-H, and a book club.

My goal is that this will be a good balance for us. We have a fairly active 4-H club, there are a few church activities coming up and I have one meeting a month so the weeks will fill in quickly. We also want to get to a few more farmers' markets before the year is totally over so Dancer can make some money to pay for her dance expenses. We also have a few little day trips we would like to get in. One plus to this schedule is that Sparks gym day and Dancer's dance class are on the same day in town so we can combine the trip and hit the library at the same time. The down side is that we have one night a week where we have to bring dinner with us or eat out. I say lets eat out every week but the pocket book usually says otherwise.

I know other families work in more activities that this, but I just can't. I like to have times open if something fun pops up and to be home at night snuggled in when the snow starts to blow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The eagle has landed and eaten

by Dad

This morning I took the dog out to potty and noticed a large shape out of the corner of my eye. In back of the house, under an apple tree, was a Bald Eagle eating one of the ducks. We had thundestorms last night and the ducks had been making a racket playing in water by a down spout through the early morning.

The eagle took flight as soon as I noticed it. The pup and I went to check out carcass. There was a six foot diameter circle of feathers and scattered "duck parts". It must have been working on it a while as usually birds of prey just eat some organs, a few chunks of breast and fly off. It's possible that something else killed the duck as this noble bird isn't too proud too eat carrion.

If you have been following the blog you know the ducks are being a nuisance in the garden and having one less is fine. Recalling the ducks rampage through the bell pepper garden I say "Fly on majestic bird, enjoy your 'Duck on a Bed of Apple Leaves' and come back soon"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Girls night out - boys night out

The guys had a night planned of pot luck and a fantasy football draft with other nurses and staff from the hospital. Spark has been very excited about this. This afternoon he baked brownies and got them all ready to go for the occasion. Here he is just about the get in the truck to go with his treats. All the women nurses at the draft told him how great it was that he baked and that they were so good. Dad said he was just beaming. He is still so excited that he wants to sit up all night and talk football.

Since the guys had a night out planned, Dancer and I decided that we should get a night out too. We went to dinner and ran a couple errands before her dance class. It is really fun to go with her alone. First, because we never hardly get to do anything alone. She is usually the one that has all the activities. Spark and I have tons of time to do things while she is at dance so while it is super fun to do things alone with him, it is the norm. The second reason is because then we can talk uninterrupted. It is hard to talk girl talk when you are in the presence of an eight year old boy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Impatiens capensis aka Spotted touch-me-not

The swamp flower I posted pictures of on Thursday has a name! It is quite an interesting specimen. It has the two names in the title and enough other ones to qualify it for a witness protection program. It goes by the names Jewelweed, Snapweed, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, Kicking-colt, Lady's Eardrop and Horns-of-plenty.

The plant of many names grows in creek banks, swamps and moist forests. When the seed pods are ripe, a slight touch will send the seeds flinging as far as five feet away. This is the first year I have noticed them so there must have been a lot of seed flinging going on last year. However, we did plant a fern down in the swamp so perhaps it came along with that plant as I saw a ton of them in the ditch were we got the fern.

It can be used to treat poison ivy, stinging nettles (which we call burn weed) and athlete's foot. It is an ideal addition to humming bird and butterfly gardens.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ducks and green peppers don't mix

The ducks have been dining on our green peppers. Three of them were inside the fence munching away on the peppers when I chased them down and caught one of them. She was quacking profusely as I carried her down to the creek. At the same time, the rest of the family was trying to drive the other ducks through the ditch and to the creek. The ducks took a wrong turn and headed back up to the yard. I threw her into the creek anyway hoping she would find utopia and stay there, or better yet, invite the rest of them to join her. No such luck. About 10 minutes after I threw her in, she comes prancing up to the barn quacking her unhappiness to all who would listen. Next step was to make it obvious where to get down to the creek, after all, the other duck found her way back so easily without a trail so with a trail they should head right to the creek. Dad went down to the swamp with the weed whacker, made them a trail to follow and make it more enticing to go to the creek.
We start driving them down to the path and they veer off to the corral. We give them time to regroup and try again. This time they find the path, go half way down it and zoom off to the left into the weeds. Spark tried to keep them going towards the creek but they just couldn't figure it out. This time it took all of them about an hour to figure out how to get back up to the house. What duck wouldn't want to swim and live in a creek? We will just have to reinforce the fence around the garden. Ducks make chickens look smart.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The week I wasn't planning on

This past week has just thrown me way off kilter. On Monday Dancer decided to start school. We have had our new material since early last spring, mostly what she picked out, and she just couldn't wait anymore to get started. That was fine to start, but I wasn't ready and didn't have anything together for her. I spent the better part of the morning ordering books from the library, a long process with dial up Internet, and quickly looking over what she had already started doing.

Tuesday it got terribly hot and humid out. That was the day Dancer's goat Eeyore got over heated and we spent the afternoon trying to get him back to normal. The rest of the week with him has been spent worrying that he was too hot. We checked him about every 15 - 30 minutes all day long. The make shift pen we made for him so he could be under the trees turned out to just be an inconvenience for him. Almost every time we checked on him on Wednesday he was out of it. The kids kept piling more lawn chairs, tables, kiddie pools, buckets, saw horses, and anything else they could think of that might keep him in his enclosure. By Thursday they had something constructed that, for the most part, kept him in, but the area he had to walk around in was ever shrinking. On Friday we finally made him an enclosure out of fencing materials and now we can leave him without worrying he will wander where he shouldn't. At night we were still worried about him being too hot in the barn and went out and check him multiple times. The temps were so hot in there we would start sweating just from filling water buckets. We couldn't leave him outside at night because we worry about dogs and because he would have been scared outside all alone. Several of our other animals didn't look so great in the heat either, they would be breathing heavy long after the temps had cooled down.

On Wednesday, when I was looking up in the 4-H newsletter what time Spark's day camp was on Thursday, I saw that Dancer had to have a resume and project report for her state fair entry into the extension office on Monday. Great, we missed the deadline and now she will be disqualified to take her project. I worried most of the night about this and didn't sleep well at all.

Thursday morning, when Dad took Spark to day camp, Dancer went with to ask the 4-H person what could be done about these missing papers. Just bring them back this afternoon when you pick up Spark and I will bring them in to the office she says. We were relieved that she could go to the state fair but now we had to find out what was expected in this resume and project report and then write them. No pressure there! She also had a few things to do to her project to make it look decent since it spent five days at the county fair and looked like it had.

To add to the day, my contacts were scratchy from not sleeping great the night before so I had to wear my glasses. I hate glasses. Actually that is not a strong enough word, I detest glasses. I can't really see with them on and I certainly can't see with them off. They make me crabby. I thank God for who ever invented contacts.

When I called our 4-H leader to ask her about the resume and project report she said oh yeah, you need those and one for every project she did to send in for judging. We were in a different club before this last year and they did not put importance on these records so we had never done them. I was hoping to blow them off again this year but I guess not. So now we have been cranking out a couple of these reports everyday with the hopes of having them done before our meeting next Wednesday.

Of course our regular week also had to happen around all of these other things happening. Dancer had three days of dance classes, Spark had day camp, we had company for dinner one night, chores, errands and so on and so on. There is nothing extra on the calendar tomorrow and I hope it stays that way!

On a good note, it cooled down and rained this afternoon so we can quit worrying about our little goat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

At the beach

Spark goes to the beach to swim......

Dancer goes to knit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Swamp flower

I saw this flower down in the swamp but I don't know what it is, some sort of weed. The colors are so vibrant, the shape so unusual and the way it hung off the plant so peculiar. It is also quite small, about the size of the end of my thumb.

Spark at Day Camp

By Spark

I got up early this morning to go to day camp. I had to bring a sack lunch. I was the first boy there. First, we played a game called the name train. You go around hopping like a bunny asking people their name. After you ask somebody you have to yell out their name the you follow behind them and hop to the next person. The person you just asked asks someone else their name, yell it out, they join the line and hop to the next person until everyone has joined the train. We sang the song the bedbugs and the skeeters were having a game of ball and Waddleleeatcha. We played a bunch of relays. We got a dish with lots of cups in it and the three primary colors. Then we mixed the colors together to make a color for every dish. You could even mix colors in a tray. We made sun ray bracelets that turn color when the UV rays get strong and you should put on sunscreen. We colored on bandannas with Sharpies and dropped alcohol on the drawings and the colors ran. We learned about the colors dividing off of something. We had lunch. We got these really cool hard clear things that when they sit in water they get huge and they are see through. We watched and were in commercials during our popcorn and juice snack. It was weird not to be there with my sister this year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"It's a war zone out there"

Spark said matter a factly as he came in from the barn this morning. So much for our dull, dull day I was pining for yesterday. The little boy goats got out during the night and tore the rabbit feeders off their hutches. Goats for some reason go loco over rabbit food. Once the feeders were off, the rabbits were free to crawl through the gaping holes where the feeders use to be and enjoy free rein of the barn. There were rabbits bouncing around everywhere! Everything is back in it's proper place after a little rabbit rodeo roundup. The full moon was last Thursday, what's with all this mayhem?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All's well that ends well

The day was going along just like any other. The kids went out to get the mother hen with her babies as they had climbed through a fence and she couldn't get through. Spark had just been out about 20 minutes earlier and everyone seemed fine but now Dancer's little goat Eeyore was laying limp in the barn. He has serious trouble with getting over heated but today wasn't that warm so perhaps it was just cumulative from the last few warmer days. I zoom out to the barn while Dancer is screaming that he his dead. I hoist him up and run out to the shade where I can see that he is still alive. We start to spray water on him and he comes to, but it is obvious that something is terribly amiss. Dancer is crying and screaming and working herself into a tizzy all the while I am trying to get him up. It took a good two and a half hours, repeated cool baths with the hose, a bottle of Gatorade and a dose of Keto Drench but he did start acting like his old self again. By the end of all the commotion Dancer only had tears running down her cheeks so she pulled it together well too. Spark has been praying for him to be okay on and off through all this and when he finally is Spark says, "we have witnessed a miracle!" Eeyore was very tired after he got back to normal so Dancer and Spark laid with him on a bedspread on the lawn while he slept and petted him. What a lucky goat. Dancer had a dance lesson this evening so we made a make shift pen for him outside hoping that he would stay in it while we were gone. He did, but some of the other goats got out while we were in town. They ate the ends off of the snowball bush that they had striped earlier this spring and was just looking promising that it was coming back. They also took out a clematis that was finally flowering. Being relieved that Eeyore was still in his pen and okay made it seem like a minor issue. May tomorrow be a dull, dull day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our first beautiful red tomato

Finally, we got a tomato from the garden. There are hundreds hanging out there in the garden and they are all green as green can be. But yesterday, yesterday out of the corner of my eye I caught tiny sliver of red as I walked by the plants. Way down at the bottom, nestled under other green tomatoes and leaves, was this huge beauty.

We enjoyed it on a slice of peanut butter toast. In the whole wide world, this is the best way to eat a tomato.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Spark's Baptism

Our two pastors and Spark. The little girl there was also going to be baptized and she was watching very closely. The pastor is asking Spark a couple questions.
The baptism.

And a prayer afterwards while everyone cheers from the beach!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mom's Peanut Butter Cookie recipe

My mother, I am sure, has made more than a thousand batches of these cookies over 50 plus years of marriage. They are my dad's favorite and were ever present in the cookie jar that adorns their counter top. If he was home, before he went to bed he would sit at the table, have a glass of milk and two cookies. If he was working, he was conductor for the BN which took him away from home for a few days at a time, she would pack them in his lunch. Now my mother suffers dementia and always thinks that he has just eaten the last cookie and she needs to make more. Sadly, Mom's baking days are behind her so he has not had these cookies for a few years. They came to visit this week so for a treat for him I made him up a batch to send home with them. I am sure mine didn't compare to my mothers but he seemed happy to have them just the same.

Mom's Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. shortening
1 egg
1/2 C. peanut butter
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream sugar and shortening. Add egg and peanut butter. Stir well and if you want coconut this the time to add it. Add flour, soda, baking soda and salt. Form ball shapes on a spoon and put on baking sheet. Cross the balls with a fork. Bake 350 degrees about 9 -13 minutes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

VBS comes to an end

Tonight was the last night of vacation bible school for Spark. The service project was a food drive for the local food shelf. If the kids brought 750 items for the food shelf the youth pastor would jump in a pool of slime. Guess who came home full of slime? Yep, Spark. It must have looked really fun because as soon as the youth pastor got out, the kids started to climb in and throw the slime at each other. If I wasn't an adult I probably would have been right in there too! I had a meeting afterwards so the kids helped clean up and then waited around for me. We came home late with lots of slime still in his hair. Because I didn't feel like dealing with it tonight, tomorrow when he hits the bathtub we will see if it really "washes right out', otherwise, he will be getting an impromptu hair cut.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We met some homeschool friends at the park this morning so that the kids could play and us adults could have some grown up conversation. I always think of other homeschool parents as coworkers if we had any and some times it is nice to chat with someone in the same business.

The park is in a neighborhood that when it is wet out there is a little creek that runs through it into a big swamp. There was a little water in the creek this morning and it had frogs in it. The kids had a great time catching and putting them in cups that they found. Oh, and one mother's water glass she brought with, but it isn't going to be her glass anymore now that it has had frogs in it. All the kids had a great time doing this except two of Dancer's friends. They thought at 12 years of age that they were just way to cool for this activity. I was glad that Dancer didn't cave to their coolness and went down with the younger kids. She had a great time while they sat on the slides sulking. I guess once you make a big, loud announcement that you aren't going to catch frogs because it is dumb and your friend doesn't follow you, you either have to sulk or take it back and go play. Hopefully next time they will join in with the other kids because the sulking girls looked bored and irritated. Which, now that I type that, would make sense since that is what sulking is.

A sad thing about the frogs was that about half of them only had one back leg. One had a short stubby leg with a couple toes, one had a bump where a leg should have grown and the rest had nothing to mark a leg spot. I would have had a picture but didn't think there would be anything to take a picture of so we left the camera home. I am pretty sure the lack of legs was related to the beautiful weed free lawns in the surrounding house and the park which didn't even have a patch of clover in it. I wonder if when people start having legless children, they will rethink their perfect lawns.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Spicy Refried Bean Dip

Dad made this recipe up to use an over abundance of refried beans we seem to have acquired lately. It was quite spicy but has mellowed as it has sat in the fridge overnight. We ate it on nachos for lunch but it would also be good on toast.

Spicy Refried Bean Dip

half a can of Ro*tel or more if you really like spicy
1 can of refried beans
dried chives - 3 tbsp.
1/2 cup diced sausage
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 can enchilada sauce or tomato sauce

Finely chop sausage. Spark was really enjoying that part, perhaps he was taking out some aggressions.

Mix all together and heat. This pot was not big enough so get out a two quart one or you will just have more dishes to do.

Serve with some shredded Parmesan cheese, a bit of cilantro and cheese nachos.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Always wash your laundry in cold water

because when you find your darling daughters chap stick and lip gloss in the washer it will be okay. I was unloading the darks from the washer when I looked in the bottom and saw both her chap stick and lip gloss. With a crazed look on my face I reached in, pulled them out, snapped the cover off the chap stick and to my delight saw that it was still intact and not melted all over the load of clothes I had just washed. Although I hadn't seen anything amiss when pulling the clothes out, I assumed that there would be a glob of goo mixed somewhere in them, but no, all was well. The only thing that happened to the lip gloss was it lost it's label. So green living or not, I would suggest always wash in cold if you have kids.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


We were at a park so I took the opportunity to work a bit on perfecting my talent with the sports setting on the camera. They make it sound so easy in the book. I guess even the professionals take boat loads of pictures before they get one they are happy with.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Making Peach Butter

Peach Butter recipe


4 - 4 1/2 pounds of peaches. I usually figure about four peaches to the pound.

1/2 cup water

4 cups sugar

1 -2 tbsp. cinnamon

Use peaches that are ripe but still firm. Wash and remove pits.

Cut up peaches removing any bad spots but leave the skins on. Add a half cup of water.

Cook over medium heat about 15-20 minutes depending how ripe your fruit is until the peaches are soft.

Put the cooked peaches through the food mill to take off the skins. Pour into heavy pot.

Mix pulp with 4 cups sugar and up to 2 tbsp. cinnamon.

Cook the pulp down until it is thick. Watch it careful so it doesn't burn.

Pour into hot sterilized jars, leave a 1/4 inch of head room, wipe of rims, put on lids that have been boiling in water and twist on rings. Put the jars in a water bath or whatever kind of canner you use, we use a steam canner, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take them out to cool on the counter and listen for the pops. I just love the popping part!

The three smaller jars will be for Christmas gifts. No one on our gift list really needs anything so we always try to give something they can at least eat.

Demolition Derby

Or Exposition Derby as Spark called it. What a fun time! We hadn't been to a demolition derby since we were dating way back when. Now that both the kids are old enough to go to an event and not have to be running to the bathrooms or for snacks all the time we went this year.

As we were buying our tickets it was clouding over and threatening rain. We waited to go in because it was sprinkling a bit and but soon the sprinkles stopped and it seemed safe to go into the grand stand. We get in there and it starts to rain, not enough to get soaked, just enough to feel damp. Lighting started flashing in the west and over the loud speaker an announcement proclaims "Get off the metal bleachers immediately, you are sitting on a huge lightening rod". Well, you didn't have to tell us twice. We no sooner get out and the rain starts. Then downpours. Then torrential rains. Then the wind picks up. By now though we have scurried into the cattle barns and are safe. It rained like that for 45 minutes and coming down on metal roofs made it sound like the world might be coming to an end.

While we were waiting out the storm, Dancer had a good time in the barn bonding with a cow named Zeus. He just would not leave her alone. He was rubbing on her, licking her, moving his head in all directions so she could scratch him and enjoying the little handfuls of hay she was stealing from the cow next to him. Poor Zeus at that moment had an empty feeder.

Finally, we got to go back into the grand stand and the show started. All the rain really made the field muddy which makes it more exciting as the cars slide better and mud flys into the stands. The announcer was really good at his job, they shot out t-shirts, guys on the field got the crowd cheering for cars and Auto Value, the sponsor last night, threw lots of trinkets into the stands to make it an exciting show. Spark got a dash board pen holder and he was thrilled. Only at an event like this would he think that a pen holder was so cool. There were a couple engine fires and the sirens sounded as the fire department ran out to spray down the cars with fire extinguishers. The kids loved it and are ready to go back tonight. Once a year will suffice for them, any more often and it will probably loose it's appeal.

The night also included Spark eating his annual funnel cake and a dance with dueling DJ's. Spark danced and danced and then was so tired he fell asleep on the way home.