Tuesday, June 29, 2010

4-H day camp counselor!

Dancer had her first day as a 4-H day camp counselor.  Two of her best friends are also camp counselors so she is really excited about it.  The two years between being a camper and being old enough to be a counselor were sad for her.  She loves to sing the songs, do the crafts, and play the games.  Now she gets to do all that and be a leader. 
The counselors also get to do skits for the kids and she really enjoyed that too.  The skits will be so good for her.  She is one of the shyest kids on the plant.  We use to practice what she could say if someone she knew said hi to her.  She does better now because she has her list of responses down pat when she needs them and it come much easier for her.  She has trouble calling someone on the phone too, even friends.  Can you imagine a teenager that doesn't like to talk on the the phone?  Young kids can be shy and get away with it but older kids come off as a snob if someone says hi and they don't say anything back.  She can get up and dance in front of 100's of people at a time but to have to say a word sends her into tears.  Perhaps it is because she always thought the counselors were so cool and now she gets to do it that she didn't think about acting out a skit and just went ahead and jumped in.  Either way, I am so excited about it.  Of course, I won't tell her that because I don't want to draw attention to the fact that she is doing it.  Maybe I will after the last camp and all the skits are done. 

 I didn't want her to tell to much about camp because Spark hasn't gone to his day camp yet, he is going to the very last one, and I don't want to ruin it for him by knowing everything they are going to do. 

One of the girls is staying over tonight as they have another camp tomorrow morning in another town.  We took them swimming tonight and had the beach to ourselves.  Because of our cold rainy June so far the water is still really cold.  It took them a long time to even get wet. 

There is a list of rules that need to be followed with "zero tolerance" in capital letters at the bottom of the sign posted at the beach.  One of the rules is that there is no swimming outside the buoys.  If you are swimming outside the buoys you really aren't at the beach anymore and then the rule wouldn't apply to you.  I said the kids, what do you think they do if you swim outside the buoys?  Does someone come and take your towel?  Another rule is that there is no life guard on duty.  Does that mean there is zero tolerance on saving someone?  Hmmm, I hate stupid rules, save rules for the big stuff.  I wonder who thinks these things up, they must have sounded good at the time or did they need enough things to fill up the sign.
This momma duck must have read the sign and took it seriously because she took her little brood all the way across the beach and never went outside the buoys. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Scalloped Potates with Ham

Now that we can no longer use box mixes because of Dancer's food color allergy, I have been looking for alternatives.  We rarely ate boxed scalloped potatoes from the box before so I don't know if they are colored or not.  While searching through a cookbook though I found a scalloped potatoes recipe that looked good.  As usual, I changed it for our preferences, adding more onion, a pepper and different spices.  I served this with carrot sticks and biscuits with jam and it was a hit.  I am looking forward to leftovers tommorrow.

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

2 pounds of potatoes - about six medium - sliced thin
1 onion chopped
1 pepper chopped - any color I had red on hand
2 cups of ham
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash to taste - or whatever spices you like
2 1/2 cups milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan.  Add flour and spices and cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Slowly, a little bit at a time, add the milk stirring constantly.  When all the milk is added boil for one minute to insure the flour is cooked and will thicken the milk.

Put half the potatoes, onion, pepper and ham in a baking dish.  Pour on half the white sauce.  Put rest of ingredients in dish and pour rest of white sauce on top.  Cover and bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.*  Remove the cover and bake a good hour until potatoes are tender.  Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

*If you use the timer on the oven to time the first 30 minutes until it is time to uncover the dish and leave the room when the timer will be going off,  make sure your son, who is trying to be helpful, didn't turn the oven off instead of the timer because your dinner will not be done when you think it will be.  Trust me, I know!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Geriatric Cats

This is Dancer's 4-H project under the area of cat education.  Both of our cats are getting up in years so she choose the topic of geriatric cats.  Our cats are five and eight years old, which is quite old for outdoor kitties.

As an aside, this title reminds me of the song Jellico Cats from the Broadway musical CATS and I have had two lines from that song in my head all day.  Might not be so bad if I knew all the lyrics.

She found a cute poem in one of the books she read about older cats and put it across the top of the poster.

Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair,
Top of piano, window ledge, to the middle, on the edge,
Open drawer, empty shoe
Anybody's lap will do,
Fitted to cardboard box, in the cupboard, with your frocks
They don't care!
Cats sleep anywhere.

Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pictures we have lost or never gotten

When I graduated from high school my parents gave me a 35mm Cannon camera.  I love taking pictures, even taking a photography course in college.  It wasn't part of my major and I don't even think it counted as a needed general ed.  The camera took awesome pictures.  I miss playing with film speeds, f-stops etc. with the new digital cameras.  We have a great camera now but taking a good picture with it really isn't such a great feat, just point and shoot if you switch the buttons to automatic.  However, the new digital cameras pretty much are fool proof when it comes to getting your picture captured.

When Dad and I got married we took a trip up the north shore of Lake Superior.  We snapped pictures all the way up.  We went into Canada for the day to a place called Old Fort William and took scads of pictures.  At some national park we walked an insanely long and slanted trail to a place called the "Devil's Kettle" where water ran into the ground and disappeared.  I don't know why they called the Devil's Kettle, perhaps it was believed that the water ran into the river Styx or somewhere just as evil.  I remember saying to Dad that I sure glad that we had the camera with so that we wouldn't have to walk the long trail ever again.  We got back down to Gooseberry Falls and kept snapping away.  Then it dawned on me that we sure had taken a lot of pictures and still hadn't run out of film.  A quick once over of the camera told us that we hadn't put any film in it.  We were newlyweds in love, I guess checking for film wasn't on our radar.  We did learn our lesson though and always checked to make sure we film in the camera.

The next time we lost pictures was Dancer's first Christmas.  I took all these great photos of her opening her presents.  She was just the cutest little thing and since her birthday is early January she was walking by Christmas and had a good idea that ripping off the wrapping paper was fun and it made her parents giddy.  She hammed it up for the camera and we were excited to capture her every move on film.  I was quickly snapping away and soon needed new film.  I rewound the film in the camera and opened the back to take the old film out and put a new one in.  There wasn't a new film by me, we kept them in the fridge, did everyone do that?  Remember how the film had that little tail that stuck out the end so when they went to develop it in the dark room they would just pull the tail and out it would come.  Not opening the film in a dark room meant that the film would be exposed to light and be forever ruined.  I set the film down on the floor and got up to get the new film.  Quick as a wink Dancer snatched up that film roll, her little fingers grabbed the protruding tail and she pulled like she was opening a present.  Grinning she sat among the twisted film.  I was so devastated.  It wasn't like we could do it all over again, the memories were lost forever.  I can, however, still see her sitting there beaming up at me. 

The new era of digital has made both of these scenarios highly unlikely.  Now the worst that can happen is we can misplace the memory stick or technology will make them obsolete to where we can't retrieve the images.

As I reread this I see that I put the new era of digital.  It isn't all that new anymore.  This was made obviously to me a few years ago when Spark and I took Grandma to the little airport by our house so she could fly home to Arkansas.  The airport is small enough that you can walk right up the security check point and see into the living room size gate before passengers board the plane.  If you want to see the plane take off you can watch from the parking lot.  Post 9-11 though they have all the security screening equipment.  There was a sign just before the screening part where they run your carry on bag through that said to hand your camera to the security person so that pictures weren't erased from your camera.  Spark reads the sign and asks, "what is film?"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Loon

We took the kids into town tonight to swim at the beach.  There were probably about 15-20 people in the water splashing around and being really noisy when right in the middle of them a loon pops up out of the water.  He would then dive down and pop up on the other side of the swimming area, dive down and pop up on the other side again.  Dad wondered if the swimmers were stirring up fish that he could easily catch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

4-H Favorite Food Show

Dancer with her place setting.  She took a first place in her age group.  Her theme was National Guacamole Day, which is September 16th and she did a fiesta place setting.  Her menu was:
appetizer - guacamole with chips (this is what she showed served)
main dish - chimichanga with shredded lettuce, tomato, refried rice, cheese and sour cream. 
desert - melon medley
beverage - margarita

This was our first  year doing this project and so she wasn't sure what the judge would want to know.  They asked how to make a chimichanga which she didn't know and what was in a margarita, again she didn't know.  I don't even know what is in a margarita, but the glasses are cool so she used it for her place setting.  She focused more on covering all the food groups and what nutrients she had in the meal.
Spark's meal.  He used the theme Southern Country Cuisine.  His menu was:
appetizer - shrimp with cocktail sauce
main dish - Hoppin' John (this what he showed served)
bread - hush puppies
vegetable - Rainbow salad - lettuce with tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, shredded purple cabbage, radishes w/Ranch and French dressing
dessert - vanilla ice cream with fresh peach slices
beverage - raspberry iced tea

In his age group he took a first place ribbon and reserve champion.  This is first project as a regular 4-H kid, not a cloverbud which is the kids K-2nd grade, and he earns a Reserve Champion.  He was really proud of himself because he worked hard at making the dish which included chopping, mincing, sauteing and making rice. He also learned all the nutrients down pat so he could tell the judge.  The only thing he had off, and it was questions for advanced presenters not the younger kids, was how much a serving cost.  He said, "oh, probably about $20."  To add to his sweetness, he said that he wished Dancer had won the Reserve Champion instead of him because it would have made her so happy.  I told him they were in different age groups so he should being doing his best but that was the nicest thing a little brother could say.

They had such a fun time with this and are already thinking of what they are going to show next year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

4-H camp pictures

Making a human knot. 
Making duct tape bracelets
They told the kids they didn't have very much toilet paper for camp on the first day and they should take however much they think they are going to need for the rest of camp.  There was plenty of toilet paper but for every square they took they had to tell one thing about themselves.
Spark being blindfolded.  He would then throw a ball and other kids would run around with hula hoops trying to get the ball through the hoop.
Lining up to get water balloons.  The counselors have pantyhose on and the kids raced to see who could get the most water balloon in their counselors pantyhose before all the balloons were gone.

Racing with a balloon between their legs around a cone.  When they got back to the starting point they passed the balloon on to the next camper in line.

Bleaching their camp shirts.

They made up their own Greek plays and then acted them out at the campfire.

Lined up to come back home.  Spark was sad to leave.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The one that got away

We caught a big sunfish and huge dogfish at the boat landing.  This is one they are pulling in here would have made the others look like minnows but he got away.  He grabbed onto the kid pole that didn't have strong enough line on it.  It sure was exciting until the line snapped!

Just as we were getting ready to leave a boat came in with a couple from church.  They had a whole mess of fish they didn't want to go home and clean and asked us if we wanted them.  Oh yeah, I don't mind cleaning them.  Spark scaled them and I gutted and filleted them.  We had them for supper and they sure were good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

VBS Parade Float

Frosted Wheat Thins

We made these today for Father's Day gifts.  Neither of the Grandpas really need anything but homemade treats are always appreciated.  These taste like mock Butterfinger candy bars.

Take 2 Wheat Thins and put peanut butter between them to form a sandwich.  Melt Chocolate Almond Bark and dip the Wheat Thin sandwiches in it.  Lay out on wax paper and let harden. 

They are super simple but time consuming.  Dancer and I made probably about 12 dozen of these and it took us around an hour.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The gangs all here

Wednesday dropped Dancer off for camp in the morning and picked Spark up from camp in the afternoon.  A whole week with only one kid here at a time.  It is odd to only have one, they also act very differently when they are alone with us compared to when they are both here.    The noise level is also different.  Neither of them is overly loud but there is definitely a difference when there is only one. 

I am happy they are both here safe and sound. I was so worried about Spark going off to camp and all the perils that could befall him.  His camp experience was fine, he came back unscathed.  During Dancer's three days there the weather got bad.  Our area was on The Weather Channel, that is when you know that you have bad weather.  There were several tornadoes and a few touch downs.  Where Dancer was there was a tornado warning.  I kept watching the t.v. for the radar, there was no other programing, only weather on all the regular channels.  We have satellite t.v. so there is no local weather for us we have to rely on the weather from the twins cities.  They kept extending the time for the warning to be done from 6:45 to 7:00 and then to 7:30.  Grandma lives about 10 miles from where the camp was and I was on the phone to her a couple times to see how it was in her area.  It was a very stressful evening but the storms passed by without a tornado.  I didn't call the camp because I assumed if something had happened we would either get a call or it would have made the news.

When we picked her up today, one of the first things I asked about was the storm.  They spent three hours in the bathroom, even had dinner in there, because it was the only brick building.  The rest of the time they sang songs and other goofy stuff to pass the time.  She said the head of the camp stood outside the door with a radio listening for reports and watching the sky.  Once she came in and they shut the door otherwise they were able to have the door open.  Dancer said she seemed really worried and tense, saying that she was glad it was the big kids at camp when it happened and not the little ones who probably would have been panicking.  I can't blame her for being worried, that is a lot of other people kids to be responsible for. Thankfully it was only rain, thunder and lightening and heavy winds.

On the trip home from getting Dancer, her and Spark sang camp songs and trade stories.  They were both super excited to tell each other what they had done.  It was kinda odd that they both went to the same camp and had the same experiences, just on different days.  I am just glad that tonight we are all home and safe where I can see them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That's my time you are wasting

Let me preface this post by saying that I there are times when I have been late.  I also know that sometimes it is unavoidable and not your fault if you are late.  Most of the time it is not.

I cannot stand when people are late.  I loathe when people are late.  I especially hate when they are so flippant about it.    I had someone tell me today that they did pretty good, they were only 15 minutes late.  What is pretty good about that?  They must really think they are something that they decided that their 15 minutes were more important than mine and the rest of the groups 15 minutes.  They also are assuming that I will be there waiting for them when they get there.  I'm not always.  I also don't smile and say "oh, that's okay," because it's not, it's rude.  At the university I attended, if the Prof was more than 10 minutes late you could leave and they couldn't count you absent.  It only happened a few times in six years.  I think that rule should apply to the rest of the world.

Homeschoolers tend to be the pros at being late.  So much so that I think people start coming late because they assume everyone else is going to be late.  At most field trips they will say, "let's just wait a few minutes for everyone to get here before we start."  Let's not.  A few times I have even said that, I just couldn't help myself.  No one has ever argued with me or gasped so they must be in agreement.

To those who are chronically late, I want to tell them to start getting ready sooner and stop blaming your kids.  If you are like clock work 30 minutes late you can obviously keep a schedule, it's just 30 minutes behind.  I have, or perhaps had, a friend who would be late and then come and laugh about how she can't get anywhere on time because she just had to get one more thing done.  We don't get together with her and her kids much anymore because of it.  Was it Erma Bombeck or Ann Landers that would say "people can only take advantage of you if you let them."  Who ever it was, it's good advice.

When I had a childcare I charged people for being late, $10 for every 15 minutes starting at one minute after the time they were suppose to be at my house to pick up their child unless they called with a good excuse before hand.  I didn't want people doing personal errands on my family's time, which I would explain very nicely at the interview before we were friends and they felt like they could take advantage of me.  In seven years I had a parent come late one time and she had $10 in her hand.  So see, everyone can be on time.

Dad doesn't appreciate waiting either.  Before he was nurse he had an office job.  He needed to go to the doctor so he called the doctor's office before leaving work and asked if the doctor was on time.  He is, they assured him.  He drove to the office and called from the parking lot before getting out of the car to see if they were still on time or he would have headed back to work and came back when they thought he was going to get in.  Yep, they assured him again, the doctor is running on time.  You can probably tell when I am going with this.  He walks into the building and the receptionist says the doctor is running about 30 minutes late.  When you start talking at about 80 decibels while explaining why you are unhappy, they get you in on time.  Now if he hadn't called before hand that would have been a different story.   When I was pregnant with Dancer and Spark,  my doctor had a nurse that had been an Army nurse.  She was about 65 so I think she retired from the Army and then went into the private sector.  Most of the time you could be out of  your appointment before you were even scheduled to be there, she ran a tight ship, or should I say tank since she was in the Army not the Navy.  I loved that nurse!  

Our family has to work very hard at being on time.  We can't just tumble out of bed in the morning and into the car to go somewhere.  Chores and milking need to be done before we can leave.  We don't go anywhere in barn clothes so we have to change twice before leaving the house.  Almost everywhere we go is at least a half an hour away and we plan for traffic.  We choose to have animals, live in the country and attended activities that are in town which requires drive time, that is our choice and no one else should be inconvenienced because of our choices. 

When I was kid, whenever I had something that needed to get done or we needed to be somewhere,  my dad would say, "Govern yourself accordingly" and he meant it.  Boy, did he mean it.  Those words still ring in my head, so if we're late, go ahead and start without us.

Swallow nest

One of us isn't getting the message and I don't think it is me.  The swallows have been building nests on the light right outside our front door incessantly this spring.  Seven or eight times I have gone out there and knocked it down and they keep making another one.  I thought they had given up and found somewhere else to make a nest as there hasn't been one for a few weeks but this morning they are back.  Perhaps these are a new pair.  It's not like we don't have hundreds of good places to put a nest, they can go anywhere except right outside the door.  This morning I left for an hour and when I came back they had made this big of a nest.  ONE HOUR!  They must have watched us pull out of the drive way and got right to work.  It was amazing, the mud was all stacked up to form neat little walls and weeds and hay were woven in the mud in a perfect little circle.  This one came down too, go find a shed or some place else to build your nest. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just girls

With Spark gone and Dad working both the nights he is at camp it is just down to me, Dancer and Nikki our dog - all girls.  I miss Spark terribly but it has been fun to spend so much time with just Dancer.   Of course we talk and what not when Spark and Dad are here but the dynamic is just so different with just the two of us. 

My goal for when Spark was at camp was to get his room cleaned.  It is bad, like the show about hoarders bad.  He cannot stand to throw anything away and he can't stand to have anyone else throw anything away, so if Dancer is cleaning her room and getting rid of things, he scoops them up and takes them in his room.  When we went through boxes for the garage sale this spring, he picked out a lot of things and brought them into his room.  He even keeps foil candy wrappers and rocks and oh, just a bunch of other stuff I am not able to understand.  Dancer has been helping me and we have gone through a bunch of bins that he has just dumped things into and we are trying to sort their contents out.  I told her I feel like it is big pile of yarn that he stuck an egg beater into.   Then to top it off, I opened his dresser drawers to see what he had in them.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing!  He has been cleaning in there the last month, it was suppose to be clean before he went to camp, but I don't know why he would empty his drawers and not put his clothes back in them.  That does explain a lot of the mess, there were clothes everywhere, we couldn't even see the floor.

We also stopped on the way home from dropping him off yesterday and bought Super Mario Bros. Wii.   Her and I sat up until after 1:00 a.m. last night playing it.  We have also been playing it on and off today as a break from working on Spark's room. 

Dancer got her permanent retainer today so we ran into town this forenoon.  She doesn't go back to the orthodontist now until October, that will be odd, it seems like we are always there.  While I was waiting for her during her appointment I thought, this is like years of prenatal visits where you go every month.   She got her before and after pictures today and wow, they look great.  Her teeth were so bad before, they weren't even comfortable in her mouth.  She had some of her top teeth behind her bottom teeth, some of her adult teeth had come in but the baby ones hadn't fallen out so and other problems.  It definitely was way beyond cosmetic so it would have been nice if insurance would have covered it.  We are just happy they are all lined up where they belong now. 

Dancer leaves tomorrow for camp so tonight she is packing, showering and fixing her smudged finger nails.  She painted them 4-H green and likes them to be perfect.  When she is done we are going to watch the new Alice in Wonderland and get to bed early so we can have her at the bus stop bright and early in the morning.

It has rained here 13 out of the 15 days of June so far.  Everything is wet and the house and everything in it feels damp. The trees all have green, mossy lichen stuff growing on them like a spooky forest, mushrooms have started popping up all over the yard and from so many cloudy days the grass and trees are an odd sort of bright green.  Tonight the sun has been peeking out a little bit and there is fog all around the house.   It gives me a sort of eerie feeling like, is anyone else out there?  It has gotten much heavier just in the few minutes since I took this picture.   Glad we are already done with chores and can just stay inside.   

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spark Goes To Camp

For three years, ever since Dancer went for the first time, Spark has been anxiously awaiting his turn to go to 4-H camp.  Today his dream came true.   He needed to be to the bus stop this morning at 9:30.  Last night, before bed, he says "When do you think we should get up, around 6:00?"  Heavens no, 7:45 should do it, it is only 30 minutes to the bus stop.  For the record 7:45 is early for us.  This morning he woke Dad up the first time at 5:30 to see if he thought they should get up.  Dad went back to sleep but somewhere between 5:30 and 7:30 Spark got up to watch t.v.  At 7:30 he asks Dad again if he should get up.  In a confused stupor Dad bolts out of bed thinking the alarm didn't go off and now we are late.  At that time Spark crawls back into bed and falls asleep.  We had to roll him out after 8:00.  With not being able to fall asleep last night, his early, early morning  and busy day at camp I am sure he will fall asleep quickly tonight.   

Breakfast before  he left.  White bread toast with heaps of sugar and cinnamon, he should have more than enough carbs to get through the morning!  I would have made him something with a little more stick to the ribs but he made his own breakfast while I was in the shower.
Spark with all of his gear ready for the bus to arrive.  He spent the weekend fretting over what to bring and what to leave home.  In all the preparations we get there and realize he forgot a pillow.

He is so excited he can hardly contain himself.  The bus was really late, I don't know where it came from but it was about 40 minutes late.  Other campers were coming though right up until the time it left.  One mom said that she just called this morning at 8:50 a.m. to see if she could still sign her daughter up.  They said if you can get here on time she can go.  I don't know how old you have to be to drive a school bus but whatever the age is the driver just turned it  yesterday.  She looked to be about 17 and just a tiny little thing to be driving that big bus but she pulled out like a pro and since we didn't hear anything I assume she got them to camp.

He is getting on the bus.  This is first time to ever ride a school bus.  Being a homeschooled kid the bus ride is just about as big a deal as camp is.  I am taking all these pictures, kissing him good bye, waving and throwing kisses back and forth when he get on the bus and waving until the bus is out of sight.  Some other moms didn't even kiss the kids good bye or wait for the bus to leave.  One mom walked up and the first thing she said was "Do I have to wait here or can I leave now?"  I felt sad for those kids, I wanted to kiss and hug them good bye.

And away they go!  See you Wednesday, I miss you already.

After dropping off Spark we went shopping and out to lunch.  It was odd to only have Dancer and not Spark.  Often it is me, Dad and Spark when Dancer is at dance but never the other way around, perhaps even since Spark was born.  Dancer and I go once a month when it is the food shelf but then Dad isn't with.  I think she fully enjoyed herself!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deviled Egg Casserole

I feel most days that our menus are boring and repetitive.  To combat this, the kids and I picked out some cookbooks when we were at the library the other day.  I often pick out cookbooks but don't often make anything new out of them.  I vowed this time to be different.

Our boring meals are also compounded by Dancer's food coloring allergy.  Some days I think how easy it would be to open a box of mac and cheese and throw it on the table in 20 minutes.  Not to mention the fact that we love mac and cheese, even more so now that it doesn't cross the threshold of our house.  The rest of us, beside Dancer, could eat colored foods but we try to make it as easy as possible for her to abstain from those foods.  It wouldn't be fun for her to watch us eat them and it wouldn't be  fun for us to have them knowing that she wants to be eating them right along with us.  We are certainly not deprive by eating those foods, we just need to be more creative not to fall into a rut.  I truly admire people who cook from scratch and avoid all processed foods that don't have a medical reason to do it.  In some European countries these offending food coloring have been banned by law and companies (McDonald's and Oscar Meyer for example) have found other ways to make their foods.  I hope that that will become the same in the U.S. some day when more people realize how horrible the majority of the food we have to pick from is.

Now, on to our new recipe that was a complete hit and the kids even enthusiastically had the left overs the next day for lunch.  The inspiration for this recipe came from the book  "Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen."  While it isn't exactly the recipe in the book, I tweaked it a wee bit, it is close and a little more Scandinavian. 

Deviled Egg Casserole

1 package egg noodles - or whatever pasta you have on  hand
3/4 pound spinach
1 stick butter
2 cups milk
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp. flour
6 hard boiled eggs
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. mustard
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. milk
salt and pepper

Boil pasta and drain.  Boil spinach and drain well.  Mix the pasta and spinach and put in a buttered baking dish. 

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and remover the yolks.  In separate bowl combine mashed egg yolks, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp. milk, salt and pepper.  Fill egg whites with mixture and place over the pasta and spinach. 

Melt butter in sauce pan and mix flour into the flour. Gradually stir in milk and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir continually over low-medium heat until a creamy sauce is formed and cheese is completely melted and not stringy.  Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and eggs.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup mozzarella over whole top. 

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until top turn golden brown.

This reheated well except for the eggs so eat those the first time you serve it if there is going to be any left overs.  The next day the reheated egg whites reminded me of what it might be like to bite into a flip flop.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Asleep in the chair

This is Spark most nights.  He likes to go to bed much earlier than the rest of us, he's an early bird in a family of night owls, but he doesn't like to go into the bedroom part of the house and be all alone.  His solution is to make a little nest on the chair and spend the first few hours of his slumber here.  He falls asleep minutes after he gets everything arranged, the lights, noise and dog jumping on and off the chair doesn't phase him a bit.

Crochet Egyptian Headdress

I made this Egyptian headdress for our vacation bible school program this summer.  The theme is Joseph's Journey Prison to Palace.  The first one of these I tried I used gold yarn.  When I got it done it looked more like a milk maid cap not even close to anything royal looking.  For this one I used a gold cording that I found in the yarn aisle.  The package said it was for plastic canvas but it crocheted up wonderfully.  The package was 27 yards.

Super simple to make.
1st round:  ch 4. dc 11 times in first stitch of ch.  1 sl st in 3rd ch from beg. of round.
2nd round:  ch 3.  dc in 1st st. 2 dc in each stitch to end of round. sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round.
3rd round:  ch 3. dc in 1st st. 2 dc in each stitch to end of round.  sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round.
4th round:  ch 3.  dc loosely in each stitch in round.  sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round. 

leave end long for one of the dangley beaded ornaments and pull through.  Cut remaining cord in equal lengths for beaded ornaments.  About every 3 st around back tie cords in 1/2 clove hitch leaving front of head piece bare.  String beads on cords and glue ends to secure beads. 

The stringing of the beads took me a really long time, I had a hard time getting them on the cord because it would fray.  I ended up cutting the string inside the cord a little shorter than the gold outside to make the cord thinner.  If you have enough cording left over you can put more of the long beaded cords on the back and shorter ones on the front. 

Crochet snake


Dancer crocheted this friendly reptile, he was quite easy once she got the hang of the pattern to make him twisty.  His pattern is free here:  Salvatore  A few things she did different on him was to use a variegated yarn instead of using two different  colors and he is much longer than the pattern.  She just kept adding rows until she like how long he was.  He cost less than a dollar.  The yarn  was a dollar a skein and she didn't use a whole skein and there is but a bit of stuffing in him.

Dairy Days

Our 4-H club gave away root beer floats this afternoon in front of our local grocery store.  The store donated the ice cream and we bought the root beer, cups etc.  The kids set up a little table outside because it was so nice out.  The bank sign said it was 77 degrees but it felt almost cool enough to have a jacket on.  As people walked by the kids would ask if they wanted a free root beer float and a lot, more than half, of people said no.   Who doesn't want a free root beer float?  An amazing number of them said they had just eaten.  Really?  At 4 o'clock in the afternoon?  Are we the only people who eat dinner after 5 o'clock or were they giving us a line?  We each had a one, Spark even had two.  They weren't that big though, 8 oz. Dixie cups.

There were a couple funny stories from the afternoon.  A truck pulled up and the other family we were with knew the older lady, probably about 75-80 years old, who got out on the passenger side.  The mom yelled hello to Florence who said she wanted a float but would get on her way back out and she would get one too for the person who was driving the truck.  She said his name but I didn't catch it.  While Florence was in the store the kids made the floats and the girl, who must not have known the family as well as the mom did, brought the float over to the drivers side of the truck and gave it to the driver saying that his wife said that he would want a float.  He told her, quite excitedly, that he wasn't her husband, he was her son!  Oops!

Another man came and wanted a float because it was his birthday.  Happy Birthday we all said and sorry we didn't have any cake to go with his float.  He said that he didn't live here but his brother did.  Well, his brother use to live here, he died in April and he was 10 years older than him.  Then he went on to tell us that another of his brothers, who also lived around here, died in November and he was two years younger than him.  Next he says, good thing I don't live around here or people might think I was knocking them off!  Then he laughs!  I leaned over to the mom next to me and said "Gee, he really seems upset over them."  She says yeah and that was my art teacher in high school over 30 years ago.  He drives out of the parking lot hanging out the window yelling good bye and waving at the same time as trying to eat his birthday root beer float.  His wife was in the passenger side waving just as vigorously.  The world is full of interesting people. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Homeschool park days

Every Thursday in the summer homeschoolers meet at different park for the kids to get together.   We are trying to make a lot of these days since Dancer isn't dancing three days a week like she did last summer and our summer isn't going to be so crazy.  Today it was at a park that has a huge splash pad.  Spark was so looking forward to it but them temps were in the low 60's and it was drizzling.  Instead of swimsuits we all stood around wearing sweatshirts and coats.  The kids still had a good time. 

There are a few older girls who go so Dancer does like to go but mostly it is for Spark.  All of our activities use to be for Dancer and Spark would just tag along with.  I made great effort to get her together with other girls her age and find things that would be fun for her.  Because of the effort that I put into making these connections the last six years, my good homeschooling mom friends are mothers of girls who are around 13 years old.  A couple of them have younger boys Sparks age, but for the most part it is all girls.  It is fun chatting with moms of little kids again.  They talk about breast feeding, getting the kids to bed and their bossy three year olds, things that have been off my radar for a few years. 

After the park it was way past lunch time so we grabbed a quick burger at Wendy's and headed to the downtown library since we were so close.  The kids need to start kicking it into high gear to work on 4-H projects so we got a few books to get started on a couple.  The fair is the end of July but I can not stand for things to be the last minute so they are doing the bulk of them now. 

Next we were off to find gold cording to make Egyptian head pieces for Vacation Bible School.  I made one out of gold yarn but it looked more like a milk maid hat than a royal headdress so I needed something else to make them out of.  Surprisingly we found a gold cord, that I hope will work right away, at the first place we looked.  That was a pleasant surprise. 

We needed to swing by the library we usually go to pick up two books we had requested.  Dad loves Alton Brown on the food network and he had ordered two of his cook books.  The request was expiring tomorrow so if we didn't get them today they would have been put back out on the shelves. 

I had hoped to grocery shop as well but we were out of time because we talked so long at the park.  It was almost 5 o'clock and we needed to get home to make supper and get Dad up by 5:45.  With a half hour drive home there was no time to stop.  We got home in time to make pancakes for Dad before work. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Washed and waiting to be bagged and priced for the farmers' market.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to spray a fire extinguisher

On the advice of our insurance agent, we got a fire extinguisher that was due to be recharged and all of us tried spraying it.  We took all these pictures so that Dancer can make a safety poster as a 4-H project. 

This label tells the kind of fire the extinguisher is for.  A is for ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper.  B is for flammable liquids such as gasoline or cooking oils.  C is for electrical equipment.

This tag is for the human health label for the stuff inside the fire extinguisher.  This one would be that the chemical is a dust, nuisance, and irritant.  It is not flammable or will not react with other chemicals.

First step, break off the tag that keeps the pin in and says that the tank has chemical in it.  A fire extinguisher is only good for one use and then it needs to be reserviced

Pull out the pin so that the handle can be squeezed.

Take off the hose from the clip and it is ready to go.

Dad made a fire in the fire pit for us to practice on.  Dancer is spraying it low because the fire doesn't go out unless all the area where there is flame is sprayed with the chemical.  I would have thought one puff would have done it but it didn't, the flame came right back up where there was no chemical.

After the fire was put out it is covered with a fine chalk like dust.  It did work fast when we were aiming it right.


The rest of the can we took turns spraying into the air.  Spark was really getting into this.  It sprayed huge clouds of the dust and drifted off across the road.  I wonder what people driving by thought as there were a few cars.  Although it seemed like there was a lot in the extinguisher it didn't last very long so if you thought you might need to use one on a fire, you would want to grab an extinguisher as soon as you think a fire is out of control and be deliberate on where you spray it.  I am glad we tried this because it was not quite what I was expecting it to be like.  Even though we feel confident we could use one reasonably well and quickly, I hope I never need to use one an actual fire in my house or barn. I can do without that drama in my life.  In the future though,  I think every time our extinguisher is in need of charging we will do a little refresher on how it works.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dance recital

Dancer had her last dance recital as a show line dancer.  Next year she will be taking a tap class that only performs at the spring recital and has no dance shows, no competitions and no summer classes.  I already feel this huge weight lifted off of us.  If she finds she really, really misses it she can always try out next year for a spot on a show line.  I am excited for her to try some new activities and I really don't foresee her missing it.  It will be different though, out of the ten years she has danced seven have been on a show line.

As usual, she was absolutely gorgeous dancing and made us so proud that she was our daughter.  The flowers she is holding were from Grandma.  Grandma took the picture so I jumped in to get in a picture with the kids, something we have very few of because I usually take the pictures.  After the second show we went to Pizza Ranch to celebrate her year in dance.  Fun, fun day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If it looks like a duck

and it quacks like a duck and it walks like a duck, it's a duck.  However, this rooster is convinced that the duck is a hen.  His chicken is in the barn sitting on eggs and the rest of the hens are in the coop.  There is already a rooster in the coop so this one lives outside as the two roosters not bosom buddies.  

When a rooster finds food he does this low, quick clucking sound and all the hens will run over to eat as he walks around gloating that he has brought home dinner.  Even when we feed the hens the rooster will do this like he "found" a buffet laying on the ground.  He is now doing this behavior for the duck, which is a male by the way. 

Another thing roosters do is put down one wing and while dragging it on the ground will do a little hop dance around a hen to tell everyone that the chicken is his.  The rooster has been doing this to the duck too.

The duck doesn't seem to mind the gender, species mix up, he follows the rooster around the yard.  He is probably lonely, until a few nights ago we had two male ducks but we found a pile of feathers back by the pea garden and the rest is history.   Last night I was up about 4:00 a.m. and there was a heavy stench of skunk in the air so I was thinking that perhaps there would be no ducks this morning but he persevered. 

So until the hen comes off her nest and her babies are grown to where she sends them off to fend for themselves, or the duck gets attacked in the night, we will have this odd fowl relationship in our yard.  We actually don't even know if the chicken is sitting on anything or she just needs a few weeks of R&R behind a feed can.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer at it's finest

At Grandma's there is a pool that the kids took full advantage of.  Both of our kids float like corks.  Spark can even put his hands behind his head and cross his ankles.  Dad stood on the roof of the pool house to take the picture, it kind of has a deck on top so it wasn't like he was balancing on the peak.

After this we went home and both kids got a math lesson in.  All the schools around here are done for the year today and we are sort of getting back into the swing of school again.  The beginning of April found us burnt out on school so we pretty much stopped everything except for a math and Latin lesson here and there.  More there than here.  Now that we have had a couple of months basically off they are settled down and able to concentrate again.  I want the kids to be doing something constructive most of the day, hours and hours of video games or fluff fiction reading doesn't not count as constructive.  If it is hot and humid in the afternoons we get a little learning in at least a few days a week around the rest of our schedule.  That will vary week to week but we keep on through the summer for the most part.  I would guess that September and October will have us looking for a break again. 

Birthday Girls

Granma Pat and Nikki are birthday twins.  Granda is 70 and Nikki is three in human years, I guess 21 in dog years.  We gave Grandma a metal welcome sign/planter and a bag of tomatoes.  Nikki got a piece of summer sausage.

Dad and his mom

Nikki, Spark, Dancer, Grandma Pat, Grandpa Jerry and Dad

Lady Slipper Orchids

Were at Grandma's today where we were fortunate to see two lady slipper orchids.  While these are our state flower, they are very, very rare.  If I remember right, I saw one once as a child.  The top picture is the common lady slipper which is in a flower bed in the park where Grandma lives.  She said that it has been there for years.  Making us question, "Why didn't you ever point it out before?!"
This is the showy lady slipper.  A neighbor of theirs works at an orchid place where they can buy them.  This isn't the best picture because it flowered facing a tree like it was shy.