Monday, October 31, 2011

The World Is Flat

and our backyard is right where it drops off.  We are livin' on the edge.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pyrotechnic Pumpkins

Every Halloween Spark and Dad make some fancy flaming jack-o-lanterns.  The quaint glow of a candle lit pumpkin is fine for some folks, but we figure, "Hey let's turn it up a notch".  To make a much flamier pumpkin use a metal can (soup can, tuna can, whatever) stuffed with rolled up paper towels or old rags.  Add a liberal amount of charcoal lighter fluid or kerosene.  We always have kerosene for the heater in the boy garage (?), so we use that.  Place the fuel can in the pumpkin like you would a candle and light it up.  Note that the fuels we have mentioned burn brightly and for a pretty long time but not explosively.  DON'T use anything like gasoline.    

The alien dosn't have a top like a normal jack-o-lantern, rather a hole cut in back.  When we did the trial run before the 4-H halloween party the wind was just right and smoke billowed out of the eyes.

This pumpkin with a half lid has smoke and flames that come out of the top of the head.

 Dancer's Jack Skellington pumpkin, with the lid on, has flames coming out the eyes.

Smoke and flames coming out of the eyes.  Nice.

It's Raining Apples

Way up high in the apple tree, three red apples smiled at me.  I shook that tree as hard as I could, down came the apples, mmmmm they were good!

I use to say that with the kids when they were little and today brought the memory of that little song back.  We were at Grandpa Bob's and Grandma Shirley's house this afternoon and got a couple of bags and box of apples off their Regent apple tree before we left.  To get the down Grandpa uses a rake and shakes the tree. 

Using the sport setting on the camera Dad was able to get them falling.  Sounded like a hail storm when they hit the ground. 

Dancer took a couple a pictures of them still on the tree.  The whole thing was covered this heavily so we have made lots of apple sauce this fall.   Grandpa's neighbors have also made quarts and quarts of apple sauce and pans and pans of apple crisp which they have then been so nice to share with Grandma and Grandpa.

Some critter, I would guess a squirrel since we see them in the yard, helped themselves to this one while it was still on the tree.

Already made one batch of sauce which was enjoyed over vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Carving And A Party

The 4-H party always includes a pumpkin carving contest which has become extremely more competitive over the years.  There is never a so-so pumpkin in the group, they are all highly creative.

We had a bunch of squash from grandma that we used this year.  Dancer picked this white one to make Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas.  We love the music from that movie, not that that has anything to do with the carving but just thought I would add it in here.  She cut the top off and then Spark cleaned the inside out for her.  This is a girl who can skin and gut a rabbit but doesn't like to touch pumpkin innards, go figure.

Spark tried to make a Yoda he did.  It had a little too much detail for the size and thickness of the squash he was using and it didn't quite turn out as planned.  That one didn't get to go to the pumpkin carving contest.

Dancer's finished Jack.  He didn't win a prize even though she thought he should since his mouth took such a long time to carve.  The neighbors of the people who hosted the party served as judges and I would guess they don't know Jack Skellington is.

First place went to this scary one made by Spark and Dad. 

Third place went to this pumpkin carved by Dad.  It won because he filled it with kerosene, lit it on fire and it had flames shooting out of the top the top and out the eyes before the judging.   He had the only pyrotechnic pumpkin but I would guess next year there will be more next year.

They did a little craft which is still drying at our house.  They are ghosts but I think they look more like jelly fish so when they are completely dry, they are a sheet soaked in starch, we may make a few modifications to them.

Spark was Link from the Legend of Zelda.

Dancer was making a costume and didn't get it done so she wore her soccer shoes and t-shirt and went as a soccer player.  Not overly creative since she wore it in the morning to soccer and just didn't change clothes but there was a baseball player there too.  The guy with the suit coat and a stove pipe hat, which you can't see how tall the hat is, won third place.  He was Abe Lincoln and I thought should have won first just for the sheer originality of it.

There was also a haunted hay walk manned by the local boy scout troop that one of members is also part of, a couple games, trick or treat line and a huge, yummy pot luck of creepy food.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Money, Money, Money, Money

Spark comes out of his room all excited because he found, what he called, an old fashioned five dollar bill in his closet.  Yes, his room is messy enough to lose money in the closet or anywhere else for that matter.

That got us wondering just how much the five dollar bill had changed over the last few years.

The top one is 1995, which how the five dollar bill looked it seemed like forever.  The middle one is 1999 and the bottom one is 2006.

Since it all spends the same we don't care if it looks "old fashioned" or "new fangled."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Spark!!!!

We were very happy to wake up this morning and find that Spark felt like celebrating his birthday.  Yesterday he had a temp and wasn't feeling well at all, I was worried that today would bring more of the same and he would spend the day in bed.  This morning, while not a 100 percent, he popped right up to start his big day.

First thing was to go to co-op where the kids play leadership games in the gym and run some energy off.

Next is art where they had a cool project today.  They had these little orange frames that they taped on the window and then drew whatever was in the frame.  The last hour of co-op is science.  Spark passed out his chocolate chip cookie ice cream treats for everyone to enjoy and then we were off to Pizza Ranch for lunch.  For the afternoon he chose to go to the Goodwill and Pawn America, two of his favorite stores.  We dropped Dancer off at her ultimate Frisbee game and went to the store to pick out his cake.

On the way home from town Spark wanted to hide a geocache in honor of his birthday.  We had to drive down a few roads until we found a suitable spot for one.

Dad and the kids double checked the coordinates of the cache site.

The sky for his birthday was very winter looking.  The year Spark was born we wore shorts to the hospital and came home with him in winter coats.  His birthday can be either really nice weather, or very winter like weather.

At home Spark finally got to open his presents he had been excited about all day.  There wasn't enough time to open them before we left in the morning.

He got a Lego game for the Wii, one of those balls that bounces about a gazillion feet high,

a Lego's Star Wars set, a remote control helicopter and

his favorite, Sprite pop!

We enjoyed his cake that was sporting 11 candles this year with a scoop of ice cream.

The movie he picked to watch this year was Rango, which we bought last week but saved until this week to watch.  We use to go to the movie on our birthdays but it seems that there is never a good one out when our birthdays come around.  Rango was good but so not much a kid's movie.  I would have given it a PG-13 rating, but then my idea of what a younger than 13 year old can watch and what movie raters think must be a lot different.  Much of it went over his head, so why put those parts in the movie anyway?  Spark fell asleep about a quarter of the way through it so he didn't see any of those parts and I don't think it will be one of those movies that they want to watch over and over.

Happy Birthday Spark - You're the best!!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Egg Laying Rooster

Spark asked me if a rooster laid an egg on the top of the roof which side would it fall on?   I ruined his joke a bit when I told him if a rooster laid an egg on the roof he would balance it up there, strut up and down the length of the roof line all the while crowing to make sure that the whole county saw that he had actually laid the egg.  Down on the ground all the hens would look up at him and cackle back and forth to decide which one of them was going to break the news to him that he was really a hen.  Mom, he says flatly, the answer is roosters don't lay eggs.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Spark's birthday is on Tuesday, our co-op day, and he wanted to bring treats.  His pick was chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.  Dancer made the cookies this afternoon and after they were completely cooled we made an assembly line to get the ice cream between two similar sized cookies, individually wrap the sandwich in Saran wrap and into the freezer.  The kids each had an extra one and they declared that they were yummy!   

Liebster Blog

We were honored with the Liebster Blog award which made us smile, first that someone finds us interesting enough to give us an award, recognition is always nice, and second because of the Sister's Grimm books that we love.  Granny Relda, who makes two hump camel soup, a recipe I have never tried, calls her grand kids lieblings so once in a while I call our kids that.

So who gave us this award?  Well, it was none other than Mama Tea!  Mama Tea has two blogs, we read them both, and two boys that remind me so much of Spark in the things that they think up.

Here is what the award is about:  The Liebster Blog Award started (sometime in the recent past) in Germany to encourage traffic to hidden gems of blogs with 300 followers or less. So it is an award you receive, but also an award you give (share the love kinda thing). If you receive a Liebster Blog Award you are asked to choose 3-5 other bloggers and link back to the blogger that gave you the award.

The blogs we are passing the award on to are:

Swimtaxi234 This family has kids close in age to Spark and Dancer and they have two ultra cute dogs that are just as fun to read about as what the kids are doing for homeschool.  This is also the blog we got the homemade goldfish crackers  recipe from that we have made several times.

Cabin in the Woods  She homeschools a daughter about the age of Dancer.  They also have a few animals, garden and do a lot of food preservation.  Also like her writing style, it is just like she sitting down talk to you.

Home Spun Juggling  Cristina writes a comic strip which most days is so spot on to how we are I wonder if she looks in our windows for her material - she doesn't, we live half a country away from each other so it validates there are other families out there like us!  Her daughter also has a blog, Pictureka! who shows her life through some fantastic pictures.

Boy Crazy  She has six boys, with all that testosterone in her house how could she not have an exciting blog?

Serving Him at Home  Although she no longer homeschools I always find a sense of calm and inspiration at her blog.  Many times she writes just what I need to hear for the day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Pretzel Spider Webs

Yep, these are as simple as they look.  Put eight pretzels in a spiral, pipe almond bark around and around and make a chocolate spider in the middle. 

A complication we had was that the almond bark was hot.  I don't have pastry bags so I put everything in baggies and cut the corner off.  It was almost too hot to handle.  I probably could have let it cool a little bit and it would have run fine.   The spiders were chocolate frosting left over from yesterdays owl cupcakes.  A plop of frosting made the body and then eight lines for the legs.  It was hard to get eight legs around the body and not make them look like brown flowers.  We should have put six legs and said it was a bug caught in the web but I didn't think of that when we were making them.

The plan was to make these for Dancer to take to a bonfire potluck she is attending tonight but they seem so fragile that I don't think they will travel well.  No one objected when I said they should just eat them here and Dancer can take something else.  Spark is holding one up here to show how big they are.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Owl Cupcakes

To make these you need:

cupcakes with chocolate frosting
peach rings - I found these at Target and they came 22 in a package. 
Mike and Ike's
chocolate chips

On the frosted cupcakes put the two peach rings for eyes.  Inside each eye we put a little dab of frosting to make the chocolate chip eye ball stay in place.  Mike and Ike for the beak.  Pipe some frosting across the top of the eyes to make the forehead feathers.

Since we ran out of peach rings we used the Mike and Ike's to make monsters out of the rest of the cupcakes.  Sending these to work tonight with Dad so his co-workers can have a little treat.  It should be a nice 2 a.m. pick me up with all that sugar.

Bert's Bath Day

About once a month Bert takes a bath.  We have tried to figure out when he does it and put a pie pan of water in his house but he never uses it.  He bathes in his water dish.  He stands on the edge and dips his chest and head into the water.  He gets completely wet and then shakes like a dog.

He was really fluffed up and going at it until I came in with the camera.  As soon as he sees the camera he gets excited.

Bert got right up in the front of his cage on the closest perch to check out what I was doing.  We don't know if he likes his picture taken or if he is just interested in the flash.

He was so wet he was dripping.  In the winter, when it is colder in the house, if we hear him bathing we quick run a space heater in his room so he doesn't get chilled.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken With Rice

When I was a kid, most Sundays we would have my grandma over for dinner and my mom would always make chicken with rice.  On our birthdays we got to pick supper and every year I would pick chicken with rice, it is that good.  Some how, over the years, I have forgotten about good old chicken with rice and haven't made it very often. 

My dad was having surgery today so I made a pan of it last night to take them a meal of it.  Dancer had some and she loved it so much she said that is what she wants served at her wedding.  The rest of the pan got split into two meals and put in the refrigerator so I could grab one quick this morning.  I thought I grabbed one of them and a pack of squash but instead I grabbed both chicken containers.  When I got home this afternoon Dancer met me at the garage and asked where the chicken with rice was.  To make up for my blunder, when Dad and I were in town shopping for Spark's birthday gift, I got more ingredients to make her another pan tonight.    

I showed her how to put this simple dish together.  I told her the first rule is that you don't change the recipe.  This comfort food, not a gourmet dish.  Kind of like homemade mac and cheese, also major comfort food, don't go adding fancy stuff to it, it is meant to be pasta and cheese, no more no less.   There is no picture to go with the recipe because it is pretty much yellow and white, not the stuff that makes good pictures.

Chicken With Rice

Grease the bottom of a baking dish with butter, I use the 9X13.  Sprinkle on rice, whatever looks like a good amount, to make a thin layer.  On top of this lay chicken pieces.  Any kind of chicken, doesn't matter if it is a whole one you cut up or pieces you take out of a bag.  I used frozen chicken breast because they are the easiest.  If you use frozen thaw them a bit in the microwave or it takes a long time for them to bake.  Mix together two cans of Cream of Chicken soup and two cans of milk until smooth.  Pour over the top of the chicken making sure it gets down to all the rice or the rice won't cook it will just be hard, hot rice.  Bake at 350 degrees until chicken reaches 170 degrees.  If need be, cover with foil to get the chicken to the right temperature.

Ultimate Frisbee

Every Tuesday afternoon a bunch of local homeschool teens get together and play ultimate frisbee.  There is no set group, it is just who ever shows up.  There are usually enough kids to have two games going.  Dancer loves to go and I make a point for her to be there every week.  As the years have gone by, more and more of her friends have gone back to regular school so I want her to have time with other teens that are still homeschooling.

The thing I love about this group is that there is no parent involvement.  The kids do it all just like in the "old days" when kids would gather in the neighborhood and play ball.  They play for a couple of hours and that has turned into time for just Spark and me.  Mostly we run errands and look at stuff he wants to look at in the stores.  A couple of times we have stayed and he plays on the play ground with the other younger kids and I chat with the moms that wait while the teens play.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Under The Sea

At co-op the kids made these under water pictures.  The curriculum is Atelier which has a lot of fun projects, this was just the first one.  Art is something we don't do a lot of, I can't really remember the last time the kids painted at home.  Although it is hard to tell from the pictures these are 3-D.  First they painted the under water scene and the fish on a separate paper.  When the fish dried they cut them out and added them to the picture. 



Tooth Fairy?

Spark lost a tooth this afternoon.  The new tooth is already well on it's way in so he isn't even toothless.  It is only his ninth tooth, both the kids are slow to loose teeth.  Dancer had a bunch of her's pulled so she could get braces on and she didn't get her 12 year molars until she was 14 years old.

I told him I would buy it from him from for $3.00 so I could keep it for a remembrance of his childhood.  He declined hoping the tooth fairy will give him a better price for it.  I only have $3.00.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Spider Egg Sac

These are the yarn soaked in glue and wrapped around a balloon.   We made three but only one made it to the hardened stage.  We wrapped the string around a water balloon and two of them popped as the glue was drying, I don't think those balloons are as thick as regular as their main purpose is to break.  If we made these again we would use string or embroidery thread instead of yarn.  The spiders are rings that clipped right on.

It is hanging from our dining room light this is our view of the sac. 

Halloween Monster Corner Book Marks

These are book marks that you slip over the corner of a page in a book.  We made one and then Dancer really took off and made a whole mess of monsters.  This is only a few of the ones she made.  I love all the different teeth she gave them.

To make these, you first need to make a template.  In the corner of a sheet of paper draw a 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch square.  To the top and to the right of it draw two more squares the same size.  To the top cut the left side of the square off and to the right cut the bottom of the square off at an angle right through the middle of it to make a rocket shape. 

Cut out one shape using the template and two smaller triangles in a coordinating color, we didn't have a template for these, just sort of eyed them in the corners of the paper.

Fold the left "rocket tail" over half of the square and then the right half over the left half or vice versa.

Glue the top of the first half to stick the two "rocket tails" together.  Add the two colored triangles and then decorate to make a monster.  Dancer did use an envelope for the eyes and teeth because regular copy paper wasn't heavy enough. These would also be cute as Santas or other holiday characters.

Slip it over the corner of a book to mark your spot.  This one was eventually made into a monster.

This one, to Dancer's disbelief, I left just a plain old ordinary book mark.  It was all she could do not to add at least eyes on it.  I show this one too because I made it with printed scrap booking paper that was only printed on one side so I needed to cut out two pieces of the rocket template and glue them together or else either the top or the bottom was white.  Never folding scrapbook paper before it never dawned on me that it is only printed on one side.