Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finally A Snowman

And a snowbat.

Make Yourself Comfortable

When Spark was playing a game, look how hard he is concentrating, Nikki laid by him on her back the whole time probably hoping for a little tummy scratch.  She only turned to look because she heard the camera come out. 

See how her eye glows blue?  We just learned about that today when we were studying owl eyes and here it showed up on her picture.  What makes animals eyes glow is the tapetum lucidum.  What that is is a reflecting pigment layer lying behind the visual receptors of the retina of certain mammals (e.g. cats, dogs), birds and fish, which gives a shining appearance to the eyes when illuminated in the dark.  That sounds fancy because I lifted the definition from the Dictionary of Optometry and Visual Science.  The purpose of the tapetum lucidum is to bounce the light around in their eye and make it seem lighter/brighter out than it is so they can see in the dark. 

I always thought it was a bad angle from the camera flash but now I am so much smarter :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

4-H Recognition Banquet

Dancer and Spark received their five year member certificates.

Dad was recognized for five years of volunteering.

Dancer, a junior leader, presented a few awards and the also handed out other awards. 

Really fun night with other club members and good food to boot.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Hiking We Will Go

A hiking we will go, heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hiking we will go!

We went up to Birch lake today to find a few geocaches and get out of the house because it so insanely nice for the end of December.  It would have almost been a crime if we had stayed home.  Even in the winter it is beautiful up there.

It is a State Forest so we were surprised when we got there and the road was closed.  This was us after we got back to the car, exhausted and our feet we worn down to little nubs. 

Just kidding!  Even though we hiked over hill and dale we had a great afternoon tromping through the woods.

On the way home the sun was covered by clouds and we got this beautiful sky.  It looks like dusk but it was only 3:30. 

Tonight, while we were playing Mario Kart, we decided that it should have been called Shriner's Kart or there should at least be a Shriner character.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SURPRISE!!! Merry Christmas

Grandpa Bob and Grandma Shirley were coming today to celebrate Christmas around noon or 1:00, or so I thought.  At 10:30 we were still sitting around in our jammies eating breakfast and the phone ran.  Spark answered it and it was Grandpa Bob calling to say that they were leaving town and we might want to start the oven for the ham.  We live a little over 4 miles from town and it's 55 mph all the way.  Eeeeks!  In six minutes we managed to get dressed, finish breakfast, pick up the house and look like we were all ready and expecting them.  He thought, or perhaps I misunderstood, that they were coming at 11:00 and he decided they would just be a little early.  Thankfully I set the alarm last night so we were up and Dad had already cleaned the kitchen and started the scalloped corn.

The earlier time worked out wonderfully as Dancer got an email after we already picked the day for them to come that all her friends were playing ultimate Frisbee indoors at a local university.  Grandma and Grandpa had barely left the driveway before she was in the car ready to go. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day After Shopping

The plan was to get up early and go to the after Christmas sales.  That was until Dad was able to get a cut at work and we knew he would be coming home early.  Great, except that "early" turned into 2:00 a.m. before he actually got home.  If all had gone well at work he could have been home by midnight.  Since we hadn't hardly seen him all weekend the kids wanted to stay up to see him.  He kept calling every once in a while and giving us the up date on how he thought he would be able to leave in half an hour.  By the time finally he did leave and got out to his truck he saw that he had left the dome light on which had drained his battery.  He had to call hospital security to come and give him a jump and then wait for the battery to recharge.  Finally at 1:39 I told the kids to get to bed.  Dad got home around 2:00 and by the time he relaxed and we talked a little bit it was almost 3:00 a.m.  When I got this morning around 10:00, both the kids were still slumbering.  So much for early morning shopping.

Since we missed the early morning shopping we decided that we would go geocaching first.  The temperature hit 50 degrees, and we still don't have any snow, so we decided it was best to take advantage of the beautiful weather and be outside while it was light out and we would shop after 5:00 when it got dark.

Spark takes advantage of every play ground we find a cache at.  He says that he is the decoy so no one suspects we are geocaching and he needs to "take one for the team."  Isn't that giving of him?

We did find a few good deals still at the stores.  We hadn't bought wrapping paper for probably over eight years and now we won't need to buy any for another eight years.  Also found some door prizes for a 4-H banquet and some trinkets for next years Christmas boxes that we send to missionaries in Mexico that they hand out to local people as a way to bring up Jesus and witness to them.  Spark also got the advent pack of Lego mini figures.  It was $40 before Christmas and today it was just under $20.  Dancer also scored a pair of fuzzy pajama pants.  Even if we had been there at the crack of dawn we probably won't have found any better deals and tonight there was no crowds which I heard from other people were crazy in the morning.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Merry Christmas

Before it all started.
Dad is working the weekend so we got up early and had all the chores done before he got home so we could open gifts right away and he could get to bed.

Breakfast was krumkake filled with whipped cream. 

From Spark's heart  to Dancer's stomach, a large barrel of white cheddar Snow Balls.  He saw these and knew that he had to get them for Dancer so she could enjoy a snack food.  She loves Cheese Balls but because of the food coloring can never have them.  Now if they would just make Doritos without coloring.

Zelda, Zelda, Zelda

The big gift from Amazon that cause all the excitement when it arrived.  It was a boom box.  We don't have a stereo and Dancer was listening to CD's on a little portable CD player with a pair of tiny, crappy speakers.  She never once complained about the set up so we rewarded her with the real deal.

The present opening was going way too slow for Nikki's liking.  She is waiting with her toy Snoopy to be thrown down the stairs.

   Dancer putting the last piece in my new puzzle.

Spark the  Lego mini figure.

Evening sunset, beautiful end to the day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Got My Eye On You Christmas Ornament

We each took a turn burning our fingers with the hot glue gun in the making of this one.  If we made another one we would glue the buttons on the oranment and then glue the eyes on.  Live and learn.

Snowman Fingerprint Ornaments

Saw these on Pinterest and thought they were the cutest things.  Just paint three fingers with white paint and touch them to a blue ornament.  Dab around the bottom of the snowmen to make a snow drift. Used a Sharpie for the eyes, buttons etc. and paint for the hats and noses. 

Quilted Pillowcases

I usually make our pillowcases just because it is fun to have something seasonal or festive on our beds since we spend so much time with our pillows.  I made these quilted embellished cases for Christmas gifts.  I bought plain cream colored cases, although matching the case to the edge would be cute.

The reason I bought cases is because I used scraps from other projects and took a few pieces out of my fabric stash for the edges.  I think I am using some of that fabric up but who am I kidding, there isn' t enough craft projects in the world to use up that stash.  I can't help it everything is so tempting in the store.  I use three fat quarters for the blue, yellow, bird house one and there is probably enough fabric left to make another set.  I made these with three complementry colors but if I did them again I would choose four or five fabrics just so that the squares got more mixed up and didn't create a pattern.  

I cut the strips in 2 1/2 inch lengths and then cut the strips into uneven lengths of squares, the larges being about 3 inches and the smallest about 1 1/2 inches.  Any smaller than 1 1/2 inches you really only get a little sliver after the seam allowance.  Then just start sewing the squares together to make two long strips the length of the circumfence of the pillowcase including seam allowances.  Sew the two strips together in two rows and iron flat.

Cut the end off the pillowcase and rip the end seam open so you now have a flat piece of fabric.    

Iron flat and sew the quilted piece on to it right sides together. 

Iron so that the wrong sides are together, this makes the seam for the end of the pillowcase.  Trim off the extra fabric from the orginal pillowcase edge so that there an even strip to sew onto the pillowcase.

Open back up and sew ends together to make a loop.  Fold fabric so that it looks like the end of the pillowcase.

With the right side of the pillowcase and the right side of the edge, sew pillowcase edge to the pillowcase.

Iron flat and run a stitch right next to the edging so that enforces the seam and helps the edge to lie flat.

To make a complete sheet set the top of the flat sheet could be quilted.  I just figured everyone has cream or some other solid colored sheets.  It would make a nice wedding or shower gift.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Christmas Caroling

That is what our church did last night.  We bundled up and headed out to the neighborhood around the church.  We knocked on doors and sang them two songs, asked if they needed any prayer, prayed for them if they did and moved on to the next house.

A light dusting of snow fell yesterday which made the roads a little slippery, but otherwise the temps were perfect for a long night caroling, something that doesn't happen very often here in the north.  Our last stop was an assisted living home and no one was complaining when they invited us into their toasty community room to belt out a few songs for them.  I know my toes and fingers appreciated it.

The best place we stopped was at a home where the wife came to the door.  When she opened it she got all excited saying that no one had ever sung for her and for us to wait while she went to get her husband.  She sang along with us and it was truly a joy to sing for her.  At the end when our pastor asked if she would like us to pray for anything, she said yes, her brother had just died and she started to cry.  I think we all got a little choked up when we prayed.  I hope we were a blessing to her this Christmas season.

If someone no came to the door, yes some people did hide from us, although we did come as a surprise and there are times that I wouldn't be properly prepared (insert wearing my jammies) to open my door to a dozen strangers, we just sang extra loud and then prayed a quick blessing over their house.  

After singing we headed back to the church, enjoyed piping hot chocolate and a little fellowship.  As usual we were the last to leave, it seems we are always the last to leave because we talk so much.  It was fun night and we are already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Topographical Coaster Tiles

For the hard to shop for we made these topographical coaster tiles.  These are for Grandpa Jerry and they are all the places that he has lived.  Conveniently, he has lived in eight places not counting residences between his parents house and getting married.  I love how these turned out. 

While it took a long time to make these they were relatively inexpensive.  The maps we got off the Internet.  Zeroing in on places on the maps and making them a size that would be a good size and show detail on the tile was the biggest challenge.  That took the most time.  Then we just cut them out and put them on white tiles that we got at the hardware store.  We decoupaged them to the tile and added about ten coats to each one so they hold up to wear and tear.   On the backs we put little felt circles so they won't scratch whatever they are sitting on.  For the record, those little felt circles are called the obvious - Surface Guards.  Good to know so that you won't have to go to the store and explain to the salesman that you want these little circles and try to explain them to have him say they have the very descriptive name of Surface Guards.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Big Date

Dad and I went to town yesterday for our big day out.

We enjoyed lunch at Mongo's, this place where you go through a salad bar like set up to pick veggies, meats, sauces and oils to have fried on an ultra huge grill.  It is expensive but we go about once a year and never with the kids.  We took them once but they don't put together things that they end up liking very much.  Since you pay by the plate it's not like they can not eat what they made the first time and make something different.  Besides, going so infrequently makes it a big deal when we do go.

We made a stop at the bank to finish up getting the money finalized for our roof.  They make such a big to-do about cashing those insurance checks like we are trying to pull something over on them.  Really, just take the money and run, it's for a house that you mortgaged so you probably want a good roof that is paid for on it. 

Then it was on to shopping for the kids.  We had a list but didn't want to only get them things they asked for or they can just go through the presents and know what they all are.  It took some time to go through the stores and decide.  The kids are at hard ages,  it use to be so easy to just run down the toy aisles.  I miss shopping in the little kids toy aisles.  Now it is all video games, Legos and Justin Bieber paraphernalia. 

On the way home I told Dad I had a really good time and hope that he will call me to go out again sometime.  He said he would so I am going to wait by the phone :)

Friends, Music, Fun

Way back in, I think, September our good geocaching friends asked if we would like to go to an live music Christmas show.  Sure we thought, not something we would ever think to do on our own and it would add to the festivities of Christmas.  It was performed by local artists who took southern rock songs and set them to Christmas tunes or they wrote funny lyrics (think Weird Al).  Lots of fun and glad we went. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One On One

Last weekend Dad took Spark into town to Christmas shop for Dancer and to look at other "guy" stuff, a.k.a. video games.  It was the highlight of Spark's weekend and he came home all smiles.

Today I went to town with Dancer to Christmas shop for Spark.  It is a pretty big deal when we go into town just to shop as we live far enough away that it isn't something we just do on the spur of the moment.  We usually combine it with our homeschool activities but then both kids are always with which makes it hard for them to shop for each other. Dancer knew exactly what she was going to get for Spark so that part took about three minutes.  The rest of the time we wandered around stores looking for gifts for Grandparents, Dad, Dad's secret Santa gift for work and we made a stop at the grocery store.  The week before Dad and Spark dined at Five Guys so Dancer and I followed suit.  On the way home Dancer commented on how much she likes when just her and I go shopping.  I will have to try and do more of that in the future.

Tomorrow is Dad's and my turn to go to town alone.  We need to make a stop at the bank, Christmas shop and, of course, go out to lunch.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Card Picture

This is the one that will make the card.  We have been waiting for snow to take the picture but there hasn't been any, we aren't complaining, and there isn't any in the forecast.  The light wasn't the best today so to make up for harsh shadows and the like we chose to make it black and white. 

This was an inside one that we liked but what is Nikki doing?  She must have been yawning or something else doggish.  Outside there was so much going on that caught her attention that her not looking added to the difficulty of getting a good picture.  Not having her in the picture isn't an option so we just do the best we can :)  Also when I looked at this one there are piles of stuff on the end of the couch.  I guess that would have made us real, we homeschool and we have piles, the two seem to go hand in hand.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recycled Sweater Mittens

I made several pairs of these mittens for us and for Christmas gifts.  These sell by crafters around here for about $20 per pair.  With hand-me-down sweaters and one that I bought at the Goodwill, plus the fleece linings, six pair cost me about six dollars and I still have lots of materials left over but my Christmas list is complete for mittens.

The pattern I used was from Five Green Acres.  The largest pattern was the perfect size for Dancer but a bit too short for the rest of us.  I made the mitten about an inch and a half longer splitting the increase between the finger portion and the bottom wrist part.  I also made the thumbs a wee bit longer and found they fit the best of I trimmed them as close to the seam as possible.

These are really simple and would make a great first sewing project.  Super soft and warm!

Dancer showing off her pair. 

Dancer's New Stuff Animal Is A Predator

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Salvation bell ringing fun with our 4-h friends.  Made even more enjoyable this year by having temps above freezing.  There are years we have bell rung when it was below zero and there was a brisk wind. 

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Calliope that is.  Now that we think breeding season is over we let Nico out with Lola and Calliope in the corral.  While Calliope will let her daughter Lola eat with her without knocking her around, she won't let Nico.  Nico isn't her son and she isn't about to let him eat any of her food.  She is on end of the right arrow and Nico is on the end of the left arrow.  We can feed them separtely but Calliope wants both of their hay rations so she run back and forth butting Nico away from the food and then runs back to her food, back to his to give him a head butt and so on.  What you can't see in the picture on top is that Nico has a body guard.

Spark sits out there with Nico so that he has a chance to eat.  Calliope knows that she can't butt us around so she stays over by her own food minding her own business.  When they aren't eating they get along fine.  By next year, when Nico is full grown, it will be a different story.

Making Some Changes Around The Barn

We finally sold our buck Klaus.  We had a hard time selling him because he had horns and people don't seem to want a buck with horns.  We sold Charlie, another buck that was dehorned, and could have sold several more just like him a couple of months back.  Klaus was a good gentle buck, the only problem was that he was related as either a dad or a brother to all but one of our girls.  He had already been with Calliope, the one goat that we know isn't related to him, and possibly our other doe so we will get one more year of off spring from him.  I was really sad to see him go, we had had him for four years and I like to give him snacks and rub his freckled nose.  The buck above, Nico, is named after Nico de Angelo from the Percy Jackson books, which I didn't know Dancer named him after a book character until tonight.  He is the one we are going to use next year and hope he does a good job.  Klaus is his dad but he doesn't share a mom with any of our does.  He has a scur from being dehorned so I think he looks like a unicorn.

Now that Klaus is gone there are going to be some new "house" assignments in the barn.  When he was in rut he would try and get out of his house to either let the other bucks know that he would be taking care of business or to try to get close to a doe.  Every time he would break through we would just do a quick patch job to keep him in his house to deter him from getting into any trouble he thought might be of interest.  He had the deluxe suite house, it was about 10 X 18 feet, pretty nice for one goat.  Dad did a little sawing

and hammering and now it looks good as new.

These two, Calliope and her daughter Lola, are the new residents.  They had made such a mockery of their house that we didn't even bother to shut their door anymore and they have been having free reign of the barn the last few months.  Lola is very, very smart and smart goats can make huge messes and are danger to themselves as they try things they shouldn't. 

While Dad was fixing their new house they just couldn't wait to get in there, we had to keep shooing them out.  Once it was done, they ran in and we shut the door, it was a much different story.  They were thinking more along the lines of an open house not signing a lease.  They will adjust and they are never that happy anyway.  If they are outside they want in, if they are inside they want out, outside a pen they want in, and so on. 

The next goal is to fix the chicken pen that is in the barn.  There have been goats in it for the last couple of years and so they just roost along this wall.

Only problem is we never know where we will find their eggs and they poo all over.

Some roost in the rafters so it is always a good idea to look up before you walk right in so that they don't drop a little bomb.  It has happened before and it isn't pleasant.  You can't just rinse that stuff out of your hair, it takes a whole shower and even then you feel a little um, shitty.

Another Speckly wondering what I am doing with the camera.  Looks like she is giving me the stink eye.

Two other beautiful ladies.  I just love chickens, they are so soft.

Vidalia was also out there snoopervising the goings on.  Looks like she is really scrutinizing Dad's work.

She ended up with this big smile on her face so she must have approved.  I never did get her whole head in a picture because, as I was trying to take her picture, she kept trying to get closer for some pets and ear scratches.  She is a funny cat, she reminds me of a dog in how she acts.