Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Oh, these are good, real good.

Mix up a batch of pancake batter such as our favorite recipe for all things needing a pancake.

Mix in a bowl:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Soften the butter and mix in the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Heat until it can be squeezed through a  a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off.

This is easily enough for two batches of pancakes.

Pour pancakes on the griddle as usual and then pipe the cinnamon mixture around and around the pancake.

Cook these until they are quite firm before flipping so they don't fall apart.

Drizzle with:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Then stand back so you don't get hurt when the kids come in to get them and be sure to save a couple off to the side for yourself so that you get at least a taste before they are all gone.

Firearm Safety Graduate

Spark in his graduation hat
So glad he was able to take this course this year as a 5th grader, one of the benefits of having a fall birthday.  The course is several weeks of classes at night in the winter and this winter was mild and the roads were always good.  The classes finished a couple of months ago but they still needed to do the safety part where they get to shoot and show that they can actually handle the guns safely.  This part is always later in the spring so that hopefully, because we are in Minnesota, there won't be snow on the ground or a snow storm.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Belly Foot

Spark spends a lot of time down in the swamp part of our yard which has a steam that runs through it.  Today he came up with this 1.5 inch gastropod and tale to tell about it. 

"I was in the very middle of the stream and saw a snail zipping by sucked into its shell.  I chased after it, as I was running the water fogged up from dirt stirring up.  Then I grabbed the snail and since I didn't have container for him I had to dig a small bay on the side of the river bank.  I ran to the house and grabbed a jar.  I was so excited my dad and sister thought something bad had happened.  I ran back down to the swamp with the jar and picked up some rocks and sand from the stream floor and put them in the jar.  Then I went back to where I left the snail and put him tenderly in the jar.  I added the rocks and sand since they filter or bottom feed, I assumed he would eat anything that was floating in the water.  Now he is my pet.  I will get some swamp weeds to put in his jar.  His name is Jerry, named after Sponge Bob's snail Gary's cousin."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Life Gives You Eggs...

I guess it should be when chickens give you eggs you make anything you can think of that has an egg in it.

Creamed Spinach with Poached Eggs

A few large handfulls of spinach
Two eggs
Olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
Medium onion chopped

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter with a generous splash of olive oil in a large skillet (use a skillet or fry pan that has a cover) over medium low heat.  Add onions and saute until transparent.  Add several large handfuls of spinach.  Stir the spinach to encourage it to wilt.  You may put the lid on the pan to facilitate wilting.  The spinach shrinks up a lot after it is wilted, you may need to add more.  Pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream and stir thoroughly.  Make "wells" in the spinach and carefully break eggs into the "wells".  Cover and cook until whites are firm.  The steam from the cream and spinach cooks the eggs  Alternatively you may poach the eggs seperately and lay them onto the bed of spinach.  Serve very hot.

*A note to friends and relatives of the dad, writer of this post, who sometimes struggle with these delicious recipes.  The recipe calls for butter and a generous splash of olive oil.  When greens like spinach, kale mustard greens etc. are wilted the get coated with the oil.  If you don't use enough oil you will burn the greens and they will be bitter, yuck!!  If you pour cream into a hot, dry pan of scorched greens it will be double yuck.  Speaking of the cream, the recipe says "heavy cream", not half and half, not whole milk, not non-dairy coffee creamer or some other white liquid (special note for Grandma).  If you don't want delicious food, with a reasonable amount of fat, eat a cheese rice cake, have an egg white omelet and live to be a thousand.

**Added nutritional note:  The recipe above contains 5 ingredients.  Compare to

INGREDIENTS: Rice, Corn (With Germ Removed), Sunflower Oil with Natural Tocopherols Added to Preserve Freshness, Whey, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Cottonseed Oil, Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Syrup Solids, Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Lactic Acid, Garlic Powder, Butterfat, Soy Protein, Citric Acid, Milk, Lipolyzed Cream, Reduced Lactose Whey, Paprika Extract, Natural Flavor, Silicon Dioxide, Yeast Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Mono And Diglycerides, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Sodium Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Modified Food Starch, Guar Gum, Sunflower Oil, Spice, Annatto Extract, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Turmeric Extract, Soy Lecithin.

Almost The End

This time of year always brings so many last for us.  Today was our last of day of in-class co-op.  We will meet for two more field trips and a year end party/art show.  Tonight Spark already said that he can't wait for co-op next year because he is going to miss all his friends over the summer.  We figured out the other day, that of the five families in co-op, we come from four different counties with the closest family being about 13 miles from our house.  That is one drawback to homeschooling and living in the country, your friends are all a long distance phone call to talk and it is hard to get together.

The kids in art class drawing portraits of each other with soft pastel chalks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Creepy Corn and Veggie Babe

Our state has miles upon miles of bike trails that are built where there use to be railroad tracks.  Along side the trails there are often geocaches hidden every tenth to two tenths of a mile so we can combine two things we love to do, ride bike and geocache, at the same time. 

Yesterday we had half a day free and so we made a couple hour trip up to one of these trails in northern part of the state.    We saw a few interesting things on our ride, one being the corn cob below.

A tall, over ten feet tall, creepy corn cob.  The face on this is what we found to be so strange as it looks like old human like nose and  eyes staring off in the distance with a mouth that's not really smiling, but not really plain, more of a smirk.

Dancer found an egg in a nest of the most beautiful blue.  I only carry our little point and shoot camera in my bike basket and she couldn't get a good angle of the egg by looking through the lens so she just held the camera over the nest and snapped the picture.  She was pleasantly surprised when we down loaded the pictures and it came out so well.

Paul Bunyan, the legendary lumberjack, is a big deal up there, legend has it that all the lakes were formed by his foot prints, and his image has been used to the max for tourism.  Babe the Big Blue Ox, his pet?, also gets plenty of time in the spot light.  We saw this Veggie Babe at a tourist information spot.  It was painted blue with plenty of shades of green veggies, a farm and a solar panel on her back.  I think this is a "mini" Babe as the original was suppose to be large enough to hang out with and keep up to Paul.

By the time we got to Babe it was getting late and them temperature was quickly dropping so we decided to load up the bikes and head for home.  Looking across the street though and we spied a Dairy Queen so we stopped to have Blizzards and french fries for supper - healthy I know, but we had just biked 15 miles and that is how we justified it. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cleaning City Flower Beds

One of our 4-H service projects is to clean the city flower beds each spring.  We just clean, the city supplies the mulch and any new plants that are needed.  Families usually go in groups of two to clean one bed.  Splitting it up this way makes it an easy job for everyone and we don't have to get the whole club to agree on a time, or date, which is usually harder than the project itself. 

Our after picture.  With the warm spring all the plants already have a good start.

Dancer, Spark with Jan, one of our leaders, showing how much we pulled out.  Jan is one fantastic lady, she always has great ideas and I swear was born to be a 4-H leader.  We are very lucky to be part of the same club as her.  We did our bed with only her for a couple of reasons.  First, she had the day off and I like when we can do activites during the day instead of always in the evening.  Secondly, her son is older, and since he drives, he is going to take the job of driving around to all the beds and laying down new mulch.

On the way home, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Spark looking like this.  I asked him what he had on and he plainly answered, "My ninja Santa outfit."  Being the mom to a boy for over 11 years you think I would know such things, but I have also learned it is better to ask in these situations than to assume.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Frozen Goat Milk Shake

This is ice cream without ice cream.

Put a jar of fresh goat milk into the freezer until it hits the firm slushy stage. 

Pour the milk in the blender with some cream and chocolate milk mix.

Whir it up a few seconds and you have a frozen milk shake. 

Attack Guard Dog

After dark Nikki started barking like she does when the garbage truck comes to steal our garbage.   It was a throw her head back and bark that got me to come running because she wasn't even looking outside.

She also growled....

and snarled....

and snipped.....

and yapped.....

until even her ears flipped back.  What was she alerting us to and protecting us from?

A scary party favor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oven Bacon

This is by far, in my opinion anyway, the best way to make bacon.   Cover the broiler pan with foil so clean up is easier.  Cut slits through the foil in the slits already in the pan so the grease can run down to the bottom part of the pan.  Lay the bacon in a single layer.  Pop it in a 400 degree oven until it is crispy or how ever you like it.  Spark likes his soggy but the rest of like it crispy, crispy.

End result - beautiful flat bacon perfect for snacking on during a game of 500 Rummy. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scroll Saw Pig Puzzle

This afternoon was our 4-H club's project day.  We started with a potluck lunch and our monthly meeting.

After wrapping up the meeting parents gave talks on different projects.  One dad brought his scroll saw and let the kids cut out shapes and cutting them into puzzles.

Spark's pig.  He really enjoyed this and came home all excited about using the saw.  We have one stuck way in the back of the garage Dad is going to have to haul out and help him make some more projects. Dad enjoyed woodworking before we had kids but their arrival sort of put a halt to a lot of our hobbies, now they can enjoy it together :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cauliflower French Fries

These really do taste like french fries and are the exact same texture.  Oh, so good.

Take a head of cauliflower and cut off most of the stem parts and slice into small pieces.  Toss in olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt and spread on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees until brown, a good 30 minutes, longer if you want them to be crunchy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pretzel Butterflies

These are so good, they "flew" off the plate.

Dancer piped the almond bark and I did the sprinkles.

Spark had a few and then said he had butterflies in his tummy.

Test Question

This was a question in Dancer's test booklet:

After a weekend of hiking in the mountains, Lisa noticed a rash on her arms and legs.  Which of the following would be the best source for her to consult to determine whether she has the symptoms of poison oak?

A.  A medical dictionary
B.  A clerk at a drug store
C.  An almanac
D.  Science textbook

Dancer reads that and says, "Why doesn't she just Google it?"  Perhaps testing materials are not keeping up with technology.

Angry Birds Eggs-pert Review Game

I made this game for our co-op science class as a way to review all the concepts from the year.    Spark saw the big bowl of egg and deemed that we needed to turn it into an Angry Bird theme by placing a couple birds on top of the nest. 

To divided the kids into teams I put three different kinds of mini candy bars in a bag, four of each kind because we have 12 kids, and the kids stuck their hand in the bag so they couldn't see what kind they were picking.  All the Baby Ruth's were a team and so on.  Of course, there was one kid who made a big fuss that he didn't like his candy bar, but when I told him to give to his mother to enjoy he manage to eat it himself.  To determine the order of play I had three more candy bars, one of each kind, and a mom drew them out to see which team was first, second and third. 

Each egg has a question in it and the teams take turns drawing an egg and answering the question.  Answer the question right and it goes into your egg carton.  If the team doesn't know the answer the team on their right can try to steal the egg by answering correctly.   

First team to get a dozen eggs wins!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend

Dad worked this weekend so I was sort of dreading the whole Easter thing.  While Dad working every other holiday is a fact of life that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Our church meets on Saturday nights, but they have been feeling lead that there are people in the community that would come on the traditional Sunday morning as well.  The Sunday services were going to start this weekend to coincide with Easter Sunday.  Every second Saturday Dad and I are greeters/ushers and Dancer works in the nursery every second and fourth weekend. 

Since Sunday is the official second weekend of the month the pastor's wife called to see if we would be able to do our jobs on both Saturday and Sunday.  Sure we can, we have no plans.  Actually I was sort of glad because it would give us something to do and make the weekend seem a little different.  When we got there Saturday night the pastor's family asked if we wanted to go out to lunch on Easter because they didn't have any formal plans either.  Of course we could, who doesn't want to go out to lunch?

By Sunday after church another couple and a woman, who was attending for the time, joined us.  It was so fun!  Only sorry that Dad couldn't join us.  Spark was even sad last night that the weekend was going to end.

I am still not keen on attending church on Sundays, but have volunteered to do our jobs twice a month for at least three months.  At first I was inclined to say a hearty no, I never have trouble saying no, but then remembered a story about a missionary family.  This family was on the mission field and one day found a huge snake coiled up in their grill.  I thought, okay God, if someone can serve you with a snake in their grill - which would have had me on the next plane home - we can help on Sundays.

I also must say that I like hearing the sermon twice.  It was good to hear it Saturday night, have time to think about it in the evening and then hear it again in the morning. 

All in all, we had a very happy Easter :)  Oh, and the Easter bunny came.  I was a little worried because I made rabbit and dumpling soup for supper on Saturday night.  After I made it I thought maybe it wasn't the best choice to eat one of his comrades right before he was to arrive.  Would that be equal to eating venison on Christmas Eve?

Quick Homemade Pizza Rolls

All that is needed is a tube of biscuits and some pizza roll innards.

Flatten each biscuit.

Put together some pizza ingredients - we cut string cheese into four pieces and sliced pepperoni from the deli into ours.

Wrap it up into a neat little parcel with the ends sealed.  Bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

When I cut the one roll and put it next to a full roll on the plate I saw an animal with a long snout and eyes.  Popped a Nerd  jelly bean on for a nose and we had cute creatures for lunch.  Maybe a dog, a moose, Rudolph? 

Or maybe Rayman...?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

These are a lot like a name brand egg you can buy at the store.  They are also easy-peasy. 

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) melted butter

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 lb chocolate almond bark

  • In the mixer put all ingredients and  mix it up until it make a soft dough.  If the dough is crumbly add a tad bit more butter.

    Put dough the freezer while melting the almond bark. 

    Divide dough into 20 pieces and shape into an egg.  Dip into almond bark and let sit on wax paper.  Dancer put a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs on the top of each one.  

    Yes, they are as good as they look!


    Spark was down in the creek and said he found some frog eggs.  He went down with a jar to get some and came back instead with this bad boy.

    He is really large for a crayfish in our area, but when Spark did a little research on him we found out that the Rusty Crayfish is taking over lakes in large numbers and we wondered if he was one of them.

    He clanked around in the beta fish bowl for a night.

    Spark wanted to eat him, but only having one it seemed like it would be a lot of fuss for the little meat he would provide.  I have had them on pizza before and they are good.

    One night of him living on the kitchen table was enough for this mom and the crayfish went back to where he came.

    Spark was off looking for the next sign of wildlife he could capture.

    Friday, April 6, 2012


    A cinquain is a five lined poem that are written in many different ways but here is the format that we wrote them in today.

    Line 1 - one word that tells what your subject is
    Line 2 - two words that describe your subject
    Line 3 - three action words that tell about your subject
    Line 4 - a four word phrase that expresses a feeling about your subject.
    Line 5 - one word that is a synonym for your subject

    These were quick and fun to think up.

    Fun, Kind
    Sleeping, Laughing, Creating
    Light of our lives

    Loud, Silly
    Gaming, Talking, Teasing
    Life of the party

    and finally one about the dog

    Energetic, Cuddly
    Jumpy, Fast, Barker
    The cutest dog ever

    He Has Risen! Resurrection Rolls

    These simple and delicious rolls tell the story of Jesus in the tomb and his resurrection.  Supplies needed are regular sized marshmallows, crescent rolls, butter, sugar and cinnamon. 

    If you are making these as part of a lesson read John 19 while the oven is heating. 

    The white marshmallow symbolizes Jesus because He is pure and white without sin.

    Roll the marshmallow in butter that symbolizes the embalming oils.

    Rolls the marshmallow in cinnamon and sugar to symbolize the spices used to prepare His body for burial.

    Lay the marshmallow on a roll and wrap it up.  This symbolizes, at this stage, the wrapping of the burial shroud around His body.

    Wrap these up well and pinch the edges so that the marshmallow doesn't leak out like ours did. 

    Put them in the oven for about 11 - 13 minutes at 375 degrees or whatever the instructions are on the crescent roll package.    While the rolls are baking read John 20:1-18.

    Wait a couple of minutes after they come out of the oven for the next part because the melted marshmallow is hot.  To roll away the rock at the front of the tomb break off a little chunk of the roll.  It is empty!

    Jesus has risen!!!

    While you are eating them read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. Jesus is coming again!