Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Year Of Art

This last year one of our homeschool co-op classes was art with the Atelier DVD curriculum.  I was glad we got to be a part of this curriculum in a co-op setting because even if we had had the program at home I don't think we would have gotten around to doing it every week.  We may have started off with good intentions but it would have gotten pushed onto a back burner.  Also, I think that Spark was much more focused in the co-op classroom setting than he is at home where he has Lego's and getting outside on his mind most of the time and he rushes things like this.  Dancer's pictures are on the left, Spark's on the right.

This lesson was about how before the days of photography, painters would paint portraits and then roll into town where consumers could pick out a portrait and the painter would just have to add their faces to the paintings.   Does Spark's look like a familiar shape of someone on t.v.?  Yes, Sponge Bob.  He started out painting Sponge Bob until I quietly reminded him that he was at class to learn a certain lesson, not make his friends laugh, and he could feel free to draw all the Sponge Bob's at home that he wished.  Boys, I love them but sometimes..................

Indian totem pole art with markers.

Statue of Liberty in chalk.

Put a little of their own flare on these, Dancer's is the S.S. Bieber and Spark's has a kraken in the water. 

Clue People - from the game Clue, they painted their person with only one color.

Learning how to paint sky and water.  We had watched a documentary just a few days before about the Loch Ness monster and they both added her to their pictures.  I thought it was interesting that they both did because they don't sit by each other.

Buildings in chalk with onion shaped tops. 

The chalk portrait of the person sitting across from them.

Fredrick Remington - attempting his style

Still life in pencil.

Cards in markers.  This one looked so fun I wished the parents could have joined in.

A tree in Sharpie marker.  They took index cards and cut a little hole in the middle and drew what they could see though the hole.

A close up using tempera paints.  Dancer's is ants on a log and Spark's is a side view of a sandwich.

Layering, except Spark's isn't layered?

Layers of the earth drawn with a Sharpie.  I was amazed that they got all this done in one class time.

First week they painted fish with tempera paints and second week made the back ground.  This was my favorite project they did all year.

Victorian house with a holiday theme in the windows.  Dancer chose Valentine's Day and Spark chose Halloween.

Jungle scene in tempera paints.  This is Dancer's, Spark is not sure what happened to his.

Traditional Logic Happy Dance

Dancer finished her traditional logic book and now it is sporting this HURRAY sticker, and not because she loved the book.  She further made this point by the groan she let out after I told her now she can start on the second book.

Rhubarb Sauce

Just chop the rhubarb up, put it in a pot with a titch of water so it doesn't burn when it starts to cook, add sugar until it is as sweet as you like it, and cook it down until it is the consistency of a thick sauce.

Excellent hot with a dribble of cream, or on ice cream, or oatmeal, or as dip for graham crackers, or even smeared pork roast.   Or, or, or, the list where you can use this sauce is endless.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Don't even try to resist eating this all in one sitting, it is futile.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1/4 C. butter softened
1 C. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. buttermilk (or 1 cup milk & 1 Tbsp. vinegar.  Let sit for 5 minutes)

Swirl topping
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix well butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Add to mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Mix swirl topping in small bowl.

Spread 1/3 batter in greased loaf pan, sprinkle on 1/3 of the topping.  Use a butter knife and drag it through the topping to create a swirling effect.  Repeat two more times ending with swirl topping on top of bread. 

Bake at 350 degrees 45 - 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, remove and continue to cool on rack.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Half Our Lives

Dad and I have been married half our lives, 23 years.  We celebrated by exchanging cards and going out to lunch with the kids at this place that serves pizza in a cone.    Dad went to bed for the rest of the afternoon because he worked tonight and that was the extent of our celebration.  Even if he hadn't worked that probably would have been the extent of our celebration, we are exciting like that. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Murphy's Law - Lawn Mower Gas

Q:  Where does your lawn mower run out of gas? 

A:  As far away from the garage as possible.

That is Spark there at the end of the arrow way behind the apple trees.  I guess he could have been behind the pine trees, that would have been farther from the garage.  There were but a few drops of gas in the gas can so Dad had to run into town to get some more.  He wanted me to go with but I had Desdemona out grazing and the kids were mowing so I didn't want to leave them alone.  This was a good thing. 

While in town Dad tested out another Murphy's Law:  Your truck will break down on the holiday weekend, not conveniently on a week day morning.

Then he tested out:  Your family will be outside when your truck breaks down and won't hear the phone ring until you have called a minimum of eight times.  He was able to limp the truck to the repair place, walk to the grocery store, shop, walk back to his truck and still had time left over before we learned he was stranded and got there.  I had a great joke for him, well I found it funny anyway.  Right before we got there to pick him up he called again wondering where we were.  "What do you mean?" I asked him.  He went on, quite nicely I must admit, to explain that his truck broke down and we needed to come get him and how did I miss that in our previous conversation and where were we.  By now I couldn't hold it together any longer without laughing and had to tell him we were just rounding the corner.  Here he is getting out with all his groceries and he is actually smiling to see us. 

Okay, enough Murphy's Law today, let's not have anything else happen.   

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Basic Cracker Recipe

A simple cracker that you can personalize to your favorite taste.  We made two batches, basil/sea salt and Parmesan cheese, both equally tasty.  The flavors and flavor combinations these could be made it are endless.  When adding a spice use a teaspoon or two and if you add a cheese use about a 1/4 of a cup.  Anything sprinkled on top, like the sea salt, lightly press into the dough before cutting.   

Basic Cracker Recipe

2 cups of plain flour - or mix an match whatever flour combinations you like
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
approximately 1 cup of milk - I used goat milk because tis' the season and I have more than I know what to do with so I am adding it in everywhere.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In the food processor mix the flour, salt and butter until well blended.   Mix in any flavor you want here.  Add the milk until the dough is soft but not sticky.  I never got a full cup in either batch we made before it was getting sticky.   

Divide the dough into a couple parts and roll very, very thin ungreased cookie sheets.  Press in the topping here ~ sea salt, cracked pepper, poppy seeds, etc.

Use a pizza cutter to cut into crackers and prick each cracker with a fork two or three times.

Bake for 15 - 25 minutes depending on how thin they are.  These look undone one minute and too brown the next so watch them closely near the end.

Art Show

Usually the dads don't join us at co-op because they work days so we held an art show so they could see all the art work the kids did all year and to have on more time to get together before the summer.

We started out with a dinner.  I just noticed that the boys are at one table and the girls at another.  The moms and dads did the same thing.  That is sort of funny that we do that without even talking about it.

Dancer and her friend showing off their art work. They were the only two teens this spring but they still had a good time together.  They did art and phy. ed. with the younger kids and then went off to work on 4-H projects or play cards. 

The guys were huddled all night and I found out it was something about making a Star Wars movie.  One kid even came with contracts for them to sign if they want to be in the film.  One of the points of the contract was that they wouldn't get paid.  No million dollar movie deals here yet.

The nice picture of the kids.

A more accurate picture of the group.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Snail Eggs Surprise

A week or so ago, Spark threw a minnow trap down in the creek in the swamp.  All he caught was a bunch of snails, about 30, which have been living in a almond container on the kitchen counter.  They have been interesting but I thought before they died and started to stink, or at the least the water turned into a big bacteria breeding mess, they should go back to the creek.  Spark brought them down to pour them out and made a pretty cool discovery.  The snails had not been as inactive as they seemed, they had been busy laying eggs on the side of container. 

There are five clumps like this one which we hope will hatch and we will have baby snails.  We will see in a few weeks! 

Woosh Went The Weekend

Dad worked the weekend so it was just the kids and I.  Sometimes these weekends drag and seem like he has been at work much longer than three days, but this one just flew by.  It came on the end of a busier than normal week so I think that made it seem faster too.

Friday night we started out by going to the play "A Midsummer's Night Dream" put on by a local children's theater group.  One of the cast members was a girl in our homeschool co-op so we went to support her.  There were a few other homeschoolers we knew and then a girl that Dancer danced with when she was a preschooler.   Funny where people resurface in your life. 

Saturday, after trying to get some cleaning and laundry done,  was the first of the graduations, another homeschooler.  It is interesting in the homeschool world that kids don't seem to segregate themselves by ages, they all just get together and mingle no matter the age.  Dancer has friends that range from 3rd grade all the way to kids that have already graduated.  Spark's friend that he talks to the most is a 7th grader.  In the school world I am sure that a 7th grader would not be hanging out with a 5th grader, they would think they were to old or too cool to be seen with a "little kid." 

After the graduation we were off to church as it was our weekend to be greeters, usher and nursery. 

Saturday night we had storms roll through.  I worry now about water getting in the basement since we have already had it twice so far this year.  I stayed up really late so I would be able to plug in the pump, that is now a permanent fixture outside the basement door, to do it's job should the need arise.  I also worried what I would do if the electricity went out as then we could be in the dark and have water coming in that I could do nothing about but hopefully move furniture out of the way.    When I finally did go to bed Dad has strict instructions to keep an eye on the radar and call me if it looked like it was raining hard here and I should get up.  Thankfully, the phone never rang.

This morning was back to church.  Our church has just started Sunday morning services the last few weeks and so there isn't usually a lot of people there, but you never know so we are ready for the time when there is.  This morning though there were only 13 people, two of whom didn't attend the night before.  Instead of a sermon the pastor lead a sort of small group discussion.  It reminded me of when the church just started a little less than two years ago and we did spontaneous things like that when there weren't many in attendence.  Saturday nights are now full so I am sure before long Sundays will be too. 

After church we were starving, we slept until the last possible minute because we were up late wondering about the storms and none of us ate breakfast.  To appease our rumbling stomachs, and because we needed to go to the grocery store and you aren't suppose to shop on an empty stomach, we stopped for lunch at a taco place.  All during lunch we got to hear the loud conversation the workers were having about how lazy the night shift was that they didn't do their job, complete with what was going to be on the list they were going to give the boss.  I thought it was less of a crime to leave the taco seasoning jar empty than announce over the dining room company grevances, but maybe that is just me.  I actually got a chuckle out of them and how excited they were. 

We came home to pull some weeds that are having a good year.  Seemed like we were crusing right along and making great headway until I stood up and looked around.  If you didn't know better, and see our large weed pile, you would have thought we napped all afternoon.  What a daunting task.  Tonight we got the lawn mowed with only one lawn mower misshap, one is good for us.

During milking tonight I think our doe, Caliope, has mastitis on one side of her udder.  She let me hook the milker up but she keep looking at it and flinching her foot on that side.  When Dad gets home tomorrow we will have to decide what to do, treat her and keep milking, or treat her and dry her up.  I hate to let her dry up, she is the only one who is in milk, but she has had such a rotten year so far that I want to do what will be best for her. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Debit Card

My debit card expired and so I needed to activate the new one sent to me.  I called on the phone and got it all ready to go and then said, "I think I should go see if it works."

The family asked where I was going to go.

"Anywhere they take money."

"I take money," exclaimed Dancer as she held out her hand.

I swiped the card through her fingers but nothing happened.  Maybe I needed to enter a pin number or something but she had no keypad.

The really sad part about my new card is that by the time it expires Dancer will have graduated.  That time is coming fast enough, I don't need anymore reminders.

MN Science Museum

Our co-op studied anatomy and physiology this past year so for an end of the year hurrah we took a field trip down to the science museum that has a large section devoted to the body.

On the way there Spark took lots of pictures out his window that he found interesting.  Most of the pictures didn't turn out half bad considering that we were driving 50+ mph and his back window is tinted. 

Things we don't see by our house, skyscrapers.  The closest thing we have to skyscrapers is silos.

Cathedrals, now we do have cathedrals but none as fancy as some of the ones in the cities.  They are huge and ornate way beyond what small towns have. 

His favorite part, driving through the tunnels.



Boggles the mind that people happily live in these their whole lives.  We have relatives who have.  I guess if your friends, family and life is there it makes it home.


Not even a balcony.

Imagine never digging the dirt to plant a seed or sit outside after dinner.

The lobby of the science museum.


A fruit fly larva contently eating, eating, eating.  Little does he know that Dancer and her friend are about to pull his head off with the hopes of seeing his chromosomes. 

Before they started the experiment the helper lady asked if they would be okay with taking off the head.  Um, both of the girls are farm kids so I don't think that a fruit fly head is going to make them squemish.

With thier lab coats, gloves and goggles they look so scientisty.

On to the pirate area.  This was an extra $12 per person and I guess it was worth it. 

The whole thing was educational about a sunken pirate ship found off of Cape Cod in 1984, not even one picture of Captian Jack Sparrow. 

What is the "Human Spark"?  Well, here is the human Spark!

Spark at the news desk.

Yep, we had a good time.

Added bonus, we did a little geocaching and found our 1000th geocache!