Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fluffles Makes Himself Comfortable

If you are going to nap on the couch then I am going to nap on the couch, just let me stretch out here a little.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Saga Called Winter Continues

It sure feels like we live in Iceland so I will equate this to a saga, a never ending one at that.  Spark snapped all these pictures of our grand willow tree this morning before we left for our Tuesday homeschool co-op.

The hoarfrost was thick, thick, thick.
This picture shows how it was only on one side of all the other sides of the trees and bushes.  The cleared cement on the driveway could have kept it warm enough to form only on the left side of the arborvitaes though.  As we drove to town, there was an odd pattern of hoarfrost on one clump of trees and then not on the next. 
In all it's splendor.  I love that tree in every season.

We thought everything was so white yesterday but, it didn't even hold a candle to today's fog.  That too was sporadic but we only took a picture on this road because the rest of the way to town is 55 mph and so I couldn't really pull over for Dancer to take any pictures.  It was good we knew our way or we would have miss all the turns because the visibility wasn't more that a few hundred feet most several places.  It is warming up outside but, this thick haze makes it difficut for the sun to get to melt much snow. 

Winter Break

Those of us who live in the north really don't need a spring break, we need a winter break.  Yesterday this was the weather we had, white.  White everywhere you looked.  White, cold fog on top of white, cold snow.  Not the kind of weather that promote good moods when it lingers on for months. 

To combat what seems like an endless winter, our co-op headed to a motel, rented a party room and the pool and spent the day swimming,

sitting in the hot tub,

and for those who feel to old to frolic or hot tub with the younger kids but don't have wifi at home, hours and hours of computer, iPod and Kindle use.  I really don't blame those teenage girls, the moms didn't go in either because the action in the pool what just too crazy.  I think there was about a third less water in the pool when we left than when we got there.

It was so hazy yesterday that as the sun set we were able to look right at it. 

Beautiful but, come on spring, you can do it!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


We came out of Sam's Club today to see these hanging on the side of the cart corral.  Sadly, the only picture taking implement we had with was Dancer's iPod because they were pretty cool.

They looked like fingers with scraggly nails reaching over the sides of the roof, just the thing nightmares are made of.

Hopefully this will be the start of a warm up for us and eventually spring.  Last week Dad bought milk on the way home from work, put it in the back of his truck, and by the time he made the 20 minute trip home it was more than a fourth of the way frozen.  We had to break the top with a knife to get any milk out.  We also put another $740 dollars worth of fuel oil into the tank.  That is our third time this winter, usually we fill twice and have some left over to start the next winter.  The last time was around the 12th of January so we have really been burning through it.  I am starting to think that grass is really a figment of my imagination. 
One good thing is that it doesn't get all the way dark until around 6:30 p.m., two hours later than on our shortest days.  Now Dad can almost get to work before it is dark, by next week he should make it all the way there.  It really does a lot for our mood not to have such long evenings.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Carmel Cake Bars

Ooey, gooey, chocolate carmel in between a soft crust.  

1 box white cake mix
2 large eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 stick butter, cut small .

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.

Beat cake mix, eggs and oil in a large bowl with mixer until
blended. Press 2/3 in pan.

Microwave condensed milk, chocolate and butter in a bowl on high
for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Pour mixture over crust. Top with
teaspoonfuls of reserved cake mixture.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool; cut into bars.

The recipe said it makes 48 bars.  Yeah, good luck with that, these are way to good to cut that small.  We are taking these to church tonight so we won't eat the whole pan ourselves before the sun goes down. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

German Buffet

We went to a buffet tonight that was all German foods.  Oh, so good.  We all left feeling like stuffed toads, I think it was the potato pancakes.  My new mission in life is to find a cabbage strudel recipe that mimics the strudel they had there.  Did I mention how good it was? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Great Egg Drop

The co-op physics class had the assignment of making a container that would keep an egg safe when dropped.  Out of a class of 10 there were some similar designs but none "eggs"actly the same. 

The containers were dropped from the tip top of a tall kid standing on a 12 foot ladder.  They were loud when they dropped!
Spark's design was a large cheese puff container stuffed with plastic shopping bags and then a smaller peanut butter jar stuffed with bags placed in the middle of the cheese puff container.
It was exciting as each student unwrapped their containers to see if their egg had lived.
Spark's made it through the first round.  
For the second round the containers were thrown at the ground as hard as the kid on the ladder could manage, which was so hard it broke some of the containers.  Spark's egg did not make it through this round.  I think his mistake was that he wrapped the egg in the plastic bag instead of nesting it in between the bags.  On the second round his egg cracked a little because it hit the hardness of the inside container. 
I found the whole thing sort of weird because I kept thinking of those eggs as little brains and they were shaking or abusing them like in shaken baby syndrome.  It really bugged me when one of the eggs would break.  The kids thought it was highly exciting though, which it was, I just had that little gruesome thought.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Salt Dough Maps

Two parts flour, one part salt, one part warm water

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Times Four

We celebrate and celebrated Valentine's Day this year over the course of four days. 
It started out on Monday night at the 4-H meeting.  They exchanged Valentine's, made crayon wax paper hearts, and decorated cookies which ended with a cookie decorating contest. 
Tuesday was a Valentine exchange and snacks with the kids at co-op.  They needed Valentine boxes for the exchange.
Dancer made an ipod complete with Hersey kiss earbuds and a One Direction play list.  Her box was pretty fancy and very carefully constructed.

Spark took a cracker box and jabbed a slit in the top and was about to call it good until I told him that just wasn't going to fly.  He really needed to decorate it.  He found some pink paper to cover it and put a picture of Mordecai and Rigby on one side and Finn and Jake on the other. 

With stickers he put Happy Valentine's Day on the top.  Sweet and to the point.

Wednesday they had another co-op party with Valentine exchange, craft projects and supper.  Dad took them to this one as I had to take Grandpa Bob to a doctors appointment.  This worked out okay though because since he doesn't work the normal 9-5 Monday to Friday job he can hold his own pretty well with a group of moms.  I don't think it hurts that most of his nursing co-workers are women and they don't seem to hold back any subject when he is around.

Today, finally the actual Valentine's Day, we gave the kids gifts.  Dancer got a box full of socks (she loves socks) and Spark got a DVD.  Dad and I exchanged cards and I even got a card from the dog Nikki (she usually gives cute cards for all occasions.)  We went out to lunch at Pizza Ranch where oddly enough we knew everyone there except a few tables that were having a meeting.  After lunch we went shopping to buy Dancer new pants because Dad was goofing around and tipped her Dr. Pepper float all over her lap.  There are two sides to every story says the Dad.  Dancer and the
Mom were having some poking fight about which television shows are, and are not hilarious.  The ultra responsible Dad tried to move a Dr Pepper float to a safe area and it was tipped over in the ensuing melee.  Oddly, Spark was the calm one who just sat there watching the madness.

The kids got so much candy that it looks like they were trick or treating so once that is gone in a few days Valentine's Day will be complete.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter Storms

When it looks like this outside.......
we enjoy jigsaw puzzles inside.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sewn Kitty Earbud Pouch

This is so cute!  The well written step by step directions and pattern can be found at dog under my desk.  Isn't that a great blog name?  Dancer picked this kitty fabric -
to hold her new One Direction earbuds she got from Spark for her birthday.  Wouldn't want anything to happen to them so that is why they needed a pouch. 
This is the back. 
I have enough fabric to open a small fabric store but, if you don't, two fat quarters, or one if you use the same fabric for the outside as the inside, would make several of these.  We cut this out of a two yard piece and I would still consider it a two yard piece as whatever, if ever, I make something else out of it I should be able to adjust the pattern pieces to have enough fabric.  Dancer also wanted the cats centered on her pouch so we used more fabric than if it were just a print. Also needed it a tiny bit of quilt batting but if you don't have any on hand so fleece would work just as well.  The only thing we had to buy was the zipper and if my sewing stuff wasn't such a mess I probably have one somewhere.

Christmas Cactus Blooms

This fall Dad's great aunt Muriel died and we were the recipients of her Christmas cactus.  It was beautiful.  It was huge, at least three feet across, full and healthy.  The picture perfect Christmas cactus.  We took it, put it in the basement on a table and then we got the kittens.  The kittens loved, loved, loved the Christmas cactus and tore at least 3/4 of the branches off of it.  Then we got a little forgetful and it didn't get watered as it should have.  The kittens have been leaving it alone lately and we have given it a few glasses of water but we didn't pep talk it or anything.   I have heard that it is hard to get them to bloom, and since it has been pretty much abused since it got here, I never expected any flowers.  Then today we were delighted to see that it had indeed put out several flowers.  Perhaps it is a cry for help?  It worked, Dad hung it up so it will be safe from the kittens, that doesn't mean we will remember to water it anymore often though.  We also saw that this huge plant is in a little tiny pot and it has to be terribly root bound.  Maybe that is what makes them bloom, tiny pots, feline abuse and neglect. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Potato Mummification

We recently did a project in which we made a potato mummy.  We actually did this to study chemical reactivity and not because we are studying Egypt but it was fun none the less.
A smaller potato, peeled and cut in half.  Pick a potato that will fit in the plastic cups you have on hand.
Mix 2/3 cup of table salt and 2/3 cup baking soda.  This is a dessicant, like those little "pillows" you find in some packaging, like pepperoni.  A dessicant is a drying and preserving agent.  The ancient Egyptians used natron, a naturally occuring mineral composed mostly of soda ash.  It had many other uses too, mostly in cleaning products and soap making.
One of the potato pieces was covered entirely with the "natron".  The other was just set in it's cup.  they are placed in a cool, dark place for a week.  Those potatoes look Spark-a-licious.  
After a week both potatoes are removed from the cups, the preserved potato was cleaned off a little.

The preserved potato is much lighter and is becoming hollow.  The preserving salt is dicolored and damp.  The potato looks pretty gross but it isn't slimy or moldy. 

The non preserved spud has a little white and orange mold on it.  The untreated potato would probably look worse but they were stored in the basement where it is pretty cold in the winter.  In the pictures you can see that the treated potato is not rotting, it's just drying out.  The point of the project, regarding reactivity, is that when moisture, heat and light are limited the potato is less able to mold and decompose.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bang Bang

Dancer came out of her bedroom making a shooting sounds with her fingers in the shape of guns.  Then she laughs and says that if she was in public school she would be suspended for doing that.  She is such a scofflaw. 

It wasn't until after I downloaded the picture that I saw that the lights from the dining room were reflecting right at the end of her finger gun making it look like she has magic pistol fingers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hello Kitty iPod Case

When one of Dancer's friends saw her iPod case Betty she wanted a crocheted case too.  Since Dancer made Betty she got protector cover for the back of her iPod and it doesn't fit in Betty.  That pattern wasn't going to work so we wrote a new one.

I just can't write out a crochet pattern with the steps I have to draw it out like a doily pattern because I can't keep it straight in my head.  This one looks like a hairy caterpillar but it did turn into a case that fits with a cover.  After I do the drawing I can write the steps.

Rd 1 - Chain 10
sc in 2nd ch from hook
sc in next 8 chains
3 sc in next chain
sc in next 8 chains
3 s in chain
Rd 2 - sc in next 9 stitches
2 sc in next stitch
sc in next 10 stitches
2 sc in next st
Rd 3 - Rd ? - sc in each stitch until it is as tall as your Ipod.

Bow:  ch 9, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc across to the end, ch 1, turn, sc across to the end.  Do this 8 times.  Finish off and fold like a paper fan.  With a piece of yarn wrap several times around the middle, knot and weave in ends. 

Face:  The face is just embroidered on as shown.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fleece Flower Pillow

We made this during the Super Bowl.  Since Dancer and I are only interested in the commercials we had to have something to do.   Find the step by step instructions here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why Yes, I Am A Mother To A 12 Year Old Boy

Therefore, I find a person in a union suit with their bum hanging out on his school work.  I have become so immune to such things that I didn't even notice the picture until, when we were going over the questions, we were on #6.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't Talk and Drive

This is Dad, my story driving home from work today. 

I had a few stops I needed to make on the way back from work today so I was taking a different route home.  After my last stop, I headed for home on a county road that has pretty busy traffic as it goes between a few of the bigger towns in our area.  When I turned onto the road there was a maroon Chrysler Pacifica really close behind me.  I mean she was really close--not only couldn't I see the bumper I couldn't see the hood of the vehicle, just the windshield!!!  I don't know how close she was, maybe 5 or 10 feet.   I went a mile or two and started to slow way down.

This is my normal habit when someone is super close behind me, especially if it is raining or snowing or really foggy.  I figure, "Hey, if you want to drive that fast pass me and have at it."  It is amazing how slow one needs to go before being passed, even more so if the weather is bad.

Anyways, I slowed way down, and the car is still behind me, super close.  I mean, I can see the lady's face,  count her teeth and tell if she brushed them yet today.  She was having some animated conversation on her cell phone, and this isn't some young, blonde, new driver.  She is probably in her mid to late to late fifties and brunette. 

I slowed to 15 or 20 miles an hour and still she is right behind me!  So I stopped.  And the lady behind me stopped behind my car.  I waited a minute and she just stayed right there.  I wondered why she didn't just pull out and drive around me.  I pondered this question and thought, "maybe my truck is on fire and she is calling 911" or "do have a dog tied to my bumper? (like on family vacation).

I put my truck in gear, as I was on a hill, turned off the motor and started getting out.  The person behind me whipped down her cell phone,  zoomed around my truck and flew down the road.  She was so close she had to back up to pull around me!!! 

I honestly think she must have been so engrossed in her conversation that she thought she had stopped behind some one at a stop sign or stop light.

This is why I worry about Dancer driving.  People, please pay attention to what the hell you are doing.  A one or two ton vehicle is at least as dangerous as a gun in the hands of an idiot, and if you can't "find your tail with both paws" don't try to drive and talk on the phone.