Thursday, September 29, 2011

Like Mother, Like Son

Poor Peter.  He's allergic to poison ivy, too!  

I couldn't tell at first, because I thought maybe his belly and legs were scratched up from climbing the fallen trees, but checking a couple of days later, it was definitely spreading, definitely a rash.  So we made an appointment for him with the same Doctor I went to, and sure enough, he has the same diagnosis. Poison Ivy allergy, just like his mama.

For the next 13 days, we'll be taking our medicines in the morning and lucky for me, he has no trouble with taking his in liquid form.

Looks like we both will have to be more careful when we play outside in the woods.  Hopefully, since he's only 3, he'll grow out of it, maybe, if he's lucky. Until then, I'll do my best to keep him away from poison ivy.

Sorry, kiddo. I know you can't understand just why mama won't let you run free and wild in the woods, but trust me when I say you can't.  We'll stay on the trails or we'll find some other thing to do, ok?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Signs of Fall

Definitely Fall around here.  We had a couple of days of absolutely perfect weather!
Fridays here have the best yard sales and there's a church nearby that holds a semi-annual indoor yard sale that I look forward to and one cannot miss! Just rows and rows of tables piled high with good stuff!
Of course we all went and found something for everyone.
Then on to town for a little bit of grocery shopping, Library, apple orchard, and then the scenic route home.

Saturday, Andrew fired up the chain saw and cut down some trees we had marked earlier. The kids had lots of fun climbing trees and we all pitched in, sorting logs, branches for kindling and pulling leaves to the burn pile.

Even Peter did his share of loading up the wagon with logs!

The little guy is strong!

This used to be a big leaning tree, shadowing our tiny orchard. I had a long swing hanging from it, but learned the hard way that if both ropes are not tied off at the same level, the swing won't swing evenly. So hardly ever got used. Seemed like the tree was hanging lower than the year before it, so with my blessing, Andrew cut it down. Good thing, it was hollow and probably wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.
There will be plenty of wood from this tree to last us a while.

Working together is always fun!

Gotta have some fun mixed in with hard work!
After unloading the logs into the pole barn, the kids get a wagon ride back to the work site!

This cat will put up with anything for attention!
Silly Archie!

Apples!!  Local orchard had a good crop this year, so the apples are nice and big compared to last year.
These are Jonagolds-- love them! Only one bushel this year-- still have plenty of applesauce leftover from last year. I plan to freeze a few pies and we're eating plenty everyday-- so I just might get a second bushel. Wait and see.

Our so-called garden is still blessing us with tomatoes. Slowing down fast, though.

I got poison ivy again. Dang it!  Must have been from when we were working on the felled trees. I checked for poison ivy, worried a little bit about it, but just dove in and got to work.  Monday comes and I see itchy welts all over my face and I literally felt my lips blistering. I wasted no time in calling the medical center I went to last time and made an appointment.  Knowing I am allergic to poison ivy now, I know that all those over-the-counter creams will do nothing for me. It spread to my ears, neck, cheeks, lips and a bit on my arms and fingers lightening quick! Second day of meds and the spreading has stopped, but still itchy.

Looks like I'll have to back off on helping out with the wood pile. I really like working by Andrew's side, we make a good team. But in this case, I have a legitimate excuse. I'll just have to figure out a way to help with the wood in other ways, without actually touching the wood. I'm sure Andrew would be grateful for my help and appreciate when I hover behind him while he's sawing and I tell him where to cut, how to cut, where to put his hands while holding the saw, and maybe I'll even kick his feet apart a little bit more. Men like a back-seat driver, don't they? :o) (Love you babe!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

I thought summer was pretty hectic, turns out Fall is even more so! Why does it seem like there are multiple events happening on the same weekends? Makes it so hard to decide what to do, which to attend, which is more important, which would be fun for the kids. Most of the time though, money is the deciding factor-- entrance fees? gas? eating out?

This coming weekend is my high schools' Homecoming and an informal 20th class reunion (20 years? No way!). My high school was sort of an international school-- students came from all over the country, some from other countries.  Kind of makes it hard to get together for reunions when many of us are all spread out, as opposed to a local school and say, 75% of the students still live in the area.

We had a 10-year reunion, which had a pretty good turn-out. But only because there was a major event happening and most of us were coming into town anyway. This year, however, it's just a plain ol' Homecoming game. A lot of classmates are pushing for a cruise for our 25th reunion. Honestly? I'll probably never go on a cruise of my own choosing, preferring to travel by car or train to my destination, fly if I have to, but a cruise? No thanks. Too expensive and just not my thing. So why would I cough up big dough for a class reunion held on a ship? Did we graduate on the ship? I still have small children to think of-- 5 years from now, Peter will be 8;  my children will not be grown up and out of the house and I'm high on the hog with money to spare. I'd rather see the old school and all the changes that have been done. Several of the dorms have been torn down and new things have happened, I'd like to see that in person, not go on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

I planned on going to the Homecoming, but then I realized it's the same night as the shopping night for consignors at the consignment store. I worked my tail off gathering all the too-small, or fits-but-no-one-will-wear-it clothing, washed them, hung them on hangers, tagged and priced them, then took them to the shop to be scanned in by hand. Do you know what kind of miracles had to be performed just to accomplish all that with 4 children underfoot? What kind of sleep I gave up? Before we got there, I had told myself that there wouldn't be any shopping this year-- we can't afford it, definitely won't take the kids in or we'll never hear the end of their begging for something that's not a necessity.  But then, while there, I looked around and I saw a few things-- winter shoes for the kids (they can't wear flip-flops forever!), a set of books for our book-loving Evelyn, and even a few items that could be put away for Christmas, if I can get it before anyone else does.  Surely we can manage to scrounge up enough to purchase a few items. Consignment store prices aren't that high!

What's more important-- things our children need/want?  Or going to a Homecoming where only 10 or 15 of my class show up? I'm already heavily leaning to the first choice, and at the same time, the whiny girl inside me reallllly wants to go, no matter who will be there. I know for a fact that my friend from since 6th grade will be there, and a close friend is coming down for it. Some classmates that'd I'd really like to see aren't coming-- they live too far away, but swear that they'll come for the 25th cruise (rolling my eyes).  Don't really care about the others... yes, it'd be good to see them and at the same time-- eh, who cares. In all these years, since the 10th reunion, I've only kept in contact, close contact, as in talk-at-least-once-a-month contact, with maybe 5 school mates.

I feel like going to the Homecoming is selfish. I'd be driving 3 hours to go to DC, spend a couple hours hugging people I know but don't like enough to keep in touch with, repeating the same "here's what I've been up to lately" story over and over, fielding comments like, "yup, 4 kids! Who would have thunk it!" and "No, sorry, you don't know my husband, he's hearing" (it's a Deaf thing, to always ask who your spouse is, maybe they'll know him/her). It's nothing official, no plans in place to meet at a certain location, no eating arrangements, except a tentative maybe "let's go to the bar down the street", of which I'll bow out of, since I have to drive, and no idea who will actually be there since no one seems to be replying to the class Facebook page.

Yeah, it's more likely I won't go. I'll have to send an email to my 6th grade friend and gracefully bow out of attending.  My family comes first. I can't see making things more financially difficult for us by spending money on a 6 hour trip to see people that can't be bothered to reply to a simple request. And if I don't really care about seeing them, one way or the other, then why would I want to go in the first place? There. Problem solved.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rubber Ducky, You're The One..

Ever since we got two new additions to the homestead,
I have Ernie's Rubber Ducky song playing on repeat in my head.
We got ducks!
 They look like White Pekin Ducks.
The people we got them from likely got them for Easter, since in their duckling pictures, their feathers were tinted pink and blue.

 Don't know the sex of them, don't care.
We talked about getting ducks before, so when these ducks showed up on a local exchange site, for free, we couldn't resist! She had no shelter for them and didn't want to build one for the coming winter, so she was giving them away.

 I love the little curls on the tips of their tail feathers!

 These two are tight! They stay together everywhere!
So much fun to watch!

 The kids all had fun watching them as we took them out of the cage. I was a little worried we took them out too soon, because one bolted and ran into the woods and the other stayed for a while. I wondered what the roosters would do. The dog? Would the ducks come back? I hadn't made a pen for them yet.

 Turns out, I needn't have worried. These two ducks seem to know this is home already. They hang around, eating grass, leaves, and I assume, bugs in the ground. They wander in the woods, always within sight, then come back to their little wading pool and swim and bathe.

 As it got dark, and the chickens put themselves to bed in the coop, the ducks came close to the house, probably looking for a place to settle for the night.  Previous owners only had them in a small fenced in area with no shelter, so I have to think they are not used to sleeping inside of something. I rounded the ducks up and put them in the dog carrier, then put the cage inside the coop for the night.

 I don't know if that's ideal for long-term-- keeping the ducks with the chickens in the chicken coop.  I know of others through blogger that have ducks and chickens, and even one family with one duck that thinks it's a chicken and hangs out with the chickens. In my case, these two ducks have never seen chickens before, and the chickens seem afraid of the ducks. They hide in the coop when the ducks are around it and don't come out until the ducks are out of sight. Curious!

 I have enough lumber scraps to make a largish dog house-style shelter for them. I've been turning over plans in my head ever since we got them home yesterday afternoon. I'll probably place the duck shelter a little bit away from the chicken coop and build a temporary pen until they learn to go in the shelter at night. The little pool will go near it, as well.

 The ducks are fun to watch when they get into the pool.
It's fun to see them dunking themselves and splashing around.
The previous owners gave this to us, but eventually, I'd like to get a little bit bigger one, so they can actually swim around some. It looks like they are standing and not really swimming. The water is only about 6 inches or so deep.

We've named them Cheese and Quackers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scratching the Itch

I've been itching to get on the sewing machine lately and it's so hard during the day with Peter fiddling around with all the buttons on the machine, pulling the spool of thread off, walking around me and tripping over the cord, that I just wait until the kids go to bed. But by then I'm too tired or I have something else more pressing than sewing, so it gets put off and put off and put off.

Sewing and crafting is good for me. It's good for my soul. Sooner or later I have to make time to do something and get it out of my system and when it's finished, I feel better.

Last year, a wonderful bloggy friend sent Evelyn a box of fabrics for Christmas (Thanks, Karen!).  I gave Evelyn most of it when I put it inside her very own sewing box, but kept out a few things-- either I thought she wasn't ready for it, or *ahem* I wanted it for myself. heh. Included in the box of fabrics was a set of charm squares, I think that's what you call them.  A rainbow of colors in the same design but different colors, all pre-cut into 4x4 squares. I've been itching since before Christmas to make something with them, but didn't know what.

Finally, inspiration struck and I spent several days looking at different pinwheel quilts on the internet, looking for a design I liked. I don't have enough squares to make a full size quilt, but I wasn't looking to do that. I just wanted to make something quickly. I needed my fix!

 My first tiny mini-quilt. It's the exact size of a potholder! hahaha!
It's not perfect, some of the corners don't match up and I flubbed the binding.
I like the orange and turquoise together.
I like how if you stare at it long enough, the pattern starts to change-- squares, diamonds, triangles, squares within a square...
I'll probably end up using it as a potholder. 
I used a scrap of fleece as batting in the middle.

I see a lot of quilters adding a little something-something to the backs of their quilts,
giving it that extra special bit and I ended up with an extra pinwheel left over after I pieced the front together, so why not? There's my little extra special something-something!

I did this one, too. Can you see the diamond pattern?
Trying to line up all the tiny squares on this was tough!
I should have used a different fabric, switching out one of the red-and-white ones.
Like keeping the stripes, both the green and the red/white, and adding a different color stripe. The red-and-white polka dot is cute, but it doesn't help define the diamond pattern.
At least I got all the stripes lined up the same way.
This is also the size of a potholder-- the squares are the size of a dime.
 I'm thinking I'll finish it and let the girls have it for a doll quilt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Extreme Couponer For A Day

When I shop with coupons, I save an average of $25 to $30 each trip.  My savings run about 50-60%.  Sometimes, I only save $10 off $70, but hey, every little bit helps.
Once in awhile, I save big and it makes me feel like I'm one of those crazy coupon ladies that walk out of the store with $300 worth of groceries and only paying $5.
I had one of those days recently! I have to share:

 Martin's food stores was running a special-- Buy 5 Quaker Oatmeal bars at $2 each, and recieve a $5 catalina to use on your next shopping trip. (A catalina is a coupon that prints out with your reciept, to be used later) They happened to have coupons on the display for 75 cents off 1 box. I grabbed 15 coupons and made 3 trips. Here's what I did:

1st trip: Bought 5 boxes = $10  Used 5- $.75/1 coupons (the first gets doubled to $1) for a total of $4 off. Pay $6 and get a $5 catalina.

2nd trip: Bought 5 boxes = $10  Used 5- $.75/1 coupons for a total of $4 off AND the $5 catalina.
Pay $1 and get a $5 catalina.

3rd trip: Repeat #2, pay $1 and get a $5 catalina.

That makes $30 worth of Quaker Oat bars for only $3 after subtracting the catalina! That equals to .20 cents a box!!   Nice!  A round of applause please!  Thank you, thank you! 

Next, I went to Target.  They will price match any store's current ad, so I took a Food Lion ad which had a sale on 12 oz boxes of Rice Krispies for $1.50.  That alone is cheap, but there was also a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off 2 kellogg's cereal AND a Target coupon for $1 off 2 Kellogg's cereal-- nice! Instead of paying $2.94 a box, I price-match and save $1.44 per box. After price-match, buy 2 boxes for $3, use both Target AND manufacturer's coupon and pay $1 for BOTH boxes! I got lucky today, though, because the clerk made an error and entered $1.25 eight separate times for eight separate boxes! So I ended up getting 8 boxes for 50 cents each after coupons! Sweet!

I also had my eye on a large picture frame that suddenly went on clearance and with a birthday gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, it was the perfect time to pick it up. It was marked down 50% off, $24.99 down to $12.48. A twin-size sheet set in a boy theme I had my eye on was also on clearance, and I was waiting for it to come down lower, but since there were only 2 left, I had to grab it-- marked down 50% off, $17.99 down to $8.98.

Picked up the new Velveeta Cheesy dinner kit, too, for $2.04 and 2 toy cars, priced at $3.29 each. Lucky for me, there was a coupon on the Rice Krispies box that stated: Free car with purchase of 3 boxes of cereal! With 8 boxes of cereal, I had more than enough, and I found 2 coupons, which means 2 free cars! The cars will be put away for Christmas.

Here's the breakdown:
8 boxes Rice Krispies- $1.25 each
2 toy cars- $3.29 each
1 Velveeta Cheesy dinner $2.04
1 Frame $12.48
1 sheet set $8.98
Grand total: $40.08 (Total value is $75.12)
Used 4- $1/2 Kellogg's cereal Target coupons
         2- $1/2 Kellogg's cereal manu. coupons
         1- $1/1 Velveeta coupon
         1- $.50/1 Velveeta Target coupon
         2- FREE car wyb 3 boxes Rice Krispies coupons

Paid: $27.28!!  Had I not bought the frame and the sheets, my total would have been only $5.82 for 8 boxes of cereal, 2 cars, and the velveeta dinner!!  Pretty good to me!!

Any good couponing trip for you lately??  Do tell! :o)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another Year Gone

My birthday has come and gone.
Another year wiser, I hope.
Family came two days in a row to help celebrate my birthday.
That's the best gift right there-- spending time with family.

My kids gave me hand made cards-- so precious!
I made cake Friday to share with my Aunt, her birthday was on the 7th.
It was german chocolate, her favorite.
The kids wanted to know why it was called "german" chocolate and we explained about different chocolates and locales and Germany. Andrew went on to tell them that they are part German, since Andrew and I both are part German.
Sylvia piped up, "And now since I'm eating [german chocolate] cake, I'm even more German!"
Too funny!
I made a second cake on Saturday, to share with my Father-in-Law. His birthday was on the 10th.
This time it was both of our favorites-- Pineapple Upside Down cake. yum!
I don't need much, as long as I have my loved ones, I'm happy.
Here's to another year!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Old Rotten

I'm hungry.

I sit here sipping chicken broth because I cannot eat normal food right now. I have a big hole in my mouth where a tooth should be. I broke a tooth a while back, but it didn't bother me and so I left it alone, not going to the dentist because a) we have no dental insurance and b) we have no money for expensive dental repairs/bills.

More than a month ago, a small dull ache would come and go in that tooth. I'd promptly gargle with hydrogen peroxide or warm salt water, and the pain would go away. Then the pain wouldn't leave. I'd try everything-- brushing, flossing, gargling-- to no avail. Then came the pill-popping, downing 2 aspirin, then 3, and I'd feel better again. But the last couple of days was the absolute worse-- tossing and turning, the pain radiating up to my brain and my ears, throbbing and pounding. No pill would help and every movement just made it worse.  I'd bend down to pick something up and the blood would rush to that tooth and pound some more. Peter's screeching was a whole 'nother level of pounding. Something needed to be done.

I had visions of dying because of my rotten, old tooth. Old Rotten getting all infected and sending armies of germ soldiers carrying yellow puss-filled buckets and dumping it onto my brain, causing me to die and leave my four young children mother-less. I saw my children and husband crying at my grave site and inscribed on my tombstone, instead of my name, Rotten Old Tooth. I was losing it!

If we had the money, I would go for the root canal. Painful, yes. Expensive, yes. But I'd still have my tooth. But we are barely making ends meet, every bit of money going for gas, bills, food. The cheaper option is to have it pulled. So, Old Rotten is now in a shiny, plastic, white container, shaped like a tooth. I attempted to nap earlier, but with four children, naps for mamas are impossible. Sylvia asked me if my tooth was under my pillow, sweet child. Maybe I will put it under my pillow tonight. Might get lucky.

So, the pain. I feel better. No more throbbing aches, no more little trolls pounding on my head. I inhale and the cool air doesn't hurt my tooth. My mouth is numb still, I can taste blood, and it feels different inside my mouth, a big gaping hole where Old Rotten used to be. Am I happy? Not really. I would have liked to try and save Old Rotten. Instead of visions of germ soldiers, I now have visions of a future me, my falsies popping out when I laugh, my children giggling when my teeth are soaking in a glass while I sleep.

I used to wonder how people let their teeth go bad. I have the answer now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wishful Thinking / Pet Peeve

There's been a lot of crafting around these parts lately. By me, and the girls.  Not so much Peter-- unless you count eating play-doh. I'm happy the girls are picking up the crafting bug-- it's something I remember Mom trying to get me to do when I was their age and it never stuck with me. Now I start doing it when I am a busy mother of 4 trying to do everything else that needs to be done around here. Why didn't I do it back when I had all the time in the world??  I must like a challenge!

I get a lot of my supplies from yard sales and thrift shops, or there's a good sale at the fabric store with half-off coupons. I'm lucky Andrew indulges me my crafting and encourages me when I get on a sewing binge. I try to return the favor and not break the bank on crafty purchases-- like I can afford a whole lot anyway.

Today for home school, the girls all wanted to sew and make dolls. So it turned into Home Ec class and the topic was embroidering doll features, sewing bodies on mama's sewing machine, turning inside out, stuffing and yarn hair. Finished 1 doll; halfway through a second; still need to assemble a third. Doll dresses are slated for tomorrow.  My patience ran out when, first, I was feeling like I needed to be mama octopus and help 3 girls all crying for help at the same time and Peter constantly screeching that ear-piercing scream while knocking down his blocks, and then Gretchen getting pickier and picker about the yarn hair or the eyes or the heart and how it wasn't looking like Evelyn's. I slammed my hand on the table, grabbed all the fabric, yard, thread, hoops and put it up. Went to the bedroom to get 5 minutes of peace and quiet.

I hope tomorrow will go smoother, brand new day and all that.

 With the girls jumping on the crafting bandwagon, I'm finding myself short on supplies to share. I hate that I have to run 45 minutes into the next big town for the closest store that sells fabric and supplies. It's been my mantra since the day we moved here. Why is the closest craft store 45 minutes away?! In six years, I still have not discovered any sort of crafting store around here and I know there are quilters in this area and lots of the town fairs are full of people hawking hand made stuff, so there are other crafty people here. I can't believe that they all go 45 minutes to the next big town for supplies??  Or else they have money and order online, which I wish I could do but online stuff is expensive and I like to see/touch what I'm buying first.

It would be nice to open up a shop of my own. Couldn't afford to lease out a store space, much less purchase all the stock. Plus, start up costs, liability insurance and all that expensive stuff. A woman I knew liked to quilt and she found it cheaper to order her fabrics whole-sale, by-the-bolt, but then she had too much fabric, so she opened a fabric store in her basement and, by-appointment-only, sold her surplus fabric. She had a nice shop, but way overpriced. I ended up just buying a  teeny small bit, feeling obligated, because I made an appointment and I was taking up her time, after all. I think about that set-up a lot these days-- how nice to have a store in my basement, to run down and pluck what I need off the shelf. Have a sign out by the road on days I'm open to the public or by appointment. No overhead costs, no lease to pay, just a bit of advertising and finding crafting supplies to stock the shop and sell. Is it worth it? Would I be offering a desired product? Would it succeed? Can I fill a need? Profit would be nice, but even better would be the convenience of a shop closer than 45 minutes. It's all a nice idea, maybe just a fantasy, since we're really tight on money and starting a business in this economy? hmph! 

I'll have to make do and look for an old teddy bear no one loves and cut it open for it's stuffing. I don't have enough stuffing for the dolls the girls are making. Can't afford a trip into town just for stuffing, and while I'm there, I'll be drooling over all the other stuff I'd really like to bring home with me. What I really just want to do is take the whole store, strap it onto the roof of my van and park it in my back yard.

Monday, September 12, 2011

WIP: Blue Flowers Embroidery

A great embroidery blog called Feeling Stitchy hosted a stitch-along in August that I just had to jump onto the bandwagon for. The project was to pick a fabric with a pattern and then embellish it with thread. I'd seen other examples and wanted to try it, too. I found this great vintage linen towel at a yard sale and I knew it'd be perfect for the stitch-along. The stitch-along is over now, and I'm not done with it yet, but I wanted to show my work-in-progress.

 The vintage linen.  It took some courage to actually sew into it. I was brought up to keep things in their original condition and I am slowly learning that it's OK to personalize something the way you want it. If it's yours, and you aren't 100 percent pleased with something, then shouldn't you be able to make changes to make it better?

 The embroidery thread all picked out and matched to the linen.

My work so far..
Adding the thread adds a dimension to it and I think makes it look more interesting. I found a great oval frame for it from the thrift shop and I've marked the area I'll sew to fit inside the frame. Looking forward to finishing this and seeing it in the frame. I already have just the spot for it in my bedroom.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Family Game Night: LIFE

Now that the kids are getting older, we're breaking out some of the games that require more than climbing ladders and sliding down chutes. We have longed for the day we can gather around the table and play games that we remember playing with our own families growing up.

We recently played LIFE with the girls and they love it!
We're skipping over some of the complicated bits, like getting insurance and stocks, but otherwise, playing the game as usual. They get especially pleased when they get married and they plot how to get the wheel to stop on a certain number so they can have children.

 We usually have to set Peter up with some toys or put a movie in for him, or else he gets into a screaming fit and starts swiping every one's money, which gets the girls screaming, which gets me screaming. ahem.  Anyway, it's pretty fun to watch how the girls arrange the "people" in their cars.  As soon as Gretchen gets married, she puts her husband in the driver's seat.

Money, money, money!
Gretchen loves the money!  She could have eight 100,000 bills, but if she has no other bills, she thinks she's so poor and cries that she has no money. She's only happy when she has several bills of each color. Silly girl!
We've played this quite a few times, and I think they're ready for a game of Monopoly soon.

 All of our games are older, either mine from when I was a kid, or Andrew's from his childhood, or games we pick up from yard sales and thrift shops. We like the older games better. The girls recently played LIFE at a friend's house with a newer game set, and my girls complained it wasn't the same as ours. I just told them that we had an older game and sometimes the manufacturers update the games and make them look different.

Do you have memories of a certain game and remember how much fun it was, then play it again as an adult and it's the most boring game ever??  My husband and I both have a game like that in our past.  His is Mousetrap and mine is a game called Mystery Mansion. I'd never played Mousetrap before and he went on and on about how much fun it was, so we bought a new game and started playing it and I kept waiting for the fun part to start. He looked at me sheepishly and admitted it wasn't as fun as he remembered it. My sister and I spent hours, hours! playing Mystery Mansion. You built the mansion as you go along, looking for secret passageways and treasure. Sometimes you'd find a chest and it would have just cobwebs in it, or the secret passageway would take you down to the scary dungeon. I couldn't wait to show Andrew how to play this super fun game and then when I broke it out and we started playing it, I realized it was our imaginations that made this game so much fun. I'll give it to the girls and see if they like playing it and hopefully their imaginations will make Mystery Mansion as much fun for them as it used to be for me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peter and The Strawberries

Peter thinks he's so sneaky.
He swiped a box of strawberries from the fridge after I told him, "no, we're eating lunch soon."
He knows I cannot hear him sneak behind me and open the fridge.
He thinks if he grabs it and runs away quick enough and I don't see him, he's in the clear.
Good thing he doesn't know I can feel the vibrations of his feet and recognize the difference between walking steps and running steps.
I go and investigate.

He's watching for me, expecting me to come from the other entrance.
He doesn't hear me sneaking up on him!

 "There you are!" I say.
"Ahhh!" he screams and jumps, startled that I was behind him!

"Show mama what you got!" I ask him.
And there are the quickly disappearing strawberries!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

With Or Without Me

Despite my complete lack of attention, the chickens noshing on them, and rampant weeds towering above my head, the tomatoes have continued to thrive and produce hundreds of fruit for us to eat and enjoy. I have not even watered the garden except for a few days in the very beginning after planting, and we have had a pretty dry summer where we're at. I didn't do a lot of tomato canning this summer-- I still have many quarts left of whole tomatoes I canned last year. I did manage to can up batches of taco sauce and mild salsa, though. The salsa won me a blue ribbon at the county fair.  We've also eaten plenty of fresh salsa this summer, made with lots of onions, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. And goodness knows how many tomatoes we've eaten in salads, BLTs, sandwiches, burgers and all by their lonesome with a dash of salt! I'll miss eating those fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter when all that's left of summer is in our memories.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Five Spice Pork Kabobs

What's the point of looking at all those recipes in magazines if one never tries them?
I have magazines I save just for the recipes I want to try, but then they get lost in the clutter and I never get around to trying them. I am vowing to start trying a new recipe every week and start going through all those magazines, picking out something that, surely, the whole family will love.

This came from a recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens, July 2011.
Five Spice Pork Kabobs

Now who doesn't like eating food off a stick?! yum!
These reminded me of those teriyaki beef-on-a-stick things you can get at chinese restaurants and it looked simple enough to try. The only thing missing was the spice-- Chinese five-spice powder. We planned to make a trip to a town that has an international grocery soon, so that went on the list. As soon as I got all the ingredients I needed, I was so anxious to try this!

Here's the recipe:

2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
8 skewers (if using wooden ones- soak in water to prevent burning)
1/4 c peanuts
1/4 c cilantro sprigs
lime wedges (optional)

For sauce, in a small bowl, combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar and five-spice powder. Set aside. For kabobs, trim tenderloin, slice thinly, then thread slices onto skewers. Brush skewered meat with some of the sauce.

Grill kabobs directly over medium hot coals for 3 to 4 minutes. Brush with remaining sauce. Turn kabobs and grill 3 to 4 minutes more or until fully cooked. To serve, sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Serve lime wedges alongside. Makes 4 servings.

We doubled the recipe and halfway through cooking on the grill, the propane ran out, so we finished this in the oven.  So good and tasty!!  I wished there was more sauce though, so the next time I make this, I'll make extra sauce. I also omitted the lime, peanuts and cilantro-- I didn't have any on hand when I made this, but I don't think we missed out on anything, it was delicious! I made ramen noodles and broccoli to go with this and the kids all seemed to like it,  as there was very little leftover meat, which I later chopped and added to ramen noodle soup a couple of days later.

Just to make things fun, and I wish I remembered to take a picture, we also had fruit kabobs for dessert. Evelyn helped thread cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries and peaches onto skewers. Talk about a major hit! The kids ate about 3 each of those fruit kabobs!

Let me know if you try this!
Happy eating!

Monday, September 5, 2011

King and Queen of Hearts

In 2009, the Post Office issued their yearly "LOVE" stamp around Valentine's and this particular year was an image of the King and Queen of Hearts.  I fell in love with the stamp and couldn't help but think it was a good candidate for an embroidery project. The stamps are long gone, but I held onto the image from the stamp booklet and more than two years later, I blew up the image on my printer, traced it onto vintage linen, and then in less than a week, completed it!

It measures 9 x 5 inches.
(click photo to enlarge image)

The original image had only a few colors and I've used my own color choices, but kind of stayed true to the original, since I like it so much. I left off the stamp amount as well.

After framing, I entered this into the County Fair and won 2nd place. I'm a teeny bit disappointed it didn't win a blue ribbon. I don't know what the judging criteria was, but there were no other embroidery projects at the Fair, except for my daughter's projects and they were in the Junior division.  Most sewing projects were in quilting form, a couple of dolls, and some clothing. Oh well, it's a Blue Ribbon winner in my eyes and is now holding a place of honor above our bed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

County Fair 2011

When the kids found out we were all going to the County Fair, the girls all wanted to make something to enter into the Fair.  I already had a project finished and ready to go, plus I had some jam and salsa to enter. The girls looked through my cookbooks for inspiration and they also embroidered pictures to enter.

The day before the Fair, Gretchen made Peach Buckle and Evelyn made Tic-Tac-Toe cookies.

 We got to the Fair really early to get our free tickets for entrance, meals, and rides. A little too early, since none of the rides or the games were open for at least another two hours, but we were able to look around and eat before the real action began.

 Sylvia made a pair of gnomes-- Mr. and Mrs. Gnome.  She embroidered them, I sewed them up, she stuffed them, then I sewed the holes shut. 2nd place!

 This was Gretchen's very first embroidery! I'm bursting at the seams at how all 3 of the girls like to embroider! Gretchen sewed up a Chicken and got 2nd place!  Evelyn sewed up a turtle with a flower in the shell and got 3rd place!

 Both girls got 1st place for their baked goods!

 Both my Cherry Almond Jam and my Salsa got blue ribbons!

 While we were eating, they had plain old trashcans placed between every other picnic table. Peter was being especially helpful and wanted to throw the trash away. He walked right by the trashcan closest to us and kept on going, going, going all the way to the clown trashcan a good distance away. Can't say I blame him, I think it's more fun to throw stuff into a clown trashcan, too!

We had a good time. The nice thing about getting there early was being able to get ahead of the crowds. After about 3 or 4 hours of walking around, going on the kiddie rides and constantly staying on top of 'Runaway Peter', we'd had enough and were ready to head home. It was just starting to get dark and the teens were getting wild and crazy, cutting in front of the little kids and I was so done with that. Time to go.

 It was easy to get the kids in bed that night!