Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring projects continued....

Well, as far as spring projects go in the house I am woefully behind. Being under the weather for a week didn't help. Add some grey, rainy skies in there when I did start feeling better and you can certainly understand my lack of motivation. However, today is gorgeous. It's mostly sunny and 73! So, we are back to the outside spring project. :)

Here is one double layered box leveled and staked in the ground. It's ready for some dirt.

We are crossing our fingers and toes that the chicken wire on the bottom layer will help keep the pesky moles out of the beds.

A humongous truckload of dirt and compost was dumped in the driveway earlier this week.

The plans for the raised beds came from here. According to PW's plans, it is handy to have a Basset Hound around for support. (look halfway down her post) We don't have one...but we do have a beagle on know, in case we need him.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I won....

Last Saturday, I was definitely under the weather and since I felt yuck, I took some time to just sit and check out fellow bloggers. I found a contest over at Jeannie's Happy World. It was for some Tastefully Simple products and I LOVE Tastefully Simple products. (just check out my spice cabinet if you don't believe me) Can you believe I almost didn't enter? The contest was ending in a little over an hour and the last person NEVER gets picked. But this contest was for Tastefully Simple treats!! So, of course I entered. You could have knocked me over with a feather when a few hours later I got an email saying I won!! Woohoo!!! And there is an incredibly adorable young lady in a video picking me as the winner on Jeannie's blog. Check it out and meet my new best friend here.

In the middle of this week a box came for me. I love getting packages in the mail. Who doesn't? Even though I knew it was coming I still felt all happy and squishy inside. :) Check out my loot....


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Darn them...

Around every Easter time we volunteer to help fill some plastic eggs for a big community Egg Hunt sponsored by our church. At church we are given bags of plastic eggs and even the candy to stuff inside. How hard is that? A piece of cake!! We could do hundreds without breaking a sweat, but there are many volunteers at we just get a few bags. Thank goodness for that this year!!


Well, let me share a little story with you....

This is the usual kind of candies that come home with us. The variety changes year to year...but it's usually along these lines. No problem. I can live without this kind of candy and it does nothing to tempt me. It doesn't even know my name.

These are the eggs for this year. Just 84 eggs to fill. We were given a bag of the above candy for one bag of plastic eggs. For the other bag of plastic eggs we were given......

Uh oh...we have a problem!! It not only knows my name, it knows my husband's name and my daughter's name. It began calling within mere minutes of entering our home.

Hellooo, sweetie! Isn't it pretty? Don't you just feel your spit glands going into overdrive? Can you hear it calling you, too?

Told you we had a problem! We are weak against this darn things!

It cost me $5 today to go out and buy a couple of these....

They are now all safely nestled inside plastic eggs and taped for good measure! Next year...I will have to preview the goods coming home with us. Depending on my mood....I might only bring the chocolate home. ;o)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

They don't come from the store?

Last week I shared that we had tea time here. It's become a fun way for me to connect with our daughter. We always have some sort of snack to go with our tea and last week it was cucumber sandwiches. She decided she didn't really like them all that much, because although she loves cream cheese she insists that it be a very, very thin layer of cream cheese. Apparently, I spread a little too thickly. (with me being in the camp of "I love me some cream cheese"!) Anyway, she had a few sandwich quarters and enjoyed the time yapping and sipping tea.

As I was cutting the crusts off the bread, K asked me what I was going to do with them. Now, I could throw them away and I just might have if she hadn't asked. In a fit of inspiration....I get those once in a while....I decided to make croutons. "CROUTONS???", asked K. "You can make croutons out of that ?" Hmmm, I'm thinking I am doing a great big failing job here as teacher if my student thinks croutons come from a bag at the supermarket! Sigh. So, I tell her that yes, we can make croutons and that it is easy and yummy. She looked a tad skeptical.

We started with our crusts cut up in cubes.

I added a few extra slices of bread, cubed. K measured the butter and melted it in the microwave.

She added garlic powder...

Parmesan cheese...

and parsley.

Then stirred it all up.

I used a basting brush to spread the butter and all its goodness over the bread cubes.

When they came out of the oven, K exclaimed...."They look just like croutons!!"
Over dinner we discovered....they tasted even
better than croutons!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

spring projects (part one)

Oh, I am sure there are going to be plenty of spring projects. I love spring projects. LOVE them. I get really antsy towards the end of winter and start dreaming of spring projects. You just can NOT start a spring project during winter. Nope. It doesn't work. There is something magical about spring projects for me and I plan to share some of the magic with the world.

Yesterday was outside day. Of course, the calendar says spring...but our weather isn't entirely cooperating. Well...maybe it is. However, when you start working on building raised beds for vegetable gardens you kind of expect it to be warmer. (this is coming from a non-seasoned novice wienie veggie gardener...because everyone knows that a real veggie gardener starts working on the next year's garden long before spring!) just felt a little chilly to me! We got our plans for the raised beds from here. After a late start in the morning we made the lumber run and stocked up. Then it was time to start.

All stacked up and ready to go.

Tools are gathered.

Spot is picked.

The bottom levels are built and waiting.

Spring projects are so much fun!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Taste of France

We are in France this week with My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures. Of course, as soon as I saw a recipe for Chocolate Truffles I knew that I liked France. So, did K!, there are a lot of yummy foods that we could make from France...but seriously, who could refuse chocolate? I had almost everything that was needed, so it was decided that we would make them and that we had to eat them. You know...for education sake! I'm all about diving in and learning about the country. Yeah...big sacrifice here!!

Gather your ingredients first. Notice the French Flag in the background. K made that the day before...and it's necessary to make French Truffles. are just making ordinary truffles. ;o)

Chocolate meet butter. Butter meet chocolate. Can it get any better?

K stirring as they become one delicious pot of goodness.

Are you sniffing right now trying to catch a whiff? This is a case when smell-o-blog would be handy!! You have to chill this for hours. Then you scoop it out and roll it into small balls. Next you roll those in cocoa powder. We didn't get any pictures of that...cuz our hands were busy....and chocolatey.

This is just a few of them. Yeah...our technique wasn't perfect and it shows in the various shapes and sizes, but the taste.... oh the TASTE!! Yes, we love France.

Chocolate Truffles

6 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 cup butter

4 tsp. heavy cream

1 cup confectioners' sugar

4 tablespoons nuts, finely chopped

cocoa powder

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir in the cream and gradually add the sugar and nuts. Then, stir constantly until mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl then cover and refrigerate several hours. When chocolate mixture is firm, form into small balls with your hands. Roll balls in cocoa until covered. Store chocolate truffles in the refrigerator.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

a spot of tea...

When K was born she changed my identity. I was a mom of boys. After three of them, I just figured that I was always going to be a mom of boys. I understood boys. It felt right. Now suddenly...I was a mom of a girl. Gulp! What in the heck do you do with girls? Sure, I was one myself....but I never understood me! How could I raise a .... girl?

Well, one of the first things I did was go shopping for a tea set. Mike went with me and then later my mom joined me in picking out a tea set. We found a cute little store close by that was run by two elderly sisters. They had tea sets galore. However one in particular spoke to me. I brought it home and put it in the china cabinet waiting for the day that we could have tea time. In my mind it was going to be the time to just chill and talk. We could learn a little about manners, have a few little treats...but mainly I wanted it to be a time to connect with her. I hoped that it would be something that K would love and that she would treasure that time we spent together. I started early with her and didn't worry about using my new china set. (we bought extra cups and saucers just in case!) It was for a special time and time spent with her is always special. My plan is to give her the tea set when she gets married and I do hope she has some little girls in her future.

Yesterday was tea time. For the treat, we decided to make some cucumber sandwiches without crusts of course!!

Don't they look yummy? Isn't that tea set cute?

We have ice cubes in our tea cups instead of sugar lumps! We both prefer ice tea on most days. The tea for the day was Mango Black Tea.

Yep, she enjoys our special times.

The treats don't hurt, either. ;o)

Sometimes tea time lasts even longer then the treats though. Isn't that they way it should be?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


What do you do with......


You put them all together and make some yummy....

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Bread
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
6 T. sour cream
3 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
chocolate chips (I didn't measure...just threw some in)

Cream butter and sugar with mixer. Beat in eggs. Mash bananas and add to batter. Beat in sour cream, flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips if using them. our batter into 2 well greased bread pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. The directions call for the longer time, but mine was ready sooner. :)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking forward to spring....

I know it's coming soon. The calendar tells me that in a mere 4 days it will be spring. I'm not sure the weather is on board with that....but there are little signs all around that says it's true. We have had robins galore in our yard and cute little spring flowers poking up here and there.

Of course, I can always go in K's room and feel that summer is already here....

Makes me glad that she loves butterflies!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Learning Geography

This year we are using My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures. I absolutely love their curriculum and the best part does K. Can't go wrong when you both love it!

K needed to learn the countries in Europe. Her assignment was to fill out a map listing about 25 of the countries. We worked on that and it was surprising how quick she was learning them. I told her that she could go play on this geography website that I had found. She was so excited, because she saw her older brother using it the week before when he needed to learn all the countries in Africa for a college class. (she picked up some of those just by watching over his shoulder!)

Anyway, I set the page up for her and then realized that she would have to learn all 46 countries. That did not bother her one bit. In less then an hour she had learned all 46 countries and could fill in the map in 65 seconds! The next day she moved up a few levels and did well there, too.

The true test was when a week after playing the game she was able to do a worksheet that required her to know 12 of those countries on a blank map. I'm ashamed to admit that I had to look at a filled in map to make sure she was correct!!LOL Maybe I should play a few times.

Oh...the site. You want to know the site? It's right here! You can test yourself on all the continents and the levels get progressively challenging. Go ahead... see if you can place all 46 European countries on the beginner level in under 65 seconds.

Just another fun way to learn!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning on the sly....

A while back I found myself at an Used Homeschool Curriculum Fair! I love those fairs!! Over the many years of my life I have discovered things about me. One such thing is that I tend to have a weakness for three things... bargains, books and educational things. Do you see the dangers of me being at an Used Homeschool Curriculum Fair!? can get scary!! However, I was behaved and practiced great self control because that's one of my strengths!! seriously, it was because I only took so much money with me and I was under strict orders to not spend foolishly.

Anyway...I did come away with a few educational bargains and can happily say that I have been able to use everything I got that day. One item in particular has me especially happy and I'm going to share it with you today.

You can find this art appreciation game here. I was able to pick it up for $2.00 and what a bargain that has been.

You can find "The Bath" by Mary Cassatt.

Even this one called "The Old Stagecoach" by Jonathan Eastman Johnson.

There is a sheet in the box that has pictures of all the paintings with information listed. You can find info like: the artist, the type of art, the size of the canvas, the year it was created and what museum has the art.

(Sidenote: notice how we don't have to line our cards up in perfect lines...I know this picture will drive some moms crazy and yet others will think our cards are in too much of an order...isn't it funny how we are all different!!)

One of the games they suggest is Concentration. Now K loves that game. I put a little twist on the game. We can only play with the cards that she knows the name of the painting. Whenever we make a match we have to say the name of the painting to claim the cards. After we played a few times with 10 pairs, I told her that I would play again when there was 12 pairs. And then after a few games with 12 pairs, I upped the minimum again. She is now at 19 pairs and is ready for another jump next time. :) Once she knows all the names of the paintings we will work on knowing the artist. When she has accomplished that we will then start looking at the individual artists starting with whichever painting she likes the most. This is what I call "Learning on the Sly". She is learning and we are partially covering our art requirement...but it is all a game.

The best part is that you can apply this strategy to a lot of different games that you can buy or make.

No tears. It's just F.U.N!

How can you not like a game that includes "Sunny #4" by Alex Katz??