Monday, May 14, 2012

Lego Crayons


Yesterday, our little red turned 3!
The boys picked Legos as their birthday.

We will be working this into their party on Memorial Day Weekend, but, we are also using Legos in this week's activities.

today we took all our broken crayons and made them into Lego crayons. The boys actually both loved peeling the paper and sorting the colors.

Grant is usually not a "craft" kind of guy but he enjoyed this activity and even after Clark left he stayed and continued to help mommy.

Grant wanted red Lego guys. Clark wanted multi-colored Lego blocks. I can't believe that they didn't argue over the selections! They had lots of fun tucking the cut up pieces into the molds. These molds were so worth the purchase.

Mommy made some blocks too :). After they were done they played with new "Legos" for quite some time. Grant loves lining up the Lego crayon guys. We'll use the ones that haven't been used as party favors. I may need to go hide them tonight.


Friday, May 4, 2012

FFA Banquet Cake

Last Saturday we attended the Red Oak FFA Banquet!  My husband lovingly asked if I would make the cake.  I lovingly said yes (completely forgetting a board meeting the day before and an annual report to present). And so . . .

BAM - a new first!  Yes, that is ALL buttercream frosting.  Yes, I piped it all.  I simply don't have the money to get a fancy edible icing paper printer.  If you're wondering that is a 1/2 sheet cake, double layer with filling.

If you look at the photo up close you realize how not so great it looks on close inspection.  However, it looked great if you just looked down the table.  When I was looking for ideas for the boys' birthday cakes I found a few blogs that used Buttercream transfers (just Google Buttercream transfer and you'll find lots of good tutorials including a video from Wilton).

You see, I am NOT artistic.  Regardless of what my middle school art teacher once tried to tell my mom and I at Parent/Teacher conferences one year - I do not have potential artistic talent.  My brother - totally different story - me no.

However, I've been told I'm somewhat creative and very resourceful (thank you internet era).  So this technique fit the bill perfectly.  Basically, you find a coloring book page or simple graphic (admittedly I chose a very intricate design for my first try), reverse the image and pipe it on waxed paper layer by layer.  Put another piece of waxed paper on top and smush it down a bit.  Freeze.  Remove top layer of wax paper, place on cake remove other piece of wax paper and hope you did just the right amount of smush.  Technical - I know.

Grant's cake idea became much more realistic when I realized this is actually possible!

We also took some cake truffles.  Blue and yellow (and yellow insides).  That blue was the Wilton Candy coating blue.  Sometimes it doesn't have to be the exact shade.

Finally, my little helper.  I love that a full sheet pan is nearly as big as he is!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Update

This weekend we traveled to Ames for the VEISHEA parade.  We would have spent more time enjoying and supporting more of the other club/campus activities but the weather turned cold and rainy.

We still enjoyed the time!  We watched the parade with grandma and grandpa and with my brother's family.

Ready to go in my RED & GOLD!

Umbrella fun prior to the parade with cousin Ty.  Funny - the umbrellas were the birthday gift Ty picked out for the boys last year.  We actually use them a lot - he picked a great gift!

I am adorable waiting for the parade to start.

No VEISHEA complete without Cherry Pie!

Added a new treat from the Culinary club - Cyclone popcorn (raspberry flavored).  Tasty!

Addie stayin' warm and snuggly with Uncle Carl.

It was a very big day.

This next photo marks a momentous occasion for our family.  Daddy home to play with kiddos on Iowa FFA State Convention move in day.  He's so relaxed!  All he had to do was get on a bus with his 18 students and head for Ames.

Finally, in sewing news:

Thursday night I did manage to finish up the denim bean bags for the Red Oak FFA elementary day.  They made some bean bag toss games and needed the bean bags.  These should last awhile they were quite durable and I used a strong thread.

I did complete 4 pillowcases for Friday Night Sew In on Friday.  I forgot to get them in the mail today so will need to do that tomorrow.  But they are washed and ready.

This is what I'm working on this evening for Kids Clothes Week Challenge.  Blue and yellow fabrics to make Addie some shirts and pants (the bottom piece is for a little jacket - can't really tell from photo but it is a fun print).  Just finished ironing them and needed to take a break.  Have the pattern cut out and waiting so should get to it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

FNSI Results

Tonight I finished 4 pillowcases during Friday Night Sew In. These will be shipped off to Conkerr Cancer on Monday. I apologize for poor photo quality. But since I won't have time to blog tomorrow I took low quality iPad photos in a poorly lit house tonight and decided to blog from bed.

This is my favorite. I've had this insect fabric forever (and yards of it). I guess the entomologist in me couldn't resist it's appeal! Hopefully someone will love it as much as I do. Since I can no longer just run to town for fabric everything came from my stash. Ha - feels good to clean out some fabrics and have them used to hopefully brighten another's day! I tried to find fabrics that older children/teens may like since the organization website said they had a need for these.

After whipping these up today I have decided to never buy novelty pillowcases for my children again. They were so easy to pull together! If only I could find Angry Bird fabric I know what oldest son would be getting for his birthday. I checked - there is some available but at a very steep price. Oh well, there's some great super hero fabric for a much better price.

Not that you can really tell from the photo but the boys picked out the chocolate fabric (far end). They thought that would make a great pillow for a boy or girl. (and they thought it looked yummy).

After pillowcases I put my plan together for kids clothes to sew next week for the Kids Clothing Week Challenge. Looks like a lot of little Addie things if I can get to it all. Along with finishing some suspenders for the boys.

Thank you dear Lord for our healthy kiddos. We hope these little pieces made with love will bring a smile or two. Please watch over, send peace, and give strength to those who suffer.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Test Kitchen Thursday - Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb season is here again!

Actually, I was all ready to do a post on chocolate cupcakes today.  Don't know what hit me this morning but felt like making a batch of muffins for breakfast.  Did a quick search online before the kiddos woke up.  Wanted something with fruit but didn't have apples, already have a go to blueberry muffin recipe so wanted something new.  Scrolling along up pops rhubarb.  Perfect.  And no, I did not use fresh rhubarb although I easily could have.  I decided that the frozen rhubarb from last year's crop needed to be used up first.  Why is it I put up all this produce and then hoard it through the winter?  Anyway, a new crop of rhubarb will be frozen soon so time to finish up the frozen.

I LOVE rhubarb!  In any form - even raw.  I know - I'm strange.

Here is the recipe I found on (my modifications in red italics)

Yield 12 muffins


  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (didn't have yogurt so used sour cream instead)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg (my hens are laying again so this one was still warm - but truly any egg will do)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced rhubarb (used 2 heaping cups of rhubarb based on others comments)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup crushed sliced almonds (didn't have almonds so substituted oatmeal)
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, oil and egg. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, filling cups at least 2/3 full.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and 2 teaspoons of melted butter. Spoon over the tops of the muffins, and press down lightly.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing (I only cool muffins for 5 minutes or less in pan before removing).

This recipe (with modification) was delicious!  I'm so glad I added the extra rhubarb or I don't think I would have liked it as well. Probably a personal preference on how much rhubarb flavor you want.  Much more though and you'll have complete mush for muffins.  A couple of my muffin bottoms were a bit soggy but this may also be because the boys had to tear into them right away.

Addie has been doing very good with self feeding and likes little crumbled bits of homemade breads and muffins.  No lie, she devoured a whole muffin this morning.  She really liked the pieces with soft rhubarb chunks.  I realize this may be because these are sweet and I really don't give her much that is sweet.  But we are moving towards her eating soft variations of family meals now and she enjoys eating the same things she sees everyone else eating.

Now to figure out if this recipe is worth working on as a State Fair entry.  I've done fairly well with quick breads in the past at the ISF but have never taken muffins.  I may try taking some muffins in addition to the quick breads this year.  They're easy and they freeze and thaw very well so can do them in advance.  With only 3 months and a few weeks to go I'd better start deciding what's fair entry worthy and what isn't.

See already working on uniform sets of 4 :)

Shoot - 2 look great the other 2 are not quite right!  You've no idea how much time is spent (at least for me) reviewing a batch of something for entry looking for not only uniformity but quality. I hem and haw a LOT!

In summary - great recipe - go use some rhubarb and ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blog Spring Cleaning + Some Great Sewing Fun Coming Up

Working on cleaning up the blog today.  Now that another Science Fair is in the books (for the most part) and arrangements are made for the International Science Fair trip (again, mostly) a little more focus can go back to things like keeping the blog updated (more or less).

We are working on Spring Cleaning the house - including a new paint job in the laundry/bath just off the kitchen.  You know, something that started out as simple as moving the freezer and putting up shelves for a pantry becomes a full-blown remodel.  Well as much remodel as one can do while renting.  Pretty much means upgrade = loads of paint.  Anyway, more on that project later.

To keep up with my blog reading I have begun using Flipboard on my iPad.  I love the program.  It also keeps track of news sources, Facebook, Twitter, flickr - most of your social media stuff all in one program.  Getting back into reading blogs I realized I started reading again just in time for two of my favorite things!


This week they have changed the focus.  They have partnered with the organization called Conkerr Cancer. “Giving sick kids a reason to smile.. one pillowcase at a time.” 
The goal for this FNSI is to make pillowcases and send them in.  The organizers of FNSI ask, "We would like to ask each and everyone who participates in the April Friday Night Sew In on April 20th, to make a pillowcase for a critically ill child. Just think of how many children we could make smile if we do this together!"
I'm in!  Check out the fabrics I'm thinking of using for the pillowcases.

Click the link above or the button on the right hand side to join the fun this Friday!


I wish I had more time to sew for my kiddos.  I love this challenge and it's true an hour a day can achieve great things.  Addie's at an age that is so easy to sew for and I have some great simple patterns.  She actually needs some little pants which are super easy so no excuses now.  And Clark loves mommy's pj's - so need to sew him some more comfy pants (he is starting to use serious yardage though these days).

Plus, these blue and gold fabrics need to meet up with needle and thread:

Click the link above or the button on the right hand side to join in next week!  Or just go and look at some of her inspiration blogs - can't believe how creative people are.

 Before all of that sewing fun though I need to finish this project:

Recycled two old pair of jeans (that weren't even usuable as chore clothes anymore).  These are being made into bean bags.  Hubby called in a favor and needs them this Friday for an elementary program the AgEd/FFA is doing.  Gotta love old denim - so many great ways to repurpose.  I may have to use one of my old pairs still sitting around to make Addie some pants.  Blue Denim - Pink thread - oh yeah that could be great! 

Focus Andrea - you must focus!

All for now!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Welcome Little Friends

Saturday morning at 4:00 am receive a text message saying our package has shipped.

Shortly after breakfast that same day at 9:00 am the post master calls saying our package has arrived.

We quickly hustle everyone to the car and 1/2 an hour later our babies are home!

Twenty six baby Turkens (naked neck chickens) and one little exotic chicken arrive. We are not prepared since they were scheduled to arrive the week of the 15th. Usually in the past this means Monday or later. But like all babies they arrive when they're ready.

The boys love holding the babies and constantly sneak off to the back porch to "check" on their chicks. Clark is old enough and gentle enough that I let him help me transfer them and hold them on his own. Grant still needs help to hold gently. He loved holding them all on his lap.

Addie loves to watch the babies too. She gets so excited and starts flapping her arms and bouncing up and down. However, this is her only view of the little ones.

She still enjoys watching from outside the pen. Next time I have her out on the porch I should record her squeals of sheer delight.

And it's not just the young ones that love our little birds. The adults in the house get lots of joy watching the new additions too. Of course if mama cat had her way she'd watch from much closer than the porch window.

These will join the 5 little Rhode Island Reds we picked up at the farm store 3 weeks ago. In 3 more weeks the last of the crew will join them - that's when the turkeys and Barred Rocks are scheduled to arrive.

Ahhh, can't wait to have a nice little flock again.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

This week's kite/wind lesson plan worked out a lot better than January's snow unit (no snow).  In fact, some days there was almost too much wind outside.  But today was perfect for kite flying!

Clark loved holding the kite!  Of couse, he also liked trying to catch the kite's shadow when I flew the kite.

Grant had a mini kite just for him.  They don't fly very high but he didn't care.  Plus, he could actually hold on to it.

Earlier in the week we all went out and purused the grounds for signs of spring.  Clark wanted pictures on the fallen down apple tree limb. That worked well.  Here Addie is rocking her aunt's vintage 80's knit poncho.  I love it - she can't take it off her head.

On our outing we did find some clumps of tulips and a large mass of iris.  To keep in theme with the week we also hung our wind chimes out on the porch - what a beautiful sound they make.  We also decided it was time to hang our bird feeders and fill the bird bath.  This stemmed from the boys sitting at their small table at breakfast time looking out the window and trying to spot birds.  Now with the feeders in easy view of their window we have already started to see some feathered friends.

Clark is becoming a real "cheese" when it comes to photo taking.  He likes to use a silly overdramatic smile.  I try to catch him anawares now when taking photos.

Finally, one last photo. I forgot to post Addie's six month pictures.  Here is 6 month Addie and her bear.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seuss Snacks

Let' play guess the Dr. Seuss book!

Starting top left and going across and down.

  1. Fox in Socks - blue goo, poodle noodles, and three cheese trees
  2. Yes, I even put together a quick centerpiece with a box and socks, some chicks, bricks and blocks. Amazingly, of all Grants many stuffed animals, he does not have a fox. A skunk and a raccoon but no fox.
  3. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - pink ink (strawberry milk) and multi colored fish crackers. And something named Clark but we didn't get him in a park, or in the dark.
  4. Green Eggs and Ham - enough said (Clark loved them)
  5. Green Eggs and Ham - who said the egg jello molds are just for Easter
  6. Bartholomew and the Ooblek - do not EAT! But so much fun!

We've had lots of reading and food fun this week! Who knew a Google web search for Seuss snacks would yield so many ideas. Some of my favorites came from My Delicious Ambiguity.

After making the broccoli "trees" with cheese cubes I realized I could have made a cheese sauce or dip or even just sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. Luckily my boys like raw broccoli and anything stuck together with toothpicks.

Since most of you will read this post tomorrow (Thursday) I thought I would share my go to "poodle" noodles recipe. Otherwise known as Italian noodles. This recipe comes from the 30 Day Gourmet:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package wide egg noodles
  • 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain. Add softened butter in pot, put noodles back in, toss to coat. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.

    As you can see they were a big hit - especially with some peas mixed in.

    Addie can't do noodles yet but she is beginning to enjoy a few small, melt in your mouth finger foods. Addie will be like her brother Grant. She wants to feed herself.


    Yesterday we made Oobleck after reading the book. AWESOME. Basically 1 part water to 1.5 - 2 parts cornstarch. This makes a non-Newtonian fluid. Acts as a fluid when poured, as a solid when force is acted upon it. It's the weirdest stuff. Here's a good site for info.

    Today we worked in some frogs for "leap" day!

    This made Grant happy since he's a big fan of frogs!


    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Something Silly Going On!

    Today we started our Dr. Seuss week. Lots of reading and silliness going on. I love that after giving Clark a hat to color that I printed off, he proceeded to color it (in color pattern order - yes he likes patterning), cut it out, went to the closet, retrieved white construction paper, drew his own hat, colored it and cut it out. Then he asked for help to make the band so he could wear his hat. You see his hat had to have a front and a back! The great thing was his hat was SO much better than the one I printed for him. Much more Seuss looking!

    On Sunday, Alan took the boys out to a neighbor's farm to see their new baby goats.  They had 9+ baby goats.  Technically Alan could count this as a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) visit since it is a family he has in class.

    Look at how CUTE these little guys are (my kiddos too).  These are the same type of goats we have.  Unfortunately it didn't work out to get our girls bred this winter.  So no baby goats for us :(
    We are hopeful to buy a little boy this summer though so we have our own male around come fall.  Because next Spring I want this in my barnyard!

    Addie and I stayed home.  Mommy needed to catch up on work and Addie needed her nap after having her schedule all messed up the day before.  I couldn't resist these silly photos.  She LOVES her exersaucer!  She can make it rock and send everything dancing.

    Recently she discovered the mirror.  She thinks this is great fun to look in.

    She likes the fish to chew on.  Clark also liked chewing on this fish.  Odd to think in just a month or so she'll have outgrown this and our nearly five year old exersaucer will be ready for a yard sale.

    Anyway - just some silliness from our little neck of the woods!  Thanks for stopping by!