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!

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Week in Review

    Here are some of the things we were up to this week.

    Today Addie turned 6 months old!

    Clark experienced the suction power of mud. Little boys just can't resist large mucky puddles.

    We planted our VeggieTales seeds. I realize its a bit early to start seeds but hey we played in soil and that makes for a fun day.

    Filled our peat pots and planted seeds.

    properly labeled each pot.

    set them in warm windowsill with our groundhog's day 6 more weeks of winter philodendron cuttings. Get it "Phil." Plus, my plant really needed a trim job.

    We also celebrated National FFA Week. Posted fun flashback photos on Facebook.

    Attended the Red Oak FFA Alumni soup supper and auction last night. Donated some cupcakes, cake pops and a small 6" round 3 layer cake. And of course I didn't take any cake photos.

    Tuesday on our trip to Ames I picked up some awesome blue and yellow fabric.

    In honor of President's Day we examined and sorted coins. The boys loved this activity all week!

    And today we went into town and judged the SW Iowa Homeschool Exchange's Science Fair. Some really great research projects. I admit I haven't actually judged a science fair in a long time. It was fun and the boys played with some other little people. Very impressed when a 4 and a 6 year old stood up in front of everyone and each explained the science concept they had chosen. Looks like next year Clark could do a little project to explain too. Such fun!

    Off to ankeny and Des Moines tomorrow. Alan is judging Proficiency Awards. The kids and I are going to hang out and maybe do the science center. Addie has 6 month photos scheduled in afternoon. Possibly we will also be adding a hamster to the family - we'll see. Clark wants a hamster, Grant wants pigs. We told Grant not until spring is officially here and we build shelter for them. Grant is adamant about the pigs.


    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Computer Bug = Unplanned Day

    Yesterday ended up being one of those unplanned days.  You know - wake up with all these plans and do something completely different.
    Here's the general timeline:

    6 am - wake up to do some work
    6:01 am - realize computer has a nasty bug
    Postive: I didn't try to overcome it and/or put in credit card info
    6:02 am - realize I left the external hard drives plugged into the computer; this means all my photos
    7:15 am - call my boss to let him know
    Positive: My boss is a former farm boy and I know he'll be up this early
    7:30 am - feed the baby
    Positive: she makes me smile even on a chaotic day
    8:00 am - start packing all the stuff for the kids and I to head to Ames
    One day - so MUCH stuff!
    Positive: boys are so excited to go on a road trip
    9:00 am - load car and leave
    Positive: Alan had the mechanic listen to car the day before and thought it would be OK to drive
    9:30 am - stop in Villisca for gas and donuts
    So, the plan was to have pancakes on Pancake Day/Fat Tuesday. 
    Positive: German tradition was to make donuts and deep fry in fat to use up the fat.  Ended up keeping with German tradition.
    11:30 am - arrive in Ames
    Positive: who doesn't like a day in Ames
    11:35 am - take care of some business at bank
    Positive: we needed something out of the lockbox and this helped us retrieve faster than planned
    11:50 am - get boys some lunch
    Positive: they rarely go out to eat anymore so this was a HUGE treat for them even if it was McDonalds
    12:00 pm - take computer to work
    Have work done on computer - sigh of relieve that no files are harmed but need to kill time while it searches for bugs.
    1:00 pm - go to church to change membership and visit with pastor
    Positive: it was nice to visit
    1:30 pm - head out to do some shopping
    Why can't I say no when my children ask for books - it is my one weakness!  We picked up a couple new Dr. Seuss books.  These will come in handy next month when we do a Dr. Seuss unit celebrating his birthday.
    Positive: we found some VeggieTale garden seeds and decided that would make a fun project to try at home
    3:15 pm - go back to pick up clean computer
    3:30 pm - leave Ames
    4:20 pm - going through Urbandale; realize Grant doesn't have teddy
    Positive: could go back in my head to the exact moment I didn't remember seeing the bear.  Grant allowed Paster to give Teddy a hug; boys started playing; don't remember bear after that
    4:22 pm - pull off road and call church
    4:25 pm - teddy is found; turn around and head back to Ames
    5:15 pm - leave Ames for 2nd time in one day
    Positive: Clark loved the extra time playing on my iPad - he was super happy it is travel worthy! Plus, he took care of my Smurf village all day :)
    6:30 pm - stop in DeSoto for fuel; end up feeding kids and using potty
    7:00 pm - on the road again
    7:30 pm - stop in Adair for potty
    Ah - traveling with a newly potty trained two year old.
    Positive: he told me 1 mile before Exit to the nice new rest stop at Adair.  AWESOME! Special bonus - family bathroom (I love places with family restrooms).
    7:45 pm - Addie not happy after waking up last two stops
    Positive: learn Addie loves VeggieTales Music and quiets her immediately - especially the Polka music type songs.  Good little German girl.
    9:00 pm - arrive home; daddy puts all to bed - including mommy.  It's a long day with 3 little ones in tow.
    Positive: the boys didn't care about all my plans that went awry; they just had a fun day out with mom and mom ends up with a "near loss" teddy story for Grant (now they each have a story).

    Didn't get around to making these Mardis Gras cupcakes from 
    Mardi Gras Butter Rum cupcakes
    NOTE: if you want to Pin this PLEASE go to her website and pin it directly from there!

    Made them tonight.  Still need to make glaze and frost but so far so good.  Click her photo to check out the recipe!  The amount of rum does remind me of the heavy hand of my German host mom when she added liquor to cakes.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Grant & Daddy

    We've recently acquired some photos of Alan from when he was around Grant's age.

    Check out the classic Mr. peanut shirt!
    I totally get it now!

    Grant looked at this picture (above) on the table today and said, "That's ME mommy!"

    My reply, "No, that's daddy when he was your age."

    Grant (with face in a pout), "Nuhuh, that IS me!"

    Decided this was a battle to just let go.

    This next photo is an expression I see on Grant's face all the time!

    Oh yeah, he's got his daddy's looks, but his orneriness and big brown eyes come from his mommy :) - not that he could really be considered ornery (but he has his moments).


    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Test Kitchen Thursday - Blueberry Muffins


    This is a recipe I have been working on for awhile now.  It has started to become a Saturday morning tradition.  This is one yummy Blueberry Muffin.  It bakes nicely, tastes wonderful (especially the crunchy topping) and it passes the freezer test (freezes and thaws well).

    This recipe came from All Recipes.


    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    3/4 cup White Sugar

    1/2 teaspoon Salt

    2 teaspoons Baking Powder

    1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

    1 egg

    1/3 cup Milk

    1 cup fresh blueberries


    1/2 cup White Sugar

    1/3 cup all-purpose flour

    1/4 cup Butter (cubed)

    1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

    2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

    3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

    4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

    Some things I do that differ:

    • Used frozen berries; picked fresh last summer and frozen fresh - do NOT thaw berries first if using frozen; just add them in frozen
    • Mix up the crumb topping before starting the muffins - make sure butter really mixes in and clumps other ingredients; use cold butter
    • Line tins with liners and spray the liners
    • recipe says it yields 8, I always end up with more
    • Let them sit in tins for 5 minutes before trying to remove - topping is still pretty crumbly but yummy

    I haven't perfected doubling the recipe yet but that is my next challenge with this recipe.

    My apologies for the horrible photo.  Still getting used to this new kitchen and the total lack of natural light.  I know the first thing judges say at the Iowa State Fair is that we eat with our eyes first.  That's why I try to provide nice photos but just didn't get results I wanted on this one.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Blogging at lightning speed

    I am giddy with joy with our new Internet provider and the SPEED they provide.  My city cousins may still find it slow but not by much.  Web pages with loads of pictures magically appear immediately.  What a wonderful Valentine's gift.  In fact, since hubby wasn't feeling good last night I spent more time with my iPad once kids were in bed than with him. Sorry dear- you really are still the love of my life xoxo!

    Yesterday was a lovely day.  The boys and I spent the afternoon outside in the snow before it all melted away today.  Even after Clark went in Grant wanted to keep playing.  We dug in the snow, built snowmen, went sledding.  Grant loved having mommy all to himself.  That was probably the best gift I could give our middle child.  His gift to me melted my heart.  As he used his little garden trowel to dig in the snow he turned to me and said, "mommy, you'll always be my friend." {tear} You must understand from little Grant this is quite an admission.  He is very careful with expressing such feelings.  In my heart I said a prayer hoping this remains true, knowing that I must be a parent first not a friend.  To Grant I replied, "I'll always love you, too."

    My hubby also did a very special thing. He made a Chinese pork stir fry out of his new Cook's Illustrated magazine (thanks mom - we love this gift).  Oh, it was soooooo good.  He topped it off with his delicious creme brûlée.

    This week, little Addie has gifted us with becoming a child who can move herself around the house.  It may not be graceful but it works.  She can travel whole rooms!

    Mommy - look at me!

    Watch me roll!

    Break time - time to chew on some toes!

    I will discover what are in these boxes.

     Success! And I see a doorway.

     MOMMY, I'm stuck!!!


    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Little Bitty Baby

    Hadn't posted Addie photos in awhile.


    Such a sweet girl.

    Who can fit her entire fist or her entire foot in mouth!

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Test Kitchen Thursday - Search for the Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

    My search for the ultimate chocolate cookie recipe ended with this Taste of Home online recipe! 

    For Thursday night's FFA meeting/Parent Demonstration Night, I made blue velvet cupcakes with yellow cream cheese frosting.  

    Such fun!  The recipe I used was the red velvet cupcake from BHG that I found a few years ago.  Check it out - another great cake recipe!  The article always mentioned one should try serving them with little chocolate heart cookies.  Decided this year I would try that new twist.  Drat, now I'm hooked on these little chocolate cookies.

    Just look at the cute little things.  Wait, how did this cookie get in my hand?  Even my husband, who is not a fan of chocolate,liked them.  And yes, they come with the teenage crowd's stamp of approval too.  Passed the Grant taste test - although I think he'd eat anything chocolate.  

    I was somewhat hesitant to try them since there was one pretty bad review but the recipe seemed so simple and easy.  Glad I went with my instincts.  Taste of Home rarely steers me wrong.  Clark & Grant LOVED cutting out cookies.  The dough was really nice to work with.  

    This recipe done as written is easy and delicious.  The only things I did that might differ were:

    • Added 1/2 teaspoon salt - because I used unsalted butter
    • Used Dutch process cocoa (adds a lot to chocolate flavor in my opinion)
    • Rolled out using a combination of flour and cocoa to keep from sticking to counter
    • Placed on parchment paper on pan to bake
    • Because they were so small (mini cutter) only took about 5 minutes to bake - so depending on size and oven watch closely and check early


    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • Directions
    • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until easy to handle.
    • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a cookie cutter. Place on greased baking sheets.
    • Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Cool for 2-3 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
    •  Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.


    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    What's up?

     Lego person investigates.

    Yes, this little Lego person watches for interesting things going on in our classroom. Unfortunately there are too many dead flies in the windowsill that keep his interest. Blech - disgusting I know.  No matter how much we clean this window the flies return. But, that's a post for a different day (that's only if you want my entomology sex lesson).


    We started our Valentine/heart unit on Monday. This so far has been the boys' favorite activity!  Candy heart color sorting.  They dutifully sorted and graphed their findings before eating.

    Clark graphed his findings and then Grant's.  I've noticed we need to work more on greater and less than concepts with Clark.  Last month I started Clark on some kindergarten lessons and he has been responding well.  In the afternoon Clark uses my iPad for some learning games (and some Angry Birds). He loves Teach Me Kindergarten and I love it because it gives me an easy way to see what he needs help with.

    After much prayer, research, discussion and more prayer we have decided to continue home schooling.  This is a personal decision that we believe is right for our family.  I'm not going to go into our reasons on the blog, but would be happy to discuss them one on one.  We know this means some sacrifice - some things just have to give way (like never having a beautifully clean house) and potentially some criticism from colleagues since hubby works in a public school but we are ready to stand by our decision.  There is a lot of support for home schoolers in the area which is good.  

    Right now we are using Raising Rock Stars preschool which is an awesome bible based curriculum written by a home schooler. Has some really good activities for any preschooler. We also incorporate fun and interesting units depending on the season or what the boys have interest - like the Star Wars Lego unit I'm putting together for sometime in March. And of course we read A LOT!  Sometimes best laid plans fall short though - like my cool snow and snowman units we did in January with no snow!  

    But we could still eat snowmen! Note lack of snow out the window. 



    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    iPad test run - Blogsy

    Last week I tried a different blogging app which did NOT work.  So, this week I'll try again using Blogsy.  It is an app I had to purchase but if it works it will be well worth it!

    Here we go! I showed you the iPad cover I made for Alan.  Here is the cover I made for myself. Not quite as impressive but I still like it and it all came from my stash and scrap bag.

    I did a ruffle/gathered front reworking a clutch pattern I found last year.

    You can see on the back was my first attempt at free motion quilting.  Ha! Not great, but it was fun.  Obviously I need more practice and a lesson in thread tension.

    Emailed my sister some fabric swatches this weekend to see if any tripped her trigger.  These things really go together rather quickly.  There are some great ideas and inspiration on Etsy, too.

    Here is the fabric I plan to make into my second cover. I would have used this the first time (this fabric is very me) but I only had a fat quarter.  Finally found a yard on Etsy and snapped it up.  Since it is out of print it's getting harder to find.  It arrived last week. Now I need a trip to the store for more batting {sigh}.  That will have to wait for a run to Council Bluffs.