Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oklahoma City Memorial

Over the Memorial Day weekend DR, the kids and I spent the weekend in Oklahoma City with family. (More posts on that later!!) Yesterday before we started the 4 1/2 hour drive home we stopped by the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I'd first visited the memorial 9 years ago and it was just as touching now as it was before.

168 chairs represent the victims who lost their lives on April 19, 1995

at 9:02 a.m. the blast occurred

part of the surviving wall of the Murrah Building

photos of the bomb site.

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Marker Monday - Easy Plaster Sculptures

I think all kids should have the chance to create sculpture. However, sculpture can be a real mess and there are lots of parents out there who'd rather just avoid sculpture activities altogether. I know parents who don't even like their kids to play with Play Dough! But such tactile activities are important for kids' brain development, plus....it's fun.

I found a sculpture activity that has very little mess or clean up that is great for all ages...which is always the sign of a good activity for our house.

Pour 1/2 cup of powdered plaster in a ziploc bag. Add to that 1/4 cup of warm water. If you have bigger kids you may want to double the quantities. Squeeze the air out of the baggie and seal it tightly. Put the first baggie into another baggie and squeeze all the air out again and seal. Double bagging prevents a mess from a busted bag.

Then the kids do the rest. The water and plaster need to be squeezed and worked together until it is smooth inside the bag. The plaster can be worked for 20 minutes or so before it begins to thicken. Then the plaster can be 'shaped' and poked.

A lot of kids probably won't have the attention span to play with their plaster for 20 minutes straight but remind them to check it occasionally. After the plaster begins to harden remind them that they need to leave it alone so it doesn't turn into a crumbly mess. As it hardens they can feel how the plaster heats up as it sets.

Leave the plaster to sit overnight and remove the baggies in the morning.

The creases from the bags may show up.

The plaster sculpture can be left alone or painted with craft paint.

A great tactile experience with very little mess.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Devotions-

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Psalm 91:3-6

In case you weren't watching the weather this week, (ha) there were some big and crazy storms running through Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Luckily our little corner of Kansas was safe but my thoughts and prayers are with those who've been affected by the storms. Especially Joplin, MO.

This was a view of Kansas City earlier in the week.
Wow! What an amazing yet terrifying sight.

Even though the storms passed us by, for the most part, that doesn't mean we weren't preparing ourselves for the possibility of a tornado. My boys were doing so well to help me prepare our basement. They hauled down the emergency kit along with special toys and blankies and plenty of snacks and plenty of water. When I thought we were all prepared Yap came rushing up "for books" he said. "What kind of books?" I asked a bit harshly. The last thing I needed was to get hit in the side of the head with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows in the middle of a tornado. That's a mighty heavy book!

"Mom, we need our Bible." he replied seriously. Okay, I felt about an inch tall at that point. Of course we needed our Bible.

But in the worst of the weather, which wasn't so bad as other parts of the country, I turned to Psalm 91 for comfort. When my mind was full of potential danger, destruction and injury I was reminded "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge". God will protect us if only we have faith in him.

Thank You for protecting me and my family God. Thank You for the peace You bestowed upon me in a time of anxiety. Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Foody Friday - My new favorite bread

I never thought I'd like making homemade bread. I never thought I'd find a homemade bread that is very much like store bought bread. I never thought I'd get DR to eat much homemade bread. I never thought I'd rather make bread than buy bread.

That was all before my friend gave me this recipe. Now I'm making two loaves of bread every 2 or 3 days.

Healthy Homemade Bread by Tanna Richard, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Tanna says, "I developed this recipe because I needed a tasy bread that would be easy on the budget and easy to prepare at home. As a busy mom of three young children, I really wanted to make our own bread for helath and economic reasons. The problem was that many recipes I found really didn't replicate the taste and texture of the store bough breads that my family enjoyed. So, I developed this recipe, keeping an eye to the taste and texture and trying to add additional bits of packed nutritional value. The produced bread far surpassed any bread from teh store and with the time saving methods I incorporated, it is faster to make than loading the kids in the van to go buy the bread!"

Healthy Homemade Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
(when I don't have wheat germ I sub in whole wheat flour and it works just fine)
1/2 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
1 T salt
1 T yeast
2 1/4 c. very warm water
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. canola oil
4-4 1/2 cups bread flour
(I use all purpose flour, again, it works fine.)

In mixing bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, salt and yeast. Stir in water, honey, and oil, beat 2 minutes. Gradually stir in 3 cups bread flour to make a slightly sticky dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead in enough remaining flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Knead 8-10 minutes by hand or with dough hook. 

Divide dough in half. To shap; form dough to fit into 2 oiled bread pans; press down to fill pan. Smooth top. Cover loaves with damp towel; let rise in a warm place until double, about 1-1 1/2 hours. 

Bake in preheated 350 oven 35-40 minutes or til golden brown.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

She is One Tough Cookie!

This is my wonderful Grandma B! She's the one of the right. The good looking dude on the left is my cousin. In case you were confused.

 Grandma has a great sense of humor, in case you can't tell by her expression! And she makes the best cookies!! Whenever I go to her house she always has cookies waiting and I always eat enough to make myself sick. Grandma is really young at heart too. She earned her college degree in her late 50's and taught preschool the last few years. Grandma is on Facebook all the time and I know plenty of women her age that won't even try to get on the Internet.

But I'm not writing about her baking abilities or Facebook status today. Grandma has had it pretty tough this year. She's become the caregiver for Grandpa who has Parkinsons and they've had a rough winter dealing with his illness. Grandma has also had other tough family circumstances that she's had to deal with this past year or two but Grandma is a strong lady and doesn't give up!

She showed her strength and resilience over the weekend, or so I'm told. Grandma is back in Indiana and has been a farmers wife for years. Even though Grandpa can't farm anymore there is still a bit of farming that gets done at their place with the help of family. Over the weekend Grandma was helping hitch the disc to the tractor and got her finger smashed. Luckily the ER doctor was able to amputate it and she was back home within a few hours.

When Mom told me about it my first concern for Grandma was not her physical condition. I've known lots of people who've lost fingers and they've healed quickly. No, I was worried about Grandma's spirit. Was she depressed? Was she mourning the loss of her finger?

I should have know better than to worry about such things. Grandma's too tough. In the ER she was more worried if someone was taking care of Grandpa! And she said, "At least I didn't lose my whole hand. It's just a finger; I can live without a finger." She was smiling and chatting when she got home.

Wow Grandma! You are my hero!

Grandma, I wish I could be with you and help you with dishes and making dinner and all that stuff that you are probably doing that you should be taking a break from. But I'm 900 miles away so I'll be with you in spirit.

So Grandma, I present you the Tough Cookie Award!!

You are One Tough Cookie Grandma!

We are so proud of you and know that losing a finger sure won't slow you down one bit. I'm proud to have you as my grandma and I love you! Hang in there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Last week DR was out of town for four days. Usually this isn't a big deal; I even look forward to some evenings where I can fix pancakes for dinner and watch a girlie movie in the evening without DR complaining.

But on Thursday the sky looked like this. I wasn't too concerned because we weren't expecting any rain. I figured it was a storm just blowing past. It was pretty though.

And then, lo and behold, it started raining! Yay! I didn't have to water my garden that night. I even took a picture of the rain to prove to everyone that we really do get some rain in SW Kansas..ha!

But then...clink, clink, clink. Hail!

I ran to the backyard....more hail...and it. kept. coming!

My backyard was full of hail! I'd never seen so much hail in my life!
Back in Indiana I can only remember a few times that it ever hailed and then it left behind barely a handful of little ice balls.

Funny, that a bunch of high school kids actually came out to play in it! Of course when the hail came in hard they ran back inside. Wimps.

But I admit, being at home by myself with the kids, I got a bit wimpy too. It probably didn't help that the boys and I had recently read that tornadoes often come with hail. I packed a bag of clothes and food and water and flashlights and had it stashed in the basement. And I was glued to the back door...just waiting to hear a tornado! I probably would have been smarter to listen to the weather radio instead huh?

It rained for an hour and hail fell on and off that whole time. No tornadoes or hail damage. Just a very wet garden, thank goodness.

But what was really funny about this whole episode was when I talked to my neighbors the next day. I was expressing how there was "so much hail in my backyard" and "how  I was waiting for a tornado", my neighbors just looked at me shocked. "That kind of hail storm is normal here! It happens all the time.", they said.

So, one more thing about Kansas that is very different from good old Indiana. Hail is normal! But just because it's normal doesn't mean I have to like it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fizzing Sidewalk Paint and the Foaminator

We've only been out of school for a week but we've been having a ball enjoying some outside fun. I'm just sharing a couple things, of many, that we've done this week.

A friend of mine sent me a recipe for Fizzing Sidewalk Paint that is so much fun!

Take one box of baking soda and mix in 1/2 cup of cornstarch. Then mix in a cup of hot water and stir. Add food coloring of your choice. Then let it dry, which it does very quickly. The cornstarch/baking soda will want to settle to the bottom of the mixture so continue to stir it up occasionally. You can keep this overnight but you'll have a heck of a chunk waiting to get stirred up the next day. My advice; use it all when you make it. Paint your sidewalk...or your feet...or a wall....

Now the fun part! Let the paint dry and take a spray bottle filled with vinegar and spray your paint....it will fizz like a soda pop! Sorry, no good pictures of this. I tried but spraying vinegar and photography is a multitask I haven't yet mastered. Actually I thought this paint was really good paint and a lot of fun without the vinegar.

Next....The Foaminator!!

My friend Melissa made a bunch of these for our toddlers play group. Remember! Don't inhale! The littlest ones in our group had some trouble with this :)

Cut off the bottom of a water bottle and cover with part of an old terry cloth towel or rag. Attach the rag with a rubber band. (I don't know if any other type of fabric will work on this or not. Let me know if you try something different.) Pour a couple tablespoons of dish soap in a bowl with just a little water. Place the towel covered end in the soap. Don't swish it around, just dip it in and pull it out.

Then BLOW!! Instant foam! Actually it looks like frog spawn to me but still fun!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Devotions - Prayer

(borrowed from 1 minute a day Instant Inspiration for the Busy Life)

It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

For 188 years, the Indiana state legislature began each session with payer. but a 2005 ruling by a federal judge declared that no prayers could be offered that made overt Christian references. In response, the legislature complied with a "pre-approved prayer" and sought to have the decision overturned. Less than two years later, an appeals did overturn the ban on using Jesus' name.

One judge remarked, "This victory reminds us and our legislators that we should never surrender one of our most valuable rights..."

The Bible confirms that legislative ruling - God invites us to pray to Him in Jesus' name any time and from any place. He also promises that those who seek Him will find him. No circumstance or judicial ruling can separate God from His people.

Prayed Today?

Dear God, Thank You for reminding us that no one can control our relationship with You. No matter whether public prayer is denied us, private prayer in our hearts can never be taken away. Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

LARD or How to get rid of a splinter painlessly.


I kicked a cactus the other day and got a splinter. (Go ahead and laugh, I know you want to.) Who kicks a cactus?? Yep...that would be me. It was in the way.

So with a small cactus splinter stuck deep in my toe I dug out the old reliable tweezers and sewing needle and started to dig. No luck, I couldn't get it out, it was bedtime but my toe was still hurting. Time to go to tried and true reliable splinter removal system.


Yes, Lard.

By the way have you ever done a Google Image search for the word LARD? There are some pretty interesting (and disturbing) images at the end of that search.

(Go ahead and open that other tab and search it...you know you want to.)

  Lard? The secret to family happiness?

  Lard? The secret to love and youth?

  I just think this one is cute! 

Really?? I don't know that LARD is the answer to happiness, beauty or family but I DO KNOW that LARD WILL GET RID OF SPLINTERS. Really, they do. REALLY!!!!

I don't know where this remedy came from but when I was a kid my mom would put a mixture of lard and flour and a band-aid on our splinters overnight and by morning the splinter would be gone. Not butter, not shortening but LARD.

I've used this on all three of my kids and my own cactus splintered infested foot and it works. IT WORKS! I don't know how it works but it does. I'm guessing this is an old farmer's wife's remedy passed down through the generations. Cause, you know, farmers' wives usually had a good supply of LARD sitting around.

The only drawback to using LARD as for splinter removal? You have to buy a lot of it! Lard doesn't come in small packages. I have had two pounds of LARD in my freezer for six months....just in case of splinters. And thank goodness because have you ever seen the expression on a kid's face when you come at them with a sharp needle with the intention of digging around a splinter? Yeah, I don't know many who sit still quietly for that kind of doctorin'.

Splinters. We all get em. Now guy buy yourself some LARD cuz who knows, maybe you'll find pure bliss in the grocery LARD aisle!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Foody Friday - Dill Potato Wedges

I found another use for all of my dill seed!

Dill Potato Wedges

4-5 potatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1-2 T. olive oil
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 t. dill seed

Toss potatoes in bowl of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Toss in bowl with cheese and dill seed. Serve warm.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Garden in Photos.

What a difference a month makes! A month ago we planted a garden. Yes, it was too early but we are finally seeing the results of our patience, some replanting, buying plants and LOTS of watering.

We've watered our garden nearly everyday in the past month. I still don't water it as much as I should. DR usually does the watering. I grew up in humid Indiana and I just keep thinking that I'll drown those poor plants with all the water they get but then I have to remind myself there isn't much moisture in the ground here and not much to expect from the sky. It's unbelievable, the past month, to hear of all flooding in parts of the country yet, here, we are in drought conditions. I think SW Kansas is always in drought conditions. It's hard to keep moisture in the soil when the wind dries out any moisture we might receive. 

Anyway, back to my garden. These aren't the tomatoes we started in the house. Nah, those died!  I can't keep anything alive in the house..lol. These are from a local greenhouse and boy are they big and sturdy! There are already small tomatoes on a few!!! I'll have Grandma's Tomato Soup before I know it!!

Spinach...I love spinach. I freeze a lot of it.

This is OKRA. I've never grown okra, it's too cold to grow in northern Indiana, so I'm told. I've eaten it twice. I don't even know what it will look like. I've been told it's sticky when you pick it. Okra...a gardening adventure!

These are my rogue cucumbers. They are growing six feet away from where I planted them. I blame the Kansas wind cuz it couldn't be MY fault that they've moved.

Beans!!! Yay! Look how thick they are?
Oh,  fresh beans ham and potatoes I can almost taste you!

We have popcorn too. The boys and I have had so much fun eating popcorn from our own garden the past few years.

And a couple of rogue watermelon. They were supposed to be growing out of that hill behind them. I don't know why we planted watermelons; DR insisted. He used to grow acres of them in southern Indiana when he was a kid. I don't think they'll make it here but DR will probably prove me wrong.

So far it doesn't look like much but there is lots of potential there!!
I'm sure this post was boring to read, if you made it to the end that is! But I'm excited about my little plot of earth.

I love gardening; I think I get it from my dad. I remember how he'd come home from working all day to working in the garden for an hour or so. I never understood when I was a kid why he spent so much time in the garden but now I realize the garden was where he could unwind and relax. And it's become that for me too.
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