Monday, October 31, 2011

Marker Monday - The Giant UpCycling Crafting FAIL!

I recently completed a big giant crafting FAIL! 
And it all started with this shirt. 

I found this shirt listed on Ebay and thought it was really cute but I'm too much of a cheapskate to buy a shirt I thought I could make. 
Heck, DR had just finished cleaning out some button up dress shirts from his closet that would be perfect for this project. 

THIS... what I recently finished. 
An upcycled shirt from 3 of DR's old ones. 

(insert tangent thought here)

Where did the snooty phrase "upcycle" come from? What's wrong with the word "recycle"? Does recycling make people think of Dirty Dumpster Divers and therefore the word "upcycle" is used to imply a more high class and socially acceptable way of retrieving craft materials? Help me out here...the term confuses me. 

I thought I could just make it up as I went. Big mistake. I should have had a picture of that Ebay shirt in front of me at all times. But I didn't and half way through this project i realized I had a problem. 

It looks like a maternity shirt! 

And I don't know WHAT I was thinking when it came to those sleeves? Do I have a secret wish to be Lady Arwen? 

Now THOSE are some sleeves! 

I even tried putting a tie on the back thinking it might help. 
Nope, still stupid looking. There's no hope for this shirt. I threw it away right after I took these pictures. I just have to admit to myself, I may be able to create a lot of things from scratch, but with clothes I had better start out with a pattern. 

Or else I just turn out looking like a pregnant elf. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Devotions - God is your coworker.

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 Corinthians 6:1

I came across this one verse recently that really got me to thinking, "I am God's co-worker." These words were originally written by Paul to solve problems within the church in Corinth. I imagine those problems probably involved bickering and disagreements within the church. Maybe someone in Corinth was getting too bossy trying to tell everyone just how the church needed to be run. 

Back when I was teaching, my building was pretty small with a faculty of roughly 15 teachers. For the most part we stayed in our own little rooms, going about our own routine and not bothering to even know what our "co-workers" were doing. But then, a few years after I started teaching, a new teacher just out of college, a bit younger than me, joined the faculty. Her energy and enthusiasm was contagious! She convinced all the 8th grade teachers to work together for two weeks (along with the roughly 100 8th grade students) for a Christmas project that would include all subjects; math, art, English, social studies that would then be presented to the elementary, 6th and 7th grades right before vacation. 

It was a wonderful time to be teaching. Working with the other teachers to help our students create a presentation was rewarding and I never heard any of the faculty complain about the change in their schedule or routine. 

Yeah, God is Boss. But he's working right along with us. Jesus wasn't on this earth to boss the rest of us around to get things done. He walked beside us, talked and worked beside us..and still does. 

How do you view God? Is his work separate from yours? Are you upset at the idea of changing your routine and schedule to do God's work? Or do you view God's work and ideas as energetic and exciting? Is God your boss or is he your co-worker toiling right along beside you? 

Dear God, Thanks for reminding us that although You are the Boss, you are willing to work right along beside us. Help us work with You rather than against You. Amen. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pinterest! Why oh why haven't I done this before NOW??

Okay, I've heard the buzz about Pinterest for awhile now but honestly I didn't really understand what all the hype was about. And, really, I hadn't found the time to really get on the site and take a look. Until yesterday. 

I was at the library and the librarian and I were chatting about craft projects for the after school program. She was telling me of all the ideas she'd found on Pinterest. 

"Are you on Pinterest?" she asked, "Oh, you NEED to get on there. It's just up your alley!" 

Hmmm, I found a few minutes to check it out. Wow! Where has this been all my life. Remember when I blogged about my Visual File awhile back? Pinterest is like a visual file online! An idea organizer for as many different thoughts and ideas that you want to organize!! Food, books, clothes, Christmas gifts, ideas for your home...anything that is visual! 

I've realized Pinterest solves a couple of my organization problems. 

Crafts for Kids

Photo of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pin
First, I am notorious for seeing an awesome craft idea online, copying a picture of the craft into a Pictures folder on my hard drive. But, once the kids and I do the project and I want to blog about it, I can't remember where I saw the idea and therefore can't give credit to the person I got the idea from. With Pinterest I hit my pin button and I have a photo and a link to the original site. 

Secondly, Recipes!! I love cruising online for recipes. Usually when I find one I'll print it off and put it on my range hood with a magnet until I can get around to fixing the dish. Once I cook it up, and it's a success, I put it in a red recipe binder. The problem is I end up with months worth of recipe ideas gathering dust on my range hood and I bunch of recipes stuffed into a binder without any organization. And then I seem to never be able to find a recipe I really want. But with Pinterest I can organize all the recipes online with a direct link to where I first found them. No more lost recipes! 

Thirdly, I am such a visual person. Words do very little for me; I have to hear someone's name a dozen times before I remember it. (Ironic that I blog isn't it?) With Pinterest all my ideas or organized visually. I just need a glance at my boards to see what I need to find. No files or oddly coded names to sift through. 
Follow Me on Pinterest button

I expected getting online and setting up to be hard. The thing you need first, after you login, is a Pinterest button! You put up the Pinterest button on your Google toolbar and when you are cruising around, find an idea, hit your button and instantly you can file it on any of your 'boards' it needs to go on without having to open the Pinterest website and copy and pasting pictures or websites. Just the click of a button. 

For me Pinterest is a perfect way to organize ideas, but that's not all! You can follow your friends, just like Twitter or Google Friend Connect, and see what ideas they are pinning on their boards....and then your steal their ideas and repin them on your own boards. I even have a Follow me on Pinterest button on the right side of my blog. 

Okay, I'm now addicted to Pinterest! A great way of sharing ideas with us folks who are verbally and literary challenged. Just give me a picture that's all I need! 

Are you on Pinterest? Put your name in the comments below and I'll follow you too! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two of my Favorite People

I snapped this photo last week of two of my favorite people. It's currently my favorite photo of these two.
She is sure Daddy's little girl.
And look...they are both smiling at the same time!!
That rarely happens.

Foody Friday - Witch Fingers!

Halloween is almost upon us! Need a spooky snack? 
How about Witch Fingers? They look yummy don't they?

I love avocados, but the original recipe called for some ingredients that would be hard for me to come by; goat cheese and prosciutto. But I made a few substitutions with stuff I had on hand and these were still a great little snack! 

Slice avocado into four pieces and remove pit. Gently toss in lemon juice. I skipped the lemon juice because I didn't have any. The lemon juice is probably just to prevent browning anyway. 

Instead of goat cheese I added a dollop of cream cheese to each hole. 

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder. 

Instead of prosciutto (which I'm not sure what it is or if I could even find in this part of the world) I wrapped slices of ham lunch meat around the avocado to make eerie witch fingers! They are sooooo yummy! And best of all, Yahoo and I are the only avocado eaters in the family so this makes a perfect lunch for us while the boys are at school. 

Halloween is only 3 days away. What other spooky snacks have you been making?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Christmas is coming!

I know, I's not even Halloween yet!! 

But I've had to get a big chunk of our Christmas shopping done early because we'll be going home to Indiana over Thanksgiving. At the same time we'll celebrate Christmas with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. 

This year I think I've done ALL my Christmas shopping, so far, online.   Now I can't imagine Christmas shopping without the Internet. Three kids and a shopping mall? That's the Nightmare before Christmas. 

Since I've gotten lots of shopping already done, and hopefully you all aren't as crazy as I am and still have some shopping to do I thought I'd share my favorite kid gift finds. 


FreePlay KIT for ONE (65pcs)
I am SOOO excited to get this Christmas morning....eeerrr, I mean watch my kids receive this Christmas morning. MAKEDO is a set of hinges and connectors that you can use to make practically anything from scraps laying around; cardboard, egg cartons, name it I bet it can be made with these. 


These writing tools have a magnetic pen and a ball in each letter/number so that moves when you trace the pen over it. 


BravoGlow in the Dark HEXBUG NanoHEXBUG Spider: Blue
These robotic bugs are great because they look and act high tech but for a low price. The smallest Nano Bugs (in the middle) go for about $6 while the remote control bugs go for about $20. There are lots more models on their website too. 

Maxim 4 Sided Playhouse

Maxim 4 Sided Playhouse w/ Figure
This playhouse has no hardware. The whole thing slides together and is open on four sides. It slides apart easily for easy storage....or easy moving. Yahoo has been playing with a house similar to this for ages at our playgroup. What I like the best is more than one child can play at the same time without getting in one another's way....too much. 

I'd love to share some gifts that I've found for adults...but...considering most of the adults I bought gifts for read this blog...sorry, you'll have to wait until Thanksgiving! 

Where will you be doing most of your shopping this year? Online or at the mall? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

4H Sewing Projects

A few weeks ago Yip, Yap and I were filling out 4H enrollment forms and they were choosing which projects they wanted to complete this year. As we went through the projects, I'm trying to keep the number low. The boys chose archery, electric, fine arts, Exploring 4H (not sure what it is but it was for 7-9 year olds and I signed them up anyway.), foods and sewing. Unfortunately, no livestock projects. There just isn't a place for animals right now. 

Foods and Sewing?? I admit, my first thoughts were, "Those projects are for girls!" But considering I hated when the gender card was pulled on me growing up (I'm still mad at Dad because he wouldn't let me take a steer when I was 9! I was too small??? Nuh Uh!!!), I wasn't about to tell the boys they couldn't do those projects. No Gender Bias HERE! 

Foods isn't that big of a deal because they boys have worked in the kitchen with me before. But sewing? I cringed. I cringed mostly because I remember my 4H years and the weeks before fair when mom, my sisters and I desperately raced to finish our outfits before Fashion Revue. Fashion Revue was my childhood hell but I always participated because 1. if you sewed it, you were expected to model it and 2. I never realized I didn't have to do it.

Anyway, back to sewing with Yip and Yap. We started working on learning to sew this week. I know it's early to start but I have two to teach and I didn't know how long this might take. After some practice sewing straight lines on paper I figured we would make a very small pillow out of scraps I had laying around. 

And it has gone MUCH better than I expected it to! Yip and Yap have really paid attention and have been very careful...much more careful than I probably was when I started sewing. Ha, I know they go slower that's for sure! Mom always said I had a lead foot....still do. 

So far so good. They still need to stuff their little pillow and sew up the hole. 
Now we just need to do decide on a project we can make to take to the fair. My first year in 4-H, when I was 9, I had to make a drawstring skirt. But my boys are boys and there are no requirements (and no books either!) so we are needing some ideas. 

We really don't need another drawstring bag (we have a million). I was thinking of a plush doll pillow or a pillowcase. We might try a pair of elastic shorts or pants. Any other project ideas for very new sewers? 

(Okay, what is the plural of a sewing person? Sewers? Tunnels under town?? Eeewww!) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Life just got away..

It's been four days since I posted. Usually I pride myself on planning ahead and never going that long without blogging but this week, well, life just got away from me. For the past few days life, and my brain, seemed to be wandering all over and getting myself focused on blogging anything wasn't going to happen. 

Ah...such is life right? Even now my brain is racing with a thousand different thoughts.

Tomorrow is parent teacher conferences. I'm not worried about Yip and Yap's academic performance. They do very well. But last year their kindergarten teacher reported that both of them talked more than the girls in the class. Geez, I know some of those girls are darn yacky. That news made me sink in my chair. I'm hoping not to hear a repeat tomorrow. 

I miss the fall leaves and colors of Indiana. Kansas barely has any trees anyway  but the ones they do have are either turning from green (the ones that were green during the drought) to brown or they are ugly cedar trees that look as comforting as a rampaging porcupine. (Do porcupines rampage?) Thanks to my sister who drove around Lafayette and sent me half a dozen gorgeous photos of the river road. It sure helped. 

Speaking of Kansas. Temperature patterns are nonexistent out here. Today is going to be close to 90 degrees but by Wednesday the high is only going to be 50. How is that even possible? Despite what you Hoosiers say, Indiana weather is VERY predictable! 

A year ago my brother fell off the tailgate of a truck and fractured his skull. I was 900 miles away and could do nothing but pray. He's fine now. Still stubborn and sarcastic. During that time his wife kept a journal of what went on. She's been posting it on her blog this week and it still makes me cry to know they were in such pain and I couldn't be home to help them. 

Yip and Yap have one more football game. Over the weekend I think they were FINALLY getting the hang of what they were supposed to do. Granted, of the 11 on the time they are 2 of 3 first graders. The rest are 2nd graders and I imagine all the other boys watch a lot more football on TV then my boys do. Yip and Yap haven't quite learned aggressiveness yet but I'm guessing with former athletic parents like DR and I it will show up eventually. 

Have you heard of Rural Women Rock? It's a blog that was just recently started to socially connect rural women together. During the week rural women, and their blogs, from all over the country have been country have been featured. Check them out. You'll find someone that you have something in common with. 

So there is the contents of my brain today. All over the map. Hopefully I'll get some focus soon, and a plan, because the next few weeks on my calendar are packed to the gills with stuff to get done. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll find some time to keep blogging and not go crazy in the process. 

Prairie Mother, the distorted. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Foody Friday; I HATE COOKING.....

.....for kids!! 

I love cooking. I love experimenting with different ingredients and flavors. I'm even open to failure in the kitchen! It's a learning experience. 
But lately, I've hated the mere thought of cooking dinner. No matter what recipe or new ingredients I have to try I hear the same complaints every evening. 

I don't like my food all mixed together. (Cross casseroles and soup off the dinner idea list.)

Or, what's that little green stuff all over the place? (It's parsley and it won't kill you!!)

Does this have onions in it?? GROSS!!! (GGGRRRR!!!)

I've even tried finding new "kid friendly" recipes; those are a giant fail too! The only meal that is a complete success with ALL my kids are eggs, bacon and pasta....all plain, nothing added. No condiments, no seasonings, no sauces. 

Can you say boring?? 

I've made my kids eat new dishes and coerced, threatened, begged...but I'm losing the will to fight the dinner battle! 

So although I've tried to keep my Friday blog posts for a new recipe I'd tried during the week, this week has been a total loss. I haven't found anything lately that is new and acceptable to me AND my kids. And I don't have the sanity to cook two different meals every night, ain't gonna happen! 

And I can't eat macaroni and hot dogs for the rest of my life!!!

Any ideas?? Any way to fix a dinner that isn't the same old thing but my kids AND I are both excited to come to the table? Give me tricks!! Because I'm at a loss. 

Sincerely yours, 
Prairie Mother 
(who's on the verge of burning every cookbook in her kitchen!) 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's Wrong with this Picture?


What's wrong with this picture? 

Do you need a closer look?

 A week ago that big pile of corn was covered with a pretty white tarp. 

What happened? 

A lot of bleeping Kansas wind blew the tarp off!
And boy, was it flapping in the breeze. 

I feel sorry for the poor guys who are going to have to fix this mess. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

4-H; Kansas vs. Indiana

This year Yip and Yap are officially 4-H Members of Kansas. Last year we went to meetings and activities but as for projects we just did a few fun things and  put them into open class. 

Since I was a ten year 4-H member as was DR and all our siblings, I was really excited yesterday to turn in their paperwork and start getting their first year of 4-H underway. 4-H is quite the tradition in our families and I want to keep it going. 

But I quickly learned that Kansas 4-H and Indiana 4-H are VERY different. DR bases this solely on the fact that Indiana has Purdue Extension and Kansas has Kansas State Extension, thus Indiana MUST have a better 4-H program. I think poor DR is just a little tired of all the purple out here. 
(Send Black and Gold right away!!)

1. First of all SW Kansas is so rural that 4-H enrollment is VERY low. In our county the total enrollment is about 80..or less. My goodness! In northern Indiana my county surely had at least a couple hundred 4-Hers...or more! And the Kansas State Fair is SMALL! It's smaller than our largest Indiana county fair in Elkhart (I'm pretty sure that's the largest). Wow. I never knew how spoiled I was to participate in such a wonderful state fair as Indiana puts on year after year.  Sheesh, I'm getting homesick writing this post! 

By the way...did you know that the state of Delaware is so small (only three counties) they don't even have county fairs. Nope, just the Delaware State Fair. While Illinois is so big there are two state fairs; one in the north and one in the south. 

2.  In Indiana if you are 7-9 years of age (roughly) you are in what used to be known as Mini 4-H, but that's been changed to Exploring 4-H where they do different activities to learn about different 4-H projects. Then when they turn 9 they can enroll in regular projects. In Kansas when a child is 7 they can sign up for 4-H and aren't limited by what projects they'd like to complete. 

3. This year I've volunteered to be a Fine Arts Project Leader. Now, I had a bit of confusion with that title considering when I was in 4-H we didn't really have many project leaders apart from our club leaders. Oh, we had leaders for things like shooting sports, you know, something not everyone could necessarily do at their own home. Rather we met on a shooting range once a month to shoot..Kansas does this too. But Kansas, even in our little county, seems to have a leader for just about every project. 

4. The third way 4-H is different is directly tied to number 3. Kansas 4-H doesn't have project books. As a former 4-H member I'm sure my jaw was hitting the floor when I found THAT out yesterday. 

Me; "Well, then where do the kids find the requirements for each year's project?" I was thinking like Foods, first year cookies, second year muffins, third year quick breads, etc. 

Extension Agent; "The kids can do anything they like as long as it is appropriate to their area of expertise. So, although a 15 year old and a 9 year old are both second year 4-Hers the 15 year old probably shouldn't be making cookies."

So I've come to the conclusion that because the enrollment is so low, there are more leaders who can give more individual time to 4-Hers who need project help and therefore don't necessarily need a book to teach them (and their parents) what they should be learning. That's my theory anyway. 

After 24 hours to get over the lack of 4-H project books, I can kind of understand. One of the purposes of 4-H is to teach kids initiative for their own education and building of skills rather than merely just completing a project that will look like everyone else's. a teacher, I still like the idea of having successive levels of skills built upon year after year AND personally...I loved my 4-H project books growing up. Sometimes, I could learn something from my books that Mom or Dad didn't have time to teach me. I suspect that had something to do with being the oldest of 7 and my parents not having time for much of anything! 

Though I understand the lack of books....I am calling in some outside help and getting some project books from Indiana. I just think it might give the boys some guidance they might need....or not. We'll see. 


4-H: Kansas vs. Indiana....very different. 

Doesn't matter though because I truly believe that whatever state and whatever the differences, being part of 4-H is an amazing experience for all kids anywhere! The maturity and leadership skills 4-Hers gain is something our country needs more of. 

To Make the Best Better. 
In Kansas or Indiana...let's go! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shooting in the Dark in a Small Town.

Last weekend DR got home late from work, go's harvest. And he walked in and told me I should come take pictures of the moon. It was beautiful! Big and bright with lots of details! But try as I might I couldn't take a picture without it looking like a big white ball. 

(a car coming towards me)

As I was in the dark playing with my camera, I realized I could try making light trails!! Fun!! 
I set up my tripod and set the exposure to 4 seconds and waited...and waited....and waited...for a car to drive by. We live on the main street of town and it was Saturday night at 9 pm and I could have pitched a tent in the street and slept soundly. Small towns.

DR even offered to get in the truck and drive back and forth on the street for me...sweet guy! 
But I was lucky enough to get 3 or 4 cars drive by after while. 

(a car driving away)

They were fun to do! They aren't great but a good learning experience nonetheless. 

This is south side of town. See that fence? That is the edge of town. The boys and I were curious the other day and drove the borders of our tiny town and we learned it is exactly a mile square. I can stand in the middle of town, turn in a circle, and see the four edges. Small towns. 

I liked how all the lights looked like there were rays shooting from them. 

I liked this photo even more when I pushed the boundaries of editing. 
Sometimes I kind of like the wild abstract look of things. 
Cool huh? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Marker Monday - Lifesavers Crayon

Our playgroup will be having a mini Christmas party in November, because we don't meet in December, and our group leader Melissa and I have been brainstorming little gift ideas for the kids. I decided I'd make striped crayons for them. 

I placed the broken crayons, one color at a time, in a tin can that I placed in a pot of boiling water. After the wax melted I poured a little of each color into an old prescription bottle. After each color was cool I added another and so on until the bottle was full. Once the crayon wax was cool I rolled the bottle in my hands, adding a bit of pressure, and the crayons slid out surprisingly easily. 

They aren't perfectly layered but close. 

Then I wrapped each striped crayon in aluminum foil.

I found a Lifesavers logo online and with a little work on a Paint program I came up with this label. I found that if I printed it off as a wallet size photo, it's just about perfect to wrap around each crayon. 
Feel free to use the above image if you'd like. 

A little cutting, a little tape and voila!! A Lifesaver crayon! 
The perfect little stocking stuffer! 
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