Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vacation is almost over :(

DR commented just the other day that I must be happy that Christmas vacation is almost over since the boys go back to school on Tuesday and I'll get back to my own schedule and getting things done around the house I've neglected. I admit, during the last two weeks the house has been louder and messier. I've had a tougher time getting stuff like laundry or dishes done without being interrupted or being any way organized (not that that's such a difference than normal though). But really, I am not looking forward to the boys going back to school because I have really enjoyed this extra time I've gotten to spend with all my kids.

We've tied a blanket for Project Linus...

...built forts...

...constructed gingerbread houses...

....played in the snow (a lot!)....

...baked Santa bread and....

....used the same recipe to make Snowman bread. (Yeah, I'm not sure what that thing on the right is either but Yap enjoyed eating his creation.)

Yeah, the house has been loud and busy and there's been nights I'm just too dang tired to move but I've just really, really enjoyed my kids this Christmas vacation. They surprise me more and more everyday with what they think and do and say. Watching my children grow and learn and explore and create has been one of the very greatest gifts that I've ever received in this life. 

 I remember the time before I got married thinking that I may never get married or have kids...then BAM, husband and twins before I knew it a daughter...what a handful she's become.  My kids have gotten so big so fast. Yeah, I should probably clean my house or do laundry but I'd much rather spend time with my kids. They sure won't be this little forever; in the blink of an eye they are almost as tall as me. Time goes by so quickly the older I get...there will be time enough to clean my house.

The older my boys get the more they talk about their memories. They don't talk about how well I folded laundry or cleaned the house. They remember the walks we took to the old barn or splashing in the flooded ditches of Illinois. They remind me of the time they spent with their cousins at a Pirate Party or rope making. A dirty house isn't that big of a deal when the mess is just a part of making memories. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fort Friday

Lately I've been surfing the blog, All for the Boys. As it says on their blog, " - a space for the boys in your life! We've often found that there is so much inspiration for girls on the web - so much to sew, craft, and create for girls. It is harder to come up with (and find) things that we not only like as parents but that our boys will like as well. No ruffles and lace here! We hope you'll be inspired to create, purchase, and play with your boys just as we are!"

Every Friday on All for the Boys it is Fort Friday where people share fort ideas to build. Some of them are as simple as a cardboard box with Christmas lights while others get quite elaborate! The boys and I enjoy surfing the photos wishing we had the skills, and space, to build some of the wonderful ideas we see, like the huge igloo

Being as we've had time on our hands this Christmas vacation the boys decided to build their own fort from their bunkbed. 

Yip, who sleeps on the bottom thought the red and green paint clothes would give him much needed privacy! And their blacksmithed hooks hold the curtains back. 

Yap, my wanna be soldier, received a camoflauge blind thing for Christmas which we attached to hooks in the ceiling. It's pretty cozy up there! 

Gotta say, I'm a bit jealous. This looks like a fun place to play..and sleep! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Linus Project

Recently I read about Project Linus in my Guideposts magazine

 As Charles Schulz’s Linus character from the PEANUTS® comic strip was comforted by his blanket, Project Linus strives to do the same and more for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. The blankets our nearly 400 chapter coordinators collect from thousands of “blanketeers” (volunteers) across the United States and then distributed to these children provide love, a sense of security, warmth, and comfort. (Project Linus website)

DR and I try to include our kids helping other people and making a blanket for another child is a great way to really get the boys involved for someone else. Sometimes writing a check is so easy, but important, that we forget our boys don't really see us helping others. 

We went to Wal-Mart and Yap chose the bright circle designs and Yip chose the green backing and we got to knotting. I didn't realize how tough tying fleece knots could be and I ended up cutting the fringe longer than I had planned to. 

The finished blanket was about 51"x51", kind of small but it will work for a small child. 
Next time we'll do a much longer blanket. 

My kids love their fleece blankets and this was just about the perfect project. It was easy for the boys to do the work but didn't take so long they grew bored. I really like the idea of Project Linus and we're planning on picking out more fabric the very next time we are in town. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Morning

We had a pretty good Christmas morning in the Prairie Mother household. 

Yip received a punching bag from Santa. Good! Maybe he'll work off all that excess energy!! 

Everyone had to take turns trying it out. 

And what Christmas morning is complete without Legos? 
Yep, just what I needed...more tiny pieces to "accidentally" vacuum up! 

Oh boy, the first Barbie! 
Yahoo LOVES it! 
See those clothes Barbie is wearing? She wore those clothes exactly 5.2 seconds after this photo was taken. She's been naked ever since. Yahoo likes Barbie that way. Oh boy. 

Yahoo's first doll house; she just loves how she can walk around all sides to play with it. I love how durable it and all the furniture is! 

Yap my little soldier got the army he was wishing for. They've been dispatched on missions all through the house. 

DR and I had good Christmas mornings too. The best part of course was just watching our kids and enjoying their toys with them. 

Although I have to say next year I'm getting up early and putting on makeup if DR is going to take pictures like THIS of me every year! 

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Bacon Battle

We love bacon. We plow through bacon. We usually eat a pound of bacon every Sunday morning. 

As much as we love bacon, the Bacon Battle rages every Sunday morning and Christmas morning was no exception....

......because DR doesn't know how to cook it the right way!! 

It's gotten so bad that I have to cook my bacon separate from DR's. 
Mine is on the left, brown and crispy...utterly perfect. 

DR's is on the right, pale and practically raw....what a disgrace! 

Normally this wouldn't be an issue but DR has brainwashed our children into thinking "bendy" bacon is the proper way to cook such a wonderful delicacy. 

Curses! How am I to get them back on the side of good and noble and CRISP bacon?  


Bacon. It's become one of the great battles of my life! 

(So, how do you cook bacon? The right way I hope!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Devotions - What a Gift!

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, 
   you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 

For my eyes have seen your salvation, 

 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 

   and the glory of your people Israel.”
Luke 2:28-32

Happy Birthday Jesus! 

Dear Heavenly Father, 

For giving us the Greatest gift on this Christmas Day. 
And what a gift! 
The magnitude and the grandeur of Your Gift Jesus is far beyond what we can fathom. A Gift we are not worthy of and a gift we can't give nearly enough thanks for. All we can do in thanks is believe in Your promise of salvation. Thank You. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tracking Santa

I wasn't planning on posting today, on Christmas Eve, but I just remembered about one of our Christmas Eve traditions I thought I'd share. 

DR found it a few years ago; every Christmas Eve we track Santa's trip around the world via NORAD

Usually we end up turning it on in the afternoon but we remembered early this year and have been watching Santa travel around Asia this morning. The really cool thing about the site is the videos of different parts of the world from Santa's point of view; Wall of China, Eiffel Tower, etc. 

The kids like it and DR and I enjoy watching the videos. 

Merry Christmas everyone! And follow Santa and make sure you are tucked into bed before he gets to your house!! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Foody Friday - Apple-Orange Baked Chicken

A while ago I was able to download The Everything Potluck Cookbook onto my Kindle for free. I have found so many good recipes in this cookbook that I would say the current price ($9-$13) on Amazon is definitely worth it.

Apple-Orange Baked Chicken sounded rather odd but turned out to be some of the best chicken ever to come out of my kitchen. 

Apple-Orange Baked Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. paprika
1 orange, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 c. applesauce
1/3 c. orange marmalade
1/2 c. orange juice
1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and paprika. Line roasting pan with orange and onion slices and top with chicken. Drizzle chicken with melted butter and set aside. 

In bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour over chicken. 

Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, basting once with orange mixture. Uncover and bake for 30-40 minutes longer, basting frequently until chicken is thoroughly cooked. 

Don't serve the onions and oranges that are under the chicken; they are there to provide lots of flavor and cushion the chicken from the oven's heat. 

Although the recipe calls for continual basting, I forgot to do it. It turned out fabulous nonetheless. This was by far the moistest chicken I've ever eaten. I thought the combination of onion and oranges were odd but the flavor was subtle and just a bit sweet. The only problem with this recipe is that my boys refused to eat the applesauce on top. They thought it was just too weird. I didn't let them see the oranges and onions in the bottom of the pan, that would have resulted in mutiny! But what they don't know won't hurt them! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Golden Santa Bread..yum, yum.

I saw this on Pinterest yesterday and thought it would be so much fun to make! The kids agreed to help and really, even with three kids swarming around it, Santa wasn't hard to make at all. The kids did most of the work and in fact we started it at 3:30 and were eating it for dinner. (Here's the recipe for the bread and here is the step by step picture instructions on how to put Santa together.)

I tried to teach Yip and Yap how to braid in hopes they would braid all of Santa's beard together. I was hoping to have a Captain Jack Sparrow look to the whole thing. 

They all had to take turns "painting". 

The boys were just sure that Yahoo wasn't doing it right and would mess it up. 
Can't little sisters do anything right? 

Hmmm, ours wasn't perfect but it was fun and tasted great! 

The bread was super easy to make and it was kind of a sweet bread, fabulous when warm and smothered in butter. Isn't everything? 

It was so easy and fun to make I'm trying to figure out how to change it up for other holidays. A big red bread heart, a giant painted Easter Egg,  leprachaun's pot of gold....hmmm, I'm going to have to look into some of these ideas!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snow...but no Blizzard.

Well, we did get some snow and it was enough for a day off of school but no blizzard. We only had about 6 inches or so. It wasn't much but it was sure enough to play in. 

Yahoo thought it was sand when she woke up Tuesday morning and saw a fine layer blowing across the road. Ha! 

The kids ended up staying out playing for over two hours. 

As much fun as the snow was, we couldn't stay out all day long. 

The boys decided they wanted to play Rich Farmer, Poor Farmer...a Monopoly like game DR had from when he was a kid. It's 33 years old! 

It was a good day having the kids home all day. We stayed busy but we were definitely stir crazy by the end of the evening. It makes me wonder what we'll be doing to combat cabin fever over Christmas vacation. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spiral Barbed Wire Painting

No school today!! Yip and Yap and I have a list of things to do; make noodles, stay in our jammies, watch movies and eat popcorn. 

Since I'm writing this Monday night I can't tell you the latest update on our blizzard other than it is blowing hard outside and there is snow on the ground. I guess the brunt of the storm will hit overnight. Although the weather guy is calling for over a foot of snow I can't see that it will be here for long. As hard as the wind is blowing I think it may all end up in Oklahoma...but we'll see. 

Anyhow...I finally finished my latest painting Sunday night. As you can see I'm still on a circle kick.

 I love this one! It's acrylic on a cereal box, about 7 1/2 inch square. DR asked what I was going to do with all these little circle paintings. I think I'll do a few more and then frame them all together in one big frame. We'll have to see how many I get and how they look together. 

I intended it to look something like the middle of a corn cob with some abstract qualities to it. 

I love painting on cereal boxes. 
Once they are covered in acrylic no one can tell that it's cheap and besides, it's free. I do wish I had planned better though because the staple marks are showing through the paint :( 

Monday, December 19, 2011

YAY!! A BLIZZARD!! (Not the DQ kind either...)

So sorry it's been a few days since I've posted. Substitute teaching, sick kids, Christmas programs, doctors appointments...I've been running everywhere!  Blogging has had to take a back burner. 

But good news for my blog, according to the weather I will be stuck at home for a while so maybe I'll catch up on some posts! After Kansas enduring the driest and hottest year on record this year it looks like we are going to get all of our moisture at once for 2011. 

Blizzard conditions are expected to make traveling dangerous across parts of the Southwest.

This is our forecast for the next 24 hours. We are right under the "R".

Yay!! A Blizzard!!! A White CHRISTMAS!! 

I say "yay" but I'm pretty nervous. If I were in Indiana I wouldn't be too worried about a foot of snow but being out here in Kansas this could really screw some stuff up. I really doubt that Kansas is ready to deal with this much snow and ice. Oh yeah...ICE...cuz it's been raining all morning with temperatures quickly dropping to freezing. I doubt they have bunkers full of salt and I couldn't even tell you if SW Kansas has snowplows. Add in the fact that there are so many people living far from towns on not the best roads, this blizzard could strand a lot of people at home. Stranded at home wouldn't be bad, people have been stocking up for this storm all weekend but I'm just hoping that we don't lose power for too long. That could be disaster for some of the more rural folks. 

So keep the Southwest, me and all my Kansas friends, in your prayers today! 

And I hope you are blessed with a white Christmas too! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Foody Friday - 19th century Gingerbread

During our Christmas party at Fort Larned last weekend our family indulged in LOTS of goodies baked from 19th century recipes. Yap ended up falling in love with traditional gingerbread. I think he must have eaten at least 6 or 7 slices! 

We decided on the way home that we needed to find a similar recipe to make the wonderful gingerbread at home. I happen to have the cookbook A Prairie Kitchen which is a compilation of recipes from the Prairie Farmer magazine between 1841-1900. 

The Gingerbread recipe in The Prairie Kitchen was approved by Yap. 

Soft Gingerbread
published in Prairie Farmer - May 5, 1877

1 c. dark molasses (I only had 3/4 c. light)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup sour milk (or buttermilk)
2 1/2 c. flour 
2 t. baking soda
1/3 c. hot tap water 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a medium saucepan combine the molasses, brown sugar and butter. Heat until just boiling, remove from heat and it cool. Add the ginger, cinnamon, egg, milk and flour and mix well. Carefully add the baking soda to the hot water. It will bubble up. Then add the dissolved soda to the batter. Bake in five mini loaf pans for 45 minutes or until the center is firm. 

I used a regular loaf pan and it took close to an hour and half before the bread was done. I might kick up the heat to 350 next time.   

Wouldn't this make great toast on Christmas morning? 

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