Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 13 - Green

It's really been greening up this spring, much more than last year. That's what happens though when it FINALLY rains! I was sure happy that there was actually something alive to shoot for this week's green theme because there probably wouldn't have been anything like this here at the same time last year. 

f11, 1/80, ISO 1600

This is a field of wheat at the edge of our town.
I love wheat. 

f7.1, 1/125, ISO 1600

Same field different direction.
I suppose some people wouldn't like these photos since they are tilted but a straight on picture, to me, suggests stillness and tranquility. Even though this scene could easily have been portrayed that way those weren't the emotions I was feeling. We haven't had rain in so long and it was nice and wet when I took these photos, I was just so ecstatic about the moisture I wanted to suggest more dynamic feelings than stillness. So, I tilted em'.

And then, just because, I edited them the teeniest bit. 

edited with some HDR 

edited with some HDR and some cross process

Week 14 - Music

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marker Monday, Late...I blame Pinterest

Ug...I sure have done lousy on posting over the weekend. I can only blame it on two things; the weather and Pinterest. 

The weather was gorgeous this weekend; 80's and sunny! I wasn't about to miss enjoying it. I spent the weekend washing all the blankets and hanging them on the clothesline....aaahhh, the smell of line dried clothes :) And then we flew kites! My boys have been wanting to fly kites for months but usually the day they ask to get out the kites we have 40 mph winds....not very conducive to kite flying. But this weekend we had our kites out and got a sunburn in the process. Wonderful!! 

Oh, and Pinterest. Yeah, I can blame Pinterest for not blog posting this weekend. Isn't Pinterest the best time waster? I can find a million and one things to do on that site that I pin and never get around to actually doing. This weekend though I made a point of putting some of those pins into action. 

First up, Men's Dress Shirt into a Jumper. DR was cleaning out his closet and I made three of these jumpers. They went together quickly once I figured out just how large to make the band to go around Yahoo's chest. I ended up having to tear this one apart and use some scrap light weight denim for the band because I made it too small the first time and didn't have any plaid fabric left. These are going to be the best play dresses this summer! Thank goodness too because the dresses I made for her last summer barely cover her bottom and are more of a shirt this year. 

Next the kids painted up a Lego Travel Box . The boys are always asking to bring Legos in the car which I won't let them because it never fails, the teeny tiny swords/fire/hats disappear in the car never to be found again. Hopefully when we go home to Indiana in May (YAY!!!) these will help fight boredom. And I just love the sliding lid that locks into place. Follow the link and you'll find where you can order the boxes and Lego boards to put these together. I did have to cut the Lego boards down to size but it wasn't hard at all. 

How to dry wet shoes in the clothes dryer...with no thumping. (This is one of those you smack yourself on the head saying, "Why didn't I think of that!")     Hang the shoes inside the dryer by pulling the shoe strings up over the outside of the dryer door with the shoes on the inside. 

Oh, unexpectedly I had to dry a pair of tennis shoes that Yap walked through a huge puddle of water while wearing. Yeah, I'm happy for the water but I wasn't too happy with Yap. 

How to dry wet shoes in the clothes dryer...with no thumping. (This is one of those you smack yourself on the head saying, "Why didn't I think of that!") Hang the shoes inside the dryer by pulling the shoe strings up over the outside of the dryer door with the shoes on the inside. If need be, tie the strings to your dryer door or clip them with a clothespin so the strings won't slide through the door. 

This worked like a charm! 

I also made knitting yarn from old tshirts that DR had cleaned out of his closet too. (I actually started this one last week.) These poor shirts weren't in any condition to pass on to Goodwill but they'll make some dandy potholders; mine are quickly getting worn out. 

Bacon Cheese Potatoes (Slow Cooked) 

Last but not least I spent Sunday evening cutting up the ingredients for Bacon and Cheese Potatoes in the Crockpot for dinner tonight. Yum, my house smells soooo good. 

Yep, Pinterest....a wonderful time waster but some great ideas if you can get off the computer long enough to put them into practice!! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We Have Water!!!

I've talked a lot about water and the worst drought Kansas has ever seen last year. I think over the winter a lot of people have been very anxious about what kind of weather spring would bring us because NO ONE wants to go through another summer like last year! 

Earlier this week, Tuesday and Wednesday we. had. rain.
In one day we had two inches of rain which is just about unheard of here! But no one was complaining about the cold and chill or all the water rushing down the streets. Every one in our area is so very very thankful for the moisture. I was even more so when I realized that there are parts of Kansas that are doing much better when it comes to moisture than we are. Last weekend when we went to Hays, although only 3 hours away, there was a definitely more green growth there than here. 

Thursday morning my boys found wets spots in our finished basement. 
Everyone has finished basements out here because, normally, it never rains enough to seep any moisture to the basement. Not like where I'm from in Indiana. Hoosiers build two story houses without basements while Kansans almost always have a single story house with a finished basement. But even a wet basement wasn't something that could make the rain unwelcome. 

All that standing water around town is gorgeous!! 
I know my Indiana family probably wouldn't say the same thing considering they've been battling puddles all winter but I haven't ever seen this much moisture in our town since we've lived here...and might not again. 

This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, in the 80's and sunny, perfect weather to work in my garden. But I just checked my garden plot and it's still too wet to work in! Wonderful, wonderful moisture...stick around I'll wait to work in my arguments here! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Foody Friday - Dakota Bread and a star rating from DR.

I found this recipe on an app on my phone. I've made egg bread before but I was intrigued at using cottage cheese in bread. It's sweet like egg bread but a bit more substantial than other egg bread recipes I've tried. I just love the golden color too! 

After last week's Cabbage Casserole that DR sneered at, he suggested that any more recipes I post should be rated by all members of our family, out of a possible 5 stars. He thinks that I find all these "wonderful" recipes that I find on the Internet are all posted by mothers who just "love them" but have family members who can't possibly choke them down. and their theories. 

Anyway, to the bread!! 

Dakota Bread

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 T of canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 t. salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 egg white

Sprinkle yeast in warm water. Stir to dissolve. 

IN a large bowl, mix oil, egg, cottage cheese, honey and salt. Add dissolved yeast and 2 cups bread flour, beating until flour is moistened. Gradually stir in whole wheat flour, rye flour and oats, plus enough bread flour to make a soft dough. 

On a floured surface, knead dough about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, cover loosly with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Punch down dough. Shape into one round loaf. Place in a greased glass pie pan sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Brush with egg white an sprinkle with wheat flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If loaf is becoming too dark, cover loosely with foil that last 10-15 minutes of baking. Remove from pie pan and cool on a wire rack. 

So, to the rating of the Dakota Bread I made this week. 
I give it a 4. It was sweet and a nice treat but not a bread I'd want to eat everyday. Yip and Yap both gave this 5 stars! Drumroll please......DR gave it 3 stars; he couldn't get past the sweet taste. Granted he also considers store bought white bread a 4 1/2 star food. I'd give plain white bread 1 star for  taste and 5 stars as a coaster for my coffee cup. I'm thinking DR doesn't have taste buds anymore. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 12 - Door

Quick post today folks. I took these over the weekend on our road trip to Hays. 
First couple were on a bridge (over water...we found water in Kansas!!!) on Ft. Hays State University campus. 
f8, 1/50sec, ISO 400

f6.3, 1/50 sec., ISO 100

Then this one was on the guardhouse door at the Old Fort Hays. 
f7.1, 1/80 sec., ISO 400 and some editing

for fun i played with this on's  O'Matic, vintage effects. 

Next week's theme is Green. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Old Fort Hays

After we finished with the Sternberg Museum of Natural History we drove over to the Old Fort Hays. Fort Hays is located near Interstate 70 and is mostly associated with George Armstrong Custer and "Wild Bill" Hickok. Fort Hays was an important U.S. Army post that was active from 1865 until 1889. It was a much larger western fort than Fort Larned because it was near the railroad and served as a supply depot for the military in the West. 

We started off in the visitors center where we could touch many Native American artifacts. 
These gloves were made from buffalo. The inside of the thumbs were covered in buffalo hair as was the inside back of your hands. These were sooo warm! 

Yap enjoyed re enacting his Indian holler! 

Today four original buildings survive: the blockhouse , guardhouse (above), and two officers' quarters but in the late 1800's the fort covered over 170 acres with many more buildings. The reason most of Ft. Hays buildings are gone is because they were wooden and moved out of the area to be used as homes or the materials were used for other reasons. Ft. Larned's buildings are all stone which is why that fort has remained intact through the years. 

Throughout the Old Fort's location there were signs indicating where other buildings used to stand along with interesting facts about the fort. The fort is supposedly haunted by the "Blue Lady" Elizabeth Polly who was a cholera victim in 1867. We didn't see her, unfortunately...I always thought it would be interesting to see a ghost. 

Inside the guardhouse the boys got to try on the heavy wool uniforms of the Union soldiers. 
They refused to smile; they didn't think real soldiers would have smiled for a picture! 

The guardhouse was also the jail for soldiers arrested for all sorts of offences. Yahoo kept hollering, "Lock me in!" and insisting that we shut the door on her! 

We didn't spend too much time at the fort, not nearly as much time as I would have liked. I would have loved to spend a lot more time in the blockhouse, as it was I didn't even get any photos of it. The kids were tired from the long trip and were getting hungry but I'm glad that we were able to take them to Fort Hays regardless. My dad always says that it even though kids don't look at every single exhibit or read every single sign that they ARE LEARNING SOMETHING. It may take years for all those little memories, facts, and experiences to mesh together into understanding. 

Without me knowing it these little day trips make an impact on my kids and I truly believe they'll be better for it. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Over the weekend the whole family loaded up for a little day trip to Hays, KS. Hays is knows as the "German Capital of Kansas". Of course I didn't realize this until we were already there or we would have made different plans for the day. (DR and I have a LOT of German ancestry.) Instead we visited the Sternberg Museum of Natural History which is part of Ft. Hays State University. Sternberg is a great little museum! 

We were greeted on our way in by this "little" guy. Right under this life size prehistoric critter there are fish tanks with an alligator, an alligator gar and an alligator tortoise.

The museum was full of fossils and skeletons but my kids were definitely drawn to the life size models. 

The T-Rex was by far the favorite! It was mechanized and every few minutes it's head would turn, it's mouth would open and it would roar! 

Yahoo loved this baby dinosaur because it was "chewing grass" and she kept wanting to come check to see if it were still eating it's lunch. 

Dig like an archaeologist!! 

But this is where we spent the most time, the.... 

There were tons of toy animals, drawers full of specimens...

...specimens in acrylic that we studied under magnifying glasses....

...LOTS of live specimens; snakes, turtles, toads...

...and tons of books to look through....

Ellis County? Yeah, that's the county we were currently standing in. 

I much prefer this spider! 

Sternberg was a great museum! I only wished we lived closer; it was a 3 hour drive to get there but it was well worth it. 

We also visited the Old Ft. Hays which was right next to the railroad and served as a supply depot for the other forts in Kansas. But I'll share more about that later! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marker Monday - Caveman Paintings

I saw this idea from Thomas Elementary Art Blog but I was most excited there was a link to a virtual tour of the Lascaux cave paintings!! I had always wanted to go there but there are closed to tourists so this virtual tour is the next best thing. 

This was the perfect activity to do with the boys while their little sister was napping during spring break last week. They really liked the virtual tour; I was especially impressed with the cave painting that seems to be have painted right above a giant hole in the cave floor...crazy cavemen!! 

The boys and I taped up some crinkled brown paper on their walls and I dug out my pastels but only let them use caveman colors; red, brown, black, yellows. Then the fun part...we shut off all the lights, darkened the windows and lit candles! Yes, parent supervision is required for this part! 

I could have taken pictures with a flash but instead I opted to go with some long 1 second exposures and I'm so glad I did. The eerie lighting gives it a much more mysterious quality....more cavelike I would imagine. 

The boys found themselves holding candles up to the wall as they drew which made me wonder how the cavemen could see while they drew. Some of those paintings are way above a full grown adult's head and very deep in the caves. (Take the tour, it's awesome!) 

I'm very proud of my boys' works. Though they couldn't sign their work with painted handprints they tried to outline their hands or putting black all over a couple fingers to make fingerprints. 

The Lascaux site also had some pics of lamps the cavemen used which I think we might make next and use as holders for tea lights. 

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