Friday, August 30, 2013

It's FRIDAY???

WOW! I think this week went strangely fast considering all the belly-aching I've done about the heat and humidity here in Eastern Nebraska! Now, we only have to get through one outdoor day on Sunday in supposedly milder temps. Crossing fingers, saying prayers!!

Today is Pops' birthday!! I won't tell you how old he is because that makes him OLD and his mother OLDER and therefore his Grandfather OLDER, YET!! You see, the mom and grandfather have been sticking to a number as long as possible... 29 & 39 were their ages FOR.EVER. Then, I reminded them that their son/grandson turned 29 and they had to go up a decade.... They are going to have to go with a new decade here... and I am not going to be the one to TELL them those new figures!!

I will spare you any photos, but my dog... had a rough time with a 30 hour missing dog hunt, found in the muddy edge of the lake, a week of trying to recover, a nasty infection that caused some not so nice stuff to happen with her skin/hair, and auto immune response where she couldn't heal. She is on the mend!! BUT - her back looks weird and I am not sure that it will ever look quite right! She is super slow to grow hair and I fear that area will stay bald forever. Not pretty. But, feeling better and acting happier!!

Somedays just I feel like just doing this:

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Don't tell on me, k!?!!

Back in June, we spent some time here:

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Feeling a little "homesick" for the west... I smell another really long road trip coming!! (In June, we added over five thousand miles to our annual log... we were only gone about 2 weeks. Let's just say there was a LOT of zigzagging!!)

So, if you were going to be headed west on I-80 out to Oregon... and the first stopping area was between Rock Springs, WY and Salt Lake City, UT what would you hope to see and do? We're talking in the very near future, so there is no snow in the forecast!

Have you ever packed for a two week journey for 6 people and only brought 2 small carry-on sized suitcases? That is my hope, anyway. If you have any tips or tricks... please do share!!

I am forever over-packing. Unless, I just bring all the wrong things. (Like in June when I brought summer things and we were on the coast and I had to shop the Goodwill to have some things warm enough to be outside of the hotel!)

Our garden is flourishing... The Mortgage Lifter Tomato is my favorite in our collection of tomato plants. We have some smaller tomatoes and some cherry tomatoes, too. These are by far my favorites of the season. I sliced some last night for our delicious burgers and yum yum yum!! Perfect to have one slice cover the WHOLE bun and burger! I think we ought to have some BLTs, soon!!!

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Visitor!

Yesterday evening, the kids were enamored watching something at the window. After a while we were called to join them and see this little visitor on the window. I fetched my camera and when I went out to  take some pictures it was a little frisky and jumped off the window and skittered about on the deck. 

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I did think that it was a very pretty insect with its coloring. I can't say its "shape" was all that attractive... as it is sort of spindly and moved a bit quick for my liking!

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It worked on moving itself back up the screen door - thankfully there was an area that was a bit dirty... that helped it have some traction! While it was working to climb in one area that was all white and shiny it kept slipping back down! So, dirt on the frame of my window... thank you for being there to help a little insect!!

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While Pops and I ventured outside to get a better look at the little guy, the treekids FIRMLY rooted themselves indoors and had little freak outs every time the bug moved, fell, jumped, etc and when we would motion to come out and look closer!

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They wanted to see it... just not THAT close! Through the window glass was close enough. I sort of think they missed out!

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So, this is a Praying Mantis and he did not disappoint, he folded his little front feet together as if in prayer. I was thinking that it would be good to check out a few things from the library and found that the following titles are available at our local library:  

I hope to check these out and have a chance to look through them with the treekids... then I hope another praying mantis stops by for a visit!

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Maybe after learning more about this insect - and many others - they will not be afraid to let it walk, jump and tickle their hand! I have to admit, I did let it crawl on me for a few seconds, but it was just a little creepy feeling and I had to shiver and when I did, I shook it off. So - maybe I, too, could learn a bit about these little insects! He was friendly - and so cool to watch. Nothing like the families of wasps around here!! 

(I was waiting for someone to suggest catching it, putting it in a container and storing it in the freezer. Pops' cousin studied entomology in college and would babysit our kids and take them for "nature hikes" and continue her bug collection with them... so, they learned the best way to collect insects to be displayed for a pin board!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hugs and Kisses

This weekend, Pops' family will celebrate his Grandma's 91st birthday!! It will be a lovely time to get together and visit and eat some yummy things. (If only I knew how to make a light weight personal air conditioning machine and bubble to carry about for this event! - any ideas?!!)

I volunteered to bring several items - after I read over the list and with my OCD issues, re-wrote the whole list  that was being emailed and replied to and organized it by types of food being volunteered. Seriously - like I don't have other things that I SHOULD have been doing. But, I felt so much better seeing what areas needed a few more items (side dishes needed a couple) and which areas didn't (appetizers and salads were well represented!). So, with my help, the girls who looked through my "favorites" cookbook (which is falling apart and I will need to rework sometime soon - when I find time not working on pointless lists due to OCD) chose what I should make. I will be bringing our family's FAVORITE sweet white cornbread (it's the only cornbread that Pops will even eat!!), a big pan of buttered noodles (a favorite of young children - not so much my more adventuresome eaters) and some sugar cookies. Bump has been asking to make more cookies with his letter and number cutters, so I thought that this would be a great time to get some more letter cookies made!

Last time we made cookies, he chose to start with A and 1. I thought that was brilliant. Start at the very beginning... a very good place to start! So, I asked him this time, "Which letter should we make?" I FULLY expected him to say, "B!!" But, boy was I surprised when he said with extreme excitement, "X!!! Mama, I wanna make X!!" Okey dokey... X it is! I thought that 0 was a good number option since it will look like x's and o's for a plate of cookies!

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Ready as ever to help in the kitchen - now sporting his "little boy" haircut!
You know, there are times when toddlers are extremely challenging, and let me be the first to admit that there are times when I would like to throw my hands up in the air and give up with the "terribles" - but every time I take a breath and try to understand the frustration, I learn something. Usually, I learn that I didn't listen very well and I assumed I knew what was wanted/best and didn't wait to find out needs or wants. So, almost all tantrums seem to be resolved when he feels both HEARD and UNDERSTOOD!! But sometimes that takes soooooo much time, right?!?!

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Well, here is where taking into account what I learned LAST time making cookies will help! Three's want to "Do it all by myself, mama." How in the world can you let a three-year old do it all by himself and really end up with cookies in the end?!! 

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Well, I am wishing he chose the letter "P" because here is where I will talk about how Prior Proper Planning will Prevent Pitifully Poor Performance!! I started by getting out all of the ingredients that we would need to make my favorite sugar cookie recipe (given to me by a dear friend from when Pops was still in Veterinary School - and she is Branch's Godmother) tripled in order to share this weekend!! I never make a single batch of this cookie dough. Usually we double it, but there have been several occasions that I have tripled. My mixer will not handle a quadruple batch - so, I have to make it work with a triple... as if, right!?!

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1 Tblspn Salt
Once all the ingredients are out on the counter, I often find Bump climbing on the counter to get his help going on. So, I get out the measuring scoop/spoon and fill it and set it down so that he can lift and dump right into a smaller container.

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1 Tblspn Baking Powder
If we have a big spill or mess, I have the ability to get it squared away with corrected amounts before it goes into the big batch. He gets to feel like he is doing it all, dumping things in and I get to feel like something will pan out with accurate measurements. Awesomeness!

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3 c white sugar
Now, I know that this makes extra dishes to wash. Really. I KNOW that. But, I love his determination. I love that he feels like he is DOING it. I love sharing my love of baking with him and he behaves well and has fun. If we make the extra dishes, we make no fussing at each other over whose job is whose!!

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7 c All Purpose Flour  (we use unbleached) 
I didn't get a picture of the measuring cup sitting in the bowl. It seems that as soon as I set the scoop down in the bowl - on top of the flour already in the bowl - that he had it picked up and flipping over! He loves dumping!!

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He is ready... for making cookies! Enough already - let's get it mixing!!

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Right up there on the counter with all the ingredients and the mixer just to HIS right.
Ready to go - all amounts ready to put into the mixer bowl!!

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2 1/4 c Butter
Put the butter in the mixer and whip it until it is fluffy looking.

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Go dig out the bowl collar for helping three-year olds dump all sorts of ingredients into the bowl without having to stop and lift the beater for every addition!

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Something is very interesting... We are about to add the bowl of sugar. "What does sugar taste like, mama?" 

"Well, it tastes sweet and good. Do you want to try it?"

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Yes, sweet and good. He liked it and wanted to eat it instead of add it. I had to remind him that he wanted COOKIES not a bowl of sugar. That seemed to work!

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So, into the butter went all of that sugar!

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1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
Then the vanilla...

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6 Eggs
and then the eggs...

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every last one!!

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Then he started in on the flour. He added about one third of the flour.

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Then, the salt...

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the baking powder...

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and finally the remainder of the flour. He was so cute and said, "NOW? Can we cut them out with my X?"

I had to put the dough into the refrigerator and we will continue with the cookies later - maybe tomorrow - at least after I have had some time to sit and rest a bit!

I do have some control issues that I have learned to let go of with baking and children. In fact, some of the tricks I use with the kids, I now use for myself so that I make things easy for me, too! I'll take pictures of what we do and how I can stand back and let him roll dough, cut cookies and then we'll try to paint and sprinkle some cookies and leave others for some frosting.

For now- this is the natural resting point in this cookie making process. Maybe some homemade play-doh is in order, here...

Do you have toddlers in your kitchen? What kind of fun messes do you make??!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


So, I am really going to write about it. Seriously. Gonna skip right over the VMA awards and that which they call pop "culture." I am going to skip talking seriously about the ridiculous "bounty" in our garden (for now). I am going to skip telling you all about the great new schedule we have implemented at our house to get school work and chores accomplished. I am even going to skip pictures of the new haircut Bump is sporting.


Because there is something MUCH more important that I must share.


This quite possibly will rock your world. It has been rockin' mine.


It is hot out. NO - really. It is HOT out. Hot and humid and HOT. I have been peacefully enjoying this nice warmish mild summer here in Nebraska. It hasn't been too bothersome to me that Pops often travels to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. But this week? I am in crabby mode and am steaming about and with the weather. I would be quite happy to get on with the cold weather... 30-50 degrees VERY welcome in my book. Zero - 30 isn't too bad either. So, I am spending today and yesterday and well, Sunday, too, irritated that it is too hot to go outside. It is too hot to move around. I have spent a fair amount of time in the basement while drinking water and eating ice, which sends me to the bathroom more than I care to admit. I will be happy when the rain starts, the cold front moves through and the first freeze hits. Until then, this wonderful personal heater I am sporting is in overdrive and I cannot seem to keep cool.

I am done complaining now. Thank you for listening.

Because you made it all the way to the bottom... I will share a little treat. I'm good like that to people who hear me out!! :) Bump loves his daddy and loves his cars. So, the girls helped him spell out a little message with his cars for his daddy. Pops returns home tonight from a quick trip to Missouri. Some people around here are VERY excited!! (This is most definitely NOT the new haircut for Bump!!)

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Seven Quick Takes from the past week!

Sometimes we all need a swift kick in the shorts. So, I am officially (with the help of this tossing and tumbling 24 week baby inside of me) kicking myself in the shorts. I will get on here and share more about our comings and goings regularly!! Really. I will.

I have a "winner" for The Little House Cookbook...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2013-08-23 21:47:56 UTC

Congratulations, Jessica ... I'll get this book sent to you ASAP!! :)

Full Disclosure:  I had planned to continue taking pictures throughout our house and taking you on the continued tour... and then Monday was here and I went to go take pictures in the laundry room and cringed. One just does NOT take someone on a "tour" of their home with piles of laundry needing to be washed or folded on all of the flat surfaces. Sorry - it just doesn't happen that way in my world. The laundry is nearly done. May the tour continue again soon! (Yes, I could have gone down the hall and done the upstairs bedrooms, but they weren't THAT much better!!)

So, what was I doing last week that I didn't get all of the laundry up to date? Well... Pops and I had been looking for a used paddle boat for quite some time (sort of since we moved here!) and he found one on Craigslist. The girls were away for Friday night and most of Saturday having fun with their uncle's girl and he showed up for some of the fun, too. So, with two family members absent... we went out for a ride. I forgot to take pictures until we had made our way back to the dock and I even had to put Bump back in the boat for the picture!!

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The girls had a great time with their uncle's girl... and want to go every weekend!! They did all the fun girls' stuff... paint nails, watch movies, eat Chinese take-out, s'mores over the campfire, go to sleep late, stop at the coffee shop, wander at the farmer's market, stop and paint at the paint-your-own-pottery place, have a little lunch and venture home... Sounds like a very full fun time! I wanna go next time. I must admit, my brother-in-law has chosen a very sweet girl to bring along to all the family stuff lately... she has the "official" stamp of approval from all the ladies!! :)

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Stole this picture from her Facebook page!! :)

When the girls arrived home, Bump was over-the-top excited. I mean, it was exciting that the girls were home and all, but, really? It was all about the uncle. HE had arrived. HE will play ball. HE will play cars. HE will play play play!!! Of course HE also gets to go home when it has been enough. I got a few pictures and just laugh and laugh at the fun they had!!

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Just have to share and keep this picture ... The moon was sooooo orange and quite mesmerizing. I sat in the rocker with Bump for a while, watching the moon rise, before realizing that it was picture worthy and others might enjoy seeing my view as well!! It wasn't much longer and the moon was up in the clouds and the reflection on the lake was gone. It was pretty while it lasted... and pretty here, too!

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, August 16, 2013

We Interrupt This Home Tour...

... to tell you I am kind of freakin' out!! WHO was it that decided my "baby" could be big and want to do preschooly things?!? WHAT? He knows a lot of the letters, their sounds and many numbers. Sheesh... I better catch up with him!

So, I decided we would work with letters and numbers this year in a fun kind of way. Bump has taken a liking to the kitchen - scooping and dumping and stirring and TASTING!! So, earlier this summer when I was ordering supplies for the bigger kids, I decided to order a bucket of fun from and gave him the bucket the other day. WOW! Someone was over the moon excited! Good thing I was planning to make some cookies for one of our church's fundraisers!! I made extra dough and let Bump go to it with his cutters!

We chose A and 1 to start out with... wasn't that a perfect start!?!  We'll see how orderly he prefers to go the rest of the time!

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You can maybe see my fundraiser cookies back there in the background! Some are red "N" and others are color-less "N" or shaped as the state of Nebraska. Apparently, they were a big hit and sold well (we did not attend the fundraiser - just donated a load of "stuff").

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Bump liked doing it "ALL BY MYSELF" - it took all my willpower to not keep getting in his space and saying... "WAIT! Closer together so we don't have to keep rolling it out." But, I bit my tongue and just let him enjoy himself with his ration of dough! It may be one of the hardest things I do with him all year long... patience is a WHAT? Virtue... will keep working on that one!!

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Bump was wanting to eat the dough he was enjoying it so much. So, I figured he wouldn't want to wait for cooling, frosting making and frosting and sprinkling all... SO, we did my FAVORITE way to decorate cut out sugar cookies!!

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I made a simple "paint" mix and we brushed that on... NO PICS OF THAT! I could NOT let that one be alllllll by himself - red food color is not the friend of clothes, formica counter tops, fingers, rugs, floors, etc... Dip and Paint and I HELPED (thanks shake n bake girl!).

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After the easy paint is on, sprinkle on large clear decorator sugar crystals! YUM YUM YUM and so easy! 

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The red number ones did not make if into a picture baked and ready to eat... they were eaten 15 seconds after they came out of the oven by the crew! But, I kept back his letter A cookies to decorate when I worked on the other ones. He wanted blue sprinkles - so... here is a simply decorated plate of Letter A Cookies!!! :)

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One afternoon shortly after baking these cookies, Bump took a nice nap... But, he woke up as crabby as any three year old could possibly be! So, I suggested a cookie and milk. Somehow he decided crying wasn't worth it and the cookie was a great idea! So - those are some sort of tired wake up eyes to go with that sleepy time hair!

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Apparently the cookies are GOOD. The entire batch (triple batch - actually!) is GONE.

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Chewed up, swallowed up, G.O.N.E.!!!

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However, we did take a dozen to the fundraiser, a half dozen to our local priests, Bump made 5-As and 5-1s, about 3 dozen small 2 inch flowers that everyone enjoyed AND I sent 9 starfish cookies to our good friends in Oregon... Simple paint - crystal sprinkles...

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Bake up pretty, puffy and smelling delicious!!

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They were apparently a hit and they were well received!! :) So fun to do many projects out of one time in the kitchen! I should have taken pictures of how I wrapped them up and sent them off - but I was in a hurry to get them sent. So, I am lucky to say that Jessica took pictures and put them on HER blog looking so much prettier than here on the baking sheet!!! :) Go have a look-see!!!