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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Book Review

Rasmus and the Vagabond  by Astrid Lindgren.
When I saw that there was a book by Astrid that I hadn't read I was quite excited and knew that I would like to review it. Because I grew up reading the Pippi Longstocking stories and always wished there were more of them. Several years ago I discovered that our library had a few more books by Ms. Lindgren but they didn't have Rasmus and the Vagabond, so I now I have read another book to add to my list of books to recommend to tween readers, but any age would enjoy it.

Rasmus is a boy who doesn't have parents and feels like there has to be more to life than waiting for a couple to come choose him at the children's home he is living in. He is tired of all the work he has to do for the Head Mistress and wants to feel the love of a mother. And, he has heard that mothers only want curly haired girls so he feels he has no hope in finding a permanent family. He thinks maybe if he goes out on his own he will be able to find a family of his own faster. Rasmus and the Vagabond is the story of his finding his very own family through several adventures along the way. I completely enjoyed this book and think you will too.

You can find this book on Christian Book Distributors and Amazon and possibly at your local library.
Thank you Handlebar Publishing for sharing this book with me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year My Dear family and friends!

The New Year is upon us and it is now 2013! Isn't that amazing how time just keeps on flying by, without caring whether we are ready for it to go or not. 
Well, we had a nice quiet party last night and managed to be to bed by about 1 this morning. I didn't hope to get much done but rest and finish our holidays rather lazily, but a girl can dream and so I shared my dreams with the boys when Travis got up about fixing a shelving system from recycled wood for the back closet. It desperately needed attention. It is a very well used space and the dresser that is crucial to holding a lot of mittens, scarves, hats and leashes and balloons and so on was completely falling apart. I tried to mend it at the beginning of the cold season but it didn't hold for long. So I knew it was time to turn it over to the men.

But first we needed to fill the wood box, we were down to our last wood piece and it has been a bit cold these last few days. 
There, now we can start on our building project.

 In this picture you can see just how busy we keep this closet. All of Travis' things he needs as he heads out the door for work, plus much of the rest of the families outside gear as well, plus Henry's food, potatoes and squash and..... no wonder that dresser was trying to melt down.
This fall they replaced the back porch's decking because the steps were wearing out and we figured we might as well do the whole bit rather than have miss-matched treads. It isn't a big porch but it provided more than we needed of lumber for this project.

We are starting to fill it back up. 

It is full again and we can again access our winter accessories. I know it looks like I should have cleaned the top shelf but really it is organised, it is also very full.

 While the boys were busy working on cutting and measuring the lumber, we girls were re-potting some of my house plants. Almost all of them were getting root bound plus I received some lovely new flower pots for Christmas and I wanted to use them. Anyone want some peace lilies? Or bulbs that have a lovely pink flower in the summer? or some aloe vera. You do have to get the aloe soon because we are eating that excess. I also am rooting a bunch of angel wing begonias because I hated to just toss all that good plant when I trimmed them way back.

So there you have it, our New Year's Day project review.
Next up dress remodeling, Margaret is in a play and I need to refashion a couple dresses for that, and Bea has a dress we need to play with and so do I and so does Maggie, so I really do need to open up the sewing machine this week.
Merry, Merry January to You!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Picture Perfect Day

           Today I was able to steal my Mom's camera. And so I took these pictures and many more.
A non lake version of a cattail
           This is some plant that I saw at the top of our hill that I thought looked somewhat like a cattail. (Also known as Mullein or Pioneers Toilet Paper.) And so seeing as it seemed to be posing for the camera I decided to give in.
My shadow is following Me!
           There was very nice lighting and since the sun was going down I found a shadow of Me waiting at  the bottom of the hill for the real Me.
the Moon and A Meteorite, can't get much better.
           Then I saw the Moon with a jet passing and I got separate shots of both but, this one put them together so nicely.
             There was an airplane following the jet about half an hour later and I took a picture of it at Harrison's request.
I'm a Star!!!!
            Then I got all my siblings (We all had been banished from the house by our evil ahem, nice Mother.) To pose for me as I took their picture.
Chocolate! Chocolate! Mustache!
             When we had, had hot chocolate earlier today Gregory had been messy and Mom didn't notice it and so there he went with a mustache throughout the day.
pretty picture
              I was actually able to get them all around smiling (I really don't know what Harrison is up to but, it may be he just hasn't had enough practice smiling with his teeth.) And as I said the lighting was perfect.
I'm a little Egyptian
            Beatrice wanted to pose again so they tried the Egyptian walk but couldn't quite get it right so they look more like little teapots. I have another picture of them doing this but Gregory was in the middle of falling and alone Bea looked like she was trying to model something.
A bad self-portrait
            I had decided that there needed to be a picture of me on this day so I tried to do it by myself and it didn't turn out so well. Oh well.
Natasha's house
            I liked the way the sun was on her window so I took the picture for that reason and only that reason.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Life goes on and learning happens in so many ways. Some people learn by doing, some by seeing and some by hearing. Some of the ways and things we have been learning are in this very educational piece.

This fall I learned of icivics a pretty cool website. It kept the kids busy learning and being entertained. They now know more about the amendments than I do which isn't really to hard to do, but it was fun to run for office, decide the outcome of real court cases in the past. If you want to become more civicly aware check out this site.

Did you know that if you mix hydrogen peroxide and yeast you get a really good explosion. I was cleaning the goo off of every surface in my kitchen after Harrison learned how much oxygen can be created that way.

Did you know that eventually water balloons always break when filled with water. For some reason they were rolling around my house for few days as babies and they always seemed to break at the most inopportune times. I have now banned water balloon babies in the house.

Harrison has learned how to figure the surface area and volume of an odd shaped solid, he is getting this from his math text. Gregory has been learning multiplication, he has been learning it at odd times with his daddy.

We have learned all about finances and running our own business in the books Lawn Boy and Lawn Boy Returns both by Gary Paulsen and based right here in the metro area. Gary is a Minnesota native and it is always fun to read a locals work. In these books you read about how a 12 year old boy accidentally becomes a successful business person when his grandma gives him his grandpa's old riding lawn mower as a gift for his birthday. Written in a very entertaining way it has us all laughing away and wanting to read the whole book right then and I think we may be actually learning something at the same time. How fun is that!

Margaret made a lovely dreamcatcher the other day by reading a Double Dare book for girls and seeing the instructions there. It probably won't hold back bad dreams but it is pretty cute wall art. She also learned how to go the bathroom in the woods and so many other random goodies. We read a sweet story from the library about dreamcatchers  called Grandmother's Dreamcatcher

Travis and I have been having so much fun finding out how much each of our appliances cost to run with Travis' new toy Kill A Watt. We now know that the top loading washer takes .30 kwh which equals 2 pennies of electricity at our rates to do a load of denim. It also used 4 sink fulls of water. Our front loader used almost 2 sink fulls of water and .13 kwh which equals 1 penny at our rates and this was a load of towels. Fairly equal weighted loads. Now something that was very interesting to us is that our coffee pot uses about the same amount of energy to brew a 12 cup pot of coffee as the front loader did to wash that load .14 kwh. We have only had Kill A Watt for two days so that is as far as we have gotten but we can't wait to find out how much everything is using.

Now I am waiting to learn who will be leading our country for the next 4 years. Has our state decided to limit marriage, have we decided to reduce voter fraud, will St Paul continue to raise property taxes so every student in the public system can have their own ipod. Questions I hope my morning paper will answer!

God Bless the USA!

Monday, October 29, 2012


And not brought to you by Obama. These are good changes.

School has been in session for a couple months now. We have managed to take a week or so off each month but I think even with our breaks we have truly become smarter.

We have grown older,

eating her birthday breakfast of biscuits and gravy
Margaret is now 12,

 Beatrice in now 9,

Singing Happy Birthday and getting ready to receive her  birthday "spankings".

 And Harrison is 14.

For Harrison's birthday we went to Fogo De Choa for lunch with a couple of his friends..

and to Kade's, a special little friend of Harrison's with whom he almost shares a birthday, birthday supper.

My hair was craving a change so I finally gave in to it and got it cut. Here are some before pictures for posterity.

An immediately after the cutting picture.

Lest you worry my hair was wasted I did donate it to Locks of Love so I guess it will  be worn by someone else some day. 

We are now among the people who can say they have cured, cooked and eaten corned beef tongue. It truly is tasty but some of us are having a hard time eating it. It is just a bit different in texture and in looks than what we are accustomed to.

Peeling the beef tongue.

Travis lost his schedule at work that I was so loving. He is now working the road which he actually likes a lot better so it was a good and bad change.

We thought about changing our washing machine but turns out we don't need to change that. Now I have a spare machine in my laundry area. Anyone want to buy a overhauled and cleaned top loading washer? I like the storage I get on top of the front loading washer better. Besides I guess front loaders are more energy efficient and definitely they are much quieter.

More later,

Saturday, August 11, 2012


It seems like a long time since I have blogged. It has been.
I keep thinking of things to write and now that I sit down to do that I have pretty much a blank of what to write about.
I made english muffin bread this spring and thought it was pretty good but I am pretty sure that it was made as an accident when someone was trying to make regular bread. When it turned out chewy and dense they called it something else and everyone loved it. I liked it but I don't think it impressed anyone else around here so I have only made it a few times. It is really fast so I have continued to make it when I need bread done quickly. No kneading, not much rising time it is pretty handy.

I also made dolmas this summer. Some times I out do myself with how yummy they turn out. These pictured were a good batch. Also a big batch. These are some I froze for a later meal. That worked out well. I had never frozen them before so I was glad to find out that that worked. I should go see if there are any fresh grapes leaves I could pick tomorrow. We haven't had dolmas in quite some time.

We got to take a ride on a train in June. As a train funded family I feel like we should travel that way some day but as yet we have only gotten to ride on them for a little while. Someday maybe we can really go far in a train.

I ordered and have received all of our school books now. I still need to put most of them away, mostly they are still in the boxes. We have carefully browsed them and I am quite excited to get started with them when it is time. We still have several weeks of summer left. I am trying to get as much out of it as I can.
 We took a trip to Bemidji the other day. It was good to see everyone. We took a picture of Molly-Bea. They look so pretty in their coordinated outfits.
We also took a picture of we sisters. I like this one that Keren took the best of the pictures on my camera. I think the three of us in the middle look the most alike. We practically look like triplets. Maybe it is just our silly smiles here, I don't know. 

 Today was National S'Mores Day. We ate s'mores all day long to celebrate. We started with oatmeal served with chocolate chips and marshmallows. I liked mine stirred while the oatmeal was really hot so it melted them all together. Quite a yummy treat.
Then at lunch we had traditional s'mores for desert, and for afternoon snack we melted chocolate and drizzled it over ice cream cones and served marshmallow with our ice cream in the cone. We were all pretty happy about that too. We debated on making s'more milk shakes after supper but I felt like, maybe, we had had enough. there is always tomorrow. Deborah was pleased with her marshmallow line up so she took the above picture.

I have really utilized our grill this summer. Well, usually the grilling part is done by the men of the family. I am just the interior designer  and the director. Since it has been so hot I felt like it was better to cook as much as I could outside of the air conditioning. Mostly we have been quite pleased with our victuals too. Tonight we had pork chops and biscuits grilled, with broccoli salad on the side. I do love broccoli salad. We have made pizza on the grill, both frozen and homemade, quite a bit of potatoes, and other standard grilled foods. Grilling corn was a first for me last week too. I really liked it. My other hot times cooking tip is plugging in the crock pots on the porch when cooking in them. I probably use my crock pots more in the summer than any other time, for this reason.
Well, toodle-do, good-bye for now,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Owl City

 Yesterday night I got to go to an Owl City concert!
 While we were driving there I learned (I might have known it before.) That Minneapolis is also called Dinky Town. When we got to the concert we were late by no means but, it seemed some people had waited through the main part of the storm, (We did get a good storm in though it was shortish.) Some were smart enough to bring umbrellas. When we got into the Varsity Theater we found out that there were only around 20 seats plus a few couches (the couches couldn't see the stage at all) for the entire crowd, and those were in the balcony, we would have to stand for the concert. We sat for a while on a smaller stage and then the music began, but, it was the intro lady named, Jaymee Dee. She had a rather pretty voice, one downfall of hers was she kept on calling herself a cheese ball but, she had pretty songs. Right about then I figured out just how loud it was going to be, very loud. After she sang a few songs she exited and it was Owl City's turn. They got on and Adam Young said it was amazing to be back home in Minneapolis or Minnesota I'm not quite sure but, I think it was Minnesota. And then he began singing with the background voice of Brianne Darr. (She is a girl and, his band was playing to.) Benjamin  (Keren, Becky, Harrison, Beatrice and, Myself, were there to.) Went and grabbed some of the ear plugs that, I guess, were being handed out because of the loudness of it all, and so we all, except Keren, wore earplugs, of which I was very grateful, for the rest of the night. Then after Owl City finished playing a lot of songs there was an encore, and we went back home exhausted!

Ta Ta, Margaret!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Making a guitar

One day I decided to make a play guitar. I ended up not being the one to make it, because Deborah ended up making it. I did hold the tape for her, though, but she ended up pulling it off. 
Then  Deborah gave it to Gregory since his birthday was a few weeks ago. 
I found the idea in a collage book called, Kid Made Modern ALL ABOUT COLLAGE by,Todd Oldham. If you want to know what page it was on I could tell you in a comment.



Milk Tart

So recently I have been desiring a milk tart. I just never get the thought when I have the time to make a pie crust and the filling and so on. So finally this evening we ate a milk tart. I about put the recipe card away when I was getting started because I really didn't know how much I should bite off for my baking evening since it was already 6pm and I hadn't made our supper, just had the tortilla dough made up and resting and a vague idea about what was going to go in them. (Turkey, beans, salsa and corn cooked together with guacamole is what it turned out being - very good). I still had a pumpkin pie to make, and a double batch of graham crackers. Bea also created an apple pie when she came in and saw the extra crust.

This recipe goes back a ways in my history. When I was about 11 or so a family from South Africa lived near our community for about a year on a farm that a missionary in S. Africa owned. They were a really sweet family and it was fun getting to know them. I taught their daughter Zoe piano for a little bit even. One of the times their family came over for supper Wendy brought Milk Tarts for desert. They are a mild treat but something about them really endears them to me. I am sure you will like them too, if you try them. I probably shouldn't share this recipe because the last few times I have made it, it has been very weepy and I am not sure why, I don't remember hers being weepy and I don't think mine always have been either. Although I hadn't made them for years until I thought of them last year or so, for some reason I can't remember.

I tried to make them on Tuesday when I made Bobotie also from South Africa. I thought we would have a proper ethnic meal from another continent. But it was not to be, I had too many places to be.
I guess Thursday is a good day for making milk tart, too. You can probably make them anyday of the week you wish. 

I think I will give you the recipe now.

Milk Tart

Scald 2 cups milk in a sauce pan with some cinnamon in it.
Remove from heat,

Gradually stir in 4 Tablespoons of sugar
                           6 Tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt
Whisk this all up until it is well incorporated 
Return to burner on medium heat and heat stirring regularly until it is thick and bubbly,
Remove from heat again.

 Put 2 Tablespoons of butter into the milk and mix well.
Allow to cool for a bit,
then add 2 well beaten eggs.
Stir well.

Pour milk mixture into an 8 inch pie pan lined with a pie crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake in a hot 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 10- 15 minutes, or golden and set.

In other news, Travis is achy and happy tonight, the last two days we have added to our wood collection nicely so we shall be warm next winter. Always a good feeling to be prepared.

Good night,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winter Projects

I have wanted a Murphy bed in our basement for a long time. I felt that it would be the best use of our space and kind of fun. Dad was here one day to help "us" (Travis really) get started. That was good it gave us confidence, initiative and a boost start. Do you like their handy saw horses?

We had fun trying out all of the shelves as they got built. Travis really wanted them to be strong enough for what ever we ever thought we wanted to store on them down the road. They are holding up so far :). At this point we do not have any doors on them but maybe some day that would be nice to add, I mostly like open areas though so it likely will never happen. 

There are some minor glitches, like I can't put it away by myself since it is so heavy, but I have a few helpers around here so for now that isn't a problem. All in all it was a pretty fun project that we  are very happy to have. 
I need to have a complete cleaning in the basement to complete the project and I keep managing to put that off. Maybe the end will come soon and I won't have too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Some time this winter we went to the Minnesota Institute of Art. I may be the only person in our family who thinks that place is cool and wants to go there, but I have a bunch of good sports around so they went with me.
We went this time to focus on ancient China history since we were there for a few weeks in our history. They had some videos about that time period we could watch as well. They were pretty neat but lots and long so we only watched a few as there is more to life than sitting in a dark room watching a screen.
Not many can carry off wearing cowboy boots and polyester shorts but my six year old can, and look classily handsome!

We went to the James J. Hill house the other day on a tour. It is quite pretty. Made us house jealous though, their first floor hallway has the same square footage as our whole house, so my men tell me, I didn't do the math. He offered the bishop a quarter of a million dollars in 1876 to not build the cathedral where it is sitting, I guess he thought it would block his view to much. That man was very industrious. 
Part of the servants porch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Recital Bars

Beatrice had her recital yesterday evening and I was to take a sweet treat to share afterwards. Not really in the mood for baking once I remembered my responsibilities yesterday afternoon I thought of this recipe only because of the appropriateness of the name Recital Bars. They are also very quick and simple to make making them a perfect treat for more than just when you are going to a recital.
I haven't shared a recipe here for awhile so I thought I would give this one to you. I got the recipe out of our church cookbook. It was submitted by someone who plays music for her profession so I suppose she had her share of recitals over the years.

Recital Bars
These are pretty sweet, it wouldn't hurt to cut the sugar down a bit. You can't too much or they won't stick correctly though.

Melt together:

1 cup butter
1cup sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

Stir in :

4 cups oatmeal

Pat in bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan that is greased, bake for 12 minutes at 350*. Allow to cool and set for a bit.

Melt together: 

6 ounces chocolate chips. (I used more than this, this time)
2/3 c. peanut butter (I never measure this, too messy :)

Spread over oatmeal base.

Allow to set for a bit and cut into small squares. Serve whenever you are ready for them. 

I also have a recipe for funeral bars so someday if I need them I might share that recipe with you, too. Fun names.

Luckily Bea performed yesterday evening because while she was brushing her teeth last night she rested her hand in the door jam of the boys room and got her fingers rather mushed. They are working fine today but we did have our worries about them for a bit.

Ta ta,