Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forth of July Week

In honor of our nation's birthday, we're celebrating the Forth of July all week! Yesterday, we learned about the original 13 colonies. Then one of the kiddos shared the meaning of our state flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. We looked at a picture of the first flag of the Revolution. After it sent a mixed message, George Washington visited Betsy Ross with a sketch for a new flag. It included six-pointed stars. Betsy Ross showed him a cool trick to cut a five-pointed star - and the rest is history. Here's the link to make your own 5 point star in one snip star www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagstar.html .

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Win!

Just for the record, I'm not a green thumb - especially not like my neighbor! Her back yard is green and lush. She has fruit trees producing fruit after only 2 years, tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of other things. She let the kids plant pumpkins in her garden and they are going crazy. I tried planting pumpkins last year and they shot up and did great for a few weeks, then died within a few days.

I don't think of myself as a brown thumb either. I've had a few scattered successes. I had a few basil plants thrive at our first house. I recently kept a bamboo plant alive for over two years. So, I think there's hope for me. I'll call myself an aspiring gardener.

For Mother's Day, one of my children gave mini-rose plants to three of us. Mine is still living. Maybe I just need to do competition gardening, one plant at a time to be a successful gardener? I also received a Bougainvillea that day. It was a skinny little plant with some leaves and a few flowers. The flowers fell off almost immediately after I planted it, and the leaves followed shortly after. The stem was still green, so I kept watering it and now there are more leaves than I started with and they are even bigger that the original ones!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Inventions Week, Day Four

Today we learned about ancient Mesopotamian inventions. I had to look up where Mesopotamia was, it covered present day Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It included Babylon. They invented the ever vital wheel. They also invented spears, helmets and some kind of chariot. And perfume was invented on their watch, so I guess that's how people managed until soap was invented! For our activity, we drew pictures of spears, helmets and chariots. A couple of the kids even got some help in making a spear, scary!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Inventions Week, Day Three

Today we learned about Greek inventions. Boy they were industrious people! One of their many inventions was soap. People must have been pretty stinky before then!

We were in the mood for a sweet activity, so we "built" cupcakes. Yum! They were homemade yellow cupcakes, with homemade frosting. We didn't make the sprinkles though, just decorated with them.

We finished of our school day by watching Hercules and listed the inventions shown in the movie that we learned about. It's amazing what you notice when you are looking for it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inventions Week, Day Two

Today we learned about Egyptian inventions. You know you can't talk about Egypt and not have a discussion on mummies. My kids especially like to hear how they got the brain out. Mummies usually lead us to the pyramids. We made paper pyramids and then built a human pyramids!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inventions Week

This week we are learning about inventions for our stay-at-home summer school. Today we talked about Roman inventions. Did you know the Romans invented glass blowing, sewers, drains and socks? It was new to me! Since the Romans built so many amazing buildings, we spent some time building with Ello. Pretty fun!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

China Week, the Finale

To finish off China week, we read a story about the Chinese Zodiac. Do you know why the rat is the symbol of the first Chinese year? We looked at a picture of a Chinese statue called the "Flying Horse". We also learned a little about how Buddha came to be, what he taught, and how his teachings were spread. Finally we tried our hand at origami. It was fun, but I am not precise enough to do it well. I think I'll stick to scrapbooking!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

China Week, Part Four

Another day of Chinese fun. Today we learned about the clothing, jobs and homes of ancient China. We read one of many stories about the Phoenix. Then watched Mulan for our activity. Simple and fun!

I finally finished going through the Family Fun magazines! The stack is literally higher than my knees. Now I can start rearranging the books to make room for everything and maybe end up a little more organized.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

China Week, Part Three

Today was a little busy with meetings and play dates. We only had time to read a story called The Goddess who Cast the Bell. It was long and kind of different. I wanted to read Lon Po Po, but I realized just before we were going to start today's lesson, that I don't have it. It sounds really good, a Chinese version on Little Red Riding Hood. Maybe another time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

China Week, Part Two with a Bonus

During day two of our China week, we learned a few basic facts about China and we learned about the Great Wall of China. Did you know that puppy is around 3700 miles long? We read the Magic Paintbrush. I thought I had read this before, but not the version we read today. I really enjoyed it. Loosely related to the whole China theme, we watched Wendy Wu; Homecoming Warrior. During the movie we enjoyed our Chinese Almond Cookies! I didn't know four people could work on one batch of cookies without tripping over each other.

After our summer school fun, came my bonus. The playroom was too messy to vacuum (again), so I pestered the kiddos to clean it up (again). This time they not only cleaned up, but they cleaned out. I think the room lost 40 pounds! So let me know if you're interested in a roller coaster for Kelly dolls or random Fashion Polly clothes ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

China Week

It probably doesn't say so on anyone else's calender, but here it's China week! We're learning about China this week as part of our Stay-at-home Summer School. Today we read The Seven Chinese Brothers, learned about Chinese inventions and colored the Chinese flag. Don't they look great?

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I was feeling lazy this morning and struggling to find motivation to exercise this morning, so I asked the kids if they wanted to go for a walk. I figured they'd get bored pretty quick so it would be a short easy walk, but a walk never the less. When they decided to ride their bikes while I walked, my easy "work-out" vanished! They went farther and faster and so did I. Once again, my children lead me.

We've had a run of things breaking lately, the home air conditioning, the truck, and even the sheets wore out! The truck was the most recent and the dealer's schedule threw off mine. I finally canned my chicken today. It's nice to have more space in my freezer and a couple of boxes full of chicken in the pantry. Here's hoping next week is a little more normal!

Monday, June 8, 2009


I feel like I'm checking things off "the list". I finished writing thank you notes to the kids' teachers. I'd like to do something more for them. We'll see if I can come up with anything.

My pile of Family Fun magazines that I'm ready to part with is growing. I'm already to 2001! There are so many cute ideas, but I'm not sure I'd realistically get to them. So I'm saving what I think I might use and hope I can find the rest if the time comes. Hopefully, by the time I'm through I'll have enough room to shift things around and all the books will have space on a shelf.

This week, I'm canning chicken. It's about time too, since I only have 2 jars left! I need to get to where I'm actually building up my food storage instead of just giving me a few month supply of chicken. Actually, it's lasted me about 6 or 7 months. So that's not a bad start on my year's supply of chicken.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The bookshelves are overflowing again, so I've been seeing what we could bear to part with. There's a stack of kids books that we are done reading, but we still need more room. I'm not sure where I'd put another bookcase if I could scrounge one up, so I had to expand my purge to a book case in another room. I started to go through my collection of Family Fun magazines. I used to look through these old magazines several times a year for ideas of fun things to do with the kids for their birthdays or whatever. With the kiddos getting older, I haven't done this as often. So, I'm looking through them again to see if there are enough ideas to keep them around. There are several ideas or recipes I'm saving and other things I look at and think that might be useful someday, but I doubt I would find the idea if and when it became useful.

The most entertaining part of the process has been the ads from 1999! Back then Playstation was supreme, Mulan was being released on VIDEO (not DVD), printers were boxy, and Pentium II was the latest in computer technology. But my favorite ads were for the cutting edge digital cameras! The cheapest one on the market was Epson's Photo PC 550 for only $200! I do believe the 550 referred to the number of pixels. This camera could hold up to 24 pictures! Whew! Hold on Betsy!!! If you wanted to go all out, you could get the Kodak DC220. It had a whole megapixel. The price tag was $699. Good Times!

I'll continue purging old magazines and craft books I doubt I'll ever use. Hopefully by next week, I'll be able to shift things around and fit all the books on shelves again!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time in the Pantry

I like a neat, well-stocked pantry and for the most part, I succeed. No matter what, every few months, my pantry needs a little tidy up. Food doesn't always get put back where it belongs. Things need to be shifted and sometimes food even needs to be tossed (not my favorite). Today I spent an hour tiding up my pantry. I filled in gaps from my overflow food storage in my closet. It looks pretty again, not as full as I'd like - but I can't get the family to give up eating!

For me this is the first step to start working on getting my food storage growing again. I know the logical first step would be to figure out what I need, and then take an inventory of what I have to figure out what I need. Cleaning out my pantry is a mental thing for me. I don't feel so overwhelmed by the job of acquiring food storage when I can look at a tidy pantry and see I have a year's supply of salad dressing, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, oatmeal, spaghetti sauce and so on. Granted its a pretty random list and we wouldn't be eating that great if that's all we had to live on, but its a start. Now I'm ready for the next step, to look through my food storage meals and update my list of what my food storage needs. There's next week's goal!

How are you doing on your food storage? Could you live off you pantry and freezer for 3 months? This week figure out the next step in your food storage plan.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies and Other Goals

It's a new month, time to turn another page on the calendars! I like to evaluate how I did on my goals for the previous month. I did pretty good. I didn't meet them all, but I exceeded a couple of others - so I guess it all balances out.

For my scrapbooking challenge, I not only completed the 10 remaining layouts for 2007, I also finished 3 layouts from 2008! Those of you who joined in the fun, how did you do?

Yesterday, I made my Chocolate Thumbprint cookies. They got a bunch of thumbs up from the gang here, too bad you missed out Monica. Everyone will enjoy eating yours! Here's the recipe for those of you who are interested.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. milk

In one bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside. In another bowl, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract; add the dry ingredients, mix well. Preheat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls 2-inches apart (the cookies do spread a little) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Push in the center of each ball with your thumb to make an indentation, dip your thumb in flour as needed to get a nice deep impression. Heat chips and milk in saucepan until the chocolate is melted. Stir this mixture until smooth. Spoon the chocolate into each indentation. You’ll have enough chocolate sauce to “overfill” each indention. Bake 10-12 minutes, until cookies look "dry". Cool on racks. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

So what new recipes are you trying? My family would be grateful for something new!


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