Monday, October 25, 2010

The Demise of a pumpkin

Today we decided it was time to cut into the pumpkins....we've been reading all these great books and couldn't resist!

Out of all the books we read, I think this one left the most lasting's about a class who wants to know how many seeds are in their pumpkin with an underlying story that bigger isn't always better....gotta love a good wholesome story!

Before starting the demise...we all took a guess at just how many seeds we would find...

Small Pumpkin guesses...

J- 60
DH-342 (we thought he was crazy!)
Me- 99

Larger Pumpkin guesses...


and the results?

Drum roll please...

Small pumpkin seeds totaled....


So I guess DH wasn't so crazy afterall! lol

And the big pumpkin?

Are you beating on the nearest surface?

.......I can't hear you....

drum roll please.....

506!!! How cool is that?

We got to make lots of comparisons about the differences we the color of the meat inside...

and the size of the seeds too!

After soaking them in salt water over night these are going to make a great snack!

And the small pumpkin was quickly turned into these...

Chocolate chip pumpkin cookies!

(Recipe thanks to my dear friend Aimee!)


2 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 16 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin
1 t vanilla
1 c chopped walnuts (I left these out-not much of a nut in cookies fan)
1 12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:1. Preheat oven to 375.

Grease 2 cookie sheets.

Mix flour, powder, soda, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl

Beat butter and sugar together in another bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth and well blended. Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring to make a smooth batter. Stir in nuts (if desired) and chocolate chips.

Drop by T sized spoonfulls onto prepared sheets.

Bake in preheated oven until edges are golden, 18-20 minutes. Cool briefly on sheets and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Don't you just LOVE fall? My house is smelling so yummy these days!

Gone batty

Go here to check out the giveaway! Wouldn't he be just perfect for our fairy house? :) I think Elder needs a friend don't you? Oh how we love our wooden critters so!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What came first...the chicken or the egg?

To go along with the spirit of our One Small Change, we are trying to become more aware of where our food comes from and how it is produced.... not only checking labels for ingredients (have I mentioned how much I hate high fructose corn syrup?) but also purchasing milk that comes from cows that haven't been treated with hormones and buying eggs (when we run low from ours) that come from chickens that have been humanely treated and again, not injected with hormones and fed things we wouldn't feed our dog....

I consider ourselves to be SO lucky to be living in the area that we do because we have the opportunity to actually go to the places where our food is made and see the conditions under which our food is raised/put together! I had no idea how much of the food we eat comes from the west coast! Dummy me, I guess I just never thought about it much...and my list keeps growing and growing for the places to visit!

I was SO excited to see a segment on our local news channel about Wilcox Family farms, a local egg producer and to see that they were having a harvest festival/tour! The coolest thing about it? They are only a stones throw from our house! How cool is that?

Not only did they give us samples but we got to visit with them a bit too. The lady on the left is a member of the family...her mother actually attended the one room school house that is now located on their farm!


The one room school house where members of the Wilcox family once attended... the kiddos got to ring the school bell ( a big highlight!) and they had a lesson on the board. There were also glass cases of old books for us to see. I thought it was so cool because we had at least one if not two of the readers!

It's funny how the simplicity of a water pump could be so interesting to our kids! I just love the hands on aspect of it...they still talk about getting to make the water come out! lol

Another plus to the visit was this old ringer for laundry! Aren't you glad you have a washer and dryer? lol

The girls were excited to see this tho because it is in one of their VERY favorite books. Now they understand what it is and how it worked!

They also got to paint pumpkins! That was an added surprise!

After all the fun activities, we got to go for a hay ride of sorts and they took us down to where the chickens are actually raised...

Now, I don't know about you, but after seeing Food Inc. I have viewed chickens in a whole other light and was a bit nervous/anxious about this part of the tour. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement... spending many years in Missouri, it was inevitable not to drive by a Tyson chicken barn (boo hiss gag!) and the smell that surrounded them could be smelled for miles. This place was nothing like that...we were pulled in right up close and there was essentially now smell!!! They explained how the mechanical roosting boxes worked both to keep the area clean and to get the eggs in a timely manner. They also explained that while this particular field of chickens are organic and free range, their non-organic chickens are voluntarily free range also! I thought that was so cool! We had the chance to ask questions of the workers, who were also fourth generation Wilcox family members. That too impressed me...that the family didn't just set back and collect a check but rather had a hands on approach. The whole farm felt like a family farm...clean and welcoming... It was interesting to me how fast the eggs from this farm are out and on the shelf at our local stores...2-3 apposed to the up to 30 days it takes from other egg producers...can you imagine? 30 days to get to the store, not to mention the time they sit there and then the time till they get to our plates? Really makes you wonder huh? :)

All in all, I think this was one of THE coolest field trips we've ever been on and I look forward to going back and getting to tour the actual production line and see how the eggs are cleaned and packaged. As for us...we are lucky to have our own eggs but will seek out Wilcox eggs in the future as we need them. I know that researching your food is time consuming and at times frustrating when we don't get the answers we want but don't you think it's our duty as caregivers, parents and Americans in general to be informed and to make the best choices we can about what we buy? Would you blindly vote for a candidate for President? I hope why would you "vote" for food that isn't really food and that can cause harm in so many ways...just think of it as voting when you go to the super market...and don't think you have to change everything...start small. Choose one aspect of you family's diet and look into it. Start with say, eggs...every little bit counts!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall into Reading!

This time of year is such a wonderful time. I know each season has it's "perks" but the fall for some reason seems to have more...I don't know if it's just because there are so many celebrations all in a row or if it's simply because, thanks to Mother Nature, we have to slow down a bit? What ever the cause, we are SO enjoying a true's been many years since I've gotten to enjoy such a fall, a real fall...In Alaska we just kinda skipped over fall for winter and in Texas we had summer that lasted thru two seasons and jumped into winter eventually so this transition of the seasons has been a wonderful time for us all! Apple picking, pumpkin painting and fall related reading galore!! These are just a few of what we've been reading!

The pictures in this book are enchanting...this one is going on our list to purchase for sure. It takes you thru the months of the year and shares the sweetest celebrations and other goings on...the girls really enjoyed this one!

Another must have book goes onto our list! This book of a wife doing all this crazy stuff getting ready for winter while the husband sits in his chair exhausted had the girls giggling throughout the story! I am a sucker for detailed pictures and this one was a great crowd pleaser!

As with most of these books, we got this one at the library...J is so sad to see it go back that I think I am going to have to order it ASAP! We so enjoyed the story of how September introduced Christopher to all the "characters" of fall and the feeling of mischief we felt as his new friends sent him on a wild goose chase for his beloved ball. Again, it's all about the artwork for me and these old fashioned drawings just sucked me in...I can't wait to add this one to our collection!

This book was a fun one to read...with a teacher who liked to rhyme and say the wrong words to keep the children guessing! The girls got a kick out of it and we really enjoyed reading it!

I have been enjoying the posts of Learning with Mouse for some time now but hadn't taken the leap to post what we've been reading yet...well, our list of great books keeps growing and it seems so wrong not to share it with everyone! Some of these we have discovered from other bloggers and some we've found just by spending time at the library or our local thrift stores! So for this week I am sharing these fall/harvest/apple/pumpkin related books we've been finding and the crafts and activities we did to go along with it! Be sure to go to her site and check out what they've been reading too!

The great fall crafts seem to be never ending!!! We are so enjoying the crafts but I can't take credit for thinking them up! Check out the sites I've been following an be sure to let them know I sent you! :)

I'm running out of time for all these great crafts but wanted to share them incase you find the time! :)

Our Homeschool Fun- Milk jug jack-o-lanterns

Making memories with your Kids Milk Jug Ghosts

Almost Unschoolers Crazy about Candy Corn!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Tag-a-long

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Tag-Along blog hop, hosted by Twee Poppets Review and Giveaway! This is a great way to discover new blogs while increasing the number of followers for your own blog. Please feel free to grab the TTA button for your blogroll to help bring more bloggers to this blog hop!
Tuesday Tag-AlongTuesday Tag-Along button art adapted from the "Follow the Leader" illustration by Diana Jones. I encourage you to visit her at her blog, Sketch & Jones, and her online shop to see more great illustrations and all sorts of wonderful crafts! Without further ado...Here's how it works:
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When you get a new follower through Tuesday Tag-Along, be sure to follow them back! It's just common courtesy. :) The weekly Tuesday Tag-Along MckLinky opens every Monday night at 8:59pm Pacific Standard Time (that's 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time), and the TTA blog post will be posted well in advance of that time. The MckLinky will be open to add your blog until 11:59pm Tuesday night. You then have all week long to visit blogs and return follows!There is a new list every week. The link you enter one week will not carry over to the next week's MckLinky. Please link up again each week to join in the fun!

A new friend stopped by...

A while back I entered a give-a-way on facebook for a doll from KD Doll Shop

I enter giveaways all the time, on a daily basic really, and while I have been EXTREMELY fortunate on the things we have won (I have so many posts to still write about them!) I usually enter them and forget about them figuring I don't stand a chance! Well, this particular give-a-way was one of those times, I didn't think I stood a chance so I was SOOO thrilled to get an email stating that I'd won and that I had the pick of her shop!!!

Having made dolls similar to these, I know the time and love that goes into them and how hard it is to part with one even if it's for sale, let alone GIVING it away! I can't imagine! But I can tell you how amazing it was to win one! PURE JOY!! I fell in love with "Heidi" at first site and quickly made my pick...then it sunk in that my girls were going to have issues...oh my...who to give this doll too? DH and I talked about it and he insisted that the doll is MINE! What? I get a doll? lol At first I thought he was crazy! Pure crazy! But then, I was having a crappy day (nothing major just life getting in the way of a long needed break I had planned) and I escaped into town for a bit of quiet time to myself...only to find "Heidi" waiting for me in the mail. I have to admit, I felt a bit child-like as I opened the box and carefully pulled her out...The pictures don't do these dolls justice! She is so beautiful and so soft and entire mood changed due to this little doll and I knew that DH was right to call her mine!

As it turned out, this special little doll would become even more special in the next few days. While she resides in my room most of the time, gathered with a bunch of new friends from my childhood, she gets to go on special day trips into the girls' rooms when they have done something extra nice for someone else! One day, R wasn't feeling good, and J ended up voluntarily waiting on her hand and really was so sweet to see her be so caring and that night I asked if she would like to sleep with Heidi. She was so excited and quickly welcomed her into the warm covers...until a few minutes later when she came out very concerned that she would lose her hat in bed or what if J slept upside down (as she usually does) and messed Heidi's hair?....she was so concerned because she knew how special Heidi is! So, a bed for Heidi was made on the floor next to her bed and she was fed breakfast the next morning and put back into my room without even being reminded...

I know it sound crazy for me to keep this doll all for myself, but I must admit I do love knowing she is mine and I find that sometimes I just go in and pick her up to hold her. She just looks like such a sweet friend to have and I love that the girls think she is so special.

So, if you are looking to purchase a doll for a special little girl in your life, please consider skipping that plastic doll requiring batteries (for noises you will dread before the toy is even brought home)... and consider purchasing a Waldorf doll....

These dolls are made with love in every stitch (not lead or other toxic chemicals) here in the good ol' US of A (not CHINA!).....these dolls are carefully made of love and natural materials and give the opportunity for a child to receive the gift of imagination and joy from a simple doll....

And to KD Dolls....a heartfelt THANK YOU!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An artful journey

For years my husband has been teasing me about this bag of "sticks" that we've been moving along with us for no other reason than I collected them on a trip to Homer, AK and I thought that they will be useful someday! Well, today is the day! lol

This large piece of driftwood (along with many others) was found on the spit in Homer, Alaska on a fishing trip we took with friends who were visiting from Montana. Little did we know at the time, but we were expecting J! I'm not sure what is was about that trip that made it so special...I didn't go fishing or do anything major but we were with friends and we were making memories... while the men were off fishing, the ladies and I went to art galleries and after the men returned with hundreds of lbs of halibut and a few salmon to make up for dinner, we headed to the spit...

I just remember taking lots of pictures of the my husband's hands hold my stepson's tiny 5 year old hands while they fished (with no luck!) and the details of the rocks and the piles of drift wood that had spent so much time at sea but landed there on that spot for me to find and treasure! I had no idea at the time what I was going to use them for but they have come in handy a number of times and make our projects that much more special! That is why I was so excited to think of this...

What better way to use a treasured item than to make it useable and welcome the nature into our schoolroom in one more way!

The girls sat stringing beads and practicing their math (counting for R and adding for J) make their own art display!
We simply attached hangers to the back of it, beaded fishing string onto painted wooden clothes pins and beaded on the galss beads!!! SOOO simple but the girls are so proud of what they "made"!

I love the way the room is FINALLY coming together and starting to feel more welcoming! Let the creative juices start flowing!

Wonder what she's working on? Check out The Letter Writing Revolution! Since our move J has been hard at work on letters to her friends in hopes of getting mail in return someday! *Hint hint* and has even picked up a few new penpals along the way! She is currently working on a detailed letter to one of those said penpals about what we've been doing in school and what she's learning about fall....Emails are great but letters are better!! Go check out the blog and grab a piece of paper and a pen...someone is anxiously awaiting mail too! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

And the winner is...

Sorry for the late posting! My weekend got away from me!

I'll pop this in the mail to you later this week!! Hope your weekend was a great one!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

One Small Change revisited

It's been about eight months or so since I saw a movie that would change my life...I'd read about it on blogs and heard about it in the news but it wasn't until I actually sat down to watch it did I realize that I would never be the same again, or look at the world in the same light. It's still amazing to me that a movie can make that kind of change...and I wonder just how much change it could make in the world if everyone would actually take the time to watch it...

The movie I am talking about is not a big blockbuster doesn't have any famous actors or fancy production tricks...only truths...and so much free thinking that most people are afraid to even watch makes people uncomfortable and is a real slap in the face to the way our country is run and the falsities we are told and expected to just "swallow" I'm not say this movie is the be-all-end-all (as some of my farming friends have voiced to me) but it does bring up questions that I think everyone should have to answer for themselves.

Food Inc. opened my eyes to the way our food is dumbed down, for lack of better words. It is dumbed down to the point that we are poisoning ourselves and we don't even care....For me, I always thought of us as fairly healthy eaters. We eat salad, not too much fast food and I try to buy organic when we can...and still the movie through me for a loop!

I had seen Michael Pollan on Martha Stewart and then again on Oprah before realizing that this was really something I wanted to delve into. I watched him on Oprah, and then watched it again with DH...I was so moved that I might actually still have it on my DVR...I got Food Inc from Netflix and DH and I sat down one evening to watch it. The responses we felt were disbelief, anger and then empowerment....a surge within to take control of our eating and to truly make a difference in our lifestyle and those of our children.

As with anything new, we went into it full speed and I know our friends thought we were crazy and our family probably still thinks we are! lol I stopped buying hamburger completely, and started buying bison meat as it was the only meat I could purchase at the time that actually had labels on it that I could read and that stated that the animals were grass fed and antibiotic free. We had a meal of cooked chicken that I already had in the freezer and found ourselves sick to our stomach when it came time to eat we stopped eating chicken too until we could find a supplier that we felt good about (which never happened in that location!) I started researching blogs online that gave me some alternatives to meat and DH was a doll and actually tried the vegan recipes that I found! It was a whole family renovation and we were all in it together. Surprisingly...the vegan recipes were good and I think there was only one that didn't make it into the permanent recipe box!

We also had just purchased a Jack LaLanne juicer (worth every penny!) for Christmas and boy was it ever great! We started having more energy and craving the crap drinks less and less! A few times I even tried to drink a Coke and it just didn't taste that great! It's amazing to me what our bodies can do if only given the chance to flourish instead of bogging it down with things it doesn't really need.

Now, I don't want you to think we are going vegetarian, as that would never happen with DH being such a hunting fan...I totally believe that God put animals on this planet for us to use however he did not intend for us to use, abuse and throw them away! I felt like after seeing this movie, it was just one more way that the world is creeping farther and farther out of control, and I know that there probably isn't any real hope of changing it completely as I also know the Biblical stand on how the state of the world is going, but on the other hand, I don't have to just stand by and watch it happen. There are things we can do, little things that add up to be big things...little things that we can teach our children are important and little things that can make a big difference....

Back at the beginning of the year, I joined a blogging journey to bettering ourselves and the world around us through One Small Change... blogging about one thing each month that you are doing to make a difference in our make it a better place...I was so moved by this and somehow it helped me focus in a time of so much chaos in our lives. I felt good about the changes we had made like using rags instead of paper towels, changing from plastic to glass storage, using vintage (or new) cloth hankies, and of course our not so small change in the way we view and purchase foods...

I am horrified and sadden that somehow I dropped the ball. I thought the challenge was supposed to go only thru Earth Day and I stopped the challenge when in reality I guess I was still going on! I just happened on to the blog this morning and realized it today so my One Small Change for the month of October is going to be getting back to all those changes we made, as we are still getting back to "normal" after the big move and unfortunately that means we got a bit lax in the way we were doing today is the day...the paper towels are going back into hiding for true emergencies and the juicer will be humming again as soon as my wee ones awake...

My urge to you is to go check out One Small Change and be open to the small changes we can all make in our lives to add up to something awareness! And by all means...go watch Food Inc...(for FREE)...your lives will never be the same! Try not to look at it as scary or daunting but rather see it as voting with your fork!!!

I would love to hear about the changes you are making...please leave a message with the link to your change and perhaps I will even have a showcase of the changes going on...anyone game for being a guess blogger? :)

A stop sign is a gift for you to learn that moving in the same direction won't take you any place new.Rex Steven Sikes

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...

yep...we are definately settling into our new surroundings. We have found our local library (and LOVE IT!), made many a visit to the quilt shop in town (now if only I had time to sew the fabric that is piling up!lol) and we found our local thrift store...those are the true signs that we are getting comfortable and braving the new area we call our stomping ground! lol

While I still miss our old haunts...the Goodwill just off the freeway, the spouses thriftshop on base and the antique store downtown....we are finding new favorite places...the kind of places that make a place feel like home....

We have made a number of visits to this particular thriftstore and have found treasures everytime but for some reason I felt compelled to share our finds with you this time... Keep in mind, my total came to a mere $7 and change!! Gotta love that kind of bargain!

A new fairy story, Lands End shoes for J, yarn that I had just been looking for at the store but they were out of! and the cutest little camel...bought for pattern making but got quickly whisked away to the fairy house!

Readers for J that were obviously from a library...if these were in the thrift store, just what are kids reading these days? I'll take a vintage book over the junk they make now anyday! :)

More books...cause you know we need them! lol NOT!
Clothes pins and ribbon for a project I have planned (having them already painted will save me time! woo hoo!) and these BEAUTIFUL potholders!! There was a huge stack of them and they are simply wonderful!!! The ones on the left are for me (and I use them daily) and another set I gave to a friend...which leaves the third set for one of you!!
Mandatory entry- Just leave a comment telling me your favorite second hand find and what you'll be baking to go along with these potholders!! Easy right?
Want extra chances? Become a follower (or remind me already are) and let me know (+1)
Blog about it and let me know (+1)
These pot holders are new... when I saw the pile sitting there it made me sad...I could just picture some little old lady making these, perhaps making a ton of them and having them pile up in her closet or something and upon her passing, her ungreatful children just dumping them at a dumpster for the thift I bought three sets (wishing I'd bought more now)...later I found out that some ladies from the senior center donated them which made me feel so much better that some ol' granny hadn't been unappreciated but I still bought them just the same! lol They are so thick and work wonderful! I hope you'll enter to win a set too!!
I'll throw all the entries in a hat (literally) and draw a name out on Saturday, Oct 9th (my little bros birthday!).
Oh, and if you look closely in the last picture, you'll see a sneak peak of a little guy I've been working on for a swap with Bits of Goodness! Lots of creative juices flowing and ideas for Christmas coming...couldnt' we have a few more hours in the day? :)