Friday, July 31, 2009

summer string art

We went for story time at Grandma and Grandpa's library. They had the coolest string art board set up. It would be really easy to do in a garage or on a large board set outside in the summer. This one was a nice peg board, but any board or wall would do. The children had used all kinds of strings, ribbons, yarn, and torn fabric strips to weave and wrap all around on the board creating a neat design.
Bee had a little trouble wrapping the strings, since many of the pegs were pretty full already.
I think it would be much easier starting fresh with your own board.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I just got an email saying that someone searched for one of our letterboxes and it was missing. That reminded me that we haven't been letterboxing in a few months. It's lots of fun to go on treasure hunts to find letterboxes and just as much fun to hide one and write clues for others.

What's letterboxing? Go here to the official letterboxing site to get started. I can't believe I have not mentioned letterboxing before, it's really been a fun family activity that we all enjoyed and has helped us learn about our area.

Basically, the site is a collection of clues to different locations all over the country. People have hidden letterboxes (small box with a stamper and a small journal) in fun secret spots (under a bridge in the park, behind some rocks just off the path on a pretty walking trail, under a park bench by a pond, etc). You go to the web site, find a hidden box near you, and print off the clues. You take with you- your own stamper and journal, ink pad, pencil, maybe a picnic lunch, etc. Then you follow the clues (ex: go to the park that rest between two school on XYZ road. Follow the trail that is just north of the slide. Just past the bridge you will see two trees that made a large V. Behind the trees, under the rocks you will seek what you find). So, when you find it, you open it and stamp your stamper in their book and write your names (most people have a 'trail' name- we are the bee keepers), town, and date. You also stamp their stamper in your book and write the date, the name of the box, etc. Then you secretly rehide the box and then enjoy the area if you have time. We have discovered new parks, museums, libraries, memorial markers, and just different areas of our town. Often, hiders will write a bit about the area with their clues too (this park was original homestead of Count Phillippe in 1781, he was one of the early settlers to the area and founded the first school in the town).

As it turns out, our new town is full of letterboxes! We will have lots to seek and new areas to explore when we get there in two weeks.

Here are a few pages from our journal. Most people have created lovely hand carved stamps. We always hide store bought ones. Either way...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

candied pecans

On the plane to IN, I ate a bag of trail mix that I had picked up at the grocery the week before. It was BOGO or I wouldn't have gotten it. It was fantastic though and the best part was the candied pecans, which I'd never really eaten (I didn't think until recently that I liked nuts). When I was visiting my grandma's house I was telling her about it and she thought they would be something that I could make myself. I looked online and found a recipe. They turned out really tasty. My mom and sister helped me (ok, it was mostly me) eat the whole bowl that evening.

Here's the recipe:
1 egg white
1 T water
1/2 t vanilla (optional)
1 C sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon (optional)
1/2-1 pound pecan halves (I used a half pound and it was the perfect amount for the dry ingredients- it made them nice and sugary!)

stir the egg and water mix until frothy. coat the pecans. dip in dry mix. cook on a single layer for 1 hour at 250 degrees.

next time- I will just dump the wet in a gallon zip lock with the pecans, coat- then dump in the dry. It'll be a real time saver.

Since I mentioned her, here's a picture of Bee cuddling on the couch with my grandma. We love visiting her house!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

how to make books- two styles

I mentioned letterboxing a few posts ago and thought that perhaps our letterboxing journal needed a little update. At the same time, I thought I might make Bee a little album in case she wanted to collect autographs when we go to Disney World again.

Here are two different styles of books that you can make. They are pretty easy and don't require any special supplies. Each only needed a bit or leftover thin cardboard covered in scrapbooking paper. The pages are made from plain white computer paper. I just measured and cut them all the same size.

For the first I just layed out the covered cardboard cover/back piece and added the pages on top.  Then I sewed along the binding area with my sewing machine.

For the second book I whole punched, and laced a ribbon through instead of sewing.

Fill with all your favorite people's autographs.   We had several princesses and characters comment on our book.  Also, with Bee's name on the front, they didn't have to ask her to repeat her quiet answer about her name a dozen times. 

At home, we printed pictures of Bee with the character and added it to the page.  Now she can read it on her own.  

Monday, July 27, 2009

lemonade syrup-

I saw this recipe at Red Bird Crafts and almost ran to the grocery right then... unfortunately, it was after 9 and I was in my PJs.

The next day however, we ran to the grocery, and then my kitchen staff got right to work.

Here's the recipe for the delicious lemonade syrup

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups of syrup

Ingredients: 1 c water

2 c sugar

7 lemons

1/8 tsp salt

1. Place 2 cups of sugar , 1 cup water, thinly sliced rinds of 2 lemons, and 1/8 tsp of salt into a pot. 2. Simmer for 7 minutes. 3. Cool and add the juice of 7 lemons. 4. Strain and then add half of the rinds to the syrup for flavor and color. 5. Store in a jar and place in the refrigerator. 6. Add a little bit to a glass of ice water.

It was really good, but had a little bit of a bitter flavor from cooking with the rinds. I bought more lemons and will be making it again without the rinds. At Third Friday this month, we had frozen lemonades at a softball team fundraiser booth. I got talking to the ladies and got the dish on their recipe. It sounds super similar to the one I had made... a simple syrup (water and sugar) with fresh lemon juice. They added that mix and a little water to ice in a blender. They were tasty!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

ladies night- a little scrapbooking

not just a little scrapbooking, a lot of scrapbooking actually. Friday night was scrapbooking night. Eight ladies joined in this time. I got a ton done and acquired a heap of nice paper. (thanks again Cristin!) I tried two new recipes:

lemony cooler (sour lemony cooler)
3 cups white grape juice
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c lemon juice
1 bottle (1 liter) club soda, chilled
assorted fresh fruit, optional

Combine grape juice, sugar, lemon juice. Add club soda right before serving. serve over ice with a garnish of fruit.

I really liked this. When hubby tasted it, he asked "Are you going to serve this to people?" Later he explained that what he really meant was that it was sour. I like sour. I renamed it sour lemony cooler in full disclosure.

I also made shrimp toast cups: (I made a half batch)

24 slices of white bread
1 cup butter- melted
2 packages 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 mayo
3 T sour cream
3 T prepared horseradish
3 cans (6 oz) small shrimp
green onions- diced (I didn't add these)

cut crust off bread, flatten with a rolling pin, cut into four pieces. Dip pieces of bread in butter. Place in mini muffin pan cups and bake 325 degrees for 14 ish minutes. cool on wire pan.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, horseradish. just before serving, add shrimp and onions. Spoon into cups. makes 8 dozen.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

dave ramsey just got a little cuter

I have mentioned that we use Dave Ramsey's envelope system for our spending before, but I get asked a lot of questions about them. I thought I'd say a few things about using a cash system and then show my new envelopes! We took the Dave Ramsey financial peace university offered at out church. I like Dave because his program is for every level of income. The cash system is not his invention, past generations did it religiously. This is just one part of his class.

Here's the basis: You run your family fiances like a business does. You don't spend what isn't in the budget. Just about everything is a line item on your budget. So, each month we sit down and allot a certain amount for tithe, housing, different utilities, student loans, grocery, gifts, entertainment, car maintenance, clothing, etc.

When the new month starts, I go to the bank and take out the appropriate amount of cash to fill the envelopes (as per the budget, not just whatever I want!). I put the correct amount in the correct envelope. When I shop, I spend cash from the envelopes. If I run out of money, I don't have anything to spend.

this is the question I get asked most.

Q: what if you need something and you don't have any money left in that envelope?

A: I am careful to not spend carelessly so that there is money for things we NEED. What you NEED and WANT are better prioritized when you see the money and how much you may spend that month. Also, if there is a true emergency, Dave teaches that you have set up a $1000 emergency fund in advance- so there's that. but, a new throw pillows are not an emergency. If i want new throw pillows, I can work that into the budget.

Q: no really, what if you run out of grocery money... you have to feed your family...

A: right, no ones going hungry here. I am really careful to be frugal about our grocery money, especially early in the month. When we get to the third or so week, I can see how it's going and see if there's leftover to buy fancy cheese or take us all out to eat. We may get to the third week and I see that we better see what's in the freezer or in the back of the pantry so that there is enough. One month, I didn't spend as well, I guess and we had to raid the entertainment envelope for a little extra cash. We could have just used the debit card and taken it from the bank, but that would have blown the budget for the month. We have had to raise the amount in the grocery envelope since food prices have risen some and Lou eats as much as Bee now. That amount had to come from somewhere else in the budget (a little less went to the vacation fund or less went into the clothing envelope)

Anyway, I've been using the envelopes we got with our class kit... I decided to make some cuter envelopes using scrapbook paper. I just opened up one of his envelopes and made a few changes to the design and then traced several times, refolded and glued. I really like how they turned out.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Lou loves trains and when we were traveling, we made several stops to see trains.

The first set of trains were the tiny IN town where hubby grew up and I spent several years. There are a few train cars set on an old track by the new walk way. The Lion's Club actually has their meetings inside the train cars.

When we were with my mom, we went to this fun restaurant for lunch, Monon Whistle Stop Restaurant. There are trains running inside the restaurant by the ceiling and they have a lot of train antiques on display. Outside, they have a whole rail system set up for viewing (and apparently climbing on).

We also went for a walk at my sisters down by (actually, over) the train station in West Lafayette, by the Purdue campus. It was really pretty, but I did not have my camera because I just thought we were getting frozen lemonades. My new camera is too big to lug around just for frozen lemonade.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a must buy item.... a hammock

Mostly pictures today... I must put a hammock on my wish list! It appears we might actually have a yard, a large one in fact when we move to IN. This could be in my future again soon. Here we are in my mom's hammock.

(that's my sister with the white shirt and long hair, isn't she cute!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

embarassing... it's a cake wreck

Have you seen the blog Cake Wrecks? It's hilarious. They post funny cakes that are, literally wrecks... except on Sundays- then they feature really elaborate, beautiful cakes. Maybe you'll see this cake on there someday.... in the wreck section!

It really is embarrassing,but so funny that I had to share. Bee had told us she wanted a chocolate sheet cake for her birthday, later she added that she wanted a Tinkerbell cake. I will admit that I did this. In my defense, this was very last minute and I had only a toothpick and plastic baggie to work with. It's embarrassing, but we ate it all the same. Bee thought it was lovely... and wanted to eat her face.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

dress remake- thanks to my sister

My sister always gives me the greatest hand me downs (would it be hand me ups... she's my little sister?). It might have been the crazy amount of cake that we ate, but this dress was too tight on both of us. It's cute, but the stripes through the tummy area weren't very friendly or flattering. I solved that with a pair of scissors. I chopped the shirt part off and inserted a thick elastic band through the already existing waist band area. It was super easy and I now have a cute jersey knit skirt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

large mouth fish...I have nothing else to say

Really, there's not much to say about these fish. They are pretty gross to look at, but you just can't help yourself. And then you decided it might be fun to feed them. They literally climb out of the water on top of each other to get the food. They are so thick by the bridge. I imagine there are thousands!

My sister took us to Indiana Beach (it's free to get in this summer!) for a few hours since it's close to my mom's house. We don't ride the rides or do the water park stuff. We feed the large mouth fish and watch the ski show. The kids are worried each time that the boys in the show will get hurt. Here are the fish and the favorite photo from the ski show, the man on fire.

Please note that the man lights himself on fire as part of the show several times a day all summer long, we are not exploiting some type of actual emergency situation. The worst thing about this for him is probably the large amount of fumes he inhales, you can smell some type of lighting fluid from the shore.

In case you didn't believe me about the fish:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm feeling lucky- our first fish catch (how to cheat at fishing)

The kids have been fishing fools since Lou got a fishing pole for his birthday in May. They have done little fishing with an actual hooks, so we haven't caught anything yet. When in IN, we did some fishing at my moms. On our second day of fishing, Bee said she was feeling lucky. She was lucky, she and Lou both were. Actually, a friend was lucky when he caught two fish the night before and placed them in a jug for us to hook onto the kids lines the next morning.

Bee and Lou put their lines in a few times and then decided to play in the hammock awhile and let their lines set. Grandma 'watched' the lines. Just a few minutes later, as luck would have it, both little fishermen had fish.

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