Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Preboiling Water for Pasta

I've often wondered why, when folks are going to heat up a huge pot of water for cooking, that they don't start off with hot water from the tap to cut down on the time it takes to get it all boiling.

Well recently I've been reading about how that isn't so "safe". Not sure if I really believe it or not (and I still do it sometimes).

But here's an idea for when you need a large pot of boiling water, for something like pasta, and you are not too sure when you are going to need to throw the pasta in. Scenario: Suppertime is generally 5:30 PM but at 4:55 your husband (of wife - depends on who does the cooking) calls to say he's stuck in traffic and ain't sure when he'll be home.

Pasta is not the kind of food that you can just keep warm on the back burner for any length of time - and yet you know that from cold water to boiling water it's gonna take awhile and you don't want to wait until he is in the driveway to turn the water on.

So here's something I do - I just go ahead and boil the water right away - and then turn it off and cover it. When hubby walks in the door - I turn on the stove and the water is boiling lickety-split.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry-Apple Pie

In case you are in desperate need for a pie recipe in time for Thursday - here is one of my favorites.

I did post a recipe one time for a French Cran-Apple pie - but it's slightly different from my Betty Crocker Cranberry-Apple Pie.

This infamous pie recipe was lost for almost a year. I say lost - but when I flipped through my Betty Crocker book the other day - there it was! The pages are hole punched and in a binder style recipe book, so the pages can be taken out and lost very easily, as I am want to do.

Well my husband needed to bring some pie to work today - so I decided to make the Cranberry-Apple pie or Cran-Apple pie as I like to call it.

If you are a bit tired of the regular old apple pie, give this a try.

Cran-Apple Pie

2 pie crusts (I just buy mine)
1 3/4 c sugar
1/4 c white flour
3 c sliced, peeled, tart cooking apples (3 med)...I used Granny Smith and a couple of Jonagold - and it worked out that I needed more than 3 med apples.
2 c fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
2 T butter or margerine

Heat oven to 425 and make pastry.

Mix sugar and flour. Alternate layers of apples, cranberries and sugar mixture in pastry-lined pie plate, beginning and ending with apples.

Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over apples.

Cover with top pastry - cut slits in top.

You might want to put some foil around the edges to prevent burned-to-a-crisp edges...

Bake for 40-50 min and remove the foil when there is about 15 min left to bake.

Because I like to know (but also don't want to know) I'll tell you how many calories in each slice - 545. 215 from fat. Ugh!

Both of my kids really like this pie - so it must be so good. The girl is my pie snob - there are only a handful of pies she will eat - and this is one of them.

In other news - my dh is working at replacing a 220 (?) outlet in the laundry room. I'm hoping he doesn't get electrocuted. He's replaced other outlets but never this kind. We finally found out what the intermittent dryer problem we've been having, was caused by.

Actually we thought it was all fixed when my dh replaced some thermostat type pieces - b/c it did work fine for a couple of weeks after that. Well then a week ago it started acting up again. I was on my way out the door when I noticed a kind of funny burning smell - but wasn't quite sure of where it was coming from or what it was - my olfactory system being a bit out of whack due to allergies and the fact that I had just baked some muffins.

Anyway - I decided I'd just shut down the dryer (in case that was the problem) and prayed the house wouldn't burn to the ground while I was out on my errands. When I came home, the house was still standing and the smell gone.

Anywhoo - so as not to prolong this story - the problem continued on and off - the dryer worked for awhile then would quit etc. Finally last night my dh was home when I was running it - he noticed the smell (it was actually quite strong this time) and he investigated. He touched the plug at the outlet and found it was burning hot and arcing.

Sooo - it seems like the loose outlet was causing only a portion of the electricity to power the dryer - hence the starting/stopping problem.

I'm glad the problem has been diagnosed and hope the "electrician" has success.

Cautionary Verses

Another book appeared in my hold pile at the library recently. I don't remember when I placed it on hold (or if I did) - or where I heard about the book, if I did place it on hold. It is called "Cautionary Verses" and is written by Hilaire Belloc.

At first glance I thought it was a book of poetry for children, but as I began to read - I had my doubts.

I wasn't sure whether these were stories to encourage good behavior in children or if it was a book of humor actually written for adults - but kind of in a children's storybook manner.

I began reading some of the stories to the kids - and they of course LOVED them. I did wonder if they were a bit too "dark"...

Each story/poem usually begins with the unfortunate child's name - followed by a caution, such as:

"Algernon, Who played with a Loaded Gun, and, on missing his Sister was reprimanded by his Father."

"Maria, Who made Faces and a Deplorable Marriage."

"George, Who played with a Dangerous Toy, and suffered a Catastrophe of considerable Dimensions."

and a favorite with the children and I...

"Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion."

Here is the cautionary tale on Jim:

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo--
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know--or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so--
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,
``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:--
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!''
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

Hilaire Belloc

I dislike having blog posts without any accompanying photos but a) my camera batteries need to be replaced b) I thought it my bother some of my readers to see the photo I planned on using (let's just say the decapitated head of my son's G.I. Joe that has been sitting on my computer monitor was going to have a starring role).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sitting on the Hot Seat

Ever since I can remember, I've loved sitting on or next to the heat register once it's cold enough outside for the furnace to cycle on and off throughout the day.

I can still picture myself as a young child, along with at least one of my sisters, sitting on the heat register in the kitchen of our first house. It is close to Christmas. Maybe Christmas Eve. And jambusters. For some reason a jambuster is in this memory photo of mine.

I remember one time when I was already an adult or older teenager - spending the night at my grandma's house. We were sharing a bed. It had a huge, warm comforter on it - grandma called it a "pinyata" (or something like a down filled comforter). Well at some point in the night, grandma's snoring got to me and I headed for the couch. But I didn't bring a blanket or maybe I just had a lightweight one. So I proceeded to hunker down on top of the heat register in the living room and slept there the rest of the night.

To get maximum benefit of heat register sitting - put a blanket around you - ahhhh!

My kids have carried on the hot seat tradition. When they first get up in the morning, I can find them in the living room in front of the register - reading a book or playing with a toy.

Hmmm all this heat register talk isn't very good for a girl who is sitting in front of her computer in the cold basement...maybe if she'd get off the computer and begin exercising she wouldn't feel so cold...

Fake Apple Pie

Here is a cheater apple pie - works especially well if you have some scraps of pie dough laying around (I think this dough was left over from a pot pie I made).

Make up a batch of chunky applesauce (or pull some out of the fridge and warm it up)...serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and cinnamon/sugar "cookies" made from pie dough.

Less dough means less calories.

Not sure it was as good as my faux blueberry crisp - but beggars can't be choosers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Favorite Films

I've been wanting to do a post for some time on some of my favorite movies. Most of the movies we watch we received free from our local library - or have watched on PBS at one time or another. Movies are not something we usually buy (for the most part) or pay to rent. If the library doesn't have it - too bad!

If there are more than one version of a movie or a remake of the movie - it's usually the oldest one that is the favorite. In no particular order here they are:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Casablanca
3. Moby Dick (Gregory Peck)
4. Fiddler on the Roof
5. Citizen Kane
6. It's a Wonderful Life
7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
8. Sound of Music
9. Anne of Green Gables (series)
10. Best Years of Our Lives
11. 12 Angry Men (Fonda)
12. The Third Man (Orson Welles)
13. Shadow of a Doubt (Cotton)
14. Bridge on the River Kwai
15. Grapes of Wrath
16. The Great Escape
17. Jane Eyre (Orson Welles) - I have seen a few different versions of this movie with various actors and BY FAR the version with Welles is the only one worth seeing!
18. The Longest Day
19. Caine Mutiny (Bogart)
20. Dark Victory (Betty Davis)
21. Rear Window (Stewart)
22. Chariots of Fire
23. Wallace & Grommit (series)
24. Miss Potter
25. Key Largo (Bogart)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A 6 Year Old's Perspective

This morning the children's cousin went home. Both the girl and the boy spent a lot of time playing with their little cousin, reading to her, helping her, keeping an eye on her.

So at lunch while we were talking about the visit, the boy commented how that now he was getting an idea of how a mom feels.

"So how does a mom feel?" I asked.

"Frustrated. Because there is so much she has to do with the kids!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This morning the kids were arguing over who gets to read to their little cousin who we are babysitting.

The boy won out. He started reading to her last night while the girl and I were out, and had a stack of books ready for reading to her in the morning :) He even chose books he thought she would like ("We Help Mommy", "We Help Daddy", "Small Pig") instead of his usual books (WWII, War in Europe, D-Day and the like).

I sure don't like the kids fighting - but I sure can't think of anything better they could be fighting about...

One of My Most Embarrassing Moments

Every time I drive past a certain street I remember an embarrassing incident. I drove past it again tonight so the incident is fresh in my mind.

Over a year ago I contacted a lady that was selling something on CraigsList. I made an appointment to drive on over and check out the item.

I loaded the kids into the car and headed out to a high priced area of the city. Of course I didn't know at the time that it was a high priced area.

When I got to the house I saw that there was some substantial landscaping being performed. As I walked up the driveway I noticed what appeared to be a new concrete sidewalk leading to the front door. I wasn't too sure if the concrete was completely dry or not - so, seeing one of the workers standing nearby, I asked if it was OK to walk on it. He nodded. We began walking.

We were about a third of the way up the walk when another worker starts hollering at the guy who just gave us permission to walk on the sidewalk. Turns out the concrete was NOT dry. There were little footprints behind us in the concrete...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home Again Home Again...

I had a little break from my family this weekend :) and am getting settled back in now.

This lovely Cutie-orange holding spider is a gift from an old friend. It actually is a tea-light candle holder but when my son first saw it without the lights, and noticed the little holders, he wondered if it was for holding Cutie oranges :) I tried it out and it works perfectly!

This is how it's supposed to look...

I enjoyed visiting with my friend this weekend. She is my friend but also my cousin through marriage. And actually we were friends before we were cousins. I met her a few days before I met her cousin - who ended up being my husband!

I met "A" when she was about 11 and I was 14. She lived in Illinois - I lived in Canada. We seemed to hit it off immediately. I didn't get to see A very often so we mostly wrote to one another (how old fashioned!) throughout the years of our friendship.

Once I finally married A's cousin and moved down South - A was married and traipsing about the world - so we still didn't see much of each other. Eventually she moved to the Midwest. We visit occasionally but not often enough - so it was especially fun to spend part of the weekend with her. Shopping, eating out and an evening of reminiscing and talking into the wee hours like old times. Well except the wee hours now end around 11:30 PM...

For as long as I can remember - spiders have been a "theme" with us...not sure why...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Homemade Wholewheat Pretzels

Yesterday we made a batch of wholewheat pretzels. Delicious! They are best, of course, straight out of the oven with a smattering of butter.

My pretzel twisting skills are lacking - so dd, who out of her warehouse of knowledge recalled reading a "how to" on pretzels - became the pretzel twister for the afternoon.

Seemed like the first bunch in the oven turned out the best as the others ended up having too much time to rise in the steaming kitchen and ended up more bagel than pretzel. Still tasty - just not as showy.

Wholewheat Pretzels

1 T yeast
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
2 c evaporated milk
3 c whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c white flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 c oil

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the water. Stir in sugar, 1 t salt, milk and oil. Gradually mix in 1 1/2 c ww flour and 1 c white flour.

Cover and let sit until bubbly - about 45 min.

Add 1 1/2 c white flour with baking powder to the dough - then add remaining flour. Knead for 5 min.

Roll out dough into a rectangle. Cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 15 inches long. Roll each strip (like a Play dough snake!) into a strange about 20 inches long - then twist into a pretzel shape.

Let rise for about 30 minutes.

Dissolve a T coarse salt in pot of boiling water. Lower 1 pretzel at a time into the pot and let sit for about 30 seconds. Lift out - drain slightly and place on greased baking sheet.

Brush pretzels with egg white, sprinkle on coarse salt or cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Note: on the amounts of flour. I find that I always have to add LESS flour to my dough recipes - at least during the initial mixing. When I knead the dough I am constantly adding more flour so the amounts probably work out the you may not need to add all 5.5 c flour when initially mixing...

Also the original recipe just called for 2 c of milk at room temp. instead of evaporated milk - so you can use either one.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Belated Anniversary To My Blog!

For some reason I kept thinking that I started this blog at the end of November. Just now I went to check out the exact date and found out it was actually at the BEGINNING of November.

Anyway - in case you never read the story of how our blog began - here it is:

"Today "The Kids and I", (not to be confused with The King and I) are launching the recording of our exotic eating and our adventures on the food frontier.

I am a housewife/homeschool teacher/stay-at-home mom (though my dh and kids would probably say, instead of stay-at-home mom it should read "Going-to-town-a-lot mom"). My kids are 8 and 5.

Recently, out on one of our "Going-to-town-a-lot" jags, we came upon a world foods type of grocery store and decided to pop in. The kids are usually up for trying something new and unusual. Not necessarily when it is a recipe I try - but unfamiliar foods from the market.

We bought quite a few new foods and, as I was nibbling and reading other blogs - I decided our exotic eating would be something we could blog about. My daughter has been wanting to blog for months and I have been reading blogs for about a year.

Exotic is something that is from another place or part of the world or is very different. Something we are not used to. All the foods we experiment with will not necessarily be strange to everyone - but as we are typically meat and potato type of folks...things like red rice or quail eggs from Thailand or prickly pear fruit or flat bread or ginger beer from England, will be exotic to us.

We will never know about all these exotic, unusual and sometimes strange foods, unless we hunt them down, give them to our children... and are brave enough to try them as well."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"You can never get silence anywhere nowadays, have you noticed?"

I'm sure I'll be hearing a lot less silence in the days ahead.

Over the weekend we bought a used keyboard off of Craigslist.

My husband and I are not musically talented - but at least my husband can read music, unlike myself.

Back in January, sitting at a table inside Starbucks, we were making our plans for 2008 - "Buy A Keyboard /Teach Music" - was added to our list. Crossed that one off our list with a month to spare!

So far the kids have had fun playing around on the keyboard and have learned a couple of little one-finger songs like "Mary Had A Little Lamb" :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall "Flowers"

Thought I'd bring these inside to enjoy them before they are gone.

I started supper a couple of hours ago as it needs to simmer awhile ("Aunt Virginia's Gumbo"). I then left the house and made a quick trip to the library.

When I came in out of the cold - it sure was pleasant to smell supper cooking and feel the warmth of the kitchen...

Nopalitos - Tender Cactus

This jar of cactus has sat in the cupboard for many months. I kind of forgot about it some of the time and didn't feel like trying it whenever I did see it in the cupboard, the other times.

Tonight though we were having some "Mexican" food - so I decided it was time to get it out.

Both kids were eager to give it a taste. If I'm kind of apprehensive about tasting something - I let my girl go first :)

Dd - "It's like salty asparagus...I think it's pickled...Can I have another one?...Pretty good. I love it!

Ds - "It's slimy!...I don't like it. Too slimy!"

Me - It was pickled but not as flavorful as a jar of dill pickles. It was indeed slimy - ugh! Kind of reminded me of pickled okra. Not a whole lot of flavor - I didn't like it.

The ingredients - tender cactus, water, onions, cilantro, serrano peppers, salt, vinegar.

After tasting I read the small print: "Drain and rinse under running water." Hmmm maybe that would have removed some of the slimy consistency...

Made in Mexico.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nanook of the North - A Documentary

It doesn't always work well for me to randomly select books or DVDs off the shelf of the library. I take them home and start reading them (the books) or check for online information (the DVDs) and find out that they had better just make a trip back to the library as soon as possible.

Not so with "Nanook of the North". I picked up Nanook b/c it looked interesting and educational...or educational but interesting. I was thinking of my two little homeschoolers who love to watch movies - so if I can get them something educational on DVD - we are all happy.

Since I didn't know anything about Nanook before turning it on (other than glancing at the DVD case) - I guess I was too lazy to check IMDB - I thought I'd better sit down and watch at least part of it with the kids.

"Nanook of the North" is the story of a family of Eskimos (Inuit I suppose is the politically correct term but way back in 1922'ish when the movie was filmed they were probably referred to as Eskimos) up north in Canada. Now for those who's knowledge of Canada is fairly limited due to their American schooling (or maybe even due to their Canadian schooling) - not all of Canada is a "frozen wasteland". Not all Canadians live in igloos, drive snowmobiles and wear toques. I can safely say that in my 26 yrs of life in Canada I did not once, consume whale blubber or raw meat. I actually remember a few days in Canada when it was warm enough to go without a parka, in July.

Well Nanook and his family actually did live in a "frozen wasteland" section of Canada - up around Hudson Bay.

The movie is a silent movie - so kind of hard for kids that can't read or can't read very fast.

The kids and I thoroughly enjoyed Nanook. Fun to watch papa build an igloo, kill fish with his mouth and capture a walrus. Fortunately (unfortunately?) it was black and white or the killing/eating scenes might make one not want to eat their supper.

The movie was about 80 minutes.

AFTER we watched the movie THEN I decided to see what I could learn about Nanook online.


"Flaherty has been criticized for deceptively portraying staged events as reality. Much of the action was staged and gives an inaccurate view of real Inuit life during the early 20th century."

I still think the documentary was fun to watch and I still think it was educational for the this was the way the Inuit would have lived prior to the early 20th century. The people were real, they really did live there and the hunting scenes were real.

Both children wanted to watch the movie a second time with their dad, they enjoyed it so much (hmm or maybe they just wanted to stay up later). The girl said "I feel differently about this movie now" after I told them about the criticisms I read. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But ignorance isn't educational.

It is amazing to think of how the Inuit and other "hunter/gatherers" and even pioneers - worked all day just to survive. They had little and were not too concerned with amassing great amounts of goods - they were just concerned with where their next meal was going to come from. There wasn't much time for rest and relaxation...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Loving the Web But Hating the Spider

Don't know how well this web will show up - definitely need to click on it to get a better look...

I've always hated spiders! I still remember, as a youth, being frightened by a spider, while I was out picking blueberries with my grandma. Her reply was "Unless there is a man around, don't scream about a spider" (or some such thing).

Spider webs are beautiful (well the outdoor ones that is) - especially when they are shimmering with morning dew.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good Will & A Good Book

The store that is. Just the other day I was telling someone that I had NEVER had good "luck" at Goodwill. That changed Tuesday night. While everyone else was glued to the television or radio (or both!) awaiting the election results, I was out thrift shopping.

Of course I would have rather been at home watching the television, but my daughter had her girl's club mtg. that is located about 40 min from home. Too far for me to head on home during the mtg. so I went shopping across the street at the Goodwill.

I spent $27 and this is what I got:

-2 dresses
-4 skirts
-2 brand new pairs of tights for my dd
-3 children's books (one of which is now one of my favorites and a favorite of my son)

The book is called "The Crows of Pearblossom" and the author is Aldous Huxley (yes that Aldous Huxley). It is the only book for children that Mr. Huxley ever wrote. Guess we can be thankful for that in more than one way.

I originally picked up the book b/c the illustrator is one of my favorites - Barbara Cooney. Barbara has illustrated and written many of my other favorite books...Roxaboxen, Ox-Cart Man, Island Boy...

"The Crows of Pearblossom" is the story of an egg-laying crow couple and an egg-eating snake that lives nearby. The crows, with help from a wise old owl - outsmart the snake in the end.

Some of my favorite parts:

"...Mrs. Crow came home earlier than usual and caught Mr. Snake in the act of swallowing her latest egg.

"Monster!" she cried, "What are you doing?"

Speaking with his mouth full, the snake answered: "I am having breakfast."

And then this line from Mr. Crow when he comes home from work and sees his wife "looking pale and haggard, pacing up and down the branch outside their nest.":

"What's the matter, Amelia?" he said. "You look quite ill. You haven't been overeating again, have you?"


When the snake finds two eggs in the nest one day:

"Two eggs today!" he said; "nyum - nyum." And he smacked his lips, for his mother neglected his education and he had very bad manners."

It is kind of a "dark" story - the snake appears to die in the end - but maybe that could make it a "bright" story b/c good is trumping evil in the end!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Toys Worth Buying

I haven't done a Works for Me Wednesday in a long time - but the subtopic was interesting so I thought I'd go ahead.

In our family, the best toys are toys that can be used more than one way like:

Legos - I found a huge Rubbermaid container filled with Legos at a thrift store probably at least 3 yrs ago. The kids were not all that interested in Legos then (ages 6 & 3) - so I sold some and kept a lot.

Playmobil - my ds has been in love with Playmobil for a couple of years. He loves all the little accessories and actually both kids just love putting the pieces together when they first arrive. My dd has a dollhouse her dad made for her for her Playmobil dollhouse furniture. I also like Playmobil. I could totally get into collecting it. I bought myself the Playmobil dollhouse laundry room, a log cabin and an old man in a wheelchair - just b/c "I" liked them so much. Course the kids have mixed them all in with their sets - but they are still MINE :)

Lincoln Logs - fun to see as the kids get older, how much more complicated their creations become.

Wooden building blocks - We have a couple different wooden building sets other than Lincoln Logs and this is one of my favorite sets. It's just a small set, it comes from Germany and some of the pieces have architectural details on them. It comes in a small wooden box with a sliding lid. The blocks cost $20 - found them at Tuesday Morning.

Dolls - I don't mean a houseful of them - actually a little girl really only needs one - though try telling that to any little girl. One of my daughter's favorite dolls is one she received when she was only about a yr old. Just like children, when dolls look scruffy, dirty, and even lose their hair - they are still much loved. I have fond memories of playing dolls with my sisters (I had 4 sisters)...I remember being out at Nixon Lake in the particular day stands out in mind - it was raining and we were in the cabin making food for our dolls...another time washing doll clothes and hanging them on the clothesline.

My daughter has not been crazy about dolls like I remember being. I got my last one when I was 12 - my sisters probably thought I was too old. The day of or day after Christmas, my doll's head fell off :( My dad fixed it with some wire and I held onto that doll until I was married. I think I may still have her in my trunk. She was the unfortunate victim of my daughter and an inkpen).

Guns/weapons - toys of course - but with a boy that alternately pretends he is a British Soldier or British Commander, a D-Day Soldier, a Bowsman, or a Lightsabre Fighter - he wouldn't be happy without all his weapons. I never know who he'll be from one hour to the next. I know some families are against toy guns/weapons - and that is how my dh grew up, but it's not an issue for us. Course there are rules like you don't aim the toy gun at an adult...and some of the weaponry is for outside only.

Books - they are anything but toys but they "entertain" kids for hours on end, encourage thinking and imagination and can be great fun.

These are toys that encourage imaginative play and creativity. These are also toys that can drive a mother crazy with all the little blocks, body parts and pieces that end up all over the place, including under a barefoot...ouch!

For more favorite toys check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Balik Kraker - Product of Turkey

I guess children the world over, enjoy little fish shaped crackers. My kids love "fish crackers" - but I'd say they could be any shape and they'd enjoy them, as long as they were cheese-ful.

What I thought was especially fun about these little fish crackers is that they did not have the typical smooth body of the cheese-ful fish crackers we have around these parts, but rather the fish have textured bodies due to the raised design of scales and a little eye and mouth.

Might give you a bit of a pause to pop this more realistic fish into your mouth - especially since he is smiling...

The package says "savoury cracker"...I must admit there wasn't much savoury-ness in it. It tasted a little more buttery than a typical soda cracker but that was about it.

Nonetheless the three of us enjoyed the crackers.

One Good Reason to Go Out and Vote

And no, it's not for the free cup of hot coffee and cookies that my kids are looking forward to :)

It's the fact that we still have the freedom in America to choose our leaders.

Might not be a candidate for President or governor or whatever other offices you are voting for, that you think is wonderful...or even mediocre. Not a candidate that believes exactly like you on every issue (unless you happen to be running for something). Not a candidate that is ideal.

And if that's the case - just vote for the lesser of two evils. The best of the worst. You still have a choice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Crowding Out Thanksgiving

Each "holiday" is so blown out of proportion that you tend to get tired of all the talk, all the magazine covers and articles, all the decorations and things in the store you can buy featuring the latest holiday.

I'd like to purchase a magazine in October without the cover, the recipes, the decorating, the activities being about Halloween. Do we really need more themed recipes/activities/decorating??

And now that Halloween is over - Christmas will begin full throttle!

How about little old Thanksgiving? With Halloween becoming a bigger "holiday" each year with elaborate yard "decorations" (if you can call a legless skeleton with a wispy old shawl, seated in an old wheelchair a decoration...or a guillotine with a head on the ground next to it, a decoration) - and with Christmas getting bigger and bigger each year, Thanksgiving is getting crowded out.

Thanksgiving seems like the most "Biblical" of holidays. Though with the media changing the name to "Turkey Day" perhaps some folks forget what the holiday is really all about. "Turkey Day" is just becoming a day off of work, a day to watch football and a day to have a nice meal with family.

How about the "thanksgiving" part?

Some folks think that Christmas is the most Biblical holiday since it is when Jesus was born. But actually we don't know when Jesus was born and actually the Bible has nothing to say about remembering Jesus' birth or celebrating His birth. I tend to think that Thanksgiving is the most "Biblical" holiday as the Bible has much to say about giving thanks and even some commands to give thanks.

Sure the Bible doesn't say anything about having to give thanks at the end of November (in the USA) or in October (in Canada) - the Bible doesn't command New Testament Christians to have an official day to celebrate His goodness, rather the implication would be that we are always giving thanks - always thankful for what we have...or don't have.

I know American Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away - but before you move unto Christmas - why not take some time to think about being thankful. Why not think of the whole month of November as a time to think about, prepare for, teach to your children and practice being thankful?

We're so worried that if we don't get to work now on our Christmas shopping, Christmas baking, Christmas cards, Christmas activities - that we'll run out of time.

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord…

Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Like My "New" Keyboard

So I might have to write a few more posts since I enjoy the feel and sound of the keys click clacking!

I had a decent keyboard - it was probably close to 5 yrs old and some of the key letters were almost worn off. Then the space bar broke :( Sadness. I tried fixing it - but I think I just made it worse.

I went and bought a new keyboard. I'm not picky so I bought the cheapest I could find - about $15. The keyboard worked fine for about 2 months (just long enough for any hope of a cash refund to be dashed) - and then it started "acting up". I lived with it for awhile and then decided to see if they'd at least let me exchange it for another keyboard.

They wouldn't give me a refund but yes they let me exchange it for an identical keyboard.

I used it for awhile but similar problems as I had with the old new one...I'd tap a key and it would need to be tapped a second time to show up. And the keys just didn't have the right "feel".

Well tonight my dh spied a keyboard for $2.59 at the thrift store - I decided to risk it. It works great I just want to keep on typing and typing and typing. I love the sound! I love the feel!

I Think I'll Just Skip Answering The Telephone

between now and the election.

Most of our communication with family and friends is via e-mail, so our telephone rarely rings. When the phone does ring it's usually a) wrong number b) sales call.

Lately it has been more and more of the "sales call" variety - reminding us to go vote on Tuesday or to ask for our support etc. To make matters worse, for the most part, the calls are all pre-recorded call wasn't pre-recorded but would have sounded better if it had been.

I might also need to refrain from answering the telephone the day AFTER the election b/c I will either be sleeping in after celebrating into the wee hours...or sleeping in because I was up to the wee hours lamenting the state of our nation!

Never thought I'd say this - but if the wrong candidate gets elected maybe we'll need to move to Conservative Canada.