Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Yay Pie! had a post the other day about favorite childhood books. After reading her post I began thinking of some of my old favorites and remembered "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle". Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is an unusual neighborhood character that always has an cure for typical childhood misbehaviors. Her cures are not as simple as a spanking or sending the child to a "time out chair" - they are much more time consuming...her philosophy being more of a reverse-psychology method of discipline.

The "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" books were written by Betty MacDonald (also the author of 'The Egg and I').

I had never read a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book to my kids yet - but decided today was the day. They LOVED it! What's not to like about a story that includes a boy stuck in his room b/c his toys are all over the place and he has to have his food sent up to him by a garden rake, outside his bedroom window?

My favorite story as a child was the one about the little girl who always "misheard" things...she calls a friend's house to see if she can come out and play...the friend's mother answers the phone and says she can't come out b/c she was riding on her coaster and fell and got hurt. Mishearing girl takes that to be "she fell into the toaster and got burnt up". I remember thinking that part was so hilarious! I even remember where I was sitting when I read it...out on my parent's front steps...which means I was at least 8 yrs old and could have been as old as 12 yrs old.

Just hope the kids don't get any ideas from these books...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hot Homemade Bread - Anything Better?

Today was the first time I baked bread in quite awhile. The hot weather outside doesn't really make one want to fire up the old oven - but today it's kind of cloudy and rainy so I took my chances.

I have had these French Bread "molds" for a few years - found them at the thrift store still in their original packaging. The instructions were typed on an old typewriter so it makes me think these were at least 25 yrs old.

I tried a new French Bread recipe - this one was part whole-wheat part white flour. Just out of the oven with a thin layer of butter - it is WONDERFUL!

My theory on French bread is is best straight out of the oven and the taste/texture continues to decline throughout the day - so it's best to bake just before serving. I would have done that today but I didn't want the whole house hot just before supper. And besides, I am able to eat it now while it's still warm.

I read that if you plan to freeze your French bread after baking, you should undercook it by about ? minutes...then freeze it. Then you pop it in the oven and cook it for the remaining minutes just before serving. When I've attempted to freeze fully baked French bread it turns out very dry.

Breakfast at the Park

Yesterday morning we packed a picnic breakfast and went for a walk. Starting out I wasn't sure which way we'd go as there are quite a few parks within walking distance. I chose one we had never walked to before - it took us about 1/2 hr to get there.

I figured I could kill a few birds with one stone...exercise for the day for us all, playtime at the park while it was still "cool" outside, and an opportunity for me to read my book.

My breakfast plan wasn't thought out too far in advance so I just packed up what I had on hand and what I thought would be an easy portable menu...pudding cups, water, graham wafers, cherries and grapes.

Our picnic table was right under a huge tree that I've always thought would be the perfect picture taking spot.

We took a rather circuitous route home and swung by McDonalds for some hot apple pies.

Speaking of McDonalds here is an odd thing that happened the last time we ate there (other than the hot apple pie time).

It was just the kids and I eating at McDonalds. I let them choose where we'd sit. They chose a spot in a little cubby area where they could sit at a high counter with 2 chairs and I'd sit at a very small table next to them. This area was kind of set apart from the rest of the restaurant. The table I sat at had 2 chairs but it's actually only comfortable for one person - especially with a tray on the table.

I had just about finished eating when I notice a woman in a McDonalds' uniform standing at "my" table...she didn't say a word but she was putting a tray of food on "my" table which of course I thought was odd but then thought well she's an employee so maybe she's just setting her tray there for a moment or wanting to take my tray to the trash. But no. She proceeds to sit down across from me and begin eating while I felt like I was being pushed out.

If we were eating in a place where there were no or very few empty tables this would not have been so unusual - though usually a person would say "is this seat taken?" or "can I sit here?" BUT there were PLENTY of empty spaces all over the restaurant. Odd.

The woman did appear to be from a "foreign land" - so perhaps that was the reason for the unusual etiquette.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Only in Canada eh? Pity!

Red Rose tea was "the" tea that I had growing up.

My sister gave me a box of Red Rose tea to bring home with me :)

We all tried it out (first time for the kids - first time for me in awhile) - and we all enjoyed it.

One thing that was fun about Red Rose tea is that they used to include a little figurine in the box. My grandmother gave some to my dd and I did take a pic but for some reason the photo keeps loading sideways and looks goofy - so if you want to see what they look like - click here.

I think at one time they also included some kind of trading card. I'm not sure if Red Rose can still only be purchased in Canada but the title phrase is from an old t.v. commercial...of course it has to be said with a British accent.

My 6 yr old is hovering at my side waiting for me to get off the computer so he can play a game. While he is hovering he is trying to edit my writing..."that doesn't sound right...", he pointed out a sentence I had just written. Then he proceeds to tell me how HE thinks the sentence should read.

I better get off before he blows his top!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Married for Money??

I enjoy finding and reading old letters. It's best if I know the people who are mentioned in the letters but even if I don't - they are fun.

Over the weekend I received a copy of a letter from 1897, that belonged to my husband's great-great grandmother...the letter was to her from HER mother.

The letter is a poor photocopy of a handwritten copy (don't know who copied it out or when) of the original. I would like to have had the original or a photocopy of the original - but at least this one is probably easier to read.

Mama is writing from Mastodon, Mississippi on September 6, 1897. Numerous times, numerous people are referred to as DEAREST or DEAR so and so...dearest daughter, dear Annie, Dear Josie.

My favorite part of the letter is when dear old mom is recounting some neighborhood "gossip"..."Mrs. F. Neal, who was a Bowsy, married a man 35 and she was 67. Almost all the widows in this country are marrying young. They say she gave him $5,000 a few days after she was married."

So did Mrs. F. Neal (who was a Bowsy) - pay $5,000 to a young man to marry her? In "today's dollars" the $5,000 might equal around $100,000 (?). I'd say a widow lady from the late 1800's would have looked every day of her 67 years if not a great deal older.

Why were "almost all the widows in this country marrying young", in the late 1800's?

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Going Out to Smoke My Pipe...

I won't be back til Sunday night - so don't let the witch in!

We have a wedding to attend this evening and then out to the farm.

It's gonna be wet and muddy so the rubber boots have been packed.

When You Eat Your Smarties Do You Eat The Red Ones Last?

"When you eat your Smarties,
Do you eat the red ones last?
Do you suck them very slowly,
Or crunch them very fast?
Eat that candy-coated chocolate,
But tell me when I ask,
When you eat your Smarties,
Do you eat the red ones last?"
(Smarties Jingle)

Smarties in Canada are not those little pastel pill shaped candy that comes rolled up in cellophane - but rather it is a box of "candy-coated chocolate" that comes in a colorful box. "Smarties are oblate spheroids with a minor axis of about 5 mm and a major axis of about 15 mm (0.6 in). They come in eight colours."

When I moved down south I had a hard time getting used to M&Ms (less popular in Canada - at least when I was a kid) - I was a Smarties die-hard. Was.

I brought back some packages this month and I had to admit DISAPPOINTMENT! They are flavorless compared to M&Ms. They are flatter than M&Ms - meaning less of the chocolate goodness. I don't like how they feel on my teeth when I crunch them.

I just asked the girl what she thought of the Smarties...she replied "Oh I didn't really like them - I didn't eat them all." "I just don't like the flavor." I can't believe it. I asked the boy also what he thought of them and his answer was the same as his sister's. It's candy and it's chocolate and they don't like them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fresh Lychee

Lychee is grown on trees in Asia. They have a hard, bumpy skin that is hard to peel.

A package of about a dozen of these lychees cost over $3.

After slicing the lychee with a knife we were then able to easily peel off the skin. The inside is kind of a cloudy white color with the look and consistency of a large grape. The lychee is more rubbery and chewy compared to a grape. It was sweet but not very tasty. The girl really liked it though and kept wanting more. Ds had a micro-piece and thought it was nasty.

There is a large seed in the lychee - I've read that the seed is indeed poisonous and that it is NOT poisonous. I'm not in the habit of eating fruit pits anyway - so we just threw away the seeds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

AERO Candy/Chocolate Bar

Here is one of the candy bars we brought back from Canada. It looks kind of bumpy and misshapen because it's kind of hard to keep chocolate in a solid state when it's traveling for 18 hrs in the trunk during the summer. We remedied the problem by popping it into the freezer.

This is the candy bar dd always chooses when we go to Canada or when we go to the world food store b/c they carry it also.

It was also a childhood favorite of mine...though I'm a bit partial to the mint AERO bar.

It's not really anything special tasting as far as candy bars does have a bubbly textured appearance when you break apart the chocolate - but it's basically just a milk chocolate candy bar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Barbari Bread

Barbari bread is a type of flatbread from Iran. Thankfully I only had to travel to the world food store to get mine :)

The bread is very long, approx. 22 inches - flat and dimpled and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

This bread cost $2.49.

I enjoy most kinds of flatbread and I was not disappointed with the barbari. We ate some plain - but it was best in this manner:

Mix together a small amount of feta cheese, olive oil, minced garlic and some herbs. I sprayed on a bit of cooking spray, sprinkled on some coarse salt and then spread the mixture on the bread and bakeed at about 400 degrees for about 10 min. I also had some with just a sprinkling of coarse salt - and both ways it was tasty.

The children enjoyed it too - so looks like this will be on the shopping list again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flipping to the End of a Book

I enjoy reading detective / mystery stories. Problem is sometimes there is too much story going on between the beginning of the book and the end of the book.

Somewhere along the way I get to the point that I just HAVE TO KNOW who the "bad guy" is or how the story ends - and I flip to the end of the book.

If I am really enjoying the book I will flip to the end, read "who dunnit" and then continue reading where I left off. Sure I know how it ends, but I still get to read all the in between details on how it came to be.

I have a problem right now. I'm reading a book - have flipped to the end and the answer isn't right there. It isn't one of those simple kind of books where it ends with the "bad guy" being lead out in chains or being shot or whatever...yet the book isn't interesting enough for me to continue reading all the way through to the end so I can know what happened...but I do want to know what happened.

It reminds me of the time when I was a young teenager reading a mystery story. I couldn't flip to the end of the book to find out how it ended because when I naturally came to the end of the story I found that the last few pages were missing. How dreadful. Kind of like putting a second hand puzzle together and finding there is a piece or two or ten missing - you've done all the work yet you don't get to see the final picture.

Are you a "flip to the end of the book" kind of person?

Swamp Cabbage

Swamp cabbage - sounds kind of gross doesn't it? Well thankfully there are a lot of different names for it - so if you are trying to get the kids (or your spouse) to eat it you might want to call it water spinach or ong choy.

Ong choy grows in water or wet soil and has hollow stems that allows it to float on water.

From Wikipedia: "...(ong choy) has also been introduced to United States of America where its high growth rate caused it to become an environmental problem, especially in Florida and Texas. It has been officially designated by the USDA as a "noxious weed." Despite this ominous label, the plant is not in any way harmful when consumed ("noxious" is, in this context, a legal term denoting the plant's harmfulness to native plants). In fact, the plant is similar to spinach in its nutritional benefits."

I have to admit after reading about ong choy A.K.A. swamp cabbage, and seeing it referred to as a "noxious weed" and reading that you ought not to eat it raw b/c it can transmit parasites - I had second thoughts about trying it. But being pretty confident that whatever might be in it would be killed during the frying pan method - I went ahead. I did make sure I told the girl not to eat any raw as she loves to snatch pieces of lettuce or spinach that has just been washed.

I first fried up some onion and garlic and then added the ong choy. I sprinkled on some rice vinegar, soy sauce and ground red pepper. I thought it was better than real spinach...the kids were not enthusiastic about it...though the addition of the red pepper and onion might have turned them off.

It was a pretty huge batch of water spinach that I started out with but it all cooked down to about one or two cup fulls.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Black Velvet Apricot

My assistant spotted this beauty at the store yesterday. I love the name - "Black Velvet Apricot".

Even though the photo looks more purplish like a plum - the actual color was closer to black. It was very soft and fuzzy like an apricot. Unfortunately most the black velvets were past their prime and wrinkly - but I managed to find one that looked the best of the worst. It was 60 cents.

When I cut it open I thought - this looks just like a plum inside. When I tasted it I thought - this tastes just like a plum. I wondered if there had been a mislabeling problem or if maybe it was a plum but called an apricot for some reason.

The girl also thought it tasted just like a plum.

When I read up about the black velvet apricot the mystery was solved...the black velvet is a cross between an apricot and a plum.

It was tasty - but with it being 60 cents for one tiny one - we might as well just buy plums.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spanish Language Curriculum Suggestions

Any one out there with a recommendation for a good curriculum to teach Spanish to elementary aged children?

We homeschool, but the curriculum does not necessarily need to be geared towards homeschoolers.


Here is another food item I brought back from Canada. I love the name of it and I love how it looks like miniature hay bales. Muffets are a shredded wheat cereal.

Unless you "doctor" it up a bit, it also tastes like hay bales. Or at least what I imagine hay bales would taste like if I in fact actually ever tried one.

Growing up when we'd have cereal like this - we'd first run hot water over the "hay bale" and let it soften up a bit, then drain it and pour on some milk and a generous helping of sugar. Using this method it actually was palatable...especially with an extra large helping of brown sugar.

The kids were not interested in trying the Muffets, despite the cute name and look.

I'm reminded of the lyrics to an old children's song..."Grandma has a habit of chewing in her sleep...she chews on grandpa's whiskers and thinks it's shredded wheat!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine Today

Well yesterday we had a cheerful sunny yellow caterpillar...this morning we have a pupa hidden in this little mass you see.

Late last night Sunshine was moving around like crazy in her little domain - wiggling and crawling and climbing and nibbling on the bark of the twigs we put inside. Some of her beautiful yellow fur coat was missing and she looked more green wormy than yellow fuzzy caterpillar. I could see some little cobwebby strings here and there and wondered if she/he was about to begin spinning a cocoon.

She did.

So now the fun is over and the waiting has begun...

WARNING: While reading up on caterpillars this morning, I found that some of them can sting and or cause a rash on sensitive skin - so it's best not to let the little fellas crawl up and down your arms and hands.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunshine - Our New Family Pet

On our walk today we found a new pet. He didn't seem to belong to anyone, no collar on him... and he was small enough to fit inside of an empty Slurpee cup.

His (or maybe its a her) name is Sunshine. The perfect name for a bright yellow, fuzzy caterpillar!

We think it is a Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar A.K.A. Pale Tussock Moth.

A few years ago dd found a Wooly Bear Caterpillar and he lived with us for about 3 months...surviving various episodes of being lost, only to be found clinging for dear life on a quilt or the girl's sweater.

Anyway Sunshine is joining our family. The kids would love a dog. Or even a hamster. A caterpillar is more my speed. They can be contained in a small area, are easy to care for (no fences to purchase, no electronic collars to keep them in, no annoying barking, no messes to clean up), and do not cost anything to maintain.

I have been so surprised at the love my children have for dogs, in spite of my dislike of them (dogs not my children).

When we were out at my sister's cabin, dd fell in love with their little dog. I'm hoping they will get their "dog fix" while visiting family and friends (their American grandparents also have a dog and cat). Yes, I know they would love to have a dog - but I'm not ready for one. Perhaps someday if we live out in the country and have a large yard - we could have an outdoor dog. But I'm not promising.

So for now - Sunshine will have to do.

Mom Mom Mom Mom

Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom. I hear that word, that name, at least a hundred times a day surely.

Some days I feel like I might just have to scream, or at least change my title, if I hear "Hey Mom" one more time in a day.

I thought, it would be interesting to keep track of how many times in one day I do actually hear "Mom" or "Hey Mom". I began this morning.

6:45 AM - ds is literally standing outside the "weight room" door so that when I come out he can accost me with the first "Mom" of the day. I'm not sure how long he's been standing there but as soon as the door opens, "Mom look I made a new string game I call it the sandtimer." He has a long "Cat's cradle" type string attached to his little toes and fingers and yes, it does indeed look like a sandtimer.

6:53 AM - "Hey mom looky!"

6:54 AM - "Mom" followed by a complaint on the lack of cereals in the house he likes.

6:56 AM - "Mom did I just say microwaving?" (he made up a little ditty as to how he'll make his own hot oatmeal)

7:07 AM - "Why did dad just go off outside quickly?" (not sure if this was prefaced by "Mom" but he was calling this question down to me)

Let's see what the tally will be at the end of the day....

Monday, July 14, 2008

Anyone Know What Kind of Flower This Is?

They can get almost as big around as a dinner plate and I've seen them in pink and wine colors also.

We started out this morning at 7:45 AM for a walk to the park...which changed into walking to a second park nearby, then the library, then McDonalds then home...getting home around 11:00AM. A very big walk for the mom and 2 kids on a warm summer day - but the stop at McDonalds for apple pies, ice-cream cones and all the ice-water we could drink enabled us to make it home without melting.

This photo was taken next to the library. A house that has a yard that backs right up to the library fence, has in years past, grown these beautiful flowers in other colors as well. The girl wanted to know what type of flower it was - so I'm asking you?

An Unusual Truck, to Say the Least

This truck was also in the running for "most unusual thing spotted" on our trip to Canada.

We were walking down the street on our first long morning walk and I think I get the credit for being the spotter.

The truck was painted with a mural of rainbows and other fanciful things (click to enlarge). That alone doesn't make it all that unusual - the unusual part is the handcrafted wooden truck camper shell that was beautifully carved in a scene filled with dragons, castles and winged horses.

Now I am not into dragons and castles but I just thought it was a cool way for this guy to advertise his skill - his vanity plate read "WOODCVR".

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Not a Bicycle Built for Two But Two Built For One

This afternoon the four of us headed out to my favorite local thrift store. Being that I had zero success garage sale-ing this morning, I was happy to be heading on over there.

The girl and I walked this morning to the garage sale. Though walking is good exercise and walking to a garage sale is killing two birds with one stone - it makes the walk back a whole lot harder when said garage sale was totally lame. Not so bad when you are driving - you can slip in and out in a few minutes if it's lame but if you walk there you still got the big walk back.

Anyway - we went to the thrift store. Dh and the kids ran in ahead of me b/c I had to pop into Aldi to pick up a few things. When I got to the thrift store, dh told me he had some bikes to show me.

A set of matching his and her Raleigh Sport bikes from England! Very cute and very vintage! Leather seats with springs.

The lady's bike was gray and the man's bike was kind of an olive green. Looked like all the original parts. Tires were pumped up. Some surface rust, dirt etc. The bikes were $25 each - but today all furniture was 50% off. Now where I come from a bike is not a piece of furniture - but the bikes are located in the furniture section so they were 50% off also.

Dh didn't need a bike b/c he just got a great thrift store bike a month or so ago - but we couldn't really separate the twins could we? Sure if they had been separated at birth that would be one thing - since they would not have known about each other and wouldn't know the other was missing (though some separated at birth twins claim that they always felt like part of them was missing) - but after they've been together for about 34 years - that would just be cruel!

So I bought them both. Two for $25.

I've always liked the vintage type bikes...bonus that this one is from England.

We haven't cleaned them up yet - but this evening the four of us went for a spin. We found a few things wrong with them - but hopefully dh will be able to fix them up.

Now I want to get a cute, vintage, wicker bicycle basket :)

"Raleigh was founded in 1888 by Sir Frank Bowden, who bought an interest in a small bike company in Raleigh Street in Nottingham.

At its heyday after World War II it employed some 8,000 people in the city.

Its "Raleigh, Nottingham, England" badge on brands such as the Chopper made it famous around the world.

Graham Allen MP told the BBC: "I go all around the world, I talk to people and once you've got over Robin Hood the thing they know about Nottingham is the Raleigh cycle.

"It's the thing that every kid wanted for Christmas. It was the thing that was really a badge of pride for the whole of Nottingham."

There is a flower within my heart
Daisy, Daisy
Planted one day by a glancing dart
Planted by Daisy Bell
Whether she loves me or loves me not
Sometimes it's hard to tell
Yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I'm half crazy all for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
We will go 'tandem' as man and wife
Daisy, Daisy
Wheeling away down the road of life
I and my Daisy Bell
When the nights dark, we can both despise
Policemen and lamps as well
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell

(Ending of the Edward M. Favor version)

I will stand by you in "wheel" or woe
Daisy, Daisy
You'll be the bell(e) which I'll ring you know
Sweet little Daisy Bell
You'll take the lead in each trip we take
Then if I don't do well
I will permit you to use the brake
My beautiful Daisy Bell.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Exciting Sighting

Well we got in our DQ Blizzards this evening after all :)

Since we were already in the vicinity of a large local park, I asked dh if he wanted to stop and we'd walk around the lake.

The weather was hot and sunny but we planned on taking the route not actually by the lake but a path deeper into the woods where it was nice and shady.

After walking for about 10 minutes we ended up near the water and took a step down onto a rocky area next to the shore. One of the kids spotted a snake! And not only one snake but three snakes.

Now getting a close up of three snakes in "the wild" is pretty exciting as it is for the kids (OK and for the mom) but the most exciting part was seeing what one of the snakes had in its mouth...a small sun perch(?) fish!

The snake had the fish by the tail fin and while the fish was on the rocks you could still see it breathing. Pretty soon the snake had dragged the fish back into the water (which would have seemed the wrong thing to do) where we watched them battle for a couple of minutes. It seemed like the snake definitely was winning. I kept wishing that I had brought my camera.

Now do snakes eat fish?? Being that I'm not a herpetologist I don't have a clue as to what type of snake it was. Dh didn't think it was a cotton mouth...

"If the Lord Wills..."

We had big plans for this weekend. The kids were invited to go swimming and have a sleep over with friends. They were very excited. Mom and dad had plans to go do something fun without the kids - so they were excited too.

Then this morning a phone call. Child sick. Weekend canceled. Copious tears.

I wracked my addled brain trying to figure out a last minute fun alternative...and came up with the children's museum. Free entry due to the children's reading club via the library. We rush around getting ready to go - I even put on make-up - and out the door with a picnic lunch.

We were less than 5 minutes from home when I noticed some ominous lights appearing on the dashboard. Amazing that I even noticed them b/c that's something I actually always forget to look at. Also amazing that I had the cell phone with me (dh usually has it) and called my husband. His quick over the phone diagnosis is a dying alternator, and he advises us to go on home.

I head on home much to the disappointment once again, of the children and myself also. But yet thankful that I noticed the lights while we were still within walking distance of home (if the need arose) and that the car didn't die on a busy road somewhere.

Once we got home I came up with another idea...walk to the public pool (maybe a 15 min walk) and go for a swim, buy some hotdogs at the pool and have a picnic.

We make the sunny trek to the park and notice a hose leading into the pool and the shallow end stairs partially blocked off. The water looked unusually low. Were we in for the third disappointment of the day? If so, somehow we were gonna have to turn right back around and head over to DQ for some comfort in the form of a Chocolate Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard for me and M&M Blizzards for the kids.

Thankfully they informed us that the pool was still open - the kids just couldn't jump off the side into the shallow end. Actually it worked out fine b/c the kids had a larger range to swim around in. So the kids swam, we had our little picnic, they played at the playground and then we walked home.

Brought these Bible verses to mind...

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." James 4:13-15

Hickory Sticks

I had all but forgotten (and how could I?) about these babies until my trip back home last year. So this year when I was out "memorable" food shopping I remembered to try and track these down and was successful.
This snack is of course very similar to it's dull flavored cousin "Shoestring Sticks" (or whatever it's called) that I've seen around these part...but Hickory Sticks are full of flavor...wonderful smoky, hickory, salty flavor. One could very easily eat the whole bag in one sitting if they were not concerned abut the 450 calories. Instead I have been (as my kids would say) savoring this treat.

The kids loved these little fellas as well (yes I was willing to share with them).

This small bag of sticks cost $1.29 Canadian (plus Provincial Sales Tax plus Goods and Services Tax).

I like how on the list of ingredients it doesn't just say potatoes but rather "specially selected potatoes".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Can't Fool A Six Year Old

The kids were recently looking at a package of stickers for kids. The stickers overall looked pretty boring to me. They were not the kind with wiggly eyes or ones that you use for scrapbooking. On the back of the package it reads, "...sticker products will promise HOURS OF FUN for kids of all ages."

Ds read that and came over to me, and he thought it was so silly. "This says “hours of fun” – that’s just to get people worked up about it and think 'let’s go and buy this'.

I think the stickers could promise minutes of fun...maybe even 1/2 hr of fun if they are really special stickers (remember the cool scratch n sniff stickers from back in the early 80's?) - but hours of fun??

Red River of the North

My childhood hometown is located on the banks of the "Mighty Red River".

My dh, the kids and I walked across the vertical lift bridge at the far end of the river walkway. In all the years I lived in this little town - I don't remember ever having walked across the bridge. The kids thought it was pretty exciting especially since there was the added element of "danger", should the bridge lift while we were part way across. Actually I don't know if the vertical lift is still in operation or not...but the kids thought it was cool nonetheless.

I do remember us driving across it once - I'm sure there was more than one time, but I remember a specific time. My dad and us three older girls had driven across the bridge to get to some quarry (?) to dig for sand for our little backyard sandbox. I was less than 8 yrs old at the time (since the sandbox was at our old house and we moved when I was 8). We had one or two of those large galvanized metal square tubs to fill with sand. After we got the tubs filled we headed home over the bridge. But we never made it all the way across before our car stalled.

It would have been much more exciting if we had stalled right at the vertical lift position, with a large ship in the distance - but if I remember correctly we were almost at the end of the bridge when it happened.

From Wikipedia: "The Red is a North American river. Formed by the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers in the United States, it flows northward through the Red River Valley and forms the border between the U.S. states of Minnesota and North Dakota before continuing into Manitoba, Canada. At its mouth the river flows into Lake Winnipeg. The Red River flows through several major urban areas along its path including Fargo-Moorhead and Greater Grand Forks in the United States and Winnipeg in Canada. The Red is about 550 miles long. The US portion is 395 miles long and the Canadian portion is 155 miles."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

French by Heart - Book Review

Just before we left on holidays - I read about a book called "French by Heart" - An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France by Rebecca S. Ramsey. I found out that it was in our local library and checked it out.

I brought the book along with me, thinking I might have time to read in the car or while visiting my family. As it turned out I didn't even open the book until we were less than 7 hours from our return destination.

I throughly enjoyed it! It made the last few hours of daylight driving go by quickly.

The story is about a family with 3 young children from South Carolina, who move to France for four years, because of the husband's job.

The Ramsey family ends up living across the street from an eccentric, elderly French woman, who adds some "liveliness" to their adventure in France.

I would love to move to France or any other country (within reason - and sorry Canada isn't in the running I've already lived there) for a short-term job placement. I think it's a great way for children to learn another language while being immersed in a totally different culture. My preference would be to live in a country with a language that would actually be useful to the children in the future (ie. Spanish, French).

Doesn't Everyone Have Ketchup on Toast?

The other day I was making eggs and toast. I am in the habit of having a bit of ketchup on my eggs - my son goes a bit further.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Computer Graveyard

In case you are wondering what happens to all those old computers, televisions, VCRs etc. - I can show you.

On one of our morning walks in my old hometown we spotted this odd place. This was only a portion of the graveyard/dump for old electronic equipment. Click on the photo to get a better picture.

Freestyle Poem by Groovy Girl

This afternoon the girl complained of boredom so I suggested that she paint a picture.

She painted a picture of some fruit in a bowl and then she decided to write a poem to surround the picture.

After reading it to me she asked, "Are you going to put it on your blog?". "Do you want me to?" I asked. "Yes" she replied - so here it is. Let's just call it "freestyle".

From a Fruit Bowl

“I must be the best fruit of all” said the banana
“I’m long and healthy and taste rather nice.”
“I am the best fruit of all” said the apple
“I keep the doctor away and am great in a pie with sugar and spice.”
“No, I am” said the orange.
“For I’m orange and round like the sun.”
“Of course it’s us” proclaimed the grapes
“We are so fun.”
The cherries said “We bring joy to everyone
And when parents try to get their kids to eat fruit we get the job done.”
Out of the blueberries came, “But we are so quaint and pretty.”
Then along came six little girls and boys who came to check out the noise
And each took a different one.

Kangaroo Meat

We recently received a package in the mail from my sister who was traveling in Australia. My sister and her family are missionaries in Papua New Guinea and when they need specialized medical treatment etc. they head on over to Australia.

Inside the package were some little trinkets for the kids, plus some exotic eating! A package of "Bush Jerky" - kangaroo.

My sister said you see dead kangaroos on roadsides just like we'd see dead deer on our roadsides. Thankfully this wasn't a roadside kangaroo steak - that might be a bit harder to digest.

The kids and I were excited to try the "Bush Jerky". Kids first reaction was "MMMmm"...then they asked for seconds. After awhile the boy said "It's strange - I don't really like it but I'm tempted to taste more."

I liked the jerky which I found to be similar to other "normal" meat jerkies, but it had a bit of what seemed like a fishy flavor.

Thankfully there was this little printed message on the back of the package:

"Kangaroo meat has been used in man's diet for at least the last 40,000 years. The Aborigines of Australia have included this high protein food in their diets for thousands of years. As a result of AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT INSPECTION CONTROLS, Kangaroo meat has been available for human consumption for some time. The meat contained herein is for personal use only and not for sale. It is derived from animals that received post-mortem veterinary inspection and were found to be healthy in every way..."

Vanilla-Caramel Pie

I should have taken a picture before it was cut but I guess I was too eager to begin feasting on it.

My mom made this delicious pie for us last week when we were out visiting. It was sooooo good. We ate it even before it was completely set...and then had leftovers when it was properly set up. I think the name is totally lame and does not do it justice at all.

This is a freezer pie, so you can make it, freeze it and pull it out when you have last minute company. But of course that ruse never works for me. I know it's in the freezer so there is no way it's gonna stay untouched waiting for some "last minute company" to arrive.

After the kids had already had another dessert - I found them attacking this last sliver of pie with a couple of spoons.

Vanilla - Caramel Pie

1 pre-prepared graham wafer crust (or make your own from scratch)


1 1/2 c milk
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding

Mix together and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add to filling:

1 large container Cool Whip (slightly softened)
3/4 pkg Hershey Chipits Skor Bits

Freeze and enjoy.

Now here are some changes I would make because I think chocolate makes everything better. I would use Skor candy bars crushed up, instead of the Skor Bits. Or I would use the Skor bits and then add some chocolate shavings on top...or mix in bits of chocolate when adding the Skor bits.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Free Slurpees on July 11th

I just noticed that today is 7-7...for some reason that reminded me of 7-11, which reminded me that usually on the 11th day of the 7th month (7-11)...7-Eleven gives away free 7.11 oz Slurpees.

I went to the 7-Eleven website and sure enough, the tradition is continuing this year.

Of course it worked out better for us when there were more 7-Elevens in our there is only one that is relatively close to us. The kids and I usually would start out our free Slurpee-ing early in the morning - hitting the 2 or 3 7-Elevens nearby.

7.11 oz of Slurpee isn't really very much, but they are cold, delicious and free!! The kids think it's wonderful (and so do I!)

So mark 7-11 on your calendar and see how many Slurpees you can consume during the day :)

The 7-Eleven website has a store locator to help you find a 7-Eleven (or multiple 7-Elevens) close to where you live.

At the Lake

While in Canada, we spent a couple of days out at the lake at my sister's cabin. It was wonderful!

There was swimming, fishing, playing, grilling, visiting, bocce balling, bonfiring and fireworks to finish off the day.

Highlights for the kids were playing with their boy cousin, playing with their dog, and being in the water.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Home Sweet Home

That's what the boy said when we drove up into our driveway late last night, after a marathon 18 hour drive back from Canada.

We arrived home safely with no problems on the road, for which we thank God.

It's always a bit of a relief once we are back on American soil.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I've Been Walkin' on the Railway...

Each day we've been taking a walk around town for an hour or more. Today we walked along the railway tracks...reminicent of my childhood doings.
The kids thought it was quite an adventure to walk on the tracks...maybe the element of danger played into their excitement.
Along the way the kids picked up some "treasures". The boy especially likes little pieces of metal and said maybe he'd start a metal collection when he gets older.
The flat speckled pieces are either shedded snakeskin (which of course the kids are hoping for)...or some sort of plastic :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Catfish Capital of the World

We are staying in the "Catfish Capital of the World", or so the statue proclaims. Too bad we are not fishermen.
Chuck the Catfish greets people as they round the bend, entering into my home town. The kids wanted to see who would be the first to spot the catfish, and the boy won the honor.
Reminds me of my childhood and our trips to the lake. There was no Chuck the Catfish, rather we would see who would be the first to spy "the tower". "The Tower" meant our 4.5 hr journey was almost at its end. A good thing, b/c after traveling in the car with 5 young girls for 4.5 hrs, I well imagine the parents were almost at "the end".
I always enjoy seeing the statues of small towns as we travel around. The other day on the way to visit one of my sisters - we passed through the Village of Gladstone that features a large happy stone - see the picture here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Yum-a-licious is the only way to describe this delicacy!
Poutine are french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. I have not had poutine in all the years I've been married I'm sure. On top of the poutine I sprinkled some salt, vinegar and added some ketchup. Delicious! The kids were not with me, so no sharing was necessary.
I had gone to the food court at the mall with my sister, intending to purchase something healthy like a salad. Then I saw the poutine and knew that was what I had to have. I can have a healthy salad any old day, but who knows when I'd stumble upon poutine again.
The eatery was called "New York Fries" and not only did they have poutine but you could order the fries with the "veggie works" which included cheese sauce, sour cream, green onions and tomatoes or the "works" which included chili, sour cream, cheese sauce, green onions and bacon. Let's just say it's not a low-fat meal.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic

We found these two large Ukrainian churches in a small country town of about 500 people. The buildings were about 2 blocks apart and both appeared to be Catholic. At first we could not understand why two large Ukrainian Catholic churches would be so close - especially in such a tiny community. Upon further inspection we noted that one sign read "Ukrainian Catholic" and the other "Ukrainian Orthodox".
I'm too tired right now to figure out the difference between the two denominations...I'm thinking one doesn't acknowlege the Pope and also allows married priests. Something to figure out another time. I love the architecture.