Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Double Rainbow!!

It was almost a month ago that I spotted a double rainbow from my front yard.

Today there was another one!

It's hard to tell from the on the photo to enlarge and that will help a bit - trust me there are two rainbows.

Driving home from church tonight I saw another huge beautiful rainbow (or is it the same one but from a different angle?) - it was out in an open area so I was able to see both ends of it - I drove through the "arch" two different times :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George

I wrote about this interesting book for children here.

This morning I ordered a hardcover copy on Amazon for about $16.00.

I don't normally buy books new - unless I can't find it anywhere else and it's a great book. And I don't normally pay $16.00 for a book for my kids - but it was a hardcover and a favorite book and 3 books in one.

This afternoon I was at a huge library book sale and found a hardcover copy of "My Side of the Mountain". Actually I found NUMEROUS copies of "My Side of the Mountain". I bought more than one :) The sale was $5 for all the books you can fit in a grocery store plastic bag. My kind of sale.

Now it isn't the trilogy of books - just the first book in the series - but usually the first book is the best anyway.

Needless to say, when I got home I canceled the book I ordered for $16.00 from Amazon. The price of that one book was more than I paid for 3 bags STUFFED with books. My dh saw all my books and said "just leave them in 4 bags". But I knew I could fit them all into 3 bags :) and I did!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Puffed Wheat Cake / Squares

A couple of weeks ago I made an old family recipe - Puffed Wheat Cake.

I've probably never tasted it during the 15 years I've lived in the USA - it seems to be more of a Canadian "delicacy".

The first batch turned out hard as I lay in bed after making the cake I got to thinking that that was not how I remembered it being. It needed to be softer and much more chocolaty.

I made another batch the next day and it turned out WONDERFUL. I'm kind of wishing that I had some right now...but probably best for my waistline that I DO NOT have a big pan of it cooling on the counter right now.

I'm not sure what recipe my family uses - here is a recipe I found online. It's not quite the same one that I used - I made some alterations that I did not record... I know I used waaaaaaay more cocoa - like 6 or more HEAPING tablespoons. Some recipes I read said to bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. DON'T!!!! That will turn this into a pile or rocks. Once it hits boil - take it off the stove.

I remember Grandma McLeod making this when we'd all have a picnic/BBQ down by the lake...sigh

Puffed Wheat Cake
• 1/3 cup butter or margarine
• 1/3 cup corn syrup
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
• 6 cups puffed wheat
1. Combine butter, syrup, sugar and cocoa
in a saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil while stirring over
medium heat.
3. Measure 6 cups of puffed wheat into a
large bowl.
4. Pour mixture over puffed wheat and stir
until all puffed wheat is coated.
5. Press into an 8x8 inch greased pan and
let stand to cool.

End of an Era

Yesterday we sold my old car.

It is old. Almost 20 years old. A 1991 Toyota Camry. If it had gone to school it would have graduated last year. Or maybe two or three years ago since everyone knows Toyotas are superior :)

We bought a (used) minivan about a month ago and so we needed to get rid of one of our two cars - mine being the oldest, had to go.

I felt a bit nostalgic about losing the dh bought it 15 yrs ago just before he made his maiden voyage to Canada - to visit me for the first time in my native land (we had met before but always in the USA).

It was the car we drove on our honeymoon, the car I learned to drive on, the car we brought baby #1 home from the hospital in, the car I've driven almost daily for the past 10 years.

It had it's problems...a transmission rebuild the year after we bought it -some mysterious undiagnosable stalling problems for a year or so a few years ago (that finally did get diagnosed and fixed) and a number of minor annoyances and body deterioration - but I still "loved" it. If it weren't for the minivan purchase (necessitated by the need for a (hopefully) more reliable vehicle after dh's car showed evidence of slowing down in its old age -14 yrs) -I would have driven it until it died or fell apart due to rust!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Camping - Part Three

We headed on over to the lodge to admire the beauty of the old structure, and to take advantage of the heated, clean restrooms (the campground restrooms were being cleaned and were thus out of service.

The visitor center was not open yet, so we consulted a map we had brought along and decided to take a hike on the "Goat Cliff Hiking Trail". All four of us enjoyed the hike, in spite of the wind and cold. The trail was unpaved (the girl's favorite type), there were some large rock formations and "caves" along the trail - which were also a hit with the children. The girl was all set to enter a small cave - not caring that we had no light - not caring that there could be a 100 ft drop off inside not caring that there could be a bobcat bobbing about inside...

We wandered around on some other trails after Goat Cliff and then headed back to the visitor center. We watched three short videos (less than 15 min each) on the park, one on eagles and one on the CCC (n the 1930's, with the advent of the Great Depression and with the nation’s natural resources in jeopardy due to poor environmental practices, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created. At Pere Marquette, the CCC built many buildings and shelters, fences, bridges, water reservoirs, foot and horse trails, riprap and streambank protection. Work was also done to create parking areas, campgrounds, and the clearing of overlooks and vistas. In addition, archeological and other types of surveying activities were conducted. Many of these CCC structures are still standing.)

After the videos we were ready for some lunch, so we headed back to our campsite. I had planned on just having some simple sandwiches for lunch - but we wanted to see what all we could cook on the Coleman stove - so I made spaghetti and sauce - which worked out well - albeit very bland since the canned sauce definitely needed some spicing up.

We then rested awhile and then "broke up camp" and headed on home.

The girl inside a replica of an eagle's nest.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camping - Part Two

We arrived at the campground around 4:30 PM and proceeded to pick out a spot for our tent. Though the tent area was pretty empty - it still took us a couple of drives around the loop and much hemming and hawing, to figure out the right spot.

And after we chose our spot- we realized that yes it was in fact the best spot b/c it was set back in the woods and very private. Yes we had further to walk to get water and use the bathroom and we had to park our minivan a short distance away and hoof in our gear - but it was worth it.

The kids liked that the spot was "woodsy" instead of out in the open.

It was very WINDY. DH and the kids set up the tent while I drove back into town to get some first drive of the minivan over 40 MPH :) Because of how things were set up at the house selling the wood - I parked on a small paved road in front of the "barn". I then went in search of the sellers of firewood. An elderly lady came out of the house and asked where I parked. I told her. She got concerned and said "you are parked on the bike trail - they will fine you $75 if they see you parked there!!" I quickly moved the minivan.

I eventually got back to the campsite and thankfully the tent was all put up :). DH was able to get a fire started pretty quickly and before too long we were feasting on hotdogs, beans and s'mores.

We all settled into our tent around 10PM and seemed to fall asleep quickly. I woke around 2:30 to a flat mattress and a shivering husband. It was VERY cold. I hadn't brought much in the way of warm clothing for any of us - other than sweatshirts and very light jackets. I hoped my children were not freezing to death in their sleeping bags.

DH inflated the mattress some more and shut the "windows" and that helped a little I guess. It probably took me an hour or more to fall back asleep and then I was awake for good around 6 AM.

I tried starting the Coleman stove myself, to make something hot for us all to drink, while DH tried to sleep awhile longer. The stove lit easily but then flames were shooting out where they shouldn't be - so I told the girl to get her father up - so much for "sleeping in."

The stove was fixed, hot beverages and porridge served...and it was still very cold outside...and we still had some hiking ahead of us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Teacup Toad

Here is the baby toad posing in a toy teacup...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I wouldn't be a mother without these two...I'm thankful for two precious children.

Still More Critters

The girl's critter collection has been growing rather rapidly with the spring weather.

The count is now:

Two Hermit Crabs (both have changed shells in the past 2 weeks - a fun event - unwitnessed but still cool and an indication that they are doing well). Tarquin and Minnie.

Three Toads (the girl thinks two are American Toads and the other is a Fowler's Toad). The latest acquisition is a baby American Toad that is actually smaller than the snail...and was given to the girl today by a friend. Gollum, Mr. Frodo and Tommy.

One Box Turtle. Myrtle

One Snail. Zipper

Camping - Part 1

On Friday we took a "surprise" camping trip out at Pere Marquette Park in Grafton, Illinois.

It was a surprise because we didn't plan to do it until early Friday morning.

Over the past few days I had been going through our camping gear - weeding stuff out and making a list of stuff we probably still need. Most of the camping things are stored out in the garage and since we haven't gone camping much, I wasn't too sure what was all in the boxes.

Since we recently got a minivan, it's been making us think more about camping. So on Thursday I packed up the minivan to see how much gear we could fit in it and how we could organize things best.

Thursday dh decided to do a trial run in the backyard - see how long it would take to put up the tent and take it down (I think the last time we camped was about 2 yrs ago). We of course slept in the tent. I always have a hard time sleeping in a new place and especially in a tent.

Friday morning we cooked breakfast outside on the Coleman stove and dh said "hey why don't we go camping today?" (real camping). So he went in to research some parks and we decided on Pere Marquette for one night.

We hoped to leave that morning (since most of our gear was already packed in the minivan) but due to the craziness of the stock market - dh felt he needed to go into work until the afternoon.

It ended up working out well to leave later since it gave me time to purchase those oh-so-necessary camping essentials of hot dogs/buns and s'more ingredients and hot cocoa.