Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fizzle Balls!

At the Community Halloween Party the past 2 years I have had some type of weird science activity for the kids to be involved with. The recipes have come from a book that the boys have called "Kid Concoctions of Bibical Proportions." You can check out the website at but we made "Fizzle Stones" (I called them Fizzle Balls) ahead of time with small Halloween prizes inside. These are simple and easy to make. For a small batch take 1/4 cup baking soda and add a little bit of water to make it into a dough. Then take the dough and place a small trinket into the dough and roll or press into a ball. You then need to let these dry overnight. Now once they are dry, Fill a glass or bowl with at least 3 cups of vinegar and let the kids carefully drop in the "Fizzle Balls". The reaction causes the foam to overflow and the trinket will be released from the ball. The kids thought this was great, but let me tell you it took about 8 POUNDS of baking soda to make enough for 100 kids (and we didn't use them all!) But the kids had a great time and it is simple science that can be found in your kitchen! Have fun and don't be afraid to make a mess with the kids - just make sure they help clean up too!!!

The Costumes!

Robert as "Buzz Lightyear", Garrett as "Captian Hook", Andrew as "Dirt Bike Rider"

Halloween at our House!

Garrett's Mater Pumpkin

Robert's Pumpkin

OK so having Halloween over a weekend was great here. We actually started on Friday night and went through part of Sunday. Friday night we finally got to carve our pumpkins (Robert had been sick until Thursday and not really up to it) So to get everyone into the mood - we had Spider Pizza. I made dough in the bread machine and made a pizza, but I held back a ball of dough and rolled 8 leads that I placed on top of the pizza and then a small (biscuit sized) ball in the middle of the legs to make a giant spider on top of our pizza.  Then we carved our pumpkins. This year we tried the patterns because Garrett had a Mater pattern for pumpkins. I think this might be the first and only time that we do that! I think it is more fun (and less frustrating) to let the kids be creative and design their own faces of the Jack-O-Lanterns. Robert was a little abstract this year (but he wanted to use the drill to drill holes) and Garrett's is Mater!

Then Breakfast I was at it again. I planned on French toast, that I had cut the bread into shapes of ghosts and pumpkins. I cooked the ghosts first and then added raisins for eyes. Once I had the ghosts cooked, I added orange food coloring to the egg mixture and then made our slightly orange pumpkin French Toast. Lunch we had hot dog mummies (use refrigerated biscuits to wrap hot dogs like a mummy) and Finally for dinner we had stuffed shells, that if you cut cheese to look like teeth, you can make small little monsters looking up at your family from their plates. (teeth-cheese, eyes options mushrooms, olives or we used small pieces of bread crumbs. They were really cute- but in the craziness of my house I forgot to take a picture!  
This is something that Andrew usually joins us for is dinner before the Community Halloween party at Salem. SO we also had green Kiwi Strawberry juice with Sprite in it and called it Witch's Brew.
And then we went to the Halloween Party!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkins and Jack O Lantern's

View ImageFor this month's agriculture info, I chose PUMPKINS! These are a lot of fun to try growing yourself and they are fairly easy to raise. When we lived in IL, we had the a cool opportunity to live near one of the Libby Pumpkin processing plants. As we drove through the area, I was amazed at the giant fields of pumpkins. And then the fact that they use tractors and machines to harvest these huge fields of pumpkins. We ask one of the local farmers how the process worked. He explained, they plant in the spring and then in the fall as the plants are starting to die off the go through the fields with a tractor with a blade on the front, that gently pushed the pumpkins into rows. Then they would come through with a large machine that had a conveyor belt on it and it kind of sucked and picked up the pumpkins. The pumpkins would take a short ride on the belt and then get dropped into a 18 wheeler dump trailer. The pumpkins were then taken to the plant for processing. I guess that I had always thought that pumpkins were picked by hand, but this was an eye opening opportunity.Go to fullsize image

Now have you ever wondered why we make Jack O Lanterns or where they got their name? Well I did some looking and found this story about the History of the Jack O Lantern.
Go to fullsize imagePeople have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns. (From the History Channel)

Now cooking and getting kids to eat pumpkin is great for the added vitamin A and beta-carotene. Check out what is in 1 cup of cooked pumpkin!

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts

(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)
Calories 49      Protein 2 grams      Carbohydrate 12 grams      Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg      Iron 1.4 mg      Magnesium 22 mg      Potassium 564 mg Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg      Vitamin C 12 mg      Niacin 1 mg      Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU     Vitamin E 3 mg

With all that goodness in pumpkin we should really try to use it more often than just once a year.
Pumpkin Pudding is always a great way to slip pumpkin into your diet. You can also use this pumpkin pudding to make a Pumpkin Pudding Pie.

Pumpkin Pudding
1 package butterscotch instant pudding
2 cups lowfat milk
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

Prepare the pudding by adding the milk and mixing/shaking for 1 minute. Stir in the pumpkin and spices. Pour into serving dishes and chill (or into a graham cracker pie crust and chill) Top with a dollop for whipped cream.

Finally this October remember to save those pumpkin seeds! After cleaning your pumpkin, wash the seeds and remove any other the pumpkin guts from the seeds. Then spread them out on a pan and dry in your oven at 200 degrees for several hours. Make sure to stir them often so they don't scorch. Once they are dry, toss the seeds with oil and lightly salt Roast at 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Have a great and fun October and enjoy those pumpkins!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween night lite

I have to share this fun quick nite light that the boys & I came up with today. First of all, the Family Fun October issue got me thinking about how you can use those  battery operated tea lites. If you check out look up their "eye see you" idea. They took a pingpong ball , cut a hole in the bottom, used markers to make it look like an eyeball and then put the battery operated tea lite into the hole. They are pretty cool. But I didn't have any plain ping pong balls at my house and I keep forgetting to grab some from the store. But today when the boys and I were going through the Halloween storage box, I found the orange hard plastic pumpkin shaped candy boxes that the boys had gotten candy in a couple of years ago. I looked at them and immediately thought "night lights!" So I measured the light's flame and it is about 3/8". I took the drill and the 3/8" drill bit and drilled a hole in the bottom of the candy box. I then taped the box together on the edges and sat the candy box on the tea light. The boys loved them! And all it took was a 3/8" drill bit and about 10 minutes time(maybe)
Hope you have a safe Halloween!

Easy Sheet Changing idea

I really dislike having to change the sheets on the beds in our house. Several are still up against walls so it makes it a bit harder. But one thing that we have done to make this job a bit easier and a little bit quicker, is to put the sheets for each bed in a plastic bin under the bed they belong on.
This works great for a couple of reasons
            - you don't have to look through all the sheets to find the matching pillowcase
            - you don't have to go to the linen closet ( which would be downstairs ) to get the sheets
            - in the middle of the night it is much quieter to find those sheets than to wake the whole house
            - you can have your "little helper" pull the box out from under the bed while you are pulling off the last sheet and they feel like they are helping
           - older kids (& husbands) won't ask "Where are the sheets?"
          - older kids can reach their sheets and put them on themselves!!
            -You have just gained a lot of space in your storage area!!!!!!
I know this isn't a cool craft or anything earth shattering, but it does save time and space. Please understand I am trying to straighten and organize my home just a bit more and this is one thing that we are keeping the way it is because we have tried other ways and this seems to work the best. So I just thought I would share it with you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Applebutter -EASY

With it being that time of year for all things fall and cozy. Applebutter always hits the top of my list. The smell of apples and cinnamon throuout the house and then warm applebutter on a slice of toast just makes the day. This is a really super easy recipe for Applebutter.
Start with 12 cups of unsweetened applesauce (I make my own sauce first or you can purchase it at the store to save some time)
Pour into a large ceramic crockpot.
Add 6 cups of sugar (+- depending on how sweet your apples are, I usually use only 4 Cups)
Add 2-3 tsp. cinnamon
Mix well and leave in an open crockpot at least 12 hours on high. Stirring occassionally.
Check with spoon to see if it is done, by dipping spoon into crockpot and seeing if it sticks to the spoon. Applebutter will get very dark colored.
Put into glass jars and Cold water bath process for 20 minutes.

This makes great gifts for any occassion and it really is easy to mix and walk away(except an occassional stir) until it is time to put into jars.

Have fun trying an old favorite!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

God & Family Cub Scout Award

Robert receiving his God & Family pin from his den leader.

Today Robert and his friend Adam, both received their God & Family Awards for Cub Scouts. The boys have worked for 8 weeks with the Pastor on this program. They had to make a pizza with each layer representing different things about their families and how God's Word works into their lives. This was a great program and the boys learned a lot about themselves, their families and most importantly their Lord. Congratulations Robert & Adam.

Pumpkin Patch Pedal Tractor Pull

Andrew pulling - 4 full pulls and all the weights

Garrett pulling 5ft.

Andrew getting his trophy!
Yesterday in Salem they had the Pumpkin Patch, which is a fun day sponsored by the local Lutheran church's. The 4-H club had several games and activities for the kids. One of them was the Pedal Tractor Pull. Robert has aged out of the tractor pulls, but Garrett is just starting. Yesterday Garrett placed 2nd in the 4 yr olds and my nephew Andrew placed 1st in the 7 yr olds. Both of the boys are excited. Andrew got a trophy and in his words -"FINALLY!"

Final Flag Football Game

The boys got their names announced at the end of the game.
(Robert on the right)

Robert on defense going after Austin with the ball. 
OKay so this was a whilrwind of a weekend.  But Saturday night was Robert's last Flag Football game of the season. His team was #2 of all the 3rd & 4th grade teams and last night all the teams got to play on the high school field with LIGHTS! This seems to make it a BIG game for them. Robert's team didn't win last night, but they had a good season and the boys had fun.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Patch in Salem

Just wanted you to know that if you are local, Saturday October 16 (tomorrow) will be a day of fun in Salem. There is a pancake & buckwheat cake breakfast until 1. THen at 2 there are going to be kids games, hayrides, pumpkin sling shot and more fun. There is a pumpkin carving contest, Evening Prayer service and then Square Dancing with Jimmy Dittman. SO if your calendar has some open time stop out and join in on the fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Through the school year

Well earlier this summer we set up pictures of barns and the kids earned their animals for their farm with every book that they read. It seems that the animals have lost their excitment. So today I started taking down the farm - to which Garrett protested, but when I explained that we would do something else, he was alright with taking it down. So today we have enlarged a coloring book picture (with my auction buy of an overhead projector) of a combine and a wagon for Garrett and a tractor and wagon for Robert. The object will be to read enough books to fill the wagons with ears of corn (that they will get to color) for each book.

I have found that having these simple interaction with the books and being able to keep track of how many books they have read is a lot of fun for them and encourages reading. So what are you doing to encourage free reading (school assignments don't count) for your kids this fall?

4-H Awards Dinner results

Okay I bragged a little the other night. Here is a photo of Robert receiving his 2nd award.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4-H Leader's Dinner & Awards night

Just wanted to brag a little, tonight was the annual 4-H Leader's and Awards dinner. These awards are for kids that do a little extra work and have their books judged an extra time. Well Robert received 2 awards tonight. One for his Goat record book and on for his Geneology Book. Venango's Edge 4-H CLub (Robert's Club) actually had 9 awards tonight - which was actually over half of the awards. Wow what a group of kids!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fire Prevention Month and Drills

Okay so I'm a bit behind the ball as LAST week was National Fire Prevention Week, but around my house it becomes all month and it is all firetrucks and firemen around here. But in all seriousness, making sure that everyone knows how to get out of the house and where to go is SO important. Remember that if you ran the drill last year that your children have grown and maybe the youngest will not need help now, but will need to be reminded that he/she needs to crawl out of the house and they may not remember where to go just because of their age. And just because the oldest knows the drill by heart, you need to make sure that the other kids do too.

Something that I saw last year and was terrified by the outcome, was a television show that had the fire alarm go off while children were sleeping. They had hidden cameras in their rooms and their parents sat in a downstairs room. The fire alarm went off and some of the kids never moved! Others thinking it was their alarm, put their heads under their pillows or pulled the covers over their heads!  For several of the families participating in the show, their children would most likely died of smoke because it took over 12 minutes (I think) for their children to get out of bed and mosey to the downstairs.

This bothered me SO much that we had to try it here. To start with I had talked to the boys about what I had seen on TV and how I hoped that they would be able to tall the difference if they were ever in that situation. Then towards the end of the month, when it wasn't on their minds, we planned an evening drill. We had the kids in bed on time on a Saturday night. Then between 9:30 & 10, Gary pushed the fire alarm test button and I timed the boys at getting themselves downstairs. I was relieved that they both had made it downstairs in under 3 minutes. But because of the show (which I don't remember which show it was) this is a new drill that my family will be doing every year, just so we know what that alarm sounds like, especially when we are sleeping!

Don't forget to change the batteries in those alarms this month too!!!!!!

So does your family have a fire drill? Have you ever tried a nighttime drill? Something to think about trying!!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Pie Filling

We have a good crop of apples this year. I tried this recipe last year and we found that we enjoyed this apple pie filling on top of waffles, pancakes, in mountain pies and come to think of it I don't think we ever got to actually having an apple pie. But you can use this how ever you would like, but it is a good way to preserve some of you apples and have quick desserts at your fingertips.

When I am canning I try to involve the boys some how. For apples Robert & Garrett both helped pick the apples with Gary. But since Garrett was home with me he got the opportunity to help peel the apples. I have a peeler/corer and the boys will fight over who gets to help crank and peel the apples. It is so nice to have willing help!

Core, peel and slice enough apples to fill 7 quart jars. Layer the apples into the jars. Then in a pan, combine 6 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons cinnamon
10 cups of water
Cook until thick. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour into jars with apples. Leave 1/4" headspace. This recipe says to Cold water pack for 20 minutes. Makes 7 quarts.

I don't know the recommendations as to if apple pie filling should be cold water packed or packed in a pressure cooker. I know that my pie filling from last year did fine with cold water packing.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Hyper Dash - a great game for Christmas lists!

This was the game of the year for 2007 and we were lucky enough to receive this game as a gift. And we have had a great time with it. The game is called "Hyper Dash"and for more info and a picture you will need to click on this link. . But this game gets everyone up and moving, plus an added benefit is it has taught Garrett his colors and his numbers (1-5 anyhow) and colors: red, blue, yellow, orange and green. But it also teaches the importance of listening to directions. Hyper Dash has 4 different games and several different levels (i'm sure we haven't explored all of the levels) The 5 targets and the wand will fit in a plastic shoebox so it has gone with us on vacation. But this game is versatile enough to play with 1 without all the action or several  players playing on teams in a large field. And the kids just find it fun, but it tests their reaction time and their speed. What a great game to have that gets exercise, listening to directions, speed, colors, numbers and on higher levels math, and easy to care for too! All in 1 game!
So if you are looking for Christmas gifts this might be one that you would want to investigate.  I haven't checked out the other products from this company so I can only speak for the Hyper Dash game and we love it. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waiting activities

On Saturday we went to the Autumn Leaf Festival Parade. Now the parade doesn't start until noon, but we were there at 9:30am so that we could save seats for the rest of the group that sits with us (we are now up to 17 for our family and there are families that sit beside us, too that we know.) But what do you do with kids while they wait, you can only eat so many times, so we have learned to take a few books with us that all ages can enjoy. The "I SPY" books are great for this kind of waiting time. And the bigger the book the better. We have found that there are 3 or 4 of us looking at a picture trying to find a certain item. And this is something that Garrett at 4 (and he did it last year too) can handle and the boys at 9&10 can handle too. Now the toddlers were a different story, but reading them a story works too. This is just something that we have found helps when we are waiting for an event of this type to start and we know that we will have a long wait. Adding a book or 2 really doesn't take much space or weigh that much when carrying in the blankets and chairs and such. SO enjoy a good book and have some fun the next time you are waiting !

Children's Sermon - Treat God Like Ice Cream!

Well, it has been a while since I have had a children's sermon and this was the weekend. It was a busy weekend too, so I turned to my notebook that I started for Children's Sermon's. This notebook has ideas that come to me at anytime and then I can pick which Children's Sermon sounds good for today. Well I decided yesterday that "Treat God Like Ice Cream" was up for today and here it is.

View Details
So how many of you didn't want to get up this morning on a drizzly, rainy Sunday morning. Just a little tired from all the Autumn Leaf Festival events? Me too. But you know what - what would have you done if mom or dad would have come into your room this morning and said let's go for ice cream! I know that I would have gotten out of bed quickly and would have been ready to walk out the door. I know that ice cream can make us excited about going to get it. But why aren't we excited to hear that it is time to go to church and that we have the opportunity to learn more about God and his teachings? Maybe we need to treat God more like ice cream and be excited about going to "get Some" of God's good news just like we are excited to go get ice cream.
 How about when you get there are you ever amazed at all the flavors to pick from, like when we go to Penn State's Creamery and they make over 100 flavors. Of course they aren't all available at the same time, but oh the flavors that they have! But I know that I went to Renninger's this summer and I was amazed at the size of a SMALL cone - it really isn't small. (To which the kids agreed that they are really big cones) So once again are we able to treat God like ice cream and be amazed at what he has done? Are you amazed by the colors of the fall leaves or by when he answers your prayer (remember he doesn't always answer the way we want), or by the world that he has made all around us? So shouldn't we be amazed by God just like we are amazed by the flavors of ice cream. Do you know they make Sweet potato ice cream and avocado ice cream? I found it on the Internet.
And finally how do you eat your ice cream? Do you eat it by taking 1 lick and coming back later or do you eat it all right now and can't wait until you get more? If we took a lick and came back later it would be melted and a mess. But when you are done with ice cream would you eat more in an hour? How about tomorrow? OF COURSE - I know that I would. So why don't we treat God that way?  Should we come to church on Sunday and get a little "lick" and then wait again until next week or should we enjoy everything we get to be involved with on Sunday and then make sure that we spend some time with God on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday ad Thursday and Friday and Saturday and then be excited to go to church again on Sunday. That would be like getting ice cream everyday! (wouldn't that be cool?)
So we need to treat God like Ice Cream:
1. We need to be excited that we get to learn about him - just like we are excited that we are going to get ice cream
2. We need to be amazed at everything that God does around us- just like we are amazed by the number of flavors that we could get or the size of the cones that we receive.
3. We need to enjoy worshipping God when the opportunity comes and have the desire to have some time to worship or spend time with God - just like we enjoy eating our ice cream and then desire more.
So the next time you have an ice cream cone think about the ways it is like the way we should be treating God!