Monday, September 23, 2013

Spinderella Story con't. and Frog Frenzy

So in she came to live back in her habitat.  She would usually hang out in the cave where she had spun the web mass.  Cut to a couple of weeks later...
     It was about mid-August by this time.  We had some sort of celebration at our home which was the reason for a yellow tablecloth dressing up our kitchen table.  Someone had been checking on Spinderella before we sped out the door for a 4-H activity, and her habitat was left on the kitchen table, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.  We walked in the door  and much to our surprise and shock...there were several tiny moving black dots on the yellow table cloth!  Gotta love the table cloth.  Believe it or not...WE HAD BABY SPIDERS!!!!  No kiddin'.  There were several baby spiders on the tablecloth.  A few had made their way to the door wall which I painstakingly caught with a piece of paper and gently set them outside.  Had we arrived home any later and we might have had a slew of spiders inhabiting our home.  We were weirdly pretty smug about the fact that we actually hatched spiders!  It's a fun story for us to tell and I know folks think we're pretty strange but it's an experience that my kids will remember their whole lives.  I guess you had to be there and only science-y country gals can appreciate the tale.

      Here's another quick similar tale that my boys still talk about 10 years later.  We had a pond behind our former home.  We arrived home after dark one rainy evening in early summer only to be met by a mass invasion of FROGS  on our paved cup-de-sac.  I saw this as another teachable moment, sent the boys up our driveway for buckets and set off to catch frogs.  I drove our van down our little street, dodging frogs of all kinds and sizes, headlights shining bright to illuminate the road and watched the boys with delight as they caught frogs. They were 5 and 7 at the time.   After the catching frenzy we put a board over the buckets and went off to bed.  Cut to the next morning...we unveiled the buckets and peered in with wonder.  One by one we took out each frog, observed them and let them go.  There were several kinds and every size imaginable.  They had caught 60some frogs in about 15 minutes.  They neighbors thought I was nuts, the boys thought I was the coolest mom ever.  It was an experience we'll always remember.

Picture Of The Week

                                                                 Lovely Bounty

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chapter 2 "A Spider Tale" - Crazy Country Living

So, now we have this "pet" spider - very large, black, hairy, spider.  After consulting with Ms. Google, I found that people actually do keep these darlings as pets, so perhaps we are not that kooky,   he hum.
    Well, we kept said spider for several weeks snatching bugs to keep her on the hunt.  This cool little habitat has this little cave like structure in one corner that she eventually grew very fond of.  Before we knew it she had built this web/nest inside there and she would hang out there for the day. They do not build the typical lacy web like most spiders do.  They have this small thick tangled mass of webbing.  Well, she holed up in there for weeks.  We never saw her poke her head out or come hunting the nice juicy insects that we painstakingly  caught for her.  After two or three weeks of her being AWOL we figured she went up to spidey  heaven.  We figured it was time to open the habitat outdoors and let her out(if she was still alive) and if not it was just time to get the habitat outside.  With no pouncing show to watch she had lost her charm.  So out she went in mid July.  The habitat was stationed by our deck just in case something started happening.
     Two weeks went by.  I was headed out the back door, toward the deck, and who was there to greet me but "Spinderella".  That is what my then 9 year old son named her.  She was sitting on our back steps literally saying "Hey, I've missed you and I want to live in my habitat in your house".  I understand spider-speak.  I made the assumption that it was our Spinderella so I scooped her up, gathered up the habitat and went on a hunt for feeder flies.

To be continued.........

Monday, August 26, 2013

Picture of the Week

I took these photos in my backyard early one morning.  A small stream of sunlight was pouring down through the trees showing off the beauty of summer.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Spider Tale

Chapter 1

   Ok, you are going to think I'm a pure lunatic - I don't know, perhaps I am.  Maybe I'm strange, a nerd, weird-o, kooky.    Really, I'm pretty sane.  But what I am is a teacher(for real) a bit of a science geek, biologist, zoologist, entomologist, farm girl, country girl and critter lover.  That includes bugs, insects and arachnids.  Now, I will confess that I do not want said spiders crawling on me and I was known to let out a blood curdling screech many years ago when a tan spider the size of a watermelon - ok, maybe not that big- was crawling up my collar after a war with the weeds in the garden one summer.  I just find nature and all of it's buzzing, crawling, creepiness  and crowing animals, ah... interesting. And so that is  the lead in to my story, which has now evolved into two summers.
     So, last summer I find on my foyer floor a very large black hairy spider with green eyes and white markings.  She  had apparently hitched a ride on some beach towels drying on our front porch swing.  Enter my alter ego the entemologist me.  I grab a peanut butter jar and instantly she has a new home for the night.  My  intention was to research her a bit just to see what she was and educate the family on her lifestyle.   I really was a teacher for 14 years before I had my children so the teacher in me is constantly setting up rituals such as these to "teach" my three boys about the world.
     After very little research we found out that she was a female Daring Jumping Spider.  Jumping is the operative word here, remember that.   Later that evening we decided we had better try to feed her something.  That was a great excuse to catch the flies that the boys let in the house.  So the first fly gets nabbed and into the jar it goes.  Within seconds that spider pounced - hence the jumping part- on that fly and held on for dear life.  As it turns out they enjoy the feast and leave the carcass.  Many more flies and light buzzing moths followed that night.  Seeing this as the teachable moment, the next day I fixed up a nice habitat in one of our many aquariums meant for this purpose and in she went - for the rest of the summer.  Which meant we were on bug catching duty for a couple of months.  Here's an internet photo of a Daring Jumping Spider.  It's a better shot than any of those I took.


Daring Jumping Spider

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Picture of the Week

                                                       AWWW, need I say more?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fabulous Tomato Eggplant Bake

     Here it is mid August and the tomatoes are starting to pile up.  I never have enough at one time to can but I end up popping them in the freezer and using them in chili and spaghetti sauce over the winter.  I also had an eggplant that I wanted to use as it was on the verge of turning brown.  So I searched the internet and found some other tomato eggplant bakes but they were just plain boring!  I was looking for a bit more pizazz so I came up with this recipe.  My 15 year old son ate 75% of it!  That's when I knew it was a winner!

Fabulous Tomato Eggplant Bake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 large tomatoes sliced in 1/4 - 1/2" slices
1 medium eggplant in 1/4 - 1/2" slices
1 large onion sliced paper thin
1 Tbl. salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic crushed
1 Tbl. fresh basil
1 Tbl. fresh parsley
1 Tbl. parmesan cheese-the powdery kind in a jar
dash of pepper

Drizzle after baking

1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbl. fresh basil
1Tbl. fresh parsley
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
6-10 kalamata olives(to your taste)

feta cheese
shaved parmesan cheese

Slice the eggplant, layer it in a colander and sprinkle it with the salt.  Set this in your sink to sweat and drain.  This will eliminate some of the water in the eggplant.   Let sit for about a half hour.  In the meantime, slice your tomatoes and onions.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, herbs, garlic, parmesan cheese and pepper.

Time to layer the vegetables.  Start with a tomato.  Next to it add an onion slice.  Now add an eggplant slice.  Now another onion slice.  So your rhythm will go like this...tomato, onion, eggplant, onion, tomato, onion, eggplant, onion, tomato...Layer all of your slices until you use them up.  I ended up with three rows of slices.
      Drizzle your olive oil mixture over the veggies.  Bake in the over at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until they just start to brown on the top.

While this is baking, let's make the drizzle that tops it off.  In a bowl, combine all of the drizzle ingredients.  Add a bit more olive oil, if you would like.  Let this set and ferment while the veggies bake.
      Once your vegetables are lightly browned, remove them from the oven and drizzle the Drizzle mixture over all of the slices.  Use a brush to spread this around.

Now top the whole thing with feta cheese AND shaved parmesan cheese to taste.  Oh WOW!  This is so yummy.  I could eat only this for dinner!

Variations.  I'll probably make this a few more times this summer.  These are the variations I'll try out.
I'll cut some thin fresh mozzarella cheese and/or zucchini to layer between the slices.  The next time, I'll chop some marinated mozzarella balls and top with this instead of the feta.  I'll still include the parmesan.

So give it a try and let me know what you think.  I tend to alter recipes to our taste so add more garlic, take out the basil, top with different cheeses,  whatever gets the job done for you.  Either way let's use up those tomatoes and enjoy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Picture of the Week

               My what big teeth you have, my dear Alpaca.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New Family Members

   We have contemplated adding goats to the family for several years now.  We finally gave in!  We are now owners of two Nigerian Dwarf doelings.  They were 9 weeks old when we picked them up a few weeks ago.  To say they are too cute is simply an understatement.  That's the breeder in the first photo.

Now here they are at our home.

"Ivy", our tan/white darling is the alpha goat .  She is the first to dig in to the food, the first to greet us at the door and quick to give "Willow" her new sister a butt if she feels like it.  She has blue eyes and is "polled", which means genetically, she has no horns.

     "Willow", our black and white baby is still quite timid.  She is slow to warm up but if seated on your lap is content to enjoy some cuddle time.

We watched the goat showing at the fair this year.  I'm hoping the kids will be interested in showing these gals next year.  For the time being, though, we are just enjoying their antics and affection.

We found the cutest kids play house on Craigs List for them to stay in.  It needs a paint job as the children who previously owned it showed off their artistic talents with a wild paintbrush.  Inside, there's plenty of indoor graffiti announcing the names of little girls allowed in the house and those who are  banned(even little girls can be snarky), but  it's the perfect little home for them.

     Now, I wonder if we can talk my husband into getting alpacas...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cowboy Boot Birdhouse

I entered many things in the fair this year, this birdhouse being one of them. I think it turned out pretty cute. And it was the first place, blue ribbon winner! Ok, so it was the ONLY birdhouse entered this year so I won by default- but I still think it turned out great.
Unfortunately, I did not get to keep it after the fair, although I knew this going in. All birdhouses were going to be kept and auctioned in February for our fair fundraiser. That's fine with me. I hope they raise enough to be able to buy a fair trophy for one of the kids next summer. I was disappointed though, that no one else entered a birdhouse. I always love to see other artist's creations. Let's make it. You will need: a cowboy boot-I found mine at a garage sale license plate bandana wire belt small grapevine wreath drill with bits to drill through metal plus one of those circle grindy things with the teeth little stick for a perch small piece of wire fencing-optional glue Ok, here we go. We had some fencing left over from a goat pen project. The holes in the fence were about 2 x 4. I rolled up a piece,about 12 x 6, tube fashion, tucked it inside the boot, just to support the inside of the boot so it wouldn't collapse or crush. You couldn't use anything with small holes as your birds wouldn't be able to get into the house. Like I said, it's not necessary but we had the fencing so I used it. You will have to cut your piece to fit inside your boot. Using your drill and big circle grindy thing(is it used to cut holes in doors for a door knob?) cut an entry circle in the side of your boot so your birds can get in. You can also use an exacto or craft knife. Using a smaller drill bit, drill a small hole under that to accomodate a perch. Now switch to a metal bit to put holes in your license plate. Bend your plate in half to form a roof. Set it on top of the boot and decide where you will be able to attach the plate to the boot. Drill one or two holes on each side of your plate with matching holes at the top of the boot. You will be wiring the plate on via these holes. Cut 2-4 lengths of wire-depending on the number of holes you drilled- 5"-6", long enough to fit through the boot and the license plate. Wire the plate to the boot. My boot had loops at the top so I cut a length of wire and wired it onto the loops for a hanger. I cut a 12" piece, attached it to the loop on one side, ran it over the top of the plate, and attached the other end to the loop on the other side. Add the perch by making sure your little stick fits snugly in the perch hole. Add a dab of glue to hold in place. So that's your basic boot. Now it's time to embellish it.
I had an old thin belt with a western style buckle that I wrapped twice around the bottom 1/3 of the boot. Then I rolled up and tied on a bandana, leaving the corner down, bandit style, for some color and flair. I had seen some boots on the internet with bandanas just rolled and tied on but I liked leaving a little corner. I got it to this point but felt like it needed some thing more. I headed to the Salvation Army and found just the right size grapevine wreath to put around the hole. I glued this on. Hmmm, what else? A sheriff's badge was exactly what it needed! So off to the dollar store I went. Sure enough, in the kids isle I found a package of gold badges, a sheriffs star being one of the them. Perfect! It was just the bling I was looking for. Just a dab of glue to hold this in place and YEEHAW! You done got yourself and fine birdhouse, pardner! This is a great birdhouse for the cowboy or cowgirl in your life. It's easy to make and a sturdy home for your backyard birdies. If you make one please share it with me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Fair Come and Gone

Well, our county fair has come and gone for another year. The kids and I managed to win more than few ribbons. I am a crafter and baker so it's a natural fit for me to enter my creations in the fair. In fact, I was the "Top Baker" this year. In the coming weeks I'll share those recipes with you. Wait 'till you see my first place scarecrow. I hope it makes you smile. In the meantime, here are some favorite fair photos.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Yipee! School's Out!

Summer has arrived for my children. Their last day of school was yesterday. I don't know about you but I always had mixed feelings on the last day of school when I was a kid. It was bittersweet. I was excited that summer fun was starting but I was sad to be leaving my friends and teachers. Now, as a mom, I still feel that way! Since I was a teacher pre kids, I get that double whammy. Would you believe my youngest son had the stomach flu and missed the last two days of school! Yes, the stomach flu in June-it was going around his school UGH! He is still crying about it. He feels like he didn't really finish the 4th grade. Poor kid. I think he will feel that disappointment when he is thirty. He's just that kind of boy. He has two birthday parties lined up this week. That will help him get over it, no doubt. And so the summer fun begins...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Day Has Finally Arrived!

Yes, the day is finally here.  I have been a crafter and stitcher forever!  When my children were young I started drawing stitchery designs by the dozens.  I have two filled notebooks of doodles and patterns ready to be stitched up.  Back when the kids were younger I actually stitched up a few of them then tucked them away until "someday" came and I would have more time to write up the instructions, supply list etc. etc.  If you are anything like me, you put everyone's needs, the housework, cooking, critters and yard work before anything else.  I have had this dream in my heart for so long, 15 years has gone by, the kids are a little older and guess what.  I have put some of those other household chores on hold to wrap up and publish my patterns.  I have over 30 designs with 6 of them listed so far on ETSY and Pattern Mart.  Yea!

I have many holiday designs, whimsical flowers, cute critters and samplers.

This was one of those things that I just HAD to do before the end of my life(which is hopefully a long way away).  I would have had so many regrets had I not taken the time to do this. My hope is that these stitcheries bring simple joy to both the stitcher and the recipient.  Now that I'm on my way, stay tuned for some free stitchery patterns right here.
We have baby chicks right now.  Wait 'till you see them...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm Back!

Gosh, it has been quite a horrendous 6 months.  We've had four deaths in our family.  Cancer has claimed two and complications from old age has taken two more to the angels.  Tending to households, sharing last days and funerals have appropriated great amounts of time  and  I've spent the last few months playing catch up, clean up and buck up trying to get myself back up on top.  I finally made it here, the view is still sad but looking up and I'm on my way to begin again.  Following the yellow brick road back to my life.

     I heard on one of the morning shows that Mattel is blaming moms for the slumping sales of Hot Wheels cars.  Really?  Pa-leeze!  Are you kiddin' me?  I have three boys.  When they were little I spent countless hours playing with Hot Wheels.  We set up tracks all over the house.  Taped track to the sofa and chairs, ran them down the stairs, rolled them into loop-d-loops,  crashed 'em, you name it, we would play for hours.
     At some point the teacher in me kicked in and we got out the ruler to measure the length of each cars' run.  We would run 25 cars, had a fast pile and slow pile and finally figured out which car was the fastest of all.  Then we hypothesized and analyzed why we thought that car ran the fastest.  We built bridges and buildings out of boxes to add to the track.  We all have very fond memories of our car days.
     I think kids have a lot of other toy choices now so cars have lost some of their appeal.  What's your take on this?

     I want to share one more thing today.  I happened upon a website for Leonie Dawson.   I am notorious for feeling that all of my ducks and chicks have to be in a row before I SHOULD do anything creative.  Laundry had to be washed and folded, the meals had to be gourmet, floors scrubbed etc.  UGH! Old school, I know.  I don't think the younger women feel that way.  That's another reason why my blog has been left untouched.  I felt that I had to have something profound to share before I should write.  I checked out Leonie and she gave me the kick in the seat I needed to Just Do It.  Check her out.  You might find a tidbit of wisdom that will give you the kick you need too.