Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How It's Been Going....Dogs & Cake

So far so good!  Maria is enjoying her Jr. Show classes over at Animal Inn.  It was my turn to drive her out there so we spent the evening watching dogs....her learning about judging since her loner dog didn't show up.

Maria was fooling around with my camera learning about the new lens.

As far as our dog, Tup, goes, he's doing well....getting comfortable.  Ok, maybe getting a leeetle too comfortable!

The camera clicks woke him up, but he just rolled to one side and continued to snooze.  I love the way his ears flop open when he sleeps.  They're soooo velvety soft!  I know it looks like he doesn't fit in his kennel, but he likes it.  He actually has two, and the other one is significantly larger.  However, he prefers to play in the larger one and sleep in this one.  Paul says he probably feels comfy cozy here no matter if he's cramped.  We'll keep him kenneled when we can't supervise him until he's completely house trained.  As for his naps, we usually leave the kennel door open so he can lie down for a nap.  It's funny how the kids wear him out so he has to nap.  Heck, they wear me out!

Tomorrow we have a birthday!  I always do very specific Google searches like "easy blueberry muffins that I can make in 20 minutes" or "best marinade for fish that doesn't need 4 hours."  Last night I was looking for a good German Chocolate Cake recipe, but all the ones I found required sifting, melting, specific kinds of chocolate, etc, etc.  Bottom line for many of these recipes was about 4 hours of prep time with 35 minutes of baking.  No thank you!  I finally typed in "best and easiest chocolate cake recipe."  I found 3 sites that all talked about the same recipe.  When one of the sites is Ina Garten's, you should probably take it as a good one.  However, I didn't want a fussy icing recipe that required tons of time in front of a stove.  So I went with Lulu the Baker's version of the recipe plus her frosting recipe.  These are the yummy results!

The cake smells amazing!  And the frosting was SO easy to make.  The girls and I worked on prep, baking, and frosting.  I pressed chocolate jimmies on top to make it more of a manly decorated cake.  All the decorating ideas I found online are so feminine and frilly.  A little messy with no frills is perfect for Paul!  Now to make sure the girls can pull off the birthday song, I downloaded sheet music for the occasion.  I hope they can do it!

Sorry for putting a dog and a cake in the same post, but that's the way we roll these days!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So you want an SUV?

I really do.  I like Paul's car, a Nissan Altima, but the trunk isn't filling our needs.  That and you can only take 4 kids max anywhere at one time.  He likes the gas mileage that it gets, but I know there are good gas mileage SUVs out there that will make him and me happy.

I have my eye on 3 potential alternatives......

Mazda Tribute

Toyota Highlander

Nissan Pathfinder

I also like the Ford Escape, but Paul doesn't trust Ford.  He's had such good luck with Nissan that he won't consider an American manufacturer.  This is the older model.  I don't like the newer Ford Escape SUV that has a hatchback and is more aerodynamic.  Yes, they do probably get better gas mileage, but the idea is to be able to get the dog's travel kennel into the back for traveling with me and the kids.  I think Paul will like the extra hauling room, too!

Have any of you had any luck or prefer one of these to the others?  Please, I'd love REAL feedback.  I'm so tired of reading the reviews online.  I'd like to go with a personal recommendation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Laundry Room Affirmation

I had a service tech from Centerpoint Energy come out today for three major appliances.  I need a new lower rack for the dishwasher.  It's working great, but the plastic parts on the rack were falling apart so she ordered a whole new rack to replace the existing one.  No biggie there.

She also serviced my leaky washer and the dryer.  Seems the dryer needed the external vent cleaned to allow for better air flow.  The washer had a leaky part....can't remember the name of it....which the tech had on hand.  She was able to replace the part so I was able to continue with the laundry as usual.

What surprised me was the conversation I had with the tech between the washer and dryer being serviced.  She asked how long I've had the set.  I told her they were bought in 2004 or 2005.  She was very surprised that with our heavy usage, they are still in great shape.  I always think my set is new because it was bought after 2000.  Anything that I've bought in the New Millennium seems to be eternally new to me.  However, I forget that we are in the 2nd decade of the New Millennium!!!

I also wash anywhere from 6-8 loads of laundry on days when I do laundry.  I don't have a set laundry day, but I've noticed that it usually hits on either Saturday or Monday.  I won't go into my laundry system in this post, but I will say that the kids help with starting loads, switching it out, folding, and putting away.  We like to get everything done in the same day so laundry doesn't just sit in baskets all over the house.  I'm very much a part of the "return it how you found it" mindset.

To say the least, the tech was very impressed with my washer and dryer.  I'm pleased that I phoned a friend who had 9 children at that time.  I asked her what kind of set she had so I could purchase the same thing.  She very cheerfully told me so we bought them.  I don't know if the current Fisher & Paykel models are the same or if there are better models out there.  I just hope I get another 10 years out of my laundry room buddies!!  I really love them.

Fisher & Paykel Ecosmart Washer/Smart Load Dryer

Both of them are top loading.  However, my clothes doesn't fly from one to the other like this!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7 Posts in 7 Days....Challenge Done!

A challenge to blog everyday was exactly what I needed.  I was able to find content, and I had fun doing it.  The kids and Paul loved seeing all the new posts, and I felt good keeping it all going.  I was a little worried I wouldn't have anything to post for today, but I finally thought of something.

I saw a review and a plug for this full length film produced by Navis Pictures over at Kimberlee's blog....

Kimberlee's beautiful family can be found at Pondered in My Heart.  They went to a public viewing and actually made costumes for the occasion.  They were celebrating a birthday so it was quite appropriate.

My kids loved the film!  I also purchased their DVD, "How to Make a Movie" which my kids also loved.  Now instead of asking to save up his money for an iPod, Lucas wants to purchase a boom mic!

Who knows what these kids will come up with, but I'm so excited to find out.  Meanwhile, I'm recovering from my homeschool book sale.  We sold a lot and are still selling stuff.  Boxes are already coming with our new material.  I can't believe school is right around the corner!  I'm getting ready though.  I've cleaned off the shelves, sorted through old workbooks and papers, created a "to donate" pile, and am pairing things down.  It feels very good!

In other news, Monica threw her hat in the ring for the Minnesota Amateur Talent Contest.  She performed her recital piece in spite of the cold and rainy weather.  She'll know if she advances to the semi-finals by the end of the week.  Don't pray for her to win, though.  She doesn't want to advance!  She's happy just to have the free t-shirt, and of course, Grandma Carol couldn't be prouder - die hard MN State Fair fan that she is!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Date Night.....

refreshing on several fronts!

Day 6 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge....One More Day to Go!!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

If You Give A Mom a Pancake....

she'll go nuts taking pictures of her kids, flowers, etc.  This little beauty is one of the best Canon prime lenses for the money.

Introducing the Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens.....

It really is that thin and is very lightweight as a result.  I read several reviews about it being a great walk-around lens.  I actually wanted to get the 50mm f/1.8 lens aka the "nifty fifty."  However, that one was no longer available from my Craig's List contact.  Instead, he offered me the 40mm.  And boy do I love it!

Check out the bokeh in the background, and Jane is as crisp as can be.
Bokeh is that blurry background effect that is created when the nearer object is in full focus.
When you have tiny lights or flowers in the background, you get little blurred light circles that create
a warmer aesthetic feel to a photo....Bokeh!

Here I have a Mommy still life at the auto shop that is nicely focused.

Another cool bokeh shot of Molly.  The lighting could be better.

Nick wasn't cooperating, but I think this shot is cute.

Look at this handsome doggie!

Coneflowers are getting some photo love here.

Another shot of the cone flowers.  Look at the detail in the center....could be better focused.  Working on that!

Maria took this pic of the geraniums in the front yard.  Love the color pop!

And here's the same thing in B&W.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Passing Things Along

Nature Friend Magazine - I love getting this beautiful magazine in the mail.  I ran across it with Maria at a HealthPartners clinic in St. Paul.  I was shocked at first because it has Christian leanings and was among the very secular magazines in the waiting room.  The photography is incredible!  

The articles are well written, and the focus on nature, especially animals has been a welcome addition to our homeschool.  


There's always a piece on Astronomy that is a hit with the boys.  Included is also a "how to draw" page for your eager young artists.

And for the Minnesotans out there who read my blog, here's a little head's up....

Almelund Threshing Show - Paul was hunting for tractor pull shows in the area to take the kids to.  A friend of Uncle Mark's passed along the information and website to the Almelund Threshing Show.  This is a three day can buy tickets for all 3 days or pay per day.  12 years and younger get free admission which includes the following taken from the website:
 Huge Tractor Display, (Over 800 in 2008) * Gigantic Flea Market * Antique Gas Engines * Glass Blowing * Kids Ring Toss * Sawdust Pile * Petting Zoo * Youth Pedal Pull * Carlstad's Kids Corner * Play Ground * Lath & Shingle Mill * Johnson Implement *  Replica 1940's IH Dealership * Live Bison * Miniature Exhibits * Blacksmith Shop * Historic Courthouse * Milwaukee Road Railroad Depot *Clover Blossom Country School * Pioneer Log Buildings * Mercantile Store * Barber Shop * Antique Cars & Trucks *Saw Mill * Log House * Tractor Pull * Garden Tractor Pull * Train Depot * Wool Spinning & Knitting * Set Your Mothers Table * Tractor Raffle * Quilt Raffle *
This is coming up August 9, 10, 11 so you can mark your calendars to head over to Taylor's Falls along the St. Croix Trail.  See you there!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Golly, Miss Molly

What do you do when you're smack dab in the middle of two soccer-sporty older sisters and two soccer-sporty younger brothers?  Well, you learn to love SOCCER!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  I can only handle one sport at a time.  Soccer is that sport right now and has been since the end of April.  I don't do sports in tandem because I can barely keep one straight at a time.  So when one pair of soccer cleats is out; they're all out!  Same goes for soccer balls and shin guards.  Well, Miss Molly has learned that soccer is the way of our family for the summer months so she's fallen in line.  And fallen in line she has....we're proud of her!

I actually caved a little and allowed her to take tennis lessons for 2 weeks since she has the legs for it!  What can I say....I'm a pushover, and she looks super cute with her racket.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Freshly Squeezed

I used to buy fresh, squeezed orange juice for special breakfasts on feast days when the kids were younger.  Now that I have older helpers, a juicer is more economical and makes breakfasts extra nice.  Paul and I found this one, which is the best juicer we've had to date, at a garage sale for $5.00....SCORE!  It rinses easily and is dishwasher safe.  It's also very lightweight so I can put it away when I'm done and not be tempted to leave it sit on the counter top.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Musical Family

Paul picked up a 3/4 size Yamaha acoustic guitar off of Craig's List for the kids to learn how to play.  However, he keeps insisting it needs to be him, of course.  I usually hear the tiny guitar being played at random times.  He loves to grab it and play it.  I think it's because it sits openly on a cute little stand near the piano and the sheet music stands.  Monica's violin and Maria's flute  are all also there.

I took these pics yesterday afternoon.  They had a little Schoenstatt Songs Jam session.  How's that for a bit of Sunday Praise & Worship?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Blogger's Challenge: 7 Posts in 7 Days

I saw Jen's challenge announced over at Margaret's and Charlotte's places and thought, "Why would anyone want to hear more from me?"  Then I thought, "This challenge is definitely for me."  When I start thinking thoughts like that, then I know I need a dose of humility and to step out in faith.  After all, I've often thought of this as a service of sorts for ideas, recipes, tips, encouragement, updates, and most of all friendship!  I can't say enough about the psychological help and healing this blog gives me.  I have learned so much through the years with blogging.  So with that, I say.....

bring it on....7 posts in 7 days!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sum, Sum, Summer

We've been enjoying the nice, warm weather here in MN....not too hot, too muggy, or too rainy.  Today is gorgeous!  We set up a 10' Intex Easy Set pool in the backyard for the kids.  A huge landscaping project and 1,000 gallons of water later this is what we have to look forward to everyday...

Because I don't have enough to do around here, I decided to do a little canning.  Peaches have been so juicy and ripe at Costco.  The price is great so we bought several cases to eat and can for later.

Yummy looking results!
 The deck is also up and going for the older kids who don't really like to get wet.  They like to hang out, though, and talk about stuff.


Hope your summer is going safely and well!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Hound....Tup the Pup

So we finally broke down and got another dog.  He's a purebred beagle, 3 1/2 years old, and has a very calm temperament.  He's a cutie....we think!  His name is Kinsglo Tuppence for TripleTree, but we are calling him "Tup."  The kids are in love....well, we all are!

Of course, I had to throw in a couple extra Nick pics just for grins!
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