Saturday, April 29, 2023

Work and Play - House Repairs and Zoo Day!

Hello, Friends!

Another busy week is in the books, with lots of projects completed...and we even had a bit of time for some fun!

First favorite picture of the week! I love my beautiful girls, and we had a great time with friend Ruth!

Alysia, Ruth and Kayla at the Kansas City Zoo

More to follow on our zoo trip in a bit.

First let's back up to last week. 

Last week Aaron was mowing and the mower threw a rock. Unfortunately, the rock hit our back screen door and shattered the glass. And since the glass was an integrated part of the frame, I couldn't just pull out a pane and replace it. We ended up having to buy a whole new screen door...and since the front door has needed a screen door replacement since 2020, we just went ahead and bought two. Aaron spent a couple hours working on it, but we have a new screen door on the back of the house. We will put the new one on this upcoming week on Aaron's next set of days off.

On my to-do list I wanted to make a couple of window screen frames and get screens in a couple of windows that haven't had screens in them since I bought the house. I also had two screens that needed replaced. On Sunday after church and a potluck lunch I went to Home Depot and bought supplies, and settled in to work on those few windows. However, once they were done, the rest of the screens in the house looked a bit shabby next to the bright pretty new ones. 

So of OCD wasn't going to let me rest as long as it looked that way. I ended up purchasing more supplies and replaced every window screen in my house with the exception of two in the kitchen that still looked practically brand new. It's amazing how such a small thing can make a house look so much better!

Replacing Window Screens

Since we had planned to take this week off school we had a chance to try to get a lot done. After the screen project was finished I wanted to try to finish the downstairs projects that needed finished. I wanted to paint one of the bathroom walls as an accent wall. Three walls are gray, and now we have a pink accent wall. I think it turned out well!

Rose-themed Bathroom with Pink Accent Wall

After I got the wall painted Aaron replaced the sink faucet, and short of replacing a piece of trim (after a trip to Home Depot), the bathroom is finished.

We spent one day planting the garden (and getting a sunburn). We planted green beans, cucumbers, wasabi radishes, tomatoes, jalapeno and bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, basil, parsley and flowers. 

Garden Planting

Once that was done the girls and I deep-cleaned the kitchen. That involved going through every cabinet, organizing, washing, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, washing curtains, etc. With the exception of the basement and garage (both of which aren't bad and shouldn't take more than a few minutes each), our house has been completely deep-cleaned! Yahoo!

I stayed up late Wednesday night, and I finished my Mom's Christmas present. I am going to try to do a lot of homemade stuff this year. I am super excited to be making some progress on it so early on.

On Thursday evening we picked up our friend, Ruth. She was going to stay Thursday night with us and go with us to the zoo on Friday. After we picked her up we decided we were going to try a new restaurant that I had heard about in the Martin City (Kansas City) area. We ended up going to RC's Restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner, and it was fantastic. They have great fried chicken and tenderloins. And the best 10 and under eat for $2.50 with adult entree purchase!

The girls at RC's Restaurant - Martin City, MO

That evening we didn't make dinner since we were all still full, but we did make a batch of Sweetheart Cookies from the Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site cookbook. When I worked there I made thousands of them (literally), and they are one of my favorite cookies. I will share the recipe for them soon. 

On Friday I had a dermatologist appointment in the morning and then we loaded up and headed to the Kansas City Zoo. They were calling for rain in the afternoon, so we decided we were going to do the Australia loop and take our time. We rode the train for two complete loops, and the carousel once. We went through the big cat loop, and then spent time in the snake house and discovery barn. After that we ended our day by spending quite a bit of time petting the stingrays and watching the penguins.

The Girls Looking At An Orangatang

Thanks to our friend (Rebekah...thank you for the Christmas present!) we have a Friends of the Zoo Membership pass, which gets us into the zoo as well as rides, discounts, etc. With zoo cups with cheap refills and snacks we brought with us, we spent the whole day at the zoo and spent less than $20. I am excited about being able to go more often in the future. We are going to plan another trip back soon so we can cover Africa.

Riding the Train

In the past, we have always tried to cover the whole zoo in a day, and you have to run the whole time. Since we can now go anytime we want we can go at a leisurely place and really enjoy ourselves, and not feel like we have to see everything every time.

After we left the zoo, everyone was hungry. We stopped at a place on 40 Hwy in Independence. There was a place with an interesting fusion of cuisines, and Aaron wanted to try it. It is called Fuegos BBQ Mexican Cocina. It was interesting, and they had either Mexican dishes, BBQ dishes, or dishes that contained a mixture of both. Their brisket sandwich is what I got it, and it was phenomenal. It's not a big place, or fancy by any stretch of the imagination. But we will definitely go back!

When we got home we got the mail, and in is was a book that my friend John sent the girls. We met John for lunch a couple of weeks ago and listening to the girls talk about their adventures reminded him of one of his favorite books when he was a child. He searched out a copy of it, and sent it to them, and they were so excited. It is called Cubby in Wonderland and it is a story of a mama bear and her cub that explore Yellowstone National Park, and it is so cute. They had to start it immediately, and we are already seven chapters in. We (as a whole family listening to it) are enjoying it immensely! Thank you, John! What a special present. They girls (and I) will cherish it. 

The Girls and Their Book "Cubby in Wonderland"

Last night I finished my menu plan which was almost complete and made a grocery list. We decided at 9:30 p.m. that we were going to go do our grocery shopping and get it out of the way. I like going to the store when it is late and mostly quiet.

Today we are mostly chilling while I visit with you all. I still have projects to complete and things to do, but I am super tired after such a busy week. I'm trying to decide if I will tackle anything else this weekend or not.

This week's menu plan is as follows:

Tonight: Dinner - Tomahawk chicken legs, potatoes, corn
Sunday: Lunch - Ranch macaroni and cheese
            Dinner - Leftovers
Monday: Lunch - Cereal
            Dinner - Spaghetti red, bread and butter
Tuesday: Lunch - Salad
            Dinner - Honey glazed salmon, veggies and rice
Wednesday: Lunch - Tuna salad, chips
                Dinner - Grill out (burgers/brats, pasta salad, chips
Thursday: Lunch - Grilled cheese and tomato soup
               Dinner - Sausage and kraut
Friday: Lunch - Nachos
           Dinner - In Nevada (drop Kayla off)
Saturday: Lunch - Eat out
              Dinner - Egg sandwiches
Sunday: Lunch - Leftovers
            Dinner - In Nevada (pick Kayla up)

Well friends...that's it for now. I hope you have a great weekend. We will be returning to school and normal life on Monday, while preparing for Kayla to go and visit her mom for the weekend.

I'm going to post an update on my to-do list here in a couple of days. I am planning to post it to keep myself accountable for actually getting things accomplished.

Talk to you all soon!


Saturday, April 22, 2023

Cold Snap Tonight - Brrrr!

 Good evening, friends!

It's a bit chilly this evening! I hope you are all staying warm and healthy!

This has been another busy week. We have been settling into having Kayla here and starting school with two students. It has been busy, but she is doing well so far! We got her actual curriculum in the mail today, so I sat down this evening and planned her school books out for 3 weeks starting May 1st. Even before Kayla came to live with us I had already planned to take this upcoming week off of school since we will be working through the summer and I will plan a couple of breaks throughout that time.

Kayla Works on Analog Clock Flashcards

Wednesday turned out to be a busy day. We had our Pastor over for breakfast and a visit. The girls and I made eggs Benedict, orange scones with orange butter, sausage links, fresh fruit and orange juice. Wednesday night we met friends Nathan, Rebekah, Eszter and Ruth in Orrick at Jayder's Cove for dinner. It was fried chicken night, and it was delicious. What an amazing hidden gem.

I was super proud of Alysia's work in her art class this week. She had a paint by number picture of an illustration from Pilgrim's Progress. She really took her time and it turned out beautifully!

Alysia's Art Project

This afternoon the girl's and I enjoyed a bit of relaxation and pulled out the spirograph kit. We enjoyed a bit of playtime. Sometimes it almost feels like I forget how to have fun since I stay so busy, but this afternoon was a wonderful bit of downtime like I haven't enjoyed in a long time.

Playing with the Spirograph

This evening I decided to try a new recipe out in my Instant Pot (Love that thing!). I made Instant Pot spaghetti. I'll admit...i was skeptical because it is already an easy meal, but I've heard rave reviews so decided to try it. It was a "throw everything in and turn it on" meal...and it worked. 8 minutes from raw food to dinner. Isn't that crazy?! It was tasty, too.

Instant Pot Spaghetti

I've been doing laundry all day, and the last load of blankets is in the dryer. I am thankful for warm blankets available to curl up in soon, as it is cold out there tonight! 

My lilacs have started blooming and they are so beautiful. I planted them last year, and I was surprised to see so many beautiful large bloom bunches only a year in! However, I am worried about them since it is supposed to freeze tonight. I covered them a bit ago with flannel pillowcases with the hopes they will be protected from the frost.


I have also brought in my succulent pot and the plants that I intend to plant into the garden this upcoming week. They are hanging out on my kitchen table now to stay warm overnight.

Plants Hanging Out Inside to Escape Freezing

It is supposed to drop down into the 20s tonight. Stay warm, and I'll catch you soon, friends!


Sunday, April 16, 2023

Life Changes and Weekly Update

 Good evening, my friends!

It has been another busy week, with lots of stuff...both good and bad.

In the wee hours of Easter morning last weekend my cousin's house burned down in southern Missouri. He lost everything in the fire and a friend was killed. It was a horrible tragedy. So on Monday morning we headed down to take some blankets and clothes and see how we could be of help.

That evening we took my stepdaughter to meet her mother to return home after the holiday visit. Long story short, a long conversation transpired and we ended up bringing Kayla home with us. She will be living with us for the foreseeable future, and visiting her mother in a few weeks. A temporary custody paper was created, and after a few months have passed we will be revisiting the subject. If things remain as they are now we will be changing permanent custody. Please keep this situation in your thoughts and prayers, as we only want what is best for Kayla. 

Kayla Enjoys Time With Us at Texas Roadhouse

On Tuesday we worked on school and general cleaning. That kept us busy all day.

On Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment and in the afternoon we had to meet a friend of mine to pick something up. She works at the Jesse James Bank Museum in Liberty, MO. Since Aaron and the girls had never been there we toured the small museum. It is always pretty neat. It was where the first peace time daylight bank robbery took place in the United States. It is uncertain if Jesse James was present, but it was members of the James gang, likely including Frank James.

On Friday we had plans, so Kayla decided she needed to dress up in a fancy dress. We have an ornamental Japanese cherry tree in our front yard that is blooming. Kayla had to get her picture taken there before we left.

Kayla with "Her" Ornamental Cherry Tree

Ornamental Cherry Blossom

After our impromptu photography session we headed to Concordia, MO to meet up with a friend of mine for lunch. I have known John for a total of approximately 21 or 22 years. He is now retired from State Parks and I no longer work for them as of November 2021, so I don't get to see John often. He was at my wedding a couple years ago and briefly met my family then, but this was the first time we have all gotten to sit down and visit, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him. He has always been one of my most trusted allies, both career wise and as a personal friend.

After we got home we enjoyed a relaxing evening at home. We spent some time out in our gazebo, and then we all played a game of Skipbo. After the girls went to bed Aaron and I had a few minutes of alone time where we could just talk and enjoy each other's company.

Family Game Night

On Saturday morning it rained, which derailed our plans of early morning gardening, so instead I made eggs benedict for breakfast. All of my family has come to the conclusion that this is their favorite breakfast, and one of their favorite foods in general.

Eggs Benedict

In the afternoon we had a couple hours of strong thunderstorms, and I spent the afternoon and evening mending clothing and toys that have been piling up in my mending basket. It gave me a great opportunity to use my sewing machine. By the time I was done I had mended holes and tears in approximately 25-30 items. My girls are terribly hard on clothes. LOL.

Completed Mending

In the process of mending we discovered that Buddy (our tadpole) enjoys watching TV. He can be anywhere in his tank, and as soon as the television is turned on he swims to that side, rests on the bottom and stays there watching the entire time it is on. As soon as you turn it off he swims away. He is too funny!

After the mending was done I prepared this week's menu plan and grocery list. I am excited about a couple things on the menu plan, including the first grilling day of the spring, and the fact that Alysia and I should finish the World Cookbook this week once we finish Japan and Australia! 

This morning we attended church, and then while Aaron slept since he had to work tonight, we went grocery shopping. This evening I deep-cleaned the hall and downstairs bathroom since those never take long. We had dinner, and now the girls and I are watching "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". Once it is over it will be time for them to head to bed, but they are waiting on me to serve up the coconut pudding that we made.

So, I will go for now. I hope you all have had a good weekend, and are prepared for a great week!

Love to all!


Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Weekend

Hello, Friends!

Today was Easter, and it was a great day. The week has been very busy! On Wednesday afternoon we picked Kayla up to come spend the weekend. 

The Girls Enjoy Time Together

On Thursday I started my deep-cleaning of the house. We started with the upstairs bathroom and master bedroom. We scrubbed and washed and swept and dusted. We washed curtains and shampooed carpets. It was exhausting, but the results were totally worth it.

On Thursday evening our family gained a new friend...a small tadpole that we named Buddy. The tadpole is part of our study of the Mississippi River. I ordered our tadpole friend from Nature Gifts online. It is a leopard frog tadpole, and he is adorable and enjoys swimming around in his aquarium. He likes to sit facing the corner and watching our every move.

"Buddy" - Our Leopard Frog Tadpole

On Friday afternoon we took a break and went to Antioch Park in Miriam, KS for a picnic. The weather was beautiful. We had our picnic near the water where we got to watch some Canada geese and a mallard duck. After lunch came playground time. In addition to a traditional playground the park has a miniature Dodge City. 

Kayla Enjoying the Sunshine

Kayla and I at the Park

Mallard Duck at Antioch Park

After we got home from the park we started cleaning again with a deep clean of the upstairs hallway and stairs. Our bannister paint had chipped badly and was looking pretty bad. The girls and I scraped the old paint off it and took it down to sand it. Once we were done it was so smooth and looks so much better.

Kayla and Alysia Assist with Removing the Bannister

Friday night we went to the Good Friday service at church. There was a short service followed by a cantata. It was a beautiful service.

Alysia and Kayla at Church

Saturday we deep-cleaned the girl's bedroom and that completed the deep-cleaning of the upstairs. Whoo-hoo!

When that was done we did a general cleanup of the downstairs and the yard to prepare for Easter. We have more deep-cleaning to do this week, but that will have to be paused for now. 

After we were done cleaning we started cooking to prepare for Easter lunch. Once most of the prep was done we dyed Easter eggs. It was Kayla's first time of dyeing eggs, and she loved it!

Kayla Enjoying Dying Eggs

Kayla and Her Easter Eggs

This morning we attended the Easter morning service at church. After we got home we put the finishing touches on dinner:

  • Glazed Ham
  • Parsley Potatoes
  • Green Bean Bundles
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Hot Rolls
  • Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cake
The weather was beautiful, so we decided to decorate the gazebo and enjoy the spring air.

Easter Gazebo

Easter Decorations

Kayla Enjoys Her Easter Eggs

Mother-in-law (Lisa), Izzy (Sister-in-law) and Chris (Izzy's Fiance) Joined Us For Easter

After lunch and dessert we played a couple of games. In the evening they headed home and I decided to catch up with you.

In the meantime, just to keep you updated (and to keep accountability on trying to accomplish something this year), here is my updated to-do list. I've made some progress.

  • Make to-do list
  • Plan garden plot
  • Order garden seeds
  • Balance checkbook
  • Create Hannibal vacation plan
  • Create budget
  • Update spring cleaning list
  • Make Easter plans
    • Plan Easter menu
  • Order key rings for project
  • Adjust bobbin winder on sewing machine
  • Complete mending
  • Finish unicorn cross-stitch project for Alysia
  • School planning
  • Purchase house project supplies
  • Fix rain barrel
  • Set up lunch/dinner plans with a few friends
  • Take care of business paperwork
  • Re-paint kitchen table top
  • Order 4th grade art supplies
  • Organize scrapbook totes
  • Practice piano
  • Complete Master Class chef lessons
  • Check into Ebaying some items
  • Deep-clean master bedroom
  • Deep-clean hallway/stairs
    • Touch up paint
    • Scrape handrail
  • Deep-clean upstairs bathroom
    • Re-caulk bathtub
  • Deep-clean girl's room
  • Deep-clean livingroom
  • Deep-clean kitchen
  • Deep-clean hallway
  • Deep-clean downstairs bathroom
    • Paint bathroom accent wall
    • Replace faucet
  • Deep-clean office/laundry room
  • Sweep outside - porches, steps, carport, gazebo, picnic table pad
  • Power-wash porches
  • Clear bushes/trees across driveway
  • Clean yard
  • Till garden and add compost
  • Plant garden
  • Plant herbs
  • Plant flowers
  • Straighten grape arbor
  • Cover window wells
  • Clean garage
  • Clean basement
  • Clean up woodpile
  • Burn trash wood by garage (Yay! Wienie roasts!)
  • Replace rotten landscaping timbers by steps
  • Crochet hat for Aaron
  • Complete Christmas projects in process for next Christmas
  • Refloor livingroom
  • Refloor hallway
  • Refloor office/laundryroom
  • Paint porches
  • Paint garage doors
  • Paint sewing machine cabinet
  • Paint eaves
  • Clean/repair gutters
  • Fix chimney
  • Fix Fences
Well...that's all for today. Have a good week, and I'll check in again soon!


Thursday, April 6, 2023

Recipe: Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Hello, Friends!

Below you will find one of my family's favorite dishes, including my mother. It is a decadent cheese ravioli (purchased in the fresh pasta section of your supermarket) with a thick and creamy tomato sauce. The flavor is great day of making it and even better with leftovers the second day. 

I like to use Giovanni Rana fresh tortellini. I get it at Walmart in the fresh pasta section, usually near the deli. The five cheese kind is our favorite. Enjoy the recipe!

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs dried basil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Chop spinach and garlic. Put water on to boil for tortellini. By the time it boils and you cook your pasta (usually 4 minutes for fresh) the sauce will be ready. While you are waiting on the pasta sautĂ© the garlic for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, spinach and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Whisk milk, cream and flour together. Add to pan along with parmesan cheese. Stir well and cook until bubbling and thick. Drain your tortellini and mix into sauce. Serve and enjoy (preferably with a loaf of garlic bread)!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Spring Has Sprung!

Good evening, my friends!

It is hard to believe that spring is here, but it is...and the weather is showing it. We have had a relatively warm week (a bit of chill in the evening hours). It has given us an opportunity to spend some time outside getting some things done.

We have officially started on some of our yard work, with one of the biggest jobs being cleaning out a bunch of the brush and old tree growth on the other side of our driveway. Aaron also got the garden tilled. We emptied the compost pile and got a couple of wheelbarrows full of good rich dirt. We tilled it into the garden. We got our seeds the other day from Baker's Creek in Mansfield, MO. I can't wait to get them in the ground.

Alysia Shows Off Her Strength While Dragging A Branch Away

Last weekend we were supposed to be in southern Missouri helping with repairing some lawnmowers, but Aaron ended up having a mandatory meeting at work on Saturday morning that he had to be present for. The meeting was early, and then we headed to Warrensburg for a visit with my mother-in-law and to help her with a couple of things.

After we left Warrensburg we headed home the long way and took a brief detour through Confederate Memorial State Historic of our classic old favorites.

Lion Monument - Confederate Memorial State Historic Site

Aaron loves all things Civil War history, and this has always been one of his favorite sites. It is truly beautiful.

We were supposed to have gotten married in the church on this site in September of 2021. However, my father was in failing health so we changed the date and location so he could be present. That does not take away from the fact that this is a very picturesque location.

Church at Confederate Memorial State Historic Site

This site was once the home of the Missouri Confederate Veterans Home, where Confederate veterans could live out the rest of their lives in peace and beauty. I have an ancestor who actually lived in that home for a time. Next to the church, many of those veterans (and their wives) are laid to rest. The most notable burial there, however, is part of William Quantrill. His body has actually been buried in 3 graves. The part that is here in Higginsville, MO is an arm and a shinbone.

Quantrill's Grave - Higginsville, MO

On our way out of the site we had to stop and wait for some Canada Geese to cross. They took their own sweet time, but it was a great opportunity for Alysia to see these birds up close.

As far as other adventures this week...we had some interesting recipes in World Cookbook (see more about that below in this week's school summary).

Indian Food

Last night I made one of our favorite tortellini dishes for dinner. I will try to post this recipe soon. It has become one of my mother's favorite foods.

School In the Gazebo

Today the weather was good enough that we did school in the gazebo for awhile. It eventually got too hot for us to be comfortable (87° F.), and we came back inside. However, the weather has cooled a bit, and we may spend a bit more time out there this evening.

As far as school goes, we've been busy once again. Here's what we've been working on:

  • Reading - We finished Farmer Boy and have started On the Banks of Plum Creek in the Little House on the Prairie Series
  • Spelling - State and capitol names as well as spelling words from Language Arts book
  • Language Arts - Story concepts, Haiku poetry, penmanship, synonym and antonym worksheets, extra reading practice, similes and writing
  • Math - Fractions, fraction conversion and multiplication tables 6-10, as well as 2 digit multiplication problems
  • History and Geography - Major continent harbor cities, deserts of the world
  • Science - Animal classifications, ecology
  • Bible - God's plan of salvation, the life of Paul and reading 1 Corinthians and Exodus
  • Special Unit - Our Mississippi: a study about the Mississippi River and its watershed including experiments (We're going to be raising tadpoles in a couple days!)
  • PE - Outside work and exercises
  • World Cookbook - Middle East: Halva, India: Bhuna gosht, dhal, basmati rice and cucumber raita, Thailand: Chicken in coconut sauce and China: Fried rice with vegetables
  • Art: Easter suncatcher, modeled glow-in-the-dark skeleton and a Jewish shofar
We continue to enjoy our classes, and are looking forward to a short time off for spring break from tomorrow through Monday.

I get to go tomorrow and pick Kayla up. Her spring break happened to fall over Easter, so we will have her for that holiday this year. We normally don't have her for Easter, so we are pretty excited and I can't wait to see her smiling face tomorrow. I know that she is counting down the hours as well as I talked to her a couple of days ago.

My mother-in-law, as well as my sister-in-law and her fiancĂ©, will be coming for Easter lunch on Sunday afternoon. We have been busy cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, stuffing Easter eggs, etc. 

Our plan is to go to church on Friday night for the Good Friday service that will be held, and church on Sunday morning so that we can celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dinner will be held in the afternoon along with fun activities for the girls.

Well...that's a long post, but that's the scoop for now. I hope that you are all well, and have a Happy Easter!

See you soon!


Sour Dough Biscuits and Upcoming Changes

Good evening, friends! August is here and we will soon be in autumn and I can't wait!!! On August 1st the month started with a super moo...