Monday, May 22, 2023

Cooking and School and Hikes, OH MY!

Good Monday evening, my friends!

First off, I'm sorry I didn't get an update posted over the weekend, as I normally try to do. It wasn't the best weekend, and every spare moment was spent just treading water. However, it is a new week and we are on the up and up...I hope.

As always, we have worked hard on school. The girls were both in the last week of their current units (10 units to a year, 3 weeks to a unit). 

Alysia learned about:

  • Language Arts: Story details, noun/verb/adjective/adverbs practice, main ideas, kinds of stories, comparative adjectives, suffixes, written directions, reading, written invitations, verb tenses, study notes, spelling, and subject-verb agreement
  • Math: Plane and solid shapes, multiplication, lines and line segments, polygons, angles, rays, angle labeling, measurement, equivalent fractions, sequencing, and missing number problems
  • History and Geography: Grasslands of the world including the geography and history of Ukraine and their steppes, Kenya and their savannahs and Argentina and their pampas, as well as touching briefly on the prairies of the Great Plains of the United States
  • Science: Simple machines and the difference between them and complex machines
  • Bible: Studying the Bible and different methods of doing so, Bible memorization, and living the Bible way including sections regarding obeying parents, being friends, gaining wisdom, working hard, living happily with others and telling the truth, as well as reading in Exodus, Leviticus, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians
  • PE: Exercising and outdoor play, and a nature hike at Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site
  • Art: Quilling and maze making
  • Lifeskills: Home Economics - Introduction to kitchen safety

Kayla learned about:
  • Language Arts: Reading, spelling, introduction to nouns, vowel and consonant review, penmanship, word patterns, vowel digraphs, singular vs. plural nouns, beginning and ending sounds, common/proper nouns
  • Math: Number words to 100, addition facts to 18, subtraction facts to 18, place value, adding/subtracting 2 digit numbers number order, operation symbols, number sentences, fact families, story problems, patterns, and flat shapes
  • History and Geography: Communities, the world in the beginning, Adam and Eve, creation, the flood, early exploration, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Native Americans, the Norse, Alibates Flint Quarries and Mesa Verde
  • Science: Living/nonliving objects, creation, growing a bean seed, and God-made/man-made objects
  • Bible: Who am I?, God loves us, the plan of salvation, the Bible, Daniel, as well as reading in Exodus, Leviticus, 2 Corinthians and Galations
  • PE: Exercising and outdoor play, and a nature hike at Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site
  • Art: Quilling and maze making
  • Lifeskills: Home Economics - Introduction to kitchen safety
They both worked hard on their finals. Kayla is doing super well for just getting started with us. She was super proud of her final grades.

Kayla's Finals

The other night while Alysia was finishing up her schoolwork Kayla helped me make dinner. I was making sweet and sour pork, so while I trimmed, cut and browned the meat, Kayla made the sauce all by herself. She was so excited and was happy that it was so good.

Kayla's Kitchen Alchemy

Sweet and Sour Pork

On Thursday afternoon we made our way down to Butler, Missouri where we spent a couple hours at a park doing school. Then we met my mom, niece Audrey and friend Melissa for dinner at Tu Casa Mexican Restaurant before we went to the Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site where my Mom was leading a wildflower hike. There weren't many wildflowers blooming there yet, but it was a beautiful evening and a delightful walk.

My Mom Leads the Nature Walk

While we were finishing our walk we ran across a small snake. We weren't sure what it was so I contacted my friend, John. John is the author of the book Show-Me Herps. He identified it as a juvenile banded water snake. Cool find!

Our Reptilian Friend

In other news, what's going on currently? We'll let's see...

Our garden is growing super quick. Our beans are not only up, but they are probably about 5-6" tall already. Our cucumbers are up about 3" or so. I'm thinking I may need to reseed my herb pots. They haven't shown anything yet, which is really strange. I'm wondering if my seeds got washed away by overzealous waterers with too strong a stream of water.

Last winter I pruned my rose bush. I cut it back to about 4 inches. This spring it has gone crazy with new growth and foliage...and now...beautiful roses! I am so glad I trimmed it back.

Beautiful Roses

The girls cleaned and washed the car today. I think they like doing it mostly as an excuse to get wet when it's hot outside. By the time they were done they were both soaked...which was their intention to begin with as they had asked if they could put on their swimsuits with shorts over them. LOL.

I am working on a couple painting pictures that will be gifted to the girls for Christmas. They are fun, but are taking forever. They are the adult versions of paint-by-number on canvas, but some of the spaces and numbers are so small that I have to use a magnifying glass to ensure accuracy. So far I am making slow progress.

Project In Progress

Dinner is cooking and smelling so good. I have a pot of venison stew simmering. Once the veggies are a bit softer I am going to thicken it and we will be ready to eat. 

Aaron is at work tonight. He gets off in the morning and then has a couple days off.

Tomorrow we are going to Warrensburg and Knob Noster. We will have a chance to see both mothers on the same day. We will make a visit to my mother-in-law, and then we are going to Knob Noster State Park where my mother is attending Spring Interpretive Training for interpreters within Missouri State Parks. I taught at this training program for many, many years. But since I left state park employment I am just going for a visit in the evening. I will get a chance to see my mom as well as many good friends that I miss so much.

Let's see...what else is on the calendar coming up that I am looking forward to?

Well, my friends. That's it for now. I have to go finish dinner and help a child with math. A work of a mom is never done.

Have a good evening!


P.S. Sorry for the delay in posting this. I had it prepared hours earlier other than spell check and post. But...I got busy dishing up supper and now it is nearing midnight. Have a good sleep!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Mother's Day and Weekly Update

Hello, Friends!

This has been a great week, and I had a wonderful Mother's Day. I hope all my mom readers had a great day as well! 

Backing up...

Last Sunday (the week before Mother's Day) we picked Kayla up on Sunday evening, and had the pleasure of having dinner with my mom, sister and two nieces. It was a good little family reunion before picking up my beautiful daughter after her visit to her bio mom's house. 

On Monday we returned to school. The girls worked hard this week, and Kayla is doing really well with her reading!

Alysia Works Hard on Bible

Kayla Matches Spelling Words With Pictures

A couple at church gave us a school desk for Kayla. It needed painted, and I let Kayla pick the color. Apparently, her "secret favorite color" is light teal, and that's what she wanted. We got it painted this week, and it turned out well. It's super cute and she loves it!

Kayla's Desk

Kayla Loves Her Desk

On Thursday Alysia and I had dentist appointments. Aaron was supposed to have one as well, but they changed his work schedule and he had to work, so his appointment was cancelled and rescheduled for September. Alysia and I have squeaky clean teach, until next time.

On Friday night I made the girls ranch macaroni and cheese, and Kayla fell in love with it. She must be going through a growth spurt because she ate two plates of it, which is unusual for her as she is a small portion grazer most of the time.

Kayla Asks For a Second Plate of Ranch Mac and Cheese

After dinner I did the girl's fingernails. They have been begging me to do them with my dip powder kit, and was super excited that I finally gave in and sat down for the 45 minutes to an hour it takes to do two sets of them. Kayla chose a pretty blue and Alysia chose a light purple with holographic sparkles.

The Girl's Loved Their Nails

On Saturday night Aaron was off and the whole family jumped into a game of hide and seek in the dark. We had a blast, and the girls are begging for another game of it soon. We hoped to play tonight, but it rained all day so it will have to wait for a bit.

Kayla Hid In the Shadow of the Bushes

Alysia Seeks Her Dad

Sunday was Mother's Day, and the girls woke me up with breakfast in bed. This was my first Mother's Day that I didn't have to work, and they were excited. They had SO MANY PLANS!!! Aaron had to rein them in a bit. They could have easily spent hundreds of dollars to do everything they wanted to do.

Breakfast In Bed

The girls also brought me flowers and a Mr. Goodbar candy bar. They made me lunch and cleaned the house. After lunch we played a game of Monopoly. I won. The girls were ok with that though, because they said they would be disappointed if I didn't since it was Mother's Day. LOL.

Mother's Day Flowers

After the Monopoly game they took me to dinner at Texas Roadhouse since they know that is one of my favorite places to go.

Mother's Day Dinner 

Yesterday was indeed a wonderful day. Today life returned to normal with a full day of school and 5 loads of laundry.

That's it for now! Have a good week! 


Saturday, May 6, 2023

Buried in Laundry

Hello, Friends!

I hope this finds you all well! I have been patiently working to climb out from under multiple piles of laundry today to find time to sit down and visit with you. 

I don't know how my family creates so much dirty laundry. I did five loads earlier in the week, and today I woke up to another six to do. I am on load five of six now (three of which are bedding). 

This has been another week full of projects and schoolwork. 

We started last Sunday with church. Kayla was wearing one of her "princess dresses", so she wanted a hair-do to match. I put her hair up and used my shiny flower pins to create a tiara type look. 

Kayla's Sunday Hair-Do

My girls love all things girly. There are no such things as too much glitter, shine, pink, poof... They keep life full of energy and happiness!

Early in the week I started working on a cross-stitch unicorn that I originally started for Alysia almost 2 years ago. I started on it during the time that my dad was sick and passing. After that I had a hard time working on it because it brought back emotional memories.

Unicorn Cross-Stitch In Progress

After working hard on it for a few days I finished it. I still need to frame it, but it is finally done.

Finished Unicorn Cross-Stitch

Kayla and Alysia have been working hard on school. While both girls started new books this week, Kayla also started a new grade. She is working hard to try to catch up where she should be, as is Alysia.

Kayla - Super Proud of Her Work!

One of the projects we worked on this week was a Mother's Day art project, and involved quilling. Quilling is an old art form that involves using curled paper to create pictures. We did some quilling when I was a child, and I was super excited to be able to teach my girls about it.

Quilling Pieces

Girls Enjoy Quilling

On Thursday night we took a break from working and we had dinner out. It had been a long tiring week, and we were just done. We made a snap decision to enjoy the rest of the evening and not worry about anything else.

Last night we had to drop Kayla off to go visit her mom for the weekend. The house seems so quiet tonight. Alysia and I cleaned earlier, and in between loads of laundry, we are spending some time together. We had dinner, we've played a game of Skipbo and we're hanging out and watching movies.

Tomorrow morning we have church, and then in the evening I'll drop Aaron off for work and go pick Kayla back up.

Here in a few minutes I am going to get started on school planning for the new few weeks. We have lots of exciting stuff coming up!

It got super hot today, and it made me realize exactly how much I hate summer all over again. I am not looking forward to this, folks. 

Well...that's it for now. See you soon!


Friday, May 5, 2023

Recipe: Sweetheart Cookies

 Hello, Friends!

The other day we made Sweetheart of my favorite cookies. When I worked at Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site we used to make thousands of cookies every year throughout the summer and for the annual Christmas on the Farm events. These were always extremely popular. You can use any kind of jam really, but apricot is my favorite for these. The dough will be firm. 

This recipe is taken from the Watkins Cookbook, which can be purchased at the historic site visitor center. I hope you make them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Sweetheart Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups flour
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons almond extract
Grape jelly, elderberry, apricot jam

Mix all ingredients except jelly. Roll into balls the size of a hazel nut [about 3/4"]. Place on [cookie] sheet pan. Cover [the bottom of] a small juice class with cheese cloth. Dip in water and press gently on top of cookie. Make a small hollow in middle of cookie with finger and fill with a very small amount of jelly or preserves. Bake in moderate oven [325°] until slightly brown at edges [about 8-10 minutes]. Cool one minute before lifting off sheet. Store in layers with waxed paper between layers.


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

To-Do List Update

 Hello, Friends!

Here is my accountability post update for my to-do list. Lots done...lots to still do! Every time I mark something off it seems like I have to add another item or two. We are now working with 4 pages. The yellow items are items that are now completed.

  • 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
  • Fix office door
  • Plan catering job
  • Shampoo car seats
  • Remove excess wires and dish on south side of house
  • Fix siding bottom on south side of the house
  • Redo daily schedules
  • Redo daily chore lists
  • Make monthly chore lists
  • Secure front porch railing nails
  • Secure back porch nails
  • Install front screen door
  • Make cross-stitch sampler for cousin
  • Work on paperwork 
  • Clean yard
  • Remove dead wood from chain-link fence
  • Power-wash the gazebo
  • Remove lattice on gazebo and replace with posts
  • Repair cabinet trim in bathroom
  • Mow yard

Monday, May 1, 2023

Instant Pot Spaghetti

 Hello, Friends!

Here is the recipe I used for my instant pot spaghetti, with one little tweak. Mine was a bit runny, so I reduced the amount of water here. Hopefully it is the appropriate amount now. Enjoy!


Instant Pot Spaghetti

Instant Pot Spaghetti

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
2 Tbs. basil
2 Tbs. parsley
2 tsp salt
1 lb. spaghetti

Put Instant Pot on sauté mode and brown ground beef along with onion and garlic. Drain grease, and add crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley and salt. Stir well, and push some of the sauce to the side. Break spaghetti in half and put half of it in the pot. Push sauce over, but DO NOT STIR. Just push that first half 3/4 of the way down into the sauce. Put the next half of the uncooked spaghetti in and barely push into surface. Pour water on top, and once again...DO NOT STIR. Stirring will make the spaghetti noodles stick together later. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, turn on to pressure cook on high and set for 7 minutes. Let it cook. Once done, immediately perform a manual pressure release by sliding the pressure release switch up. Open and stir. Dish up and top with parmesan cheese.

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...