Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Traveling with Kids

We take several road-trips a year. Figuring out how to keep the kids entertained has always been one of my favorite parts of the trip. (I'm serious! I love thinking of ways to make it fun for them.)

Someone posted recently on one of the forums I frequent asking for ideas for traveling with young kids. She had a DVD player but wanted to use it sparingly. She got lots of good suggestions about things to take along... coloring books, audio stories, suprises from the dollar store, special snacks...

Another good suggestion was to stop frequently at interesting places along the way. We love to do that when we are on vacation, but we often travel for business and can't take the time to stop "just for fun." So here's a tip I shared that came in handy especially when our kids were younger and we needed to keep moving:

We usually eat at fast-food places as we travel and we buy "happy meals" for the kids (even though we don't always ordinarily), so they got a new toy every day or even a couple times a day. Each kid had an "activity bag" (a small tote or one of those small diaper bags) in the back seat with them, and they enjoyed collecting their happy meal toys in their bags. If the restaurant will cooperate I usually try to get them to give each child something different, so they can swap toys when they get tired of their own.

We always tried to find the fast-food restaurants with playgrounds. We let the children play while we ate and took their happy meals "to go". That gave us a short break from needing to entertain them, ran off some of their energy, and gave them something to do (eat!) when they got back in the car.

And that's my tip for this week's Works-for-Me-Wednesday!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Hey, the menu plan for last week actually worked out! We didn't end up eating the scheduled meals on the scheduled days, but so what? It was great to have the list to refer to throughout the week, and we did end up eating all the meals I planned, just not on the days I had planned.
I know it's not as detailed as some, but just having the main dish for supper planned ahead of time is a big help.

Here is my plan for this week's:



Monday: ham and beans, cornbread
Tuesday: rice and sausage casserole
Wednesday: pizza
Thursday: meatloaf and fixin's
Friday: grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Saturday: pasta dish, green beans
Sunday: chicken supreme, rice, green salad

Click on the "Menu Planning Monday" banner for a list of more blogs that are participating in this theme today!

Sweater



I finally finished this sweater that I started last winter. Turned out cute, I thought!

I'm nearly finished with the shawl I'm working on, too. I'm crocheting the fringe on it.
There's still plenty of that yarn left. It was a huge skein!
I want to try copying a pretty pineapple-pattern crocheted scarf I was given. I'll see how the Rainbow Boucle yarn works for that.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Idaho State Quarter


Is this not the ugliest state quarter yet? I am so disappointed! Here we waited all these years for "our" state's quarter to come out and this is what it looks like! (It's due out this summer. I just saw the design for the first time yesterday.) Idaho is truly a beautiful state. It could have been such a pretty design. This is just blah. The Peregrine Falcon is not even the Idaho state bird, fer cryin' out loud! The mountain blue bird would have been prettier than this.

Oh, well. At least they didn't feature the "famous potatoes". That would have been truly mortifying!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dried Rose Petals

My husband bought me a dozen roses of mixed colors for our anniversary last fall. They were so pretty and smelled so sweet, that I hated to see them begin to drop their petals after a few days.
I decided to dry the petals to save, but I wasn't sure what I would do with them. Dried rose petals don't have a very strong fragrance and in fact just smell kinda dusty. Then I had a bright idea! I bought rose-scented potpourri oil (available at WalMart in the floral department for $2 or $3) and sprinkled them with that. Voila! Rose potpourri that actually smells good! So I'm still enjoying my anniversary roses all these months later.

I decided to share this idea this week for the benefit of any of you that may have received roses for Valentine's Day, on my very first post for:


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Royalty

I found a website yesterday with some lovely drawings of Famous Kings and Queens of England. I bookmarked them to print out later to add to our Book of Time for homeschool.

I've also encountered some of these same Royals as I've researched my family tree! The ones that are so far back that probably everybody with British ancestry is a descendent of them some way! It's amazing who you run into when you research your family history online. I take it all with a grain of salt, but I do find it fascinating. Got to be descended from somebody!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

So I got my blog moved, and have set up housekeeping (at least partly... still working on it!). I would like to blog more often but I have a hard time thinking of things to write about. Sorry, not gonna do the "diary" thing where I write out all the things that are going on in my life. The internet is just way too public for that! I know some people feel comfortable doing that, but I just don't.

One thing I've come across recently that I want to try is to have a daily theme. Apparently there are blogs that host these themes and if you post on the theme topic then you can link to that blog and get more traffic to yours. Something like that. Seems kinda cool, and I have found some homemaking ones that look interesting. So to start off with, I'm going to try:





I haven't done regular menu planning in... well, ever... occasionally, yes, but regularly, no.
However, the times I have done it sure make things run more smoothly! This will be a good habit to get into. Besides, my daughter is interested in doing most of the cooking lately (Yay!) so this will help give her a little direction. So, here's the plan for this week. I'll let you know next Monday how closely we stuck to it!

Monday: omelets and hashbrowns
Tuesday: fast food as I will probably be running errands
Wednesday: sloppy joes, tater tots, carrots
Thursday: pasta dish, green veggy
Friday: pizza (family game night)
Saturday: tacos
Sunday: roast venison with potatoes and carrots, green salad

Click on the "Menu Planning Monday" banner for a list of more blogs that are participating in this theme today!
Please post comments in the box to the right. Thanks!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Blogging...

After trying out just about every free blog-hosting site I came across in the past few months, I've decided to just move my blog to my own domain. I have been using Xanga for several years, and have dabbled around with others, but none of the freebie-sites offer the design flexibility I want. I already pay for my own domain and I have plenty of space there, so it occurred to me to just build my own blog page. The thing is, I don't know enough html to build such a thing from scratch, but I came across this lovely layout at This Side of Heaven Graphics! It was just the thing I was looking for. (Thank you, Pam!)

I've been piddling around with it for 2 or 3 days. I know I'll be adding more to it soon, but I think it's far enough along to go ahead and post it. Besides, the weekend is about over, and I need to get back to my "real" work! Enough "play time" for this week!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mug and Muffin

Our church family had a "Mug and Muffin" social last night. We all were to take our favorite mugs and a batch of our favorite muffins. The hostess provided a selection of hot beverages and we had a variety of muffins to choose from. I thought that was a neat idea. My daughter made the muffins! She chose to make Cappuccino Muffins... which she had made for my birthday in November... and Fruit Surprise Muffins... a recipe from her latest American Girl magazine. Both were delicious!

Cappuccino Muffins
(from the 2000 Taste of Home Annual Recipes cookbook)

Espresso Spread:
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. instant coffee granules
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Muffins:
2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 c. milk
2 T. instant coffee granules
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a food processor or blender, combine spread ingredients; cover and process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until serving. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir milk and coffee granules until the coffee is dissolved. Add butter, egg and vanill; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve with espresso spread. Yield: about 14 muffins (1 c. spread).

Fruit Surprise Muffins
(slightly modified from American Girl magazine, March/April 2007)
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar, plus a little extra
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2 c. blueberries (we used huckleberries)

Preheat oven to 400. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix together butter, lemon juice, and egg. Add dry ingredients into butter mix and stir. Fill muffin cups about a third of the way up. Put a few berries in the muffin cups. Cover the berries with the rest of the muffin batter. Sprinkle muffins with sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly brown. Makes one dozen.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shawl

My "most recently started" knitting project is a "Light and Lovely Boucle Wrap" using a free pattern from Joann's. One of my friends was knitting this shawl last week using a different yarn than the pattern called for, but I was curious to see what the "Rainbow Boucle" yarn was like. I stopped by Joann's to take a look. It was lovely! And a HUGE 11 ounce skein (enough to make the whole shawl!) for $8. So I decided to try it. Then when I got up to check out, the cashier rang it up using a 40% off coupon which made it only $5! At that price, I can make shawls for everybody I know! (Okay, not really... but still... that's a great price for that much yarn!)

I bought the dark blue. I guess they call it "tonal". It's kinda like variegated but much more subtle. It starts of dark blue and then stays dark blue for yards and yards, gradually beginning to lighten just barely until it is eventually light blue, and then back again. (I assume. I haven't gotten that far along on the project yet.)

Other projects in the works include a sweater for my daughter (finished except for the the front band), and 2 different cotton throws. Yes, I will finish everything. I'm not one to start a bunch of projects and then never finish them. I just get bored working on the same thing all the time, so I switch back and forth between them! I read books the same way!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

10 Hours in an Airport

I was in Denver last week for a training conference, along with about 30 others. Everyone was to leave after 1:00 p.m. on Saturday so we were dropped off at the airport about noon. My flight was not scheduled to leave until 9:40 p.m. I knew I'd have a long wait just hanging out until my flight started boarding. What I hadn't realized was that I wouldn't be able to check my suitcase at the ticket counter more than 4 hours before my flight. So I had to hang out in the terminal outside of security until 5:40 p.m.!

10 hours in the airport was just a little ridiculous, but not something that happens very often, so I just enjoyed the experience! Actually I felt a little like that the main character in The Terminal! I kept moving around just for a change of scenery. I walked around the edge of upper level just to see what shops there were. There was a series of glass cases down on one end with a museum type exhibit about a pioneer aviator. I don't remember his name but his statue is just outside the security area on the middle level. Walking around dragging a heavy suitcase soon got old, so I found a place to camp out on the middle level across from the fountain to read, knit, and people-watch. I had bought a copy of Jane Eyre the day before. I don't think I've read it since I was a teenager. Jane got through school and had just met Mr. Rochester when I put "her" aside, and found a phone booth to sit in to visit with my mother on my cell phone for awhile. (It's quieter in a phone booth.) Finally the time arrived when I could check my suitcase. In my explorations of the main terminal earlier I discovered a sky bridge to Concourse A that you could walk across rather than take the shuttle train. (If you've never been to the Denver airport, there is a main terminal, then 3 concourses, which are each connected by an underground shuttle train.) I decided to walk across to my concourse for something different. There's a security checkpoint about half way across, so I didn't have to go through security in the main terminal. There was no one ahead of me in line at the ticket counter or at security either one, so flying late does have its advantages I guess. I visited the shops on Concourse A, bought some supper, sat down at a vacant gate to eat, listened to some radio dramas on MP3, knitted, and people-watched some more. Finally, I decided to hike to my gate in outer Siberia! It was one of Frontier's commuter gates on the ground level way out beyond the furthest gate on the main level. At the end of the concourse there's a down escalator and then a lengthy hike to the very end to gate A62! We boarded by going outside and walking across the tarmac over to the plane and up the stairs. Very interesting experience! The gate area reminded me of that little airport in the sit-com Wings. There were several gates for Horizons, but I also noticed 2 or 3 for "Great Lakes Airlines" which flew to obscure places like Gillette, Wyoming. There was one other Horizons flight going to a nearby city about the same time at the gate next to mine, but other than that it was quiet down there.

I sure wouldn't want to do it every week, but for once I think it was kinda fun! I have to say, I was more than glad to tumble into bed shortly after midnight Pacific time.