Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We've lived here at Two Bears Farm for twelve years, and during that time have never logged the place.  We have 72 acres total, the majority of which is wooded.  The woods haven't been logged since the 1970s, as far as we know.

Mostly, I was opposed to logging because of the thriving wildlife.  I think of the birds and squirrels who live in the trees.  Who find their meals there.  Who may have been living in knotholes and nests for many generations.  You're probably thinking I'm a sap by now, but those animals have every right to their trees.  Not to mention other negatives - like the spreading of kudzu (of which we already have too much) and the erosion of land. What can I say?  I'm an environmentalist at heart.

Oh, I know that logging has it's good points.  Overly dense forests are prone to wildfires and all that (case in point - our neighbors set fire to their property a few months ago - I think their teens were probably smoking but they offered the firemen some wacky not-so-believable excuse).   And we are not clearcutting our land - rather thinning the older trees, which will allow for new growth.

Still.  When I heard that first big old tree crash to the ground, my heart shuddered.  Sadness filled my lungs and made it hard to breathe, just for a moment.  Nevertheless, we need the money right now, so it is what it is.

To assuage the guilt, I have taken on a few projects around the house to give back to the earth.  I finally started a recycling center, which is a semi-big deal since we don't have anywhere to recycle in our county, and will have to transport these items to a recycling place in the city.  I also invested in a reusable paper towel set, a drying rack, and dryer balls (which make the clothes dryer, when you do use it, more efficient).  These things are in addition to the small efforts we make daily already like cloth diapers and composting.

I know it's not much.  Not enough, really.  But it's something.  And hopefully these woods of ours....well hopefully they won't be logged again for at least another 40 years.

This post will be linked up tomorrow with Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can't Say

I am guest posting over at My Mad World today.  Please go visit and say hi - there's an easy kid's craft and a very funny picture of Pierce too! 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Burgers and Bok Choy - Muffin Tin Monday

Today is Muffin Tin Monday again.  We went for our big egg again and a side cup with chick feet. Pierce had a turkey burger with pickles and mustard, a side cup of garlic pasta shells, and a side of bok choy salad.  Bok choy salad, if you've never had it, is so yummy.  You can find the recipe HERE - it's wonderful to take to barbecues and cookouts.

For more muffin tin Monday ideas, head on over to Muffin Tin Mom.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Triple Cheese Broccoli Puff Recipe

This is a great recipe for using a bunch of our hen's eggs, and it turns out beautifully.  It would make a wonderful and impressive brunch recipe, and it's really quite easy.  This is a Taste of Home recipe.

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tbsp. butter
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
6 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup biscuit/baking mix
1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli, thawed (I used fresh and just steamed it first)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 tsp. salt

In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms in butter until tender; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, eggs, milk and baking mix just until combined.  Stir in the broccoli, cheese, salt and mushrooms. 

Pour into a greased round 2 1/2 quart baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the dish comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I was a Senior Hottie (Not Really)

Over at A Belle, A Bean, and a Chicago Dog there is a link up party happening called I Was a Senior Hottie.  I wasn't a senior hottie by any means, but I thought it was a fun link up and I decided to join in with a few pictures from my senior year.

I searched and searched for a copy of my senior picture, but I guess I don't have one.  So here is a scan straight from the yearbook, which is why it looks a little grainy.  Okay, seriously, I would love to have glowing smooth skin like that again (stupid age marks).

The picture below is from senior prom.  
I'm actually friends with all 3 "Spongebobs" in this picture on Facebook, but seeing as how none of them know about my blog and I don't really feel like sharing (and seeing if they minded being on it) I decided instead to protect their anonymity with our handy-dandy sticker collection.

And finally, a picture from graduation, with my brother Taylor and my Dad.
My  youngest brother, John, was not yet 2 years old and must've been with my mom, taking the picture.

 What you can't tell from this picture is that I had on the most dreadful hot pink lipstick.  Whew, it was bad!

If you want to link up your pictures, head over to A Belle, A Bean, and a Chicago Dog - her linky is open through Monday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Family Myths and Legends - Memory Lane Friday

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog carnival where you can link up with your memories.  This week's topic is Family Myths and Legends. 

On a side note, yesterday I missed the first day of blogging since I started in December 2009.  It was not by choice.  I haven't been able to get into my blog since early Wednesday morning!  I still can't get into my blog from Internet Explorer, but I downloaded Mozilla Firefox and I can get in that way, for now.  Very frustrating.  And this browser isn't working too well for me either, as my mouse keeps skipping around and deleting things I write!  I know I have a lot of catching up to do, and hope I can find time to visit blogs today and that I will be able to comment again now.

I had hoped to scan some pictures and do a dual post (with stories from each side of the family) this week, but since I couldn't get on I'll be keeping it simple.

Legend:  I never met my great, great, great paternal grandmother, but this story is true.  She was sitting by the fireplace during a huge thunderstorm one evening.  A bolt of lightening came down the chimney and struck her foot.  For the rest of her life, her foot never quite healed.  My uncle told me that as a child, he was never allowed near the fireplace during storms.

Myth:  I've only heard this story from my maternal grandfather once, so I will try to recollect it the best I can.  We have a lot of musical talent on this side of the family, even today, of the Appalachian variety.  Many years ago, a relative who was a shining star on the banjo had passed.  After the funeral, family was gathered around the porch, reminiscing his memories.  Someone started saying that they should play a tune on his banjo.  Everyone had mixed feelings.  A few warned not to touch it.  But after much debate, a fellow picked up the banjo and played just one song, the deceased's favorite.  Afterwards, he set the banjo down against the wall and there was much silence from the gathering.  Slowly, quietly, the banjo picked out the last refrain from the song --- all by itself.

Want to link up with Memory Lane Friday?  Just add your website to the linky below.  Be sure to visit fellow link-ups' blogs!

Come back next week, the topic is 6th grade!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Reading Ocean Crafts - Read, Explore, Learn

We love the book Big Al, by Andrew Clements Yoshi. 
Big Al is a big, ugly looking fish who just wants a friend.
But the other fish are scared of him, and run away when he tries to talk to them.
It's a sweet and charming book, so we decided to do some activities based on Big Al.

First, we played with our dolphin collection in the sink.
I got this idea from a commenter on JDaniel4sMom's blog.
It was a huge hit, and Pierce said it was the highlight of his day.
Later, we added some tupperwares to make islands and boats. 

Then we started our big craft project.
We used a paper plate, painted blue.
We added shells from our trip to Ocean Isle Beach, some moss we gathered in the yard, and foam fish stickers. 

Then Pierce went to work with the green glitter glue stick, making swirls of waves. 

We used another paper plate, painted gold, to make the window. 
Voila!  Just like looking out the porthole of a ship.
Pierce really enjoyed learning about what a porthole was, and exploring the ocean.

This post is linked to:
Shibley Smiles

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Peeps!

It seems like Buddha Hen has been brooding forever, but in reality it has only been 3 weeks.  And we have some new chicks as a result!

This one came from one of the small, white eggs, so it's either a mini Priscilla, Elvis, or Little J.P. 

This will probably be a leghorn: 

And I'm hoping this one will be an Americauna - but it's so hard to tell when they're this small: 
Still some eggs that haven't hatched, but we're hoping for a some more chicks before the end of the day!
We have a friend that wants as many as we will pass along, and we want to keep a few for ourselves too.

This post is linked with Show and Tell at WV Treasures and with Farm Friend Friday at Dandelion House

Edited to Add - We have 3 more chicks this morning, so a current total of 6!  Plus 4 more eggs that could potentially hatch today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy in a Big Egg - Muffin Tin Monday

Even though Easter is over, I wanted to use this Easter egg cake mold that JDaniel4sMom sent us. 

Pierce had biscuits with gravy, some turkey sausage (tastes like sausage, in case you're curious - just less greasy), and some fresh strawberries (in our chicken feet muffin cup), from the ones we picked at the strawberry patch.

Visit Muffin Tin Mom to see more fun lunch ideas.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Strawberry Jam Pinwheel Swirl Cookies Recipe

So I'm finding ways to use up the strawberry jam we made and these cookies are - quite simply - amazing!  And don't they just look beautiful?
The recipe is adapted from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me, and the recipe author listed in the book is Sue Bulling (if you're out there somewhere reading, Hi Sue!).
3 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup margarine (I used butter), softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
raspberry jam (I used strawberry)
chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together softened margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture.  Roll out and cover with jam, coconut, and nuts.  Roll up dough in waxed paper and chill.  After chilled, slice about 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350* for 10 minutes (it took mine a few extra minutes, but I sliced them a little thick).


Saturday, May 21, 2011

It'll Do. Strawberry Jam.

File all attempts at jam and jelly making under the F file for FAIL.  Paul and I just aren't very good at it.  Yet we keep trying - we must be gluttons for punishment because it's a lot of work and time that goes into making jam. 

We do things right.  We wash the jars and sterilize them and the lids.  We put them in the oven at 180* so they'll be just the right temp for pouring jam into.

We get the boiling water ready for the canning.  We follow the recipe for the jam itself to the letter. 

And then, after boiling for the prescribed 1 minute, we pour into jars, so full of hope. 

They all sealed perfectly.
Then they cooled.
And, as always, our jam is runny. 
Ah well.  It still works on toast, and is wonderful on pancakes or stirred into oatmeal or poured on ice cream. 

Any ideas folks, why our jellies and jams never set up?  We used Sure-Jell this time.  Apparently, Sure-Jell isn't such a SURE THING after all....

Friday, May 20, 2011

More from the Memoirs - Memory Lane Friday

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog carnival where you can blog about your memories and link up.  All are welcome.  This week has no theme.

A few weeks ago, when I blogged from my grandfather's memoirs (HERE), many of you asked to hear more.  So today I'm giving you more.  These are his words, not mine, although I have edited out just a couple of typos.

Jimmy, Alex, and I were the oldest boys.  Kent was only two years old.  We did almost everything together; now it seems as I sit here and write that it was only yesterday that we were there as one big happy family.

We worked in the fields, helping Dad plant the crops.  Working side by side we could do it all; plant the corn, cultivate, and harvest it.  We were really a self-supporting family.  We raised or grew almost everything it took to survive on the farm.  Wheat that was ground into flour, corn into meal.  The wheat and flour mills were only a short distance from our home.  We also raised our own hogs, then too we had our own cows for milk and butter, and of course we raised horses for farm use.  Yet there were times when things were just a little tough, there was clothing to buy for such a large family.  In order to counter this, our mother raised turkeys, sold them and bought our winter shoes, and whatever else was needed to survive.

Christmas was a happy time at our house.  Strange, isn't it, that happiness can come from those small gifts such as we received at that time.  We never had a bicycle, never had a little red wagon, or a pair of skates.  Our gifts consisted of an orange, an apple, and a long stick of peppermint candy.  We bought our own cap pistols, and caps from pennies and nickles.  We managed to save for such an occasion, but this was only during the last few years on the farm.  Through all this, we became humble and meek, but certainly not lowly.  Not any of us throughout our life span have ever been proud or haughty.  We were taught to respect other peoples' rights, and in return our neighbors would do anything for Ike Leonard's family.

"Chief" as we called him, and his daughter (my aunt) Pam.

Want to join in on Memory Lane Friday?  It's easy!  Just add you link to your website below:

Please visit others' blogs and leave them a comment.
Next week's theme is Family Myths and Legends.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Newborn Thompson Boy

In case you missed it, things last left off with Sarah and Granny Rose HERE with the birth of Amelia's baby. 

This week's Red Dress Club Prompt is; Another week, another deadly sin. Why not?
For this week's prompt, let's talk about sloth. Emotional or spiritual apathy. It's not doing what we think we should. It is closer to apathy than it is to simply being lazy. It is putting your kids in front of the TV instead of playing with them, for instance.
I found this quote - I believe from Samuel Beckett - that I love for this prompt: "Sloth is all passions the most powerful."

Granny Rose pushed the wailing black baby at Sarah, and said, “Clean ‘im up,” as she turned to begin the process of delivering the afterbirth. Her hands worked over Amelia’s puffy, bruised belly, massaging as Amelia moaned and asked anxiously, “The baby, can I see the baby?”

“It’s a boy, Amelia. I’ll get ‘im to you soons we get you fixed up now,” Granny Rose said.

This was the first time Sarah had ever held an infant. She carefully wiped the blood off the blackened child. He began to quiet, and was perfect in his full head of black hair, his 10 fingers, his 10 toes. As he quieted, she cautiously wiped harder at a spot on his arm, and harder still, but the coal black of his skin didn’t wipe off. Tiny blue eyes stared at Sarah, wide, and full of wise understanding. For a moment, Sarah felt as though it was only her and this baby, as if the rest of the world didn’t exist. She was surprised by an instant bond, pulling her in, making her want to hold him tighter. Night, she thought. He’s like the dark calm of night. She instinctively pulled him closer, and breathed the sweetness of his warmth.

“Sarah. Bring ‘im over now,” Granny Rose said.

Sarah brought the baby to Granny Rose who gestured to the afterbirth and said, “Go bury that under t’ apple tree, so’s the boy will never go hungry.”

Granny Rose took the baby and gently laid him by Amelia.

Amelia took one look at the baby and shrunk away in repulsion, “Tha’s not my child,” she said, “Get ‘im away.”

“Now ‘Melia, this babe’s healthy. ‘E’s your boy. You got to feed ‘im now.”

“I won’t,” Amelia said, and she rolled her weary beaten body over to face the hewn log wall, despondent.

"Please Amelia," she begged, but there was no response. 

Granny Rose tried prodding her but Amelia had fully embraced her apathy and refused to speak or move.

Sarah felt sadness for the unwanted baby as she carried the afterbirth, wrapped in layers of towel, outside and grabbed a shovel. She made quick work of getting it into the soil under one of the Thompsons’ five apple trees. Mr. Thompson and his four children on the porch watched somberly, and Sarah knew she should speak, should say something about Amelia and the child, but she didn’t know what to say.

She finished her work and walked back inside, as she knew there was more cleaning to tend to yet. Granny Rose had swaddled the baby tightly by then, and he was wrapped and asleep on the bed next to Amelia’s unmoving form.



“You gonna have ‘t stay here. Just ‘til Amelia takes ‘t the child. You give ‘er these herbs twice tonight, in tea, to ‘elp her milk come in. You got to see that she feeds ‘im. She ain’t fed ‘im yet and he’ll starve if she won’t nurse ‘im. If she won’t by the morn you jus’ make ‘er. “

Sarah had absolutely no idea how to force a grown woman to nurse her newborn, and she didn’t know a thing about taking care of the child herself. But she meekly nodded, and sat down softly at the edge of the bed to wait.

Critique is welcomed and encouraged.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Activities for the Child with Allergies, Stuck Indoors

A few weeks ago, Cort had a crazy allergic reaction, after spending the morning outside.  He got hives all over his face - mounds of hives.  And he was itching and crying and Benadryl wasn't working.  Then I noticed the whites of his eyes were swelling.  Like all bubbled out swelling.  So I called the pediatrician and they advised me to bring him straight in.  Because his eyes were so severe (they said it was schleral edema) and his face was so swollen, we were advised not to take Cort outside unless we pretreated him with Benadryl, at least until after we'd had a chance to have an assessment with a pediatric allergy specialist. This appointment isn't until mid-June, so in the meantime we need more indoor activities.

I happened to tweet about this, and JDaniel4sMom (whose son has tremendous allergies as well) suggested we do a fun swap for the boys.  Each boy would get a box in the mail of special indoor activities.

We had a splendid time planning out activities for JDaniel4.  Here's what we sent him:

1.  Activity kit:  Which Came First - the Chicken or the Egg?  This kit includes wide, colorful straws and a bunch of various feathers gathered from our chickens.  In addition, we sent some chocolate Easter eggs and a plastic Easter egg full of candy.  JDaniel4s task is to try blowing feathers or eggs with the straws to see which is faster.  He might also like to race his mom.  Hopefully I didn't seriously gross out JDaniel4smom by sending them chicken feathers!
2.  Activity Kit: Bring the Birds to You.  This is a recycling craft to make a birdfeeder using a paper towel roll, tongue depressors, bird seed and peanut butter.  Then JDaniel4 can hang it outside his bedroom window and enjoy watching the birds.
3.  Activity Kit: Pig in Mud.  We snagged this activity kit idea from our library story hour.  Make a box of chocolate pudding, and you can finger paint "mud" on your piggie.  Then just wipe off when done.

Online Printables - JDaniel4 likes construction so we looked for some printables in that area.
4.  Handy Manny make your own puppet show kit
5.  Bob the Builder Draw a House Plan kit 

6.  Groom N' Grow Fun Dough Pet Salon.  
We knew JDaniel4 loves the idea of a dog, and we figured a Playdoh version wouldn't be so hard to care for! 

7.  A glowstick.  For campouts in his room.
8.  A sticker book and various transportation stickers.
9.  A funny face set.  These are designed for use with pumpkins, but we've found that you can use them with apples, squash, and eggplant too! 

8.  And finally, bringing the sandbox indoors for JDaniel4 with a mini Zen garden. 

We sure hope that JDaniel4 enjoys his activities.  Please go check out what they sent to Cort:
Reviews and Giveaways

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Celebrating a Life, our Siamese Boukie

In May of 1997 I graduated college.  Paul had to take a last summer class to graduate, so we stayed in Waco and I worked at a vet for the summer while Paul worked through his last class.  We house sat for my traveling Geology professor, which saved us from having to pay rent.

While I was working at the vet one day a lady walked in with a tiny Siamese kitten.  I'd always adored Siamese cats, as my grandparents had one named Snuffy when I was growing up.  The lady said that she'd bought the Siamese, but that her grandson was allergic and she had to find a home for the kitten.  She wanted to know if we knew anyone who would take him.

Yes, I knew someone who would take him.  Me.  We already had two cats (and a hedgehog) but my heart was big (bigger, I'm sure, than my newlywed husband's). 

So Boukie came home with me.
In the beginning, he was sick.  He had giardia, and needed treatment for that.  But once he got better he was rambunctuous and active.

We used to take him and our other two cats for walks on leashes.  They weren't allowed outside otherwise. 

In his younger days, Boukie would try to nurse on your ears.
If you stood up and held out your arms, he'd make a funny sound, and jump from the floor into your waiting arms.

He loved a good snuggle, always.  If you were having a bad day, Boukie was there.
And he never knew a stranger.  Boukie was happy to give attention to anyone who walked through our door.  He was a cat with no reservations.

When we had kids, Boukie was so kind.  When the boys climbed on him and rough housed, he never minded.  He never growled or swatted.  He had more patience than any animal I've ever seen.

Some weeks ago, Boukie got penned behind the water heater.  I've no idea how he managed to get back there.  I almost couldn't get him out.  I ended up lifting him over the top.  I piled the 3 boys in the car and then rushed him to the vet, his eyes full of pus.  He stayed for a couple of days to get back on his feet, then returned home.

But he wasn't the same.  He stopped eating.  He paced, constantly.  He got weak and was wasting away.  We think he may have suffered a head injury when he was behind the water heater.  Even in the end, in his restlessness, he loved nothing more than a good purr on your lap.

This weekend we decided Boukie was suffering and it was time.
Rest in peace, sweet Boukie.  You gave us as much as a cat could give, and we are thankful for our fourteen years with you.  You were loved so much, and we will miss you.
I hope that you are frolicking in fields of catnip, reunited with your old feline friends Lionel and Toulouse.

This post is linked with Show and Tail at WV Treasures.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Make a Duck Tape Change Purse, A Tutorial

At the last Multiples Club meeting, we made change purses out of duck tape, which was easy and fun.  There were some boys of the age range of 6-9 there, and they totally got into it too, so this craft is kid-friendly.  The only supplies you need is at least one roll of duck tape (I got mine at Walmart), some sharp scissors, and a ruler.

First, measure out your duck tape.  You will need to decide if you want to do a multi-colored purse or solid.  For my example, I'll be doing dual colored.
 Measure out 4 pieces of tape 7 inches long.
Measure out 1 piece of tape 9 inches long - this will be the color you want the outside to be.

Lay down one color sticky side up, and cross it (as close to the middle as possible) with the other color piece. 

Now put the same color down. 

Flip it over and put the same color down on back. 

Fold the side up so that it is the color you want on the outside.  Don't worry if you have some uneven edges. 

Start wrapping your 9 inch piece around the outside.  I start slowly with one side.  You want to try to do this with no gaps in the sides, so that it is tight. 

Once it is all wrapped, it'll look like this, and you'll trim off the edges. 

So then your box is nice and even: 

Now you will go around and fold down each corner.  Make sure you go the same direction on each side. 

When you fold, stick your finger inside the box and work the inside well, so your creasing will be strong. 

Once you get all your creases made, start twisting the top of the box, so that it will collapse on the creases. 

And twisting a little more: 

Ta da!  Now place it under a heavy book for about a week, so it'll set. 

There are all sorts of fun combinations, and you can get many different colors of duck tape at craft stores.
These would be great for the pool, as you could tuck in a couple of dollars or some change, and the duck tape is impervious to water. 

Don't want to make your own, but still want one?  I'll be happy to send one to the first 3 readers who comment, saying they'd like one. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Get Your Kids to Sleep at Night - The Park Method

When I want my kids to sleep well at night, I just take them here:

Fresh air, lots of running, it wears them out. 

Not to mention...climbing! 

And sliding! 

At first, Pierce didn't think he could do this.  But he sure was excited once I taught him how. 

Chasing one another through tunnels: 

Rock climbing: 

And spiraled climbing: 

Uh oh.  Houston, we have a crier: 

He's saying "I'M STUCK!"
Mommy had to climb up and perform a rescue. 

The twins are almost too old to ride together anymore.  Sniff. 

Yeah yeah.  He looks kinda cute and sweet here. 
He's really just devising ways to get Mom to stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream on the drive home.

My little trash collector.
He's so good at picking up others' gross trash and disposing of it. 
Very nice of him.  Although I have to cringe just a bit.  Ick! 

Now, fill up some bellies with sandwiches and water: 

And that's a wrap! 
Everyone ought to crash hard tonight!