Thursday, March 29, 2012


Ahhh the Magnolia,

So very lovely in bloom.

It's enough to make one swoon. (kinda rhymes...right?)


OK, so I didn't actually faint.

But you know what they say.

A rhyme a day,

keeps all bad moods away!!

Have a happy one!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Science Fair

Miss Emma Bean was all atwitter yesterday because it was time for the science fair!

She and her schoolmates couldn't wait to show off all of their hard work and creativity.

Our school has held their annual science fair for about 6 years now. I think this year's fair was the best one yet!

The students are really thinking through their ideas and trying to perfect their experiments. Many of them created hands on experiences, allowing others to try out the experiment for themselves.

I checked out...

Very fun!

I was fascinated by the study in robotics and this soda can robot!

Very clever!

I enjoyed the carnations in colored water experiment.

I was impressed by this model of the water cycle. 

Nicely done!

I've always thought the lemon or potato battery is a very interesting experiment. I have never seen one as impressive as this though!

We've got to put this kid to work on alternate energy sources! He's ready!!

My friend's son, Andy, experimented with magnets and electricity to create a motor. 

If the experiments I saw last night are any indication, the future of energy is looking good!

And Miss Emma Bean experimented with amplifying sound. She created a balloon-a-phone.

It was interesting to see how the different amounts of air inflation in the balloons affect the volume of the music. And the kids enjoyed listening to music and doing a little dancing!

All-in-all the kids did a great job! No wonder they were so excited. It's also possible that the expectation of going to DQ for ice-cream afterward added to their excitement just a little!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Origami Pikachu Tutorial

Recently I posted a photo of an Origami Pikachu. 

Since the girls learned how to make them, I have been finding the little critters everywhere! They're in the car, on shelves, on the kitchen counters, on my desk, EVERYWHERE!

Some of you have expressed an interest in learning how to make this little guy, so Miss Sofia graciously agreed to star in a short little video tutorial for you. 

I'm going to tell you straight away that this is the first video of this sort we've ever done. Actually, it's pretty much the first video we've taken in the last 13 years. We don't tend to take videos. 

We have exactly two videos of Miss Sofia that were taken when she was one year old. They were taken with one of those old, gigantic video cameras. Remember those? That's all. Not a single video more. We're just not much into taking the videos. Now photos, that's a different story. We have truckloads of those. Videos, not so much. Go figure.

All of that is to say, we're not practiced in the art of film making. At all! You're going to hear an assortment of whispered directions, sniffs, and some general clammer in the background of this video. We did manage to edit out moments of giggling and general silliness however. woohoo?

I want to give a big thank you to Miss Sofia for being a good sport about showing everyone how to make an origami Pikachu! And a big thank you to the Husband for video editing and for figuring out how to post a video to the blog! 

Applause applause!!

Happy origamiing everyone!


P.S. If your house becomes overrun by origami Pikachus, I take no responsibility!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whoopie Pie...Need I Say More?

I'm pretty sure this face says it all!

Happy Happy Joy Joy! Gotta love whoopie pies!

To make this delectable treat, position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375˚.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together 12/3 cups flour, 2/3 cup cocoa powder, 11/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In mixer bowl beat together 4 tablespoons unsalted, room temperature, butter, 4 tablespoons shortening, and 1 cup packed brown sugar on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium, beat for 3 minutes.

Add in 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add half of the sifted flour mixture and half of 11/4 cup of milk (That sounds weird. But yes half of 11/4 cup of milk!) to the mixing bowl batter. Beat briefly on low speed.

Once combined add in remaining flour mixture and milk. Beat until combined.

Drop batter 1 tablespoon at a time onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet of pies at a time for 10 minutes.

Cool pies on baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

To make filling, beat 11/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff with 11/4 cups shortening for 3 minutes on medium. Reduce mixer speed to low and add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Increase mixer speed to medium. Beat until fluffy.

Pipe filling onto bottom (flat side) of cooled pie.

Top with second pie!

Hello Whoopie Pie!

You should go make some! 

You know you want to!

You should go right now!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Freckle Fairy

When the girls were little we would look for, and get very excited about, each new mole they sprouted!

Really it was just an excuse to plant extra kisses on them. 

Every new mole deserves a celebration of new kisses! Doesn't it?

One mole celebration led to the question, "Where do moles come from?"

Before I could begin to explain about melanin in the skin, the Husband stated, with all sincerity, that moles are created by the Mole Troll.

Yes, he said Mole Troll. Oh just wait. It gets even better!

The Mole Troll arrives in the night while everyone is sleeping. Then he smudges you with his mole stick, leaving behind a new mole. It's an honor to be visited by the Mole Troll!

You probably assume that I immediately told the girls that Daddy was only joking and gave them an honest explanation. 

I did not.

I smiled and said, "That's right!"

I have no explanation for this kind of crazy talk in our family.

We let the girls believe the Mole Troll story for far too long. I can only imagine the astronomical therapy bills we are going to be required to pay! Yikes

It's exactly this kind of crazy talk that caused me to consider telling Miss Emma Bean that the Freckle Fairy must have danced across her face when I noticed that she had broken out the most precious sprinkling of freckles by her nose.

There aren't very many, and they are very tiny as some Freckle Fairies have very tiny feet. But they're enough to make me want to scoop her up in my arms and plant kisses on each one!

I love them!

They are beautiful!

I did refrain from telling her they were made by the Freckle Fairy. But oh how I wanted to!

Do you have freckles?

Do you know that they are beautiful?

I promise, if I see you with all of your precious freckles, I will resist the urge to scoop you up and plant kisses on each one of them. No matter how badly I want to!


Friday, March 16, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

We went to the zoo yesterday, the girls and I.

The weather has been so lovely here. I thought a day at the zoo would be a very good way to fully enjoy it!

We packed a lunch. Made plans to meet a friend and off we went!

On the way to the zoo Miss Sofia told me that she would be considered an adult in only 4 years. What??

I did not know what to say.

I'm not sure if she thought she should tell me in case I hadn't noticed she was growing up.

Oh my dear, I've noticed!

Or if she was trying to politely tell me she was getting a little old for trips to the zoo. Hmmm

Whichever it was all I wanted to do was jam my fingers in my ears and say, "LA LA LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!"

Then I remembered that I am the adult and I'm supposed to be the mature one.

I had about 10 seconds to calm myself before Miss Emma Bean piped up to say, "And I'll be an adult in 7 years!" UGH!

I was in complete distress by the time we met up with our friends.

I felt much better when I caught Miss Emma Bean doing this!

Whew! I've still got 7 years. It may be 7 long years!

That's my friend's son Tucker in the photo with Emma Bean. How cute is he? Super!

Anyway, whether Miss Sofia thinks she's getting too old for the zoo or not, I enjoy the zoo very much! And I'm the one who drives! And For now I'm still the boss of her. For at least 4 more years. The zoo it is!

She did actually have a good time.

Who could resist?

Best mustache award goes to...

I never realized antlers could be so useful! There isn't an itch he can't reach?

Kinda disappointed I didn't get the focus right on this one. It should have been on his eye. Oh well.

I really like this shot. He was giving me his good side.

Or getting a good whiff of all of the little snack sized people.

And while everything was drab brown outside, we were delighted to stroll through the indoor garden.

Oh the colors!

No! One never gets too old to enjoy the zoo!

I hope you have a lovely weekend! And may your little ones grow up slowly!!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


A few things that make me happy, in no particular order.

1)  Snowmen that flee in rushing streams of snow melt because spring has decided to arrive early this year and give us winter weary Minnesotans (winter weary mostly because we had no winter to speak of this past years because winter never seems to end) an unusually warm, record breaking warm, break out the flip flops in the middle of what can be the snowiest month of the season warm, March! 

Watching the snow disappear and the birds return makes me very happy! Flip flops too!

2)  With all of their hopes and dreams for the future. Their giggles and sense of humor. For gladly teaching the younger children how to make origami Pikachu, teenagers make me happy!

3)  Spring decor with bunnies,

and speckled eggs makes me happy!

4)  I don't think there could be a happier plant than the Shamrock. Well maybe the Daisy. I don't have any Daisies yet, so the Shamrock it is!

Did you know that the Shamrock leaves lay down against the stem at night? It's like the plant goes to sleep. That's probably why it's such a happy plant. It's very well rested!

5)  Speaking of rested, fresh sheets on the bed make me happy! Especially after being sick with a cold. 

Not just the sniffles kind of cold! Noooo! The, "You're snoring again can you roll over please?" kind of cold. Which is quickly followed by the response of, "Would you please prop yourself up a little, then maybe you wouldn't cough so much and keep me awake!" kind of cold. Yes, the Husband and I have both had horrible, miserable, keep each other from getting any sleep, kind of colds. Bah

Washing the sheets in steaming hot water gives me intense satisfaction that all of those rotten cold germs are being destroyed and washed away! So happy!!

6)  Jars filled with Easter m&m's...totally happy! Clearly someone has been swiping the peanut m&m's. Hmmm

7)  Finally getting my large, 6 cup Ball jar painted white. Elated! I got the idea to paint the Jar quite some time ago from The Lettered Cottage blog. Love Layla and Kevin's blog! Love my white jar! Now I just need to fill it with some flowers.

Happy flowers! 

8)  Daffodils!

9&10)  This one counts for two because who isn't made happy just by looking at Corgis? Add a heart to a Corgi butt and the happiness and joy abound!

The Husband found this photo on Google. If I knew who to give the credit to I would. So Cute!!
Have a happy Wednesday!


Monday, March 12, 2012


While visiting with a couple of friends recently our conversation turned to suffering. Not the most delightful of conversation topics I know. Each of us has dealt with or is in the midst of some form of suffering. Really who of us hasn't dealt with suffering? The whole world deals with suffering.

I have been thinking about this conversation a lot, because our conversation wasn't full of complaints. Which it certainly could have been. It wasn't about our worries, our fears, or our frustrations. Which would be completely understandable. Our conversation was instead about the good that suffering can work in us. 

Yes, I said good. 

Don't get me wrong! I'm not about to start asking the Lord to give me extra suffering so that I can experience more of that kind of good. Yet, maybe I should. But really, I would be willing to never suffer again! I don't like it! I don't like it when I suffer! I don't like it when others suffer! However, I cannot deny that if we let Him, God takes our suffering and turns it into something good. Something compassionate. A testimony of His mercy and love, while granting us joy and peace.

God is not immune to our suffering. He feels it. He suffers with us. Joshua 1:9b Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. I believe when God says He is with us, He is saying I am experiencing all you experience, and I will see you through. He is not just a bystander. He wants to be in it to win it (so to speak) with us! Because suffering isn't just about the moment. There is a bigger picture. Jesus knew that!

It helps me to know that Jesus too wasn't keen on the idea of suffering. His request was, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. Luke 22:42. Jesus was facing taking on the sins of the world, being beaten, and then death on the cross. I too would want that taken from me! 

And Jesus never sinned. I remember my own outrage the few times in my life when I've gotten stuck with the blame for something I did not do. I wonder if that ever crossed Jesus mind. But He was looking at the bigger picture. Jesus accepted suffering for our sins so that we could be forgiven. So that we could have the hope of eternity with God. An eternity free of suffering! So that we may one day live in the perfect world God intended, instead of the one we cursed with sin.

Jesus did not waste His suffering! He allowed God to work something awesome through it! All He asked in return is that we believe, repent, and follow Him.

There are many who would say that God in His goodness should simply remove suffering and make life better. I admit, I would kinda be alright with that plan. But then I wonder, what would we gain? What would change in us? Wouldn't we, if left in our sinful state, end up right back where we are now? It's sin after all that has brought about suffering.

Though I too would be glad to let the cup of suffering be taken from me, I do not want to waste my suffering! Instead I will pray it creates compassion in me! That it brings hope bubbling to the surface for all to see! That it makes in me a generous heart to help those in need. That it brings into focus the bigger picture for anyone who does not yet believe. Because though we suffer now, our eternity can be suffering free!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stuffed Pasta Shells

This meat-filled pasta dish is comfort food at it's finest!

It's a meal that takes time but it's so worth the effort! It easily serves 8 people. So it's a good dish to serve when inviting friends over for dinner! Or you can freeze half for a night when you need an easy dinner. Or my favorite, you can take half to a family that just had a new baby, or other hospital stay, and could use a little help with getting a meal to the table! Add in a nice salad mix and a loaf of crusty bread and voila! I like that word! Voila!!

Begin by cooking a package of large shells according to the package instructions.

Drain shells and cool in a single layer on a foil lined jelly roll pan.

While pasta cooks, brown 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork in a large skillet. Drain.

In a large bowl combine browned meat with 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Mix in 4 lightly beaten eggs. 

Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture.

Cover bottom of two 13x9 baking dishes with a thin layer of your favorite pasta sauce, about 1/3 of jar. Place filled pasta shells in a single layer in baking dishes. Cover shells with remaining sauce, top with shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmesan. The recipe calls for 1 cup of mozzarella. I don't measure. I top with cheese until I think it looks like enough. We like mozzarella. 

You can also use more pasta sauce if you prefer it a little more saucy!

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 to 55 minutes in a 350˚ oven. Bake until hot and bubbly. 

Oh that looks nice!!

It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, or so, to make this meal from beginning to end. But just look at that!

And it's tastes every bit as good as it looks! Totally worth it!