31 May 2018

Strawberry Shortcake Scones


Strawberries are in season around here and we stocked up! This is the first time we've made these scones and they are deeeeeelicious. Moist, fruity, sweet, easy enough for kids to make, and super satisfying!

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
12 strawberries, hulled and diced
3/4 cup half and half or milk (we used skim and they were still perfect)

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons half and half or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until the flour mixture and butter resembles crumbs. Gently coat strawberries with flour mixture, then carefully fold in the half and half or milk until everything is evenly coated. Turn out dough onto floured surface and shape into a circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 to 12 triangles and place on a greased baking pan. Bake 14 to 18 minutes, or until scones are golden and baked through. Remove from pan and let cool ten minutes. Meanwhile, beat together the icing ingredients. Drizzle over the top and serve.
Enjoy!
Thanks to Belly Full for the recipe inspiration!

30 May 2018

Flowing Fountain

So pretty! 
Having a pond has been so much fun but as with everything, it requires a good amount of work to keep it healthy. First off, Jack bought an aerator--think of the thing that you put in a fish tank to blow bubbles into the water. That helped keep the deep waters oxygenated for the fish to have something to breathe but did little to help with the algae on the top.
So, part of the kids' chores has been to get their life vests on and scoop out algae onto the shore. Surprisingly, they got pretty excited every time we tell them to go out and get to work. It's nice to have at least one chore they don't complain about.
As hard as we worked, it really is difficult to keep up with algae. That stuff spreads fast. For a while, Jack has been wanting to put in a fountain, which would help with the algae problem, would aerate the top of the water, and plus, would look really cool. So he got to work.
If Jack is anything, he's incredibly clever. In college, he built a wind generator for a class for under a couple hundred bucks (and it actually worked!) out of some storebought materials. So, while we could have saved up a few thousand dollars and bought one. That's not Jack's style. After a few YouTube videos and a trip to the hardware store, he had one built in a day. He and the kids situated it out in the middle of the pond and we watched it flow.

Part of the problem though is this was the view from my kitchen window:
This gnarly juniper tree has grown right in the way. While the girls like climbing it, I've been wanting it to go for a while. For one, it blocks my view of the pond while I'm washing dishes. For two, I can't see the kids if they're wandering near the pond. For three, these:
Every time it rains, their little orange tentacles come out.
These gnarly things are actually a strange fungus that has a cycle that jumps between juniper trees and apple and pear trees, affecting the fruit. Not something we exactly want hanging around our new orchard. So, down it went, with Henry supervising, of course.
Don't worry--plenty of juniper trees still growing nearby!
Now, I've got a great view of the flowing fountain from the kitchen, the algae is being kept at bay, and the kids love being splashed by it while they're swimming. Plus, I can tell Jack is pleased with his handiwork. I keep finding him sitting and staring...
 ...and staring and staring.
 Yes, Jack! It's beautiful. Thanks for making it!
So pretty! And functional!

26 May 2018

Just Laugh

Laundry sink flooding again? Just laugh!
Sometimes, I wish life was all roses and butterflies and unicorns prancing under rainbows but sometimes, things aren't so perfect. The other day, when everything seemed to be going wrong, I sat down for a few minutes to grab a bite to eat, while Henry plastered me with stickers. The one that stayed on most of the day was Laugh. So, I've been trying to do just that.
When the cows aren't grateful for the enormous pasture they're in, are convinced the grass is greener on the other side and will break the fence to get to it...

Just laugh.

And fix the fence. Again.
When the kids get dirty minutes after you get them dressed...

Just laugh.

And let them be dirty.
When you get a bump, bruise, scratch, scrape, sliver, boo boo, owie, or ding...


Just laugh.

And go get a band-aid, bag of ice, or if needed, stitches, and get back to work.
When your painting buddies turn sloppy...

Just laugh.

And lay down a drop cloth.
When you have carpet that is literally the color of barf...

Just laugh.

And rip that nasty stuff out.
When your kids can't keep their toys out of the way where you're working...

Just laugh.

And work around them.
When your baby discovers she has hair coming out of her head and can't go a single meal without rubbing food into it...

Just laugh.

And give her a bath. Several times a day.
When carpenter bees are eating holes in your barn...

Just laugh.

And give Henry a broom.
And when you whack yourself in the stomach trying to kill the carpenter bees...

Just laugh.

And give the broom back to Henry.
When your kids clog their bathroom sink after washing off their dirty feet...

Just laugh.

And be glad they have so much room to run and play.
When your kids aren't quite as good at sleeping when camping as you'd like...

Just laugh.

And appreciate having a few extra snuggles at night and a well-deserved nap in the afternoon.
When the weather outside is too crummy to ride...

Just laugh.

And take a ride on the penny pony.

Just laugh.

And clean him up tomorrow.
Dirt: Zoey's favorite snack.
When your kids just can't seem to grasp the concept of gross...

Just laugh.

And try to explain it again.
When you can't seem to convince waterfowl that our pond is not the home for them...

Just laugh.

Like my new barn quilt decor?! So cute!
When the artwork you've just hung is lost in the clutter...

Just laugh.

And appreciate that it's there.
When the ticks and mosquitos and creepy crawlies find you...

Just laugh.

And pick them off, and don't be afraid of going outside.
When your kids want to help in the kitchen but all they seem to do is make a mess...

Just laugh.

And let them help anyway.
When your little legs can't get you across the ravine...

Just laugh.

And find another way around.
When your beautiful hair gets snarled and tangled with burrs...

Just laugh.

And enjoy a little extra attention from your parents.
When you're the assigned babysitter...

Just laugh.

And make the best of it.
When fishing isn't going the way you hoped...

Just laugh.

And cast it again.

And maybe be a little more careful next time.
When your brown thumb knows no bounds...

Just laugh.

And reuse the soil to plant new, less finicky, flowers.
When your cows escape...

Just laugh.

And round them up with a scoopful of grain.
When a mushroom inoculated log is soaking in your laundry sink (repeatedly)...

Just laugh.

And look forward to finding edible mushrooms in your forest the following year.
When unexpected guests join you for dinner...

Just laugh.

Be glad you're not Little Miss Muppet and move them outside.
When your kids have broken almost all of your roman shades...

Just laugh.

And figure out another way to put them up to let the sunshine in.
When you have sooo much laundry to fold that you might lose your mind...

Just laugh.

And use your pool table to get it done.
When you fix your girls' hair only to have them mess it up...

Just laugh.

And comb it out one more time.
When you spill your chicken feed...

Just laugh.

And get the broom.
When someone's got an upset stomach...

Just laugh.

And give them the barf bowl.

Life's not perfect for anyone, by any stretch of the imagination but there's something to be said about learning to laugh through the tribulations, take it all in stride, and enjoy the journey!

24 May 2018

Summer Fun List


Last time getting off the bus for two and a half months!
To say the kids' last summer was LAME is a huge understatement. In a matter of months, we decided to finish fixing up our house, list it, sell it, move, and unpack. Sure, there were a couple of trips to Holiday World to tie them over but those were the highlights between long days that were full of hard work. So, I'm probably looking forward to summer with them almost as much, if not more than the kids! Here are some of the things I'd love to be able to do this summer. Is there anything I'm missing from my list??
  • Go camping
  • Go swimming
  • Go canoeing
  • Have a spa day/paint nails/paint toenails
  • Make a new Family Home Evening Chart
  • Go to an outdoor concert
  • Enroll in and complete a summer reading program
  • Get slushies
  • Go to a movie
  • Get donuts
  • Go bowling
  • Catch fireflies
  • Play Ghost in the Graveyard and/or Kick the Can
  • Go on a train ride
  • Make edible necklaces
  • Go to a theme park
  • Walk the entire Indiana Museum of Art outdoor trail
  • Find good garage sales/thrift store sales
  • Sit in a firetruck
  • Go on a trail ride
  • Go hiking
  • Attend a musical/play
  • Go to an observatory
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Paint river rocks
  • Paint something to hang in our home
  • Have cooking lessons
  • Start piano lessons
  • Have riding lessons
  • Play at a park
  • Eat lunch with Jack
  • Go to a splash pad
  • Eat at a food truck
  • Play with shaving cream
  • Make jewelry
  • Write a book together
  • Make popcorn balls
  • Catch a frog
  • Make rock candy
  • Make Laffy Taffy
  • Make slime
  • Do a fun run together
  • Go to a farmer's market
  • Go to a parade
  • Have a bonfire
  • Go to an orchard
  • Pick berries
  • Make pottery/clay sculpture
  • Make a fun craft
  • Have a picnic

23 May 2018

Half Child, Half Adult

She's nine! Half child, half adult, as she'd like you to know.
It seems like only yesterday, we were reroofing our house in Iowa, in the hot August weather, and I thought that the nausea was due to dehydration and my sometimes unreasonable discomfort with heights. Turns out, our two years of trying to have a baby had come to an end--I was pregnant! Fast forward to the following spring and Evelyn finally joined our family after 42 (yes, 2 weeks overdue!) long weeks of waiting. We were in love with her at first sight.
It is always amazing to me how having children has changed the perspective of our lives. We measure everything by how many kids we had and how old they were.Evelyn's been with us from the start, through college, work, internships, moves, different homes, and multiple states. Now that Evelyn is nine, she's constantly reminding me that she's halfway to being an adult. I can hardly wait to see what the next half of her childhood brings her as she continues to spread her wings, discover her talents, and lead her siblings. 
Lucky duck Evelyn's birthday always falls at the end of the school year and at their new school, that also meant field day. So, I packed up the younger kids, helped with a few water relay races, and enjoyed watching everyone have fun.
Henry's dream come true!
Once the games were done, we found a spot on the hill and got ready to watch the classes duke it out in a friendly game of tug of war.
Thank goodness for some shade!
True to Claire's nature, she giggled the entire time she was tugging. EVERYTHING is fun to her and she shows it by hysterically laughing. All the time. It's incredibly contagious.
Once Evelyn stood up to the rope, it was pretty apparent that they were outnumbered. True to Evelyn's form, she dug in her heels and pulled with all her might, never giving up, even as her classmates were being drug through the mud in front of her. She has the heart of a champion and is learning to graciously lose, and to enjoy the challenge, regardless of the outcome.
Everyone got to skip the bus ride home and since she had some time to kill before Jack got home--which meant we could get along with the birthday festivities--she sat on the deck, watching, and patiently waiting.
We ate her choice of dinner--steak, steamed cabbage, deviled eggs, lemonade, and apples--then on to the part she'd been waiting for since she began her birthday countdown...GIFTS!

Too bad Kate couldn't contain herself (again) and happened to slip what some of her gifts were.

I'm never wrapping presents in front of Kate ever again.
She was showered with new outfits, dresses, sandals, a buildable robot, and her very own hair care products.

She'll be able to take care of her curly hair for real!
Or, at least, we'll try. As a girl with stick straight hair, caring for curly hair evades me.
And, with each passing year, everyone's cake requests become more and more extravagant. Evelyn perused Pinterest, only to decide she wanted a lifelike piglet cake. Uh, she got a scared-looking, comical, sunburned pig in the mud. Thankfully, she still thought it was cute.
Evelyn is the definition of a conundrum. One minute, she'll cheer and shout and jump as she's participating in a game and the next, she has her hand over her mouth so she doesn't seem too over-eager.
She has a wild sense of humor and is always up for fun. Robotics, dinosaurs, pigs, chickens, sewing, long hair, and math are some of her passions.
She cherishes her role as big sister and loves making her siblings laugh, teaching them the ropes, and watching out for them.

Seriously, watch her put a baby on her hip and get them to calm down.
We love our sweet, happy, intelligent, tough, resilient, faithful, intuitive, curious, responsible, respectful, hard-working, beautiful girl!
Happy birthday, Evelyn!

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