Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jim Bowie's Knife- A Tall Tale by Emanuel

Jim Bowie got mad a lot. One time he had a butcher knife in his hand when he lost his temper. Bang! Thwap! He slammed the knife against things destroying everything. The knife did not get

destroyed but it certainly changed. Out of all that thwanging and thwaping came a beauty. It was so evenly crooked. He decided to list it on eBay. Everyone loved his new Bowie knife. He was famous! Everyone came to him with their butcher knives and asked him to turn them into Bowie knives.

Later at the Alamo, everyone left Davy Crockett alone and went to Jim Bowie for his autograph. Now Davy Crockett was mad. He knew he could outrun, out-shoot, and out-holler about every critter, but he wasn't so sure about out-faming, particularly with Jim Bowie.
Bowie is pouting because Crockett out-famed him.

"I need something big," he thought. He found something big alright, discovered during the Battle of the Alamo. It was the Ring-Around-the-Rosie-Swing with his rifle butt. Before his execution by Santa Ana's soldiers, some of them secretly got his autograph. None of Jim Bowie's enemies had asked for his autograph, so Davy Crockett knew he had out-famed his rival.
Crockett celebrating his victory.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Isabel Baked a What?!

Something about fall screams, 'Bake!" We love to bake any time of year, but it seems essential to do so in the fall. We bake the usual things you'd associate with autumn, such as pumpkin bread and apple pie, but earlier this month Isabel had a chance to bake something a little more unusual for us. 

It all started out when we were cleaning up the garden. We ended up with a couple of buckets full of green tomatoes. We tried fried green tomatoes, which were good, but not so good that we wanted to eat them everyday! Or fry them everyday. Not fond of that smell. A quick internet search brought up all kinds of ideas for using green tomatoes. The recipe that caught Isabel's eye was ... drum roll ... Green Tomato Pie!

Those who commented on the recipe all said it tasted just like apple pie. So we decided to take the plunge. 

 First, Isabel washed the green tomatoes very well.
 Then she cut the tomatoes into small slices.

Next, she mixed up a pie crust, divided it half, and rolled it out.
We use this recipe for pie crust. It hasn't failed us yet. 
 She's pretty good at crust. 
 After mixing the tomatoes with sugar, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar, Isabel poured the mixture into the pie pan.
 We worked together to make a lattice top. Isabel used the leftover crust to cut out pretty leaf shapes with a cookie cutter. She always decorates her pies beautifully. 

 Here is the finished product, fresh from the oven. It looked and smelled delicious, but knowing it was made out of green tomatoes made us a little nervous about taste-testing it. 
 After dinner, Isabel did the honors of cutting and serving her pie. 

 We were thrilled to discover that the pie was delicious! It really did taste like apple pie! 
Isabel says, "It sounded really weird, but I was glad to find out that it tasted good! I am very proud of how my hard work turned out."

Even our pickiest eater loved Green Tomato Pie!
 Here is a link to the recipe we used. We highly recommend making your own!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Day at Fort Atkinson

                                                         My Day at Fort Atkinson
                                                                  by Benedict

   Yesterday we went to Fort Atkinson State Historic Park in Fort Calhoun, NE. Established in 1819, it was the first U.S. military post west of the Missouri River. We all had a lot of fun learning things about the fort. My brother, sister, and my friends from our history co-op did a cannon drill. Then we went into each room in the fort and people dressed as soldiers, blacksmiths, and laundresses, etc. talked about the things in the room. We even got to try many activities including making and drinking homemade apple cider. We went on a hike to Council Bluff where Lewis and Clark met with the Oto and Missouri Indians. Finally, I enlisted in the army. It was a fun day.
The Apple Cider Press

Ephrem enjoying the cider

The blacksmith making a nail

Broom Making

Making Lace

   In a cannon drill there are 6 people who man the cannon. First, Man 2 worms the hole for leftover shells. Then Man 1 cleans the hole with a sponge. Man 3 holds his thumb over the lighting hole. Then Man 2 dries the hole with a dry sponge. Man 6 gives a cannon ball to Man 2 who puts it in the cannon. Then Man 1 rams it down with a rammer. Man 5 puts in the wick. Finally, Man 4 fires the cannon.

Cleaning the cannon

    In 1820, to enlist you had to be at least 10 years old. You had to swear an oath to the U.S. Military. In the oath an enlistee promised to obey orders and protect the United States. To enlist a commander and the enlistee must sign their names onto the contract, which was usually for 5 years. Then for enlisting a soldier get a $6 bonus.

Me with my 5 year contract. I've enlisted!

    My favorite room was the 6th infantry barracks and kitchen. In the barracks the soldiers had bunk beds and 2 soldiers shared each bunk. The bunks were smaller than my twin sized bed! Each soldier had one peg to hang his stuff. The kitchen had a table, a cupboard, a fireplace, and a wood stock. They would cook food in closed pots and pans. Soldiers always carried a musket, a blanket, a knapsack, a canteen, a haversack, a cartridge box, and a bayonet.
Inside the 6th Infantry barracks kitchen

A typical barracks kitchen

Heading down the bluff to the site of Council Bluff


Friday, October 2, 2015

Emanuel's Quote of the Day

I haven't recorded one of these for awhile. At age 9, he's still full of awesome one-liners! 

Yesterday while riding in the car he said, "Let's discuss varieties of cheeses."

Love this kid. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Veggie Soup

   It's officially fall! My favorite time of year! The time of year in which I am inspired to pick up old, neglected hobbies in order to avoid deep cleaning my house for winter. It's also the time for long nature walks, jumping in leaf piles, baking, hot drinks, and... soup!

   We were blessed this weekend with many, many eggplants and tomatoes. I do not know how to can, and that will have to be a project for another year. Instead, I searched Pinterest for "eggplant and tomato" recipe ideas. No one of them seemed just right, but I was able to glean tips off of several to come up with what my family named, "The Best Vegetable Soup Ever." They want to have it every night until we run out of eggplant. I think if we did that, they'd stop calling it the best ever and start calling it, ".....Again?!?!"  All good things in moderation, right? So, here's my recipe, which I served with homemade pumpkin bread. Yum!                                                                                                                                                                                                  
10 cups beef broth (or as I did, water and beef bouillon)

3 small eggplant, chopped into pieces *

4 or 5 small tomoatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp curry powder **

1/2 tsp ginger

couple handfuls of lentils

Combine everything except the tomatoes. Simmer for 45 minutes. *** Add chopped tomatoes. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Enjoy.

* I don't really measure veggies, I just add them until it looks like the right amount.

** Same with spices- I don't measure- just add to taste. Didn't really taste any curry or ginger. May have to try a little more next time.

*** You guessed it- no precise timing. I just let it simmer until it seemed done.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scratch Art

In my previous post I wrote about how much my children enjoyed the book Seven Loaves of Bread. One thing that makes the book so great are the scratchboard illustrations. Last week we decided to make some scratchboard art of our own. It's very easy to do!

First, gather your supplies. There are a few different ways to do this. Experimenting with new techniques is one of the funnest things about creating art. Here are two that we experimented with:

Supply List #1: white cardstock paper, crayons, black paint, liquid soap and toothpicks.
Supply List #2: white cardstock paper, markers, black crayons, toothpicks

The consensus was that coloring the cardstock with marker made for a brighter picture in the end. The black paint was easier to apply than the black crayon, but the black crayon was easier to scratch off. So... mix and match and find the way that works the best for you! Or come up with a new way to do it!

Now on to the next step:

Have the children color in the white cardstock paper completely with crayon (or marker). They can color it however they like, using as many colors as they wish! Just make sure they press hard with the crayon and that no white space is showing.

Next, pour a few drops of liquid soap into a dish of black paint. (This will help the paint stick to the crayon.) Paint the entire paper black. Set aside to dry.  Or color over the entire sheet of cardstock with a black crayon. Press hard to make sure it goes on thick and that the entire sheet is black.

Once the black paint is completely dry (or the paper is completely covered in black crayon), give each child a toothpick. They will use that to scratch out a picture.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Seven Loaves of Bread

Any mother of small children has certain books memorized because of repeat readings. Sometimes it makes one want to pull their hair out, and other times a mother is delightfully happy to read that book for the fifth time today, because, well, she likes it too. Seven Loaves of Bread by Ferida Wolf is one of those books.
Milly and Rose are sisters who live on a farm. Milly does all the baking, and Rose often wonders why she makes seven loaves of bread everyday. It seems like so much work. Milly answers, "Seven is as easy as one," and continues her work. Each loaf of bread is designated to a person or animal on the farm. When Milly gets sick Rose takes over the baking and decides seven loaves are too many and starts cutting corners. Unsurprisingly, Rose quickly learns that cutting corners only creates more work. By the end of the story Rose, "who only worked as hard as she had to," learned that seven is indeed as easy as one! The scratch board style illustrations are charming and go so well with the story.
"Seven is as easy as one." has become a catch phrase on our house. Our only copy is from the library and we have renewed it three times already! My four and six-year-olds especially love this story, I think partly because of the repetition and cadence of the tale. It certainly is worth reading at least once!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Although this summer we spent most of outdoor exercise time biking, we still haven't forgotten our love of a good hike. The kids were so excited at the prospect of a hike Tuesday afternoon that all of their school work was finished before lunchtime and attitudes stayed positive!
By popular demand, Schramm Park was chosen as our destination of the day. The hiking trail at Schramm Park is short- 1 to 3 miles, depending on the trail one chooses. Today we chose the one mile trail. While the boys are old hands at hiking and can easily go much further, Isabel is still working on her endurance. We haven't hiked much since she outgrew her carrier. So glad the weather is cooling down. We're looking forward to many more trips this fall!

Benedict takes his nature observing very seriously.

A tree had fallen across the path and was begging to be climbed on!

Isabel drawing in the dirt. She thought that was the coolest thing ever!

Watching the fish in the canyon pond. I remember doing the same as a kid.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Birthday Girl!

Today is Isabel's 4th birthday! We usually let each child pick what activity they'd like to do as a family. This time that wasn't an option so we spent a quiet day at home. Isabel had a very happy day though. She's so glad to finally be 4!

Since Isabel loves to bake I let her make and decorate her own birthday cake today after lunch. I think that was the perfect birthday activity for her.

A beautiful cake, custom decorated by Isabel!
Make a wish!