Friday, January 31, 2014

Frozen Water Balloons!

We homeschool our children and it is a lot of work....and a lot of fun. One thing I wanted my children to learn......was to enjoy LOVE to learn. No, they do not LOVE to learn multiplication facts or grammar and for some of the things that aren't so "fun", I tell them that we just have to do it anyway. Even those can be interesting, but when we can....we have lots of fun learning.

One of our projects this year was quite spontaneous - one of those rather "blah" days where we were all caught up with schoolwork and staying on schedule, but losing that love of learning and feeling the drudgery of the schooldays. On days like that, I like to introduce some extra project or reading or something to stimulate interest again.

Our project this time was one I had seen online, but we hadn't done yet, so this was the day....Frozen Water Balloons.  It was cold and we were cooped up, so it seemed like a good time. The kids eagerly found the balloons - the bigger latex ones. We wanted to color our frozen balls, so we tried different ways of getting the coloring in the balloons and we did it, but not without messy color stained hands.

We put them out on the deck and separated them quite a bit so they would freeze faster. You can see we left air in some of the balloons - We're new at this. Hmmm... need to work on that....

They stayed on the deck overnight and we were careful not to touch them. When they were first checked in the morning, a couple of them were not frozen through completely and needed more time. When they were all pretty well done.....we gathered them up, a few at a time, in a dishpan and took them into the house.

   We sliced a part of the balloon and the kids had fun peeling the balloon off, exposing the frozen balls inside and the colors that they were.

We put the "unwrapped" frozen balloons back into the dishpan and took them back to the deck so they would stay frozen.

Some of these balloons appeared totally frozen, but when they were turned over, water still moved inside and one balloon had water (and the food coloring) leak out, so we put it back the other way and left it to freeze longer.

The balloons looked interesting - even with our air bubbles!

 We wished we had put stronger amounts of food coloring into the balloons, but even so, these were very interesting to look at with the frozen tiny air bubble trails inside and also the uneven freezing of the coloring. 

This one was interesting in that the clear portion formed a magnifying glass - you can see the upside down trees in the bottom of the ball.

 These were our favorites - with their variations of colored and clear ice.

We kept these out in the shaded areas of the deck and took them out to show the neighbor kids who also enjoyed them. They lasted for over a week until we had a warm up.

Well, our water balloon project was fun....and added some excitement to our week ....and added fun memories. 

Even this clear one was fun to look at - and the crack in the center reflected the sunlight nicely.

We do plan to do the project again sometime....and make the balloons even bigger. We were a bit timid with these, being concerned about if they broke in the house where we were filling them....and sent colored water all over, so we didn't fill them as full as we could have.

By the way, if you do this, the food coloring can stain your deck, stones, etc as the balls melt, so putting them in the grass is a good idea.

Another time, I would like to make these and hollow out a spot in the top to insert a little candle - it would be so pretty to see the candle light through the frozen colored ball and if these are place in the snow, there should be no chance of fire being a problem with them - just fun and pretty light.

With the cold weather keeping us inside more, these are great things to do.....and little projects like this can add a lot of interest - especially in these long days until spring. Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. Have a great day. :)

See a newer post on the subject:  

   How to Make Ice Marbles!   

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lemon Sweet/Tart Cake Recipe

I needed to come up with a quick dessert........and didn't want to do the same used a partial recipe.......was thinking lemon.....added....subtracted....and came up with a winner.....the family loved it! :)

It is sweet....and tart.....and quite moist....and delicious.  Oh, and it is quick and easy.

The funny thing is that my kids thought the batter looked like cornbread..........and they also thought it smelled like cornbread as it baked...and it did somewhat, although it doesn't taste like it.

The frosting glaze is a bit runny at first, so I put this much on and then took a picture before I scraped the bowl.

The glaze is smoothed over the cake now and could be left to set up, but we didn't. We liked the cake slightly warm and so cut into it. :)

Mmmm good. Moist, sweet and tart....and delicious. Other times when I make this, I will probably put a garnish of mint leaves.....or a twist of lemon on top. We decided it would also be wonderful with a dip of vanilla ice cream. Yum.

          Lemon Sweet/Tart Cake
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar        Cream together
2 eggs                    Beat in
1/4 cup lemon juice      
1 cup milk                Add all of these, mix
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 cups flour       Add remaining ingredients, mix
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pour into greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes-check for doneness. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes.

Lemon Sweet/Tart Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt 
2 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
   Mix the first 3 ingredients and add lemon juice a little at a time as you smooth it together. The glaze will be a bit runny, but it will firm up on the cake. If you wish, you can add more powdered sugar to thicken it a bit. 
   Spread glaze on cake. Let cool and eat.........or eat right away. :)

Thank you for checking out this blogpost. I hope you have a chance to make and enjoy the cake. I made it yesterday and again today for supper tonight.............and my family is very excited to eat it again.

Other sites you may enjoy................

The Weekend Potluck
Try A New Recipe Tuesday
Make Bake Create
Recipe Round up
Homemaking Link Up
Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Skating Bluebirds????

I love having fun with my family. Yes, there are many things we have to do that are just no fun....some are actually some chores, memorizing multiplication facts, studying grammar, etc, BUT there is SO much in life to enjoy. Even little things can add a sense of joy, of contentment, of belonging together.

When possible, I try to introduce little surprises or a fun way of looking at something. My kids may call out, "Mom, come and look!" and we enjoy a sunset together....or a bunny in the backyard....or one of their sibling's fun activities in the backyard.

I have tried to help my family enjoy those little things.....and I am convinced that God puts many of those little things out there for us to enjoy.....if we take the time to look...............

These bluebirds were so funny.....the birdbath was iced over and they slid on the was lots of fun watching them. :)

They look frozen to the ice, but they aren't - they just skated a bit, then flew off and came back to do 
it again.  
Poor thing - no water....only ice.

 These bluebirds were in the woods when the kids and I were on a hike. We all enjoy hiking and exploring.....through the woods or other places. What a treat to see bluebirds in the winter.

This is another one of the birds with the frozen birdbath.....they kept flying around here and we enjoyed watching them. Shortly after this, my dad went out to chip the ice away and add fresh water - he takes care of his wild birds.

These are simple things.....they look fun because we took the time to look and enjoy. The same can be said for seeing leaves falling in the fall, or snow coming down, or a caterpillar moving along. There are treasures to be discovered all over the place. I want to continue teaching my children to look for them.....and to thank God for many things.  I want us to be thankful people, not complainers.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22

Consider looking for treasures in your own world....and teach others to do the same. Have a great day and thank you for joining me. :)

Other sites you may enjoy..........

Saturday Soiree
Hearts For Home
Thought Provoking Thursday
Paula's No Rules Weekend Party
Homeacre Hop
Wholehearted Wednesday
Wake Up Wednesday
Tuesday Talk
Good Morning Mondays
The Art of Homemaking Monday
Motivation Monday
Sharing His Beauty
Monday's Musings
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Modest Mom
Growing Home
Titus 2sday
Thriving Thursday
Happy Blue Monday
Women Helping Women
A Little R & R Wednesday
Wholehearted Wednesday

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fun Foods We Have Made.....

We all see pictures of fun foods - that are cute or clever or just exciting. Well, in our home, we like to make those and here are some that we have done.

These "ladybugs" were quite admired at church....and they tasted good also. :)

 It took quite a bit of my food coloring to make this frosting for the spots dark enough - it is almost black!

We found out that these cannot be made too far in advance since the crackers can get soft.....but they are tasty treats. 

These cornflake wreaths are something I remember making when I was a child.....and my kids liked them also.

The donut snowmen were fun - but I had a terrible time finding these little donuts and they were not cheap - so I was determined not to waste ANY of them! That is why the crunched ones have frown-y faces - my kids loved those.

Our watermelon "monster".....

A watermelon bowl w/ watermelon, limes and strawberries.

The cauliflower sheep are fun to look at, but harder to make - I used licorice for the legs and after a while, it can get soft.  These didn't last long, though, and were eaten quickly. 

The melting snowmen cookies were fun....and the kids at church loved them and so did my children...........

  This one has the penguins -in the upper left hand corner - made of olives, cream cheese and carrots - we have made them several times and yet, this was the only picture that I could find.

 The top plate has "pigs in a blanket" - something we make at least once a year - using little cocktail sausages and homemade crescent roll dough......the bottom blue tray has "wagon wheels" - something my kids love and we make a few times a year - rolled up tortillas w/ cream cheese, meat, cheese, relish.

We have made other fun foods, but I haven't always taken pictures. Ooops - I am trying to remember to do that.  Every year, at Christmas time, my kids remind me that we "always" take something fun to the Christmas snack we keep looking for new ideas.  The most recent one that I saw and would love to do is the Oreo frog - SO cute, but no picture here since we haven't done it yet. If we do, I may add it.

Many of the ideas are from the internet - some give directions and some do not, so sometimes we "figure it out" for ourselves. We keep planning on about 1 new thing each year - at least, so we keep looking and figuring out new ideas.

Shared on.................

Friday Frivolity
Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Herb Teas-For Good Health........

I like to use herbs for many is for making teas. I can use single herbs for tea and that is great, but I also like to combine those that address certain health issues and create specialized teas that can be used at any time, but can also be used at specific times. One example would be to have a "Sore Throat" tea which would be especially helpful.....when you have a sore throat!

A few weeks ago, I made several such teas and they have been so helpful.......and quite delicious. Here is the process...................

 This shows all of the teas
in separate bowls - all ready to

     I had these nice cute jars that I thought would be perfect for tea. They were each 3 1/2" in diameter x 3 3/4" tall. Since there were 8 of them and I like having a matching set, I decided to come up with 8 different teas. After deciding the types of tea to make....for sore throat, building immunity, detox, etc, I wrote out a list of the herbs that fit that category - one 3" x 5" card for each category or each different kind of tea.

Herb or nutrition books are great for doing research on herbs and what they can be used for. You can also use the internet, but realize that people can write anything online and it is up to the user to double check for safety's sake.

    Since I was making so many and since I didn't want to get the herbs out multiple times, I decided to do them all at once......Hmmm.....not as easy as I thought.......

    I set out a bowl for each kind of tea and set the card in front of the bowl.....then added herbs to each bowl as I needed to......and worked hard to keep track of what I was doing......a challenge, but worth it. You may find it easier to make 1 special tea at a time.

   If you keep track of the ingredients you put in your tea, you can make it again. You may find you want to add more or less of some herbs to adjust the taste. It is not necessary to use all of the herbs I use in these teas.....use what you have or only a few.  I had all of these and didn't have to go out and buy them, so I used them.

 This is a DETOX tea - I got the base recipe from and loved the idea. I didn't use the recipe totally as written, but deleted some things and added others to fit our needs.

I used: nettle, pau d'arco, marshmallow root, dandelion leaf, red clover, gingko leaf, horsetail/shavegrass, burdock, fennel seeds, cinnamon, orange peel, milk thistle, beet root powder, slippery elm powder, elderberries

 This is a Build Immunity tea

It contains: echinacea, rosemary, burdock, milk thistle seeds, hawthorn berries, dandelion leaves, elderberries, red clover, mullein, pau d arco, green tea, cat's claw, gingko biloba, tumeric

This is a tea to Fight Infection

It has:  thyme, cinnamon, eucalyptus, echinacea, elderberry, allspice, anise, clove, juniper berries, lemongrass, marshmallow root, parsley, turmeric, wormwood, sassafras root  

This is a tea for Coughs

It has: thyme, echinacea, eucalyptus, anise, comfrey, slippery elm, fennel, mullein, spearmint, gingko biloba

This is a tea for Sore Throat

It has: marshmallow, slippery elm, blackberry leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, plantain, rosemary, mullein, white oak bark

 This is a tea for Digestion

It has: fennel, mint, rosemary, juniper berries, mullein, marshmallow root, st. john's wort, dandelion, cardamon, dill, cinnamon

This tea has very good flavor. 

This is a Multivitamin Tea

It has: alfalfa, dandelion, catnip, spearmint, nettle, red clover, marshmallow root, slippery elm

Here are all of the bowls, with the herbs in them, and the labeled jars. Note, I like nice pretty labels, BUT I have found that it is more important to get things labeled than to put it off until you can make nice pretty matching labels.

You can tell that I was hurrying and just have functional labels on.....not pretty ones, but they work fine. :)

After thoroughly stirring up each bowl, then it is time to fill those labeled jars.

I know I said I had 8 jars and I do......I made 2 of the Herbal Detox and I am glad that I did.....we are really using our teas.

These teas have been a the past, I made some up when needed - but only enough to brew a pot of tea at a time. It is so nice to have them all mixed and ready to steep. I just use enough for a cup of tea...........or a whole pot.

After a lengthy time of weakness and slowly regaining my strength last fall, I made these teas and then started brewing a pot of tea every day and drinking several cups a day. My stamina increased markedly, and my recovery accelerated. I have used different teas to add variety and I love to experiment. :)  My family and I all drink these teas.....most are mild and you can adjust the flavor, as desired.

   I hope you will enjoy a nice cup of healthy homemade herbal tea and start to see the health benefits in your own life.  Don't be overwhelmed by the amount of herbs I use......I started small and kept adding more and I use my herbs for so many things.

  Thanks for reading my blog and I hope it was helpful.............I'm going to go and brew a cup of hot tea and enjoy it.  Mmmmmmm.

Other sites you may enjoy.....
Weekend Potluck
The Art of Homemaking

Wellness Wednesday
Homeacre Hop
Mostly Homemade Mondays
Tea Time Tuesday
Inspire Me Monday
Frugal Friday
Tuesday Cuppa Tea