Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's that time of year

I have started making the popsicles for the 4th of July.
So far I have made Strawberry, Grape, Black Cherry, Blackberry/Raspberry, Banana, Chocolate Mint (only 6 of those and they may not make it to the 4th), and two mystery flavors this year. I ran out of flat space in the freezer and had to bag up the first batch.
This is the second batch you are looking at. I will have to wait until tomorrow to make the larger batch of all chocolate pops. I did not keep count but I had 100 of the colored plastic sticks and have used all of them and have started on the regular wooden sticks I had in the craft supplies.

There are never too many popsicles and I love having left-overs.

This year sister Beth wants us to make jello beans too as she got some molds at the yard sales we went to earlier this summer. I forgot about this when I went to the grocery store so will have to get some more flavored gelatin this week so we can try this treat too.

The popsicles take one small box of gelatin, one envelope of unsweetened drink mix, and approximately 1 cup of sugar. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then add 2 cups cold water. Pour into 3 oz cups and freeze partially before adding sticks (I have used plastic spoons and straws as well as the popsicle sticks).

The pudding pops take 1 small box of instant pudding and 1 1/2 cups cold water. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes by hand. Pour into cups and freeze. You may be able to add the sticks when you put the pudding pops in the freezer or may have to wait for the pops to partially freeze before adding sticks; it depends upon how thick the pudding is when you put it in the freezer.

Much of the family gathers at Mom and Dad's for the 4th as we have a great view of the fireworks at the fairgrounds. Both kids and adults eagerly await the arrival of the popsicles from my freezer and I always have many helping hands carrying the trays across the sidewalk.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

100 and 1

I just realized my last post was my 100th. Wow!

I have added a new slide show and a separate link to it celebrating Stormy and Smoke and the new kittens.

PS: the kittens are still in the box under the computer room table today. For how long?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kitten Hunt and Childhood Memories

When I got home tonight the nesting box was empty. Stormy was still guarding the computer room so I figured the kittens must still be in the room. But they weren't in the box, they weren't in the book case, they weren't behind the boxes under the computer table, or in DH's closet (he leaves the door open as he has as much hanging on the door as in the closet), or ....

I went to the basement just to check the two nesting boxes down there but momma had not taken the kittens to either the wicker basket or the blue crate.

Finally I got down on my poor old knees and looked under the wardrobe and there they were. Of course, they were just beyond my reach as my arms don't bend that way so I got down further and managed to gently retrieve 3 of the 4. No way could I reach the last one. So I struggled back to my feet and searched out the butterfly net I got at the dollar store. It worked wonderfully for the last kitten. Naturally, while I was retrieving kittens, momma was trying to move them again so she got shut in the box along with the kits as I snagged each one.

Once all four were in the box she settled in to nurse them and has been content with them in the box since. I expect she will try to move them again tonight and have warned DH to watch where he walks in the dark.

The following childhood memories were inspired by Linda who has a ramble on her blog today about what she did as a child (she also had some sad news about a family member).

We lived in "the country" when I was growing up. From 2nd grade thru high school we lived in a rural area that is practically the suburbs now. I remember tall grass and sunshine and sled riding down the lane and exploring in the woods. We had a garden that none of us kids appreciated and I wish I had now. Lima beans, corn, tomatoes, and a grape arbor. We only had a small parcel of land but there was so much undeveloped land around us it felt enormous. Mr. Johnson down the lane had cows that often got out of their field and ended up in our garden. He also had some mean dogs we raced past to get further down the lane to playmates. I remember his wife had lots of dolls all over their house. There were always animals at someone's house to go see. A girl along the lane had horses or ponies and there were pigs that got fed the sour milk from the dairy also on the lane. If we walked down over the hill along the road we could go down to the creek (a long walk back up though). We would go down into the woods and explore the ravine and think we were miles from home and then look up the hillside and see the back of the neighbors' houses. Winter meant the family from in town coming out to ride sleds down our lane (and past the Johnson dogs). Hot cocoa and red noses. Soaking wet clothes. Getting dumped off the sled when you didn't make the turn. We had a large kitchen window looking out over the road and down the hill toward a neighbor's farm. I remember the barn showing up as the leaves fell from the trees in the fall and disappearing when they came back in the spring. I remember sister Nancy coming back from a walk to the mailbox and telling us about the cute black and white kitty she saw and how glad Mom was that she didn't get too close to the skunk it was. (How much of this is memory and how much is the memory of the story?) I remember huddling in the little bus stop at the top of the hill waiting for the school bus to come. Freezing in winter so you tried to wait till the last minute but had to time it right because the driver didn't wait long for anyone. I remember snow a foot deep one Easter and pushing the neighbor's oldest son's car up the lane. I remember riding in that low-slung thing too. I remember sister Beth sitting in the closet at the end of the hall talking and talking and talking on the telephone. I remember Mom finding a family of mice making a home in the bag of dog food in the basement. I remember Dad going away for Naval Reserve Training and lightning striking the chimney. I remember the kitchen cabinets Dad built from scratch and how proud he was of them. I remember flying balsa wood planes out the garage door into the rain. I remember sleeping on mattresses on the floor in the living room when we all had chicken pox. I remember seeing Santa in the living room one Christmas morning when I was very young. I remember live Christmas trees that got planted outside when the ground thawed and Moms cosmos growing along the sidewalk wall in generous profusion. I remember .... I remember ...

An Abundance of ...

day lilies in my yard and Mom's yard
is still no competition Jen's amazing tiger lily photo. Go to her blog to see her breath-taking photo.
This was taken yesterday of the four kittens curled up in a corner of their box. You can see the tuxedo kitten's face, paws, and chest. It has a spot of black on its chin, too. We have discovered one of the black kittens also has just a touch of white under its chin on its neck.
I changed the papers in their box last night.
First I tried to distract Stormy with some tuna in her bowl. Apparently I didn't move fast enough or she heard some sound because as soon as I had the box out from under the computer table she was right there. I had to take box and kittens to DH to hold while I transferred the kits to another box temporarily so I could take the soiled papers out. Stormy insisted on getting in the temporary box with the kittens. Once I had the papers changed and the kittens back in their nesting box and back under the table, Stormy settled down with them again.
The kittens have grown considerably in the past week. One of them has started to open its eyes. Smoke is interested in them but has not tried to get in the box with them. He just looks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


These were all taken last night in the same time period. The top one reminds me of the three mean ghosts from Casper.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I think I figured it out. Linda presented me with a blogging award which I now show to the side. The award is "dedicated to many who nourish and enrich the spirit and creativity, camaraderie, joy and above all, ART. much art. I wish that this prize is entertaining to all those bloggers and to bloggers who day by day share this space and enrich it a little more each day." Arte Y Pico.

Now for the rules:

1. Select 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter the language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4. The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

I've gotten this far but will have to consider the rest of the process.

Back to work today after vacation thru yesterday. So glad I took the vacation for VBS. I was really worn out this year by all that went on and needed done. DH goes back to work tomorrow (his normal work week is Wednesday thru Saturday).

Sadly, the littlest kitten died overnight. This was the last born and was the smallest of the five. It was nursing well along with the other four but was not as vigorous as they were. Sad but not surprising.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Contests, kitten pics, and awards

Jen has entered a contest that has a Nikon D60 DSLR camera as the prize. She has a link to her photos on her blog and if chosen as one of the finalists will need votes to help her win. See her Friday June 20 post for the link. She has submitted wonderful photos and there are THOUSANDS of others on the site. But I think Jen has some of the best (of course).

When DH and I went to bed last night Stormy and her kittens were in the blue crate in the living room. When I woke up this morning and went to check the crate was empty. No problem, I just went into the computer room and checked the box we had placed in another of her favorite spots and sure enough there was the whole family. It is quieter in the computer room and the box is more protected from the dogs as it is in a corner sheltered by a bookcase on one side, the leg of the computer table (and a "windscreen" of poster board to block the a/c from blowing on the box) on the other and the paper shredder in front (turned off, unplugged, and no chance of it coming on accidentally).

Stormy is still ravenous and is getting fed nearly every time she comes into the kitchen. She prefers tuna, of course, and is getting her fill of it right now. We have also added pedialyte to the drinking water. I will check with the vet tomorrow to see if I should do anything else for her. She is already eating dry kitten kibble which is supposed to help pregnant and nursing mothers.

I have been given another award (I never did figure out what to do about the first one Jen gave me, have to get back to that, too). Linda has passed on an award for bloggers who contribute to the blogging community through creativity, design, and interesting material. As soon as I figure out what/how to do it I will pass it on to others as well. Just too tired to figure it out tonight. But thank you so much, Linda. (See how tired I am, I almost forgot to say thanks and I really mean it.)

Darla and I packed away VBS for another year today. This meant multiple trips up and down three flights of church steps to store the decorations, etc., after first taking it all down and packing it in containers. We didn't get it all put away. Darla says she will do the rest over the next week or so herself as it will be stored in her third floor office area for the most part. Sister Beth stopped at the church on her way home from her churches in Cameron and we packed my craft supplies in the Tahoe then came home and she backed across the field to the gate and we unpacked the Tahoe and DH and I went up and down basement stairs getting it all inside and out of the way.

We are already making plans for next year. We hope to do the next in this series which is supposed to be Paul and the disciples in Rome. Many of the decorations we have will be suitable for this as well but I anticipate more yard sales in the future.

What a rambling post this has been just thinking with my fingers. Lovely to do. Here are a few non-feline pics I have taken recently.

Oh, yes, the day lilies are blooming too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

VBS Last Day and new beginnings

Friday was the final day of VBS for 2008. There was a new mural painted by Darla.

We finished the clothespin crosses

and came up with several ideas for using the left-over springs.

The kids played outside again,

practiced their songs then sang their songs for parents

and we ate pizza.
Parents were pleased and kids were active and all the adult participants said "Ahhhhhh!" as we put our feet up.

I only took my potted plants and some other items home Friday night. We will do the packing away Sunday after church.

The sky was beautiful, tinged with pink and delivering several nice shots.

But the evening wasn't over yet. Stormy cat delivered her babies last night after I got home. I was sitting in my recliner and she decided she wanted to sit with me in spite of the fact that my dog Sassy was already on my lap. So Stormy settled on my shoulder and chest. Just after 10 pm she started having contractions but showed no other signs of distress. Then at 10:15 I felt dampness on my shoulder and almost before I could get her in the birthing box we had placed between our chairs she delivered the first of 5 kittens.

The last was born at 1:03 am. All 5 are vigorous and suckling and cry for momma if she leaves them for even a moment. There are two black, two grey tiger stripes, and one black with white feet, nose, chin, and chest.

Smoke has been interested but has not tried to get in the box with them.

This was not a planned pregnancy and steps will be taken to prevent a repeat but they are so sweet right now. We are presently vastly outnumbered with 2 humans, 2 dogs and now 7 cats in this small house.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hoops Frisbees and Pins - Day 4

Last night the kids discovered themselves challenged on the playground. The purpose of the activity was to sail the frisbee into the hoop. The first team to reach 21 points won. Simple, right? It took them nearly the whole play period to achieve the goal. The little ones lost interest and climbed fences and such but the older kids could not believe they could not do this easily. Each team finally did reach 21 points.

Inside I tried to get a group photo of the kids in front of Darla's mural but everytime I clicked someone decided to change position. The joy of photographing children.

We finished the crosses last night for all those who were there. Our older kids (only 4 of those who started the crosses) were still missing for various reasons. I was so busy I forgot to take pictures of the completed crosses. I will have to remember tonight. I have a few partially completed crosses for anyone who did not come on either Wednesday or Thursday to finish tonight.

Our last night is tonight and there is no planned craft, just finishing up what needs finished and packing up supplies and decorations.

At home I let the dogs out and started over to Mom and Dad's to share the evening's activities with them. Sassy discovered a baby robin in the grass near the garage and chased it down the sidewalk. She actually had her mouth around it but never clamped down and the little thing made its escape under the gate. It fluttered and hopped its way into the bushes down by the front of the house and I later heard the parents and babe cheeping at each other there.

And the evening sky

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And on the third day ...

Glorious weather last evening, cool and sunny so the kids got to play outside and I finally remembered to go out and take pictures of them. It was some form of kick ball (adapted for the wide age range we have at VBS this year) and most of the kids participated gladly.

We had a few holdouts who thought they were too old to play with little kids

and some of the younger ones elected to try fence climbing and rope jumping instead.

But a good time it was.

The craft on Wednesday was the first day of construction of the Clothespin Crosses. The springs were removed ahead of time to cut down on pinches (my helper and I only suffered a few of those ourselves) and each child got a shirt box, wax paper, and deconstructed pins. Instead of individual glue bottles I poured the glue into small cups and gave them coffee stirrers to apply it with in hopes of cutting down on glops of glue. It seemed to work.

Even the holdouts from the playground were persuaded to join in and along with adult help we made good headway. All components are ready for the final assembly tonight.

Some of our older kids were away for ballgames and were not there last night but if they come tonight they will have opportunity to make a cross also. Unfortunately I cannot supply the large frames for each cross but each child will glue their cross to colorful paper backed by cardstock and will transport it home in the shirt boxes donated by a local store.

My feet have hurt so much from the concrete floor as I rarely sit down during VBS. Yesterday afternoon my DH suggested I get some of those gel insoles to put in my shoes. He was going to the drugstore and picked up some for me. Hallelujah! Peevishly I asked why he didn't think of this sooner but I am very very grateful. Now if we could do something for my lower back from bending over the tables to help kids ...

Another beautiful night sky to end the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Towers and Trumpets

I always have something simple for the kids to do when they begin arriving to try to cut down on the possibility of misbehavior. Last night it was building the Tower of Babel. The book said to use gumdrops, jelly beans, and marshmallows but I wanted to cut down on the sugar ingestion and knew the building supplies would be too tempting. So I cut up some foam pool noodles into different shapes and sizes and let the kids go with toothpicks and foam. They were creative ...

We had a guest speaker come to talk to the children about some Jewish traditions, etc. He was wonderful and explained things very clearly so that even we adults were fascinated by him. The kids answered and asked questions and were generally very good.


I have a book that gives materials and directions for making simple trumpets. Of course I adapted it for what we had available. The directions said to use funnels for the bell of the trumpet. We couldn't find a local supply cheaply enough and sister Beth came up with the most wonderful idea. We used the tops of water bottles that we saved ourselves or snatched from the kids when they finished with a bottle at VBS. We had a garden hose available (I spent the morning cutting it into 10" sections) and with just the hose, the bottle tops (thanks to the parents for helping cut those), duct tape, and aluminium foil we made trumpets.

I told the kids these were special trumpets. They only work thru the power of the mind. You can blow and blow and not make a sound or lo and behold you can make the most glorious noise!

They seranaded the kitchen staff with their trumpets and it should have been heard in Heaven.

We have enough left over supplies to do it again but the adults all voted for not this year.

The sky was beautiful again on the way home and I got a few pics of that too.

Tonight we start on the Clothespin Crosses. With the wide age range we have I am not certain how this one will go but I am determined that each child will take home a nice cross.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

VBS 2008 Day 1

Whew! Day 1 of Jerusalem Marketplace was wonderful. We usually have the decorating and set-up done at least the day before but this year, for various reasons, we had to do the set-up the same day VBS started.

(You can skip this paragraph if you want, it is all about the journey to the church and I just want to remember it.) DH, sister Beth, and I packed both my car and Dad's Tahoe in various intensities of rain around 11:30 am. Then I went directly to church and Beth took Mom to the hospital to find out what would be happening with Dad. All the way (3 miles or so) from home to church I am seeing patches of blue instead of solid grey (and singing "Blue skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see" as a prayer). I passed in front of the local volunteer fire department just as the siren went off indicating an emergency. Never saw the trucks leave the building though. Parked on the sidewalk in front of church and in light sprinkles Darla and I unloaded my car along with the preacher April. We finished just as Beth arrived in the Tahoe and I moved my vehicle so she could have the favored position and we unpacked the Tahoe. The reason I mention all this is the steps/stairs. All of my supplies were in my basement. So DH and I were up and down my basement stairs carrying decorations and supplies out the back door and out to my car which had been parked near the gate in the lot between Mom & Dad's and our house. What didn't fit in the car was carried the rest of the way across the field to the Tahoe. At church it is only 3 steps up into the building but a flight of stairs down into the fellowship hall. Then I spent the rest of the day walking on a hard concrete floor.

Darla, April and I spent the next 6 hours setting up for VBS. Darla painted some wonderful panels this year.

We also hung some of the panels from last year to complete the Marketplace and set up little tableaus in places as well. I took my potted herbs up so the kids can experience where those flavors they don't yet know they really like come from and let the kids pluck leaves to taste during the VBS.

We set up my craft area much the same as last year. Darla and I both weren't sure we had so many tables last year but I am glad we set up as many as we did. The kids got to spread out for craft time and no one was bumping against anyone else. I think we used every chair counting the parents and adult helpers.

I didn't do a "window" this year but everyone commented they really like how my display looks. Many of the items on the shelf are yard sale finds including the gourd dipper on the top left, the bottles, cups and pitchers in various locations, the seashell lamp near the center, the cutting board on the right hand side of the table, etc. You can just catch a glimpse on the far right of the clothespin cross the kids will do later this week.

We were ready at 5:45 when the kids started arriving and kept going thru 8 pm. Eighteen kids and parents/grandparents the first night. Wonderful. The only time I sat down was when we had snack time.

The minister, April, led the singing with the kids.
I really love the music this year, too. I am enjoying this Holyland VBS series. I miss Jen who can't help this year because of bad migraines but we are still going to have a glorious time.

When we left the church around 8:30 the clouds to the south were amazing. The photo does not do justice to the enormous white mounds that were lit by the setting sun.

By the time I got home the clouds were tinged with orange from the lowering sun.

Then I went over to Mom & Dad's to check on them as Dad got home from the hospital yesterday. Beth wasn't able to do VBS yesterday as she had to provide transportation for them and stayed home to be sure someone was there if Dad needed help on his first day home. I showed them all the pictures and talked about who all was there and discovered that we had had dime-sized hail in Moundsville during some of the storms that passed thru during the afternoon when I was safely within the church basement and barely aware of the thunder (although the lights did flicker once). After that it was home, shower (oh, how welcome that was) and then sitting in my chair in the living room with DH watching Transformers again and barely staying awake. It was a very good tired, though.

Day 2 tonight and they get to make trumpets.