Monday, January 28, 2008

Riddle #5: Identical Drinks

Here's a new riddle. (I think I'll try to post one per week -- at least until I run out of riddles. LOL.)

Two people went into a restaurant and ordered identical drinks. One drank his drink quickly and lived. The other drank his drink slowly and died. Why?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. Please see the comments section for the answer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mahoney State Park

After more than a week of bitter cold, we had a welcome January thaw. Perfect weather for a homeschool gathering for Mahoney State Park that was planned for today. The girls enjoyed ice skating with their friends. Because the rink was shaded, most of the ice was still good.

A friend and I took a walk in the park. The paths were still snowy, so we had to stick to the roads, but it still gave us an opportunity to enjoy the sights.

OK, it wasn't THAT warm!

After skating the girls played in the indoor playland with some of their friends. That's my two on the right.

The inevitable "silly pose."

Roast Vegetables

We made roast vegetables this week. It's fairly easy. Start by cutting up several kinds of veggies. Here we used tomatoes, onions, peppers and broccoli. We have also used potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini.

Put the veggies in a bowl that has a lid. (I use Tupperware.) In a separate bowl, combine olive oil with an all-purpose spice mixture. We often use Misty's Seasoning, which is available locally. This week we used Weber Grill Creations Chicago Steak seasoning. Pour the mixture over the veggies, put the lid on the bowl and shake well.

Spread the veggies on a large pan. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.

The Loaf of glory

This week we made "the loaf of glory." It's a Caribbean banana bread that is very moist, more like plum pudding (especially since we make it with an extra banana). We let the bananas get VERY ripe before making this. Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3 large bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with a wooden spoon. Beat the egg and milk together in a cup and add to the butter and sugar mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. Add the raisins and pecans. Add this mixture to the first mixture. In another bowl, peel and mash the bananas, mix in vanilla. Stir the mixture into the batter. Then pour into a loaf pan. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

We usually eat this with a fork on a plate, because it is so moist.

Recipe adapted from The Usborne Children's World
Cookbook (with our own modifications)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quiz #1: Marcia's Obsessions Trivia

I thought I'd add some fun quizzes from time to time. The first one deals with things I'm obsessed about that most people aren't familiar with. See how well you do. Hey, it's multiple choice, so you at least have a chance. No peeking in the comments section! Take the quiz first, write down your answers, and check the comments section for the real answers (and a few explanations).

Then share a comment and tell us how you did!

Good luck!

1. What is presented to the last musher to finish the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race?
A. The G. B. Jones Trophy
B. Gold Nuggets
C. The Red Lantern Award
D. A seven-course dinner

2. What was the name of the first baby born on Pitcairn Island?
A. Violent Storm Adams
B. Thursday October Christian
C. Baby Boy Quintal
D. Good Fortune Young

3. What bird do Icelandic children gather in bags at night and then release on the beach in the morning?
A. Arctic terns
B. Sandpipers
C. Penguins
D. Puffins

4. Which is NOT the name of an Irish dance?
A. Waves of Tory
B. Gates of Derry
C. Winds of Clare
D. Walls of Limerick

5. What are the Geminids?
A. An alien race in Star Trek
B. A belt of asteroids in the Milky Way
C. Equipment on the International Space Station
D. A meteor shower

6. Which one of the following trees has palmately compound leaves?
A. Ohio buckeye
B. Kentucky coffeetree
C. Swamp cypress
D. Silver maple

7. What cough drop has a "mystery cougher" who gives money to people who offer him/her that brand of cough drop?
A. Halls
B. Ricola
C. Fisherman's Friend
D. Ludens

8. What do you call your first cousin's grandson?
A. First cousin twice removed
B. Second cousin once removed
C. Third cousin
D. Fourth cousin

9. What animal did Bartolomew Perestrello bring to Porto Santo, which caused problems for the settlers?
A. Rabbit
B. Snake
C. Mouse
D. Dog

10. What do geocachers call non-geocachers who might observe them?
A. Special friends
B. The Mafia
C. Seekers
D. Muggles

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Riddle #4: Died at sea

Here's another riddle:

Cindy died at sea, and Dennis died on land. Everyone was happy when Cindy died, and everyone was even more happy when Dennis died. Why?

NOTE: The correct answer to the riddle has been guessed. To read the answer, see the Comments.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Clean desk!

Well this is a momentous occasion. I cleaned out my desk drawer! Those of you know know me personally, know how much of a struggle it is for me to keep things clean. Well, recently I lost a cassette tape, in which I had recorded an interview for an article I was working on. That caused a major panic, and I decided I needed to organize my desk. This was the result! Now I have tapes that are available for use or reuse on the left side and my "precious" tapes (interviews that I'm currently working on) in the back. Doesn't it look great! Yes, those are flower seeds in my desk. I didn't know where else to put them. I'm known for storing weird objects in abnormal places.
Next time I tackle a big project, I'll try to take a "before" picture so you can see the difference. (That may be a bit embarrassing, but hey -- it's a blog).
BTW, I found the tape -- it had fallen out of the drawer and was lodged in the side.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Riddle #3: In the Hospital

Here's another Riddle:

Sam spent three days in the hospital. He wasn't sick; he wasn't injured; and he did not have a disability. However, when he left the hospital, he had to be carried out. Why?

The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the "comments" section.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Last weekend we went out to a Japanese restaurant with some friends. The chef had a lot of fun making a "volcano" out of a stack of sliced onions.

The meat was delicious. I had beef, and some of the others had shrimp and scallions.

Ross and Evert enjoyed the meal very much.

Monica, Ashley, Carmen. Carmen is being silly in front of the camera. She's happy -- really. She should be; she's the one who "earned" the dinner for us. She and Ross played "best two out of three" Connect Four several months ago. Since Carmen won, Ross took us out for dinner. If Ross had won, she would have had to bake Ross cookies every month for a year.

I'm on the left, with Terri, showing off our expertise with chopsticks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Look Closely

Yes, there is a cat in there. We're storing a new recliner for my mom, and that's Misty peeking out from behind it.

Oh Deer!

Mary has good taste. She doesn't care much for beef. But we discovered that she loves deer meat! We recently made a deer roast, and the next day we had leftovers. Mary smelled the meat in an empty bowl, even though there was a plate on top, and she tried to move the plate to get to it. Monica kindly helped her, and this was the result.:


Saturday, January 12, 2008


We had an overabundance of apples, so we decided to make applesauce this week. Also, my mother-in-law needed to downsize when she moved to a smaller apartment, so she gave us a handy masher, which made it considerably easier. Here is the recipe we used:

3 to 4 lbs apples
4 strips of lemon peel - use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
Juice of one lemon
3 inches of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
up to 1/2 cup of white sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

We used a variety of apples, but I think it's always good to include some Granny Smith in the mix. We didn't peel them, because the masher takes care of the peels. It's healthier that way. To squeeze the lemon, we used the citrus squeezer from Pampered Chef.

1 Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
2 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.
Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated.
Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.

Adapted fromSimply Recipes

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Interesting Trees

You can spot some strange trees on East Campus. This one is especially odd. It's a weeping Eastern White Pine. Kind of a sorry, little thing that doesnt bear much resemblance to the stately Eastern White Pine. Yet it's kind of fun in its own way.

This one is a weeping mulberry. It makes a great canopy in the summer. Kids can't help but run underneath. In the winter, with the leaves gone, you can focus on the branches, which intertwine in a fascinating way.

The baldcypress has the distinction of being one of the few deciduous conifers. (Another one is the larch, but it doesn't usually grow around here). The vine growing on it makes a great touch. I have no idea why it is still green in the middle of January.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Riddle #2: Bankrupt

Here's another riddle to challenge all you wise readers:

A man pushes a car up to a hotel, and immediately he knows he's bankrupt. Why?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. Please look at the comments to see the answer.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Snowy Prairie

The snow is finally melting! After weeks of freezing weather, we've had a few days in the 40s. There is a special kind of beauty in the patches of snow fading away. I took this picture at the nearby arboretum on East Campus:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Painting "Happy Little Trees"

This week we turned our dining room into an art studio. This photo shows Carmen at work.

We put on a DVD of Bob Ross painting "Days Gone By," one of his many paintings. What took him a half an hour took us more than six hours. We would play a few minutes of the program, hit pause and then try to recreate what he had done, using his signature two-inch brush, one-inch brush, fan brush, Script liner brush and palette knife.

Our friend Abi painting. "Let's give this tree a friend. Everyone needs a friend."

Monica mixing paint, getting ready to add some bushes that "live in her world."

Monica's Finished Painting

Carmen's finished painting

Abi's finished painting

Marcia's Finished Painting

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Cookies

Every New Year's Eve we make New Year's cookies, also called "Porzelchen" (High German) or "Niejoash koake" (Low German). These raisin fritters have been made by German Mennonites for many generations. The High German name means "Tumbling Over" because they turn over by themselves when they are dropped into deep fat. The photo shows Monica dropping the dough into the fat.

Here's the recipe:
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon yeast
4-5 cups flour

Scald the milk (heat it until it starts to bubble), then let it cool to lukewarm. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I knead the dough a bit and add the raisins last. Then cover and let rise until double.

Heat oil on medium heat to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to keep the temperature consistent. Drop the dough into the hot oil and fry until brown. The Niejoash koake will turn over when they are done.

Drain on paper towels, then roll in granulated sugar.

We brought our Niejoash koake to a New Year's Eve gathering, where they were a big hit, especially with the youngest members of the group.
The recipe is adapted from Off the Mountain Lake Range, a cookbook produced by the Gopher Historians of 1958. The following Low German nursery rhyme is also taken from the book:

Eck sach den Shornsteen Roacke.
Eck visst voll vaut ye moacke.
Ye backte Niejoash Koake.
Yave ye me eane
Dann bliev eck stoane
Yave ye me twea
Dann fang eck aun to goane
Yave ye me drea, fea, feef toaglick
Donn vensch eck you daut gaunse Himmelrick.

English Translation:
I saw your chimney smoking.
I knew what you were making.
You were baking New Year's Cookies.
Give me one -- I stand still.
Give me two -- I start walking.
Give me three, four, five at once,
Then I wish you the Kingdom of Heaven.

First photo: Misty

Of course the first photo of
2008 features one of our cats. This morning our little Misty scrunched herself into a shoebox, and Evert took this shot of her. You can look forward to more cat pictures throughout the year. I'm sure Sally and Mary will stike some great poses soon.

What is Project365?

Project365 is a blog ring made up of members of a homeschooling e-mail group I belong to. The challenge is to take one photo every day of the year and post it to your blog. I've joined the challenge this year. However, the rules are more like guidelines, so some are going to post once a week (more like a project 52). I plan to post 7 photos per week, but not necessarily one from every day. Membership is limited to members of our e-mail list. However, anyone can view the blogs. Just click on "next" on the "Project 365" logo on the right side of my blog. On every blog you'll find another "Project 365" logo, where you can click "next." Eventually you'll view all the blogs (about 20 or so) and end up at mine.