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Friday, December 27, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost Ready for Christmas and Some Exciting News

A family fun day decorating cookies, watching the Colts beat Kansas City (GO COLTS) and best of all spending time with my fabulous family - we had a great time.

Oh and our exciting news - Grandchild number 5 is on it's way, congratulations to our daughter Amber and her husband Brad as they prepare to welcome their fourth little bundle of joy in late August. Will this new baby continue the tradition and be a fourth boy for Amber and Brad, or will little Alivia finally have a girl cousin?? Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gingerbread Train Runnin All Day, Gingerbread Train Takes Your Gingerbread Men Away.....

The Gingerbread Train
An impromptu FUN project completed today by Bean and fabulous baker helpers, Henry, Patrick and Charlie.
Baker's ready for action, aprons and hats on. Okay not official baker hats but tea cozies work well!
Henry decided early this morning that he wanted to design a gingerbread house only it was going to be a train. Okay I said, have at it. Ten minutes later Henry finished his drawing of the gingerbread train.
The train plan, Henry drew arrows with the steam to show which way it was supposed to blow.
Now we needed a mock up, fortunately Patrick and Charlie had finished off the Weetabix this morning so we had a nice size piece of cardboard to work with. After some measuring, cutting, taping and gluing we had a mock up of our gingerbread train.
The "weetabix" train mock up.
Next it was time to make the gingerbread, a monstrosity mixture of molasses, spices, butter, eggs, brown sugar and sixteen cups of flour. We combined, mixed, kneaded, and then wrapped the massive quantity of dough in wax paper and moved it to the refrigerator for half an hour.  Then we rolled the dry mixture into two large baking sheets and baked for thirty minutes.

Henry the gingerbread train designer.
The gingerbread has to be cut while it is very warm from the oven, using our mock up we cut to size all the pieces that we needed for assembly. The bread cooled and next we prepared a very stiff mix of icing to cement the train together. I then thinned the icing a little and we went to town decorating the gingerbread train with all kinds of candy, we ate some candy too :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doctor Who Scarf

A fun project to work on is a Doctor Who scarf, my Mom gave me the pattern, she found it over at Doctor Who scarf . I used Bernat yarn, the colors and price were just right. I enjoyed the Doctor Who TV show growing up, my sister and I watched it every Saturday afternoon. I really liked episodes with the Daleks, Doctor Who's arch enemies. I watched Doctor Who in the seventies, John Pertwee played the doctor and after him Tom Baker. I met Tom Baker once on a school field trip to the Corn Exchange in Bury St. Edmunds and have his autograph. Many of the Doctor Who episodes are now on Netflix.
One fond memory I have of Doctor Who is from January 29th, 1972, the day my youngest sister was born. My mom was in heavy labor and the midwife arrived at our house. My dad, sister and I, we were eight and six, hung out in the living room. I think my dad was getting pretty stressed out so the midwife called her son to tell him she was sending us his way. My dad drove us to the midwife's house, he sat in the kitchen drinking cup after cup of tea with the midwife's son, and my sister and I sat in the living room and watched Doctor Who. Finally the phone rang, it was the midwife calling to say my sister was born so we hurriedly headed home on a chilly January evening. We arrived at the house and my dad took us into the bedroom where my mom was sitting up in bed with our brand new baby sister!

Pictures of the scarf in the making:
A good start.

About a third of the way done.
Finished scarf, about twelve feet long.

Who is hiding behind that enormous scarf??

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Brief Vacation

Last month my daughter Amber, the grandsons, and myself headed south to visit my parents at their new home in Tavares, FL. We left on a Tuesday around four in the afternoon, figuring it would be best to get most of the driving out of the way through the night as the little boys slept. Eighteen hours later we arrived at my parents house and we were all very glad to get out of the van! A hot cup of tea was waiting for me and it was very refreshing and perked me up quite nicely.  Amber and the boys immediately wanted to swim, so into the pool they went, Henry became quite the swimmer during our few days visiting.
My parents bought their new home in March of this year with the plan to make it open for all of us to use as a wonderful place to vacation.
Tavares is located about thiry miles north west of Orlando, and is about an hours drive to either coast, being so centrally located makes it ideal for planning day trips.  The house sits on Lake Harris, a massive lake, just shy of 14, 000 acres, it connects to several other lakes, and if you desire you can cross lake after lake and go through various channels and rivers and ultimately end up in the Atlantic ocean.
My parents took us all out on their pontoon, it was a beautiful sunny day simply perfect for a boat ride. We headed across Lake Harris, through the dead river, into Lake Eustis, down the Dora Canal into the Mt. Dora Lake, we then docked and took a stroll around Tavares.  A little later we headed back to the pontoon, chased off all of the birds who decided it was a wonderful place to perch, and retraced our journey home.
Another day we took a drive to Homosassa Springs located on the western side of Florida.  There is a lovely state park, Homosassas Springs State Park, a winter home to many manatees, and a permanent home to several captive manatees. The park is a delight, well worth a visit. As well as manatees there are many birds to see, owls, eagles, flamingos, to name a few, a lovely old fellow Lou the Hippopotamus who is fifty years old, aligators, black bear, foxes, and a reptile house with lots of little creatures who thankfully are safely kept behind glass. Other than Lou, all the birds and animals are native to Florida. While walking around the park we discovered a very small creature lying in a crack in the sidewalk, it was obviously injured, my mom and Amber, Patrick and Charlie stood guard while Henry and I went to find help. In the nature building we found three retirees, all volunteers at the park, who were quite excited with the thought of an adventure. Henry, the three park volunteers and myself all headed back to the injured creature. It turned out to be a baby flying squirrel, one of the volunteers called for emergency back up and we continued our tour of the park. A little later we checked back with the volunteers and found out that the little squirrel was in a warming bed and would be transferred to a rehabilitation center for flying squirrels run by a lady called Mary. We were glad that we had had some part in rescuing the poor little squirrel.
We visited a beach on the Gulf of Mexico and dipped our toes into the surf and another day we headed over to the east coast to New Smyrna Beach to see the Atlantic ocean. New Smyrna is a good place to visit, we walked around a farmers market, it was strange to me that it was essentially the same as the farmers market we have in Fort Wayne, selling identical things packaged almost identically, very strange! A man was playing calypso music at the market, it was perfect, the sun was shining and it was very hot, we purchased a bag of kettle corn and headed to the beach.
It was a perfect day for the beach, a light breeze, ample sunshine, warm water, seventy-seven degrees warm, and lots and lots of sand. I built a sandcastle, we all played in the surf, ate popcorn, played ball, sat in the sun, and did all the usual going to the beach activities, it was wonderful.
It was a great, albeit brief, vacation, and I hope to run down to Florida again with Dave sometime in January for a few days of fun in the sun.

Turtles at Homosassas

My mummy with two of her great-grandsons

Lou the Hippo

The baby flying squirrel. He was much photographed by us and the park volunteers!

A manatee

I wouldn't trust that smile if I was you.

A splendid eagle

Amber and two of the boys standing in the Gulf of Mexico

My mom enjoying the shade

A view of Lake Harris at sunset

The boathouse at sunset

The pontoon First Mate

The pontoon Captain

The Dora Canal

Trees in the Dora Canal

Amber and her boys enjoying the pontoon

Pontoon rides are very relaxing

My splendid sand castle, it took the boys no time at all to demolish it!

You can't go to the beach without someone getting buried in the sand :)

A view of New Smyrna Beach looking south

Amber and Charlie paddling in the Atlantic