Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Cookies: Recipes and Cookie Cutter Hacks

Elisabeth and I decorated Christmas cookies this week to share with family over the holiday weekend. We are a long way from professional cookie makers, but we had fun and were very pleased with the results. 
We were inspired by an idea we first encountered on a episode of the Christmas Cookie Challenge to "hack" a cookie cutter shape into something other than the primary intention. It is a lot harder than it sounds, but I managed to hack an angel into a nativity lamb, while Elisabeth made a mistletoe out of a snowflake. 
I've used these Christmas Cookie and Icing recipes a few times and I'm fairly pleased with them. I have never used any other however. If you have a recipe that you prefer, please share in the comments so we can try it out.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Dog Sitting Annie

The absolute biggest perk to homeschooling is not being on a fixed schedule. This flexibility allows us to be away for extended periods to travel or, in this case, help out my parents while they get away. We are very fortunate to have this alternative lifestyle and cognizant that not every family has this choice. I was reminded this week how fortunate we are and I am thankful. Annie is too!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Painting "The Settling Sun"

Another art piece by Elisabeth Rose (acrylic on canvas) and entitled by her admiring brother.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pawn Stars

On our recent trip to Nevada, we spent less than 24 hours in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, we squeezed in everything we ever wanted to do while there into those few hours including a visit to the pawn shop featured in the show Pawn Stars. We did not stay long and we didn't buy, sell or pawn anything. The stars of the show were not there - I daresay they leave town during the hot summer months. However, it was interesting to see some of the stuff in the shop - everything from Star Wars toys and memorabilia to confederate money and Picasso prints. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

This Fashion Designer/Artist is Growing Up

I recently made it known to Elisabeth where the fabric markers were stored. The very next day she takes an old soccer shirt from a couple of seasons ago and transforms it with beads and all - no help or input needed. Creativity blossoms from this girl on a daily basis. She has such a sense of herself that I did not have until I was 30. I love that she is not afraid to stand out, wear bright colors and proudly wear her own creation. 
When she is around, there is color and laughter and beauty and fun. I am so very thankful God gave me this girl nine years ago despite my fears about mothering a daughter.
Happy birthday my dear, sweet, spunky Elisabeth. As this shirt so perfectly illustrates, you make my heart smile.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano
After spending most of the day at the Grand Canyon, we drove south and saw signs for Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Having only lived on the east coast of North America, anything having to do with a volcano seems foreign and intriguing. We were passing right by it. I could not resist so we made u-turn and I'm so glad we did. We stayed long enough to walk through the 900 year old Bonito Lava Flow and sit and ponder the rust-rimmed cone before continuing on toward Meteor Crater.
A walk through lava rock with Sunset Crater in the background
Black ash is everywhere
Lava flow rock formations

Monday, July 03, 2017

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater or Barringer Crater
Meteor Crater is about a mile in diameter and was formed around 50,000 years ago when a meteor weighing several thousand tons struck the earth. This place is a striking and unforgettable sight. It was featured in the 1984 movie Starman and was used by NASA astronauts to train for the Apollo missions to the moon.
There are viewpoints along one edge of the rim. Meteor Crater is on privately owned property and admission is required. An optional 30 minute tour is included with admission. In the visitor center, there are several interpretive displays that discuss the history of the site as well as a video devoted to how the impact crater was created. A gift shop and Subway restaurant is available.
The visitor center houses the largest meteorite found in the surrounding area and is believed to have been part of the meteor that made the impact crater. One would not think it by just looking at it but this meteorite weighs over 1,406 lbs.
Naturally occurring processes are degrading the impact site but after 50,000 years it is still very impressive and will remain so for centuries to come. We first visited this site nearly 10 years ago with a one year old Jonah. He should remember this most recent visit.


Friday, June 30, 2017

The Grand Canyon Overwhelms the Senses

The Grand Canyon in June 2017
On our first visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon 10 years ago, we experienced a vivid landscape near sunset. It was also autumn with cooler temperatures and perhaps a bit clearer air. 
This was Elisabeth's first trip to the Grand Canyon. Jonah was barely a year old when Kelly and I first visited. I was freshly impacted by the views but it did seem that it was perhaps a little less striking than in our memory. The difference in the time of day, time of year, and the fact that a prescribed forest fire was taking place meant more haze and less than ideal lighting for clearly distinguishing the rich beauty and magnitude of this grandest of canyons. That being said, it is extremely difficult to comprehend the dimensions and vastness of this space under any circumstance. 
While that last visit may have been a more ideal time of day and year, every visit is unique and overwhelms the senses. I am all for making multiple trips of varying lengths to see this iconic landmark it all it's wondrous glory. God willing, the next time perhaps we will hike down into its depths to help actualize the true size and shape of it all.
The Grand Canyon in October 20017

All the following photos are from this most recent trip.
Cactus Flower

Sego Lily (State Flower of Utah) on the South Rim of Grand Canyon
Elk at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Rock Squirrel

The Colorado River at the east end of the Grand Canyon

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rhyolite: a Gold Mining Ghost Town

Rhyolite Ghost town with Cook Bank building, school house and Overbury Building.
Roadside signage for Rhyolite
Upon leaving Death Valley, we stopped just over the border in Nevada at a deserted gold-mining town for a rather hot picnic lunch. There are a couple of picnic tables by an old train car and a nearby pit toilet but no shade anywhere or we would have perhaps stayed a bit longer to explore. 

Train Car in Rhyolite Ghost town
Then again, maybe not. If your conscience isn't affected by the "protect your heritage" sign, fear will compel your compliance with the second "warning" sign - yikes!

Bureau of Land Management signage at Rhyolite
Cook Bank building
We did enter the chain link fence to check out the house made of bottles. I thought the fence was there to protect the glass from those who would do it harm and that it was probably built recently as a way to draw in tourists. When I read the information on the brochure I was shocked to discover that it was over 100 years old and part of the original town. Apparently it was built as a raffle prize and was subsequently used as a residence by the winning family for many years.
Tom Kelley Bottle House in Ryolite

Tom Kelley Bottle House Built 1906

Close-up of Tom Kelley Bottle House construction
The old train station has a fence around it and the roof looks new. So some effort has been made to at preservation. I would think there is lots of potential for further development as a tourist destination - picnic shelters would be a good start.
Train Station Depot in Rhyolite

Rhyolite Train Station
Overall, Rhyolite made for an interesting diversion if not the best picnic venue on a blazing June day. Considering it was our very first visit to a "ghost town," I thought it well worth a short stop even in the heat.