Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We're Ready For The Tooth Fairy

A week ago my daughter and her husband had the pleasure of attending a Neil Diamond concert in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  My daughter isn't quite forty years old but she loves this seventy four year old singer.  It was an evening concert so rather than stay with our grandson at their house, we had Ewan and the dog Piper stay overnight with us.  Ewan came packed with everything he could possibly need.  His backpack was like Mary Poppin's bag.  He unpacked all his exploring supplies like a journal and a magnifying glass with a tweezers to identify and record anything we found.  He had a telescope, his pet rock, markers, books, paper, his clothes, toothbrush, a plush rabbit he had recently won in a drawing,

and last but not least he brought his tooth pillow just in case he lost a tooth.  He is only five and hasn't lost a tooth yet, but you have to be prepared.  I'm sure I am forgetting some of the treasures he brought, but the tooth pillow is what I want to tell you about.

Back in 1980 when my youngest daughter was five, we acquired a tooth pillow.  I thought I made it but my daughter has a memory of buying it at a place in Madison Wisconsin that sold crafts.  If I didn't make this one, I am sure I made others or repaired this one several times.

This pillow is made with two squares of fabric about six inches square.  The gingham check makes it even easier to cut two pieces the same size.  All you do is count the squares.  Then take smaller piece of fabric to make a pocket.  Sew the pocket on the outside of one of the squares, put the right sides together and sew almost all around, turn it right side out, stuff it with some batting and hand sew it shut.  There you have it, a tooth pillow.  Then when the child has lost their tooth, they put it in the pocket so the tooth fairy can retrieve it easily and leave them some money.  My daughter used this pillow for all of her teeth and her oldest son used it for all of his teeth.  Inflation has even hit the tooth fairy business.  My daughter probably got a dime or a quarter, our grandson got two dollar bills and I imagine the going rate is even more.  I heard some child say they got a five dollar bill.   

I am so glad Ewan brought this with him as I had forgotten about this memory.  He also carries a handkerchief in his pocket just like his papa.   Many years ago when papa was in school, his first grade teacher would check every day to make sure the kids had clean finger nails and carried a handkerchief.  It carried through life and my husband always has a white handkerchief in his pocket.  Ewan noticed that and is continuing the tradition. He won't leave home without a handkerchief in his pocket.  Oh to be five again.  Then again, maybe not.  I would pee my pants at recess so I could go home.  Not a pleasant memory but one I will always remember.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cheesy Vegetable and Ham Soup

Last week we stopped at our local Kwik Trip for gasoline, bananas, eggs and butter.  I saw the bags of soup they have for sale.  They have a lot of different varieties to choose from.  A few weeks earlier, I saw a man buying several bags of soup and thought I would try one some day.  I decided to try the cheesy ham and broccoli soup.  I brought it home and heated it up for my dad's lunch.  He really enjoyed it, but I really hate to pay extra money for things I am capable of making myself.  Today I thought I would try my own version.  It would either turn out or it would not.  No matter how it tasted, it would be edible because you can't go too wrong with good ingredients.  I made a variation of a soup I have blogged about a couple of times.

Cheesy Vegetable and Ham Soup

6 cups water

4 T.  or 6 cubes of Ham Base Bouillon
 (look for the brand with the least amount of additives.  Some have MSG and corn syrup solids.  I bought mine at the local bulk food store, but it still had some marginal ingredients.  If you are really ambitious, cook a ham bone and make your own ham broth)

1 cup chopped onion
1 24 oz. pkg. mixed vegetables

Bring water and bouillon to a boil and add the onion and vegetables.  Boil for about five minutes.

Add 2 cans of cream of chicken soup and 2 cans of water.
 ( I used my own homemade cream of chicken soup equivalent to 2 cans of soup)*

Add 12 oz. package of American cheese slices
1 8 oz. package of diced ham

My dad likes thin soup but for those who like a thicker soup, extra diced potatoes, broccoli or more vegetables could be added or use less water.

I may have blogged this recipe already, but I don't remember what I have posted at this point.

*Cream of Chicken Soup Mix

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp white pepper

Combine all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  You can add spices or adjust the amount of spice to your taste.

To prepare combine 1/3 cup mix and 1 1/4 cup water in a saucepan.  Heat slowly and whisk until smooth and thickened.  This is equivalent to 1 can of soup.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bluebirds Are Back In 2015

Last summer was the first year without bluebirds nesting in one of our bluebird houses.  We had bluebirds every year since we bought our house in 2002.

It was a very disappointing time for me,  but last Saturday, April 11, a pair of bluebirds returned to our yard. I was so excited.  I hope they build a nest soon, but so far they are just hanging out.  This is the third day, and they are still here.  Stay tuned.   The tree swallows have also returned.  They have had some minor squabbles with the bluebirds over who gets which house, but nothing has been determined.  It will be interesting to see what happens because after all the fighting, they always end up in the same houses.  The houses are the same shape but one is gray and one is natural wood.  The tree swallows get the gray and the bluebirds choose the natural wood.  I have no idea why.

I am so fortunate to be able to take photos from my windows.  This bluebird was right outside the kitchen window.  I leave the dried lamb's ear flowers in the garden all winter.  The birds love to sit on them and pose for the pictures.

This is the female bluebird sitting on the same dried lamb's ear flower.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Northern Shovelers and Blue Wing Teal

This past week was cold and rainy, however the past two day were perfect.  The weather was sunny and bright for a change.

At this time of year, I like to feature some of the birds or ducks that we have seen.  A lot are migratory and only stop to rest before moving further north.  Most of my facebook friends have seen these photos, but I like to repost for those who haven't seen them.

These ducks are called Northern Shovelers.  They have a wide-flat bill.  The female is rather plain and looks like a female mallard duck except her bill is flat.  The male has a green head with chestnut brown sides.  Here are a few photos I took from the window.  I think they are beautiful.

Many ducks migrate through the area.  I have written about these shovelers and many others in the past.  If you would like to see some of the other ducks we see,  just use the search box on the blog home page.

One duck I have mentioned is the Blue Wing Teal.  They are very common so this Spring I was able to get a few extra photos of them.