It’s National Ice Cream Day!


There are a few hours left in the day, so you still have time to grab a cone or dish of your favorite flavor! We ran into Braum’s this evening and picked up three of this family’s favorites – Rocky Road, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Mint Chocolate Chip, as well as a box of waffle cones, and we are enjoying our Sunday night treat!


Summer S’mores


The other night after a nice swim, Jeff built a fire in the fire pit and we brought out the S’mores ingredients.


Pretty soon there were marshmallows roasting over the flames –


I like my marshmallows completely charred.


Final result – at least one happy camper! Yummy!


Make some fun memories with your family today!


Well . . .

. . . I haven’t actually been fishing, but I have been gone, as you might have noticed. And I have no excuses to make, sorry, but I just have been enjoying my summer and that has left little time for blogging. What have we been doing? Well, the short list includes:

    ~ Summer Theme Days

    ~ Going to the movies

    ~ 4th of July Celebrations

    ~ Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-a

    ~ Sleepovers with friends

    ~ An evening at the Ballpark

    ~ Birthday Celebrations

    ~ VBS at church

The long list would include library trips, reading, horseback lessons, ice skating, and lots and lots of swimming.

I have begun to feel the pull of Fall; however, (maybe these 106 degree temps have something to do with it) and am feeling the desire to think about plans, routines, and back to school. This hopefully will put me back into the blogging mode, as well! I have much to share and will return asap to get started on that!

Hope you’re having a good day – and staying cool wherever you are!


Dirt Cups

Our desserts for Nature Day were these delicious Dirt Cups. I came across this cute dessert idea a number of years ago – not quite sure where – maybe another magazine ad, or maybe on a Jell-O pudding box, or maybe we had them at VBS one year. I do know that not too long ago you could actually buy a box with all of the ingredients included to make these dirt cups. I didn’t see any of these prepackaged at my store, so I just put them together myself. All you need to create these is 4 ingredients:

    – 1 Package of Instant Chocolate Pudding
    – Milk
    – Oreo Cookies
    – Gummy Worms

Here’s what you do ~

1. Mix the pudding mix and milk together according to package directions. Spoon into individual cups. This is your mud!

2. Stick one end of gummy worms into pudding, leaving the other end hanging out.

3. Crush Oreo cookies. We put them in a large Ziploc bag and crushed them with my heavy wooden rolling pin. Sprinkle cookies on top of pudding. This is your dirt!

And you’re done! I made mine about an hour ahead and stored them in the refrigerator until we were ready for them, but you can certainly eat them right away if you like. This is a fun dessert for the kiddos, and the adults, too – as long as you don’t get creeped out eating the worms!


Nature Day

Our second Summer Theme Day this month was Nature Day, originally scheduled for last week, but moved to earlier this week. We started the special activities with a picnic lunch in the yard. While we ate, I read a couple of chapters from “The Story Book of Science” by Jean Henri Fabre, a wonderful storytelling book that celebrates the wonders of God’s creation.

When we finished lunch, it was time for a nature scavenger hunt. The kids took their lists and paper sacks all over the yard looking for rocks, leaves, seeds, insects and flowers, to name a few of the items. We were able to find everything on our lists except for a feather, and clover (which seems to have only been around in the spring).

It was a very hot day, but there was a strong breeze and nice shady trees overhead that made it bearable to be outside. Eventually, though, we were ready to head back into the air conditioning to cool off.

My next plan didn’t turn out so well. We piled into the van and drove about a half an hour to visit a natural science museum. We were looking forward to exploring the indoor exhibits and to walking on the nature trails. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the only discovery we made was that the museum was closed for the day. Oh well, next time I’ll remember to check the schedule before I burn up my gas! We got back in the car and started for home again – with a stop by Sonic for slushes to make the trip not a total waste!

The extra time when we got home turned out to be a good thing, because we had more time to work on our nature craft. Everyone sketched something on a small sheet of paper that they had seen in the yard that day. Then we painted wooden picture frames to put our sketches in.

We enjoyed a trail mix snack while we worked on our craft –

A few of their sketches, which they decided needed paint as well –

No, we did not see a volcano in the yard! That last one isn’t a volcano, but rather a picture of an Autumn tree – and no, we did not see an Autumn tree in the yard on this Summer day! We did see the tree, however, and this particular child decided that she preferred to paint it in Fall colors. 🙂

A few more colorful frames –

Jeff grilled out some Teriyaki chicken tenders for dinner, which we ate with brown rice and grilled zucchini and onions from the garden. For dessert, I made these yummy “Dirt Cups” to go with our nature theme. They were a huge success!

Nature day turned out to be a great day, although I was dissappointed that we had to miss the nature museum. We will make plans to go another day – when we know it will be open! – sometime soon. I’ll post the recipe for the dirt cups as soon as I can – super simple and fun!

Have a wonderful day!


Pigs in a Blanket

Here is a great idea for a fun summer meal. I have been making these for years – I’m not sure where I got my original recipe, maybe an ad in a magazine, but I’ve noticed that they sometimes have a recipe for these “Pigs” on the Crescent Roll package these days. It’s basically a hot dog stuffed with mustard and cheese, wrapped in a crescent roll, and baked until yummy! You can leave the mustard and/or the cheese out if you like – I made mine minus the mustard for years, because a certain child wouldn’t touch them otherwise (you know who you are), but am back to adding the mustard now, as that child isn’t living and dining at home anymore and is free to make his pigs anyway he wants to.

Here are the ingredients I use ~

I usually have beef hot dogs on hand, so I’m wondering if maybe I should change the name to “Cows in a Blanket” around our house?? If you buy the normal size hot dogs, you will need one tube of crescent rolls per package, but if you buy the bun-length dogs like I have in the picture, you can cut them in half, use two tubes of crescents and have double the pigs for not double the money!

The first thing you want to do is slit the hot dogs lengthwise, so that your cheese will have a pocket to fit into. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom side of the dogs! Just make a nice pocket –

Squirt a small dollop of mustard into the middle of each pocket, then use a knife to spread it along the inside length of the dog. Cut or tear your cheese slices into fourths (4 long strips) and insert one or two into each hot dog ~

At this point, if you’re using the long hot dogs, go ahead and cut them in half ~

Wrap each piggie in a crescent roll blanket – one crescent triangle per dog…or pig…or cow (this is getting to be a regular zoo!) ~

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until rolls are cooked and golden. You can brush them with egg white before baking for a shiny surface, or brush them with melted butter after baking for buttery shine – or you can leave them alone and just enjoy them plain like we did! I’m thinking that one could get really creative with this recipe and add all kinds of items – relish, onions, or maybe try it with barbecue sauce instead of the mustard. I may have to try that one next time. Enjoy!


Our MarioKart Tournament

Yesterday we held our first Summer Theme Day – a MarioKart tournament. Our MarioKart game is played on the Wii system with nifty little steering wheels that hold the Wii controllers. When you turn the steering wheel, your car turns on the screen – lots of fun!

In this game you can pick from a wide variety of Mario characters and their respective vehicles to be your racer. There are also lots of fun race tracks to choose from for each race with names like “Moo Moo Meadows” and “Mushroom Gorge”, just to name two. The game has many different options for races from single races and racers to tournaments with multi-players and multi-races.

We had seven people playing in our tournament for the day – Mom, Laura, Tommy, Sarah, Michael, Anna, and David. Dad was working from home – and was certainly not being distracted at all, certainly not! I made up a schedule ahead of time for the day which included 3 blocks of racing, with breaks for meals and snacks, and then the Finals round to determine our champion.

We raced two at a time according to the pre-planned schedule. Each person would race each other person at some point in the day. We set the game for tournament mode, meaning that each racing duo would race 2 races in a row, with each mini-tournament resulting in a winner, which was recorded on the charts next to the racers’ names. We also recorded the points earned by each racer (determined by the game), because the determination of the top two racers, who would face each other in the final round, was based on total points accumulated throughout the day. Each racer was scheduled for 2 mini-tournaments per block, for a total of 6 mini-tournaments each for the day.

We started out the first block with the game set for 4 race mini-tournaments, but soon realized that it was taking too long to play it that way, and would seriously throw us off schedule for the day, so we switched it to 2 race mini-tournaments. We cut our point scores in half for those first races to make it fair – hence the crazy markings on the above chart!

Is this all as clear as mud? Well, anyway, we had lots of fun, screaming and laughing, as we raced each other, dodging obstacles, falling off the track, and shooting mushrooms and bananas at each other. These pictures look way calmer than we actually were!

Because we adjusted our mini-tournaments to 2 races each, we ended up actually finishing earlier than planned, so we decided to hold the Finals before dinner. Tommy and Michael were our top two racers and advanced to the final round. Here they are racing on “Rainbow Road” –

To win the championship a racer had to win 2 out of 3 mini-tournaments consisting of 2 races each. And the winner of our MarioKart Tournament Day was Tommy, with Michael coming in second, and Anna placing third. They were awarded medals, candy bars, and Tommy also received a Mario keychain, which is now proudly hanging on his skate bag.

After the finals were over, we all went outdoors for a cool, refreshing swim – car racing is hard work, you know. We followed our swim up with a dinner of Spaghetti and “Mario” Meatballs, salad, and a specially decorated chocolate cake for dessert.

David has already been asking when the next MarioKart Tournament will be, so I think it was a success! Next week’s theme day will be Nature Day – probably will be a bit calmer and quieter than our racing fun!


Summer Theme Days

This summer Jeff and I decided to come up with special Summer Theme Days for the kids. I had been contemplating whether or not to do a summer camp for them like I did a few years back, but that seemed like more than I was up to this year. I did want to do something special and have special days to look forward to, so one evening we spent some time brainstorming and came up with this plan, which I think will be great fun and create some wonderful memories for all of us as well.

The plan is to set aside one day a week for a special Theme Day. The day will include a special activity, outing, or game; special themed food; and sometimes crafts. Each week the theme of the day is different. We came up with 11 fun theme days, which filled our summer, taking one week off during VBS. I will share the details about each of the themes each week as we live them, but here is the general list of the Theme Days that we have planned ~


    MarioKart Tournament
    Nature Day
    Western Day
    “Cars 2” Movie Day


    Bible Camp Day
    Wii Sports Tournament
    Hawaiian Day
    (Only 3 this month due to VBS week at church)


    Board Game Mania Day
    Mystery Day
    Wii Bowling Tournament
    Camping Day

The kids are really excited about our plans and looking forward to the fun we will have each week (me too!).

If you think you might like this idea for your family and have any questions about any of these days (since I won’t really be talking about them until they take place), I will be happy to let you know what we are thinking about ahead of time. I don’t have them all completely planned yet, but have ideas and thoughts for each of them.

Our MarioKart tournament is today, complete with special snacks and prizes for all. I’ll post more about our day in my next post.

Time to start our engines . . . Laura and I are up first in the tournament.

Have a nice day!


Our Day at Six Flags

Last week Jeff and I and six kids braved the 100+ temperatures to take our annual trip to Six Flags over Texas. We had 4 free tickets from the Six Flags Reading Club and Jeff got a good deal on the rest of them at work. We might have waited for cooler weather, but the free tickets were about to expire and we didn’t want to waste them!

We drove through McDonald’s on the way and ate lunch in the car, arriving at the park about 12:30 p.m. We coated everyone with sunscreen, loaded up the stroller and headed into the park. It was hot . . . really hot. We managed to ride a couple of rides before we had to stop and buy some water bottles.

We wrote our initials on the bottles and kept them on the stroller all day, refilling at water fountains. I think this really got us through the day. We found out later in the day that free ice water was available at all of the food stands, so we took advantage of that too.

We spent the day walking around the park, taking turns riding the rides that each one wanted to ride. There were a lot of people there, which really surprised me – I guess we Texans are a courageous bunch – or maybe just not very smart! We would duck into the stores periodically to get a blast of air conditioning, and check out the merchandise. Most of the time was spent riding –

We had snacks about mid-afternoon – you can really see the effects of the heat in these pictures! Jeff and the big kids were off riding the Titan while the rest of us sat in the shade –

We were glad to get inside in a “semi-” air conditioned building to watch the Looney Tunes characters put on a show. We sat right up front which was fun for the kids (but really loud!) –

After a few more roller coasters and a pizza dinner, we boarded the train for a trip around the park – always a favorite attraction.

Another favorite, especially for the littles, was the Yosemite Sam ride – a boat ride that takes you through a tunnel filled with Looney Tunes scenes –

Jeff took the big kids to the top of the tower – the littles, me, and my fear of heights stayed at ground level. Jeff took this great picture up there in the sky –

Evening, and it was still very hot, but we were glad for the little relief that the sun’s setting gave us. David got to meet one of his favorite characters – Scooby Doo – actually it was Scrappy Doo, but noone could tell him that!

We ended up staying until closing, which was preceded by a “Glow in the Park” parade at 9:45 p.m. This was really neat with floats and people all dark except for the beautiful lights that they wore. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of it – I was just too tired to pull out the camera at that point!

As we headed back to the van, we were tired, sweaty, and had achey feet, but we were all satisfied with the day, and have fond memories of our time there. David is still asking if we’re going back again “in the morning”.


Blackberry Cobbler

This recipe is near and dear to my heart, as it is famous in our family. It is my Grandmama’a berry cobbler recipe – which brings back memories from my childhood of summer vacations spent at Grandmama and Grandaddy’s house in North Carolina, complete with cousins, roll-a-bat, and always – without exception – berry cobbler.

On one of those summer vacations, when I was probably about 12 years old, I asked my grandmother to tell me how she made the cobbler – she explained as she went and I wrote it down. Here is the original recipe that I wrote down that day all those years ago –

No, I’m not going to make you try to read that little piece of paper! I recently pulled out the old recipe and made a blackberry cobbler for my family using berries from our yard. I didn’t stay completely true to the recipe, however, as I used a refrigerated pie crust to save time. Here is Grandmama’s recipe as I originally received it, plus a few added notations. Keep in mind that Grandmama always made this without a recipe – knowing just how much of this and that to add by sight. I asked her to try to give me measurements, so they are here when needed.

~ Dough – Mix 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, dash salt together in a bowl. Add a little (1/4 cup?) Crisco and cut into dry ingredients. Add milk until it is pastry consistency. I just pulled out my handy dandy pie crust from the refrigerator, but will definitely be trying the scratch version another time. Divide dough in half.

~ Grease 9 x 13 casserole dish or spray with cooking spray. I used (and always will use) Grandmama’s cobbler dish to make my cobbler.

~ Mash berries slightly.

~ Put half of the berries in the bottom of the casserole dish.

~ Add 1/2 – 1 cup of sugar all over top of berries. Add spats of butter on top.

~ Roll out one half of dough on flour (or lay out one of the refrigerated pie crusts). Cut strips about 1 inch wide.

~ Criss-cross strips over berries.

~ Make another layer of berries, sugar, butter and strips. Sprinkle some sugar over the top of the cobbler and add some more butter spats on top.

~ Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 400 degrees and bake another 30-45 minutes.

~ While you’re waiting, let your kitchen helper lick the berry bowl!

~ Remove from oven when golden.

~ Serve with ice cream. I always make a point to use Grandmama’s cobbler bowls – brings back good memories.

The refrigerated crust seemed to cook up thinner than the way I remember Grandmama’s. It was good to use in a pinch, but I will probably try to make it from scratch next time. Enjoy!

This makes me want to get up a game of roll-a-bat – maybe when it’s a bit cooler outside!