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I haven’t made Shrinky Dinks since the late 70’s or early 80’s. I remember making them by the dozen as a kid. I don’t know exactly what we did with them after they were made and shrunk down, but we made them anyway. We needed to put names on the backpacks in Emily’s pre-school class. The parent helpers need a way to identify which papers go in which bag.


I happened to have a few sheets of Shrinky Dinks material that I bought for another project, custom buttons I think. I printed off the names in large fun fonts, traced them on in permanent marker, cut them out in tag shapes, and punched holes.

Put them in a 325 degree oven, and look!During the Shrink Here they go! They curl up while they shrink and get thicker. They will lay flat once they have reached their final size. They get to be about 1/8 of an inch thick once they have shrunk down,

After and end up much smaller. The colors also get darker when they shrink. I will find either split rings (like a key ring), or some ribbon to tie these on to the kids backpacks on Monday. I hope they like them.

We may end up making some of these in the class room as a fun rainy day project. You can color the frosted stuff with colored pencils, much safer than a bunch of 3 to 5 year-olds with permanent Sharpie markers!

I guess there are some retro things that are worth bringing back. Keep the Shrinky Dinks, and loose the leg warmers!


We got through the hardest part of the fair. Now there is only one more weekend worth of FFA stuff for us to work on. Then we get to regroup and start getting ready for next year.

Showmanship Swag Nancy, Em, & Molly set up.

There are prizes for showmanship classes as well as for the type classes. Showmanship is where the kids present their animals to their best advantage to the judge. They are evaluated on their showmanship skills and preparation. Type is where the animal is judged on it’s confirmation and placed according to its correctness in comparison to the other animals in the ring.

2009 Senior 4-H showmanship class

This is our class of senior 4-H showmen. They all worked very hard to qualify themselves and their animals for the state fair. They did a fantastic job. We were very proud of them.

I would have had more photos, but I got busy with the Thank You cards and awards. The FFA show was very good, but ran exceptionally late. I don’t think the fair board will try to schedule the 4-H & FFA shows one right after the other again next year. There were just too many students and animals to evaluate accurately in that short of a time period. The FFA students presented some very lovely animals. It was one of the best shows we have had in quite a few years. Good job!

Look at what I received in the mail today! Goodies! Miss SummerSadie sent me this fun box of treats! I love the mini NutterButter cookies, and Chocolate is never turned down here either! There are also other fun things for the people who live in my house. My guess is the favorite will be the cupcake papers once I fill them with batter, bake, and add some frosting! The teenager and the pre-schooler will have fun with the glow necklaces too. It is Spirit Week at school, so I am sure the glow gear will be broken out at the homecoming football game on Friday.

There was one other item in the box, but I have to wait about a half an hour to let you see it. It was addressed to Miss Em, and I will let her open it on the way home from school. So we all have to wait….

Treats the Pumpkin bear This is what Miss Em found in her package. The cutest orange Beanie Baby Bear. I tried to get her to show us his pumpkin face tummy, but that only resulted in a view of her belly button. I do believe that she likes him. She hasn’t put him down since she opened the paper in the car. Good job Sadie! Thank you again for your sweet thoughtfulness!

This is just a quick note to say that for the next 48 hours my life pretty much belongs to the 4-H and FFA kids at the State Fair in Puyallup (say Pew-all-up).

I’ll post some pics of their beautiful goats with the neat-o prizes and ribbons that I went to Bellingham, WA to get today. (A lovely 7 hour round trip drive with a 3 year old.) I am sorry that I ever doubted the usefulness of the backseat DVD player. Although I have had enough of the Muppet Show and “Kernit Mommy! Kernit da Frog” for a few days, as no other DVDs would do. Again, thank the Almighty that I had all 3 seasons.
Now to go finish assembling said contests and prizes…..
Sleep? Who needs sleep?

This is what they looked like in 2007.

Type prizes

Showmanship & BIS prizes

I have found this great place called Missouri Star Quilting Company. They have a forum for all of us quilty types to share our hints, helps, and tips. AND as if that isn’t enough, every day they offer a great deal on a different quilting item. So far there have been some cute charm packs mixed in with layer cakes, jelly rolls, turnovers, and honey buns.

Jelly Roll, Mini Honey Buns, and a few Charm Packs. For those of you who do not quilt, these are pre-cut pieces of fabric. They just happen to look like their namesakes, & we do tend to gobble them up when they are offered at great prices.
Well, this week, Missouri Star Quilting Company is having a Jelly Roll Celebration.(Click the link to see!) I encourage you to scoot on over there and check out the action! By the way, shipping is a flat $5 in the US, no matter how much you put in your cart! They have yardage and notions too! Whoo Hoo!

We tried the Great Labor Day Smoke-Out, but it sounded like we were all trying to lay off the cigarettes, so we went with the “Extravaganza” title.

We invited a few (20 or 30) friends and family over on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and have a huge cook out. It usually involves the smoker running most of the day with an assortment of chicken, beef brisket, ribs, and some of the yummiest baked beans ever. The guests bring salads and other snacking items, and we pretty much have eaten ourselves into oblivion by about 6:30 PM.

Kitchen talk The kitchen is IT! I think we need benches in there!

This all started about 4 years ago. Our friends wanted to go camping, but with the farm we are kind of tied to chores unless we hire a farm-sitter. So, we offered to let everybody come on over and camp out at our house. We even offered to fire up the grill and cook for everybody. It worked out pretty well. We didn’t have to fight for a camping spot, there were hot showers for everybody, and we could still cook out if we wanted. By the following year, we had a new baby and the smoker. So we invited everybody back, plus a few more. It seems to have stuck.

Dig in!

We audition new recipes all year to see which ones we like the best to spring on our guests. This year we had a few new marinade recipes for the ribs and the briskets. I think we have hit the mark with the italian dressing marinade for the chickens though. Really. Get your favorite kind of Kraft Italian Dressing, put about half a bottle in a ZipLock baggie with a quartered chicken over night and then into the smoker. (We always do an extra chicken so I can make smoked chicken salad later.) The other big hit was grilled marinated halibut wrapped in thin bacon. OK, that was the best new thing we tried all summer.

The spread

One of our new guests brought a new way to eat watermelon with them. Pat made a “dressing” with lime juice, mint, and a touch of salt. Then he put that over chunked watermelon and gave it a light toss. He also had a tasty sheep’s milk feta that you could crumble over it. It was wonderful. The acid of the limes and the salt of the cheese really balanced out the watermelon

The loaded smoker

For the first time in four years we had rain on our holiday. Thankfully it didn’t downpour the entire weekend, but it did mean that we spent a lot more time in the house and no one was able to put up a tent. Not so much that they didn’t want to, but we weren’t sure how to get it dry before packing it up. So, we had a big slumber party more or less. Thankfully it was without the all night giggling and whispering.

I think a fun time was had by all. We were all very full, and had a nice visit. Some of our friends realized that they had mutual friends from other areas of their lives. Small world, huh, or do they just have really cool friends?!?

As of now, we are still recovering from this year’s event. We have a list started for next year though, so it looks like we will do it all again!

Sorry about the delay in posting. Company, and some icky sickies have kept me from posting the latest.

Thursday they wall guys showed back up to work on the project. I was able to catch this block in motion before I headed out to pick up all of the goodies for the weekend of food and fun.
More Great Wall construction!

By the time we all returned home the wall had been completed and the gravel was down for the drive nearest the house and the front of the barn. The completed wall And that was it.Gravel Drive We were supposed to have a gravel drive way from the front gate to the back side of the barn that will allow access for the cement trucks during the barn construction, and then for the hay trucks. Hmmm. The wall & dirt guys had gone home for the day.

Friday afternoon we finally made contact with Jeff, and he was waiting for us to be home so we could plot out where the building was actually going to go before he finished off the heavy duty driveway. I don’t know what phone number he had for the house, but it wasn’t ours, and my cellphone was in my purse in the car.  He showed up Friday afternoon with two loads of gravel and really needed a third to finish off the pad in the right way. We could have used a lot more, and had him gravel the whole pad, but we had to control the budget somewhere.

Dumping the driveway So, here he is Saturday morning with the final load of mondo gravel for the front driveway. I am still not sure if it is the front drive or the back. It is the first driveway to the barn and on the front of the property, but it will access the back side of the barn. I think we will have to give them each a name to eliminate confusion. (Now if you remember the earlier posts, we had people arriving to stay the weekend starting Friday night. They got an extra show to go with their meals!)

grading out the drive Now, we may have had some minor unexplained delays during this build, but it was impressive to watch these guys handle this equipment. They made it look so much easier than it really is. I know, because I received a crash course in driving our own tractor last Thursday. We have a nice sized Kubota with a bucket and a backhoe. Working all of those controls to make things go where you want, and make it look effortless takes a lot of practice and some skill. He made smoothing this gravel look like me frosting a party cake.

Packing down the big gravel

Then came the fun part. I like to call this one the rolling pin rig. I know that it does a lot more than just mash stuff flat. You can feel that for sure. The thing vibrates everything in my house and the neighbors’. It rolls and packs down the dirt to give a nice sturdy base for the concrete pad we will pour eventually. It smooshes the gravel down into the dirt to make a sturdy surface for driving on. We could have done it ourselves with about a million trips back and forth with the truck and tractor, but it took him less than a half an hour to get it all neatly packed down with this thing. A much better use of our time and gas. With the final touches on the driveway we were done with the site prep. Now on to the waiting for the blueprints and the county permitting process.

The Great Wall of Lakebay

Hmmm. Didn’t it look like this on Tuesday at quitting time?

Why yes. Yes it did!

I know he said they were slow loading the blocks on Tuesday morning, but that is ridiculous! Even the union guys have to be able to get a dozen blocks loaded into a truck in less than 8 hours. (Easy now. My family is longshore union. They work hard to get the benefits they have. It is just easy to poke fun at them and their rules & regulations.)

I don’t know why we didn’t see the Wall guys today, because I didn’t get a phone call letting me know there would be a delay. I hope that nothing horrible happened. The shop was still standing with the sign out front when I went by on my way to a meeting this evening, so that is good. It was probably a good thing he took the keys with him when he left yesterday though, or I might have been tempted to try out the big rolling pin rig.

We will see if they show up on Thursday. If not, I may start charging a storage fee for his equipment. I wanted this done by Friday. Our first weekend guests arrive Friday night. I’ll be a tad unhappy if I have to play horse shoes around the big boy toys.

My guess is that they didn’t run off with our money though. I have a few pieces of their very expensive equipment lounging about my property. My guess is that they will be back for them. It’s not like they will be able to sneak in here in the dead of night and get them without anybody knowing either. Those bad boys are waaay too heavy to push up the hill & onto a trailer, and they are none too quiet when the diesel engines fire up. So I ought to hear them, even if the dog fails to let me know something is up.

Lounging Equipment

So check back tomorrow to see what the excuse was. Ooh, I should give a prize to the person who comes the closest to guessing the one they give, and the one with the most creative excuse. If I get any entries, I may just do that! I am sure I have some chocolate or fabric that needs a new home….

We have some progress on the wall today. Apparently the company that makes the the blocks doesn’t believe in loading them before 9 AM. Then they wanted to give the guys a hassle about loading them into the dump truck. All I know is that when I got home today this is what we had going.The Great Wall of Lakebay There are 24 blocks down and I would guess about that many left to go. I hope to get some shots of them moving them into position using the excavator. I saw the last one go in, but they were done before I could get in the house to get the camera.

They smacked the blocks into their final position using the backside of the excavator scoop. Jeff, the Dirt & Wall guy, isn’t very thrilled with the lack of precision that the blocks have when you stack them up. He isn’t very fond of the “Wonky” look. It’s not my favorite way to quilt and I REALLY don’t want it in my construction projects!

Profile of the Great Wall

The backside will be back-filled with gravel and a pipe to direct the water from the downspouts of the shop along the wall and out to the drainage ditch.

I’ll let you see what kind of progress they make tomorrow.

We have contracted to have our barn built, finally. But, before that can happen, we need to put in a retaining wall to keep the shop from sliding into the barn in the event of an earthquake or other seismic stuff.

Excavator @ 2ishSaturday we had the excavator arrive. Quite unexpectedly, I might add. So I was left to finish signing the barn contract while Hubby went to check with the wall guy. He said he would start on Monday afternoon. Today at 1:30 he delivered the roller/compactor, and by about 2PM this is what my back yard and what used to be pasture looked like.

Now, my husband has a nice tractor and he had been able to do quite a bit of clearing and leveling. Or so we thought. Mr. X and his side kick The Grader, did some amazing stuff in about 4 hours. (Yes! They worked past 5 PM!) Huge scoops of dirt were being flung across the area where we had leveled and I swear he flicked the stump he found, a good 30+ yards to land in the far corner without hitting the fence. I was impressed. Especially since we didn’t have to move that one ourselves!

The Grader Eats Lawn “The Grader ” did a fine job of eating what was left of the lawn. It wasn’t in the best of shape since we had such a hot & dry summer, but did he have to take the green parts?

As you can see I am inside the fence. There is a reason for this, and it is 3 1/2 years old, and sometimes faster than her parents. Most kids would LOVE to watch the heavy machinery dig in the dirt. She did, and also nearly gave Jeff, the Wall guy, a heart attack. We were inside the fence so she couldn’t run out and get into anybody’s way, but she could still see everything. A play pen on a grander scale, if you will. She was so excited when he brought The Grader up top that she squealed. He jerked the thing to a stop ,and was looking around in a panic. I yelled that it was OK, and she was just excited, and that she was inside the fence for that reason. After about 10 minutes of watching the BIG tractors play in the dirt that she wasn’t allowed to, she was lured by the cool waters of the stock tank, and remarked only casually about the equipment.

Oooh! Water! Until later.

Little miss was not the only one keenly aware of the heavy equipment.

What is going on? The ladies of the lower field were a bit agitated. OK, more than a bit, at least at first. They ran from one corner to the other when the big diesel engines fired up and started tearing into the dirt. By the end of the day, however, they were lounging on their spools, chewing cud, and pretty much ignoring the whole thing.

The Grader peeling dirt That’s a lot of dirt he’s movin’!

Us vs. Mr. XAs you can see here they took the level of dirt down quite a bit from where we originally had it. The edge in the front is where my husband worked to get it. He didn’t want to cut it too far back until the blocks were ready to go in, to keep from eroding the dirt too much. That scoop is huge!

Shake, Rattle, & Roll This is the rolling compactor they used to tamp everything down. The drum is full of water and the whole thing vibrates while he is rolling forwards and back. It made the glasses in the house clink and the water in the stock tanks shimmy when they used it. It was just weird.

End of Day #1 This is pretty much what we have at the end of day one. Honey spent most of the afternoon trying to keep water on the dirt to keep the dust down and to help it compact better. There is a 2 foot trench along the bank where the blocks will go tomorrow, and we should see some gravel for the driveways arrive as well.

Just to let you see how big the scoop on the excavator is, this is what it looks like in the upper pasture, after Jeff scared the tweedle out of Em. She was back to playing in the stock tank, and he swung it over her head, and set it down behind her, she thought it was going to pick her up! (Mom was a bit worried too.) She was trying to decide where to go and what to do. She just tucked farther down towards the edge of the tank. Smart girl! It can’t get you, if it can’t reach you!How big is it? Once she realized that it wasn’t after her and that the engine was off, she went over to check it out a little closer. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!