Laura Ingalls Wilder House at Rocky Ridge Farm

I love the Little House on the Prairie book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  In fact, I love just about anything to do with “pioneer” times and prairie culture.  I have such a place in my heart for it that if I believed in reincarnation I would believe one of my past lives was during the pioneer times.  I have always loved the idea of self-sufficiency and living off the land.  As a child, I was often making things as they may have in the pioneer times.  I felt as if Laura was a part of me.  That somewhere deep down we “knew” each other and were connected on some level. I have even been known to dress in Pioneer clothing from time to time.

I knew that Laura was a ‘real’ person and that the stories, although fictionalized, were based on actual things that had happened to the actual Laura.  However, it never really occurred to me that places might exist where I could go and see the things that Laura saw.  It never occurred to me that her house could still be around.  After all the pioneer times were sooooooooooo long ago.

Several years ago, shortly after I moved to Arkansas it dawned on me that Laura had spent most of her adult life in my new neighboring state of Missouri.  In fact, it was in Missouri that Rose (Laura and Almanzo’s daughter) was mostly raised and it was also where Laura wrote all of the books in the Little House series.  In the back of my mind I knew there must be some kind of museum, or at least an historical marker, that commemorated the place where these event had occurred, yet for some reason I never really looked in to visiting the museum.

As this summer was nearing it’s end, Richie and I were looking for something fun to do before it was over.  We often make the trip to Branson, Missouri.  It’s far enough away that you feel like you are actually getting away.  The last time we visited Branson we felt  a little bored.  We go there so often (several times a year) that we had already seen and done everything we wanted to do and see and this time we were looking to do something different.  That something turned out to be visiting Rocky Ridge Farm, the adulthood home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder.  After a  little research we discovered that Rocky Ridge Farm was just a little over 3 hours away from our house!  It had been so close all this time and I had never even realized it.

The site includes the original home built by Laura and Almonzo, a museum and a bookstore.  Just down the road is a rock house built for Laura and Almonzo by their daughter Rose from a plan she ordered out of a Montgomery Ward Catalog.  Although the museum is old and in need of some updates it was still a really neat place.  I am so glad we went! Here are a few pictures from out visit.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

That's me on Laura's porch!

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Rock House

Laura Imgalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Cold Storage built by Almonzo

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum is located in Mansfield, MO about an hour east of Springfield. The museum is open from March through November. Several times a year they have special events where “Pa’s” fiddle is played.   Additionally just down the road is the cemetery where Laura and Almonzo are buried.

 

Cambric Tea

When I am not feeling well I like to have chicken noodle soup, ginger ale, saltine crackers with cream cheese and hot tea.  These food are comforting and warm and can instantly make me feel better.  My favorite tea when I am sick is Cambric Tea.  There is some controversy over when and where Cambric Tea originated but most everyone can agree that it was traditionally a children’s tea.  Tea and coffee were thought to be too harsh for children so they were given Cambric Tea instead.  Traditional recipes call for “a dash or two of tea.”  Here is how I make Cambric Tea. Try it next time you aren’t feeling well.

Cambric Tea

1 – 2 tsp. sugar
1/2 Mug full of boiling water
1 tea bag (I use Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time)
1/2 mug full of milk

Add 1 – 2 tsp. of sugar to a mug and fill halfway with boiling water.  Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the teabag and steep for about 1 minutes.  Remove the teabag and fill the mug the rest of the way with milk.  It should be cool enough to drink right away. Enjoy!

5 Tips for Preparing Your Kitchen Pantry for an Emergency – Hurricane Irene

As the east coast prepares for Hurricane Irene it got me thinking about how to prepare your kitchen pantry for an emergency. I would guess that most Americans are not prepared as well as they should be. Fortunately with a hurricane we are typically provided with some advanced warning so we can ‘stock up’ on necessities. I have seen it happen here in Arkansas when the weather man predicts an ice or snow storm. Everyone rushes out to the store for milk and bread and whatever else they will need to get them through the next few days. I imagine grocery stores all along the east coast are experiencing increased crowds and a rise in sales right now.

What would you do if an emergency situation arose without advanced warning? What if there was an earthquake or a tornado or a storm that was predicted to be mild turned out to be the storm of the century? What if you experienced an emergency and were unable to get to a store? Do you have what you need in your house to get you through the next few days or even longer?

1. Designate a pest proof space to store your emergency supply.

Plastic, lidded storage containers will keep your food dry and free of bugs and mice. They can be stacked easily and labeled for easy retrieval of items. A shelf in your pantry or garage or even under the bed is a great place to store your emergency supply.

2. Stock up on non-perishable convenience foods.
If you are faced with an emergency situation, you will need foods that are quick and easy. You may not normally eat canned ravioli but it is better than nothing. Canned food lasts a long time and can be eaten cold or hot. Additionally if you watch sales fliers or clip coupon you can purchase goods at a lower cost.

3. Stock up on water.
FEMA recommends that individuals keep a stockpile of food and water to last at least three days. One gallon of water per person, per day is recommended.

4. Consider other necessities you may need.
Will you need a can opener? Other kitchen utensils? Medicine for family members? Your stock pile is about more than just food. Other items to consider would be extra clothing, blankets, radio and batteries,a first aide kit and some cash.

5. Rotate and check your food supply frequently.
At least once every 6 months you should evaluate your emergency supply kit and make changes as needed. Check expiration dates on all items and replace soon to expire foods. These foods can be consumed or you may consider donating them to a food pantry or shelter.

Here is a list of some of the things we have in our emergency supply:

Peanut Butter
Ravioli
Spaghettios
Beef and Chicken Bouillon
Canned Soups
Gallon water jugs
Crackers
Canned Tuna
Canned Chicken
Matches
Flashlights
Batteries
Battery Powered radio

What do you have in your emergency supply? Leave a comment below!

Elmer’s Glue Crew #bagitforward

Have you heard about Elmer’s Glue Crew?  If you haven’t, take a quick hop over to their site to check it out!  I’ll wait!

Welcome Back! Isn’t Elmer’s Glue Crew cool?  Elmer’s is helping to teach kids about recycling by allowing them to save empty liquid glue containers and stick glue containers and turn them in at Walmart or mail them to TerraCycle where they will be recycled into some really cool products.  On their website Elmer’s even provides templates for making a collection box, teacher lessons that would be great for the classroom or the homeschooler and a cool video on how plastic is recycled!  Even if you are not a teacher you can implement this program in your local school. Just check out the Elmer’s Glue Crew page and then talk to a teacher or administrator in your local school.

I am an art teacher so I see first hand how much glue is used in classrooms and I believe that this program could make a significant difference in the amount of waste made in classrooms across the country.  Not only does this program help the environment but if you submit your glue containers through TerraCycle, TerraCycle will pay the school of your choice 2 cents for each bottle returned!  How cool is that?

Elmer’s is also trying to make a difference in local communities by sponsoring the Bag It Forward program.  Elmer’s realizes that many kids will come to school this year without the resources they need to become successful and is therefore encouraging people to pick up an extra bag of school supplies to donate to a child in need or a local school.  They have teamed up with bloggers all over the country to help spread the word about the program.  When you buy school supplies this year perhaps you will consider buying a little extra to give to a child in need.

I was recently asked to shop for some Elmer’s supplies at Walmart and make a collection box that I could place in my school to help implement the Elmer’s Glue Crew program.  Well I LOVE Elmer’s products (and they make SO MUCH more than just glue) and I jumped at the opportunity to check out what they had and try out some new stuff.  Take a look at my ThisMoment post about my experience shopping for Elmer’s products at Walmart.

I decided it would be really cool to involve some kids in the making of the collection boxes so I gathered up a group of 5th graders and explained to them what Elmer’s Glue Crew was all about.  We watched the video about how plastic is recycled and then got to work making the collection boxes.  I provided the kids with old shoe boxes and some scraps of construction paper (more recycling!) and gave them Elmer’s Glue-All, Elmer’s School Glue, Elmer’s Purple Disappearing School Glue Sticks, Elmer’s Paint Markers, as well as some X-acto Designer Scissors and Crayola Markers.  The kids had so much fun creating the collection boxes.

Here are some pictures of them at work.

Elmer's Glue Crew

Elmer's Glue Crew

And here are some pictures of their finished boxes!

Elmer's Glue Crew

Elmer's Glue Crew

The boxes will be placed in the Art Rooms and Teachers Lounges at the Bald Knob Elementary School and the Bald Knob Middle School.  I am so proud of how well the kids worked together in groups to finish the project.  In keeping with the spirit of Bag it Forward I gave all of the kids an Elmers Disappearing Purple School Glue Stick to take with them.  Of course I made each kid promise to put the empty container into the collection box when they were done!

You may also be interested to know that they Elmer’s is a Upromise partner and that every time you purchase an Elmer’s or Krazy Glue product with your registered drug or grocery card, a percentage of your purchase will be put into your Upromise account. More information can be found here – http://www.elmers.com/about/special-offers.

 

Disclaimer: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer’s #BagItForward #collectivebias. All opinions are my own.

If I Could Make-over a Room…

If I could make over a room in my house I would choose my bedroom.  I think a bedroom should be a place where you can feel relaxed and get rest.  Our bedroom doesn’t really do either for me and I would love to redo it.  In my mind I have BIG plans for it.

Here is whats wrong with it:

Boring white walls and no headboard on the bed.

No curtains on the window.

Having only two small closets in our ENTIRE house makes for very cramped and cluttered storage.  This often means that extra stuff gets piled up in the corners of the room.

 

If I got the chance to make over this room I would being by giving it a fresh coat of paint.  I am not sure what color I would choose but likely something that matches the beautiful quilt that my mom made for us.  Next, I would hang up a curtain and purchase a new blind – probably in wood.  My next stop would be the closet.  Our closet rod isn’t even attached to the wall! It is resting on the shelves that are on both sides. I would love to install one of those closet organizer systems.  Finally, I would make some changes to the bed. I would love to get a king size mattress and I would love to make my own headboard.

Why am I talking about a makeover?  My friend at Heidi over at The Busy Nothings is hosting a $250.oo giveaway sponsored by Glidden paint to be used towards a room makeover.  I really want to win this and I bet you might like a chance too!  Head on over to her website and check out how to sign up!  Which room would you makeover?

Gusano’s Chicago-Style Pizzeria

I am a lover of pizza. I have been known to drive over an hour to eat pizza, especially good pizza.  I am not talking Dominoes, Papa Johns or Pizza Hut Pizza either.  I’m talking about the restaurant where they hand make their crust daily, where someone is actually back there cutting up the onions and peppers that will go on the pizza.  The tomatoes for the sauce may come from a can but the sauce is never canned. It is a well planned out, expertly seasoned addition that can make or break a pizza.  Two of my favorite pizza places in Arkansas are Tommy’s Famous Pizza and BBQ in Mountain View and Damgoode Pies in Little Rock.  The two pizza’s cannot really be compared and are both amazing in their own right.

There are several other popular, local pizza places in the Little Rock area.  One such place is Gusano’s Chicago-Style PizzeriaGusano’s began in Little Rock in 2004 and now has seven locations across Arkansas and in Missouri and Oklahoma.  I have heard about Gusano’s a lot over the last few years but have never had the opportunity to go until recently.  They are a family-friendly restaurant but are also known as being a premier sports bar in Little Rock.

We first went to Gusano’s last Friday when the band of the grandson of my mother-in-laws friend was scheduled to perform.  We arrived around 7:30 on Friday evening and the restaurant/bar was just starting to fill up.  The families with kids were finishing up and a crowd that was ready to have fun was starting to move in.  Gusano’s has lots of tables and booths as well as a bar area complete with pool tables and a few coin-operated video games.  The entire place is decked out with giant TV’s displaying a variety of sporting events. They were offering $6 pitchers of beer which made me happy.  I was even happier when I got carded because it’s been a looooooong time since I was 21.

The menu at Gusano’s consists of a great variety of appetizers and salads as well as traditional and deep dish pizzas and a variety of yummy sounding sandwiches. I was a little leery of trying the Chicago-style deep dish pizza because I am not a huge fan of sauce so we ordered both a deep-dish and a traditional pizza.  When they arrived at the table, I decided to go for the deep-dish first so I could get it out of the way and say I had tried it.  I took one bite and I was a changed women!

 

 

Where was this pizza all my life??? Apparently in Chicago! Holy Cow was it good!  I really had nothing to compare it to I just knew that my mouth and my stomach we so very happy.  Chicago-style deep dish pizza takes pizza to a whole new delicious level.  In fact – Richie and I loved it so much that we went back on Tuedsay when we had to be in Little Rock for something else.  Their traditional style pizza was good to but  was just shocked and amazed by the yumminess of the deep dish pizza.

The bands (there were three) began playing around 9:15 and the party continued way into the night. So, if you have never had deep dish pizza, and even if you have, I highly encourage you to go to Gusano’s Pizza soon.  Friday nights are great because you get good food, cheap beer, live music and no cover charge.  They are also currently offering 1/2 price pizzas on Tuesday after 5:00, a great deal for families.

 

Now, I am on a mission to find a great recipe for homemade deep dish pizza!  Any suggestions?

Want to be a Guest Writer? (A Guest Post Recap)

I am so thankful to everyone who has offered to do a guest post on my blog. It has been really neat to link up with some new people and to get to see the thoughts and ideas of other people! I hope you, my readers, have enjoyed reading these guest posts. I would like to continue this series every Sunday but I depend on YOU to help me get this done. If you are interested in writing a post PLEASE email me (willowtreecreek@gmail.com) or write a comment below and I will contact you. You are welcome to write on a topic of your choice and you DO NOT have to be a blogger! I will welcome anyone who wants to write! In case you missed any of my guest posts here they are again! They are worth reading!

Stop Watching, Start Doing by Karen Isaacson of iamrushmore

“Organic and Local” Eating: The Beginning of Jasmine’s Journey by Jasmin Brown of The Brokins

Finding My Faith While Trying to Sell My Home by Amanda Eacret

It’s So Easy to Make Homemade Mayonnaise with Pesto by Lyndi of NWA Foodie

Will you be next on this list? Email me at willowtreecreek@gmail.com or leave a comment below!

Blind Contour Drawing – Drawing 101 – Part 2

Welcome back! If you didn’t get a chance to view my Drawing 101 – Part 1 post I highly encourage you to do so before you move forward.  Each of these exercises will build on each other to help you improve your drawing skills.

Today we are talking about Blind Contour Drawing and I am bringing you my first video post!  It is shot with an iPhone so the quality and lighting isn’t the greatest but I had fun doing it and I hope you find it helpful for guiding you through today’s exercise.

After you finish your practice exercises I highly encourage you to join my Flickr Group.  Please post your pictures here so we can learn and grow together!

Other posts in this series:
Drawing 101 – Part 1
Contour Drawing – Drawing 101 – Part 3

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