Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Egg Carton Ladybugs and Fireflies

I had been planning on making a version of these ladybugs I had seen on GoGreen, but hadn't got around to it.  Then last weeks story time was about fireflies which gave me the idea to make fireflies as well!  To make these you need a cardboard egg carton, scissors, paint, pipe cleaners,  medium pom poms, glue (we used hot glue), and  glow paint.

I started by cutting up my egg carton into what would become 12 individual bugs.  I saved the top to use as a paint tray.

Then I had the girls each paint 6 bugs. Bria only wanted to do 4, so I got to make 2.   I did end up cutting more off the bottom of them, so they would lay flat on the table.  

After letting them dry we started putting spots on them.  I had the girls use Q-tips to do this.  I tried adding the glow paint to mine, but decided it would be better to do it at the very end since it takes a while to dry.

I cut the pipe cleaners in half, folded the halves in half, and hot glued them to the egg carton.

Then I glued a pom pom on top of that for the head.

I curled the pipe cleaner anntenae, and had the girls paint the glow in the dark glue on their fireflies.

And we had bugs!

Ladybugs (watch out for that baby)


I tried to get a picture of one glowing, but they really don't photograph well (especially in the girls closet).

The Butler Did It!

Sometimes reality is stranger with fiction. That’s surely the case with the history of Rice University. Students hurrying to classes on the campus of this renowned research university have no idea that there almost was no Rice University. It’s a tangled tale of greed, conspiracy, forged and contested wills.William Marsh Rice’s second wife, Elizabeth Baldwin Rice, was, shall we say, a bit insecure and self-centered. She loved to entertain and demanded adequate quarters to do that in grand style. The couple kept apartments in hotels in New York City and Houston, where they stayed at the Capitol which her husband owned. She referred to herself alternately as Mrs. Rice of Houston and Mrs. Rice of New York, though she preferred the social scene in New York. When she had a stroke, her husband sent her to a facility in Minnesota because he thought she would benefit from cooler weather. Mrs. Orren Holt accompanied her and was among her constant companions.
Mrs. Rice’s mind was affected by the stroke, and urged by lawyer Orren Holt, she made out a new will. Instead of leaving everything to her husband, she distributed large sums far and wide to relatives and causes of her own choosing. She would have the will filed in Texas, where her estate would be entitled to half her husband’s considerable fortune. Holt was executor, for which he would receive the enormous sum of $100,000.

Rice himself meanwhile knew nothing of this new will and was devoted to the idea of establishing an institute in Houston to be known as the Wm. M. Rice Institute of Literature, Science and Art, and to which he would leave his entire fortune. The institute was incorporated in Austin, and Rice’s attorney, James A. Baker, Jr., chaired the board.

After a second stroke, Elizabeth Rice died and the will was filed. Rice was shocked. If the will stood, he would not have the funds to establish his institute. He appealed, and the case hinged on residency. Rice claimed his wife’s primary residence was in New York and the will was not valid in Texas.

Rice, now an octogenarian, established himself in an apartment in New York City, with one Charlie Jones as his man servant. He had Houston businessman Emanuel Raphael looking after the institute’s business and a young but highly capable Arthur Cohn handling all other business affairs in Houston.

It began to look as if Mrs. Rice’s lawyers were not going to be able to establish her Texas residency, so Holt hired Albert Patrick, an unsuccessful and unscrupulous lawyer, disbarred in Texas, to investigate in New York City. Patrick befriended Charlie Jones and convinced him he had earned a legacy from Rice. Slowly, he drew Jones into a complicated scheme of forged wills and correspondence, had him convince Rice to take mercury pills for his digestion, and finally convinced the gullible Jones to smother his already-weakened employer with chloroform.

The story gets even more exciting after Rice’s death when newspapers had a field day with the story of the millionaire who, in life, had shunned publicity. But read it for yourself in the new edition of the 1972 biography, William Marsh Rice and His Institute, edited by Randal Hall, written by Sylvia Stallings Morris, and based on the research notes and papers of Andrew Forest Muir.

You can guess the outcome, of course: Rice University is today one of the nation’s leading universities. But how its legacy was saved by one determined lawyer and what happened to the villains makes pretty interesting reading. It’s as good as a lot of modern-day whodunits.

Written By: Judy Alter

Judy Alter is the author of the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and the forthcoming Trouble in a Big Box, as well as the Blue Plate Mysteries which will debut in January. For twenty years, she served as director of TCU Press.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Patriotic Cinnamon Bear Popcorn

I love cinnamon bears, so when I found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff the other day I had to try it! Since we have been watching the Olympics all morning I decided to put a patriotic spin on it as well.


3 bags of popped popcorn
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 bag cinnamon bears (cut up)
11/3 cups sugar
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Food coloring (optional)

Start by popping your popcorn.  Nathan didn't think buttered popcorn would work well, so we used regular popcorn and popped it in the microwave in paper lunch bags. Put 1/4 cup popcorn in paper bag, fold over top twice, and microwave around 2 minutes.  Spread the popped popcorn on 3 waxed paper lined baking sheets.  I realized after the fact that I should have picked out my seeds.

Sprinkle around 1 1/3 cup of mini marshmallows on each pan.

 Then divided the cinnamon bears between the pans.

Me ok your butter, corn syrup, and sugar over medium, stirring constantly until boiling.  The original recipe called for 2 cubes. I wasn't sure what a cube of butter was, and found that it was either a stick or 2 tablespoons. I went with the stick, so I used 2 sticks as my 2 cubes.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Then add vanilla and food coloring.  I used blue food coloring to make my patriotic popcorn (with the yellow of the butter it turned a little green, but it is still mostly blue).

 Pour over the pans of popcorn and gently stir. After it was somewhat stirred we poured it all in a big bowl and stirred it a little more.  It helped even out the uneven pouring of the sugar solution.

I have to say I will change the recipe a bit the next time I make it.  I will either halve the recipe and keep the number of cinnamon bears the same or double the cinnamon bears and keep the rest the same.  I just think it needed more cinnamon bear goodness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Fun Filled Week

Last week started with Bria's fifth birthday party (Bria's My Little Pony Party). Hard to believe my little baby is five already!  She was so excited about turning 5 and about her party. I think she had a great time!

When I came home from work Monday Bria was excited to tell me about the books she had read to Grandma.  However, she really didn't want to read any to me.  She got through half a book before she was bored and onto something else.

Tuesday the girls and I did am experiment with some of the many Skittles (Experimenting with Skittles) we have left from Bria's party.  They weren't as interested as they normally would be for some reason; all they really wanted to do all day was play.  It did give me time to catch up on some cleaning though.  At least when I wasn't being attacked by Eli.  He was very clingy this week for some reason and would follow me around saying, "Ma MA! Ma MA!" and then attack my leg if I was within 1 foot of him.

Our last story time of the summer was Wednesday, after a couple bos about fireflies the kids got to make a little craft out of a clear cup, glow in the dark paint, and aluminum foil.  Basically they put little dots of glow in the dark paint around the inside often clear cup and the put aluminum foil on the bottom.  After sitting in the light for a while the little cup would glow in the dark like a jar of fireflies.  That evening we went out to Chinese with family to celebrate some of the many July birthdays.  On the way their Bria yelled something about seeing a carnival, but neither of us saw it. Once we were there the girls were happy to eat their noodles, and Eli loved the little koi pond. He kept trying to climb in! Then as we were driving home we spotted the carnival! Bria was the only one awake, so we didn't get to do more then stop and check how long they would be in town.

Thursday the girls spent a lot of time "cleaning" in their room, so we could go to the carnival that evening.  Once the finally finished we head out.  It was a pretty small carnival, but the girls enjoyed the few rides they could ride.  They did go in the fun house a couple times as well.  Of course they weren't willing to come out through the turning hallway thing, so they turned around and came out the entrance.  Eli loved watching the ride especially once their lights were on.  He also loved funnel cakes!  We left right in time too; as soon as we got in the van it started raining.  We were certainly happy to finally have some rain. At home it was raining when we got out of the van, and Eli was a little startled by it.  I guess it had been so long since it rained while he was awake that he didn't know what to think.  As soon as a drop hit him he started to fuss.  Luckily it didn't last long.


I had a busy day at work Friday while the kids went back to the fair with Grandma.  Then once I got home  went back to see the rest of the fair.  It was certainly interesting.  It was called the Fly Wheel Reunion, and they did have a lot of old tractors   They also had crafts and basically a flew market set up.  Not really what you usually think of with a fair. The girls had fun riding in these little ducks being pulled by a tractor.  Nadia also got to see some horses which she always likes.  Eli most liked going down the slide that is always at the park there.


Saturday was Grandpa's birthday, so we were over there all day long.  They played croquet and the girls played with colored bubbles.  Eli was excited about the bubbles! Bria also found the seed ponds on the redbud tree and says, "Look, peas. Is this a pea tree?"  For dinner we tried making cupcake pizzas which worked pretty well; I will have to try them here sometime.  Then we watched some of the Olympics and headed home.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Your Weekend: Exploring the Brazos River

No summer is complete without an outdoor adventure.  Why not make a new summer memory, and explore a Texas river that is unlike any other? The Brazos River is both Texas's longest river and it has the largest flow of any other river in the state. Whether you want to canoe, fish, swim, camp, kayak, boat, or tube, the possibilities are endless along the Brazos River. Take a break from your routine and experience the beauty and mystery of being outdoors.

The Brazos River of Texas begins in eastern New Mexico and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is lengthy, and no two places along it are the same. The river’s flow is constantly changing, along with its variation in ecology and wildlife. Some of the wildlife you can find include snakes, ducks, snails, beavers, alligator gar, turtles, and many different species of fish. But don’t worry; most of these animals are afraid of humans and only attack when cornered!

Exploring the Brazos River: From Beginning to End (Texas A&M University Press, 2011) by Jim Kimmel is your ultimate guide to having the best summer adventure yet. Filled with beautiful photographs, maps, landmarks, and descriptions of both the river’s ecology and flow, it is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast. Kimmel also provides the inside scoop on specific places to explore the river and land surrounding it.

Author Jim Kimmel and Photographer Jerry Touchstone Kimmel have provided us with a summary of their book and why they wrote it:
“Can’t afford to explore the Amazon River? Then explore the Brazos. It is a wild place with ‘gators, gars, snakes, and even some pretty wild natives. The 400 miles from Waco to the mouth of the river near Freeport is one of the longest undammed lengths of river in the U.S. The river’s history is long and fascinating. Clovis people lived on its banks at least 12,000 years ago, and the Brazos was the main transportation artery for the Anglo settlement of Texas as steamboats struggled against floods or crawled over sandbars. Four tributaries flowing from just below the Caprock Escarpment east of Lubbock form the modern Brazos, but its drainage extends into eastern New Mexico. The upper tributaries are bright red and one is saltier than sea water.
We wrote this book to inspire you to explore the Brazos to learn what it does and how it works. We list all of the places of public access to the Brazos and provide easy-to-understand information about climate, geology, ecology, and people. We hope this book turns you into a river explorer who learns the importance of rivers and wants to protect them.”

Location: Dinosaur Valley State Park, P.O. Box 396, Glen Rose, Texas 76043

Getting There: From College Station take TX-6 North towards Waco for about 80 miles. When you are in Waco you will continue onto TX-6 N/Texas Loop 340 for another 50 miles. Turn left onto TX-144N/Main St in Meridian, and continue for another 24 miles. Turn left onto SW Barnard St, take 3rd left onto SW Big Bend Trail, and then turn right onto Farm to Market Rd 205. Turn right after 3 miles onto Park Rd 59.

About Dinosaur Valley State Park: Located on Paluxy River, a tributary of the Brazos River, this state park gets its name from the double set of dinosaur tracks once embedded in the river’s bed. Although these tracks were removed to be put on display in museums, there are still similar tracks found throughout the park.

What You'll See: Besides ancient dinosaur track sightings, the state park is a great place for both learning and relaxation. The river is clear and the land surrounding is abundant in vegetation. The park also has great trails for walking and sightseeing.

Kimmel Recommends: Learning more about the river and its flows. “Dinosaur Valley State Park . . . is a wonderful place to learn about the river and the land. . . A trail along the river has a set of signs that explains the fluvial processes of this flashy river.”

Order Exploring the Brazos River: From Beginning to End on our website for more author tips, river facts, and places to visit!

TELL TAMU PRESS: Have you ever explored the Brazos River? What was your favorite experience/memory?
--Madeline Loving

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two Timin' Chicken Pasta Bake

I am sure many of you have seen the original recipe here: Two Timin' Pasta Bake, and I was not planning on writing a blog about it, but it was really good.  I added chicken to it as Nathan complains when I try to get him eat meatless meals.  Here is my version:


1 box penne pasta
15 oz jar of alfredo sauce
24 oz jar marinara sauce
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
2 C shredded Italian cheeses (its what I had on hand)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, garlic powder to season
olive oil to fry chicken


First pan fry your chicken in olive oil with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder. While it is cooking start your water for your noodles.

Cook your noodles al dente. While the chicken and noodles cook, mix the marinara, alfredo, and mozzarella.

Once everything is cooked, cube the chicken and toss it and the noodles with the alredo/marinara sauce.  Pour in greased 9x13 pan (or for us I used 2 8x8 pans and froze one).

Bake 25 minutes (or until bubbly); sprinkle with Italian cheese and bake 5 minutes more.

Now you have yummy, cheesy goodness!  Even my kids ate it without complaining or questioning what it was!  

2012 Marks the 99th Anniversary Since World War I


In August 1914, two European coalitions stumbled into war. On one side were the Central Powers: the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Quickly they were joined by non-European Turkey and later by a third European (Balkan) nation, Bulgaria.
Facing them was the Triple Entente, comprised of Russia, France and Great Britain and her empire, plus Belgium, Luxembourg, Serbia and Montenegro. Through the course of the war a number of other European powers found it in their interests to enlist with the Allies, including Italy, Romania, Portugal and Greece.

From the beginning, France and Great Britain utilized troops from their empires first to defend their colonial possessions around the world from Africa through Asia to the Pacific Ocean and, second, to provide manpower in the main combat arena on the Western Front in France as well as in the Middle East. Even at the start, participation in the Great War was trans-European.--World War I Historical Association

Soon, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States were also involved.
This year marks the 99th anniversary of the declaration of the first World War.

For more information concerning World War I please go to http://ww1ha.org/ or check out our flyerof World War I books.