All I’ve Met

Alfred, Lord Tennyson said: “I am a part of all that I have met.”

Like Tennyson, I feel like I’m a part of all that I’ve met. These are a few of their stories. And a few of mine, too. Enjoy.

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“World’s Best Cup of Coffee” – the case against superlatives

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy

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Disclaimer: this is not the best column I’ve ever written. But it’s probably also not the worst.

“You did it! Congratulations! ‘World’s Best Cup of Coffee.’ Great job, everybody.”

This line is from the movie, “Elf,” when Buddy is walking down the street and excitedly enters a diner when he sees a neon sign that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee.”

It makes me laugh every time I watch it. You know, because, how is that even quantifiable?

Whether a cup of coffee is amazing or terrible depends on one’s personal taste preferences, right?!

Best, worst, most. These are all examples of superlatives, an exaggerated or hyperbolical expression of praise.

And with Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ll be hearing a lot of these expressions, which generally makes me want to vomit.

Not that I don’t love the day of love or people sharing their affection for one another. The issue is the “best ever” phrase. “I have the best wife ever” or “I have the best boyfriend ever.”

We’ve been hearing other superlatives a lot recently, especially from Donald Trump’s campaign and into his presidency.

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

“I’m the most militaristic person ever.”

“I get the biggest crowds. I get the biggest standing ovations.”

“I would use the greatest minds. I know the best negotiators.”

But this is nothing new.

In 1900, literary critic and author Arthur Waugh wrote, “we are living in an age where everything is ‘most impressive,’ ‘most heroic,’ and ‘most immortal.’”

“The great arguments against the indiscriminate superlative are its insincerity and vulgarity. No man can use the perpetual superlative sincerely, since he cannot frankly believe that everything he has to describe is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

He continued by saying this may seem trivial, however, “whenever the literature of a country lacks dignity, there is something amiss with the national life and character.”

Superlatives can also be harmful in relationships.

It’s like posting on Facebook that I have the best husband ever on Valentine’s Day and then two days later posting how annoying he is because he leaves his dirty laundry all over the bedroom floor.

How can this be? He’s supposed to be the best husband ever.

“They are really hard to live up to,” relationship mentor Jana Kellam said. “And no one wants to be compared and have to try to live up to these superlatives.”

For example, she said, your partner cooks dinner, which was delicious, and you say, “this is the best meal ever!”

“Your partner may have felt great in that moment, but underlying your compliment is the implication that nothing will ever be able to compare favorably.”

“The next time you’re about to compliment something or someone,” Kellam said, “find a way of doing it that is empowering, engaging and motivating instead.

“‘I love this meal. Thank you so much for doing this for me. It’s beautiful and delicious.’”

In our “superlative-saturated world,” Amy Bailey, writer for MyScoop, said our society is not just addicted to but has overdosed on superlatives.

“When everything is super epic and the best ever, there’s no way to differentiate between really cool and just ok… What happened to just being good?

“In the Bible, we read that when the universe was created, God saw the light that it was good. There’s no epic, there’s no amazing, there’s no best ever – it was simply good.”

Now, I’m not advocating for mediocrity but I’m also very much a realist. Life is hard. I do believe, however, that we have the capacity to change, to learn and grow and become something greater than we ever imagined.

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations, though, how about we simply look for the good and say so sincerely.

I might not go to that diner because of the neon sign advertising “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” (I wouldn’t go there for the coffee anyway, since I don’t drink it).

But I might go there for a “Decent Cup of Hot Cocoa,” to hang out with a friend or my husband or my children, and have a conversation that’s honest, sincere and real. And good.

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Home away from home: German student attends MHS to improve language and gain new experiences

picking-jenny-up-at-the-airportBy Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Jenny Ahlgrimm describes her hometown of Hamburg, Germany, as “ big, modern and busy.”

With a population of 1.7 million, it’s sure to be a bit different from Maryville, where she is living during the 2016-17 school year as an exchange student.

But calling it a bit different might be an understatement.

“Pretty much everything is different,” she said. “Maryville is small and peaceful. Everything is green. The climate and the sky are so different. The school is completely different and the activities you do after school. In the US, everyone drives everywhere, and in Germany, you walk or take public transit.”

‘it’s America!’
Experiencing all of these differences is one of the reasons Ahlgrimm decided to become an exchange student.

“(I wanted) to see what it is like to start over where you don’t know anybody,” she said, adding she wanted to improve her English and gain more experiences. “And it’s America!”

At home in Germany, she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor and also babysits. She enjoys running, something she has been able to continue at Maryville High School where she was on the cross country team in the fall and plans to be a member of the track team this spring.

During her time in Missouri, she has enjoyed attending Kansas City Royals and Chiefs games, taking senior pictures, hanging out with new friends, kayaking and spending time with her host family, Paul and Cathy Rybolt and Dalylah and Shayleigh.

She’s also has fallen in love with Reese’s peanut butter cups and Sonic blue raspberry slushes with rainbow Nerds.

‘I am torn’
But Ahlgrimm said she misses things from home. German tap water, German chocolate, her family and friends and swimming.

And she’s faced a few challenges as well.

“The language barrier; I have a hard time coming up with the correct English word sometimes,” she said. “American History is extremely difficult if you are not American. I also had a hard time with the heat and humidity when I got here in July.”

She’s also had some interesting and humorous experiences since she’s arrived.

“Someone really asked me if we have electricity in Germany,” she said. “The answer is yes. Someone else said that being from Hamburg is not that special because it is only one hour away.”

And in case you were wondering… Hamburg, IA, is 60 miles from Maryville and Hamburg, Germany, is 4,567 miles from Maryville.

With all of her experiences – the good, the challenging and the odd – Ahlgrimm has mixed feelings but is grateful.

“I am torn,” she said. “Part of me can’t imagine living here a whole year, but the other part of me can’t imagine having to leave my family here.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

‘I was intrigued’
Cathy Rybolt said a friend suggested she look into it becoming a host family.

“I was intrigued,” she said, and after sharing the information with her husband, Paul, they decided to do it.

Paul is a student at Northwest and Cathy is the outreach director/MIS team leader at Community Services in Maryville. Dalylah is in fourth grade and Shayleigh is in third grade at Eugene Field.

“We have enjoyed sharing our love for the outdoors with Jenny,” she said. “Since she has been here we have been camping, boating and kayaking at Mozingo Lake. We also took her hiking at Indian Caves State Park.”

She said it’s been enlightening and educational for their family as well.

“In school you learn about different cultures but living with someone from another culture is very different,” she said. “Teenagers from different countries are most definitely not like American teens.”

Dalylah and Shayleigh are enjoying their time with Jenny and learning new things from her.

“I like having an older sister,” Dalylah said. “She has never had any siblings, so I am glad that I get to be her younger sibling.”

Shayleigh said: “I love my Sissy Jenny because she gave me a birthday present and she makes crafts with me. I like Jenny spending time with me and tickling me. She is teaching me German. We love her accent.”

And everyone loves that she shares her German chocolates with them.

    To learn more about becoming a host family or being an exchange student, visit ciee.org.


‘It’s not how you start out that counts’

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column for the Nodaway News Leader

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I find myself feeling a bit cynical right after Thanksgiving each year.

I’m not sure why since it doesn’t make much sense logically. We spend time with family and give thanks as we kick off the holiday season and prepare for Christmas, a time of year that I love.

It might have something to do with Black Friday. I tried to go once with my mom and sister about 10 years ago. It was a disaster. I hated it so much and was so grumpy that we went back home before they were even done shopping.

Not judging here. It’s just not for me.

It might also have something to do with the expectations we perceive as the holidays approach. Having the perfect decorations, getting the best gifts, doing amazing activities with our children. Blah. Blah. Blah.

The commercialization of the holiday season in general contributes to my bah humbug attitude. Which is probably why I return each year to one of my favorite Christmas stories, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Seuss.

A bitter, nasty creature with a heart “two sizes too small,” the Grinch despises the people in Whoville as they merrily celebrate the season.

Annoyed, he decides to steal all of their presents, and even the tree, hoping to stop Christmas from coming.

But when the people awoke, they were not sad. Instead, the Grinch heard them singing.

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!

“Somehow or other, it came just the same!

“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

“Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?

“‘It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!’

“‘It came without packages, boxes or bags!’

“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’

“‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’”

In the end, the Grinch has a change of heart, which grows three sizes, and he enjoys the Christmas feast with the people in Whoville.

The story of the Grinch came about when Theodor Geisel, who wrote as Dr. Seuss, was looking in the mirror the day after Christmas and noticed a “very Grinch-ish countenance” in the mirror.

“So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost,” he said.

Maybe it’s how the Grinch looks, or even his name, but many people just think of him as the villain and not the hero he turns out to be.

Geisel once received a letter from two brothers with the last name “Grinch.” They were being teased because of their name and asked him to change the character’s name.

His reply was that the Grinch was actually the hero of Christmas.

“He starts out as the villain,” he wrote to them. “But it’s not how you start out that counts.”

I love that. We all need that reminder. No matter what we’ve done, we can change our actions and our attitudes. It’s not too late to see what it is about Christmas that we’ve lost.

So if you’re like me, feeling a little Grinchy already this holiday season, it’s okay. We still have time to “rediscover Christmas.”

“It’s not how you start out that counts.” It’s where you go from here.


‘Add color to otherwise black and white memories’

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Peninah

“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

It’s a quote from Squire Bill Widener, although widely misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt who shared it in his autobiography.

Over the past year, it has kept me moving forward.

Because of my health issues, and the fact that I spend most of my life in bed now, I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do, with what I have, and with where I’m at.

One thing I’ve recently discovered I can do is family history. I mean, I can’t go out and wander around cemeteries. But I’ve got a laptop and the internet.

Growing up, my grandma was very into genealogy. My mom, too, and then my younger sister as well. I had no interest in it whatsoever.

One day last fall, however, trying to figure out what I can do, with what I have, where I’m at, family history popped into my head. And I decided to give it a go.

I’m still learning. And I don’t spend as much time with it as I’d like. But finding my ancestors and learning their stories and making connections that hadn’t yet been discovered by our family has been quite life-changing.

One connection is from my Eckerson family line. America Pulliam jumped out at me because of her patriotic name. She died in 1905 in Sullivan County, MO. The work that had previously been done by my grandma had ended with her. We didn’t know who her parents were so I started digging.

After several weeks of searching and working, I found them. And that opened up several lines, one going back 27 generations to Guillaume DeBray who was born in 1054 in England.

The line from America to Guillaume included other ancestors such as Captain Thomas Warren, born in Kent, England, who came to Virginia in 1640 and purchased land from Thomas Rolfe, the son of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. And 1st Baron Edmund Braye, born in 1484, who was in attendance when King Henry VIII and King Francois I met following the Anglo-French Treaty of 1514.

Another fascinating story for me has been from my husband’s side.

The granddaughter of a Cherokee Indian and a descendant of those who came on the Mayflower, Peninah Cotton was born in 1827 in Illinois. She married Daniel Wood, and because of their Mormon faith, they were driven out of their home by a mob, leaving behind everything they couldn’t carry and journeyed westward to escape persecution. They arrived in Salt Lake in 1848 and Daniel later founded the community of Woods Cross, Utah.

I’ve also found I’m related to several famous people through a fun family history website, RelativeFinder.org. I’m cousins with Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau and Orville and Wilbur Wright as well as several US Presidents including FDR, John Adams, William Howard Taft and a few more.

In just the few short months since I began this new adventure, it’s also been fun to share these stories with my kids.

A study conducted at Emory University and published in 2010 found the more children knew about their family history, the higher their self-esteem and the better able they were to deal with the effects of stress.

“Family stories provide a sense of identity through time and help children understand who they are in the world,” the researchers said.

During RootsTech 2016, a global family history event, blogger Miryelle Resek wrote: “For many of us, the thrill of researching our ancestors comes from learning about their stories. Glimpses of what their everyday life looked like, the challenges they overcame and the hopes and dreams they worked toward add color to otherwise black and white memories.”

Reading from Daniel Wood’s journal and how difficult the journey to Utah was for them helps our family have strength to get through rough times.

Maya Angelou said: “We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men. We are who we are because they were who they were.”

So if I’ve piqued your interest at all in family history, you can get started at familysearch.org and/or ancestry.com.

If your history includes Nodaway County, the historical society is a valuable resource and is open from 1 to 4 pm, Tuesday to Friday, or by appointment. Call 660.582.8176 for more information.

There’s also a Family History Center at the LDS Church in Maryville. Call 660.541.0124 and leave a message.

Several local genealogists are also willing to help including Mandi Brown who can be contacted at brownmandi0911@yahoo.com.

So get out there and start digging. Explore where you came from, link your past to your present and build a bridge to your future. You won’t regret it.

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Nothing screams summer like homemade ice cream

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The Summer of Pinterest, Part 6

By Jacki Wood, for the Nodaway News Leader

July is National Ice Cream Month. But no special designation is needed to know that summer is a perfect time for ice cream.

Growing up, from Memorial Day to Independence Day to Labor Day, my family enjoyed making homemade ice cream when we all got together. So ending this series with ice cream seemed appropriate.

My husband and kids helped me with these three recipes, Ice Cream in a Bag, Jell-O Sherbet and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

And bonus: you don’t need an ice cream maker for any of them.

Ice Cream in a Bag

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This idea combines fun and flavor. From the Growing a Jeweled Rose blog: “Kids love making ice cream in a bag because they can actually make the ice cream by running around.”

We’ve tried a slightly different variation before, Ice Cream in a Can, where you roll a can back and forth between two people. So we thought this would be fun. And it was.

Ingredients:
• 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream or half and half
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 6 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
• ice cubes

Directions:
Place the ingredients into a tightly sealed sandwich-sized bag, pressing the air out as you seal it. Place the bag into another tightly sealed sandwich bag. Fill a gallon-size bag half-way full of ice and mix with kosher salt. Then put the sealed sandwich-size bag into the larger bag and seal it. You can also double up the gallon-size bags as well, especially if you have little ones.
Then get moving. You need to shake the bag for about 5-10 minutes. You can run and play tag or toss the bag to each other. Or you can just stand and shake it.
Then enjoy. Eat it straight out of the bag or put it in a dish.

Jell-O Sherbet

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I’d never thought about making sherbet until I saw this from SmartSchoolHouse.com. I put Hannah in charge of this one and she really enjoyed making it. It’s very sweet but probably the best sherbet I’ve ever had. Just make sure the gelatin dissolves completely.

It calls for Junket ice cream mix, which I had never heard of, but found near the Jell-O section at the store. Also, we picked three flavors instead of four: Lemon, Berry Blue and Raspberry.

Ingredients:
• Junket Ice Cream Mix in Very Vanilla
• 1 1/4 C. whole milk
• 3/4 C. heavy whipping cream
• Jell-O: Berry Blue, Orange, Raspberry, Lime or whatever flavors you desire

Directions:
Place 4 glass bowls in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Combine the Junket Ice Cream Mix with the whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a 9″ x 5″ pan and freeze until firm.
Once firm, break into chunks with a fork and put chunks into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Remove the 4 glass bowls from the freezer and evenly separate the vanilla ice cream into each of the bowls using a spatula. Put 1/2 Tbsp. of the different Jell-O flavors in each bowl, one flavor per bowl, and gently mix with a spoon until fully combined. Do this as fast as you can to prevent the ice cream from melting.
Put the 4 different ice cream flavors in a container that can be sealed.
Gently use the back of a spoon or spatula to connect the 4 different piles of ice cream so they freeze as 1 piece. Put the lid on and let it freeze for about 1-2 hours before eating.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

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For a healthier fare, this Strawberry Frozen Yogurt from the Feel Great in 8 blog is perfect. It’s simple, quick and good for you.

Ingredients:
• 4 C. frozen strawberries
• 3 Tbsp. honey
• 1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Directions:
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may need to add more juice. Then scoop and enjoy.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page at pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun/.

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Pick out some new recipes perfect for summertime fun

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The Summer of Pinterest, Part 5

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new recipes to spice up your summertime potluck or picnic fare? Our Good Eats page on Pinterest contains hundreds of ideas.

I picked three seasonal and flavorful new recipes that my two kids helped me with: Frozen Lemonade Pie, Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork and Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Frozen Lemonade Pie

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It’s hot outside, you do not want to turn on the oven and you need a summertime dessert. Lemonade, anyone? How about frozen lemonade and pie. Mmm-mmm-mm.
This recipe comes from LoveBakesGoodCakes.com and my 17-year-old son, Hunter, helped me with this very easy-to-make tart and sweet treat.

Ingredients:
• 1 pre-made graham cracker crust
• 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
• 1 – 12 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
• 1 C. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
• Lemon slices, for garnish

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, fold the sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping until well combined, being careful to keep the mixture light and fluffy.
Add the lemonade concentrate and continue to gently fold. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Place in the freezer to chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork

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Another trick to beat the summer heat is to utilize your crockpot and this twist on pulled pork is super easy with just three ingredients.

It comes from TheFrugalGirls.com and calls for Coca-Cola and BBQ sauce. We decided to try it with root beer and thought it was really good.

Ingredients:
• Pork Tenderloin, approx. 3 lbs.
• 1 – 18 oz. bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce
• 1 – 12 oz. can Coca-Cola
• option: 1/2 white onion, sliced

Directions:
If using sliced onions, first place on the bottom of the crockpot and then place pork tenderloin in the crockpot.
Mix together BBQ sauce and Coca-Cola in mixing bowl and stir well. Pour mixture over pork and cover crockpot.
Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until done.
Remove pork from crockpot and shred on cutting board using 2 forks. Serve on plates or buns and drizzle with extra leftover sauce from the crockpot to keep moist.

Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

pinfoodsalad
This fresh, summer produce salad is simple to prepare and full of summer flavor. It comes from TheBlondCook.com and my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me with it.

We took it to a family reunion and it was a big hit with everyone.

Ingredients:
• 1 – 15.25 oz. can whole kernel corn, well drained
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
• 1 C. cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 C. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1/3 C. red onion, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
• 1/4 tsp. pepper, more or less to taste
• 1/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions:
Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to mingle before serving.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Good Eats” Pinterest page at pinterest.com/nodawaynews/good-eats.

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Keep the kids entertained with new summertime ideas

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 4 …

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By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    School’s been out for over a month now and you’ve heard your kids say “I’m bored” about 2,581 times. Right?!

You could probably use some new and easy ideas to keep them entertained and enjoying their summer break.

We can help with over 400 ideas on our Summer Fun Pinterest page.

I don’t have any little ones at my house anymore, so I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, and my 12-year-old niece, Jaden, to help some of my younger nieces, Zoe, Ailey and Kaiya, and a cousin’s daughter, Daycee, with a couple of summer fun ideas: Spray Sidewalk Chalk and Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles.

Both activities were fun and simple but both had some #PinterestFail elements to them.

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Spray Sidewalk Chalk

The idea for spray sidewalk chalk comes from GrowingAJeweledRose.com.

This mom of two writes: “liquid chalk makes a great spray paint for kids and is sure to keep them busy for a good, long time. The recipe is super easy, easily washes off of surfaces and the spray bottles are also great for fine motor development.”

Making the spray chalk was no problem and it easily washes off the sidewalk and other outdoor surfaces. Her recipe calls for food coloring or washable watercolors. She warned the food coloring may tinge clothing, so she advised to wear play clothes or use the washable watercolors.

Since we did this activity at a family reunion, I opted for the washable watercolors. The #PinterestFail part came because there wasn’t enough color added in each squirt bottle so their creations ended up looking all white. I think you need to add more than just a “few drops” if you choose the washable watercolors, like maybe 10 or even more drops.

I couldn’t find the watercolors locally so I ordered them on Amazon – Sargent Art Watercolor Magic which comes in a pack of 10 colors.

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      Materials:

  • Spray bottles
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking soda
  • Food coloring or washable watercolors
  • Optional: if you want to make the spray chalk art erupt, you will also want a few squirt bottles of vinegar (we didn’t try this but it sounds fun).

      Directions:

Fill the spray bottles 1/3 of the way with a baking soda and corn starch mixture, using roughly equal amounts of both ingredients. Add a few drops of food coloring or washable watercolors and then fill the bottles with very warm water.

Use a butter knife to stir the mixture as best you can and then place the spray spouts on and shake the bottles really well.

You will want to shake the bottles once more just before play, as some of the corn starch will settle at the bottom of the bottle.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles

This seems like a very simple activity from TheIdeaRoom.net. And I think it could and should be. But we had a couple of problems.

When we went to break the glow sticks to pour the liquid into the bottles of bubbles, we realized the glow sticks we purchased had small glass vials inside the plastic tube. These were the only ones at our local Wal-Mart.

So in trying to break or cut the glass vials, we ended up with broken shards of glass everywhere. But we were still able to get the liquid into the bottles so it all worked out okay.

The bottles lit up with the glowing liquid which was fun to see on a summer’s night. However, when the girls blew, the bubbles themselves didn’t glow very much. But the girls had fun with their bright bottles, so all in all, it was a fun and successful activity. Next time, I’ll try to find different glow sticks to use.

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      Materials:

  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles

      Directions:

Break or cut open glow sticks. Pour contents into the bottle of bubbles. Shake well and have fun.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including games, activities, treats and more. Visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun/.

 


Put a little pop in your 4th of July celebration

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 3 …

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By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new ideas for your Independence Day family get-together or neighborhood gathering? We’ve got you covered. The NNL Fourth of July Pinterest page has over 200 ideas to help you out.

We experimented with three ideas this week: Confetti Launchers, Firecracker Cookies and July 4th Layered Drinks. And did so pretty successfully.

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Confetti Launchers

This simple idea comes from the Piikea Street blog, piikeastreet.com, as a kid-friendly, inexpensive alternative to real fireworks. They write: “No big bangs or smoke but still very cool.” I used patriotic paper but these would be fun for your kids to get creative with and do the decorating on their own.

      Materials:

  • toilet paper tubes
  • decorative paper or markers
  • 12” balloons
  • tape
  • paper
  • scissors

      Directions:

Cut some paper into confetti-sized squares and set aside.

Decorate your tubes anyway you like with paper or markers.

Cut a balloon in half and tie the end. Wrap the larger end of the balloon over one end of the tube and secure with tape. Try your best to keep the balloon taut but don’t bend it.

Take your poppers and confetti outside. Add a heavy pinch of confetti to the tube. Point it out, pull back the balloon end, let go and enjoy.

4thCookie

Firecracker Cookies

These cute sugar cookies come from MomDot.com and are sure to put a pop in your July 4th party … literally. You top these sugar cookies with pop rocks which pop in your mouth. She suggests topping with red pop rocks as well as a white sugar and blue gel mixture. To save time, I thought I would top them with both red and blue pop rocks and omit the blue sugar. I purchased red and blue packages of pop rocks; however, the blue, which was tropical punch flavored, ended up looking more green than blue. So I’d go the blue sugar route.

      Ingredients:

  • your favorite sugar cookie recipe or pre-made refrigerated cookie dough
  • butter cream or white frosting
  • 2 packs of red pop rocks
  • white sugar and blue gel paste

      Directions:

Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe and frost after they have cooled. Create blue sugar by adding sugar and blue gel paste into a blender and turn on for 30 seconds. Sprinkle sugar on frosting and then sprinkle pop rocks on cookies. You will hear them crackle as they hit the frosting. If you’re not going to be serving them right away, you might want to wait to top with the pop rocks.

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July 4th Layered Drinks

These non-alcoholic drinks are fun and perfect for your family or neighborhood gathering. They come from InKatrinasKitchen.com.

She says “you can layer the drinks in any way you like but the secret is in the sugar content. The other secret to success with layered drinks is plenty of ice.”

We had to play around with them some as we got too much cranapple juice in one and not enough in another. Despite those minor issues, they looked fun and tasted good, too.

      Ingredients:

  • 1 C. red cranapple juice
  • 1 C. white Sobe piña colada drink
  • 1 C. blue G2 Gatorade
  • ice

      Directions:

Fill your glass 1/3 of the way full with cranapple juice.

Then fill to the top with ice.

Slowly, pour the second layer directly on top of an ice cube. Then repeat with the third layer.

Note: you must pour slowly and directly over the ice for it to work.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Fourth of July” Pinterest page including decorations, treats, crafts for the kids, games and more. Visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/fourth-of-july.

 


Put a twist on your s’mores this summer

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 2 …

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By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    S’mores scream summer yum and fun, sitting around a campfire, enjoying the stars and lightning bugs.

But there’s more you can do with your graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows. Pinterest is full of ideas for variations on s’mores, especially when you’re not near a campfire or fire pit and still have a craving for that favorite summer treat.

My 17-year-old son, Hunter, who loves to cook and bake, helped me with these s’mores ideas.

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S’mores in a Jar

This idea came from OliviasCuisine.com. She writes: “My favorite thing about making S’mores in a Jar is that they are portable.”

They are made indoors but can be enjoyed anywhere and her recipe goes a bit beyond normal s’mores because she utilizes a simple ganache.

She used half-pint jars but we had some extra pint jars from last week’s projects so Hunter doubled it and did two layers instead of just one; a little different than hers but they turned out great. I loved that these could be eaten with a spoon and not the mess. And the ganache was a fun twist.

      Ingredients:

  • 4 chocolate bars, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. marshmallow creme
  • 16 graham cracker squares
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • mini marshmallows for topping
  • 4 half-pint jars

Instructions:

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until bubbles start to form on the side, about two minutes.

Add the chopped chocolate to a medium-sized bowl and pour the hot heavy cream on top. Let it sit for a minute and then whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Process the graham crackers until finely crumbed. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.

To assemble, start by adding 1/4 of the graham cracker mixture to the bottom of the jars. Then add 1/4 of the marshmallow creme, 1/4 of the ganache and finish off by topping with marshmallows.

Using a cooking torch, toast the marshmallows until browned. Or, you can line the marshmallows in a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until toasted.

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Baked S’mores Bars

This is another twist that can be made indoors. It comes from RachelSchultz.com. It’s one we’ve actually been making for a couple of years now because I’m not really a fan of traditional s’mores. I don’t like that the chocolate never melts enough and the marshmallows never turn out perfectly when we roast them. So this recipe satisfies those things for me. It’s melted chocolate and marshmallow bliss. No #PinterestFail with this one.

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      Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/3 C. flour
  • 3/4 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
  • 1 and 1/2 C. marshmallow creme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture. Press half of dough into a greased 9×9 pan. Set chocolate bars on top. Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate and top with remaining dough.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry if the marshmallow oozes out the top. Makes 9 bars.

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S’mores Campfire Cones

This s’mores twist from FrugalCouponLiving.com is fun and easy, whether you’re camping in the woods or just grilling in your backyard.

I maybe got a little too confident with my no #PinterestFail comment above after our recent successes because we had a couple of problems with this one. Now that we know what we did wrong, though, a little tweaking should improve them.

Hunter layered the marshmallows and chocolate chips so that when it melted, all of the melted marshmallow was together in a clump, either at the top or the bottom of the cone, and all of the melted chocolate was together. We decided it would be good to mix the marshmallows and chocolate chips together in a bowl and then add them to the cone that way. Parts of the cone also got a bit charred so we would recommend the lower amount of time and put them back on the grill or campfire if longer is needed.

      Ingredients:

  • 12 sugar or waffle cones
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • optional: butterscotch chips or any other flavor (we also tried peanut butter with the chocolate)

Instructions:

Fill each cone with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrap in aluminum foil.

Heat on the grill or campfire for 7 to 10 minutes (also works in the oven). Keep away from direct flames.

Be careful as contents may be hot. Unwrap and enjoy.

Additional s’mores ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including s’mores brownies, cheesecake, cheese ball, parfait, cobbler, snack mix and even fried s’mores.

For these and other ideas for the summer, visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun.

 


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