Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Little About Beetles And Oatmeal Cookies

All the children insisted we walk yesterday, despite my pleadings to stay warm and cozy inside. They wouldn't hear of it! So we braved the cold....See the snow falling on the mountains (pictured above) ?

Mary Margaret packed her Teddy, a basket to collect treasures, and a journal to make little pictures of what she saw. The boys were intent on building forts.

By the time we got to the pine woods, or at least what is left of the pine woods, the sun had come out. It was still blustery and very cold, but the sun warmed, anyway!

Unfortunately, the pines are slowly being destroyed by Pine Beetles. When I was young, I watched a favorite pine forest get completely stripped by Pine beetles, so I had a suspicion the same pest was responsible here. Our investigations confirmed my theories.

photo courtesy:  NFS

The children learned about the role the bark plays in protecting the tree, and how a minute creature can cause widespread devastation. These beetles are only as big as a half a grain of rice (half of a wheat berry, Oliver said). Their numbers are so great, they do massive damage. Doesn't Nature teach us life lessons in such a gentle manner? There is strength in numbers, and it can be for good or bad. Even the little good we do has great effects. Conversely, the poor choices we make also affect everyone. There is no such thing as a "personal" sin.

Before we left the pines, we found evidence of another insect pest. Do you know what this is? I don't. I can see where the insects exited the gall, but I don't know what made it.

We headed home; no-one wanted to leave. A good friend of mine's mother used to say "Always leave the party while you're still having fun." I think that's good advice with children, too. Head home, if possible, before everyone is cold and fussy and dying to leave.

When we got home, Emily gave me the nicest compliment I've ever had in my life. She said:

"I love the way our house is always cozy and warm with good things to eat."

Doesn't it make it all worth it to hear something like that? I may only hear that once, from one child, but I'll take it, and remember it forever. It's a handle to lean on for the not-so-complimentary days.

When Emily said that, we had just made oatmeal cookies. I actually used all whole wheat flour, and only brown sugar. The children loved them! I'll end by posting the recipe.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 sticks butter melted  (I melt in microwave)
1 Cup brown sugar  (stir into melted butter with a spoon)
1 tsp vanilla  (stir into butter-sugar mixture)
1 egg  (again, stir into mixture)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (stir in)
1/4 tsp cloves (stir in)
1 tsp baking soda (stir in)
1 3/4 cups of flour (stir in- I used whole wheat. You can use white or a combination of the two)
2 cups oats (stir in)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (stir in)

Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 10 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
This recipe is adapted from: Winnie The Pooh's Cookie Book.
Have fun!

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