Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The End of the Trail? A New Beginning...

What's Schoolin'?

Nothing.  That's the strange part.  My schooling of my oldest is over.  Done.  Finished.  I'm not hauling out all of my materials for her.  I'm not conferencing with her about her goals for this upcoming year, how we'll meet graduation expectations, or what curriculum she wants to use for Math.  I'm not thinking about her learning style and what will be a good match pedagogically.  I don't have stacks of school supplies for her.  They are all boxed up and... gone... with her... to college.

Yes, there's a void.  I homeschool.  It's what I do.  It's my life.  My children's schooling is my life because our lives are our schooling.  Make sense?  It does to me :).  Especially with a Montessori slant on schooling the line is sometimes blurred between life and schooling.  And, thanks to being the overthinker that I am, I can think about school at all times when I'm jazzed or planning units.  I am not thinking about her schooling.  It's weird!

And yet it is a new beginning.  I am excited for her as she faces new experiences.  I'm thrilled that she cares what I think and calls to share or touch base.  Now that she's a 'college student' my role has shifted.  From guiding and leading to guiding and supporting/encouraging.  From informer to listener.  From Mom and Friend to Mom and Friend.  Wait - that hasn't changed!  Our relationship will continue to grow and flourish as we delve into the world of young adult and beyond.

I feel soooo blessed to have her for my daughter.  To like and enjoy one's child is a joy beyond description.  Missing her is a pain I cherish because it underscores the love and enjoyment between us.

It is also a new beginning for my other children.  The dynamics of a family shift when one is absent.  They miss her as well and are not a part of each others' daily lives any more.  I also feel soooo blessed to have them for my daughters.  It warms my heart to see how much each sibling loves the others - and how they like each other!

I have another senior this upcoming year.  We'll treasure and cherish each others' company as we put closure to this stage in her life as well.

[SIGH]  Okay... so now it's time to get refocused and actually start planning for the other 2!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Easy, Easy, Easy Fermented Flavored Lemonade

What's Cookin'?

This is embarrassingly easy, but I'll post it anyway :).  We don't drink juice very often but after playing tennis in the summer heat this drink is both refreshing for the kids AND probiotic.  It also has less sugar than it would without the lacto-fermentation because the good guys feed off of the sugar in the original drink.  Organic Santa Cruz lemonades have been on sale lately, so that's what we've been using.

Step 1: Strain plain yogurt with live bacteria to get whey to use in the lacto-fermentation process.  I get a single serving size of yogurt and it only takes a few hours.  Save the collected yogurt - you've made cream cheese!  We like to salt it and spread it on crackers.

Step 2: Pour the strained whey into the bottle of lemonade.  Shake.  Let it sit overnight.  Refrigerate.

Step 3:  Enjoy!

In our normal lives I use this recipe using fresh squeezed lemon juice, filtered water, Unrefined cane sugar (rapadura, turbinado, etc), and whey.  Right now we are not living at home so this is a simple, easy alternative.  Also great for someone starting out with lactofermentation!

Another Note:
If possible, I recommend using an organic yogurt or one stating that it doesn't have any rbST hormone in it.  Also, whole fat doesn't have the unlisted thickeners that low- and non-fat versions do.  That said, sometimes I stare at the yogurt aisle trying to pick the lesser of bad choices! I miss our homemade yogurt :).

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.

The above are affiliate links that help with a tiny commission for no extra cost.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Practical Life: Eye Pillows ~ Sinus Pillows

What's Cookin'?

We had homemade hamburgers tonight and we were oohing and ahhing through dinner.  I just don't make them very often.  In fact, I cheated and got grass fed/finished premade Kolbe patties.  I thought it was a lot to spend for one meal (2 big patties that we split between 4 of us) but it was less than 1/2 than it would've cost at the cheapest hamburger drive-thru - including sprouted hamburger buns.  Even though we split each patty good meat seems to fill us up more so we need less... So don't get discouraged! :)

What's DIY-in'?

Today we made 6 different eye and sinus pillows.  After reading and watching many tutorials I ended up just making my own measurements that fit within the fat quarters that I had. Each fat quarter is enough to make 2 pillows and 2 matching covers or 4 pillows.

Versions that we made:
- Lavender eye pillow [millet, lavender buds, lavender essential oil][another one using flax seed instead of millet]
- Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint (the "allergy bomb") sinus pillow [one with millet and one with flax seed]
- A blend with eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and other essential oils for sinus relief. [one with millet and one with flax seed]

Instructions for 1 eye or sinus pillow:

Cut 2 pieces of fabric (I used cotton and the scent came out very well when it was finished)

For a finished pillow 3-1/2 x 8-1/2, cut 2 pieces 4 x 9.

- Pin with right sides together.  Pin 3 sides leaving a short side open.  Sew using a 1/4 inch seam.

- Turn right-side out.

- Scoop 1 C filler into a bowl and mix in the oils thoroughly (I used millet for some pillows and flax seed for others but I used the same amount).  Pour into the pillow. If it is too full then it won't be pliable enough to fall across the eyes properly.

- Add 2 spoonfuls of lavender buds or other botanicals if adding any herbs or other botanicals.

- The general rule of thumb that I followed was 10 drops of essential oil when using a single oil (such as the lavender pillows) or a premade blend.  For the lavender/lemon/peppermint pillow I used 4 lavender drops, 6 lemon drops, and 6 peppermint drops.

- Tuck in the edge from the open side and pin closed.  I sewed over this edge twice; one seam at 1/4 inch and another at 1/8 inch.


As DD was mixing and filling she exclaimed, "My ears just popped!"  She gets seasonal allergies and had been stuffy and yucky.  It helped her clear up right away! :)

Plastic absorbs so we used ceramic bowls and stainless steel spoons.  We had to use a plastic funnel but, I guess because the oil didn't sit in it, it didn't seem to absorb any of the essential oils.

For some reason, when I smell lavender I feel like I am immediately detoxing.  I had to drink 3 full glasses of water while filling and sewing up the lavender pillow!

After the first batch I just stuck with organic millet for subsequent batches.  The millet seems to absorb the oils better.  However, I had a customer come to the table who was actually allergic to millet, so the flax I had was a great alternative for her.

I eventually made some plain millet ones as well.  One can drop the essential oils along the outside.  I do this with the small pillow diffusers and it works fine.


I plan on using a peppermint one for my next migraine and see how effective it is for the really bad headaches!
PS:  Here is our facebook page:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Deal Alert: Primal Pit Paste Blowout Sale

What's Savin'?

Primal Pit Paste is having a moving sale from 8/10/14 - 8/17/14. 

I like their Whipped Body Butter (which is seasonal).  My kids like the stick deodorants.  I wish they had the stronger one with more baking soda in a stick for traveling but maybe it'll come soon.  In the meanwhile, they are having a great sale.

Use the code  BIGBLOWOUT at check out for an additional 25% off, even if the product is already on sale.

Here is the website:

Happy shopping :)

I am not affiliated with Primal Pit Paste - I'm just sharing a good deal for a product I like to use.  However, if you miss the sale, here are some links that are affiliate links.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Horse Play

What's Funnin'?

This is just too cute to not post. I can easily imagine it around here with the temps hovering around 100F!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Restless Leg Syndrome?

I was reading an article about RLS in the Natural Grocers monthly magazine.  I got rid of my RLS by simply switching to Real Salt and by using it liberally.  Whenever my legs start to feel weird (if you have RLS you know what I mean) I put some Real Salt in water and take it as a supplement.  Really. 

Magnesium is also a well-known help for RLS.  However, I've noticed that when I take too much magnesium my RLS gets worse.  Maybe for me it's a more delicate balance of trace minerals and such.  I feel that way with ConcenTrace too but it works wonders for other people.  So, even though I use ConcenTrace sparingly, we definitely use it as a family with good results.

Anyway, what really surprised me was the iron mentioned in the article.  These are the recommendations they mentioned:

- Iron
- Folate
- Magnesium

Read the whole article here and, no, I am NOT affiliated with them at all.  I'm just sharing info that I hope might be helpful to someone.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Imaginary Island (Montessori - or any hands-on learning environment!)

What's Schoolin'?

The last time I posted about this was in 2010.  I love this simple material so much and it's been such a favorite with my children that I thought I would refresh and repost about it.  My youngest STILL likes it at age 12 - or at least until we boxed it up last November while she was still 11 (Hopefully it will be out of storage soon).

These are pictures of imaginary islands that they made with the cards.  Sometimes she draws her creations in her Geography notebook.  An additional extension would be for her to label those drawings.  You could even have land/water form cards with your Imaginary Island cards to lay out over their creations.


Scroll down for Stefanie's gorgeous imaginary island.

Mine are just printed in black and white on cardstock and I colored them in.  I should have used marker to color them but I won't redo this material - they don't know any different and like them just fine.
Here is a picture of our land and water form trays.  I use to have bigger ones with lacquered sculptey clay that was painted.  Honestly, I like these little ones better.  They fit in our Land and Water Forms basket with multiple works and since youngest was already 8 when I switched, the size is fine.  Plus, if they want to smoosh the clay and redo them they are not too big.  I took this to put in dd's culture notebook after she poured water in them.  We use to keep blue water in a bottle for this work but not any more.  She makes colored water whenever she needs/wants it:

More island resources:

It would be a great time to do a study of Hawaii, including St. Damian.


Island Literature for Olders:

This post has some affiliate links through which I may earn a tiny commission with no extra cost to you if you shop through them on your way to Amazon.  Please remember to preview recommended books before handing them to your kids :).

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deal Alert: Free Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils!

What's Savin'?

This is a shameless self-promo.  During the month of August, anyone who enrolls under my Young Living sponsor/enroller member number will get a free copy of the Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley.  Once you are enrolled I'll contact you and send you your copy. 

My sponsor/enroller member number is:  1634316

Please click here for the direct link to the sign-up page, or on the link pasted below [options for joining are on this page].  Let me know if you have any questions.

Click here to learn more about Young Living Essential Oils:

I'm not one that says "YL is the best and only good brand of essential oils."  It's what is working for me and my family, although I've been known to use other oils.  For example, Nature's Sunshine Peppermint Oil is my favorite peppermint.  I use Aura Cacia in most of my soaps and lotions.  However, when it comes down to therapy use, we choose Young Living.

I currently own the Essential Oils Pocket Reference by Gary Young and use it all of the time (well, sometimes I do other things like eat, sleep, etc so it's not a continual use, but you know what I mean!).  I have been wanting the Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils for months now.  I have looked at it in person and it looks wonderful.  I have also borrowed a friend's when I wanted to compare and expand from the information in my book.  That is what will arrive in your mailbox:  Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils.  I can't wait to get my own copy (which I'm ordering with yours!).


This post has affiliate links through which I may earn a small commission with no additional cost to you.  Thank you!


Deal Alert: Aldi

What's Savin'?

On Tuesday I swung by Aldi (which I always forget is there!) and got a dry pint of organic grape tomatoes AND a container of organic salad greens for about $4.  They also had organic baby carrots for $1.  It has lasted this family of 5 more than 2 meals; though it would probably have only lasted one if salad were the main course.  We served it with tacos one night and taquitos the next night for inside the tacos and as a side dish.  There are still plenty of greens left for today's leftover noodle/chicken/veggie dinner.

Anyway... while I was there I saw dehydrators for $19.99!  Yes, they may be smallish but what a great way to start or see if you like dehydrating.  We love our dehydrator and I can't wait to get back in a kitchen and be able to cook from scratch again.

On the flyer for this week they have posted:

Oranges: $2.49 for 3 pounds

Bananas: $0.39/pound

They also have blueberries on sale, $0.99/dry pint.  I would have to see where they are from though.  I quit eating USA blueberries and just eat Canadian since the US ones went on the Dirty Dozen list.  If they are Canadian I plan on stocking up and freezing them.

[I also saw that Sprouts has Santa Cruz organics on sale for 25% off this week]


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Mango Time!

What's Cookin'?

Mangoes are on sale for less than $0.50 each right now.  That is when I usually load up for the year - or I hold out for 3 for a $1.  I can't do it this year so we're just getting a few at a time and eating them (yum!).  However, this is what I have done in years past (and hopefully in years future!).

First things first:

You can eat green mangoes (best soaked a bit in lemon juice with Real salt!), ripe mangoes (very sweet, juicy, messy, and stringy!), or... my favorite... sazon mangoes - that perfect stage in which they are starting to get sweet but are not yet stringy... just perfect!  Sazon ripeness is when you can just barely start to feel 'give' when you gently sqeeze it

There are several ways to peel and cut mangoes.  Some people, one of my daughters included, like to use a potato peeler and peel it first, then cut it.  I like to slice it up first and use a paring knife to easily slide the peel off of each piece.  That way it's easier for me to hold it steady while I'm cutting.  When processing a bunch, we throw the seeds in a big bag and toss it in the refrigerator.  Then we eat them for snacks so we don't waste a bit of tasty fruit.  Just chew the flesh off of the seed like you are eating corn on the cob.

Preserving Mangoes

There are 3 main ways that we preserve mangoes.  Freezing, dehydrating, and canning.

Freezing Mangoes:  This is the easiest, fastest, and freshest way.  Simply prepare your slices, arrange single layer in your container of choice, and freeze.  You could freeze on parchment paper and then repackage.  Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I actually just use baggies (I know, I know! I don't recommend them!) and lay them flat in the freezer. 

Dehydrating Mangoes:  We love these for snacks!  Simply prepare your slices (thinner than for freezing), arrange single layer on your dehydrator trays, and dehydrate to taste.  I've been known to double bag and toss the dehydrated and cooled mangoes in the freezer.  Otherwise I keep them in a well-sealed mason jar in the cupboard.

Canning Mangoes:  Canning is non NT-friendly (NT=Nourishing Traditions) so I am not actually recommending this, but we will occasionally can fruits.  I generally use this website for canning help.  It is an amazing resource for finding fresh fruit/veggies in your area:

Note:  I just saw that the book Nourishing Traditions is on sale for $17.34 right now (instead of $27) and is eligible for free shipping with Amazon orders over $35.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.

There may be some affiliate links in this post which may give me a tiny commission with no extra cost to you.