Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Cookies ~ Declutter/Organize/*Maintain* in 2010

I have been kicked out of the kitchen! We are doing our annual "each child makes their own batch of Christmas cookies to share with the family" tradition that we just started today. :)

Oldest dd just put a batch of cinnamon sugar drop cookies in the oven. Yeah, it just beeped!
Middle dd is making chocolate chip cookies right now to slide in when the other ones come out. Mmmm.
Youngest dd and I will make sugar cookies. She wants to use the cookie cutters and decorate with icing.

Why are we making Christmas cookies on December 31st? Well, for us the Christmas season is in mid-stream. Don't ya' love it? We still have a gingerbread house to build, Advent Adventures to catch up on that we missed, stocking stuffers to get (all on sale now, happy dance - IF I can get out of the house before they box them up to send to nowhere), and rooms to clean/organize. Oops, don't know how that chore slipped in there!
It is so weird to tell the olders, "Let me know if you need any help" and just... leave the kitchen... (and stay nearby within earshot until they're ready to put them in the oven - Me a helicopter parent?? Nah!)

[Hours later]

Here are oldest dd's cookies:

Here are middle dd's cookies:

We ate cookies for afternoon snack with milk and later actually had them AGAIN after dinner with eggnog as a New Year's Eve treat. Ugh, too much sweetness at one time for me. Next week most of the candy/cookies will disappear so I let them overindulge. Dd complained that I'll probably freeze half of her batch - but she sure doesn't complain when we pull some cookies out of the freezer for surprise treats now and then or on Sundays!
What's Cookin'?
Yesterday was our first day home from a Christmas roadtrip to see my in-laws. I had lots of catch-up food work to do:
- Made yogurt.
- Made bread (the recipe said that it makes four 1 lb loaves but next time I'll divide into 2 or 3 loaf pans instead. Very good but short!
- Made yogurt dough for empanadas and an upside down pizza (right now the dough is just sitting on the counter staring at me)
- Cooked chicken and rice with veggies for dinner.
Tonight I just have some bone broth going. We used some for soup tonight so I topped the crockpot off with more water and will keep it going a bit longer. Even dh and youngest dd said that they liked the soup!! I just added cooked brown rice, celery, and a bit of seasoning.
Need to declutter?
Between yesterday and today we got both dc bedrooms cleaned, decluttered, and organized. I didn't go over them with a fine-toothed comb but they are clean, tidy, and livable. Truth is, youngest dd already has a new play set-up left out that slipped by me this evening (a complicated bunk bed that she made combining 2 different baby beds - it took her about an hour this afternoon to build it). Since they're having a sleepover together right now for New Year's Eve and I'm such a softie, I'll let her keep it out tonight and pick up tomorrow.
My immediate goal is to get the house in order before we start back to school. My looooong term goal is to MAINTAIN it! To help with the decluttering/organizing/maintaining (and motivation) I am going to keep these decluttering calendar pages handy this year. I've printed them out and have them on a ring. I'll keep it in the kitchen area. You can download them here and even sign up for a newsletter:
May you have a happy end to this year and a great 2010.
[BTW, I don't know what's up with the line spacing but it will not let me fix it - hope this post isn't too hard to read!]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

High School History Part 2

Here is the chart I came up with by comparing a school district, a part-time private academy, classical ed, and entrance requirements for state and private universities. I don't know why it changed the font in parts when I pdf-ed it; but if it's a problem reading it please let me know and I'll change it.

My current high school plan for history (subject to change!):

9th: World Geography (30 minutes 2x weekly); Modern US History (60 minutes 2x weekly)

10th: World Geography (30 minutes 2x weekly); Ancients World History (60 minutes 2x weekly)

11th: Government (30 minutes 2x weekly); Modern World History (60 minutes 2x weekly)
12th: Economics (US and Global) (30 minutes 2x weekly); History (Original documents study of various time periods) (60 minutes 2x weekly)

Please let me know of any blatant errors.

What's Cookin'?

- Youngest dd had a chocolate cake on Sunday. For the icing I used 2 softened sticks of butter, 2 dashes of vanilla, and powdered sugar until she said it was good. I keep devolving R's recipe into something thrown together but I still love the recipe! I never thought of making icing on my own before that. Thanks so much! For the cake itself, um, well, okay, it was boxed! I broke down and got the high-end organic box of chocolate cake 'cuz of the trans fats and such and it was soooo good.

- Last night we had homemade chicken noodle soup. We came home AT dinnertime and I needed something fast and nutritious. Keeping homemade broth in the fridge is a lifesaver. I poured some in a pot, threw in some noodles (happened to have vermicelli but sketty noodles work fine), tore up the lonely piece of leftover chicken into pieces, and added some frozen peas. It was delicious and took less than 15 minutes start-to-table. Once it was served I added some Salvadoran cream to mine and it was delicious (I've also used sour cream, whipping cream, and plain milk to make cream soup). The dc really liked it but dh was mysteriously absent :) - working on the car actually (He got the part put on, yeah!!!).

- I made a practice run of cinnamon rolls the other day (we eat C. Rolls on Christmas morning). It was excellent considering that I was using a 10-grain bread dough. I need to make another batch of plain dough to have ready for Christmas.

- We made some chocolate syrup by putting raw cacao powder in honey. It was gloppy in dd's milk but we're going to try it in hot milk - I think it will dissolve fine next time.

- I let a little package of chicken go bad in the fridge because life was just crazy. Whah! I hate wasting food!! It was just a $2 pack but still...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

High School History ~ 3 Kings Day


Oldest dd starts high school next year ...(pause for brief freak-out)... and the tiny remnant of Type A that exists in the corners of my self is prompting me to do this little planning project. I'm making a spreadsheet showing different scopes/sequences for history based on different sources/approaches. I'll be working backward to see what we need to focus on next year. The areas I'm exploring are: a school district HS history classes; a private part-time school history classes; classical ed; university requirements from a state university; university requirements from a private university. I'll post my findings later.

Three Kings Day:

I am so psyched about this new recipe. Our family tradition on Jan. 6th (Epiphany or 3 Kings Day or Dia de los Reyes) is basically this:
1. Eat a crown cake for breakfast [Oh, and we hide an almond in the crown cake and that person gets a small prize.]
2. Open stockings
3. Drink apple cider or hot chocolate while packing up the Christmas decorations and taking down the tree (I'm going to try homemade chocolate syrup using honey/cacao - we'll see how it goes).
4. Give a huge, satisfied sigh (while dh puts the boxes in the attic)

This is how we *use* to make the crown cake:

Layer 2 cans of cinnamon rolls in an angel food cake pan. Bake. Dump on a plate and drizzle with icing. Tastes delicious but full of the trans fats that we now avoid at home. Last year I *think* I used Kelly's bread recipe with her cinnamon roll instructions and did it basically the same.

(drum roll)

This year I'm using this recipe for sourdough monkey bread. I killed my sourdough starter a couple of months ago but I just started my first attempt of the 5-minute soaked bread recipe. In fact, a few minutes ago I took out a blob of dough to rise for the 10-grain variety. Anyway, I think you could just use whatever your basic bread dough recipe is and continue with her instructions. How easy can it get? Roll balls, dip in melted butter, roll in cinnamon sugar, put in the angel food cake pan, bake. Eat. Eat. Drink milk. Eat. Mmmm.

For the icing I'm going to use the butter/powdered sugar/vanilla combo (compromise food, to be sure - but in a small amount!). I will probably wing the amounts at the last minute.

By the way, this was posted on Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly at

What's Cookin'?

-I just had the *best* snack! Leftover spaghetti squash pesto heated in chicken broth with Salvadoran cream added in the bowl after serving with some salt added.

- Black beans were soaked last night and cooked all day in the crock pot. They are done and we'll eat them tomorrow mixed with rice (Casamiento) and corn bread on the side. I may throw some salsa in the Casamiento if I remember.

- There's a loaf of bread rising on the counter. I'm trying this recipe (I didn't have wheat gluten nor the seed mixture for the top):

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Advent = preparation of the heart and home for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

Advent Wreath:
Here is a picture of our Advent Wreath. Different Christian denominations sometimes have different colors. Ours are 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white Christmas candle in the middle which I *still* don't have. Advent is a penitential time and thus the purple color, with pink as the third candle to indicate that this time of fasting, prayer, examination of conscience, penance, etc. is almost over and the glorious celebration of Jesus' birth will soon be here. This site explains it better:

"The Advent wreath is an old German tradition that has gained much popularity in the last few years. Most Christian homes and communities practice this custom during the Advent season."

"Fastened to the wreath are four candles standing upright, at equal distances. These candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Three of the candles are purple, reminding us of the penitential nature of the season. A rose or pink candle is lit for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The name is taken from the entrance antiphon or Introit "Rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice." It is reminding us that the end of Advent is almost here, and we can hardly contain our joy. "

Jesse Tree:

We LOVE Holy Heroes Advent Adventure. They have 2 daily videos with one of them being an explanation of the Jesse Tree ornament for that day, including scripture for that ornament. Even if you are not Catholic, if you are doing a Jesse Tree this year you may want to take a look at that segment each day. Scroll down to the Jesse tree video segment. It's not too late to sign up for the daily e-mail links and you can back track to see previous Jesse Tree videos.
Below is a picture of our Jesse Tree. The laminated paper ornaments have lasted for years and we remake the simple paper tree each year - it takes me maybe 5 minutes (as you can tell by the quality!). Ours is just taped to the side of our kitchen cabinet. Last year we were fairly good about reading the scripture from the Bible and putting up each 'ornament' at breakfast daily. This year I've pretty much bombed on every Advent tradition (sigh) so we catch up when we can. I share this humble Jesse Tree so you won't be intimidated by the beautiful examples online. I especially like the one in which each ornament is on a small round piece of wood. Remember: the focus is Jesus, not our pride in having the "perfect" Jessee Tree :).

I originally got the pictures for our Jesse Tree ornaments from Domestic Church. I *think* I printed them on cardstock but it may have just been regular paper. The dc colored them. I then laminated and cut out. They don't have direct links so this is how to get there: On the top bar click on "fridge art." Then under Advent and Christmas click on "Family." Once in Family click on Jesse Tree. That will take you to the page with the links to print. I used pdf but they have them in gifs also.
Baby Cradle:

Our youngest donates a small baby doll cradle each year. This year it's broken but we're still using it :). Every time we make a sacrifice we cut a small piece of yarn and put it in the cradle. The idea is that by Christmas Eve the cradle will be lined with lots of yarn and be nice and soft for Baby Jesus. They really enjoy this and I've put in a few strands myself!

The picture below is last year's. I have to smile when I see it because the doll barely fits in the carefully lined cradle. You can barely see the yarn underneath. This doll is known around here as "yellow baby" because she originally had on a yellow outfit.

St. Nicholas Day:

Not technically an Advent event but falls during Advent. Our dc set their shoes out the night before with straw for the dear Bishop's horse (or grass from the back yard!). In the morning they find chocolate coins, a quarter, a candy cane, and maybe a Santa chocolate in each shoe.
I totally bombed St. Nicholas Day this year though - totally forgot until that morning. Agh!!! I've been struggling with no car, no time, no energy, no money, etc and it slipped. We're going to do it another day.

I should point out that we've always told our dc the truth about Santa. We try to watch/read a biography about the REAL St. Nick yearly but we "do" Santa for fun also.

If you haven't visited this website yet, it's a must. It is awesome with lots of info and ideas. This is a layout of the St. Nicholas presentation found there. I usually keep it in the religion cubby of our shelf work and they will pull it out and present to each other. Last year I put it up when rearranging so I need to take it out. Gee, sure would have been nice to re-present on St. Nicholas Day!
I'm bummed that I can't find Santas for my "collection" (of one!) that don't look like "Santa" but rather look more like a Bishop or of the Old World style St. Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas Lapbook:
We used info from the website above to create lapbooks several years ago. This is just the cover but if I have time and remember I'll eventually upload the inside.
Advent Lapbook:
The same year we did these. I need to do them again with youngest dd.
What's Cookin'?
Well, when I *started* writing this post I was having a productive kitchen day - mostly because there were some things that just couldn't be put off.
- I processed all of those lovely pumpkins. The baking was the easy part. The dc helped me 'gut' them and scrape off the meat. The company was nice - otherwise it would've been drudgery. Come to think of it, dh quickly disappeared when I pulled out the pumpkins! [I'm not complaining, actually he's trying to fix the car]
- Oldest dd made a batch of cinnamon sugar cookies.
- Middle dd made another batch of the same cookies
- Youngest dd made a mess playing with her toys :). I think she got 'kitchened' out from the pumpkins.
- I FINALLY got to make a meatloaf for dinner that I had been trying to get to for days. We had mashed potatoes with sweet pototoes together. Peas rounded it out perfectly (and the dc also had bananas - I know - doesn't go at all).
- I browned another pound of ground beef for tacos/spaghetti/whatever.
- Oldest dd and I made a pumpkin pie while middle dd was making her cookies.
Last night I made spaghetti squash with pesto. I wasn't sure the family would go for that noodle substitution so I made a small pot of noodles for them with pesto and I added a bit of chicken in it. I served them the sketty squash with just butter on it. They liked it that way and I loved it with pesto. [I got another one yesterday for $1 a pound - I think I'll cook it and freeze it]
- Middle dd made blueberry muffins for a Food Show.
- Oldest dd made peanut butter ball cookies for a Food Show.
- My water kefir has been totally neglected this week and has probably turned to vinegar. I'm going to put in 1/2 juice, 1/2 water for about 8 hours to revive them a little. I have a 1 qt jar and an "experiment" 2 qt jar that I usually use for lemon/ginger. I think I'll throw them all together in the 2 qt jar for this revival. Then I'll do a plain recipe for a few cycles.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kroger Spectrum oil sale

If you are local (or have a Kroger grocery store) and you use Spectrum's coconut oil or palm oil you may be interested in this. Kroger has the refined coconut oil on sale for $5.99 and the palm oil (NON trans fat vegetable shortening) for $4.99 (I think?). I got 2 of each and saved about $10.00. I've seen these on sale for several weeks - I don't know how long they will be on sale but it's not just the weekly ad sale.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Snake Game/Avocados/Apple Juice/Food rant-titanium dioxide

Yes, that's quite a title! :)

Snake Game:

All of my dc (and I!!) are pulled toward the snake game. The olders outgrew it and youngest dd has been using it this year (and last year). I made it using pony beads and pipe cleaners. That was extrememly inexpensive and has lasted about 5 years (is it possible that it's been that long???) with a lot of use in a home environment. This picture is tiny - below is the link to my webshot picture.

When I first introduce it I use some snake pages someone shared in which there are numbers that evenly work out to tens. For example: 2+8+4+6+9+1+7+3+5+5. They can be scrambled but the pairs should always be together so that there is a ten for every 2 bars. These are in the box and the child uses them on their own. Once they are ready (and can proficiently self-check, which seems to be the hard part) I introduce the black/white bead bars and they can begin to create their own snakes.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Here is a great demo video (short and sweet) by Suzanne of JMJPublishing. Click on Positive Snake Game 1, 2, and 3.


I have a love/hate relationship with avocados. I LOVE to eat them. Especially on a sandwich (with or without ham) with sauerkraut. I HATE to waste them. Which I do. A lot. You would think that someone who grew up in the tropics eating them all season long would know how to properly select one. I either cut them too soon (ick) or wait too long (ick, ick). Or, my all time favorite - set them in a bowl on top of the fridge for "just a day" and forget all about them.
Recently my mom had some little snack packs that I fell in love with immediately. Single servings of fresh avocado. Portable too! They slip easily into my lunchbag for on-the-go eating or at work. Unfortunately they are a little too much for what I want to spend for 3 servings.
Last week I got a different kind of packaged avocados (read: less expensive). They were halves, not mashed, and the only ingredient is avocado. No preservatives. They are vacuum-packed and have an early expiration date. The package had 6 but they are all in the same seal so I had to decide how to handle the extra (even I can only eat so much avocado at a time!).

I remembered the advice posted on a group: freeze it! After eating my fill of avocado sandwich I mashed the rest and mixed it with fresh juice from 1/2 lemon (actually it was a 'lime' which are green lemons to me and limes are a different fruit altogether - sort of like calling a grapefruit an orange, but anyway...). I added a little Real Salt also. After mixing I spooned it into an ice cube tray and stuck it in the freezer.

I was making rice wraps for lunch (youngest dd really likes rice wraps with meat and cheese) and remembered the avocado in the tray. I popped them out, left one to thaw, and put the rest in a baggie back in the freezer. I put it in my rice wrap with (you guessed it) sauerkraut. They stayed a pretty bright green and it was delicious! [Should I add that, being the impatient person that I am with inanimate objects, that I put it in the skillet a minute to hurry it along??] $1.99 is worth it to me for approximately 10 servings of delicious and healthy avocado - and no waste!!


The other day I had the pleasure of being stranded at home for the day. It really was a pleasure that I relished (once I got over the fact that I couldn't do what I had planned for the day). I had a container of organic apple juice that the dc had picked weeks ago for a remake of the "Killer Pancakes" recipe that are sort of like 'pancake muffins.' I didn't want it to go bad so I did the following on our home day:
- Apple flavored Killer Pancakes [the batter was a fiasco so I ended up pouring it in a baking pan and later cutting like granola bars - they ended up really liking it]
- Apple water kefir
- Apple juice jello. I was so thrilled when I found out that you can make jello from fruit juice. They can enjoy a mainstream treat without the dyes and excess white sugar. The recipe is on the box of plain jello but it's basically 2 cups juice plus the packet (pour 1/2 cup juice in a bowl and sprinkle the packet on it while you boil the juice. Then pour in the juice and stir to dissolve. Done. No more work than the normal packets and no dyes!).

Taking advantage of being at home I also:

- Made a batch of yogurt using Braum's milk because they don't "routinely give antibiotics" to their cows nor does it have hormones. Not organic but the closest to it on a tight food budget. That's my compromise milk and I save the good milk for drinking.

- Made rolls for sandwiches.

Warning against exposure to nano titanium dioxide:

If I understand correctly, it's the nanoparticles that you can inhale or ingest that are the problem, not the actual titanium used for joint/teeth implants. Honestly I haven't studied that but the focus of this study was the nanoparticles. (Thanks, C. for posting on the group!)

I've noticed titanium dioxide in foods recently but I'm focused on so many things to avoid already that I barely registered it. That will now change. I usually put the packages back anyway (sigh). Our modern lifestyles lend themselves to convenience foods but many of the modern convenience foods are poisoning our kids. Even traditionally healthy foods have unnecessary additives. Please, banana flavoring in dried bananas (I am now grabbing and pulling my hair). "Mold inhibitor" in cheese??? Give me a break! Cheese molds. It's natural. That chemical that we'll find out later causes cancer isn't! Now I only buy block sharp cheddar cheese with the Kroger or Wal-Mart label. Kraft has it in their block also and they all have it in the shredded. Either eat it quickly, freeze it, or cut off the fuzzy green parts all around the outside, lol.

I feel a rant coming on....deep breath....that's better...

I REALLY want to check out and read Pottenger's Cats. My dc are 3rd generation cats (that sounds so weird, lol). In his experiment the 3rd generation quit reproducing entirely (or was it the 4th? Like I said - I still need to read it). Obviously the study was with cats and does not directly pertain to people; but it does point to the role of diet/nutrition and it's effect on a species. We have so many fertility issues in this country. Coincidence? And that's just one indicator of the damage done to humans. My mom's generation started off with good, healthy, traditional foods. Her's changed to the modern mass food conveniences so that's what I started out with - trans fats, dyes, high fructose corn syrup, dead milk, dead/toxic cereals, etc and it's all I knew. My dc started off with that even before they were born. Along with all of the bad I and they were ingesting was the LACK of good stuff to counterbalance it. Is it any wonder that even during cancer treatment she was still running circles around me as I struggle to rehab from Lyme?? She at least got a good start before her eating habits changed. I think that made a difference.

Quote of the Day:

"Humour plays close to the big, hot fire, which is the truth, and the reader feels the heat."


Monday, November 30, 2009

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

One of dh's favorite turkey-leftovers meal is a simple turkey sandwich with mayo, salt, and pepper. Our first dinner back home mainly consisted of heated leftovers brought back from my mom's, and a turkey sandwich for him. I had forgotten about the leftover stuffing and made brown rice (with turkey broth - thanks, T., for sharing your broth!). That turned out to be a good thing because I used the rice for the next day's dinner.

For the next day's dinner (yesterday) I cooked onion, broccoli pieces, and cauliflower in 1/2 palm oil, 1/2 butter and put in some seasonings (don't ask me what they were though because I can't remember!). After they were heated through I cut up some leftover turkey meat. The scissors made it so easy - I always forget to use them. When that was also heated through I put in the cooked rice. When that was hot I added enough milk to make a nice sauce. The butter and spices were already in there so it basically makes a white gravy without actually making it first and then adding (I'm a lazy cook). Oh, and a turkey sandwich for dh :). I love these one-skillet meals with the meat, veggies, and rice or noodles all together. We had the last bit of pumpkin pie with my most recent discovery: frozen homemade whipped cream. Better than ice cream!

I'm on my second batch of turkey broth using the same bones. I think I can get a third batch from them, we'll see. The rest of the bones are in the freezer for later because I don't have any more room to store broth. I plan on getting back on my cup-of-broth-a-day habit. I did that for about 8 months with just a few pauses. I could literally feel my knees and elbows burn and itch inside for a few days each time I would start back on it if I missed more than a day or two. My theory is that some of the lyme damage was healing. The kitchen smells so good with that broth cooking in the crockpot - and the foil lid is so attractive! I may steal some out of it to make soup for lunch since it's already hot and pour in some extra water to make up for it.

What else is cookin'?

- I made pumpkin bread yesterday in case my in-laws came by. Good thing, too, becuase they did come by with only an hour notice. It wasn't the best bread I've ever made so I won't post the recipe. Later I found the recipe we have been using so I think I'll make some again.
- I have an eggplant that needs to be cooked today. The dc want breaded/fried eggplant.
- I started purging a recipe binder I have yesterday. I ran across a recipe that uses couscous with broth, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, and powdered ginger. I used cracked bulgar wheat instead and used hot broth to soak it. I haven't tried it yet but it should be soft and ready to eat now. I'll give it a little taste. Hmmm.... interesting.
- This morning we had Kelly's breakfast oatmeal but I only used 1/2 the maply syrup. I heat water in the tea kettle, warm the bowls with hot water first, dump it, serve the oatmeal and pour in hot water to their desired thickness.
- Now that Thanksgiving is over and their decorative appeal is also over, these pretty little pumpkins will be cooked and pureed this week - hopefully today.

What's Schoolin'?

- Youngest LOVES the cuisenaire rods. She doesn't quite use them the way they're meant to be used though :). She is enjoying the parts of a horse using the velcro labels on the plastic horse.
- Middle dd is studying the presidents. She is memorizing them by choice.
- Oldest dd is working with maps.
- All three have to write animal reports for their enrichment classes. Since I'm carless we'll have to use online sources only.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Field Trip

Here are some pictures from a field trip last week to a state park.

This is a picture of poison ivy. You can get poison ivy rashes even in the dead of winter - I had no idea! The vines just looked like sticks. These are the berries to help you identify it while it's dormant.

This owl was tame and used for a talk/demonstration. To the right is a picture of deer tracks in the mud.

Before the land was bought by the government it was an old homestead. Here is the chimney from the log cabin dating back over 100 years. The tree was already grown at the time of the log cabin - she said it was 300 years old.

As we were driving out of the park we got to watch a road runner for quite a while. It ran across the road in front of us and then stopped. We ended up leaving first - that's how long it stayed.

What's Cookin'?

I was going to take pictures of our pancakes this morning but I obviously didn't get there in time! The big plate HAD regular and the little plate HAD the banana pancakes. Here is the recipe that I got offline a few years ago and below is what I actually did.

Original Recipe:


- 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1-1/4 C milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
[my notes said: "It's a little thick. Add a bit of water to thin]

What I actually did:

- 1 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup white.
- 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon rapadura sugar (it may be demerara)
- 1-1/4 C milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- I also added 1 tablespoon liquid oil (mine was either safflower or sunflower; I'm not sure because the label fell off a while back).

I soaked the flour and milk overnight and added the other ingredients in the morning. I happened to have some fresh eggs from a friend's chickens (yum!). It needed more water than I remembered to thin it to the proper pancake consistency but they came out really tasty. I made 1/2 the batter and then added 1 mashed banana for the rest of the batch. I didn't add it earlier because I wanted to be able to eat one - yes, purely selfish reasons!

Other cookins:

- Middle dd made blueberry muffins this evening. Mmmm.
- I HAD to have some potato chips so I made one and shared with dc (sort of). I sliced it thin and cooked in palm shortening.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sales, sales, sales!

I just wanted to share a few sales going on in case you haven't seen them yet. Two of my favorite subjects: food and school! [and no, unfortunately, I get nothing from either of these companies; I just think they are exceptional products]

Tropical Traditions has some awesome sale prices right now. I don't have the budget for big ticket items but I'll be ordering their tooth cleaner and lip moisturizer.

I've been using their unflavored lip balm and just love it so now I'll get one for each of the dc. Check out these ingredients: organic virgin coconut oil, organic beeswax, and organic virgin palm oil. That's IT!! At $2.50 you can't do much better for a petroleum product at the store.

I've been avoiding glycerine and flouride in tooth care products for the last 6+ months so their tooth cleaner caught my eye a while back. I've been trying to remineralize my (bad) teeth although I have to admit that I haven't been doing all that I could. I need to be more diligent. You can see them here. The only ingredient I'm not sure about is xanthum gum. Any opinions on that?

Their organic palm shortening is 44% off right now! Wish I could get it since I use it often. No trans fats! Feel free to put "Referred by 5685391" in the section of "How did you hear about us?" at checkout (I think it goes under 'referred by friend' - thanks!). Check them out:

I think if I were to ever get the dark chocolate peanut butter I would be seriously addicted!

In the Hands of a Child will be having their annual Black Friday sale. I use to write my own unit studies, but I felt compelled to write a thesis for every topic we studied! I really enjoyed it but I reached a point in which I just needed something that covered what we needed and had to let it go. This way we can add rabbit trails if we wish but there's also an end :). We generally lapbook science and history for the olders and units for the younger of her choosing. This year has been an adjustment school-wise so the olders are still finishing up their early 1800s lapbook for home during the sporadic time that we have. I may post them eventually. Officially they're studying history at their enrichment classes.

I've used several lapbook units from HOAC and have been pleased with every one. They also have quarterly freebies but I have not been able to download any of the recent ones - not sure why.

Check them out here:

Quote of the Day:

"There is no point dwelling on all the foolish mistakes we have made in our lives. For one thing, it can be very time-consuming." Dr. Thomas Sowell

What's Cookin'?

I'm sort of stagnated this week and am too tired to soak/plan for tomorrow. I'm sure I'll regret it tomorrow! Middle dd needs to use up the strawberries I got her last week for her preserves asap! The week just got so busy that her preserves got bumped every day.

Enjoy the sales!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Going Bananas

Kroger has bananas on sale for $0.39/pound this week. So, I went a little bananas :) and got 15 pounds. Does it sound a little overboard? It's not really, just 3 produce bags full (okay, bulgingly full).

What does one do with so many bananas?

1. We've been doing the obvious: eating them.

2. I put a bunch (or maybe it was two bunches!) in the dehydrator. Actually, I think 11 sliced bananas fit in the trays. That left one tray for the soaked almonds and one tray for almond 'mush' that will become almond flour [I'm waiting for the almond mush to finish drying so I can use that tray for breakfast cereal that is ready to crumble]. The dc really like dried banana chips for their lunches or on-the-go snacks. Lately I've been noticing "banana flavoring" on dried bananas in the stores. What? Do bananas not have enough banana flavor? I haven't found any lately without that or without sulphur dioxide so we just make them. As a side note though, I DID find some salty plantain chips with just oil and salt -mmmmm.

3. We'll freeze some to use for smoothies.

4. Have you ever tried sliced banana drizzled with a bit of honey? What about baked bananas? Fried lightly in a bit of butter sprinkled with cinnamon?

5. If any last beyond the perfect ripeness we may make banana bread or banana pancakes.

The down side: I'm allergic to bananas and can't eat them! I may have gotten over my allergy by now but I just stay clear anyway. Good for the dc though.

School Materials:

The Europe map is colored and laminated. Next step: glue to foam board (instructions for making pin maps is in the works).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pin Map Instructions

[See pictures below]

1. Find your map and print it out. I like the 2x2 size (4 pages). Owl and Mouse (listed in other post) is an excellent resource.

2. Color. I use the command cards as a guideline for Europe but when I was finished I realized a few countries were missing and I had to make a few new cards and tried to fit the same size. Each command card says something like: "Find Germany. Color it green. Mark Germany off of the list." I should make the list now but I have a feeling it's not going to get done so, instead of adding it to my "guilt list of things undone" I'll just let it go for now. Note: If you don't have command cards, just color however you wish with the water always blue.

3. Trim and tape pages together. I use scotch tape on the back.

4. Laminate [my favorite place to laminate is Mardel for only $0.25 a foot]

5. Use rubber cement to attach to foam board. You could use spray adhesives but I don't do well with those.

6. Trim using exacto knife and a metal ruler.

7. Finish the edges. I like to put some clear strapping tape around all of the edges. You can skip steps 5-7 completely if you are going to just use the map on a carpet square or corkboard.

8. Poke holes in each country. Stand back and enjoy your accomplishment. Call all of your children and allow them to bask in the glory of your talent with you (give them a gentle nudge if they don't oooh and aaaah right away).

9. Make your pins [this may be another post later with pictures]. T-pins work really well. Print and cut your labels (country name, capital, landmarks, whatever). I use blank white labels for the backing. I peel the blank label and place it sticky side up; put the T part of the T-pin on it; place the word label text side up; smoosh all together. Trim the edges. Ta-Da!

Storage: Since I don't have much room I have them stacked on several shelves. You can see how I added shelves to the tall shelf for map puzzles/pin maps at these links (since I can't get blogger to paste it here from a url).

The picture below on the left is when I had glued it to the foam board in the corner. It's on a white table so it's a bit hard to see. The picture on the right shows the tools I like to use to cut the foam board. Notice the extra foam board underneath - put something like that or cardboard under what you are cutting and don't do this on a nice dining room table! I always do it on the floor.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Creamy coconut bark

What's Cookin'?

Here is a good treat to get some extra coconut oil and probiotics into your diet.

I don't know the name for this; creamy coconut bark maybe?

Here is the recipe:
4 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
vanilla and sweetener to taste

Mix all together and drop bite-size blobs onto parchment paper and freeze.

**Here is what I ended up doing (the amounts are small because I was experimenting and had already eaten most of the cream cheese!):

-2 tablespoons coconut oil (I used refined for this - not as good for you as VCO, I know, but it won't help if I don't eat it).
-2 tablespoons butter (salted because that's what I had)
-2 tablespoons cream cheese (mine had probiotics because it was homemade using yogurt)
-2 teaspoons demerara
dash of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon raw cacao (less processed than cocoa but use what you have)

I melted the butter, CO, sugar, and vanilla together. Since I overmelted I had to wait a while for it to cool. Then I had to wait longer and finally stuck it in the fridge to cool. When it was finally cooled down but not hard I added the cream cheese. Well, it was a little hard because by that time I had gotten distracted and overcooled it. But it still mixed easily. This was cream cheese made at home from raw yogurt. I waited for it to cool before adding the cream cheese because I didn't want to kill the enzymes. Had I been using Philadelphia cream cheese from the store I wouldn't have been so particular on this point. I dalloped onto wax paper and put them in the fridge. It made 12 dallops :).

These are soooo good! Thanks, L., for the original recipe. My cream cheese had a sort of aged twang to it that gave it a teeny bit of sour twang. Regardles, still very good. I'll be making this again!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raised Beds Dilemna

After reading, flip-flopping, researching (and talking), and flip-flopping again, I decided to do a combination of the square foot gardening mix and lasagna gardening in my 2 new little garden beds - the blog is not called Eclectic Living for nothing! This is the layering I came up with as of right now... We'll see what I actually put down. If you see any major errors in this or see that I'm missing something important, please let me know in the comments or off-list. Here are a few photos of the work-in-progress.

- Layer of wet newspapers

- Very thin layer of diatamaceous earth. This goes back to my issues with pathogens.

- Mixture a la square foot gardening of 1/3 peat moss; 1/3 organic compost; 1/3 top soil (instead of vermiculite)

- Thin layer of dried molasses - mainly just sprinkled

- Mixture (same as above)

- A sprinkling of homemade bone meal

- Transplants

- Mulch around the plants

- Add kitchen scraps in areas not directly around the plants and put light layers of mulch on them throughout the winter (???). These spots will get planted in next spring.

- When it gets really cold in January maybe mulch some more?

Peat Moss or Coconut Fiber??

I have issues with using peat moss. I don't want to contribute to the destruction of the Canadian peat bogs when there is an alternative that is a byproduct of an industry already in existence. So, I looked for coir, aka coconut fiber, but the sheets were expensive and I couldn't find it in bags. Maybe I should look in the pet department/pet stores because I think it's used as bedding also.
But now I have doubts about that because I read a post in which someone said the coconut killed his plants. I need to find out more.
For these 2 beds I'm using peat moss because of the timing and because of the cost/availability. In the meantime I'll be searching for a local source for coconut fiber or an inexpensive online source for the 2 bigger beds I'll be making as time/money allows.
I hope to at least start coloring my enlarged Europe map today. I was going to try to follow the colors of a Montessori map but I think I'll just color it however. I follow the colors for the continents but don't think it will matter much for the countries. Hmmm. Maybe I should use the colors from the command cards since dc will be using those.
What's Cookin'?
- Bread is in the oven (bad me: unsoaked, rushed)
- Hopefully something with pumpkin! I froze 3 cups of the pumpkin I processed yesterday and kept 1 cup in the fridge to use today. I'm favoring pumpkin bread but need to dig out my recipes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Catching up

This week has been busy with catching up on Science Fair projects, catching up with go-along activities for Little House in the Big Woods, catching up with laundry, catching up with the garden project, catching up with kitchen work/food prep, and catching up with catching up! Oh, and throw in a sick day. Hopefully the weekend will include catching up on sleep and recreation :).

**I feel so honored... The author I blogged about, Robert Elmer, left a comment on my blog!!! What a nice man. I hope he keeps writing and writing more books for our youngsters. Scroll to the comments section to read it here:

Quote of the Day:

"If I were two-faced, would I being wearing this one?"-- Abraham Lincoln :)

The Garden:

I put together one of the raised beds for the garden today, yeah! It only took about 20 minutes since it was already cut (they do free cuts at Lowe's). Unfortunately I got the wrong kind of wood. I think we may have some non-toxic lacquer in the garage that I used on some children's furniture a long time ago. I'll give it a once-over with that for good measure. The one I put together today is 1x5 feet and will be the strawberry bed. Tomorrow I hope to lacquer it, set it out, and start layering in it. Hopefully by Sunday or Monday I can transplant the strawberries.

We're still struggling with the asp infestation. I'll spray again this weekend - which means it will rain the next day! That's been the pattern every time I spray.

What's Cookin'?

- I have 4 whole pumpkins roasting in the oven. I've never done this before so I hope it works!! I have 3 more that I'll try cutting in half, cleaning out, then baking and then I can see which method I prefer. However, if this way works out then I may just do the others the same - it was sooo easy. My only question about this way is whether or not the seeds are good for anything after being cooked inside the pumpkin as opposed to being scooped out before cooking and dried/roasted separately.

- chicken bone broth is in the crockpot

- We made sweet potato french fries for dinner tonight. It wasn't cooking fast enough in the oven (because I started too late) so I ended up dumping them into a pan and finishing them on the stove. Delicious.

- Serves me right... I gave in and got some onion rings at Sonic this afternoon. Sure enough, it must've had some corn meal in the batter because my hands are now bleeding (sigh). I knew not to get their tater tots but secretly hoped I could get away with the onion rings. They sure were tasty.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Winston Grammar

Olders are working on their history lapbooks, youngest dd is doing the pattern blocks, and I just sat down and typed up a few extra practice sheets for grammar. The olders are at the point of showing what words the adverbs modify and got a little stuck. Personally, I find adverbs to be the hardest part of speech. After working through the Montessori R&D Manual we started the Winston Grammar Program, Basic Level. Both are excellent and compliment each other beautifully.

I can see Winston Grammar easily used in a classroom setting. DH is a special ed teacher and sees how useful it could be in a lot of different settings for a wide variety of children. I think it would fall under Best Universal Practices. It's an excellent yet incredibly simple to use program. The cards are a good manipulative transition between concrete and abstract. Grammar is so abtract, isn't it? The cards are color-coded by part of speech, have the label of the part of speech with the coding on one side, and clues on the other side. What a perfect tool for active participation in the classroom and guided/independent practice. Perfect for whole group, small group, and individual work. Those who still need the cards to do the workbook can use them at their desks while others can just do the page without.

At home we usually do a few practice sentences with the cards and then they do the workbook page without. However, they can use the cards to see the clues if necessary. I would recommend this program after they have at least a cursory knowledge of the parts of speech. Our dc got a good foundation of that with the R&D montessori Otherwise, you could supplement with some hands-on lessons between each part of speech as it progesses.

Do I sound like an advertisement, lol??? Here is their link:

To be fair I should do a post later on the virtues of the Montessori R & D Grammar manual :).

What's Cookin'?

- Almond crackers [As I was putting in the egg white this morning I accidentally popped the yolk and tried to scoop it out best I could!]. These should go well with the goat cheese we got the other day.

- Almonds are soaking for almond milk

- We made Apple Bread yesterday as part of our All Saints Day celebration and it was a success. I think it was called Bobbing for Apples Bread at Oldest dd was sad to see me cut the leftovers into smaller pieces and put them in the freezer. I told her that this way they could take them in their lunches :).

The Garden:

I am so jazzed.

Background: Last winter we solarized a small area for my (our) veggie garden. Well, the bed never happened and we gardened in the flower beds and in a temporary bed around 2 small trees. BTW, the reason that we solarized it is because, of all places, we chose part of the area where we had trained the dog to go. If you knew my experiences with parasites you'd understand why I'd want to kill any microbes, good or bad, before starting a garden there.

Why am I jazzed? Because I now have a new plan. One I can start NOW. I am very much a project person, NOT a routine person (much to my chagrine!). Instead of one big bed I now plan on making several smaller beds. The area is 5x12 feet. I'll start by making a bed 5x1-1/2 feet for the walking onions and allums. Since it is smaller I can fill it more economically and faster. That's important because I want to transplant the onion now and I'm waaaaay overdue in planting my garlic. I can plant straight in there. I'll keep the onions I planted in the container this summer where they are and hope they don't freeze too hard this winter and just transplant the one from the flower bed. It will finally be able to walk! So, that will be my allum box.

Then I'll have another box 5x1 feet. There I'll transplant the strawberries. Since Dh is digging up our mystery tree near them, I want to get the strawberries out of there quickly. I hope the mystery tree makes it because I suspect that it's a plum or some type of fruit tree. I'd rather move the scraggly oak (and not worry if it makes it) but I see his point that it's more likely to survive the transfer than the oak.

I'll put one row of bricks in between each bed so I don't have to work in the mud. It'll be a tight walking space but I think it will work between those 2 small beds. Including the bricks, those 2 beds equal 4 feet, so I still have 8 feet left for 2 other, bigger beds. If I can get a rain barrell for Christmas I may be ready by spring!

The timer went off for the almond crackers and my computer time! :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dairy Field Trips

Dc and I went with a friend to milk another friend's goat yesterday :). They (and I) really enjoyed it! I'm so glad she invited us along. They also gathered eggs. There were some extra which I cooked for breakfast. I LOVE fresh eggs from a place I can trust. I plan on making some mayonnaise also while I have some of these.

Today we took another milk-related field trip. We all went to a local dairy. We got to pet some of the goats and cows. I was having so much fun looking through the front store and visiting with the owner - I felt like a kid in a candy store! I got some goat cheese, some goat soap, some organic sweet potatoes (3 lbs), oranges (that look like 'real' oranges, KWIM? Ugly by GMO standards, beautiful by real food standards!), dried fruit (with no perservatives), a vanilla bean for a friend, a small bag of salad mix, and five small pumpkins for cooking. Oh yes, and a bag of cookies for the sweet teeth in the family. I can't wait to go back!

I told the sweet lady that it is good for the soul to know that people still live like they do! Truly. I may not be able to live that life but I am SO glad that they are able to do that. What a blessing they are to others. Dh talked to the husband for a long time and seemed to really be enjoying himself as well.

We had such a great family day that we didn't even really notice that it was Halloween. When we got home the dc watched some TV and middle dd popped some popcorn (in coconut oil). Then dinner and on with our regular routine. Tomorrow we'll celebrate All Saints Day. I'll be searching for a special dessert to make, they'll dress up and we have to guess who they are, make 'spoon saints' (or rather popsicle stick saints) and do a word search and crossword I found at Not very extravagant but something to celebrate this special day and honor these wonderful role models who lived for and gave their lives up for Jesus.

What's Cookin'?

- Last night I finally made the eggrolls. They were very good.

- I'm draining some more yogurt for whey/cream cheese (D., this picture is for you!). Directions are in a previous post here:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Ending

We have really been enjoying Robert Elmer's book series called: Adventures Down Under. They are absolutely awesome. He's such a good writer that many nights I would groan at the end of that night's read-aloud when we had to stop and yell "Argh! I can't stand it!" The chapters always end making you want to read more!

HOWEVER, we weren't completely pleased with the ending of the last book of the series (sorry Mr. Elmer!!). So the Writing Challenge I've given to my olders is to either write a different last chapter or an additional chapter. Their chapter should have closure and answer some of the questions that we were asking after we finished reading it (we all errupted when the last sentence was read!). I'll be writing one also :). Maybe I'll post them after we finish.

Here is a link to his website. This particular series is OOP, what a shame - it is truly an excellent series (scroll down):

BTW, the AstroKids series is another excellent series by the same author. A great way to introduce the genre of Science Fiction. I usually laugh outloud in at least one place in those books. Unfortunately our library only has the first 4 in the series. We would LOVE to read the others. Youngest dd is reading one that we found at a used book store right now.

I look forward to The Young Underground series and others from this author. Really, I can't recommend Robert Elmer enough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Got Apples?

I had a blast making apple sauce and apple butter with some 4-Hers today at our humble abode. I love homemade apple butter for their PBJs because we know what's in it and, just as importantly, we know what's not. This is a simple recipe that can be tweaked according to your tastes regarding sweetness and texture.

Apple Sauce and Apple Butter

- 6 apples (2 red delicious, 2 granny smith, 2 gala)
- 1/4 C demerara or rapadura
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Peel and dice the apples.
2. Put about 1/2 inch water in a 1-quart pot.
3. Add the diced apples, sugar, and cinnamon to the pot. Cover.
4. Cook on medium heat until the apples are soft; stirring occassionally, approximately 20 minutes.
5. Mash the apples in the pot with a potato masher (it will be a bit chunky but we like chunky apple sauce/butter).
** Now it's apple sauce! Enjoy some in a bowl while you continue on and make apple butter :)
6. Cook with the lid off until all of the water is cooked off and you reach your desired consistency, stirring constantly, approximately 10 minutes.

This recipe made about a quart - it's hard to say exactly because we tasted it at the apple sauce stage and the apple butter stage. For tasting the apple butter I spread it on the crackers from the previous post.

Kelly is hosting this week's Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival.
Visit her link for lots of real food recipe links as part of the carnival.

Quote of the Day

Don't worry, it's not a political blog (even though I'm very opinionated on the subject) but I just couldn't pass this up.

Barney Frank: "We Are Trying On Every Front To Increase The Role Of Government"

Here is a video clip. He speaks quickly so you have to really pay attention to catch it. Gee, at least he's being honest. If you don't know who Frank is or what he's done in the past he had a major role in the fiasco of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here it is in a nutshell. I found this synopsis in the Wall Street Journal. It's short and worth the read. Here is a quote from the last paragraph:

"Mr. Frank has had many accomplices from both parties in his protection of Fan and Fred. But he was and is among the most vociferous and powerful..."

And yet, the saga continues. After all that's happened he is STILL pressuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to loosen its standards for some risky condo loans. This is from this year, after the bail out:

Now back to our regularly scheduled topics... :)

What's Cookin'?

Ack! I killed my sourdough starter! (sob!) Life has been so crazy the last few weeks that it's been neglected on the counter. I keep it on the counter because we make it so often... or rather *made* it so often. The water kefir is not looking so good either. It's probably vinegar right now. I'm off to put on my cape and try to save it before it's tooooo late.

On the upside we just made some non-NT animal crackers for 4-H this afternoon. Since I was so exhausted last night I didn't soak anything and didn't change anything in the recipe today. It is from a children's cookbook called Kinder Krunchies put out by Discovery Toys. It sure would have been easier to grab some crackers off the shelf at the store (sigh) but even though it's not NT I know there are no trans fats, excitotoxins, etc, etc. I quadrupled the recipe.

Animal Crackers

1. Grind 1/2 C oatmeal in blender until fine. (coffee grinder worked great)
2. Add:
2 tsp honey
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
3/4 C flour
1/4 tsp soda
3. Cut in 1/4 C butter
4. Add 4 Tblsp buttermilk
5. Roll very thin. Cut with animal cookie cutters.
6. Bake at 400F until brown (10-12 minutes).

Notes: I didn't have butter milk so I used half yogurt/half milk for the buttermilk portion. The first time we made this, maybe a year ago, we tried using animal cookie cutters and it didn't work very well. I just scored it in squares with a pizza cutter before putting in the oven and that worked really well. Oh, I added a little bit of cinnamon but not enough - you can't taste it.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I just get more and more impressed with Drug Emporium. I needed to go get the guinea pig pellets at Wal-Mart (I THOUGHT they were the only store in town that carries them) but really needed to get home quickly. I ran in to D.Emp. to get some medicine for dd and discovered that they had what I needed for the guinea pigs. Yeah!

Some other things that I get regularly at Drug Emporium: palm oil, honey, Clif nectar bars for dc's lunches or on-the-go snacks, Hain's safflower mayonnaise, Fran's Fryers frozen chicken, and my current food-addiction obsession - Boulder Canyon plain potato chips (one of only a few that don't use corn oil). They have better prices on the above items than any other local store.

What's Cookin'?

I was working on 3 meals during dinner prep today-and survived to tell about it!

- Dinner was baked chicken, cauliflower with a bit of cheese melted on top, corn, and brown rice (made with the liquid being 1/2 chicken bone broth and 1/2 saved water from boiling potatoes/beets yesterday - I couldn't throw out that beautiful water after draining them and had saved it!).

I cooked 2 cups brown rice to 4 cups liquid. There was enough rice for 3 meals: side for dinner, arroz con leche (rice pudding) for either breakfast or a snack tomorrow, and egg rolls that have yet to be rolled. I actually looked at the bag today and it has thiamine, niacin, iron, and protein.

- I also browned some chicken for the egg rolls. It's a particular cut from Fran's Fryers that sort of looks like cubed steak. I cut it up small while I'm sauteeing it and it gets nice and crunchy. It reminds the dc of chicken nuggets even though it's not breaded. Right now there is a container in the refrigerator with a mix of rice, this chicken, and cauliflower - strange mix but that was the veggie I had on hand; thus the side of cauliflower with cheese for dinner tonight.

I wanted it to have a bit of sweet/sour flavor and I don't keep any soy sauce in the house. I need to look into fermented soy sauce but I just wouldn't use it enough to justify the expense. Anyway, I put a bit of the mix in a bowl to test it with ketchup and apple cider vinegar. I thought it was good but I like odd things sometimes. Middle dd walked in and I gave her some to try. She wrinkled her nose, tried it, and said she liked it. So, I put ketchup, ACV, salt, and pepper to flavor this egg roll filling. Am I missing something???

- The third dinner I was working on was pre-cooking the elbow macaroni for tomorrow night's mac and cheese in the crockpot. Now if I can only find the recipe...

- Middle dd had put almonds and a banana in the dehydrator yesterday so those got put up this evening.

You know your eating habits have changed when your dc are digging for Box Tops for Education seals for a class competition and they only come up with 2; one from a sandwich bag box and the other from a kleenex box! I feel a little bad that we didn't have more to contribute; nor can we help out with collecting Campbell's labels for education - but I feel really good that we've been able to make some changes in our eating. Not only for my own recovery, but for the children's current and future health. I sure hope we can keep it going!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Unnatural Consequences

Okay, B., this post is for you since you asked :).

I am a firm believer in natural consequences for my children. But you know, sometimes there just isn't one that corresponds directly with their behavior. Overall our dc are obedient, helpful, respectful, loving, playful, and cheerful; but there are times... For those times I have a very loose behavior chart. Mainly, for the olders, I use it for disrespect or not following through with something I've asked them to do (several times). I am not 100% consistent, but the tool is there if I feel it necessary - I guess you could say that I use it intermittently which, from a behavioralist point of view (which I'm really not), is suppose to be the most effective. Montessori purists are perhaps aghast that I would even discuss this! It goes against their natural learning and is imposing, right? I agree. On the other hand, it helps remove me and the child out of a situation which can sometimes be a good thing. So here it is:

There is a simple grid with their name at the top. One of those round magnets is in the block. Each time it is moved down. When it reaches the bottom they loose a priviledge and start all over again. Usually they lose whatever the next fun thing is and a lot of the time it ends up being not watching a TV show or something like that. It just depends on what's going on in life and it's always my perogotive. Yesterday both the olders reached the bottom and coincidentally lost a priviledge at the same time. They lost the treat of having ice cream on the way home today while the youngest (who did NOT loose a priviledge) got one. As we approached the house middle dd said, "Mommy, I'm glad you don't spoil us," so I guess it's not too bad. It may be a week or even a month between priviledge losses but it does help to have that option for us. It removes me, the child, and emotion out of the consequence and moving the magnet will oftentimes help the child check herself and calm down (or focus on responsibilities).

Younger dd's is a little different. She just has a smiley side and a frowny side (are those real words?) with 3 magnets in the smiley column. If she moves all 3 in one day she looses a priviledge. I can't even remember the last time she lost a priviledge.

I hope this works. I uploaded a pdf file to googledocs so you can just print it. Here is the link:

Let me know if this works!

So there are my very un-Montessori, un-natural consequences, negative consequence charts! Fortunately, life is full of natural consequences so it's used sparingly.

Killer Pancakes

Here is the original recipe that came in my inbox this morning (ECPR crockpot forum) as I was trying to figure out what to make for breakfast. I was letting the dc sleep in (which meant 7:15 for youngest dd (!) and 9:00 for the olders) because we had a v-e-r-y early and long wonderful 4-H day yesterday.

Killer Pancakes (source cited was Family/Time Community Cookbook)

-2 C all-purpose flour
-1 C sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1 (16 oz) can juice-packed fruit cocktail, drained and juice reserved
- maple syrup, or chopped fresh strawberries, macerated with a little sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F, spray 2 non-stick cookie sheets with vegetable oil and set aside. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Beat in the juice. Gradually add the dry mixture, stirring until well blended. Fold in the fruit cocktail. Using 1/8 cup (2 TBL measure) scoop dollops of pancake batter onto the sprayed pans, leaving at least 2 inches between the pancakes. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh strawberries, peaches, or other fruit.

Serves 4

Okay... Here's what actually happened at my house this morning with the recipe.... We're a family of 5 so I wanted 1-1/2x the original recipe...

- 3 C flour (used 2 white, 1 wheat)
- 3/4 C demerara
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (yes, you read that right - I accidentally put baking POWDER instead of baking SODA and even put extra!!!)
- 2 pinches of Real Salt
- 2 egg whites + 1 egg because I couldn't bear to not include a whole egg :)
- 3/4 C organic orange-mango juice that we had in the fridge (I get it when it's on sale to make jello, etc)

I'm too lazy to actually dig out the handmixer so I sort of mixed the egg/egg whites with a fork but they weren't even close to frothy. I poured in the juice, mixed a bit more. It says to gradually put in the dry... the bowl with the dry ingredients was my biggest bowl so I just dumped the liquid in to the bowl with the dry ingredients [many are probably cringing by this point about my cooking ability!]. It seemed a little dry so I added maybe 1/8 whey 'cuz I didn't want to use dc's good milk in this and have extra whey right now-otherwise I would have used water. Fortunately at that point I re-read the directions and it says to dollop spoonfuls so I realized that it is not suppose to look like pancake batter and stopped. It had the consistency of a pourable bread batter or super thick pancake batter.

Instead of cookie sheets I used palm oil to grease my casserole dishes; dolloped batter in them and baked. Our oven cooks hot on the bottom so I flipped them after 15 minutes and kept them in the oven 5 more minutes.

They were absolutely delicious! I can't eat carbs for breakfast but I couldn't resist the smell and had the smallest one with butter (which I paid for a little later - sugar crash!)

Middle dd had the idea to poke a hole in it and pour honey in like a sopapilla. Oldest dd followed but youngest dd liked them just plain. We have 3 extras - just perfect for dc to have for an afternoon snack or to put in their lunchboxes.

If I think about it during a home day (even better: if I think about it the night before and soak the flour!) it would be an easy snack to make, freeze, and pull out whenever we need something for on-the-go snacks/lunches. Sort of like muffins only...not. I can see using cherry juice or other flavors also. I'll just skip the added canned fruit and keep the recipe the way I did it - accidental baking powder and all!

Here is a picture of the 3 leftover 'pancakes.'

Friday, October 23, 2009

Multi-Pure Giveaway

Kelly is having a giveaway for a Multi-Pure Shower Filter ($59.95 value) from the Urban Homemaker.

We have had the same Multi-Pure water filter for at least 10 years and it still works great. Ours is on the counter by the kitchen sink. It can go under the sink as well but we just use it as is.

Head on over to Kelly's to enter the giveaway (and feel free to tell her where you got the link!).

Photo update

I finally took a minute to take some photos of some things I've blogged about recently. In no particular order:

Here is the Birds of the World layout I mentioned in shelf-work choices. Oldest dd was doing it randomly on purpose instead of by continent and wasn't laying the controls next to them but rather picking up as she self-corrected.
Mine look like this but I'm not sure if it's the same seller:

They are kept in a cool 3-part card cloth pouch that rolls up. That is in the zoology box on the shelves. I got the directions to make it here but didn't do the little pocket for the labels; we just slip them in with the other cards. Each continent has a pocket in the one I made. Her blog has several pouches so I'm putting several links. Go see and get inspired!

This is the fraction game we like that we call Hamburger Station. Each hamburger 'set' is in a separate baggie in the box. To set up the game each child sorts out their fraction circles from their baggie so they'll be easy to find and put one bun as a base to make their burger. To play, they spin the spinner and take that piece from their own set and start building that layer in a separate place by their bottom bun. When a fraction circle is completed they place it on their bun. The buns are freebies so they start with one and put the top one on at the end. For some reason my fraction games have overhead spinners. Must have been what I had on hand when I made them!
This is a game called Fraction Spin and to be honest I don't think they've ever chosen it. I should take it out to play with them and see how it goes. Here are the directions:
1. Deal cards out
2. 1st player spins the arrow. If the player holds a matching card it is discarded.
3. Each player has 1 spin per turn.
4. The 1st player out of cards wins.

Not a cooperative group game, I admit :).

What's Cookin'?

Here are pictures of the 2 breads I was comparing. The one on the left is the experimental soaked yeast-free bread. The one on the right is our regular sourdough bread. I used 2 different bread pans so that affected the shape/rise.

I prefer the texture of the yeast-free bread mainly because I've been having trouble with the sourdough rising since the temperature cooled off (my sauerkraut is having a hard time fermenting as well). The sourdough has been a little too dense lately for my personal preference. On the other hand, the sourdough is easier to cut in thin sandwich slices. Middle dd emphatically prefers the sourdough and the other 2 could care less :). The yeast-free bread tasted/cooked exactly the same with soaking as it did without so it's a definite keeper recipe for soaked bread. Both loaves are 2 cups wheat and 1 cup white. We're not at the point of all wheat yet.

Peanuts (that have been soaked to remove the phytates) ready for the dehydrator:

Almonds (also soaked in water with salt to remove the phytates) on another tray ready for the dehydrator:

I just came across this article regarding soaking nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes:

This is the breakfast cereal recipe using oats instead of flour (before I poured milk in the bowl!). I had some dried cherries so I cut them up and included them. After baking and crumbling I put it on another tray on the dehydrator (it took 2 trays). Once dry I keep it in the cupboard in a container. It's so filling that the dc only eat 2 small scoops with milk for breakfast. They all liked the cherry in it.

You may be wondering why in the world I would bother making homemade cereal when I can buy it off the shelf. For 3 reasons: the cost, the fact that most cereals are made by a process called extrusion (regardless of whether it's organic or not), and that soaking neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors and phytates. Also, remember that I'm on a food journey to eat closer to how our grandparents and great-grandparents ate (before high incidence of degenerative diseases) for health reasons.

Here is the other 1/2 batch that I mentioned in an earlier post. After the first baking we cut it up into 'cereal bars' instead of crumbling/dehydrating. Since they're moist I keep them in the refrigerator.