Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I found these nice cards online. They have directions for a game but I think it would also serve as a good layout work for shelfwork. Not necessarily something they would do and then self-correct because they are already color-coded, but I think it is a good practice material.

Other Materials:

I've been sorting through some stashed montessori printouts and trying to either get them on the shelves, in the appropriate closet box, or out of the house. Today I discovered command cards already printed and laminated for Europe and Asia. Yeah!! Now they are cut and ready for their continent box, but first... I need to print some blank outline maps to put in there with the cards and to use to make the colored controls. Am I weird that I'm looking forward to coloring the control maps, lol??

What's Cookin'?

The saurkraut middle dd made is outstanding. I love to pile it on my sandwiches, mmm.

I just finished spooning 2 quarts of homemade yogurt into jars - actually about 1-1/2 since dc ate some while I was doing it :). With as much yogurt as we eat it really pays off to do it at home.

This is the method I currently use and works the best for me right now:
- Heat milk up to 180 F [on stovetop - NOT microwave]
- Let milk cool to 110 F [If you are using raw milk and want to keep it raw then only heat up to 110, skipping the first step, and then continue with the next step]
- Mix in 1 tablespoon starter per quart and stir gently until mixed in with warm milk [I always try to leave some in the last jar we eat and use that for starter for the next batch. I've lost track of how many batches I've made like this. However, I keep some starter already premeasured in the freezer for backup. You never know when someone might serve all of the yogurt and not leave any starter for the next batch. FYI for my initial starter I used organic plain yogurt from the store with active cultures (NOT low-fat or fat-free!) - I think it was Brown Cow or Stonyfield Farm]
- Leave in the pot with lid in the oven with the oven OFF and the oven *light* ON. This gives it just enough heat to keep it at the right temperature. Let it be for 8+ hours. The longer you leave it the more sour it gets because the culture is turning the lactose into lactid acid. Check it at about 8 hours and see if it has 'yoged' yet. If it still seems too thin let it be longer. I have found that when I don't have time and stick the whole pot in the fridge for a bit it actually thickens a bit more and is easier to spoon into jars.
- We flavor on the table, not during the process. Usually we just serve in individual bowls and put frozen/fresh fruit on top. Otherwise we use it in smoothies.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Multiplication Checkerboard

This is one of my favorite Montessori materials for older math. It sort of works like the lattice multiplication but with manipulatives and it's more concrete. The dc didn't use it for very long, but it made the difference during that short time. You can make it as simple as gluing paper squares to cardboard or as fancy as actually doing a patchwork-type quilt. Mine is in the middle. I made this when I knew even less about sewing/quilting than I do now so please keep that in mind!

At the time I had some super old fabric crayons that you had to actually color on paper, then iron on the fabric. So I had to make it in mirror image and then iron the color onto the plain fabric. That was a pain and any quilters out there are probably wondering why I didn't just cut/sew the squares. Make sure that you leave a big enough border on the bottom and right for the number tiles.

Once that was done I quilted it with black for the back and finished the edges. I LOVE the quilted feel of the material and it was so easy to store - just roll or fold and tuck in the math shelf. The tiles are in a little plastic box (I think a little box that the T-pins came in that I used for pin maps).

[I tried to uploade from my webshots and it's not working, so here is the direct link...]

One thing to keep in mind is to use your own bead bars to determine the size of the squares. I think I used the standard size and felt that they were too small once we started working with it. You may want to pile 10 10-bead bars and see how much room that would take.

Enjoy your Multiplication Checkerboard (and let the dc use it sometimes too)!!

What's Cookin'?

I made the yogurt dough from Nourishing Traditions yesterday and used it to make empanadas. They're for dinner tonight or tomorrow but of course I had to taste test - delicious! I used some cooked pork sausage that was leftover from tacos, diced and boiled a potato from the farmer's market, and cooked some green beans from our garden. A bit of each made up the filling.

I happened to have a neat little gadget I got a million years ago from Pampered Chef that cuts and seals at the same time. After rolling out the dough I cut it in half with a pizza cutter. On one half I lightly scored it with the cut/seal just to know where to put my piles of filling. Then I brushed water lightly on the other half, set it on top of the half with filling, cut/sealed and moved them to a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I debated baking or frying but opted to bake at 350 F. They took about 30 minutes to bake to a light golden color.

These would make great snacks served with any variety of sauce or just by themselves. Light enough for snack or lunch, heavy enough for dinner. Mmmm. Now to decide what to serve with it...

Oh! I had a bit of extra dough so I rolled it out, cut into squares (okay, really they were rectangles), and fried them in palm oil. Next time I'll mix the salt into the dough right before doing this because it just bounced off when I tried to salt them after frying. Excellent 'chips'!

I also have Kelly's fermented tortilla dough on the counter ready to make. I used only wheat this time so we'll see how well it goes over with the family. The dough is not as pliable as when I use both wheat and white. Here is her most excellent tortilla recipe (and I've tried lots of tortilla recipes!):

I need to get some bone broth going. I'm going to try roasting the soup bones before making it this time and see if I like it better. I doubt I'll get to it today but it's on the backburner, so to speak.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gratitude Journal

I am overwhelmed with gratitude today. Gratitude can be like a shield from which trials can bounce off. Things could be so much worse :).

The washing machine hasn't worked for weeks. I'm grateful that the dryer works so I can handwash urgent items and dry them. A load is soaking in the bathtub right now waiting to be scrubbed. I'm grateful that I was able to wash a few loads at my mom's last weekend - and visit with her as an added bonus.

We have an asp infestation. I'm grateful nobody has gotten stung (yet).

The van wouldn't start yesterday. I'm grateful that we were stranded in our own driveway. It could've been so much worse! Of course by then the dog was REALLY excited to be going somewhere so we took her for a short walk.

My back hasn't healed after almost 5 months. I'm grateful that I can stand and move around and get things done. I'm sleeping better now so that's another plus.

I'm grateful that the olders and dh had a safe day trip yesterday.

I'm grateful that 2 of the dc are feeling better today and seem to be kicking whatever they came down with yesterday; although I'm waiting to see how one dd is doing as the day progresses.

I'm grateful that dh has the 'gift of tinkering' and was able to fix the van yesterday evening and will attempt to fix the washing machine later today.

I'm grateful for family and friends.

I'm grateful for so many things. What makes you feel grateful??

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Asp Infestation

We have a major asp infestation right now... as in the poisonous fuzzy caterpillars. Just today we killed at least 30. Aaagh!!

I'm testing uploading pictures. Here is one 'before' picture:

And here are about 2 dozen that Dh picked off of the boxwood bushes and killed. I got at least 10 more later this morning.

We'll be getting some BT tomorrow or Monday. Here's a good link about them:

UPDATE: Dh found 60, yes 60, more yesterday evening (sigh).

What's on the Topic Table?

Since they are studying ocean animals in Apologia Zoology-2 I pulled some things to highlight that topic. On the little table in the kitchen we have: a basket with an assortment of shells; parts of an orca cards; an ocean floor puzzle; and whale cards. I have shell sorting (univalve and bivalve) in the zoology box and I may just leave them where they are for now - I haven't decided (it's a small table).

We also have a soil testing kit (yes, that one has been out all summer and we still haven't done the experiment!!) and the materials ready to 'pan for gold.' Those aren't related to THE topic :) but they are pending and go along with other current topics. I guess I should call it the "Topics" Table.

If I can figure out how to post pictures here I'll upload one.

What's Cookin'?

Quiche is in the oven. Tortillas are mixed, waiting to be cooked (I like Kelly's Fermented Tortilla recipe - except that we never have any leftovers!). We'll cook them tonight after dinner so they'll be ready for tomorrow's burritos.

BTW, Kraft cheese now has "mold inhibitor" in its ingredients. Kroger and Wal-Mart store brands do not (yet) have that in the blocks although I think they do in the shredded. We shred the blocks and it freezes well. Kroger/Wal-Mart brands also use annato for coloring in the blocks. Annato is a spice so I believe that's fine.

Timer is beeping for the quiche, yeah!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I couldn't decide whether to blog about schooling, educational materials, curricula, food and nutrition, health, current events, or any myriad of topics. Therefore, like our lives, this blog will be eclectic - I like to think of it as 'balanced' or even 'interesting.' :)

Topics we're currently studying in school (both at home and at enrichment classes): Early 1800's, Texas History, Plants and Soil, Apologia Zoology-2, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Winston Grammar, Montessori Grammar, Write Shop I, Writing Workshop (we'll be using R. Fletcher books for mini-lessons this year), Spelling Power, Citizenship, and...

Food in progress: saurkraut is fermenting, bone broth is in the crockpot, and sourdough bread is almost ready to bake.

Materials recently made: Parts of a River layout

Materials in progress (will I EVER get these finished??): Grammar boxes, Bohr atom model with marbles and cards, Elements Box (samples of elements in a tackle box with the name/symbols)