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.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Shelf-Work Choices:

We actually had time to do shelf-work today :). Keep in mind that it was after Math (45 minutes) , Writing (free writing today!) (30 minutes), Spelling (Spelling Power, very short), and History (worked on their lapbooks at their own pace) (30 minutes). Thus the name Eclectic Living for the blog - our school and lives are eclectic. That said, I really miss the nice long shelf-work times. It really makes a difference when they can get into the groove and have the full 3-hour work period on a consistent basis. Today's only ended up being about 1-1/2 hours (unless you count laundry and lunch prep for practical life!).

Middle dd's first choice was the recorder which I thought was a good choice since she had already been doing brain work. She set a timer for 15 minutes and went to a back room. Then she asked youngest dd to join her with the globe ball. Later she did birds of the world 3-part cards.

Youngest dd chose the scale first and compared weights. She discovered that different combinations of weights can weigh the same. She also drew an incredible picture of some flowers and did the US state puzzle without the guide. The shell rubbing plates from sister's zoology box caught her eye so I moved them to the Topic Table for easier access. She was going to choose from the topic table next but it was time for lunch.

Oldest dd chose the zoology box first. She did the birds of the world 3-part cards for zoology, the globe ball with her sisters, and some theology work (she pulled out a workbook). (I'll add photos tomorrow, I hope)

The time went by so quickly and it was a wonderful school day!

What's Cookin'?

- I'm experimenting with 2 different bread recipes. They just came out of the oven. 1st contestant: our regular sourdough recipe. 2nd contestant: a yeast-free standby recipe that I tried soaking for the first time. It's usually my go-to recipe when I haven't gotten the sourdough going but I may need to nix the sourdough for a while due to some time constraints in our new schedule.

- Pinto beans are in the crock pot although I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. Basically, they are handy to have ready.

- The ever-present almonds are soaking and ready to be made into almond milk (It would wake everyone up now so I just changed the water and will do in the morning).

- I cooked up some pork sausage at dinnertime. 1/4 went into tonight's spaghetti, 1/2 went into little patties for tomorrow's dinner of patties with cream of mushroom sauce served over rice, and 1/4 is ready for another dinner (sausage with rice, some sauteed veggies, and cream of mushroom soup).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yesterday was such a beautiful fall day! I cut down the sunflower stalks and weeded that area a bit. We pulled weeds in the front yard - and it was actually enjoyable! I sprayed for asps while the dc pulled these little white flower weeds and then I pulled some also. Then we pulled out the plants on the trellis (green beans, canteloupe) and took it apart for storage. That's where I'll plant my garlic - hopefully tomorrow. We also pulled up the watermelon plants but then we realized that there were asps right above there and left the rest for now (I use the word 'we' loosely because the olders did most of the work!).

School - History

The olders are almost finished with their early 1800's lapbooks. I chose the Time Travelers unit from Homeschool in the Woods entitled The Early 19th Century. I really liked using it and they have enjoyed it. It's a good balance of info, projects, and lapbooking. It's a CD with all you need to print, along with directions and information pages to read. Here is the link:

I just noticed that they have a Civil War one also. I imagine that it is just as good. For the Civil War we'll be using the one from as our main source.

What's Cookin'?

- Peanuts and almonds are in the dehydrator. First 1/2 batch of cereal is in the oven. I'll crumble it and put it in the dehydrator instead of the oven since I already have it out.

- I have 3 granny smith apples and one tray left on the dehydrator so I may slice those up and dehydrate as well. Those are usually hard to do because I generally eat about 1/2 of them while I'm slicing! [Note: they never made it to the dehydrator - yum!]

- We made some tortillas and had tortillas with ground beef, cheese, and sour cream for dinner. We have 4 cherry tomatoes from the Children's Community Garden that I got yesterday so I'll throw those in as well.

What I learned this weekend:

- Don't try to do 2 batches of bread in the breadmaker on dough cycle. I almost burned up my breadmaker. Fortunately I stopped it in time.

- I shouldn't be allowed to touch our steam vac for the carpets. In fact, I think I am now officially banned from using it! Let's just say that the hall will need to be re-shampooed next weekend...

- Apparently asps don't have a discriminating diet like I thought and are now in the various trees in the back yard as well as the bushes in the front. [They are freaking me out!] I think maybe I need to have Benadryl on hand (??) in case we get stung. What timing - Dh has to fix the faucet right by the bushes, yikes. I need to research remedies for asp stings.

- Don't expect to win checkers (or chess) against a 7 yr old!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

How does your garden grow? Mine is....not. We planted lettuce, beets, celery and carrots for the fall and nothing is happening :(. It's been raining for 11 days straight so you would think that something would be coming up but nooooo. The watermelon just quit growing several weeks ago so we have 4 watermelons the size of grapefruits just sitting there twiddling their thumbs. The same with the canteloupes. There are 2 just hanging out, literally, on a trellis about the size of tangerines. Maybe they have identity issues...

On the upside there are probably some more green beans and wax beans to pick - I just haven't sloshed out to get them lately. I had 5 tiny tomatoes before the rain started. Hopefully they're growing. I saw sky this evening so tomorrow I'll wade out there and see.

I completely missed the deadline to plant garlic. I really enjoyed having homegrown garlic this spring. I'll go ahead and plant and see what happens. Since I didn't have any beds ready I just stuck them in the flower bed last fall. They did great.

I saw some beautiful lettuce plants at the feed store yesterday when I ran in and out for some dog food. Maybe I'll go back, get a couple, and call it a fall garden.

School - Fractions

Youngest dd and I played a family favorite game yesterday for learning fractions. We call it Hamburger Station. There are different colored laminated circles cut in different fractions. For example the red is 1/8ths, white is 1/2s, yellow is 1/6ths, etc. Each color represents some part of the hamburger such as the meat, ketchup, mayonnaise, cheese, or lettuce. There is a spinner with the fractions. At each turn you spin the spinner and then build your hamburger. We build each circle off to the side and when a circle is complete we layer it on the burger. I looked online and couldn't find anything like it to link to so I guess I should take a picture. We keep it on the shelf for a shelf work choice and they choose it quite often.

Other fraction materials:

- Homemade fraction circles and fraction squares. Included in the box are the circle protractor. I can't find exactly where I got mine to print (one of the Montessori groups) but here are some fraction circle printables to get you started:

- Overhead fraction circles that are colored. They like these better than the laminated paper ones. I believe they are the same size so the circle protractor works with them also.

- Foam fraction circles from Lauri. These are oversized and have been a favorite for youngest dd since she was 2 or 3. She likes to use them to make 'cakes' and 'pies' of different flavors. Slowly she learned the fraction names and such. There are now labels in the box for her to make and label the fraction circles.

- I have the R&D Fractions manual but I haven't actually gone through the presentations with them (my bad). Learning the fractions has just come so naturally. The olders have been able to add, multiply, and divide fractions but I would still like to go through the lessons, even if a quick overview to fill in any conceptual gaps they may have. It's one thing to be able to do a math problem using any tricks or steps and it's another to conceptually understand why that works and what is really happening.

What's Cookin'?

Yesterday was mac and cheese in the crock pot with ground beef added. Today...Sonic burgers (just so you don't think I have it all together - far from it!).

In preparation for tomorrow I have peanuts and almonds soaking, sourdough sponge mixed, and tortilla dough soaking. I should soak some oats for breakfast cereal bars. I use the breakfast cereal recipe in Nourishing Traditions but I use oats instead of flour. 1/2 the batch I use for cereal (crumbling and drying) and 1/2 batch for cereal bars (cut and store after 1st baking). I have some goji berries I could add but in all honesty I was disappointed in their flavor. I think I'm just not use to them. They are suppose to be great brain food plus good for the immune system. The dc actually prefer the cereal bars although the cereal keeps longer.

Now if only the carpets would clean themselves...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Little House in the Big Woods

We're reading LHITBW by Laura Ingalls Wilder with my youngest (although the oldest likes to sit with us while we read). Today the section we read was about hog butchering day. As I was reading aloud I kept wondering how they were going to take it but they were fine and didn't even make faces. I was surprised, especially with the details about playing with the bladder and roasting the pig tail. [As a sidenote one Spanish word for balloon is vejiga which also means bladder which goes back to the origin of balloons.] With my current interest in foods of our grandparents and great-grandparents, I'm really enjoying that angle of the books (although I'm much more squeamish than my dc!).

When we read about Pa smoking the meat we ate buffalo jerky. The next section will deal with the pork skin and I have some bags of cracklins and pork skins to try (both crispy and puffy). At the beginning in which she mentions her corn cob doll we ate corn on the cob to get the cobs. I set them out to dry and it's been raining ever since! That will have to be a "do over" so we get to eat corn on the cob again soon.

I meshed 2 wonderful units that I found online for our study. I went through the book and put tabs at all of the stopping points with little notes on them. This way I don't have to refer to lesson plans, unit plans, or even floor plans! It's all there in front of me.

Click on the 'outline' files here for the reading outline. This was very helpful in knowing where to chunk it and put my little tabs. Then I combined the other unit in with these natural stops.

Here is the other unit that I mentioned. It's from the wonderful people at homeschoolshare:

I felt they were thorough enough that I didn't need to look anywhere else. So far it's been very enjoyable.

What's cookin'?

- The kraut is STILL not ready for the fridge. We got cool weather suddenly so maybe that's it.
- Almond milk is made; now I'm drying the "mush" left over from making the almond milk in the oven. That will be used for crackers or for almond shortbread cookies.
- I just took some sourdough out of the oven and some rolls out (not sourdough). Both of these are for sandwiches or whatever. I couldn't resist and ate a roll with butter and cream cheese while I typed this - mmmm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lyme Disease

If you or anyone you know is chronically ill and you can't figure out why, or if you just think your getting 'old' with achiness and joint pain and scattered attention, or you're having 'weird' symptoms that doctors don't understand; PLEASE check out this link and look at the symptoms checklist.

It took me a year and a half to get diagnosed with Lyme Disease. That felt like forever and gave it time to spread rampantly but I was very fortunate - for some people it takes many more years and countless rounds with doctors before they are finally diagnosed. I was never in a wheel chair nor did I get Bell's Palsey but it did infect all of my major organs including eyes, bladder, heart, and brain (plus the classic joint infection symptoms). These treatments and guidelines were written by a renown doctor in the field of Lyme Disease. This packet can be printed and taken to your doctor. It has the names of antibiotics and dosages for adults and children. There is also an excellent section of 'supportive therapy' and 'nutritional supplements' on page 27-31. [I'm not doing so well on the mandated sleep! I was up storm watching last night (under tornado watch and youngest dd woke up scared) so I predict a fibro flare-up today (sigh). I'm not doing well on the exercise either!] I am on the other side now, thankfully (!), but still need to overcome some effects of lyme such as adrenal fatigue, lowered immune system, and regain stamina. Some things may never go away such as fibro flare-ups but I have hope that they will.

Here is an excellent article regarding research linking lyme with Alzheimer's. I'm only a fourth of the way through but it's a fascinating read:

One red flag regarding Lyme is if you have flu-like symptoms in the summer or off-season for flu. It can be dormant for years and an incident that lowers your immune system can trigger it (trauma, pregnancy, illness, etc). Of course, with the swine flu going around even during the summer this year it gets a bit cloudy.

Be well!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Here are some resources for: flags and European animals (I made some other continent animal cards a while back and they're already with the world felt map so I'll just keep them there)

Here is an outline map at the same site:

I found it as I was already printing this one to be used for the command cards and to draw/label rivers:

I haven't exactly decided how big I want to make the pin map or puzzle. I'm tempted to just save up and get a puzzle but it would have to be a cardboard one and they don't seem to have the countries cut the way I want. Of course, it would still be MUCH better than I could do. I never was pleased with my homemade continent puzzles. For South America I just made a magnetic puzzle (which they have used a LOT) but they can't use it for tracing/punching.

I just looked in my bookmarks and I had a note saying "Get Europe!" for this one:

This one is cardboard and 1/2 the price:

I saw this a few years ago at a McNally store and didn't get it (grr) because the cutout pieces weren't to my liking. So, we ended up with nothing all this time - should've gotten it, eh?

[If you have either of these I'd appreciate some feedback.]

I love this site and used it to print the template to make the world felt map forever ago. I don't know why I didn't use it to print my Europe outline map for the command cards when I was already planning on using it for the pin map - it would've saved me some time searching online. That happens when you are interrupted when you think you have a few minutes, right?

When I made the horse pin maps I made each continent separate on a regular 8-1/2x11 paper size and it works fine because there aren't necessarily pins in every country. For the Europe flag/country pin map I think I'll make it double-size (2x2) so it can still fit in the shelf where I want it but will be big enough for the work. It's printing as I type so I'll see if it'll work...

Other Europe ideas:
*Rivers of Europe - I printed it off of Enchanted Learning and will put the answer one in the box of world felt map materials. They can use the blue pony beads to make the rivers. I need to make labels though - add it to the list! I'll put another copy of the answer one with blanks (they have the rivers drawn in) in the Europe Continent Box for them to label and glue in their culture notebooks.
*Mountain Ranges of Europe

What do you use to study Europe? For those using continent boxes, what do you have in your Europe box? What do your children like to do? What are some of their favorite materials? What are some of your favorite online resources related to Europe?

What's Cookin'?

- Pear sauce (as opposed to apple sauce) made from some wonderfully ugly pears from the farmer's market. And no, I don't know what I'm doing :) but I'll do a quick search to confirm my thoughts of cooking it just like apple sauce. I canned the pears last time but in all honesty I'm too tired today to even think about it. That was my plan when I got these but pear sauce sounds much easier; especially if I can freeze some. Middle dd offered to peel and slice (yeah!) so that's helpful. I *should* make some bread, but again, too tired. Maybe later...

Update: I found a recipe even I can follow! We had 12 pears (because we ended up eating 3 at lunch). Uncooked they fit just right in my 2 qt pot. I wouldn't have thought of adding a bit of lemon juice. I saw that in a few recipes I read.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Real Trees 4 Kids

I am selfishly posting this so I don't forget about it! This link came through a group and it looks fantastic. I only skimmed through the K-2 and the Gr. 6-8 sections. K-2 uses literature for interdisciplinary studies centered around trees. Too cool! Gr. 6-8 has some very good explanations and visuals for the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen cycles, classification of trees and more. No literature (that I saw) for that grade level but the olders can listen in while I read aloud to the youngest and then do their level lessons. Don't forget to check out the teacher section. Here's the link (drum roll...):

I can see making a felt mat for those cycles. One generic mat and the cut pieces (like the arrows) for each in separate baggies. The tricky pictures like the deer could just be printed on cardstock with a piece of felt glued to the back. Hmmm. Okay, let's add that to the "will I ever get to it?" list!


Other news: Youngest dd has her first oral report at her enrichment today. We made a very simple poster of cartouches. So far she doesn't seem very freaked out about it.

What's Cookin'?

Not much today. Chicken bone broth is in the crockpot. I have some kind of joint infection going on (New lyme strain?? Hope not! They have now identified 100 strains). I quit drinking broth daily for about a month so I think it will help to get back on that.

The cabbage that sat salted in the fridge for 2 days did fine when dd mashed it for kraut. We'll see how it goes.

I am almost out of coconut bark so I'll be making some more of that soon. I'm the only one who really likes it. The first time all the dc liked it as well but this time I used homemade peanut butter and it's crunchy. I'll make it with store-bought while we have some and see how well it goes over.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


"No Sign of Cancer"

My mom recently finished chemo for stomach cancer. She was such an inspiration and a real trooper through it all. Of course, even while undergoing cancer treatment she STILL ran circles around me! Her last test results came back: No sign of cancer! Yeah (happy dance!). The culprit: a bacteria called helicobacter pylori.

This is so insignificant compared to the above praise, but we now have a working washing machine! In the words of oldest dd, "I can't wait to do laundry." :)

What's cookin'?

Cabbage is cut and salted waiting to be 'smooshed' for sauerkraut. I hope I didn't ruin it by leaving it in the fridge for 2 days waiting! Okay, it would only take 10 minutes or less - why can we not get to it??

Middle dd wanted some home-made cream cheese so I should set that up right now after logging off. It's the easiest thing and I think it was the first thing I tried when I started on this food journey of going back to traditional foods and away from packaged foods with additives/trans fats. I'm still in the middle somewhere of that journey with a loooong way to go.

To make cream cheese simply strain yogurt in a cheese cloth overnight over a bowl or container of some sort. I gave the recipe for homemade yogurt the other day. You can use that or even store-bought yogurt (that's how I made it at first). When it's done straining you will have a liquid in the bowl/jar. Don't throw it away! That's whey - How cool is that? Save it for soaking oats or for lacto-fermenting. For the cloth to strain it I used clean dishrags for almost a year. I had certain ones that I only used for straining this or almond milk. Make sure you use one with NO colored design (don't ask how I know! Checkered cream cheese, anyone? Ugh). Finally I got some unbleached muslin, cut it to size, and keep several handy in the kitchen constantly. I STILL need to hem them.

Sprouts has canteloupe, avocadoes, and organic apples on sale this week. I got some of each. I couldn't believe it when I saw almond meal for $5.99 a pound! Gosh, to think I use to throw it away when we'd make almond milk. Now I save it, dry it out, and use for recipes. I guess I'll save that for another day's post...


We rearranged the schoolroom a little bit today. I needed to make room for the guinea pigs. Who's bright idea was it, anyway, to get GPigs over hamsters?? Oh yeah, mine. They really are cute though, and it breaks my heart not to give in every time they 'bark' at me begging for goodies (even if their bowl is full and they have plenty of T. hay). They go nuts if I'm cutting up tomato for a meal. The only thing is that the cage has to be cleaned every 3 days. When we finally have their permanent cage set up we hope to train them to go in a 'litter box' (yes, you read correctly!). They started to when we tried before but the cage just wasn't set up right and it would slide around.

Right now they (the dc, not the gpigs!) are preparing for the following for 4-H: Educational Presentation; Consumer Decision Making, and Share the Fun. We're also preparing a lesson to lead the little ones for Food and Nutrition. The vague plan that I have in my head for that is to make a big labeled grid on a shower curtain for them to sort actual food items on the mat.