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! :)